Part 2. The Basics


Chapter 6. Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is very important. It can make the difference between having
a reliable projector that will go on and on indefinitely, and a machine that drives you
crazy because of its unpredictability. 

Keep an eye on the drive and arm belts. Every so often, remove them and wipe them
thoroughly with a dry cloth. This gets rid of any oil or grease they might have acquired.
It also gives you a chance to inspect them for signs of deterioration. While the belts
are off, clean the pulleys, give the bearings a little oil and rotate them a few times.
Before replacing the belts, make sure all excess oil is removed.

Too much oil is the most common problem with projectors. Stray oil can gum up
motor brushes, destroy insulation and clog sound systems. For this reason, user
manuals used to indicate that all lubrication should be left to trained technicians.
As experts are now very thin on the ground, you will have to work out your
own lubrication schedule. The information in Part 5 may help.

Use the highest quality products available. Use minimal amounts. A smear of grease
on the drive gear is enough; there is no need to smother the cogs. On a projector
that is used only once a week, one drop of oil on a bearing is likely to be too much.
The vital thing is to keep checking all moving parts regularly to make sure the
lubrication is still there and doing its job. Perhaps once a year clean off all grease
and replace it. It’s not a bad idea to take the rollers off and clean their bearings too.
This gets rid of any dust and grit that may have accumulated. Don’t touch sealed
bearings. If you are concerned that they haven’t been looked at for thirty or
more years, refer them to a specialist (see Chapter 7 - Resources). But they
are probably still in excellent working order and good for another thirty years.

Cleaning the film path is discussed in detail in the Procedures chapter. However,
the rest of the projector needs attention from time to time. If unattended,
dust can build up in unseen crevices and corners. Overenthusiastic lubrication
can result in oil and grease being sprayed all over the interior workings of
machines, and dust just loves oil and grease. Keep your projector clean all
over, inside and out.  

Metal reels are tough and reliable. They don’t warp and they don’t break easily.
Unless they are badly bent, they don’t grab. But they are heavy, and if you are
screening a big reel the extra load on the projector will not help its performance.

Plastic reels are light and under most circumstances perform very well. But if
they are not in good condition they tend to grab film, and this can really spoil
your day. Over time, the sides of plastic reels have a natural tendency to move
inwards towards each other. You can help prevent this happening by storing
reels properly.

An empty reel should never be laid down flat, as the top side will gradually
droop, narrowing the gap between the two sides. If used on a projector it
will grab film and be useless. For the same reason, empty reels should never
be stacked flat on top of one another.

Reels should be stored hanging vertically from a peg. Even better, before
you hang them up, cut strips of strong cardboard 18 mm wide and insert
them between the sides of each reel, winding them around for at least a
full circle. This maintains the gap between the sides.

Rejuvenating Reels
Plastic reels that grab film can be restored to usable condition. Cut strips
of cardboard 18 mm wide, insert them between the sides of the reel, hang
the reel up and forget it for a few months, the longer the better.
Distorted metal reels are, unfortunately, beyond salvation.