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Bolex Blues: Did I snap my spring?

Bill Hilly

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Hello all,


I've got a dour situation on my hands with my new Bolex H16. Not sure which model exactly - it's an eBay find - but it has a variable shutter so I think it's an Rx2.


It was running fine this evening as I was putting my first roll through. I wanted to try to do a double exposure and rewound the camera a few feet. Then when I re-engaged the motor I heard an unnatural noise. Suffice to say, that motor isn't running any more.


I've removed the film - there didn't seem to be any jams. I've tried single frame and slow-speed continuous running but neither have engaged the motor. The crank is tight, like it has a full wind, but won't move in either direction when engaged. And the rewind works... in both directions.


Does this sound like a spring problem? Any other ideas? This is my first Bolex and I might have gotten to antsy to try out its special effects...


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It sounds like the motor is still disengaged - the winding lever won't wind when the motor is disengaged. Try moving the MOT <-> O lever to O again, use the rewind crank to wind forward a few frames (with the run release pressed), then re-engage the motor (with the release in the stop position). The MOT <-> O lever should spring back to the MOT position. Make sure that lever is firmly keyed on to the square pin beneath, if the screw is a bit loose or the mating parts are worn the lever may not be actually turning the pin.


If it still won't engage, the gear inside is jammed for some reason. (It's unlikely the spring itself is broken, that would cause a different fault.) You would then need to decide whether to send it to a repairman, try to open it up yourself, or just buy another body.



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It is virtually impossible to “snap” the spring of such a camera. I have never heard of a broken spring with a Bolex or any other spring-driven movie camera.


Your model appears to be about 54 years old and most probably never serviced, so sticky with oxidized mineral grease. What presumably happened is that the catch ratchet caught by the excentric stop on the 0-MOT axle didn’t turn back when you reengaged the spring (MOT). The gear train then got stalled which is possible under sticky-dry conditions.


Disengage the clutch (0), move the mechanism with the hand crank on the axle designated with a rounded counterclock arrow, remove crank, set side switch to STOP, and engage clutch (MOT). A vigorous blow should occur, that’s the spring falling into the gear train with its full load. It is possible that somebody damaged a catch tooth by insensibly forcing the clutch lever. A service job is up anyhow.


Before you spend money I’d suggest you deliberate what you need. Perhaps an H-16 is not the best camera for you at the moment. Please do think over whether you want a toy to play with or a camera for obtaining pictures that you want to study or perhaps show to others.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 9 years later...
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If I may take up this old thread in order to correct myself, let everybody announce me that there are new springs available for the latest series of Paillard-Bolex H-16 cameras, those with the limit gears not on the spring barrel.

I have installed the first fresh drive spring with a serviced H-16 RX-5 this week. The camera runs now like with an original spring in good shape. Service technicians interested in acquiring springs and mounting sleeves are invited to contact me. I have enough in stock and can reorder any time. Springs for H-8 models are also feasible.

This is not for everybody. It takes some infrastructure to deal with spiral springs as well as some knowledge and dexterity. Also, all parts of the spring barrel must be checked. If something not healthy, it needs to be repaired or replaced.

It’s a joy to be able to give H cameras a new life. The springs are guaranteed for two years.



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Posted (edited)

new springs available for the latest series of Paillard-Bolex H-16 cameras, those with the limit gears not on the spring barrel.

Would this apply to round bottom REX cameras??

Edited by Don H Marks
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