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Chinon Universal 8 cine projector

The Chinon Universal 8 cine projector was introduced in 1967 as a machine capable of showing both the standard 8 mm home movie films which had been around for many years, and the new Super 8 format film which was introduced a few years earlier in 1965.

Chinon Universal 8 Images

My Chinon Universal 8 projector

I found this Chinon Universal 8 projector on eBay with a starting price of £1.99 and no bids against it. Because of the weight of projectors, the price of postage is something which needs to be taken into account when making a purchase, but in this case postage was about £7 and since no one else was interested, I managed to buy the unit when the auction finished for less than £10.

When it turned up a few days after the end of the sale, I found a projector which seems to be in very good condition. The only negative point is that the power lead was not included in the sale, and the socket on the back is not of the standard, modern, 3 pin type, but a two pin socket with a key on the bottom. I don't believe this was a standard and I assume it was used by the manufacturer for just this model because my other Chinon projector, a C300 doesn't use it.

I will need to either change the power socket for a modern replacement, or remove it completely and attach a permanent power lead, but I did notice around the outside of the socket that the plastic case has signs of melting. I hope this isn't a pointer to problems within the unit - there certainly doesn't appear to be any signs of overheating internally.

Projector Description

The projector is an upright model with the film transport at the top and the take-up spool at the bottom. In order to feed film through the projector the upper feed spool arm is raised from its folded position to stand above the unit.

Because the universal 8 is designed to take both Standard 8 and Super 8 film (which had different size spool holes), the feed spool holder has a plastic adaptor which fits Super 8 and can be removed to fit Standard 8. The take-up spool holder doesn't have this because the same spool is used for both formats (the film itself is the same width).

To change the projector to the different film standards is a two part operation.

There is a knob on the front of the projector which is set to either Regular or Super, and then the sprocket wheels are changed for the appropriate film gauge. When the film transport cover is opened, there are a set of sprockets stored on pins on the back of the cover, and a set which are installed in the film path. To install the correct set, the plastic film guide is opened, and the sprocket can be pulled off and replaced with the new one.

The operation of the Universal 8 looks quite simple. The film is automatically loaded by feeding the film into the top film guide and setting the large control knob to Forward. Once the film is threaded, the control knob can then be set to Lamp, to start projecting and the focus knob adjusted to focus the picture. The lens is a zoom lens so when it is pulled forward and pushed back, the size of the projected image can be set.

There is a Still lever at the side of the control panel which allows the operator to stop the film on a singe frame, and this pulls a heat shield in front of the lamp to stop the film catching fire.

At the bottom of the control panel is a speed knob allowing the operator to set the correct film speed for the standard being projected.

Projector Specs

  • Chinon Universal 8 projector manufactured in 1967
  • 8mm Projector for both Regular 8 and Super 8 films
  • Film standard changed manually
  • Can play in both forward and reverse
  • Variable speed
  • Still frame feature
  • Automatic film feed
  • Lockable front foot
  • 8v 50W Lamp
  • Film trimmer on top of lamp housing
  • f/1.5 20 - 32mm zoom lens

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One comment on “Chinon Universal 8 cine projector”

  1. Hi, I just picked up one of these and getting the hang of it! Biggest challenge at the moment is that the lamp only seems to work in reverse mode. Any ideas how to fix that? Thanks for the article, by the way. Really useful

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