The Elmo Chronicles

#1 by Hugh Thompson Scott ( deleted ) , Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:11 am

Way back in time, when life was simpler, harder, but not complicated, 1975 to be precise, I bought my first Elmo ST1200 M/O from
Derann. These projectors were in the high end of 8mm, a robust looking piece of kit that had received good write ups, neither were they
cheap, creeping towards the £400.00 mark, though Derek had done a deal, stacked 'em high and selling cheap, well by other dealers yes.
It wasn't long before the dreaded scratches began to appear, so checks were made, parts removed and polished up, the top sprocket shoe had metal rollers then, these seemed free enough, but still marks were appearing, spare parts were ordered from Technical & Opt.
if memory serves, problem sorted, or so it seemed. Eventually it started again, now to be fair, I bought this machine to take some strain from my little Mark S709, so it was getting a lot of use. I noticed in Super 8 Collector that Paul Van Someren had an article on this very
subject, too late, I was already suffering this curse. I wrote a very strong letter to Elmo Nagoya, sent one privately and through Paul
who advised as much. The boffins at Elmo eventually gave in and made improved pieces of a harder wearing material. The picture shows
the original two piece lower guides that became a single piece chute. It turned out that this improved material was not much better,
I was accumulating quite a collection of these pieces that needed changing at regular intervals, much like a babies nappy, they had one
thing in common, they both stank. Eventually, many pieces later, a replaced amplifier and new soundhead during the mid '80s, it eventually gave up the ghost in 1991, I had run it into the ground in 16 years, my little S709 was still going strong, it lasted until only
a few weeks ago while doing the "Psycho" shoot, I was going to do a rerun to catch a few more pics, but it was gone, so 44 years of service, a new soundhead, a couple of services and it lasted three times longer than the Elmo. In 1991, I bought Briam Murphy's Elmo
secondhand, within a few days I was back into the mire, at least two brand new features spoiled, Elmo's don't always scratch, sometimes
it is on subsequent screenings that you suffer, or it is doing the naughty after the gate, only to be seen next time your film is shown. No amount of cleaning will make any difference, parts must be replaced, so Hanimex I think had taken over the franchise for Elmo, so
more parts duly ordered. This time I took the bull by the horns, I modified the replacement parts myself, why this was never done by Elmo themselves eludes me, hence I refer to them as "Jap Crap", too many films spoiled by their "Lucky Bag" parts, their "Flagship"
GS1200 was no better, I had mods to do to that effort too, over rated and over priced. Anyway, I have pics of the parts I altered
The upper sprocket, I removed the shoe and replaced it with rollers. The Head Presser, I show what I did on a previous outing by filing
down and polishing the guide, but improved on that by removing the guide and fitting a roller, The lower sprocket guide I cut away,
fit a small rubber roller and two soft plastic flanges to keep the guide off the metal sprocket. The rear guide I removed, I grew tired of
it springing loose and holding the take up spool, so off it went and I just put a roller in. Other points of wear are the film guides in the gate that get cut into by the film eventually, and the plastic guide around the soundheads are prone to wear over time.
I managed to get a ST1200HD for £50.00, virtually unused by a local chap who was permanently in Saudi making big bucks, so had no
time to use it, no sooner in, than modernised, no chances this time. Summing up, Elmo are basically a workmanlike projector, recording
sound is simplicity itself, sound repro is very good, BUT, I would never trust them without the necessary alterations, which have been
successful, I use them occasionally and so far no more marks.

Attached pictures:
P1020478.JPG   P1020494.JPG   P1020635.JPG   P1020639.JPG   P1020646.JPG   P1020650.JPG   P1020704.JPG   P1020722.JPG  

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Hugh Thompson Scott

RE: The Elmo Chronicles

#2 by Vidar Olavesen , Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:25 am

Great that you can upload pictures. Just a tip, if yoy want a picture in a special place, see the Insert option when pictures are uploaded. Place cursor where you want picture, click Insert on the picture, choose size if you want.

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RE: The Elmo Chronicles

#3 by Hugh Thompson Scott ( deleted ) , Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:27 am

Cheers Vidar, I'm in awe of you lads that can do all this stuff.

Hugh Thompson Scott

RE: The Elmo Chronicles

#4 by Andrew Woodcock ( deleted ) , Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:22 am

Hugh, I love your wisdom in this hobby! You've been around the block and been in the hobby since I was in childhood with a Cinerex!!!!!

What I love is you don't attempt to defend the undefendable, whether you've spent large amounts on this or not as the case may be.
I always try to do the same. Sometimes people like Steve for example deem it projector snobbery and see their arse with me.

I don't . I see it as advising the masses about the highly probable pitfalls of owning any one particular machine.

You can replace a projector still. In many many cases now, you simply cannot replace a ruined print.

Think twice at least before your next projector purchase.

