Double Shutter Simplex

The double shutter Simplex remains a work in progress. We are storing the projector head until the Project Picture Trust can accommodate it. They are currently looking for new premises to show off their collection.

An opportunity arose to bring a rare double shutter Simplex back to our workshop for appraisal. Although the Standard Simplex is a fairly common machine in preservation circles as so many of them were made over a long period of time, it is unusual to find one with its double shutters intact. Most of them had to dispense with the front one when Cinemascope came in, as it was impossible to mount the anamorphic lens correctly with a large shutter housing in the way.

This particular one had been sprayed with light green cellulose paint which was peeling off in large patches. It was also very neglected, with bright parts succumbing to the inevitable rust.

It was intended that this machine would be coupled to a very early RCA sound head, the PS8, which was actually produced by RCA for use with the Standard Simplex. This sound head dates from the very early days of sound films and is on a par with the WE 1A head fitted to that company's universal base.

The hours spent de rusting the bright work and repainting the picture head will be familiar to anyone who has attempted to restore a 'lost cause', also somebody had run amok with a brush and a tin of silver paint on the sound head's internals. All of these defects take a great deal of time to put right.

Connecting the picture head to a motor on a temporary basis, it was discovered that the mechanism was tight and the motor struggled to turn it over. The problem was traced to the shutter shaft which needed cleaning and oiling. This apparently is a common problem with a Simplex that has been unused for any length of time.

In view of the limited space which we now have for any further restoration and the fact that we needed a stand ,spool boxes and a lamp house, it was agreed with the PPT to take the picture and sound heads to Bletchley Park where these items would be available to complete the restoration. That is where it now resides and we will continue working on it together with Alex Cooper of the Regal Group. We are doubtful about getting the parts to complete the sound head, there should be a shelf to hold the motor and a some specific gearing to link it all up (where do all these vital bits disappear to?) We live in hope.

Restoration History

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