Simplex E7

Two of these machines were discovered rusting away in the garage of a house in Warsash on the outskirts of Southampton. One more winter in the cold and damp conditions in which they were stored would have seen them consigned to the nearest dump. The following article describes the restoration back to working condition of one of them, although both are now working.

Originally they had come from a preview theatre belonging to a film laboratory near London. And had been adapted for running sound and picture separately. In connection with this modification, certain items of the picture head had been discarded. The Westrex sound head, although basically a 2003 unit, had been specially modified to reproduce different sound tracks. Finally the bottom spool box was of the cloverleaf type, having no less than three spool spindles to accommodate the separate sound and picture films. It was decided to restore the machines as standard projectors, mainly because we wanted them to run film in a conventional way, also, as it was our first attempt at restoration we were inclined to keep things simple. Did I say simple?

Getting a door to fit the sound head was a problem. A door was sourced from a scrap 2002 unit which had been stripped bare of all its components, but of course the door is considerably bigger than that fitted to a 2003, The answer was to take a chunk out of it and then put the two pieces back together again filling the gap where necessary. We had decide beforehand, to fit simple solar cell inside the head, replacing all the specialist electronics which were in very poor condition. At this stage you might be wondering why we didnt just try and get hold of a standard sound unit. The reason was, and this is the bug bear of all restorations, namely connecting the picture head and sound head, particularly the E7 which we think is quite rare on top of a Westrex 2002. The link on these machines is via a sprocket and duplex chain.

The bottom spool box is a Kalee unit converted from pulley and belt take up to chain and sprockets using parts from the discarded clover leaf bottom boxes.

The missing back plate on the picture head was incredibly sourced on ebay from Cinema Vision in Montevideo. We really never thought we would be able to replace those!

The lamp house is part of the original set up and both were in reasonable condition. These were xenon conversions by AEI but now boast a 24 volt 250 watt peanut lamp and transformer as well as the power pack for the exciter lamp DC supply. The lamp give a very acceptable three foot picture for demonstration purposes. The sound plays into a preamp and on into a Cinemeccanica power amplifier which in turn drives a Western Electric base and treble horn combination.

Both of these machines have had very arduous lives and in the long term, certainly the machine illustrated here, needs to have the intermittent movement overhauled. But thats all down to sourcing the parts, particularly the intermittent sprocket, are these still available anywhere?

Restoration History


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