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Noah Henderson

Bolex Servicing/Repair in Toronto?

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Does anyone out there know of someone in Toronto that has the ability to service a Bolex H16?

I recently received an old Bolex to my great delight as a gift that I want to shoot on and I have the resources (stock, access to processing, ect.) to do it, but it seems that the camera needs a bit of care in order to get it running again. It winds, the motor runs, and film moves through it properly, the issue though is that it does not keep a constant speed and will slow down at the end of the wind or if it’s in the middle of a roll of film, move very slowly as though the motor is weak. I don’t know nearly enough about the inner workings of this piece of gear in order to consider opening it up and I think that most likely it needs to be cleaned and lubricated.
I’m hoping to find someone in the city to do it because I don’t have the money to ship it off somewhere else and get it serviced. It’s also a non-reflex model so it is quite old and I don’t know the history behind it so I can only assume it’s been a very long time since it’s received proper care.

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Welcome to the forum Noah!

 

What you're describing is pretty typical for a wind up camera. The wind itself only lasts a few seconds and as the spring unwinds it has less and less torque to move the take up reel, so it will slow down. Generally speaking, a full 100ft roll of film will need several winds to complete. The moment you hear the camera start slowing down, that's when you stop shooting and wind it up again. The later cameras have a better regulation system, but no matter how much regulation you have, it's still a spring based system and the spring dictates everything.

 

Unfortunately, servicing Bolex cameras requires many specialized tools, it's not something a regular camera tech can do. There are two speciality Bolex service shops in the US, though I don't know of any in Canada. They're expensive, but worth the price.

 

I personally love the wind up Bolex cameras. When you learn how to use it well, you can do all sorts of neat tricks. One of my favorite is to set it at the highest speed it will go and with an unwound spring, start cranking the spring and you will control the speed of the camera via your hand motion. It gives you a very old-time cinema look with each frame being exposed differently. Of course, it has a great stop motion function as well, rewind function (for double exposure and dissolves) and no batteries required! I can't tell you how much of a pain butt it's been getting my electronic bolex working due to the aging electronics. :(

 

Hope that helps!

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A second warm welcome to the forum, Noah. And welcome to the wonderful precious world of photo-chemical film!

 

I also reside in Toronto and there is only one recommendation and it is simply the best. Jean-Louis Seguin in Montreal services, re-manufactures and offers the best Bolex Clean-Lubricate-Adjustment (CLA) bar none. He services all my Bolex's and many, many others. Not expensive and worth every penny. He is a treasured global resource and will respond to your queries promptly.

 

Please feel free to utilize me as a reference. Check out my Facebook page for lots of photos of his serviced and re-manufactured Bolex.

 

All the best,

 

Nicholas Kovats

 

https://www.facebook.com/UltraPan8WidescreenFilm

Edited by Nicholas Kovats

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The wind itself only lasts a few seconds and as the spring unwinds it has less and less torque to move the take up reel, so it will slow down.

If the regulator is working properly, it doesn't slow down. It runs at constant speed throughout the wind. Even my K3 does that.

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If the regulator is working properly, it doesn't slow down. It runs at constant speed throughout the wind. Even my K3 does that.

Yes, it will run at a constant speed until the end of the wind, where it will taper off. Some of the earlier Bolex cameras don't have a decent regulation system. I remember using one once and being shocked how much it tapered off compared to the later models. Since the OP mentioned his camera NOT being a reflex model, it's one of the very early cameras then. So I was just saying, his problems maybe normal. It's hard to tell without a physical examination.

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I believe that it should taper off, but not as much as it does. If it's in the middle of a roll it will run for only a couple of seconds before barely being able to move the take up reel and that's on a full wind. At the state it's in it would be useless to actually try and film anything with it.

 

I've contacted Jean-Lois Seguin and it sounds like he is my best choice and his price is really good.

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Welcome

A reflex camera will take 21 1/2 turns to wind fully, which in turn gets you approx 28 seconds @ 24FPS. I've been rebuilding them since 1981, somewhere in the mid 90's they switched to a different supplier for the spring material (China???) and after that I was lucky to get them to run

24FPS for a good 20 seconds, regardless of what I did to them mechanically or the type of lube I used.

Here's a batch of motors which could not be sent back to Bolex for new springs as the outer gear ring was damaged.

IMG_7376_zps8ae0479b.jpg

They got so bad guy on the west coast was modifying the wind mechanism so they would only crank about 17 turns.

A look into the workings of a Bolex.

https://youtu.be/v0IqUUnNcdg

Rich

Couldn't get it to embed

Edited by Richard Jura

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