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Broken Bell and Koon Synchro Pet 8mm projector

This is a short post looking at an 8mm projector which I estimate was made in the late 1950s, the Bell and Koon Synchro Pet.

Bell and Koon Synchro Pet Images

Here are some pictures of the Bell and Koon Synchro Pet.

My Bell and Koon Synchro Pet Projector

I bought this projector from eBay as a ‘buy it now’ purchase for £14 because it looks attractive and stood out whilst I was searching for Bell & Howell projectors. Since it looked in good condition, and the price included postage I thought it might make an interesting addition to my 8mm projector collection.

Broken case
Broken case

Unfortunately, the seller on eBay just placed the projector in its cardboard box, wrapped it in a covering of brown paper and sent it through the post, so when I received it I found the outer plastic rigid case had been damaged in transit.

I was going to send it back or ask for a refund, but when I looked at the seller’s details I found they are a charity hospice, so I just sent a message pointing out that they should really take more care when dispatching antique items.1

The top of the side case and the bottom stand the unit sits on has been shattered quite badly but may be fixable with care (I’ll need to mix up some epoxy and put on my ‘Repair Shop‘ hat).

What makes the damage more disappointing is the fact that the rest of the machine looks in good order considering its age.

I have to say I haven’t actually applied power to the unit so I don’t know if it actually works – the internal arrangement of high power dropper resistors and bare soldered connectors with mains voltage on made me quite nervous about doing that although to be fair it’s no worse than many other units of a similar vintage. At some point I’ll power it up to see if it works.

Bell and Koon Synchro Pet Description

The Bell and Koon Synchro pet looks to be a well constructed and solid looking machine (ignoring the fact that it looks dangerous to modern eyes).

The operation is extremely simple.

Operating the unit

The spring loaded belts which turn the two film spool reels are only attached to the reel which needs driving, so if a film is being projected the bottom belt is attached and if it’s being rewound the top belt is used.

To show a film it is threaded around the top sprocket hole, through the film gate (the lens swings out of the way to assist with this) and then through the bottom sprocket set and on to the take up reel.

Bell and Koon Synchro Pet film transport
Bell Synchro Pet film transport

Once the film is in place, the motor speed control is set to the F position and the motor can be started.

Once the motor is running the lamp can be turned on and the lens adjusted for focus. If the picture isn’t correctly framed (i.e. if the top or bottom of the film frame appears within the picture area), there is a small lever at the top of the film transport which can be adjusted to compensate for this.

The speed control gives the option to show the film at a range of speeds, but the projectionist needs to make sure they don’t set the frame rate too low or the 500W lamp could set fire to the film!

Once the film is completed, it is unthreaded from the film transport and threaded onto the original reel. Then the belts are swapped and when the motor is started again the film is rewound onto the original film reel ready for the next showing.

Accessories for the projector

Although I don’t own one, this projector had an add on accessory which allowed the unit to also project colour slides.

This attached to a fitting on the reverse side of the lamp housing and consisted of a condenser lens and slide carrier followed by a projection lens. With this add on accessory the projector could take the place of a normal slide projector and save the owner some money.

Although I don’t have one, I’ve seen pictures of this accessory and the only observation I would make is that although this was a good idea, I notice the accessory kit came with its own projection lens – it’s a shame the original lens from the cine projector couldn’t have been re-purposed.

Projector Handbook

The handbook / instruction leaflet for the projector is shown below.


Bell and Koon Synchro Pet Specifications

  • Bell and Koon Synchro Pet 8mm Projector
  • Made in the mid to late 1950s
  • Projects standard 8mm film only
  • 500 Watt lamp
  • Variable Speed Motor
  • Very simple, all manual operation
  • Add on slide projector accessory


I’m a software developer by profession but I’ve been taking pictures since I was about 8 years old. In that time I’ve owned cameras of all types and sizes from 120 roll film thro’ 35mm to my current Pentax K-5, Ricoh GXR + P10/S10/A12 28mm/A12 50mm, Canon S95 and recently acquired Sony NEX 6.

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