First of all, I’m not trying to sell this projector. I consider it a family heirloom. The real reason I’m building this page is to share with everyone the details of this projector. There doesn’t seem to be much out there on the net about this thing (except for one or two pages containing references to undisclosed information that someone, of course, wanted to sell me). The industrial design that went into this unit is very interesting. I hope, through this site, to preserve the detail of its features and functionality, as well as information on how to use it and take care of it.
This projector was manufactured by the Victor Animatograph Corporation. From what I can tell, it’s audio portion was called the “Animatophone Type 13”, and the projection portion was called “Model 40”. A quick search around the net leads me to believe that the Model 40 was manufactured in 1939.
You can view large versions of most of the images on this page by clicking on them.
Here’s a closeup shot of the name plates on the unit. It’s not clear why they separated the naming of the audio and projection portions of a non-modular projector.
History of This Particular Projector
My grandmother has just moved from her house of 30 years in Regina Saskatchewan (Canada). From the usual purge of “stuff” that comes with such a move, I inherited a Victor Animatograph Corporation Animatophone Model 40, Type 13 16mm movie projector. The main reason I wanted it was because I remember watching in awe as my grandfather threaded the film when I was a kid. He treated this projector with great care as he did all his things.
All of the film ever shown on this unit was of their kids (my mother, aunts and uncles, etc) and hours of footage of power line construction (my Grandfather’s profession) and various vacations from the ’50s. Movie-night was a rare occasion, occuring only when the whole family was back in town for a visit. We’d all pile into the basement and Grandpa would start threading. We’d get about two films in when everyone started to groan about how boring power line construction is. The short clips of the kids doing various things had been long memorized by everyone, being the most interesting footage–always good for a laugh.
The projector is very loud, but my Grandfather overcame this by permanently placing it under the basement stairs. He cut a hole in the wall just large enough to allow the image to shine out onto the screen on the opposite end of the basement. You couldn’t close the door under the stairs or the 750W bulb would overheat in minutes.
When in its storage configuration it looks like a suitcase. It must have been considered “portable” for the time but I swear it weighs 70 lbs. I don’t own a scale so I can’t check. The speaker with a built-in amplifier sits on top of the projector and buckles to it. On top of that, is a lid with a suitcase handle. The buckles are designed so that the lid is also compatible with the projection unit without the speaker so you can carry it around without the sound capability. This doesn’t help the weight problem since the speaker weighs about one pound. At the time of its manufacture, sound-on-the-film was a reasonably new feature. This may explain why the “Animatophone Type 13” branding was separate from the projection unit branding–perhaps they were sold separately until shortly before this projector was made–just a guess.
Here the case is shown in its two carrying configurations–with audio and without.
A stencil painted on the side of the case says “Winnipeg Board of Education No.1”. I presume this was the previous owner before my family got it.
I’m not sure when this projector was owned by Winnipeg Board of Education–but apparently it was.
The Audio Unit
The speaker segment of the case doubles as a storage box for cables and spare parts. The speaker contains spare bulbs, instructions, a threading diagram and a ton of cables. There seems to be a built-in amplifier using one tube in the corner of the box that needs to be powered independently from the projector.
Unfortunately my family didn’t own a camera that recorded sound, so I can’t verify whether or not the audio components still work. I can get some static and a hum out of it that sounds promising enough.
Here are some shots of the speaker case and the spare bulb and tubes that were in it.
The take-up reel and film reels are powered through the use of long steel belts; they’re actually more like springs. There are two spring-belts for normal operation, and a 3rd that you use only when you want to rewind. You actually pull the spring-belt off the pulley on the film arm, and replace it with the rewind spring-belt that runs much faster for rewinding.
Here you can see the spring-belts hooked onto the case in storage configuration. You can see the 3rd spring in the middle left hole on the top. This is pulled out and attached to the rear arm for rewinding. BTW, I made up the term “spring-belt”.
The path the film follows through the projector is similar to what I remember from the old 16mm’s in high school (no I was not in the AV club). One difference most noticeable is that the film travels from the back reel to the front. Because the film is symetrical with holes on both sides, it’s easy to feed the film from the wrong side of the film reel resulting in a reversed image.
Here are some shots of the inside of the projector.
I’m a software engineer by trade and I have to say it took me a long while before I figured out how to hook everything up. The most hilarious part about the assembly is that the audio signal cables use two-prong electrical outlet connectors! This can make for an exciting mistake when you plug an input lead for the speaker into an 110V AC plug by accident. Luckily my grandfather had labeled the correct audio signal wire. There is one wire that I can’t figure out: it’s a non-standard two-prong outlet plug with an additional plug just under the center of the normal two. I can see where this plugs in, but I can’t figure out what it’s for. If anyone knows, please leave a comment. It might be for a microphone or something.
The reel arms are stored in the bottom of the projector case with a pressure-screw to keep them from rattling around. The reel belts are metal and spring-like allowing them to slide if something gets stuck. They’re stored on hooks in the top of the case and are permanently mounted on their motor pulleys. In all there are no loose parts when everything is stowed correctly–hard to say for many modern devices like video cameras or even still cameras for that matter with accessories falling out all over the place or getting lost.
To assemble, you simply insert the reel arms into the top of the projector, hook up the drive belts, and plug in the power.
There was some documentation still with the projector under the stairs. Taped on the wall was the threading diagram. In addition to this was a large sheet of thick paper. I have taken some digital shots of both documents. The shots aren’t really clear enough to read and are provided here to give everyone an idea of what the manual to this device looked like. If there’s interest I’ll scan the docs to make them more legible.
The other document is a large sheet of thick paper that’s double sided. This has the instructions on one side, and a maintenance and service manual description on the other. The instructions make use of many closeup photos of each step of operation that are very hard to make out. I suppose, being a projector company, they wanted to use photos instead of diagrams.
One side is titled “Operating Instructions Victor Animatophone”.
The other side is titled “Cleaning · Locating Trouble · Making Replacements”.
The film that came with the projector is 16mm. I’m not sure if this is normal for 16mm, but the film is perforated on both sides so it’s possible to put the film in backwards. The film case is quite interesting in itself. It’s steel and has a front lip that folds down so you can label the can slots.
Here are some shots of the film case and a close up of one of the cans.
Above is all the info I have on this projector to date. I hope that readers with additional info will contact me so I can fill this page out over time. If anyone has any questions, would like more information, or has any comments about this page feel free to leave a comment. I hope you’ve found this page useful.
If we all put the pieces together hopefully we can get a complete record of the history of this type of projector, how to take care of it, a parts list, etc. It’s a great unit and I hope this site can help to keep mine running for another 70 years.