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Technicians who service Eclair ACLs


Heikki Repo
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Spoke to them a month or so ago about exactly this topic and they said they'd have a look, do overhauls etc., anything that doesn't need parts... "-)

So...

now might be a good time to locate someone who's a tech and someone else who's a machinist and good at duplicating/fabricating parts?

 

Edited by Chris Ross Leong
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30 minutes ago, Raymond Zrike said:

That’s unfortunate. Did VP mention if they still do any sort of work/repairs on the ACL?

It was a very brief conversation only on the super-ing process, as Chris says I think they’ll still work/overhaul as long as they have parts. 

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1 hour ago, Simon Wyss said:

Metal parts are pieces of cake. More problematic are glass elements such as the compound lenses of the viewfinder.

ACL S16 modification requires only metal parts. It might be that VP has previously had a stash of parts for the modification but not having any left, aren't interested in manufacturing new parts. There was previously a set sold under the name of HD-144 for ACL conversion, that included a 144 degrees shutter. Perhaps VP had these? Those sets haven't been available in over a decade on the market, as far as I know. Les on the other hand apparently makes the parts himself.

The conversion by Les differs from HD-144 in some ways. Online sources tell that the shutter isn't modified (175 degrees is retained), the viewfinder opening isn't modified and the VF is not moved upwards 1.1 mm to center the image on the VF. The ground glass isn't cleaned and redrawn, instead the extended part of the screen is marked.

It's not as refined conversion, but it's very affordable and it works - and it's still available. 

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34 minutes ago, Heikki Repo said:

There was previously a set sold under the name of HD-144 for ACL conversion, that included a 144 degrees shutter.

Sort of off topic, but do you know the reason for the change to 144 in that conversion? My ACL has that super-16 conversion with the 144 degree shutter. Just curious.

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21 minutes ago, Raymond Zrike said:

Sort of off topic, but do you know the reason for the change to 144 in that conversion? My ACL has that super-16 conversion with the 144 degree shutter. Just curious.

That was to make sure the shutter is closed by the time mirror moves in front of the gate to guarantee that the exposure is uniform across the frame. But I have read someone say here that they had Bernie replace the shutter and didn't see any difference. I myself have tried to look very hard if there is any difference in exposure between different parts of the frame and really, haven't found any issue.

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1 hour ago, Heikki Repo said:

 

....VP..... parts for the modification but not having any left.................. Les on the other hand apparently makes the parts himself.

..............the viewfinder opening.........modified and the VF ....... moved upwards 1.1 mm to center the image on the VF........

I forgot about the shifting of the view finder mount. Thanks.

If VP were short of a part for the conversion maybe that might change things. Paul Scaglione is the one to ask there, and it would be useful to know exactly what they are short of. I'm sure VP are able to make or get parts made if they want to. Just got email from Paul re an ACL part so he's still active.

For the record, I like VP's conversions best. To be fair, Les seems like a wizard in the machine shop. Does anyone know if he does all his design and machining himself. Maybe his son works with him.

I keep wondering if there are older ACL techs in Europe that we are missing. Someone could be out of circulation, in semi retirement but very useful. But the leads provoking this feeling are about 10 or more years old.  

Edited by Gregg MacPherson
wrangling some strays (words)
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12 minutes ago, Gregg MacPherson said:

To be fair, Les seems like a wizard in the machine shop. Does anyone know if he does all his design and machining himself. Maybe his son works with him.

I keep wondering if there are older ACL techs in Europe that we are missing. Someone could be out of circulation, in semi retirement but very useful. But the leads provoking this feeling are about 10 or more years old.  

I think his son does work with him, that's the impression I got when I sent him my ACL nearly a decade ago (how the time flies!).

As for ACL techs, I think moving forward the key to success is to discover the service manuals (or at least what is left of them) and have copies available online. These cameras are surprisingly simple and reliable and pretty much any camera tech who knows how movie cameras work should be able to service ACLs. There are parts catalogues online with exploded view drawings to help with the process.

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On 3/21/2022 at 5:22 PM, Heikki Repo said:

As for ACL techs, I think moving forward the key to success is to discover the service manuals (or at least what is left of them) and have copies available online. These cameras are surprisingly simple and reliable and pretty much any camera tech who knows how movie cameras work should be able to service ACLs. There are parts catalogues online with exploded view drawings to help with the process.

