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Upcycling an old 1950s Noris projector

We do love a good rummage around vintage & retro shops, second hand shops, car boot sales, salvage and reclamation yards, and anything else selling old stuff that a lot of people would have chucked away decades ago.

Some people see this as junk - we see them as hidden gems that time forgot! The great thing about a lot of these vintage items is that they can be so visually appealing and eye catching, a welcome feast for the eyes in a world surrounded by plastic and cheaply made products that are designed to be used for a short while and then thrown away.

A man browsing in a vintage and retro junk shop
Adam finding treasures

Most vintage items are really well made and built to last. And that's very fortunate for us indeed, as we love nothing more than discovering these forgotten items, looking beyond the thick layers of dust and decades of dirt and grime, and thinking up creative ways on how we can give those vintage items a new lease of life. Often turning them into a beautiful and quirky one-of-a-kind stylish lamp.


The old and unassuming projector

This was certainly the case when we stumbled across this vintage projector tucked away in a vintage & retro shop. What immediately caught our eye was the design of the projector, it was reminiscent of some kind of retro-futuristic car from the 1940s.

Upon further research it turns out it was a Noris Trumpf 150 slide projector manufactured in the 1950's. The original paint was an awful dull grey mottled effect, and we knew instantly that would have to go in order to make it more aesthetically pleasing for somebody's home.

Back in the workshop Johnny got the creative juices flowing and set to work on coming up with some concept designs for the projector. This heavy metal vintage piece of tech was just begging to be repurposed as a lamp. The obvious solution was to simply replace the original bulb and fitting with a new one and - ta da! There's a lamp! But that would be unimaginative, boring and too easy, and at Godwin Vintage we do like a challenge. We strive to make every single project a work of art, often with many hours of craftmanship, brainstorming, and problem solving.

Vintage Streamline Moderne style car
Vintage Streamline Moderne style car

The curved style and shape of the projector reminded Johnny of Streamline Moderne design from the 1930's, particularly vintage cars. So it is from this that he drew a lot of his inspiration for his concepts. He planned on stripping and repainting the old projector in blue and cream colours, often seen on vehicles from the Streamline Moderne era.

Johnny had envisaged a long curving light fitting from the back of the projector, reaching all the way over the top with a chrome semi-sphere shade directing the light downwards. The light fitting inside the projector would be replaced with a coloured bulb which would emit a magenta glow through the lens and the vents at the top of the projector. He also planned to see if he could source an original 35mm slide which would allow the magenta light to pass through it.

As with many upcycling projects, the final product can tend to differ slightly from the original concepts, making tweaks and changes as we come up with new ideas along the way.

Johnny sketching concept ideas
Johnny sketching concept ideas

It was time to get stuck in with task of stripping and cleaning the old projector from decades of dirt and grime before painting.

Johnny's ideas of having the projector lamp somewhat resemble a classic car with the blue and cream colours meant that the paintwork would need to be super smooth (as would be expected from a car paintwork), but the existing grey mottled paint on the projector had a texture to it, so this needed to come off rather than being simply painted over. Also in addition to the blue and cream paintwork, Johnny's concepts involved a lot of shiny chrome-like metal.

The problem was that the existing paint (or whatever they'd used to coat the projector back in the day) was very hardwearing and tough to get off. We tried paint stripper, but this barely touched it. The only way we could remove the old paint was to painstakingly sand it down with a high grit abrasive paper using the wet & dry method to avoid scratching the surface of the metal beneath. To get in all the nooks and crannies we used a metal wire brush (or several of them). It was a long and tedious process, but well worth the effort as opposed to just simply spraying over the top of the old paint.

Once fully cleaned with soapy water to remove all of the old paint and sanding residue, we left it to fully dry overnight before beginning the process of spraying.

First Johnny masked all of the areas that were to remain shiny metal before applying two coats of metal primer. Once this had dried he'd mask the areas that were to be painted cream, and apply two coats of blue. One the blue had dried he masked those areas and applied to coats of cream (or ivory). One the cream had dried he removed the masking from all areas apart from those to remain shiny metal, and apply two coats of clear coat lacquer to all paintwork to give it a super glossy finish. Then wait for all of the paintwork to fully cure, before removing all of the masking giving the entire thing a wax finish to seal it and protect the bare metal areas.

With all of the paintwork done, the projector would now be passed over to Adam to work his magic on re-wiring it and fitting the new lighting. He attached a long chrome flexible arm to the back of the projector, curving forwards over the top. Instead of the original idea of having a semi-spherical chrome shade, we decided to fit a vintage style chrome light fitting holding a huge oversized globe vintage Edison bulb with a spiral filament. This would give the whole thing even more of a wow factor. A new light fitting replaced the old one inside of the projector, and this would hold the magenta bulb. The projector was put back together and we managed to find a 35mm slide with a picture of an old classic car, Perfect!

And that was it! The upcycled projector was now finished. It really was a labour of love, but I'm sure you'll agree that the end results are really something rather unique. A great way to give something old a new lease of life 🙂💡

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