Vintage Lighting 1st Altman Shakespeare worked on

ship

Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
Two 20 degree, so almost useless in restoring so as to give to others for a large enough venu in useful for them. Still though, about 30 years ago... was a phone call to my dorm room from Robert Altman in apologizing to me personally in not shipping out some 3.5Q5 fixture parts I needed for a show. Seems he was all in company working on this light and had no time to be shipping parts. My snail mail letter, as with the phone call was and has been good will with from Altman for yers now. I finally got a chance to work on some.

Around 20+ years since they were bought for a venu' and still in very good condition... Worked on slight shutter ozone corrosion buildup to clean and PTFE spray all in the gate/shutter area. Some flaking to paint inside the fixture to blow off and re- paint, and a cleaning.. Very nice over engineered lighting fixtures. Way more complex than a 360Q for serviceability. Dichroic reflector though and S-4 like bench focus.

Hard to re-assemble and not easily to do yearly cleaning. Will have driven my Wife the Leko Dpt. Mgr. crazy in servicing them as opposed to her S-4 Leko’s. I note in the last 20+ years the fixtures were serviced. And mounting screws were stripped and replaced at times with longer ones in catching the castings. Lenses don’t quite seat as per primary cause of the stripped screws to hold them. A quick grip clamp needed in the first case in lens train assembly. Perhaps a well engineered fixture, but not one well designed for yearly cleaning. This especially given the stripped holes in castings found.

Easy long term fix verses screw length problems, but only in experienced tech for yearly service. Every year say the lens train cleaned requires a professional and very skilled person to take it apart. Largest problem in servicing, the retainer springs. Remove them before servicing that part of the casting. One set by the last person in the fixture got lost apparently in me endlessly searching for where it was and not remembering a spring popping. Just re-assembled it without the spring aka last servicer of the light. Take the springs out first before gate assembly. Not great designed mounts to these springs - a suck thing. Finger nails locked in to re-install the springs bottom up and after assembly of the gate assembly. One of many not easy detais like in getting the various spreader frames correct. Shutter installation process is a really good concept before they get warped. Will have never thought of notching the shutter handle so as to get it out - assuming again it's not warped.

I mentioned, skilled and or once serviced on these fixtures at some point.. Had one assembly screw with a stripped screw. Easy tell in someone not qualified monkeyed with the lights.

Spent months in wondering how I could be 2.1/2" off in bench focus for a 8" leko... Turns out they had the wrong lamp installed.
 

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ship

Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
Assembly of the springs or pre-removal of them. The shutter plates/spreader plates... take more photo"s or have one light not taken apart in reserve for re-assembly looking back at. This is not a easy thing to re-assemble. You need to seat stuff - pound them into seating properly, and orientate the parts properlly. Even than, if not properly seated.. shutters will be hard... avoid the temptation of screw driver helping spread the plates..... loosen screws, try to better seat plates etc. That center plate I found a challenge to seat or symptom of the other plate on one fixture not goint in properly.. The other, seated just fine.

Possibly the hardest Leko's I have ever worked on in servicing.
 

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Les

Well-Known Member
These lights are a bear to service. I did 30 of them at my theatre sometime shortly before the pandemic, and they're probably due again. I did not dive in to the gate assemblies as deep as you are. Most of my objective was to clean reflectors and lenses. There were some pleasant surprises though. All shutters were in good shape. The notch is a good idea, except when you accidentally pull it out while working on an awkward shutter cut. It has only happened to me a few times and has always been drama-free to reinsert. Perhaps it's more of a "me" problem; trying to get extreme shutter cuts that the fixture can't really do. I suppose Altman was overly paranoid about shutter replacement after problems with 360Q shutters. None of the shutters on our Shakespeares had any appreciable wear after 25 years in service. This was their first-ever real service call excepting lamp socket replacements.

I luckily didn't have any stripped fasteners. Probably as a result of making sure I got them "eugh. tight" and not "EUUUGH! tight" (sorry for the scientific torque specifications). The fact that the lamp/reflector housing splits is nice and makes for easy cleaning, but removing the yoke with that dumb Allen cap head bolt takes a bit more time (most of which is spent locating the -yes, the- allen wrench set. I can never seem to keep up with them.)

Most of my fixtures are 20-deg (wish they were 14 at my distance) and have double lenses - so more light loss and more surfaces to clean. But the lenses were in good shape. I learned to not remove the rubber baby buggy bumper rings if I can help it. They can lose elasticity after years of heat/cool cycles and sometimes don't reinstall as tightly as they were when they came off. But cleaning the lenses by hand with these installed is no big deal.

If I recall correctly, some (but not all) fixtures had a third lens near the reflector. Hard to clean. Can't remember which version of fixtures these were. Most of ours are (I assume) first gen - 1994/1995. About a dozen others are circa 2004. Slight differences between them (including either the inclusion or omission of that third lens) but not much else. The newer fixtures had double yoke knobs, which require added fidgeting during focus. The powdercoat is rough vs smooth. Minor finishing details like that.

