Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Film not running consistently? Film jams up in gate? Film tears at sprocket hole? Film runs a foot or two and then the camera stops? Could be a couple of things. Try this:

1) Fully wind the camera and prepare to shoot film normally. If you can, use old, damaged or expendable film stock. Worst case, use good film and perform work described below in a dark room to preserve the film. Press run (film) button so the camera runs and hold the button until it jams.

2) Stop filming.

3) Place the camera flat on a table or in palm of hand with door upward.

4) Open door all the way. 


5) Lift camera still holding flat with open case pointing up. With one hand, reach under the camera and press the run button.

6) Look at BOTTOM (take-up) reel. Is it turning?

            Yes = Is top reel turning also? Should be.
            NO = film is jammed in gate. Most likely claw is not engaging
                      sprocket holes but is in between holes. 

Goto #7.

If everything is okay and camera continues to run indefinitely, goto #10.

7) TOUCH NOTHING - Look at film coming from pressure pad and going to take-up reel. The film will rub against the suede roller. Which, by the way, does NOT roll or rotate with film direction towards the take-up spool. It's there so the film can be back wound using the back wind key to make a dissolve or in non-back wind models, its there to supply 'drag' for the take-up reel.

A) With a finger, try to rotate the take-up reel clockwise. It should not turn more than a little bit. If it doesn't turn, the film is most likely in the reel slot. If it continues to turn and turn and turn, most likely the film has popped out of the reel slot. 

If the film pops out of the slot, the next time the claw tries to engage, the upper spring roller may pull the film backwards a small amount. Now the claw cannot engage. If the film has popped out of the reel, make sure you have at least 1-2 turns on the take-up reel. I usually cut a "vee" shaped on the end of the film to make it easier to insert into the slot. If the film slot slippage isn't the problem, goto B.

B) Remove both reels of film from camera. Close the pressure pad, run the camera. Lower spindle must be turning. Pinch the lower spindle with your thumb and forefinger. Spindle should stop with light pressure. If not, that is, the spindle requires a good grip to stop it, the spindle may be partially or wholly seized up and it need to be maintenanced or replaced. 

A partially or fully seized spindle can tear the film sprocket holes as the overrunning clutch in not working properly. The overrunning clutch supplies the drag in proper proportion to pull the film onto the take-up reel and at the same time, NOT damage the film's sprocket holes from excessive pull. If the spindle is ok, goto 8.

8) Put camera on table fix the jam problem. Reload the camera if necessary. Wind the camera's motor. This time, leave the door OPEN and facing upward. Reach under as before and press run button. The film should advance. Let it run at least 15-20 seconds.

            a) Note take-up reel. It should be turning clockwise.
            b) Note supply reel. It should be turning clockwise.
            c) Note upper spring roller where film coming off of supply reel
     makes bend over top of the gate area. The spring roller should
     be going up and down or in and out depending on your view.
     But it should be moving...

9) If it looks like the film is moving through the gate okay, stop filming. Wind the camera. Put door down towards the camera reels. DO NOT turn the lock on center of camera film door. Leave it unlocked. Press run button. You should hear the same filming sound as the film moving normally through the gate.

10) Stop filming and lock the door. Wind camera and press run. If film still jams now, suspect film door damage or that the door is out of alignment.

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