Maybe decades too late I'll stumble upon one of those manuals like I did for the CP-16R

Duncan

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I hope Paul Scaglione sees this thread and considers getting the parts they need to convert cameras. I have an ACL that I acquired a few months ago and I wanted to send it to VP to be converted to S16. I would commit to getting the camera converted this year. I know they used to charge around 2.5k and I wouldn't mind paying that to get the camera properly converted here in the US. Maybe if they have a few people committed to getting their cameras converted they would consider getting the parts made.

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1 hour ago, Ruben Arce said:

.....VP...S16...... Maybe if they have a few people committed to getting their cameras converted they would consider getting the parts made.

I just emailed Paul asking the questions and inviting him to look in on this thread.

Gregg.

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20 hours ago, Ruben Arce said:

I hope Paul Scaglione sees this thread and considers getting the parts they need to convert cameras. I have an ACL that I acquired a few months ago and I wanted to send it to VP to be converted to S16. I would commit to getting the camera converted this year. I know they used to charge around 2.5k and I wouldn't mind paying that to get the camera properly converted here in the US. Maybe if they have a few people committed to getting their cameras converted they would consider getting the parts made.

Seconding this as I personally know two folks with n16 ACLs who were looking to get the same procedure done without sending it out of the states. 

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ACL SERVICING AND S16 CONVERSION at VISUAL PRODUCTS. Summary of email from Paul Scaglione 

I just got a long email from Paul explaining everything. I hope it's ok if I give a short summary of facts...

- The business needs him to spend more time on prepping Arri and Aatons for resale, which is more profitable.
- People are unwilling to spend as much to buy or upgrade ACL compared to Arri or Aaton.
- Arri and Aaton are the most common cameras in need, so VP's parts inventory and supply sources favor those.
- ACL electronics are a "huge issue". There's only one guy in the States fully versed, Andrew at AZSpectrum. He has the same issue with Arri, Aaton being more profitable, so turnaround on Eclair jobs is often slow.
- Ground glass re-etch has a 3 month turnaround. Only one guy can do it right. They aren't holding stock at VP. They're worth $500 each.
- Quoting Paul.."Both myself and Andrzej at AZ-Spectrum will work on Eclair bits up to & including conversions however (it will) always come behind equipment sales and can unfortunately sit on the shelf for months before completion."

 

So the two important ideas arising are...
Need to be very patient and plan ahead. 

Parts don't seem to be a problem, just a supply time and stock cost issue for the ground glass. Maybe people could precommit to that cost, or order it themselves, maybe as a group. (VP have the IP on the etch design so it's only for jobs at VP)

Paul would like to take on a trainee but the business doesn't agree yet. (if you are young and keen, go there and try to persuade them). 

Gregg.
 

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Re the idea of ordering the ground glass (gg) re-etch yourself from SHURCO.  I immediately thought that unless there were spare gg in circulation, you would have to remove it yourself or use someone local, both hazardous if lacking familiarity or skill. 

This was to avoid having the camera sit for an extra 3 months at VP while the GG went to SHURCO. But, even if that had to happen, customer could still precommit by paying for the gg etch at the start.

Are there any spare ggs out there?

If all those wanting conversions could let Paul at VP know, that would affect what happens.

Gregg.

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9 hours ago, Gregg MacPherson said:

Are there any spare ggs out there?

The ggs were hand matched to cameras at the factory so as far as I know, one really can't use a different gg in a particular camera.

But if Shurco does still re-etch ACL viewfinders that is a nice info. I really need to look into what is the correct procedure for removing the gg and especially for putting it back in. 

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10 hours ago, Gregg MacPherson said:

- ACL electronics are a "huge issue". There's only one guy in the States fully versed, Andrew at AZSpectrum. He has the same issue with Arri, Aaton being more profitable, so turnaround on Eclair jobs is often slow.

Later this year a new motor for ACL will be available from Finland. It replaces the original electronics and offers multiple sync speeds and includes a LCD to display battery voltage & footage counter.

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17 hours ago, Gregg MacPherson said:

If all those wanting conversions could let Paul at VP know, that would affect what happens.

I'll contact them and send my camera to be converted and serviced.

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12 hours ago, Heikki Repo said:

The ggs were hand matched to cameras at the factory so as far as I know, one really can't use a different gg in a particular camera....

Where did you learn that from Heikki? Email from Paul S. sounds like he would happily gather ggs from dead Eclairs and have them re-etched for S16. I just asked him on that explicitly on that point so we'll see. I'm pasting most of his email below...

