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Arriflex 16BL Problem, Why do both cameras do this


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Hi.

I have 2 Arriflex 16BL's (4 mags), and every single time I load film into one, regardless of which magazine I use, this happens. See video posted here.. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmZgD-JbLFI&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=BrendanCollins

Anyone have any idea? Motor seems to slow down with film as well, runs at normal speed when no mag is on the camera. Occasionally will run film just fine without this grinding noise. Both cameras do it. Never have had a problem before. I took the assembly out and I don't see any stripped or worn gears internally... SOS

Thanks!

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The gear shafts can get super sticky. Just spin the movement by hand, it should feel super smooth and not require much effort. Where I don't know much about the BL, the 2C mags are nearly identical in design philosophy and that problem happens a lot, very common. Any tension on the system will be a LOUD gear noise like you're dealing with. So check that first. 

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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

The gear shafts can get super sticky. Just spin the movement by hand, it should feel super smooth and not require much effort. Where I don't know much about the BL, the 2C mags are nearly identical in design philosophy and that problem happens a lot, very common. Any tension on the system will be a LOUD gear noise like you're dealing with. So check that first. 

Tyler- Are you talking the movement in the camera or the movement in the magazine ? Thanks! 

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5 hours ago, Brendan Collins said:

Hi.

I have 2 Arriflex 16BL's (4 mags), and every single time I load film into one, regardless of which magazine I use, this happens. See video posted here.. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmZgD-JbLFI&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=BrendanCollins

Anyone have any idea? Motor seems to slow down with film as well, runs at normal speed when no mag is on the camera. Occasionally will run film just fine without this grinding noise. Both cameras do it. Never have had a problem before. I took the assembly out and I don't see any stripped or worn gears internally... SOS

Thanks!

Clickable link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmZgD-JbLFI&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=BrendanCollins

When you say you've never had a problem before are you saying the cameras didn't do this before? And now they both make this noise with every mag? But sometimes the noise goes away? 

Do they make the noise without film loaded? Do the mags sound noisy or feel resistant when you turn the drive gear by hand? How about when you turn the camera over with the inching knob? Can you isolate the noise to an area? (On the video it seems louder inside the film chamber than outside next to the drive and mag gears.) 

How do the cameras sound without a mag? Does the noise change if you tilt the cameras around?

Normally if a camera loses speed the sync warning light should go on, if I remember right. Presumably the battery is good, with decent capacity? Recently re-celled?

Have the cameras ever been serviced or looked over by a technician?

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10 hours ago, Dom Jaeger said:

Clickable link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmZgD-JbLFI&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=BrendanCollins

When you say you've never had a problem before are you saying the cameras didn't do this before? And now they both make this noise with every mag? But sometimes the noise goes away? 

Do they make the noise without film loaded? Do the mags sound noisy or feel resistant when you turn the drive gear by hand? How about when you turn the camera over with the inching knob? Can you isolate the noise to an area? (On the video it seems louder inside the film chamber than outside next to the drive and mag gears.) 

How do the cameras sound without a mag? Does the noise change if you tilt the cameras around?

Normally if a camera loses speed the sync warning light should go on, if I remember right. Presumably the battery is good, with decent capacity? Recently re-celled?

Have the cameras ever been serviced or looked over by a technician?

Dom, Neither camera has done this before. Both recently serviced within the last 2 years. (Very light use since)

They do not make the noise when no mag is on the camera. They sound normal when running with no mag. I have very good batteries, so this is not an issue. (12V 9amp new). One BL is stock, the other has a tobin system (I believe the TX-15 with variable speeds 1-50fps)

Occasionally, the noise will happen with no film in the camera or mag, but 9 times out of 10, they make noise with film threaded through. I've taken apart the mags to see if there is any emulsion, film chips, etc and nothing seems clogged. One magazine is completely stuck due to film getting stuck internally.

I have noticed however, the film doesn't line up with the sprocket holes until about 10 feet is threaded through, and then will line up just fine for about 10-15 feet, then go back to not lining up. I'm thinking the magazines need to be serviced as Tyler had mentioned above? Is this something you are familiar with/something I can tackle myself? (I'm confident enough to take an entire BL out of the casing to check for obvious signs.. Unsure on how to tackle the mags in terms of servicing.   @Dom Jaeger

I'm not able to send in for servicing mags/cameras for a while as I just got my SR1 repaired, so that budget has been spent for a while. (Plus most places I've inquired about my SR1 are about 2-3 months behind on work, luckily someone got me in earlier)

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7 hours ago, Brendan Collins said:

I have noticed however, the film doesn't line up with the sprocket holes until about 10 feet is threaded through, and then will line up just fine for about 10-15 feet, then go back to not lining up. I'm thinking the magazines need to be serviced as Tyler had mentioned above? Is this something you are familiar with/something I can tackle myself? (I'm confident enough to take an entire BL out of the casing to check for obvious signs.. Unsure on how to tackle the mags in terms of servicing.  

