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B&H Filmo 70 DA Jam

Ivan Mack

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Hi all. My new (to me) Filmo 70 DA is in really good condition. Runs fine when unloaded. When I load film it runs for a bit and then slows and jams. I've oiled it with really light mineral oil (watch oil) and that's had no effect (as I said it was in really good nick when I bought it). The film isn't getting mashed anywhere - there's no physical damage and I'm certain I'm loading it correctly.


So I'm thinking something is either trapping the film once it's loaded or the lid is creating friction against one of the spools? Anyone had this before? Or does anyone have any suggestions about where to start looking to find the problem?


I was supposed to be shooting with it this week but it ran to 15' and then started stopping. It definitely sounds like friction builds up and then eventually stalls the shutter wheel or take up sprocket or something. When unloaded it will run and run without problems.

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I would try putting it on a really low frame rate and running through a full wind with no film a few times. Especially if you only just oiled it. Did you put drops in all the oil holes? Try maybe 8 or 16fps.


Listen if it sounds funny at all too.



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Done that. It runs absolutely fine with no film in - at every speed. It's a problem when film is loaded (also at every speed). Also oiled averything that's supposed to be oiled. So my guess is it's something physical about the gap the film has to pass through between the shutter mechanism and the guide or it's something to do with clearence between the spools and the case door. Just wondering whether anyone has seen this before as any clue would be helpful. It's obviously difficult to see what's happening when it's loaded and the back is on. It sounds beautiful - no odd grinding or clunking.

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I was more suggesting running it through a few times to make sure the oil is distributed around the system at low frame rates.


Also check that none of your lenses are hitting the back of the shutter but yes it could be something to do with the clearance between the spools and the case door. Are you sure you locked the case door into place correctly? Sometimes it can be hard to line it up right as I remember.



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Yeah. Pretty sure with all my messing around with it the oil is now in the right places. Certain it's not the lenses as it's not a sudden stall but a slowing down and then stopping - and if the lenses it's be a problem when unloaded too.


It doesn't happen when film is loaded with the lid off so it has to be something to do with the case door. I'm wondering whether I need to take a sliver off the lug that holds the slide that carries the film guide forward against the back of the film, just to increase the gap a little. It almost feels that once that slide is forward and the lid is locked something is pinching the film. But, I don't know how I figure out whether it's something pinching the film or pushing down on the spools. Frustrating as it's a minty camera with one minor problem to try and track down.

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Greetings Ivan...


Don't file anything down on your camera, filings may get into the mechanism.


This may be the cause of your problem.


The arrow in the picture of the inside of the camera cover points to a small cam. This cam has to fit next to the, as you described it, "I need to take a sliver off the lug that holds the slide that carries the film guide forward against the back of the film". Don't do that!





The cam (# 25) fits behind the pin on the film gate arm.


Gate open.......







The gate closed. With the film gate arm closed, when you put the cover on, the cam should sit right behind the pin. See arrow.


This is a 'saftey' mechanism so you don't forget to lock the gate into the closed position! The cover won't close unless the gate is closed. The cam should not put any pressure on the gate! If it is doing that, then loosen the screw holding the cam and adjust it. The cover should drop in place without anything binding it.




From a repair manual...... para e. Gate Arm Eccentric Washer




This adjustment works for all Filmos and Eyemos.




Did you lubricate the shutter and shuttle cam? That's the oil hole on the front of the turret, the 'camera head'








If you are careful, you can oil here also.....






You can use this oil also, get it at a Hardware store, cheaper than amazon.




Good luck!


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Brilliant. that's almost certainly it. Isn't it really funny that you just need either another pair of eyes or some expertise in this case to see something obvious. It sounded and felt like the clearence was being squeezed after shutting the case but I can't believe I didn't notice the cam!!


Cheers for that. I know who to go to in future. :)

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Ok. So I got back home and checked the inside of the lid. The reason I hadn't noticed a cam is that there isn't one. :( I'm guessing from the turret on yours it's a DL or DH whereas Mine is a DA and seems to have a different lid and film gate arm construction. See attached pic of the lid. No cam.


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Ahhh, and early DA.


I have to look to see if I have a DA, I think the oldest I have in the 'D' series is a DL. I have a B&H service manual that covers the DA, but I've have to read through it (don't have it scanned). Yes, the example I photographed in my 1st reply is a DR.


But, let me ask this...

Is the serial number on the cover (on the right side in your cover pic) the same as the serial number of your camera body?

Let me know.


A DL cover with the cam.



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Yeah. I think it is early too. The serial number 247592 is the same in both the lid and the base of the body next to the tripod mount. I had worried about that too after I could find no cam. Be interested to know the date of manufacture.

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Your DA has the 'floating film guard rollers'. These were eliminated in the DL model onward. Are you threading your camera properly? I know it's a silly question, but one can make a mistake. The film should come off the feed reel, and then take-up on the take-up reel between those guards..... see pic below

correct way....


