Jump to content
Luca Bonicalza

Man with a BL - Arriflex 16BL complete refurbishing

Recommended Posts

Hi everybody,


here is Luca from Milano, Italy. How are you?

I'm a camera technician and I've bought an Arriflex 16BL on Ebay (camera and 1 mag from UK, 2 mag and Angenieux 10x12 with blimp from DE) that I want to completely refurbishing, both lens and camera. The camera was ok, I've tested with a battery and everything was working good, and not too noisy! The lens unfortunately has lots of fungus inside, so I'm gong to completely restore it.




I'm writing here because maybe (MAYBE..) it could be interesting for someone, or if someone need explications about the camera, or even if someone has tips and suggestion for my work, I'll be pleased!


My aim is to make the camera in perfect conditions, both esthetically and working one (it works, but it needs a good cleaning). I would like to add a crystal sync unit, that it will probably will Arduino based - Swiss Made (since I'm Swiss eheh). For the zoom, that has a good mechanic but bad optical part, I'll extract all the lenses, clean them and recompose everything.




So, first of all I'm un-assambling all the mags, the blimp and the camera in order to divide all the elements: the ones that needs to be re-anodyze will be sent to the lab, and the mags and the camera will be repainted with the original wrinkle effect. The problem is the serigraphies, that seems to be painted OVER the paint. I don't want to loose them, so I'm thinking for a solution but if someone has a suggestion.. please say it! :D



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Luca,


Good luck with your project! It's quite an undertaking to do a full refurbishment of a camera like that, I'll look forward to your documentation.


Do you work for a rental house? Do you have tools like flange depth gauges, take-up tension gauges, auto-collimators or lens projectors to help you? These days most places have gone digital and the film-related tooling has been disposed of.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Dom,


Thank you! Yes I work in a rental here so I have all the stuff I need because we still have some motion picture film camera that work sometimes eheh!

Yesterday I had some troubles with pictures, I hope it will be better today!


So first of all I've completely unmounted the mags: the mechanical part it is not difficult at all, the worse things are the hinges that are really really tightened, and even with the solvent and heat was difficult to remove the screws.. The most interesting part is that the mechanical support of the film mag is glued to the rest of the mag with rubber, and I had to remove it in order to be able to repaint (and cook the paint) the mag. I don't have pictures of it yet, and I have to finish all the 3 mags because I have to make a "comparator" to place back in the correct position all the parts glued.




here maybe you can see something




Then I had to unglue EVERYTHING!


So since I was looking for pieces to be re-anodyzed I've started with the blimp and the Angenieux 12 120 type b. First of all it was difficult to understand how the lens was suited in the blimp, so I've started removing all the parts I could easily remove. Then, I sow the shock absorber and believe me, it as been REALLY REALLY har to unscrew them. The aluminium is much soft and they are tightned very well!




You ABSOLUTELY have not to try to unscrew the screw, because it's unusefull. Just try to unsrew the "bell" with the two holes. Lot of solvent and heat not much useful, here you can find the differences between a harder "bell" (I even broke the tool) and a softer one:




and then it's easy, you have to unscrew the shock absorber not by the screw but from the two holes (quarter turn and they will gone!) and you can extract the lens. Unmount the Blimp is really easy then:




(above you can see the shock absorber on the right)




Just remember where everything goes.


The zoom is easy too to be opened in its 3 main pieces: focus, zoom and fixed back with iris. I'm not going to work too much on the zoom yet, I've just opened it to take out all the parts I need to re-anodyze.




And then is the camera moment! The mechanism is connected to the chassis by 4 shock absorber: two on the bottom and two on the right side of the camera (two screws). To remove the mechanical from the body, you should remove the blimp mount (the lens mount is on the mechanism), then remove the motor cap (screws on the external part) and then remove the motor by 3 screws from the inside part. Be careful to all the cables, then extract it. This is what you will get:





I hope you will forget me for the quite fast description but I haven't take many pictures, but anyway I'm share that if you will need something in particular you will ask for.

Anyway, you will probably find more informations on my instagram stories, the account is "Goodsock Vision" (Goodsock is the English translation of my surname eheh, and it sounds like Hitchcock maybe!)