Andrew Woodcock
Last edited Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:23 pm | Top

RE: The Elmo Chronicles

#5 by Hugh Thompson Scott ( deleted ) , Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:22 am

Thanks for that Andrew, I'm not trying to gain "one up manship" just telling it like it is, I can understand folk having allegiance
to their favourite machine,it's too late when an expensive or worse irreplaceable home movie is damaged, but I am just pointing out faults on an otherwise good projector, faults that can be sorted with no
loss of integrity to the projector, auto thread still functions, except the little black switch must be pressed to release the
thread mechanism, as the auto release has been removed. Steve has a lot to offer though, experience of different projectors
is valuable indeed, we all have our off days, I have blown my top before too, I hope he returns to us soon. I still think, even though
it is a small group, the subject matter and input rivals the largest forum, we haven't ran out of steam yet, and don't cover that which
can't be named.

Hugh Thompson Scott
Last edited Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:32 am | Top

RE: The Elmo Chronicles

#6 by David Hardy ( deleted ) , Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:03 pm

Hugh this is a great post full of advice for those that are willing to persevere and keep their Elmo from
scratching prints. As for me I cant be bothered doing any modifications these days and am still gnashing
my teeth in anger and disappointment with my Elmos for damaging some prints. They now sit there unused
and I now have no trust in the damned things at this stage in my life. So I am unwilling to spend any more time
or money on the things. I might get them serviced and sell them on to someone who will love them more than I.
They have got to be one of the most over rated Super 8mm projectors ever.
I will stick with my trustworthy Fumeo 9119 and Eumigs which have never scratched a print yet.
If such a thing as scratching prints happened in the Cinemas I worked in as a projectionist we found ourselves
in the Managers Office and had to make out a report to the renters. If the problem with scratched prints persisted
and it was found to be the projectionists fault they were sacked. The reason being that the Renter would refuse to
hire out any further prints to the Cinema especially if it was a new copy.
If it was the fault of the equipment after parts were replaced the machine was basically tuffed out of the projection

David Hardy

RE: The Elmo Chronicles

#7 by Hugh Thompson Scott ( deleted ) , Thu Oct 15, 2015 8:56 pm

Thanks David, the upshot is, I still think the ST1200 is by far a better projector than the GS1200,which had to much happening at once.
The let down to both machines were those less than useless plastic guides, like yourself and no doubt thousands more users, we have
suffered with spoiled prints, that had they been shown on the S709, would still be unmarked. That aside, they are not rough with film transport and are fairly reliable. If only the makers had heeded what was told to them, they knew even then that these projectors were
marking film, but still carried on regardless, so my reason for mistrust of Japanese projectors is well founded. With a bit of thought, they
could have been one of the best.

Hugh Thompson Scott

RE: The Elmo Chronicles

#8 by Vidar Olavesen , Thu Oct 15, 2015 8:58 pm

How come noone made these plastic guides from metal? I know the front one on the GS-1200 is available (I bought mine from Steve Osborne) ... But why wasn't the rest made too, if they're scratching film? I'd pay some to exchange them.

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RE: The Elmo Chronicles

#9 by Hugh Thompson Scott ( deleted ) , Thu Oct 15, 2015 9:09 pm

You tell me Vidar, if only they had put rollers on the high points, but no, they knew better, issued a newer design on the lower
loop former, changed the upper sprocket guide from metal rollers to plastic, and said it was a tougher plastic. Tough or not, even
metal wears, a roller lessens friction. I reckon I saved a lot of my prints from further harm with 2.22, it at least lubricated and provided
slip, whereas a dry print might have received more damage. Since I did my alterations, there have been no more marked films. I remember putting a loop of film through it while I gave my better half a hand with her shopping, which took about a couple of hours,
on our return, it was still purring away with no marks on film surfaces. I can handle a scratch or two on a purchased film, but not if a
projector I own is doing it.

Hugh Thompson Scott

RE: The Elmo Chronicles

#10 by Andrew Woodcock ( deleted ) , Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:52 pm

You really don't want any stationary guides coming into contact with the film plastic or steel.

Obviously you have to have steel sprung ones at the gate to keep the film aligned and flat while the frame is projected, but for all others, the fewer the better. Most should move right out of the way after threading wherever possible.

The more stationary guides that come in contact with a traveling film the greater the risk of debris or a worn guide marking the traveling film.
The emulsion surface is after all really delicate and relatively soft.

Andrew Woodcock

RE: The Elmo Chronicles

#11 by David Ollerearnshaw , Fri Oct 16, 2015 9:01 pm

Traded my first ST1200 in and bought the GS1200 from Cine Sound £650. I now have the GS1200 Fumeo 9119 ish Marc version and got a ST1200 last year. Wonder if Bill Parson can do the mods to my Elmo's. Think they need a service soon.

I once took my projector to the service place, they were C. Z. Scientific Instruments. Think TOE were for my Zenith 35mm camera.

Don't think I ever really used the sound recording on the GS to its full advantage. I used to give film shows at the local old folks home with the 25-50 long throw lens they were well received. Used my own and hired films too. Columbia, FDA and Rank. Had a space on the notice board advertising the next film. Really enjoy doing them too.

I still love the smell of film in the morning

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