What do you mean the film doesn’t line up with the sprocket holes? That sounds like it needs investigating.

Those mags are usually pretty easy to service - the take-up tension is just the pads pressing on the spindle drums. If it feels tight to turn the drive gear by hand they might need more investigation, check where the tightness is coming from, maybe clean and put a drop of oil in the spindle shaft bushings. The most likely thing is film chips in the throat causing problems, the film should move freely through. 

Otherwise, if you’ve pulled things apart recently, could something be not put back right or misaligned that has caused the change in noise?

You might need to wait to get a tech to look over the gear if you can’t find the issue yourself. Diagnosis over the net is no substitute for having something in front of you.

 

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10 minutes ago, Dom Jaeger said:

What do you mean the film doesn’t line up with the sprocket holes? That sounds like it needs investigating.

Those mags are usually pretty easy to service - the take-up tension is just the pads pressing on the spindle drums. If it feels tight to turn the drive gear by hand they might need more investigation, check where the tightness is coming from, maybe clean and put a drop of oil in the spindle shaft bushings. The most likely thing is film chips in the throat causing problems, the film should move freely through. 

Otherwise, if you’ve pulled things apart recently, could something be not put back right or misaligned that has caused the change in noise?

You might need to wait to get a tech to look over the gear if you can’t find the issue yourself. Diagnosis over the net is no substitute for having something in front of you.

 

Thanks for the reply @Dom Jaeger 

Both camera's were making the noise before just removing them from the housing/casing. (second camera, TXM-15, I only took front mount/motor cover off to view gearing internally to check if something was stripped). 

One magazine I just now took completely apart. It definitely free'd up and spins much more easily. (This was the one that had film stuck within it, and the throat had chips of film as expected from old film being used as a tester) All other magazines move very easily by hand. Noted that the take up side is slightly tighter than the starting reel side on all magazines. (Normal?)

 Inching knob works just fine in both cameras, frame rate with an empty magazine hovers at 24FPS as needed. Both cameras sound perfectly fine when running with no film loaded. (The NON-Tobin/ standard arri 16bl/one i took apart and re-assembled is a little louder than the other in terms of general sound created, but not by much, but definitely slightly louder.) 

 However, it does seem to continue to have the same issue on both cameras. (FPS drops down to 18-22 when film is loaded, remains 24FPS with no film within the magazine) 

By the film not lining up with the sprockets, I am saying that when threading the film through the magazine, obviously the spindle has sprockets on it, and these start to line up normally with the perforations on the film, but then after about 10 feet of film has been run through, they are no longer lining up. In a sense of the sprockets of the magazine are now creating their own sprocket holes about  anywhere from 0.5 - 1.0mm to the side of where the perforations on the film are. After an additional 5-10 feet of film has been through, they line back up as normal again. Cycle may repeat, or line up perfectly for the duration of the remaining film.  

I find it odd that both cameras are doing this, and both have the issue at the same exact time. Both have been stored in their cases in a bedroom, (old new england home, so more temperature changes than a modern home)

I cannot tell if this would be a magazine or an internal problem, I am quite stumped, as the magazines move freely on their own (Excluding the sprocket hole dilemma which I once again don't understand), the cameras run at 24FPS constant with no magazine, will run at 24fps with an empty magazine... So if my logic is right here, its a magazine issue i would assume, but on all 4 at the same time...? Seems odd.. 

 

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Yes it does seem odd.

If the sprocket roller in the mag is punching new perforations in the film then you have a big problem there. Something is not aligned properly, and you are adding a lot of resistance which will increase the noise. You will also be clogging things with more film chips. So I would be looking closely at that to work out why that’s happening. I don’t know how experienced you are, but obviously make sure the mags are being properly loaded and laced as per the manual. If this is happening across all your gear maybe there’s an error in loading rather than a fault with the equipment.

