Grahame N's Web Pages
UK CINE EQUIPMENT
by Grahame L. Newnham B.Sc.
Advert in "Home Movies & Home Talkies" magazine December 1937
The first Specto cine projector seems to have been mentioned in the Amateur Cine World in December 1936, although Gerald McKee suggests in his book on classic home movie projectors, that the company was formed in 1935. In any case the Specto 9.5mm projector was designed by a refugee Czech engineer, J. Danek and manufactured in his small factory at Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire, UK. This first Specto had a brief review in the February 1937 Amateur Cine World. It is a tribute to Mr. Danek's clever design, that the basic mechanism and construction of his first Specto cine projector remained much the same for around 25 years despite film size and lamp variations.
THE EARLY DAYS
Early 1937 advert in "Amateur Cine World" magazine
This first 9.5mm Specto cine projector used a transformer fed, pre-focus, off-set filament, fan cooled, 30 volt 100 watt type A1/3 lamp, quite novel at the time, the lower voltage filament gave a much better light concentration, which in turn provided a much brighter picture than mains voltage lamps. The transformer was neatly housed in the base of the cast aluminium alloy body, although a resistance fed version was available to order for areas with DC mains electricity; and another 12 volt model was available for use with car batteries in areas where there was no mains electricity.
A decent size series wound, mains voltage (230/240 volt) motor was used, with wide range speed control by a rheostat. The two switches were for motor and lamp, wired so that the motor had to be running before the lamp would light. A rubber drive belt connected the motor directly to a gearbox running in an oil bath.
Original Specto 100 model showing the triangular link plate drive for the sprockets later modified to a chain drive
Drive to the feed and take-up sprockets on these early machines was by triangular link plate coupling eccentrics on the sprocket drives to an eccentric on the gearbox. This was soon modified to a simple chain drive, with an extra roller, adjustable for wear. The claw intermittent was cleverly operated by two cams, the secondary cam imparting the entry of the claws into the film on alternative strokes of the pull down cam. This efficient pull-down enabled quite a small shutter blade which actually consisted of just one proper spring steel blade with a small balance sector, but running at three times frame speed. As the claw was lightly sprung, little or no damage occurred if the claw missed the sprocket hole, just lightly rubbing against the film. In any case the claw operated from the front, operating onto the sprung part of the film gate, with the fixed film gate nearest the lens and hence the emulsion side of the film which is always recommended to avoid focus shift with different film base thicknesses.
On this early model there was no framing adjustment and the gate could be opened for threading or slid out (with the claws withdrawn) for proper cleaning. The machine was supplied with a 1.5 inch (35mm) focal length Dallmeyer lens of around f1.9 aperture in a 25mm mount. A small lever on the top of the gearbox operated a clutch to provide a high speed rewind. Tilting screws with rubber feet were fitted at the front of the projector base. The very first models were finished in a green crinkle enamel, soon to change to black. Reviews were very favourable, in fact Harold Abbott's only adverse comment was that the name Specto didn't really sound dignified enough .....
By December 1937 the company had moved to premises in Alexandra Road, Windsor and by May 1938 were offering the Specto 100 in a 16mm (silent) version, and within a year an 8mm (standard 8mm) model was also available. However a major blow to domestic sales had aleady begun - World War 11. Specto continued advertising their cine projectors for a while, but soon became involved with production for the government.
Advert in June 1938 "Home Movies & Home Talkies" magazine
THE WAR YEARS
Being involved with cine equipment manufacture enabled the Specto company to get cine related government contracts - mostly building a specially modified 16mm projector capable of running at slow motion (2 frames/second) as well as normal speed. These were used for checking aircraft gun camera film to identify 'kills', bombing success (or even if the pilot had actually gone to the target!). These 'analyzing' 16mm projectors were the forerunner of post-war domestic machines fitted with higher wattage lamps. They still turn up today, and I believe continued in production well after the war.
It appears Specto also had government contracts for a projector to show still pictures using 35mm film and for assembling various aircraft gun cameras. The company sensibly still kept a public image with small advertisements in the cine magazines explaining that they were currently occupied with war work but would begin production of domestic equipment as soon as hostilities ceased.
