Uploaded on: October 29, 2017
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loseup of Simplex XL lower (take up) reel magazine. The reel magazines date back to the days when 35mm motion pictures were printed on nitrate film (pre-1952). Even a healthy number of years after 1952, a projectionist was very likely to receive a nitrate film print from time to time both because in those days (before home video formats, streaming,etc) theatres would frequently show films that were several years old and because 1952 was the end of nitrate film stock being manufactured but it took a while for the already manufactured (blank) nitrate film stock to get used up. Nitrate film is extremely flammable, not to mention nearly impossible to extinguish. Worse yet was the fact that if was rather fragile and prone to breaks and tears. If the film slowed or stopped behind the light source while running through the projector for even a moment due to a film break, jam or mechanical malfunction in the projector, the film would ignite immediately and within a moment, the fire would have traveled to both reels fully igniting them. For this reason, fire codes across the nation prohibited so much as an inch of film to be exposed while it was running . With these reel magazines and the fire rollers (mounted between them and the projector head/soundhead) as well as airtight doors that closed over the projector and soundhead, any fire that started in the projector would, in theory, burn up the film on the reels and in the projector but be prevented from traveling elsewhere outside of the projector unit. You will also notice the electric rewind unit (a few pictures down) is fully enclosed for this same reason and throughout the projection booth photos, you will notice metal shutters mounted above the projection booth ports; these shutters were part of an automated system that would slam all openings to the booth shut if a fire broke out, preventing it from spreading to the theatre.
Photo Courtesy of Midland Coffeyville Facebook Page
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