Specto 500 8mm silent projector

This post is the first in a short series which looks at the Specto 500, a standard 8 cine projector which was made in the UK in the early 1950s. This part is an introduction to the projector with some pictures.

Specto 500 Images

My Specto 500 Projector

I bought my Specto 500 projector from eBay because I want a vintage projector to show my collection of 8mm films with. Although I have various more modern projectors, mostly Eumig machines, I wanted a machine which has a more traditional vintage look and the Specto 500 certainly meets that requirement.

The unit was bought as working, but with some problems – the main one being a large crack in the ceramic resistor which is used to drop the 240v mains down to 110v to drive the projector lamp. This seems to be a common problem because I’ve seen various images of Spectro 500 units with the same problem on eBay.

I wasn’t particularly worried about this fault, because my intention at some point is to replace the original lamp with a 10W LED light, so the resistor will be removed and replaced with an LED driver, but until I have checked the wiring out I haven’t yet applied power to the unit.

Other than the cracked dropper resistor, everything else about the projector seems in order. Assuming the motor runs, which I’ll find out once I’ve checked the wiring over, the projector should work fine because everything seems to work using the manual drive knob.

Specto 500 Description

Different versions of the Specto 500 model were made to show 8mm film, as with the model featured in this article, and also 9.5mm and 16mm film.

I have no instruction book for the Projector, so I’m having to work out how to use it by a process of trial and error.

One interesting feature of the Specto 500 is that the film arms can be folded into the body of the machine to make it more compact for transport, and actually form the carrying handle. The top arm has a clip which the bottom arm fits into to lock them in place allowing the weight of the projector to be carried.

The main operation is fairly obvious; once the arms are extended, the film is threaded manually through the top sprocket, formed into a loop and passed through the film gate (swinging it away from the projector to allow this) and then after another loop, threaded through the bottom sprocket and onto the take up reel.

The main control at the bottom of the projector has settings of M,  1-L-2 which I assume turn on the motor, and then the lamp. Next to the main switch is a variable which controls the motor speed.

The film gate can be swung away from the body of the projector to easily clean it and for threading the film. Once the gate is away from the body it’s possible to get access to the claw which moves the film forward so it can be cleaned and lubricated.

My intention is to remove the bottom plate on the projector and check the wiring to make sure there are no serious problems and then  replace the 500W lamp with a 10W LED unit, wiring it into the original switch so the projector operates in the same way it did originally. Assuming I can get that done, I’ll post another article showing how I did it and how I cleaned up the projector’s mechanism.

Specto 500 Specifications

  • Specto 500 8mm film projector (9.5mm and 16mm versions made)
  • Projector film arms double as carrying handle
  • Variable speed
  • Manual drive knob
  • Film gate swings open for easy cleaning
  • Removable side panel for easy access to drive belt
  • Levelling adjustment
  • 500W 110v lamp
  • F/1.6 lens
  • Serial No: 33759
  • Further information here.

4 Comments

  • N. Armstrong

    Dear Mr Hawkett, I have read your column with interest. I have a Specto projector in full working order, although I cannot see the results as I have no film to put through it. It has been well looked after, judging by the look of it.
    It also comes with its original case.
    Something I would like to ask you is how do I determine what mm size is the machine?
    My intention is to EBay it. As you appear to be well in to this genre, I would be grateful if, based on the foregoing information, you could give me an indication of where my auction should begin. If you feel unable to advise me I will start at £10.
    Yours sincerely,
    N. Armstrong

    Reply
    • simon

      Hi
      If you look at the first cog wheel where the film is loaded into the machine and measure across it you should be able to work out which film gauge the projector works with. It is likely to be either 8mm or 16mm but it could also be 9.5mm. A 9.5mm machine will also have the teeth in the centre of the wheel rather than at the two edges, so that’s another clue.
      The starting price is a bit harder to gauge because it depends on the film the projector is designed for – 16mm projectors are more expensive than 8mm and 9.5mm are older and rarer. To be honest, you generally do better when selling on eBay by starting low anyway, so perhaps £10 would be a good starting point for 8mm and perhaps £30 for 16mm or 9.5mm

      Hope that helps
      Simon

      Reply
      • Nick Armstrong

        Dear Simon,

        Thank you so much for your informative and swift response.

        I have measured the top cog wheel from outside edge to outside edge and it is 8mm. So I reckon I have my answer.

        The type number is PC. I do not think this is much of a clue as I reckon this was made before computers were known about – apart, of course, from the Bletchley Postal worker…

        I will now proceed to spread my bread upon the waters. Postage will be expensive!

        Thanks again for your response.

        Best Regards,

        Nick Armstrong

        Reply

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