Amateur Cine World magazine advert June-Auguist 1944
Amateur Cine World magazine advert June-Auguist 1945
THE POST WAR BOOM
Amateur Cine World advert 1947
With World War 11 over, Specto began to adapt to peace time and thoughts maybe moved to the up and coming 8mm film gauge and the education market. But the first sign for amateur film enthusiasts was the above advert in the Amateur Cine World magazine for September 1947. However this advert was perhaps a little exaggerated - "munitions of war" hardly covered cine projectors and camera parts!
The Vale Road Specto Factory - (from a photo on the back of a 1955 instruction booklet)
By now, Specto boasted a nicely designed modern factory, based at Vale Road, Windsor. From what I understand, everything was manufactured and assembled here. Metal castings, gear cutting and other components manufactured and the actual complete cine projectors assembled 'in house'.
Amateur Cine World magazine advert August 1948
Now the company had moved to new premises in Vale Road, Windsor, and by 1948, production of the 100 watt standard cine projector began with the announcement of the 16mm silent model in August 1948. By December, dealers advertising in the Amateur Cine World were listing deliveries of the 9.5mm model, and also an 8mm silent model to cope with the newly heavily marketed 8mm film gauge from Kodak. I think one or two changes were included in this new production run - a new type mains input socket (made by Bulgin) appeared - this was three pin and enabled Specto cine projectors to be earthed for the first time. Up to 900 foot spool arms were also offered. By now the Specto projectors were often offered at an additional price, supplied in a rather nice brown fibre, green felt lined carry case with compartments for the mains cable, lenses etc and a threaded spindle to hold the take-up spool.
Post WW2 Specto 100, Bulgin three pin mains input socket, 900 foot arms, but still black!
(Note the chain drive to the sprockets replacing the pre-war link plate drive)!
Yes, I do still stock a nitrile oil & heat resistimg motor drive belt!
POST WAR EXTENDED RANGE OF CINE PROJECTORS
Once production and healthy sales of the Specto 100 standard cine projector were well under way, a brighter machine targeted for the schools market arrived, probably actually before 1950. The design was very similar, retaining the same series wound variable speed motor., gearbox driven mechanism, sprockets, framing control, and gate/ film drive assembly, plus 900 foot spool capacity spool arms. However a 50 volt 250 watt A1/15 pre-focus base lamp was utilised, requirimg a somewhat meatier mains transformer which was mounted inside the enlarged base casting of the projector, putimg the overall weight up to over 20 lbs. It was obviously launched as "The Educational".
A version was also made available for areas with just DC electric mains, using an internal dropper resistance and a 115 volt 250 watt pre-focus projection lamp. I think the "Educational" was one of the first models to have the two large screws fitted at the base of the lamphouse facing the operating side which provided for lamp position adjustment, A decent carrying handle was mounted on the lamphouse top which made it easier to carry this quite heavy machine. Available in 9.5mm and 16mm versions,these provide a brighter picture if you can find the necessary lamps! (Naturally there is enough space in the base of this "Educational "and the standard 100 watt model to fit a new type mains transformer and install a modern QI type lamp like the 24 volt 150 watt A1/216 (often sourced from a scrap 35mm slide projector found at a car boot sale).
The Specto Educational cine projector
POST WAR SPECTO / ACE OPTICAL SOUND PROJECTOR
Sometime in the late 1940s (I'll have to check another magazine!); a company called Associated Cine Equipments Ltd (ACE for short) introduced an optical sound base to run either 16mm or 9.5mm optical sound films using the Specto Standard or Educational range of cine projectors. A decent looking casting with black wrinkle finish, contained the necessary sound drum with flywheel, photocell and valve amplifier (6J7, 6SN7, 2 x 6V6, 5Z4), oddly the film ran through the sound optics after the projector take-up sprocket, relying on the take-up spool to pull-through the film. Whilst the amplifier gave a decent sound output, problems occurred with wow caused by the take-up spool and projector motor speed variation. The whole unit was contained in a wooden carry case including a decent 10 inch size loudspeaker. Sadly these units probably harmed the Specto reputation - a throw back to the war years of the British way of life - 'penny pinching'!
POST WAR SPECTO 500 CINE PROJECTOR
Amateur Cine World November 1951 back page advert
By 1951 Specto had revealed a larger version of their established projector model, using 900 foot spool arms and fitted with a 110 volt 500 watt A1/7 pre-focus projection lamp, fed from the 200 to 250 volt mains via a dropper resistance mounted in the lamphouse to benefit from the powerful fan cooling of the lamp. This meant this new design gave a brighter picture, but could also run on both normal A.C. mains but also D.C. mains supplies which still existed in odd areas of the UK and also overseas. Because there was no mains transformer, total weight was reduced to 12 lbs.