This would be the wrong way...... floating film guard rollers - yellow arrows


This is the difference between the film gate arm on your DA, and then how B&H changed it, possibly on later DAs and on the DL.

DA (this is from a Filmo 70 A)


DL....... Film gate arm with a 'Gate retaining stud'


I ran film through both my cameras, applying pressure on the back of the film gate arm, where the cover would hit the arm....... I couldn't get it to slow down.

In the early days of the 70 camera, B&H would hand fit the cover to the body, then put the serial number on the cover. This was to make sure the door would fit so there wasn't a problem with too much pressure on the Film gate arm, and that the cover seated properly. They then changed it to the use of the cam and the Gate retaining stud, easier to adjust.

In the manual I have for the DA, it shows a parts illustration of the cover for the DA camera. They show the parts for the cam to be attached to the door. So, possibly, later DAs had the cam for the Film gate arm.

I re-read your posts. You say the film doesn't jam with the door off, is that correct? Does the cover fit tightly before you turn the 2 latches to lock the cover on? The cover should just drop on without the use of any pressure to align it. Look at the back of the cover to see if there is a gap.

This is my A, with the gate opened 1/16 of inch....


I could not turn the latches to lock it.

I took the A door and put it on a DL, gate closed, no problem latching it closed.

About turning the cover 'latches'..... without use, and over the years, they will freeze up, or become very hard to tun. Dirt and dried oil. They are hard to disassemble and you would need new parts to get them back together. Put a couple of drops of oil on the outside side (red arrows), on both latches, and start turning them open and closed, dozens of times! lol. Don't over oil, it will migrate to the inside! Keep working them until they become loose...... Always wipe up excess oil.


Let me know....

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Definitely threading it correctly.

I can get it to slow by applying a fair amount of pressure to the film gate arm.


In terms of the cover, it doesn't fit tightly and drops into place with the latches turning smoothly provided the film gate arm is pushed fully forward. If the film gate arm is to the rear at all the lid doesn't drop into place and the latches don't turn at all. I'm definitely not forcing it down or forcing the latches to close it.


Little bit stuck without anything to adjust. I guess I'll keep looking at places where the film or spools could be getting snagged - for example there's two little tabs that stick out from the inside of the lid to make contact with the spools. I'm wondering if perhaps some spools are slightly thicker and are contacting these tabs too much?

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Here's a time-line for the 70 DA. I can't give an exact year from your serial number, but this will give you a rough idea.

I can say your camera is at least 53 years old.


There's a guy at this forum (the moderator) that might be able to help you out, he collects serial numbers for B&H Filmos trying to establish a time-line, or approximate date of manufacture:





I put this time-line together from B&H printed material I've collected.



7/1926 B&H introduces the new 70 D camera. New features are, 7 filming
speeds (a new governor), the 3 lens turret on the camera head and a
‘Variable spyglass viewfinder’ with the field areas of 6 different focal
length lenses. Price, with 1’ Universal focusing f-3.5 lens, and case,
1930 B&H offers the ‘critical focuser’ as an accessory, you have to send the 70 D camera
to the factory to have it fitted on the camera.
1931 B&H offers the 70 D with the critical focuser equipped on a new
camera, the 70 DA. Price with 1’ focusing f-3.5 lens and case, $280.00
In the 1930s, B&H also offered modifications to the 70 D and 70DA including:
Hand Crank, External 200 ft and 400 ft mags, and motor drive.
1940 B&H offers, as an accessory modification for the 70 and 70DA, the
‘Positive Viewfinder’ with 3 objective lens turret.
After the War, B&H offers the 70 DE camera with the 3 objective lens turret and the Hand Crank built into the new camera. I don’t have paper that shows the exact date this was introduced, until 1948.
The new built-in turret finder looks like this.....
1948 B&H lists just the 70DA and 70 DE cameras.
1950 The last year the DA was offered, the retail price for the DA with 1” F-1.9 Super Comat
was $329.70.
The DE with the same lens was $399.50. No cases.
1951 B&H only lists the 70 DL camera. Price with 1” F-1.9 Super Comat was $365.50





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I checked several 70 cameras I have. I could not get them to malfunction using a cover with the raised tabs like the ones on the inside side of your cover.




I used a full 100 ft load of film. Both daylight loading reels were the metal ones like Kodak uses, R-90. In all the years using these cameras, I've never encountered any speed problem relating to the cover. If you are using any reels other than these, plastic ones, or severely bent metal ones, that may be the problem.



R-90 Spool

A metal camera spool with a 3.615-inch (92 mm) flange diameter and a 1 1/4-inch (32 mm) core diameter. Square hole with single keyway in both flanges. Center hole configuration aligns on both flanges. For 100 ft (30 m) film loads.


