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VOL. 36 | NO. 31 | Friday, August 3, 2012

Final season for old ‘iron giants’

By Hollie Deese

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Going digital will mean the retirement of Barry Floyd’s “iron giants.”

That’s what Floyd, owner of Stardust Drive-in in Watertown, calls his vintage projectors, for which he has a locker of spare parts.

One of the projectors is a 1960 model that came from the now-closed Woodzo Drive-In in Newport, a town that at one time had three drive-in theaters. His second projector is a 1947 model from the Sumner Drive-In, also closed, where he saw the movie that inspired him to open his own theater.

“The machines I have in my projection booth, if I keep them oiled and keep the water pumps clean, they will last another 50 or 60 years,” he says. “These are great, big, cast iron machines with gears and grease – the good stuff.

“And we are going to tear all that out and replace it with a $50,000 box that, if it breaks, I can’t fix it,” he adds. “With the machines I’ve got now, if something happens I can tear it apart and put it back together with the parts I have hanging on the wall. If these digital boxes break, I am totally reliant on a guy in some cubicle in Texas going ‘Yeah, that’s broke.’”

But at least one of the vintage projectors will be saved. Floyd says he will build a special display by his concession stand so others can get an up-close look at movie history.

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