Specto 500 projector models were introduced for 8mm, 9.5mm and 16mm, but a dual gauge 9.5mm / 16mm model was also introduced, with cleverly designed spring retained interchangeable sprockets, interchangeable spool spindles and an improved film gate with snap-on 9.5mm pressure plate and double recessed front gate plate, served by a twin-claw film movement. A lever withdrew the claw assembly for easy access to the swing out the gate assembly (after the lens is removed of course!) for cleaning or gauge change, whilst a two position lamp switch enabled some surge suppression when turning on the lamp. All in all an excellent redesign which also led eventually to a dual gauge 8mm / 16mm model. By now, finish was in a modern bronze style with smart white knobs for motor speed and on/off, lamp dim/bright. Maybe some finish after the mid fifties was a grey hammertone glossy finish. As the advert says - "Projection Perfection"!
As per all the other Specto projector designs, the lens is in a 25mm diameter mount. Mostly Dallmeyer or Taylor Hobson , the lenses were normally f1.6 to f1.9 aperture, 25mm (1 inch) focal length for 8mm; 38mm (1.5 inch) for 9.5mm and 50mm (2 inch) for 16mm.
There was never a genuine tri-gauge model offered, but much of the overall design lends itself to modification from 8mm to 9.5mm to 16mm, or dual 9.5mm / 16mm gauge even these days if the necessary extra bits can be sourced. Strangely, as a ten year old and into movies with a Pathéscope "Ace", I didn't like the Specto appearance, but preferred the ageing Pathéscope 200B as it looked more like a projector should, (and persuaded my dad that a 200B would be a great Christmas present at only £12 secondhand ).
1950s Specto 500 cine projector - 9.5mm/16mm
dual version XD
(There is a full article on the Specto 500 9.5mm/16mm dual gauge, XD model, in the December 1955 Amateur Cine World magazine,
the Specto 500 also featured as "Bargain Of The Week" in the Amateur Cine World magazine 23Nov1961)
POST WAR SPECTO 750 CINE PROJECTOR
Probably the first Specto machine to sport this stylish badge
(similar in style to that used at the time on their audio gear)
Having just uncovered one of these rarer beasts in my garage (it really is amazing - the oddments that inhabit my garage, in addition to cases of French red and white wine!). I guess it must have been in the later 1950s that Specto produced a 750 watt cine projector. It seems to have been just a 16mm version (maybe a government contract?), a mains voltage 750 watt A1/9 pre-focus lamp was used - no transformer - so kept the price low. A larger (unmarked) lens was fitted, in a 27.5mm diameter mount - so this model needed a sleeve to accept the usual Specto 25mm diameter lenses. The spool arms take up to 900 / 1000ft spools. The main rotary switch has just 'motor' and 'lamp' - not even a 'lamp pre-heat' position. If I can find an advert I'll add it here sometime.
A typical serial number for the Specto 750 is 30803 (my example).
Otherwise much the same as the 500 watt model. The motor cover looks larger, but removal exposes a couple of suppressor chokes, the usual suppressor capacitor was mounted in the base of my example - failed and blackened as usual. I have just fitted a polyester replacement. Just reading an interesting article in the Amateur Cine World magazine for December 1957 about Radio and TV interference by Phillip Jenkins - it seems the regulations about series wound electric motors and wireless/TV interference arrived in 1955. The little chokes seem to be for TV interference suppression, the capacitor more for radio interference suppression. There are photos of a Specto projector, and those little chokes are squeezed in the normal motors (visible if you remove the top inspection cover). Anyhow this all does suggest these 750 machines are certainly later 1950s.
By co-incidence just spotted the article by Douglas Macintosh in Pete Travers' "Projections" magazine for Feb/Mar 2017 - he reviews this rare machine and suggests that the 'giant' lens maybe f1.6 aperture. He has also delved deeper than I have at present, and points out that Specto used larger optics - reflector and condenser lens to cope with the large lamp and increased the shutter blade from 100° to 140°. So I wonder if this machine did give much more light or just heat!!
Douglas's example does have that 'dim/bright' switch like the 500 model, but my example just has the two toggle switches inside and so just 'motor' and 'lamp' - not good for those expensive lamps - I seem to remember our school epidiascope 750 watt lamp didn't last very long (no preheating either). Maybe saved a few more pennies to get that government contract?
