Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Restoration of a vintage 8mm film projector

A few months ago, my wife and I found this beautiful old 8mm film projector at an antique flea market on Florida’s Gulf Coast. And it was very reasonably priced too. We thought it would look great displayed in our living room, and we were right!

This vintage projector reminds me of my grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, who came to America when he was 18 years old from Germany. Grandpa Leucht was very artistic and creative. As an adult, he got really into making home movies with his family and with his friends. So my family has quite a bit of old 8mm film from my grandpa.

This projector is a a Univex model PC-10. There is no manufacture date on the unit. Most online references say that these were manufactured in the 1930s, but I found one site that claims manufacture in 1947. My grandpa was 51 years old in 1947, so he could have actually owned a projector like this one.

The power cord was rubber and in very good shape, so I assume it had been replaced since the original cords were fabric covered. The motor worked fine and the lamp could not be tested since the bulb was burned out. I ordered a replacement bulb (BWY) online and it worked perfectly!

Surprisingly, this projector came with the original price tag from the manufacturer, Universal Camera Corporation! Universal Camera Corporation was founded in 1932 in New York. It manufactured still cameras, film, movie cameras, and binoculars until 1952, when the company declared bankruptcy. If we assume 37 bucks was the 1947 price, that would make the 2019 price close to $420.

This projector is actually pretty simple to understand. The sprocket at the top pulls the film off the reel and the sprocket at the bottom feeds the film into the temporary take-up reel. In between those 2 sprockets, the film is fed into a spring loaded gate which guides the film past the lens and the projector light. The film gets fed past the lens using a finger like gear that flips the film quickly to the next frame and then pauses while a rotating window opens up to let the projector light through.

It’s really cool that the lens is only held in place by spring friction. This allows you to twist the lens ever so slightly while pulling it away from the film or towards the film to change focus. This design also allows the lens to be removed easily for cleaning.

The internal gears were basically locked up due to aging and thickening of the original grease. But a single cover revealed the gear box and so I took apart each gear and cleaned and oiled them thoroughly.

Once the gears were all cleaned and oiled with a light machine oil, the projector worked perfectly! The two belts that run between the motor and the gearbox and take-up reel were made from flexible steel springs, so they were still in perfect shape. Had they been rubber or some other material, they wouldn’t have lasted 70+ years.

A complete instruction booklet came with this projector, although the pages were all separated from each other. My favorite old-timey phrase from this instruction booklet is “Read carefully the simple instructions which follow and you will add immeasurably to your pleasure.” Love it!

Another cool item that came with this projector was an old order form from 1946 that was used to order 8mm and 16mm films. That probably dates this projector to 1946. The film distributor was Castle Films, and the form just says to fill it out and mail the form to your local dealer. I’m assuming that local camera dealers probably kept the most popular reels in stock and ordered the rest as needed. Apparently Castle Films was pretty popular back in the day. My favorite old-timey phrase on this order form is “Remittance Enclosed Herewith”. Awesome!

These film reels were all black and white except for a small selection of color cartoons.

These Castle Films reels cost $1.75 for a 50 foot headline reel and $5.50 for a 180 foot complete reel. That’s more than 22 bucks and 71 bucks in 2019 money! Castle Films are still popular today and you can buy them on eBay for reasonable prices. Although depending on storage, the condition may be far from ideal. Film that was stored in a hot attic for 50 years will be brittle and will completely fall apart on you.

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

Christmas Presents: Do you know these people? Are they your relatives?

The people in this video are opening Christmas presents probably in the 1940s or 1950s! Do you know these people? Are they your relatives?

We bought this old 8mm film at an antique flea market in Central Florida recently. I thought it would be fun to publish the video online just to see if anyone noticed their relatives in there. Feel free to share this video!

Click the Email Us link at the bottom of this website or add a comment below and tell me if you think you may know who this old 8mm film belongs to!

Thanks!
Kurt

How to make a custom license plate bracket for your car

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you probably noticed that I like to make things myself if I can, rather than buy them.  Most of my projects are in wood, but occasionally I do some light metal-work out of necessity.

In today’s installment, I will show you how I was able to make a custom fitted metal bracket which allowed me to mount an old vanity plate to the front of my new-to-me car.  Hopefully, this information ends up being useful to someone out there in the Interwebs.

My new-to-me car is a 2010 Honda Civic SI.  She’s a beaut, isn’t she?  But when I tried to mount my vanity tag, which has my name on it, to the front of the car, the mounting holes were nowhere near where they needed to be.  Apparently, a mounting bracket is required here.  In my prior car, a 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser, I just drilled holes right into the plastic bumper and screwed the plate right in.  But this car is quite a bit too new and much too nice for that technique.

I looked at my local auto parts stores for a bracket, assuming that it was some sort of common standard, but I came up empty.  So I looked around my woodworking shop to see what I had laying around.  Luckily, I had just the thing.  I had a couple unused pieces of thin steel perforated  angle iron from my new garage door opener.  If you don’t have any laying around, your local home improvement store sells this sort of material.  Just search for Metal Angles.