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You don’t use spools in the mags, dou you? There are plastic film spools circulating that are not conform with the standard, too wide. Cores can be bad as well. A correct core is slightly narrower than the film and has nothing that protrudes to the sides. Next, the film should not make any jaunt, must be wound evenly from core to head. From the descriptions I can imagine non flat film rolls. Else, a technician should go over the system.

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6 hours ago, Brendan Collins said:

By the film not lining up with the sprockets, I am saying that when threading the film through the magazine, obviously the spindle has sprockets on it, and these start to line up normally with the perforations on the film, but then after about 10 feet of film has been run through, they are no longer lining up. In a sense of the sprockets of the magazine are now creating their own sprocket holes about  anywhere from 0.5 - 1.0mm to the side of where the perforations on the film are. After an additional 5-10 feet of film has been through, they line back up as normal again. Cycle may repeat, or line up perfectly for the duration of the remaining film.

Yep, per my previous comment. What's happening is that the gears that drive the sprockets (yes on the magazines) could be spinning on their shafts because something is too tight. If you pull that assembly apart, you can spin each gear individually until ya find the culprit. Last one I had this problem with (Arri 2C not 16mm BL but similar mag design) took a lot of work to get apart. The shaft had worn down to the point where the anodizing had completely gone missing in some sections. It was easy to repair, clean off the shaft, re-lubricate with some grease and off to the races. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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@Dom Jaeger , @Tyler Purcell , @Simon Wyss 

Okay so I've disassembled a magazine, lubricated, and rebuilt it. (Used other 3 magazines as a reference to be 100% sure everything is installed properly/correctly). Problem still occurs. Tried different film stock. Tried different cores.. Still doing the same thing. What the heck! 

I cannot figure this out. I've taken a video to explain/show what's happening. Maybe this representation will explain it better? I start talking at 1 minute, I also don't know every terminology as I'm someone with no education in this field but a large hobbyist. 

See this here

My main problem is with the film, obviously creating its own path into the sprockets. This happens with all four magazines I have. I feel as if I'm doing something wrong, but I'm almost positive I'm not.

 

The only other side problem I've noted in the video is of my arri 16bl with stock motor- the large gear with the clutch assembly behind it, the screw won't unscrew/tighten completely, probably is the cause of the louder noise compared to my 16BL with tobin. Any idea here? Also see my new post for a problem I have with my 16M. (Much simpler fix/explanation, just need quick advice!) 

 

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Well first off, don't move the film through the throat by pulling on the take-up. That is trying to drive the whole assembly using the film perfs to pull on the sprocket teeth, which just causes the film to tear and slip. It needs to work the other way round, with the sprockets moving the film. So you need to lace the film through by turning the drive gears, not pulling on the take-up film.

Cameras can be noisy with the door open, but the important thing is how quiet they are with the door closed. If you've done everything you can to free up the mags and the cameras seem to run normally but you still feel it's too noisy with the door closed, it needs an experienced tech to look it over. These are decades old precision machines with lots of fine tuning possibilities and possible wear points.

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Yea as Dom alluded to, you can't drive the film by turning the take up reel, it doesn't work. You have to drive the film with the back off and turning the big wheel OR the sprockets themselves. 

I've shot a lot with a BL and they are NOT quiet cameras by any stretch of the imagination with the door open. So yes, gear noise is pretty normal. Sure, if you sent it into a tech and had it re-built, it would be a lot quieter, but that movement is loud. 

 

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  • 2 months later...
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I hope you've got this worked out Brendan, but one thing I noticed from your video is that your loops inside the camera are way too tight. The white line engraved on the inside of the camera shows you where the minimum loop should ride, they will bounce further out than that as the camera is running, but they need to be at least that loose, in your video you have them way too tight. That will effect the way the camera runs when you are shooting.

Best, -Tim

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  • 3 weeks later...

The ARRI is very likely different however in loading your magazines, it is possible for the film to pass on the wrong side of an outfeeding roller. This can happen with a CP16 magazine's light trap roller. The CP16 camera will tolerate it but also may scratch the film. 

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Something went pearshaped when editing the previous response so here is another try.

 

The ARRI is very likely different however in loading your magazines, it is possible for the film to pass on the wrong side of an outfeeding roller. This can happen with a CP16 magazine's light trap roller. The CP16 camera will tolerate it but also may scratch the film. 

I observed that you were dragging on the film to action the camera motion. You will damage the film as the gearing becomes an increase drive. It is a reduction drive when powered by the camera motor. If the film is walking off the side of a sprocket then what may be happening is the sprocket itself bending off-axis due to an overload.