Specto 750 cine projector - but wait, it looks to be for 9.5mm!!
Yes, my example is 9.5mm, but I'm sure just someone's conversion from a 16mm model. They have used a 9.5mm/16mm film gate, but just a single claw. Certainly the spool arms and lamphouse cover don't match the bronze finish. I can use it in the lounge during the cold winter as a useful fan heater! (Until that lamp packs up!). Maybe a 500watt mains voltage pre-focus lamp will also work in this model?
Specto 750 with larger motor end cover off to reveal the extra suppressor chokes
LATE 1950s SPECTO SPEED CONTROLLER
Advert in the Amateur Cine World magazine January 1958
Later in the 1950s, film and tape synchronisation became popular for home movies with many projectors designed for direct connection with tape - the Eumig P8M comes to mind. So Specto jumped on the bandwaggon, initially with a 'Specto Speed Controller' to fit on the side of their standard range of machines. Not sure how and if it worked as I have never owned one, but I believe it featured a directly coupled governor with electrical make-break contacts to control the projector motor.
I was right! The "Specto Speed Controller" is reviewed in the Amateur Cine World for October 1958 - fixed on the side of the earlier Specto projectors, a small electrical modification also provided a plug and socket on the base of the machine for the electrical connection to the motor. The governor was factory set to 16 frames/second but two buttons on the top could momentarilty speed up or slow down the controller just to bring a film and tape soundtrack back into approximate synchronisation. Incidentally the Specto later 8mm range of projectors generally had a mechanical connection from the main shaft for tape synchronisation.
Before we leave the 1950s - just a few notes regarding the Specto 100, Educational and 500 standard range of machines.
1. All these Specto projectors are fitted with a decent series wound mains voltage motor - however once radios and TVs arrived, motors like this (including hair driers, vacuum cleaners etc) were discovered to cause unpleasant interference from the sparking at the carbon brushes. I guess the law was changed to ensure all appliances with brush type motors had to have suitable suppressor capacitors fitted. Now these Specto projectors are now a bit long in the tooth (but not quite as bad as this writer here!) and a common fault is to find fuses/trips blowing when they are plugged in, or even a pop or puff of smoke as the fuse blows. (I do say always run vintage electrical equipment via an Earth Leakage Trip mains adaptor!!). With the machine unplugged from the mains, remove the fibre type base plate to reveal a brown or blackened device wired to the back of the mains input socket.- this just needs snipping out and a new suppressor capacitor fitted - these devices are much more reliable these days being polyester, sealed, and capable of putting up with a bit of heat. These have coloured fly leads for connections - green or green/yellow for earth, brown or red for live and blue or black for neutral - you may find the other wires to the input connector match - otherwise before the EU took us over - green mostly stays the same for earth, but red or brown is live; black or blue is neutral. (Incidentally always beware French equipment - they still have no philosophy on mains socket wiring!!) I think new suppressor capacitors are on my sales lists - look under Spares - Specto....
motor suppressor dual capacitor
2. The Specto 100, Educational and 500 models appear to have used the same design electric drive motors. (The Spectos were British made and all the components used in assembly were also all British sourced - switches, lamps, lenses, rubber feet, etc. - in those days this also meant quality - not quite the case today though!!). The motor was a standard series wound model normally suitable for a 200 - 240 volt supply. The carbon brushes supplying the connection to the rotating 'commutator' are 4mm x 4mm square section - often like those used in old-type hairdryers etc. Take care unscrewing the brush securing screws - often bakelite! Whilst working on the motor, it may also be useful to clean the rotating 'commutator' which consists of segments each connected to a section of the rotor windings. Use a cotton bud dipped in a suitable solvent - isopropyl alcohol etc. to clean any build up of carbon on the commutator. If carbon build up is bad, excessive sparking will occur, upsetting steady running - if eventually tracking occurs across the various commutator segments electrical problems may result. Naturally try not to smoke or inhale too much of the solvent used for cleanimg - I myself would recommend red wine for minor stimulation rather than sniffing dodgy products into the lungs!