The reflectors were in 95% good shape. A few had pock marks from prior lamp explosions and one was cracked in half and subsequently retired. All others were serviceable. This was a nice surprise, as I was worried that as I cleaned, the coating would come off like mylar confetti. Luckily not the case.

Overall, I agree with your assessment. A well-built though unwieldy fixture that could have used some refinement. They have withstood the test of time in our fairly busy venue and have taken some neglect/abuse in that time as well and are not much worse for wear. Not many maintenance issues aside from the usual burnt sockets and a few lost parts* over the years.

*lost parts: Some users have at times lost the brass thumbscrews over the accessory slot. I'll admit to removing a few by accident as I expected them to be longer. Captive screws would have been a nice touch. Glad they're thumbscrews and not Phillips though. Also a few lost bench-focus lock knobs lost over the years - I guess by designers who know that messing with it can sometimes help the intensity without understanding it entirely, and unscrew it too far at which point it falls off... And then I guess not bothering to put it back. Luckily these parts could be borrowed from retirees.

We are running GLA's and I'm wishing for more intensity. I might switch to GLC, but I do enjoy the long lamp-life of the GLA. I wonder if the GLE (which I discovered as I type this) would be an option. It's time for a lamp order anyway... I believe the Shakes is rated for 750w after all.
 

techieman33

Well-Known Member
I've been pretty happy with ours. The fixed focal length are a pain to clean. The zooms however are pretty easy. There's an access hatch that if you have smallish hands lets you get access to both sides of each lens and you can reach one side of the 3rd lens. The other side can be gotten to with the shutters open and the back of the instrument removed. One challenge we faced was that they changed reflectors at some point and the older style are no longer available. It was some work and more parts to be able to get the new reflector in.
 

ship

Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
Thanks all. Mine... finally own two now don't have a third lens. Cannot imagine where or it's use. Source I was looking to put the extra - other than museum on into is too small. I have a free and thoroughly served 20 degree leko to off line. You pay the shipping... but its in say very good condition. The one with the crack in the reflector, stripped screws etc is going to the Museum.

So nobody above found a missing spring from the gel frame plate to casting retainers??? I was missing one and searched my floor for it and it's roll pin. I would think a lack of casting retainer proper fitting to the spring, will have in dropping or abuse have seen more of these springs even with roll pins inside them to prevent the curve of the spring to fail in fixture notes. I searched and think that spring possibly was lost by who ever stripped a screw head or casting threads.

I see the lens seating issues, but my lens retainers are plastic in seemingly different. They surround the lens and on re-install didn't really seat. So I probably have the earliest version in dating? Supprised Les you didn't take apart that shutter assembly as mine needed PTFE on glide surfaces, and the shutters needed in browning a re-surfacing and coating. Love that concept of removable shutters... up and until they start to warp which would not come out short of taking apart the fixture. Still though in getting them out, you would not have to remove rivets which unless you remove the peen pin of the rivet of could seriously drive your drill bit hole astray in damaging the hole. Service call is the best time to address Shakesphere browning shutters before it happens in them coning out. Or as time again might or might not happen.. better to pre-adress in easy to get done before.

My lamp sockets after 20+ or perhaps 30 years were good/decedent. Lamp housing to clean and bonus points for dichroic reflector good.... On the other hand cleaning the lenses bad to access. Interesting lens train retainer... if it works properly.
 

ship

Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
In 92' I got a snail mail letter from my High School TD about a LDI or USITT new product - the S-4. I was Actively deployed in the Marines as a Sgt. of a gun/cannon crew at the time. News from home was good info to the troops as it were - wanted. Instead of shipping out we were than instaead held in reserved and in waiting to be shipped over to Panama instead. Slight world history.

By later in April I believe I was reliced from active duty and applied to Illinois State University for the fall.... memory from many years ago.. many years ago. So back than ISU was on waiting list to get the first ten S-4 lights. Such places were limited due to production rate of how many lights they could get from ETC at that point. No date speficic.

What I do know is that within the next year I sent a snail mail letter to Robert Altman about parts I didn't get on time, and needed for my first Chicago lighting design. Robert Altman had his secretary track me down between classes, than once found personally talked to me a college student punk for a long time.... He apologized for this shipping problem, and explaned that it was a all' in effort to get this light out in time... forget LDI or probably USITT.

He sent me one of the first HX-600 lamps, and double my parts order to make up for it. I was totally the cool man on campus in getting the lamp and shining it across the dorm room spacing onto another dorm room! Another guy from class worked for High End Systems for summer vacation, and had a laser pointer.. more cool.

Yea the laser pointer was cool back than. Something say the theater history teacher didn't see.. but was there.

So the Shakesphere lighting fixture inventinon, in some way stifled my becoming a world famous lighting designer career. I should sue them :) Shakesphere fixture was a year or two after the S-4 in detail. I finally have two, but only need one. My personal goal in design was acquiring a Altman 360Q9 fixture while designing shows 20+ years ago. I have two now.
 

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