The bend may not be in the sprocket shaft or its bearings although if they are worn, then this is possible. there may be flexing of the magazine's structure under an overload state which forces the sprocket shaft off-axis. If that is happening, what then is causing that overload state?

Is the film passing on the wrong side of a roller of sprocket?

Is the film loop within the camera too short and pulling up tight on the infeed or outfeed sprockets, imposijng an overload, bending the sprocket/shaft/magazine case off axis and walking off?

Are the clutches on the magazine spool axles adjusted too tight or have become contaminated with oil and become grabby? - I am assuming that the ARRI magazines use a clutch on the take-up spool axle or underneath a driven gear.

There may also be a clutch on the in-feed spool axle it the driven gear if the camera is capable of reveerse operation. 

While the rotational speed of the transport sprockets remains constant with the camera speed, the take-up spool must rotate at varying speed to compensate for the roll of film becoming wider and by necessity must turn increasingly slower.

In the CP16, the magazine is driven by two belts, one an elastic belt which can slip before film is broken and another cogbelt. In the event of a lockup, the worst that can happen is to wipe the little teeth off the cogbelt. 

The ARRI has a gear system which will not so easily forgive an overtight or jammed clutch. It will bog and eventually ruin the electric motor. The narrow magazine gears may warp and skip teeth which will ruin them soon enough.

I have no idea how the film tension is adjusted with the clutches on the ARRI. As I mentioned above, they may be on the magazine's spool axles or may be inside or behind the driven gears.

If they are on the axles like the CP16, then the adjustment will be a threaded nut or wheel on the axle shaft, which pulls a flat disk down onto a short coiled spring which pushes against a clutch plate. The clutch plate may be free-sliding on the shaft with a key or spline to rotate it or a diaphragm spring which does the same job s the coil spring and plate. It will look like a really skinny wide washer and may have holes or spokes in it.

In both systems, the threaded wheel or nut will be secured by a small grub screw which binds it to the axle shaft and hold the adjustment until wear makes another adjustment necessary. The friction material ay be a thin phenolic disk or felt. If contaminated by oil wicking out from the shaft bearing, the phenolic disk will simply slip easier and lose tension. The felt disk may become skippy, alternately slipping then gripping hard. This will affect the speed stability and in extreme conditions may cause varying exposure of the film as the transport stutters.

Depending upon the direction of rotation and thread being either clockwise or anticlockwise, if that grub screw loosens, the clutch adjustment may self-tighten or self-loosen. If the clutch self-loosens, the take-up spool will stop winding the film which will gather up inside the camera and jam. If it self-tightens, then the tension on the film will increase and loading on the geardriven sprocket will increase and cause the issues you are having.

If the clutch tension is to strong, then the film will wind on very tight and may cinch the emulsion causing short vertical scratches. If the wind is too loose, then it will fall apart like a roll of toilet paper off the plastic core when you try to extract the roll and send you insane trying to wind it back on. 

Knowing just how particular ARRI was with precison engineering and how well thought out the film drive itself is, there may be user-adjustable knobs on the centres of the take-up and infeed centres on the outside of the magazine to fine tune the clutch adjustments. However I am really only guessing here. 

Wait for better brains than mine to contribute advice based on the actual service manual for the camera.

Edited by Robert Hart
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Furthur to the above, I had a look at your video and I think I understand the clutch system. It is similar to that of old tape reel-to-reel tape recorders, old analogue and early pre-servo drive digital video cameras. 

The amount of pressure upon those little felt brake pads which push against the nylon wheels appears to be determined by a common clutch on the rocking yoke. There appears to be a diaphragm spring with spokes at the pivot point of that rocking yoke. It is too hard for me to see in your video on my computer but my bet is on there being an adjustment screw in the centre of that rocking yoke's spoked diaphragm spring. Clever ARRI because it is a system which historically has been very reliable. That diaphragm spring likely has a friction disk beneath it.

Now this is where it will get tricky. ARRI servicemen probably used a tension gauge to measure the resistance of that clutch. If you go taking it all apart without counting rotations of an adjustment  screw or whatever, you could be on a ride to the hell of frustration.There may be a very narrow margin between too loose and too tight. If you can, get somebody to video your adjustment efforts so you can return to go. The clutch may be gummy and incapable of adjustment to a consistent tension.

If you are lucky, then backing off the tension in quarter turn increments may get you what you want. 