3. Specto prided themselves on making most of the components actually in their works including castings and even lens polishing. The earlier 'mazak' type casting material can become unstable if the original mix was wrong (word is, the employees chucked the wrapping foil from cigarette packets into the mix as they walked by!). As we know most Hornby pre-war 0 gauge toy train wheels have cracked and failed by now,. - this may also apply to these Specto spool arms (try not to lift a machine this way) and the gate housing. It's just bad luck to find this - generally most later examples are fine, maybe more of an aluminium type casting (but always try to avoid exposure to low temperatures - frost etc. - I understand that there were problems with Napoleon's troops' uniform buttons - not the best way to win a war with 'mazak' buttons!). Often a spare 9.5mm machine part can be obtained from scrap 8mm or 16mm machines.
4. All these Specto projectors were fitted with a then, standard, 'Bulgin' mains input socket. Often the mains lead is thrown away and that valuable input socket is lost! This design was banned (yes again our EU friends and good old 'health & safety') but it is possible to touch the live connection with the input plug loose and the cap can be unscrewed. Maybe one can be found from a scrap projector or at an Amateur Radio Rally as many vintage amateur radio items were also fitted with this type of plug. I gather these 'Bulgin' type three pin mains input plugs now fetch up to £50 on ebay as they are also used on vintage Fender guitar amplifiers - no wonder so many pop stars got electrocuted! A better approach is to replace the mains input with the current EU mains connection (I.E.C. C14 or C16 I think) electric kettle connector. Most will almost fit, but a bit of filing to enlarge the hole may be needed.
The 'Bulgin' wire connections are important - here is a mains input plug with the top off (not too new!) - this luckily is marked: - the top is E for earth directly opposite the locator guide; bottom right is marked L (or 2) - live, and bottom left is marked N (or 1) - neutral. Sometimes makers used 1 for neutral and 2 for live. It may be as well to check inside the projector base to ensure the connections correspond - someone at the factory may have had an 'off day'! Incidentally you may find a 'Bulgin' three pin plug with the cover clearly marked '50 volt only' - this was the first change after the 250 volt version was banned - same plug, so yes OK to use, but watch out for those EU inspectors armed with search warrants checking all vintage Specto projectors! (Heaven help them if they glance at Pathé stuff, unearthed and with those lethal dropper resistances!!)
A Specto motor fitted with speed governor - I've left the pulley & fan off to show the governor
5. An interesting find! This is a Specto motor - removed from a post-war machine I guess, by the colour finish. But this has a governor on the motor shaft! Not sure if this is a Specto product, or a mod. by one of those companies producing optical sound 'add-on' bases. I vaguely remember that one advert mentioned 'governed' motor. I guess the governor was set for 24 frames/second, and was switched into the circuit for sound films. At least no problems with speed variation!
6. Just a quick commercial! - I normally stock Specto motor drive belts (heat and oil resisting nitrile); carbon motor brushes, rubber feet, instruction booklet reprimts etc. in my sales lists on this web-site. Sometimes there are also some bits from 'scrapped' machines on my sales lists.
7. Another quick commercial! - I now also stock 8mm Specto Royal /Greyline internal motor drive and external spool arm belts. (Sept 2017)
THE LATER NINETEEN FIFTIES
By the mid 1950s, 8mm (std. 8mm) was becoming the most popular home movie film gauge. So Specto introduced a quite decent double-run 8mm cine camera - the "Specto 88", launched in 1954, with a 12.5mm f1.9 Dallmeyer lens in a focussing mount, while in 1958 a simplified version was marketed as the "Specto 88 Colorshot" with a 12.5mm f2.5 fixed focus National Optical lens; with running speeds from 12 to 48 fps, this was reviewed in the Amateur Cine World August 1958, and both models restrospectively in the ACW for 10Nov1961 in the "Bargain Of The Week" page. At about the same time, the 500 watt 8mm projector was simplified with a mains voltage lamp and marketed at the much lower price of £33 as the "Popular" so as to compete with imported machines like the Eumig P8.
Specto 88 8mm cine camera 1956 advert and photo
later 1958 Specto 8mm Colorshot cine camera with simplified exposure guide
There was even a Specto 8mm/16mm film splicer:-
The simple, neat cement film splicer was really a tiny copy of the Marguet cheaper film splicer - this just has raised pegs to locate the film and a separate scraper - actually the perforatiom pitch chosen seems to be OK for standard 8mm and 16mm but also just for 9.5mm (the box is not marked with a film size and the pressed steel splicer itself, although marked 'Specto Windsor' bears a 'Foreign' logo!
