To oil a Bolex B8

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To oil a Bolex B8

Post by MIKI-814 » Wed Feb 21, 2007 3:15 pm

Hello everybody,

I've just come across a Bolex B8-VS that belonged to my grandparents and seems to run perfectly. Anyway, being 49 years old (the camera, not me) I think oiling should be considered.

Does anybody know how to oil this camera? how to open it? Is out there any restorer guide for the bolex?

Thank you very much in advance

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Post by StoneBuilder » Wed Feb 21, 2007 3:43 pm

" LUBRICATION of the BOLEX B-8, C8, & D8L type cameras (without complete disassembly) by MWB (c) 2002

The older small spring wound BOLEX cameras are tiny marvels of Swiss craftsmanship and precision. They can make sharp steady movies as long as they run smoothly. Oftentimes, as they are now well past 35 years old.....they need relubrication for continued use; especially if they have been sitting around for years.

Carefully removal of the center molded plastic unit which contains the door locking shaft and film pressure plate open/close lever. This is mounted via a single machine screw. Be extra careful in removing this unit and pay particular attention to the top spring loaded film feed roller. This roller's lower pin rests in a drilled hole in the film chamber chassis and you must make sure upon reinstallation that it goes back in. Upon removal hold this roller with your finger so that the tiny spring doesn't go flying off. Once removed, set it aside safely somewhere.

Now, using sewing machine oil, place 2-3 drops on the worm gear shaft
which is now visible. (NOT WD-40 or anything similar since this type of spray oil is too will free up the mechanism if seized....however it's
lubrication properties will wear down rapidly, thus the need for a thicker
lubricant...but yet fine enough to penetrate the gearing and shafts and provide proper lubrication) -- Having removed also the film pressure plate assembly (via sliding it down, aka to the left of the film gate and lifting it outward), place a drop of oil on the film claw eccentric mechanism, and also on visible pivot points and shaft pins which are fitted into drilled chassis holes from below.

Wind the camera fully, and run it at 16fps, ensuring that the oil works
itself into the moving parts. If after a full wind, it still doesn't seem to
run smooth, drop some more oil drops on the main moving parts, making sure to get some on all visible pivot points, shaft ends, and gear parts. Wind the camera fully again and then repeat winding and allowing it to run thru fully for another three times. By this time, the oil should've worked itself into the main moving parts and allowed it to free up to run smoothly. On the B8LA and D8LA models which have the external film rewind shaft; open the shaft cover and place a drop or two of oil on it while laying the camera on its side. Then run the camera on its side to work the oil in. This shaft directly connects to the main spring gearing dust getting in over the years, dry lubricant and/or lack of it, will affect the running here also. Make sure you do NOT overlubricate the camera, since excess oil could find its way into the shutter area and thus end up splashing some onto the film gate and film itself.

Once the camera comes back to life and runs smoothly, adjust the running speed from 8fps or 12fps up to 24fps and back down again to allow lubrication to fully work itself thru all moving parts. Do not exceed 24fps, since it could damage the speed governor. If the camera is extremely sluggish, you can exceed 24fps, since it most likely isn't running anywhere near that rate and is barely moving. By doing so, it will allow the camera to run faster, hopefully to work the lubrication in and loosen the mechanism up. Once the camera
appears to increase in speed at the higher running speed selections, to what begins to seem normal.....stop operating it at anything faster than 24fps. For example...if it barely runs at 16fps, 18fps or 24fps.....adjust the speed upward to 32fps or 48fps if necessary...just to get the mechanism moving. Once she speeds up...back the running speed back down to 'normal' again so as not to damage the running speed governor. On very sluggish B8LA and D8LA models, you can also use the film rewind crank in the external shaft opening to help coax the mechanism into forward movement. Be careful here though, as you don't want
to damage the tiny crank, which are hard to locate now-a-days.

If by this point the camera is back to normal working condition, great.
Now clean up any excess oil in the film gate area, and wipe the film gate and film guide rollers with alcohol to remove any oil traces. Then wipe it down with some movie film cleaner with lubricant.....or if none available, use some pure silicone spray (spraying it onto a clean white cotten flannel cloth, allow propellant to evaporate before wiping). Wipe the film gate and channels and film pressure plate. Reinstall the film pressure plate. Reinstall the center plastic moulded unit and carefully place the upper roller pin into its appropriate drilled chassis hole. Once in place, reinsert the machine screw with its accompanying washer and snuggly hand tighten. Do not overtighten as you can crack the casing of the unit if you do. The camera should run nicely now. Use some scrap film to test its operation under film load.

If the camera still does not come back to life after all this....then it
most likely will require complete disassembly, full cleaning of all parts and
proper lubrication and reassembly. This is too involved and delicate a
procedure for the average hobbyist and is best left to a skilled camera repair technician. Tampering with the camera beyond this point can cause a lack of frameline accuracy, and film claw to shutter synchronization and other potential running problems. While a fine mechanical mechanism, the BOLEX cameras are also sufficiently complex in their construction, most especially the later ones with TTL metering and variable shutter assemblies.

Lastly, if your BOLEX is running fine or seems to run fine, but the film jitters upon projection......the likely culprit is the slip clutch on the take up shaft. This is supposed to slip relative to the rate of film takeup
diameter and the rate to which film is fed to it, and is often overlooked as a problem area on these aging cameras. The design is simple in that the shaft itself uses a material to allow the mechanism to grip and rotate the shaft, but slip as needed relative to takeup. Leather was used on many....and if dried out with age.....the shaft can't slip...and thus tugs at the film causing it to jitter and slip in the gate, usually during the moment just after exposure where the film claw retracts and the frame is supposed to be stationary waiting for the shutter to open for exposure, and/or during exposure. A very small (tiny) drop of oil on this shaft material, under the shaft will usually remedy
this problem. Once lubricated, install the take up shaft again, and check
with a takeup spool and some scrap film.

Do NOT overlubricate, as it will not allow enough takeup grip and the film will either not take up properly, and will be too loose on the takeup spool, or worse....won't take up at all! If this happens.....just clean off the shaft
spindle underneath, having removed the takeup shaft.....and start over again. If you go too will require more disassembly, requiring removal of the chassis cover plate so you can have full access to the clutch & spindle unit. In some cases, this is what you'll have to do anyhow......just be careful. First remove the center moulded plastic unit and carefully set it aside. Then, remove the film pressure plate. Then remove the chassis plate screws and tape them to a sheet of paper where you have drawn an outline of the camera so you know where to return them to. Carefully lift out the chassis cover plate making sure not to scratch the highly polished film guide and gate area. The film takeup mechanism will now be readily visible and you can clean up and lubricate it as necessary.

Upon completion, test it BEFORE you reassemble everything, with a takeup spool and and some scrap film. What you want to do is avoid having to take it all apart again. If any of this is beyond your ability, have a competent repair technician do it for you. You should be able to have a local camera repair shop tackle it for you.....even if they don't do movie them these instructions and the technician will understand what needs to be done. They will bill you appropriately.....and beware, many shops now charge in the range of $75 to $125 per hour! Some smaller shops in various parts of the USA still charge some lower rates...but only you can assess if the costs are worth the upkeep of your camera to you.

Best wishes and good luck with your BOLEX 8mm cameras!
Martin W. Baumgarten "

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Post by MIKI-814 » Thu Feb 22, 2007 12:15 am

Thank you very much indeed! :D

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Post by Rollef » Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:34 am

This remedy worked miracle on my c8

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Post by Rob » Thu Feb 22, 2007 1:31 pm

Yes, I've used it too with great success.


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