Enjoy Treasured Home Movies with 16mm Vintage Movie Projectors

Movie projectors are devices that allow you to watch film footage, moving the film along a specific path so each frame is stopped for a fraction of a second in front of a light source for viewing. The light source illuminates each cell of the film that casts the image through a lens onto a screen. They can be used to watch an old film, play film that's created using the film format, allow you to watch archived footage, and more.

What types of vintage movie projectors are available?

There's a variety of 16mm vintage movie projectors available from a variety of brands like Ampro, Bell and Howell, DeVry, Keystone, Kodak, Revere, and VICTOR. There are a variety of models, features, carrying cases, and other peripherals to go with them, too.

How do you clean vintage movie projectors?

Movie projectors using 16mm film should be cleaned and lubed two to three times per year.

  • Start: Turn off the machine if it's on and ensure it's completely unplugged. Open the case, using the latched side door, to see the inside of the machine.
  • Oil cup: Determine whether or not your projector has an oil cup. If so, drop one to two drops of oil made specifically for projectors into the cup.
  • Rollers and shafts: With a clean, dry cloth, use a dab of lens cleaning liquid and clean the glide rollers and the machine's guide roller shafts. Any surface that the film comes in contact with should also be cleaned. The alcohol content in the cleaner will get rid of any emulsion buildup inside the machine.
  • Removing buildup: If there any areas where emulsion buildup is heavy, clean them with an aperture brush. The same brush is handy for use in cleaning around the film shoes that hold the film in place while the machine is in use.
  • Bulb and lenses: With lens cleaning solutions and lens tissues, don't use a standard cloth, clean the bulb and lenses thoroughly. Using something other than the lens tissues to clean is to risk scratching the surface of the lens, resulting over time in a distorted image when playing.
  • Finishing up: Using canned, compressed air, blow out any areas that are difficult to reach otherwise. Dirt and grime can damage film while it's in running through the machine, so ensure you did a thorough job of cleaning everywhere.
How long do the projector's bulbs last?

On average, the bulb for a 16mm projector will last 2,000 to 4,000 hours, factoring in the half-life of the lamp where the light is half as bright as it was when brand new. The lamp still functions at the half-life point until it gradually fades. An average projector used for special occasions or movies once in a while will run about eight hours per week, or roughly four and a half years.