SPECTO HI-FI EQUIPMENT
By the mid. 1950s, High-Fi sound had just arrived, so Specto also entered the audio market with amplifiers and tape reproducers. The tape recorder range soon became rationalised using Collaro tape decks - first, around 1958, the 151 series using the Collaro 'Transcriptor' deck (3 speeds - 3.75 / 7.5 / 15 inches per second; then later the "Spectone" 161 series using the Collaro 'Studio' tape deck (3 speeds 1.875 / 3.75 / 7.5 inches per second). I believe a "Spectone" model 171 tape recorder also appeared using a magazine loading tape cassette - see the scan below. Reviews rated the Specto audio gear as first rate, but maybe that name still didn't sound quite right ....
Advert from 1956
ACW advert Dec 1958 - looks like Collaro Studio tape-deck - maybe this is the model 161?
This later "Spectone" 171 used a Garrard magazine loading tape deck I think
I have just remembered the Spectone audio ampifiers! Well known UK valve manufacturer Mullard (well actually part of the giant Dutch Philips group), had extensive research facilities and always shared the results. During the 1960s, there were 'standard' Mullard designs for tape and audio amplifiers, naturally using Mullard brand valves! The quality audio amplifier design was known as the '510' - Mullard would supply a free circuit diagram for use by home constructors , but also by manufacturers who supplied ready built equipment but also kits of parts. I myelf built hi-fi amplifiers this way, but mine were a little more modern for the first stereo records!
Specto used the Mullard 510 design for a smart boxed hifi amplifier, mono of course. This design used the recent B9A base EL84 pentode output valve design - two for 'push-pull' output giving improved output and quality. Judging by the photos, they could have used better transformers, but that would have increased cost. One would need a separate loud speaker unit - maybe Specto made a few of these too, but so far I haven't spotted one.
Spectone 510 hifi amplifier - maybe 1960s?
Rear view, with the back off. Beware!! Valve type equipment has very high voltages inside - instant death!!
I pinched these photos from a internet radio forum, hope the fella doesn't mind! Seems it was found in France (and was for 110 volts AC mains). One can see the two large transformers each side, left mains, right the output transformer. The two EL84 output valves can be spotted in the centre at the back. Note, they are still using that trusty Bulgin mains input socket (but probably unearthed!). I guess that fat lead and plug, is a multi-core shielded cable to the various controls on the front of the case - easy to connect for assembly and to disconnect for servicing. Again, if you decide to play with something like this, picked up in a car boot sale, please check it over first if you have electrical knowledge, and connect via a Mains Trip adaptor,
THE NINETEEN SIXTIES AND
Amateur Cine World magazine advert - June 1958
In early 1958 Specto introduced a new modern style 8mm projector, initially it still used the 500 watt pre-focus lamp and a 1 inch f1.6 lens. An advertisement appeared in the June 1958 Amateur Cine World magazine. It was just called the Specto 8; by February 1959 the price was reduced to under £30 to compete with the top selling Eumig P8 machine. (See the Amateur Cine World magazine August 1958 for a full page review; another more complete review is in the same magazine dated October 1958). Within a year or so, this machine was relaunched as the Specto Royal with a 21.5 volt 150 watt truflector lamp and f1.4 lens.
Cine Camera magazine advert August 1960
By mid 1961 the renamed Specto Greyline 8mm machine was still fitted with the A1/184 21.5 volt 150 watt transformer fed truflector lamp with a dim/bright lamp switch and Lentar Vario 15mm to 25mm f1.5 zoom lens; speed was variable from 14 to 24 frames per second with a fast power rewind and up to 400 foot spools could be accomodated. A connection was provided for a tape sychronisation system. The British made Greyline was priced at £33, although Eumig P8 models started at £30, just £3 cheaper. (There is a full Greyline review in the Amateur Cine World for 17th August 1961). Just turn the motor speed knob clockwise for the motor on switch, the lamp control is the toggle switch above - up 'off'; centre - 'lamp pre-heat'; down - 'lamp full'. I now stock the internal motor drive and external spool arm belts for the Royal & Greyline models. Incidentally the transformer from a scrap Royal or Greyline is useful for modern lamp conversions to some 9.5mm machines, as it will also provide the 110 volt output for the projector motor.
Amateur Cine World advert March 1961
The inside of my 8mm Specto Greyline - much like the Royal but with lamp dim/bright switch (coil of wire lhs is the dropper resistor for this!)
since the photo, that cooling fan cover has been straightened and new belts fitted - it runs fine - what fun!
