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Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Hughesie, Oct 30, 2008.
Can anyone tell me anything about this fantastic old followspot found in an abandoned theater?
stage usually helps. Got any more pics? Looks like an old carbon arc fixture.
image i have for you sorry.
Super Trouper. It's a carbon arc lamp house good for throws up to about 100'.
Super Trouper in our small light lab. I really want to fire it up one of these days.
Hey if it good enough for ABBA to sing about, then it has to be good enough for me.
carbon-arc Strong Trouper™ (not a Super Trouper™) produced by Strong Electric, Toledo, Ohio (later Omaha, NB) from 1948 until approximately 1980. It's also the first followspot I ever operated, in 1976.
The picture shows the carbon-feed crank in the lower right-hand corner used to set the gap between the carbons. During normal operation, a clock mechanism would slowly move the pencil-sized, copper-jacketed carbons closer together as they burned away. The two round knobs are for the X and Y positioning of the reflector.
More history can be found in Nick Mobsby's book, The Followspot Guide. Entertainment Technology Press, 2007.
Attached is a four page-sales brochure, from the early 1970s.
GOD, I am getting to HATE these jogs of memories best left forgotten.
Which was of certain Troupers that did not have a self feed motor and who's carbons had to be manually fed with the crank. The was the left hand. The right hand was used for the iris/dowser. The third hand was for color boomerang changing. 4th hand was for the on/off button on the Clear Com box to acknowledge receiving commands from the LD at the Capitol Theater, Port Chester, NY, sometime in 1975 - Edgar and Johhny Winter ?. Pretty vague. First time on a carbon, I was very, very busy, but I was young.....
For better or worse, your memory's fading. Strong never made Troupers with a douser, only "chopper" and iris. An after-market company called Dion Products (I think a retired employee of Strong-Toledo) offered a retrofit douser and top plate, but not many were sold. Who needs a mechanical dimmer when the operator can accomplish a more interesting fade by backing the carbons apart? (while at the same time pulling back on the bone AND closing the iris.)
Oh, absolutely. You are correct about the dowser and I'm not certain that it was the Winter Bros. either. I did a couple of gigs at the Capitol, as well as attending prior as an audience member for some shows. So memory scrambling across the 35 years is to be expected, especially given the the methods of inducing "haze" in those days.
But do I have the part about some Troupers not having motorized carbon feeds correct ?. That one sticks in my brain. Also the AC replacement motors on the Supers, as poor- choice replacements for the original DC motors. When I started at Brooklyn, the house projectionist - a real carbon fan, (still uses them in his projectors), turned me on to the motion picture industry use of the Strong lamp houses, thus I developed alternative sources for parts for Strong stuff. Useful when the local lighting shops, who were big Super Trouper users, like 4 Star, would tell me "Nope, no more DC motors available". I would call Star Cinema in New Jersey and find one for the Strong 16mm lamp house. Same thing.
Ahhh.... the bad old days.
Electric, originally of Toledo, OH (and quite alive today as Strong International of Omaha) built the Trouper as a follow spot for Ice Follies. The lamp used an alternating current carbon-arc; a departure from the traditional DC lamps used in projection and, later, in the Strong Super Trouper. In the end, the Trouper saw use in a multitude of venues before and after it was eclipsed by its more powerful brother. For those interested in reading further, I have the sales brochure posted on my IATSE local's website here. I first ran one of these in 1959 and while, yes, they could be somewhat of a pain to operate if your weren't familiar with their use, they were still a fantastic lamp albeit lacking the douser. BTW, there's also an informative history of Strong at that same site posted here, which will fill-in some of the blanks re this spotlight's history. Sadly, today, Strong's old manufacturing facility at 45 City Park Avenue, in Toledo, is an abandoned and derelict building and somewhat of a mirror of the demise of the carbon arc light source. For those of you who have never seen the quality of light produced by a carbon arc, it's color temperature has yet to be equalled by its HID successors; at least on stage. :-(
Strong troupers were the first spots I owned and rented out back in the 70s. Here is a shot from the mid-70s when I first started out with the business in my garage. Note the rack style color changers that pre-dated the self-canceling units. Note also the nice fluffy wiring on the par cans and beam projectors. (cough, cough) A careful eye will also note the green "pooper scooper" hanging to the upper left. Hey, it was also my garage
The ac feed motor was due to the fact that it was an AC unit front to back, using the same carbons in both holders.
The thing that differentiated the Trouper from the Super Trouper was the fact that it was an AC arc--both copper-clad carbons were of identical construction. The Super had different positive and negative carbons of much larger diameter as it was a DC arc.
The Trouper was much smaller and used at much shorter throw distances.
followspot that utilised 6mm diameter AC carbons at approximately 42amps
The feed system was very reliable as long as one set the transformer up to maintain that current at the correct arc gap
The super trouper was a DC spot that utilised the simplex 1Kw reflector lamphouse that strong made for the Simplex projector company (it was a more streamlined version of the version they market themself called the Strong UtillityArc, they also made one with a different shell for motiograph)
The super trooper ran at 40amp DC with a 6mm orthotip negative carbon and a 7mmx12 Superex Positive carbon
Again the feed system was only for that one current rateing
A different leed screw could be ordered to operate at 45amps
In some cases Strong sold the SuperTrouper with a Peerless Magnarc on the back to a few locations
The largest was the Strong Gladiator and it used the Strong Futura lamphouse that used rotating positive carbons and an inclned negative
Again it could be set up for a few different current ranges and carbon sizes
Genarco by Metroplotan was a competor in the reflector arc followspots for years and I think that they had some arrangement with Altman
Kliegl and Brenkert maintained the use of black lowintensity carbon arcs in a vertical configuration with a condensor lens system
Vintage Strong Trouper Arc Light Stage Light 51000-3 - eBay (item 260285870717 end time Jun-07-09 15:15:50 PDT)
Now I don't know who on earth would spend $2,450 for this fixture, but whatever. There's always the "Make Offer" button. Enjoy the pictures.
Hall on the University of Utah campus. Just last year, a plea went out in our area, asking if there was a person who could operate a carbon arc super trouper, for no pay at a benifit program. The program was "The Patsy cline story". This was also performed in an old restored vaudville house, the Polk theatre in Lakeland Florida. Even though I have run many followspots over the years, I have never run another carbon arc unit in between those two occasions.
Just as a point of interest, on the Ella Fitzgerald concert, I was told to be very careful to never let the light shine directly in her eyes, as they had been permanently damaged by followspots over the many years that she had been performing. There were a lot of tricks employed to keep the brightness down a bit. This many years later, I don't remember exactly how we accomplished that.
Do you mean to tell us that you began operating a followspot while still in elementary school? Hmmmm?
Thanks for posting the link, those pictures bring back memories from our rennovated Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne. That spot is a pretty cool piece of Americana!
Thanks for that, I think.:neutral:
I was 15; between 9th and 10th grades.
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