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TOPIC: Platter motor problems -- help!

Platter motor problems -- help! 25 Jul 2011 21:22 #36724

I have been having platter motor problems. Each motor tends to last about 6 months to 1.5 years before the brushes (according to the tech who fixes them) need changed. I have been mailing them to a semi-retired film tech in my state who sends them back to me "fixed" with a bill of about $150. I'm not sure if it's typical to be having them repaired so often and for that price but so far I've pretty much just granted complete faith that my technician would advise me otherwise if it were another underlying problem making them go bad so quickly.

Without going in to too many details, I routinely sent a motor to be fixed to my tech. I get it back but the box looks SLIGHTLY damaged and the exterior "plastic" part is crushed inward. I think, "maybe it's just cosmetic" and I give it a try. It's NOISY and moves slow. Kind of a rattling, ugly sound. I knock on it a few times and try to "uncrush" the exterior part (please be gentle...I admit I had no idea what I was doing but I figure I couldn't make it any worse) and it's still noisy, but lo and behold, it's moving a bit faster. I have a show that's about to start that night and I NEED that motor to work. With fingers crossed, I put the motor on and run the show. It works. And it works a few more times, both in the feed out and take up position. Then it dies the next day (to no giant shock to me, of course). I call my film tech and explain my troubles, and he invites me to send it back to him and he will take the damages up with UPS, including totally replacing my motor if need be. I get it back in the mail a few days later and the exterior motor part is "uncrushed" (hallelujah!) and I can clearly tell it is the same motor I sent to him. I plug it in and it's rattling/noisy and moving slow again. Same problems as before. It dies soon after. I call the tech and he (almost heatedly) tells me that he "fixed it" and it "has 100% new brushes on it, so it should be working FINE" and that there was nothing more he could do. He offered to take a look at it if he comes to our side of the state. He hasn't been returning my calls.

So, long story short, I am humbly asking for help in a couple of areas from the wiser:

1.) What the heck could be going on with my motor?

2.) How can I fix this myself? I have tried to look up the manual (I have a Strong Platter system) and it really doesn't detail the motors in the manual. I even tried other platter manuals in hope that they are similar enough. Nada. I have no experience in changing the brushes, let alone taking the motor apart to see what the inner workings look like.

I have another dead motor that presumably just needs brushes changed and another motor that sounds like it's dying (I only have two screens and 6 motors, so it's not like I have the luxury of waiting until another one dies). I am six months pregnant and moving prints around several times a day like nobody's business. It's actually quite silly!

3.) Does anyone know of someone who would be willing to either take a look at or fix the motors for me, if there is no source of information to guide me in doing it myself?

Thanks so much, guys and gals.
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Re: Platter motor problems -- help! 26 Jul 2011 00:06 #36726

  • rufusjack
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I would post this question on Those folks will be quick to respond.
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Re: Platter motor problems -- help! 26 Jul 2011 00:36 #36727

  • LanceC
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If that motor is burning up brushes that quickly then you need to replace the whole motor. Get the part number from the manual and call a couple of theatre supply companies and get a quote on a motor. They should last a lot longer than they are.
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Re: Platter motor problems -- help! 26 Jul 2011 02:53 #36730

  • BusyBee
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The last time I had to purchase a new motor I realized they are pretty expensive relative to the budget of most small theaters (though probably cheaper for a good used motor). If you're going to spend the money on new motors, it might be more cost effective to have a tech come out and come up with a definitive solution. After all, if you're having a problem with your variac or something that's causing your motors to burn up (not sure if that's even possible), it would be a huge waste of $ to burn up brand new motors.
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Re: Platter motor problems -- help! 27 Jul 2011 03:19 #36732

  • Ken Layton
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After installing new brushes, the motor will need to be "run in" for at least an hour to allow the brushes to seat properly and the motor speed to stabilize. This is before putting the motor to use for the first time.

I am assuming your tech that rebuilt the motor also cleaned the commutator and vacuumed out all the carbon dust inside the motor?

Were the motor connector pins also checked for the possibility of a damaged pin?
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Re: Platter motor problems -- help! 27 Jul 2011 21:08 #36738

Thanks for the responses, everyone!

Will post over at film-tech -- good suggestion. I always forget they have a great forum over there.

Buying new motors is definitely a consideration, as my "gut" tells me they should be lasting longer. But I want to be sure that's the right route to go -- my previous technician happily told me that there was no underlying problem, and this is the normal rate that motors go bad. However, he also did not examine the platter or other components in any way to reassure me of this. I'd hate to purchase new and realize there IS an underlying problem.

I honestly have no idea to what extent he "fixed" the motors. I know he at least put new brushes on, as he told me over the phone. He has been in the business for probably at least 30 years and is well-respected by many, so I've always just taken his word that he does a thorough job in his work when I send it out. This assumption would lead me to imagine that he DID (or at least knew well enough to do) vacuum out the interior, etc. However, these things are dropping like flies in my booth and he is not properly standing by his work. Who knows his life story or what's going on. He's on the brink of retirement -- maybe it's making him cranky.

If he returns my messages, I can ask him about whether he checked the connector pins and etc. Do you think he would find that insulting? Or is it wrong of me to have assumed he did all of those things?
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Re: Platter motor problems -- help! 27 Jul 2011 21:12 #36739

Ken, what do you mean when you say "run in"? Is that something I can do myself?
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