Always run vintage mains equipmemnt via an mains Earth Leakage Trip adaptor - there are so few real cine collectors left alive these days!
Back page advert in autumn 1961 copies of the Amateur Cine World magazine
Another Specto product was a modern halogen type lighting unit called the Spectosun, imported (and rebadged) from the USA around 1961/1962. Being originally for 110 volts, there was a separate transformer unit connected in the mains lead. (From memory the unit gave off so much heat one had to take care with the proximity to decent (plastic) cine cameras!)
SPECTO SLIDE PROJECTORS
Specto Colorslide 150 Specto Colorslide 300 projector
It was also in the 1960s that Specto diversified into the 35mm colour slide projector market. There were two models of the Specto Colorslide projector - again lightweight die castings - no doubt actually made at the Specto factory, finished in the similar bronze and grey colours. The simple lighweight model used just a naturally convection cooled A1/167 150 watt mains lamp, to cut costs there was no actual msins switch or fancy slide carrier - it was fitted with an 85mm focal length lens. The 300 version used a blower cooled 300 watt mains voltage lamp and had a proper slide carrier - I remember this Colorslide 300 model, my father actually purchased one as a discounted line from Dixons Ltd when they were just one branch at High Road, Edgware, London - this may still be at the house - I'll have to search when I next visit my 96 year old step mother!
An interesting item spotted on ebay by Specto 8mm enthusiast Chris Wilson. Seems Specto manufactured this slide projector for Boots the Chemists - from the description, again no mains switch, an 85mm lens and 150 watt mains voltage lamp. This was a fancier model, taking slide magazines for easier use - I have seen these, but didn't realise they were made by Specto.
In the later 1960s, enthusiastic nine-five dealer D.M. (Michael) Bentley arranged for a small batch of 9.5mm Specto 500 machines to be built - I seem to recollect these were on sale as the Specto "Leader" at £60 each and although a little old fashioned by then, made a nice addition to the then small range of new 9.5mm machines still available. The traditional style Specto 500 remained in the catalogues up to at least 1964, with the 9.5mm "Leader" 500 still doing quite well, and a dual-gauge 8mm/16mm version of the Specto 500 was also still available. The Specto Analyser 11 was also available in an 8mm version, by now with a 12 volt 100 watt Q.I. lamp.
SPECTO AND THE SUPER 8MM
Photo in Amateur Cine World magazine 15Oct 1964
1964 or so heralded another simplification to the Specto 8mm machine - now called the Windsor P6, the casing now became smaller and (I thnk) was made of a pressed plastic material. Internal gearing was saved by the use of just one off-set sprocket for feed and take-up (as used on the Pathéscope Gem and Son models all those years ago). A cheaper 8 volt 50 watt A1/17 lamp was used, allowing for a much smaller mains transformer; with 400ft spool capacity, variable speed series wound motor and f1.5 15-25mm zoom lens, it still had the tape synchronisation connection. This enabled a price of under £30 at £27.19s.6d in a further attempt to compete with the influx of cheaper projectors from the far east.
Amateur Cine World magazine 13May1965 advert
By 1965 I believe the Specto Windsor P6 had morphed into two models - the P1 and P2 which were very similar - the P2 perhaps retaining the variable speed motor.
Currently I have no actual details. But in the Amateur Cine World magazine for 13May 1965 - despite details of the new Kodak Super 8mm launch in the USA, here we have a doible page advert for the Hanimex 8mm cine projector and at only £18.19s-6d! - but it can't be - yes! - the Specto P1 with a new badge - by now Specto were making product (and very cheaply) for other UK distributors. In fact the 13Oct1965 special Projector Guide in the Amateur Cine World lists this Hanimex 8mm zoom machine, but actually from Specto we only see the Specto Analyser 11 8mm machine and the early Specto 500 8mm / 16mm dual machine plus of course the Specto "Leader" 500 9.5mm projector still made specially for specialist 9.5mm dealer D.M.Bentley.