From Paul Scaglione's email to Gregg 26/03/22
".....what would really assure good conversions going forward for a start would be if the Eclair community as a collective could dig in their heels and find that elusive parts source overseas (the Arts Media parts) and see if and how many ground glasses are available for both the NPR's and ACL's. If there are some there, that would be a good source for sending (some) off to Shurco for conversion. Paul (Shurco) has some good stock S-16 patterns to choose from (his S-16 pattern selection attached). Custom patterns can be authored...
... As an alternative, any parts cameras that can be found (I would think there to be hundreds globally) would be a great find for a collective effort...
Am I seeing a crowd-funding campaign emerging???
 Once parts could be sourced to start a pipeline, I could certainly share what info I have to other capable sources out there with the will to learn and technical + machining capabilities and the future of these little engines that could can be carried forward...
Best,
Paul Scaglione.
....."

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11 hours ago, Gregg MacPherson said:

Where did you learn that from Heikki? Email from Paul S. sounds like he would happily gather ggs from dead Eclairs and have them re-etched for S16. I just asked him on that explicitly on that point so we'll see. I'm pasting most of his email below...

Well, I think it was Bernie who mentioned that. Then again, perhaps he just meant that one has to readjust the whole system if that's done, one can't just switch the GG and expect it to be in correct focus.

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7 hours ago, Heikki Repo said:

Well, I think it was Bernie who mentioned that. Then again, perhaps he just meant that one has to readjust the whole system if that's done, one can't just switch the GG and expect it to be in correct focus.

To your point of “one can’t really use a different GG in a particular camera” - When I received my ACL the GG had come unglued and was smashed, one of the first things Bernie did to the body was to put in a brand new GG and while he mentioned how lucky I was as it was one of the few remaining ones he had with s16 markings, he made no mention of it being a whole process to switch out because it was specifically for a different ACL- I suppose you’d have to go to Les or Paul now to confirm that’s true but just wanted to note my camera definitely doesn’t have an original GG and the reflex system works perfectly.

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1 hour ago, Travis Shannon said:

To your point of “one can’t really use a different GG in a particular camera” - When I received my ACL the GG had come unglued and was smashed, one of the first things Bernie did to the body was to put in a brand new GG and while he mentioned how lucky I was as it was one of the few remaining ones he had with s16 markings, he made no mention of it being a whole process to switch out because it was specifically for a different ACL- I suppose you’d have to go to Les or Paul now to confirm that’s true but just wanted to note my camera definitely doesn’t have an original GG and the reflex system works perfectly.

Very nice! 

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Got a reply from Paul re the interchangeability of ACL ground glass (gg).  Brings up a couple of interesting facts. Not sure why he's not on this thread himself. He often does. Maybe busy...

"...The big difference in the ACL ground glasses is between the ACL-1 and ACL-2 in that the (2) has the exposure meter scale to the one side that the (1) does not...
 In my experience the internal light meter is of little value and if it were me prepping a camera would disconnect & discard. There is some differences between the two models in relation to the way the prisms with ground glasses mount that I am not remembering clearly at this moment but do remember that I have done work arounds in years past to allow the swap. Bernie Odoherty (Super-16 Inc. here in the states who started out at Sammy's in the late 60's) had done conversions on ACL's utilizing NPR ground glasses with a 1st-surface mirror however it is best to keep ACL ground glasses with their prisms in those cameras if at all possible.
Best,

Paul Scaglione..."

Edited by Gregg MacPherson
more words.
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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Gregg MacPherson said:

...The big difference in the ACL ground glasses is between the ACL-1 and ACL-2 in that the (2) has the exposure meter scale to the one side that the (1) does not...

This is somewhat misleading. The original ACL was produced 1972-1973. Only late SN (2250-->) ACLs (starting from 1979) were officially called ACL2, while a combination of its features were available on ACLs many years before. The lightmeter is one of those features that were available already in 1973. Furthermore, the lightmeter was optional, so some 1973 (and later) ACLs have it while others don't.

Bernie used to remove the lightmeter when he worked on the ACLs. It's a shame though, I thought it was a nice feature for anything more documentary style work.

Edited by Heikki Repo
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UPDATE:  ACL techs, Service data, Manuals and Sourcing parts...

Please edit and use the bold type headline above for updates.

 

If this thread gets long or confusing it might be useful to post an update now and again rather than having people speed reading pages and trying to interpret...So if anyone is keeping up to date and has the urge...

Though the inquisition on the fate of the Arts Media parts may warrant a separate thread...Ha.

Gregg.

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