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi everybody, here I am!


Last week I haven't done too much, I've just unmounted the exposimeter, but anyway it is not easy as it should be: remove the interior and exterior screw, then it is glued because of the old rubber :rolleyes: It took me half a day that there were not more screws! ahah, anyway, here you can find a picture of the interior part of the exposimeter.




It has a condenser burned, but I'm not going to re-install the exposimeter since I have planned to install a video assist /and I've already have a beam splitter!)


Then I've worked to find a way to recreate serigraphs, maybe I can arrange something, quite expensive but it will be a really nice work! I've also find a professional painter that would help me repainting the camera, he's doing some tests right now. In the midtime I have to unmount all the parts I have to paint, so I'm dividing the magazines and I'm building a jig to replace back correctly the two peaces glued of the mags! Picture soon when I will finish it! (it is because I need to figure out how to do it :D )




I'm actually thinking to repaint the main component of the mechanism, that needs too. I mean, it is sure I will repaint it, I'm going to try to give to the painter ALL the pieces so... Has anybody unmounted it yet? I actually don't want to unmount all the mechanism now..



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting, I'm glad to know several people around the world have similar ideas. following.

Edited by Ruben Arce

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Luca, good to know about you and your endeavours!




Hi Simon, thank you!! No my family is from Winterthur, ZH, but it's 4 generations abroad :rolleyes: I've seen that you are a mechanical engineer: maybe you could help me when I'll realize the crystal sync! It would be amazing!! ;)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi everybody,


it is been a long quiet moment due to the painting tests. I'm actually waiting for the stamps I need to replicate the serigraphs, but I'm also waiting for the 89 pieces I sent to re-anodyze! I should receive everything this week, so probably this week end, when I'll have checked the stamps, I'll bring the pieces I need to re-paint to the coach builder, who has done A LOT of work trying to "cook" the paint (because normal coach cookers are not enough!)

Here you can see a test on the front mag element: this is a test on the original paining and other tests, it was not sanded because we are looking for one only "tour" to the sander (because he is not so close from here).

The result is quite grainy, what do you think about it?


Here original VS repainted:




Here a detail of the wrinkle effect!




I've also finished the element I need to reglue in the correct position the two pieces of the back part of the film mag. Picture soon!


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it looks great. The paint job may look a bit different but that may be because you are comparing it to an old paint job and time has changed it, but over all I think you are doing a great job.


I've been dreaming about doing the same with other cameras, and I'm going to try, I can do the cleaning, paint, leatherette and other things. I think the technology we have these days can help old cameras in so many ways. Batteries are different, 3D printing, lighter electronics and more affordable, nicer tripods and camera stabilizers that can be used with analog cameras even when they didn't designed them thinking about them, In my case I still need to send it to a technician to get the camera LA'd but I guess I can make the job easier for them and I can spend hours doing stuff they wouldn't do.

Good job Lucas, keep it up. It's exciting seeing what you are doing.

Edited by Ruben Arce

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi everybody!
I'm back, I really didn't had the time for anything. In this long period I got reanalyzed all the parts, and I also had all the camera repainted. I'm actually regaling with the rubber the two pats of the mag, using the tool I made before: quite a difficult and loooooong work!

I've assembled the blimp, and repainted the scales! Here you can see two pictures, before and after!




Originally the blimp was making lot of noise so, since I don't want a noisy blimp, I've tried with some abrasive paste to smooth the interior part and that's work pretty good, but I should do it more! And, of course, I put new grease 😛 

Here one picture of the new painting: it is not the original one, but easier to paint and with a really really nice result!


Can you see the difference? 

I don't have more space for pictures, but I hope you enjoy that ones!






Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • CineLab

    Rig Wheels Passport

    Tai Audio

    Broadcast Solutions Inc

    New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment

    Visual Products

    Serious Gear

    Just Cinema Gear

    Paralinx LLC

    FJS International

    The Original Slider

    Abel Cine

    Gamma Ray Digital Inc


    Metropolis Post

    G-Force Grips

    Ritter Battery

    Wooden Camera

    Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

    Cinematography Books and Gear
  • Create New...