Jumping to a 1966 projector review (the dreaded Super 8mm had now arrived on the UK scene!); Specto still retained the Specto 500 dual 8/16mm machine and the 8mm Specto Analyser 11 mentioned above. Things seeemed quiet on the std.8mm front - something was in the offing..... Interestingly Specto had now moved into the 16mm optical sound market in 1963 with the 700 series. British made, these had 1000 watt mains voltage lamp, 2000 foot spool capacity and 2 inch f1.5 lens with others available. The 700 was for optical sound; the 700R could also replay optical and magnetic tracks, whilst the 702LS had the full works with magnetic record/playback. Originally I think Specto had manufactured the BTH 16mm sound projector range - 450 etc. and later the 700 range was marketed by A.E.I. - I suppose by now they had decided to put their own name on these 16mm machines.
But what 's this? Another Hanimex projector appeared soon - this time the Hanimex Super 8mm zoom - actually British made by Specto - this time with separate motor and lamp switches and the same offfset film path. I recall the top black knob on the lamphouse is for framing, whilst the lower black knob is for externally adjusting the A1/17 8 volt 50 watt lamp position. Sorry I 'pinched' the photo from a chat forum - thanks Martin!
I think sometime, there were cheaper Super 8mm versions with the Specto name, the P1 and P2 models, maybe more details later.......
Well, here's a well known name! Great Universal Stores (who had purchased Pathéscope around 1960 really for the brand name) used a rebranded Super 8mm Specto P1 to sell in their various mail-order catalogues - similar to the Hanimex model above - 8 volt 50 watt A1/17 lamp, motor and lamp switches, framing (top black knob), lamp adjustment (lower black knob),f1.5 20 - 32mm zoom lens, and a tape-sync. connection. I quite like my example in the photo - almost new, runs nicely, really compact - just the wrong film size for my liking! Below is a photo of this machine 'naked'.
By the way - I stock the little internal motor drive and take-up belts as seen here - just £6 the pair! (04May2015)
(check my Sales Lists)
Rolls R1 8mm cine projector (actually a rebadged Specto P1)
By the early 1960s the John Bloom direct trading group , who had begun by direct selling door-to-door, rather 'dodgy' vacuum cleaners, had bought the remains of the UK Rolls Razor Company which was intended to give the company a bit of an 'edge' status-wise. With the 8mm 'home movie' boom, they imported some very cheap 8mm cine cameras, maybe from Japan, but for the projector, hooked up a deal with Specto to source the P1 model and market it as the "Rolls R1". The John Bloom empire soon went belly-up, but leaving Specto with the massive orders from the John Bloom empire unpaid; sadly this was the nail in the coffin for Specto Ltd, who I believe were then taken over by John Hadland Ltd - all older projector spares were consigned to the skip and the Specto name was no more............
1. For those working on the vintage Specto projectors, it seems they generally used 4BA threads (I have just been sorting screws for the projector base plate). Although illegal as far as the EU is concerned, BA threads are still easily obtained on the internet (and no doubt in French bicycle shops!).
"The Complete 9.5mm
Cinematographer" - Harold B. Abbott - 1936? Illiffe &
"The Home Cinema -Classic Home Movie Projectors 1922-1940" - Gerald McKee 1989 ISBN 0-9515905-0-2
"How To Operate & Maintain the Specto (500) projector" - D.Collins - Amateur Cine World December 1955
"Amateur Cine World" magazine cine projector reviews - Feb1958; 11Oct1964; 14Oct1965; 27Oct1966,
(See my Sales Lists for spare motor belts for Specto 100, 500, Educational models - also for the final Super 8mm Pathéscope/Hanimex and P1)
Please excuse my ramblings on this page, into the realms of Specto non 9.5mm equipment. As I began to write this, memories of times long gone came back to me and the desires of an impecunious young teenager when faced with choices of motor bikes, socialising (young ladies etc.) balanced against the purchase of the latest in sound and vision etc!
I have thoroughly enjoyed research into these other Specto products, not to mention pressing that 'buy it now' button on ebay and spending countless pleasurable hours sorting old projectors and reading various magazine back numbers. Naturally corrections and extra information are very welcomed!
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Created 01April2015 .... Last updated: 09 February 2018 ....
95gearspecto.htm .... ©Grahame L. Newnham MMX
04May2015 - Spectone 161 advert added / 30May2015 - Specto 8 advert added / 08July2015 - Specto88 & SpectoSun photos added
04Dec2015 - minor typos etc. fixed . 30Aug2016 - more typos & tidying, plus 510 amplifier
14Feb2017 - Vale Road factory photo added / 17Mar2017 - governed motor photo added
03Jun2017- Specto 750 cine projector added, minor tidying