Notice in the photo above, the cardboard prototype on the bench.  Making a cardboard prototype of the final product was step one in this process.  It will save you a lot of time and frustration if you always start out by making a cardboard version first!  You can see in the cardboard design, that the bracket needs to swoop up, go straight across, and then swoop back down.  Easy peasy!

The second step was to fold over the angle iron to make it into a flat plate.  Mashing it between my hammer and my bench vise worked nicely.

Then I hammered it into a 90 degree angle by squeezing it in my bench vise and hammering it over and nicely flat.  The bench vise makes it easy to create sharp angles like this out of thin steel.

The curved section was a bit more work.  And it took some trial and error.  A round tip anvil might have been the right tool for this part, but sometimes you have to deal with the tools that are in your toolbox.

So here is the bracket compared to the cardboard prototype.  Not too shabby.

And a bit more sweat got it looking like so!  Yep, my cardboard prototype was from a Fruit Loops cereal box.  Don’t judge me!

After passing the side by side comparison test with the cardboard prototype, I hacked off the extra material with a … you guessed it … hacksaw.

Now a fit check to the actual license tag was in order.  Looking good!

Then the holes were marked and drilled.  By the way, if you work mostly with wood, like I do, don’t use your wood drill bits for steel!  If you don’t ruin the bits completely, you will at least dull them terribly.  Do yourself a favor and buy a set of hardened bits just for metal.

Here is a photo of the finished product!  It worked like a charm!  And it looks great!

I mean the bracket itself doesn’t look all that great.  But it’s completely hidden behind the vanity plate!  So why spend 20 bucks on a fancy tag bracket when nobody ever sees it!

Thanks for your interest!

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment or click on the Email Us link at the bottom of the page!

Kurt

Remembering my 4th birthday

When I turned 4 years old in February of 1974, I received the following gifts:

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  • a truck and cars from my aunt Kay, actually she’s my cousin
  • a gun, holster, and mask from my aunt Jackie, actually she’s also my cousin
  • a truck, pony trailer, and cake from my parents

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  • four pennies and a card from Annabelle
  • candy and a dime and some gum from Mrs Kelley
  • the game Cootie (R) from the Harris family

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  • and a card from Linda (possibly Miss Kreps?)

Why do I know all this?  Because my mom wrote it all down, of course!

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This trip down memory lane was brought to you by my mom … with a little help from First Security Bank of Mackinaw Illinois!  Whose slogan was apparently “The sign of a good bank, with time for you”, which makes absolutely no sense!   🙂

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978). What has been seen cannot be unseen.

Wow.  I don’t recall actually watching this 2 hour television spectacle when I was 8 years old.  But maybe my subconscious blocked it from my memory.  It had good reason.  This was probably the worst television variety show that was ever made.

Ever.

And that’s saying a lot because there were a lot of really bad variety shows made in the 70’s.

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It’s like watching a train wreck.  It’s so horrible.  And yet you cannot look away.

Try it yourself.  This YouTube version is just over an hour and a half long because all the commercials have been removed.  There is some copyrighted content in this version so if it gets taken down, just search the Internet for another version.


George Lucas isn’t really to blame for this travesty.  He did not produce it.  He did not direct it.  He did not write it.  He didn’t even consult on it.  He was starting to work on his follow-on to Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back.  He did greenlight the Holiday Special, though.  And that started this big ugly snowball rolling downhill.

The special was broadcast only once on Friday November 17, 1978 which was the week before Thanksgiving. It aired on the CBS television network from 8pm to 10pm, which pre-empted both Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk.

And then everyone promptly tried to forget it ever happened.

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In case you don’t have the stomach to watch a recording of the entire special, I’ll summarize.  The main characters from the Star Wars film were in the television special.  Reluctantly.  In several scenes it appears their hearts were not really in it, though.

“Starring Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.  With Anthony Daniels as C-3PO.  Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca.  R2-D2 as [pause] R2-D2.  And James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader.”

The variety skits in the show had several high profile guest stars.  “With special guest stars, Beatrice Arthur, Art Carney, Diahann Carroll, The Jefferson Starship, and Harvey Korman.”

Most variety shows had been filmed in front of a live studio audience or at least had a post-production laugh track added.  This special had neither.  So every time an actor tried to say or do something funny, the viewer got an uncomfortable feeling like something odd just happened.  It’s like when you tell a joke to a room full of people and all you hear are crickets chirping.

Awkward.

The plot, if you can call it that, is very very boring and pointless and only serves to tie together several musical numbers and some attempts at humorous skits.  I’m not even going to try to summarize the plot here because it is so long and boring.  It centers around Chewbacca’s family on his home planet, though.  The main characters in the show are Chewie’s wife, son, and father.

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The best part of the show is an animated cartoon that features the debut of a new character named Boba Fett.  You may have heard of him.

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If you suffer through all the way to the end, you will get a special treat.  The final musical number sung by Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.  She’s not a terrible singer.  But the whole scene is just as uncomfortable as the rest of the show.  And the finale isn’t at all inspiring, as it intends to be.

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Thanks to Josh and Chuck of the Stuff You Should Know podcast for bringing this production back up from the annals of my subconscious and forgotten memories.

And thank you for reading this!

Kurt
(a Star Wars fan since 1977)