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Bolex H16 REX-4 making scraping dry sounds when running.


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#1 Ashley Summers

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 11:55 AM

I have another question,
this time about the my Bolex H16 Rex-4 camera, I’d especially appreciate any thoughts from Bob Lewis and Jean-Louis Seguin as they have been amazing; familiarizing me with my zoom lens and how it works.

After having read that the spring should be wound down when the camera is not in use; I set the camera to its slowest frame rate and let it run (I have ordered spools and some leader to test the transport -is that the right term?- at all speeds but am awaiting their arrival).

It made two sounds: One was the familiar “ticaticatica” sounded like a camera basically. The other sounded like something dry turning and scraping.

To give a bit of history, the camera I believe has been very well cosmetically taken care of, but I get the impression from the seller that it has been laying dormant for some years – having belonged to another member of his family who more or less displayed it as an orniment. I therefore got it for what I think was a good price as he couldn’t say what kind of working condition it was in.

The plate at the back of the cameras interior has been unscrewed perhaps a number of times judging by the wear to some of the screw heads. The camera has also at some time been used with a motor judging by wear around the socket for motor attachment.
As far as I can see from running it with the lid off, things in the camera are moving ok, and are quite clean - but there is the horrible noise – and I am now nervous to wind it and run it again to inspect it further for fear something is getting damaged. The sound appears to be coming from deep within the enclosed part of the camera.

Does this sound like a familiar problem or is it impossible to tell without hearing it and having a look? Is it likely I will cause further damage by winding and running it?

Any thoughts would be great. I could record and post the sound if anyone thinks this might be of help.

Many Thanks.

Ash
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#2 Robert Lewis

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 12:57 PM

The last thing I would do is to claim to be an expert. There are some experts around, of course, and I hope that Jean-Louis will respond to your request for advice on the particular point you are now concerned about.

On a more general front, of course, you should not be getting the "dry turning and scraping" sound you describe, and it just might be that the camera requires cleaning and lubricating. Certainly this is possible if not probable if the camera has been kept for some years as a display item and not a running camera. You mention that you think that the camera has been opened up. This, of course, is also possible, and if it has it raises the question as to why that should have been done. Also, if it has been opened up, the light seal will have been disturbed and you will need to be sure that the light seal has been retained.

Frankly, I think the time has come when you need some specialist advice, and whilst Jean-Louis will undoubtedly know what he is talking about, it may be that after hearing from him you should consider having the camera checked.

I am not sure where in the south-east of England you live, but Martin Stent, who services and repairs Bolex cameras, happens also to live in the south-east of England. He is a nice guy, and I would be happy to let you have his telephone number by PM if you would like it, and I am sure Martin would be more than able to service your camera for you. Let me know ...
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#3 Simon Wyss

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 01:27 PM

It’s the governor.

This most important piece of the mechanism requires one single drop of oil for its brass drum in which three braking pads revolve. So nobody of those who opened the camera did really take care. The governor bearings most certainly need lubricant, too. The Paillard-Bolex cameras are prone to runnig dry, all steel axles in bronze sleeves must be attended to. Two to three hours of concentrated work for a well trained technician, no major problems included.
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#4 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 01:30 PM

Hi Ash,

It is common for the camera to make a scraping noise when it is loaded with film. The noise comes from the the film edges rubbing alternately on the insides of the metal take-up spools. However, if the camera is making these noises without film, then something is definitely wrong.

Are the sprockets turning while running?
Are the take-up spindles turning while running?
If you grab the lower spindle while running and let it go, does it resume spinning immediately?

It probably wouldn't hurt to have your camera looked at by an experienced tech.

Cheers,
Jean-Louis
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#5 Ashley Summers

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 03:08 PM

Bob,
That number would be brilliant thank you!
I live right on the coast near Hastings/Eastbourne.
The general consensus seems to be that an MOT would be a good idea.
I guess if the camera has been around since the 60s whoever took the plate off inside before may well have been doing a little oiling or something, we can hope that’s all it was.
Could you tell me more about the light seal issue please? If I sent it to a technician – perhaps your man Martin, would he be able to attend to that as well?
If it does turn out to be in need of a good thorough oiling and checking over – but nothing more drastic than that – how much roughly do you think I would be looking at paying to have it done? (It costs what it costs of course, but Christmas and Bolex purchasing has drained my resources a wee bit).

Simon,
You are the governor (which in England means ‘the boss’)
Thank you for your post, it’s very reassuring, the more I listen to the noise the more it sounds like a dry squeaking metal column rubbing against something while turning – something of that nature. If all it needs is a little oil and caring for I will be a happy camper. Thank you for the technical detail, I’m learning as I go.

Jean Louis,

The camera is running without film and without spools at the moment. I have ordered a couple spools and some leader to test the movement of the film out and practice loading.
When I run it dry (at 12 fps to be careful) the take up spindle rotates, I grab it – and it seems to get right back to spinning as soon as I release it. It’s not sticking or anything.
The top one doesn’t move but then it’s not loaded so I’m guessing this is as it should be?
The two sprockets also turn nicely, the only thing that doesn’t move is the little cog and sprocket at the base of the pressure pad securing screw. (Again it’s not loaded – do these only move when it’s loaded I wonder?)
I can see a little rapid movement under the gate pressure pad which I’m assuming is the shutter whizzing round? Or would they be pull down claws to hold the film in place?

I will have it checked out by a good technician, that’s clearly the thing to do.

You are all gentlemen and scholars, much appreciated guys.
Ash

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#6 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 03:59 PM

After your answers, I tend to agree with Simon, that it could be the governor that is too dry.
For years Bolex recommended to lubricate these governors only with graphite powder which leads to the dry sound especially on low running speeds. Oil alone on a clean governor is not recommended. Oil on a governor already coated with dry graphite will show some improvement as the oil and graphite mix. This may not last that long however as the oil will eventually dry up. I use a light moly-grease on a clean governor instead.

Cheers,
Jean-Louis
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#7 Simon Wyss

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 05:04 PM

Jean-Louis, entièrement d’accord.

The braking pads of the governor are leather. They are meant to run dry but dry leather becomes hard over the years. At 12 f. p. s. the momentum on the pads is more force at less diameter. That is the reason for the vibration.

Yes, molycote lubricant is a good choice. I once lubed an H 16 with grease also on the governor. She came back to a reasonable life but like Jean-Louis Seguin says that may turn sticky as well. There is nothing else than regular maintenance. With the Bolex H I’d speak of five year intervals or after 20'000 feet of film when the camera is in serious use.

Last time I was in Hastings seems to have been in 1977. Pier still standing?
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#8 Ashley Summers

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 08:51 AM

Thanks again guys,

Very useful detail to know,
it would be great if the Technician I choose would allow me to observe so I can see how it all works first hand.

Simon,
The Pier actually burned down recently, there was talk of refurbishing it for years – and we are all pretty sure it was an insurance job.

It looks charred and ghostly now sitting like a shadow on the ocean, it’s fenced off but you can still see a big sign which reads ‘Only you can save the pier’ it’s the only thing that seems untouched by the fire!

Ash
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#9 Simon Wyss

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 01:53 PM

The Pier actually burned down recently,

Oh, no!

Now I know why your camera rattles, it was on that Pier where I met the sweetest Swedish girl, and we were very sad at the day of departure. Unbelievable how the neutrals can cause trouble but we did.

Her name is Rose.
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