 

Edited by Robert Hart
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I just got locked out again. further to the above. Before you go messing with the clutch tension, check those little felt pads to see if they have become shiny with contamination. If they have, you will feel them squeal under your fingers as you attempt to spin the white nylon wheel. Be very careful not to bed or pull on that yoke or you will ruin it. It will probably ne sufficient to clean them by wetting a piece of paper with isopropyl alcohol and easing the paper back and forth between the pad and the wheel in the same and reverse direction of the rotation. Don't try any adjustments until that alcohol has had a chance to dry off. If the felt has become polished and squealy, then the texture of the paper may roughen it up sufficiently. Do not try roughening the white wheel. You'll only bugger it up for good. Do not use any sort of abrasive to soften the felt. It will remain in the felt and ruin the polished surface of the white wheel. Be careful dressing the felt. It may pull off from the yoke if you apply pressure to the yoke. Just let it do its thing from the clutch tension pushing it not by adding pressure. It is does come off, you will find that toluene-based contact adhesive will re-attach it successfully. Just use a little smear on the felt and the metal tab and don't let it soak or press into the felt. Again, wait for better brains than mine to contribute, preferably from the ARRI service manual.

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Once you have adjusted the clutch tension, get hold of a full roll of junk film, load it and run it through to make sure it takes-up firmly all the way to the end but not too tight. You may have to mess around a few times to get it right and it may fall out of adjustment after a few rolls but after re-adjustment should be more stable thererafter. Good luck with it. The ARRI pin-registered transport is as good as it gets. Don't scrimp on getting the cam actuators and little helical gear serviced. If cameras sleep for six months, the lube goes off and needs cleaning then replacing.

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After managing to get the video larger on the screen and stopping the playback, it looks like that the clutch tension in the centred of the yoke is non-adjustable and there may be adjustment knobs in the centres of the white wheels themselves. The little felt pads on the yoke ends may be light brakes to stop rolls from unwinding or flywheeling the motion when the drive is not going to them. If there are not adjustment knobs then they may be fasteners and adjustment of tension may be by spacers or shims under springs like on tape recorders. It is too hard to know what the system is although if I had it in my paws I would work it out easily. That's it from me. Time to go to roost as it is very late.

Edited by Robert Hart
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4 hours ago, Robert Hart said:

After managing to get the video larger on the screen and stopping the playback, it looks like that the clutch tension in the centred of the yoke is non-adjustable and there may be adjustment knobs in the centres of the white wheels themselves. The little felt pads on the yoke ends may be light brakes to stop rolls from unwinding or flywheeling the motion when the drive is not going to them. If there are not adjustment knobs then they may be fasteners and adjustment of tension may be by spacers or shims under springs like on tape recorders. It is too hard to know what the system is although if I had it in my paws I would work it out easily. That's it from me. Time to go to roost as it is very late.

Robert Thank you for the replies. 

I ultimately figured out the problem, well problems. First one was that there was chipped pieces of film within the magazines. Secondly, the film had shrunk some, and lastly, I managed once or twice to slip the film on the wrong side of the gearing in the magazines, causing it to get taught and rip. It was user error. I sacrificed a vision 2 roll, and ran it through about 30 times in all magazines (all 6), and it worked just fine on both cameras. 

The tensioners/clutches from when I took it apart, The tensions were all good, however I did have to lubricate the sprocket shaft on one magazine, as you mentioned the grub screw to take it off the shaft, this had dried up grease that was all gummed up. 

Either way, I managed to fix the problems, for now. I've seemed to not have much luck with any BL's I've owned, they seem to be very needy!

(I say that as the handle trigger on one no longer works randomly... runs once power is plugged in... >.<) 

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I got locked out again when adding to the response above. Here it is repeated.

A good outcome then. I hope I did not send you off on dead-ends with the first few responses. 

On feeding the film-end through the magazine sprockets when loading in a darkroom or blackbag, with the CP16 mags, I find it helpful to make a single-fold arrowhead about 30mm or 1.5" long instead of cutting an arrowhead on the film. The fold holds the end rigid so the film does not curl under and click into the space on the wrong side of the sprocket.

That may not be ideal for the ARRI magazine if the film actually wraps around the sprocket inside of a pair of idler rollers. If that is the design, then my folded arrowhead may cause the film to feed badly every time. Another way to be sure is to cut a short leader, feed that through and check it is right, then in the darkroom or blackbag, tape the free end of the raw film to the free end of the leader and draw it through.

Use masking tape or the little strip of tape which came with the film roll. If using a new piece of tape, cut it narrow so the sprocket holes are not covered up. 

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