Buying a 16mm projector - Tips

                                                                            By Dr. Film
     Thousands of 16mm projectors from several manufacturers of various models were made from the 1930’s up to the present. Brand new machines are no longer readily available, unless you hunt out the few machines from India, Italy and such places. So if you want a 16mm film projector your goal is to find a good used machine.

    16mm projectors are readily available on eBay but I caution that there are many sellers who know nothing about the machines or are just plain dishonest and out to screw you. So use the standard cautions of buying on eBay. Only consider a machine that is represented as being in excellent working condition, and if not to your satisfaction returnable for a full refund.  If the seller doesn't agree, then consider it to be a "parts machine". Projectors frequently turn up at flea markets, estate sales, library and school sales... usually for very little money, $25 or sometimes just take it away.  

    Many people collect machines of various ages and brands because they love projectors and enjoy operating them. Collecting and screening film is secondary to their main interest of running, repairing, re-habbing, etc. projectors. Whether a machine uses an incandescent lamp, halogen lamp, vacumn tube amp or a later model transistor amp are considerations that don't matter. They buy a machine for the sake of having that machine.  These tips are not for such a person. I’m directing my advice to those who know nothing about projectors and want to buy a reliable machine to show films with a big, bright image and good sound.

    To fit that discription you should only consider buying a Elmo 16CL, or a Eiki SL II, SL-0 Slot Load --- Bell & Howell 3580
 or Eiki SSL. One can usually be found on eBay. You can expect to pay $100 to $250 for an excellent condition machine.  These are slot load machines. Avoid self-threaders. These are the  most recent machines made (from the 1980's) and have transistor amps and use a bright halogen lamp (ELC). They are well built and if in excellent condition should continue to give good service for many years to come.

    Other Bell & Howell's might appear tempting,---- forget them. They have a fatal flaw --- a plastic gear which is probably broken or soon to break, and is very difficult to replace. The older models without this plastic gear all have inferior incandescent lamps and vacumn tube amps.