There may be some old reels floating around, maybe that came with your camera, that have a square hole on one side and a round hole on the other. They could be marked Bell & Howell, Kodak R-90, Kodak, Cine Kodak, or DuPont. The newer reels have square holes on each side.


However, what I think is wrong with your camera is, simply, it needs to be taken apart and cleaned, removing the old dried oil and grease.


Your camera most likely sat for decades without being used or oiled. The instruction book recommends oiling it after a month of non-use. So the oil and grease in the camera dried up over time. Adding new oil got it running, and it sounds good without film. But the dried oil and dirt is still in there, gumming it up and putting a drag on the mechanism, not running at 100% as it was designed. The shaft for many of the gears sit in brass bushings on the 2 plates, and these get gummed up from the dried oil.


You load the film, wind the spring up for full power and the camera starts out running at speed. The film traveling through the sprockets and gate is putting a load on the mechanism. As the spring winds down it's loosing it's power, and the weight of the film is building up on the take-up reel, dragging the take-up clutch. As the un-winding spring gets weaker, it can't drive the mechanism at speed anymore, the camera slows down and stops when the spring is fully un-wound. If the camera is in top shape, there's a 'buck tooth' on one of the gears called the 'stop gear' that stops the camera before the spring completely un-winds. This prevents the camera from loosing speed before the spring is so weakened it can't drive it.


Too me, it sounds like the governor in your DA needs cleaning and re-oiling. Also the main drive off the spring 'motor' needs to be taken apart, cleaned, greased and re-oiled. The repair manuals suggest opening and cleaning the old oil off the mechanism if the camera is not running at speed.


I've had this happen to several Filmos I have.


Get it cleaned if you want to use it, or look for a later model camera - DL, DR, and gamble again. Use the lenses from your DA on the newer model if you want that old lens look.


Another thought, the spring could be loosing it's power and needs to be replaced. However, I've only heard of the spring breaking.


Search for old posts in the forum here. There's other discussion about this.






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The reason for wanting to use the DA is it is an appropriate model for reenacting the work of WW2 US army Signal Corps 16mm cinematogrphers. I'm involved in a group that portrays Signal Corps photographers. Currently I do a lot of stills shooting on a 40's Speed Graphic and an Argus C (35mm) but want to start shooting some authentic looking 16mm combat reels using other reenactors as the subjects. (I already shoot a bit of 8mm in 'real life' so figured it'd be relatively straightforward to get going). Got about 1400' of 16mm double perf in the fridge ready to have a play with.


Anyways, we have a blog with plenty of still images captured on a range of period cameras at http://armypictorialservice.tumblr.com/

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  • 3 months later...

I finally solved the problem. It was very subtle and not immediately obvious, but essentially incorrect loading. I was threading the film in the correct way but unfortunately was not leaving enough slack film either side of the gate. If I load making sure that the film isn't tight into the gate and there's enough of a loop either side there aren't any jams, at any speeds.


Took a while but have shot 300' so far and looking forward to the results.


Thanks all.

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  • 1 year later...

Hi again all.


So, I've been shooting this Filmo pretty successfully for the last year. About halfway through the penultimate film it developed a pulldown or registration issue flickering and streaking with the image frequently dragged down every few frames. It's done it all the way through the last film shot. Anyone any ideas on what to look at to diagnose the problem?


Any help much appreciated.

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  • Sustaining Member

Well, it sounds like either the loops are too small OR the film is skipping on pulldown. This is generally caused by a backplate issue. That camera is very simple and I can't imagine the pulldown claw itself being a problem as it's directly connected to a spindle which is very hard to damage. The pressure plate spring could snap though and have not enough pressure for the film to stay even when being exposed.


I'd love to see a sample, generally these are pretty easy to diagnose.

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Pretty sure what looks like leaks is from unloading in a non lightproof tent. Have tested the body with scrap film. It was jamming quite a bit too on that roll which would fit with loss of loop. Might need to look at my loading technique and run some test strips with the door off to look at if the loop disappears.

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The orange fogging at either end is to be expected- you should run off a couple of feet at the start- but there is intermittent white fogging to the right of the frame. I'm not sure what is causing that. Light leaks are usually orange.

Edited by Mark Dunn
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  • Sustaining Member

Yea, the video you posted is most likely a problem with the lower loop. Since what you see is reversed in the camera, it can't be the upper loop. Perhaps the film is being yanked by the sprocket which pulls on the spring loaded backplate and that's causing the problem. To me, that would be the first place I'd look.


First thing to do is take a junk roll of film and thread it through the camera to see if there are any obvious issues. My guess is, the loop is failing on start/stop for some reason. So you thread it right, you test it and then when you put the cover back on it, the loop fails. That generally is caused by the pulldown claw not activating the film during start and stop. So the film is being yanked by the sprocket, the loop is lost and eventually the camera will jam.

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