B&W paper processor with parts available?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by philpem, May 6, 2011.

  1. philpem

    philpem Member

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    Hi guys,

    Does anyone know of any roller-transport (or similar) B&W paper processors (ideally dry-to-dry) which still have some level of spares availability?

    I was looking into getting something along the lines of a Durst RCP or Printo for the darkroom (mainly for process consistency -- eliminating temperature and process time from the list of variables) but it seems that parts for these beasts are extremely thin on the ground. All the machines I've seen have had some level of damage to the rollers -- in one case, they had almost completely disintegrated...

    I'm not interested in processing FB paper, just your plain old everyday monochrome RC paper (Ilford Multigrade). Sizes from 6x4 to 10x8, maybe a little larger.

    Thanks,
    Phil.
     
  2. Trond

    Trond Subscriber

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    Thermaphot still has parts for their processors. I have an ACP-302, and I talked with the owner just a few months ago. Very helpful.

    Trond
     
  3. Luseboy

    Luseboy Member

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    You can most likely find a jobo with a print drum for relativley cheap, this has the advantage of use with film as well. I see unicolor drums/rollers all the time on craigslist, usually for pretty cheap too. But i wonder why you don't just use trays for B&W. it's not like color where you can't use a safelight, plus you can get pretty consistent results. Might be better to invest in a Zone VI compensating developing timer, that way you get consistent processing times for a particular temperature. Thats what i use and i like it.
    Hope that helps,
    Austin
     
  4. philpem

    philpem Member

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    I've got a pretty poor track record with timing the different processing stages... I have a rotten tendency of thinking "right, I need three prints of this, so while #1 is developing, I'll put #2 in the enlarger"... then I end up fiddling with the enlarger, and a couple of minutes later realise that print #1 has been over-developed.

    I've even done this a couple of times with film... start reading a book (hey, with a 15 minute process time it's nice to have something else to do!).. and then realise after 25 minutes that I've over-developed the film.

    I'm toying with the idea of playing around with laser-exposure (basically: take a blue laser pointer, wire it up to a laser power controller, and bolt the whole mess onto a laser printer beam-scanner assembly). Effectively taking a digital image and printing it straight onto paper. The catch is, I'll need to calibrate the laser against the paper -- I need to know the minimum amount of power to get any response from the paper, and the smallest amount of power needed to completely fog it to black. All that depends on optical loss, print timing, and a million and one other factors - I'd rather not deal with processing time and temperature as well.

    I'm not keen on the idea of a Jobo processor -- as I understand it, the majority of them are getting pretty long in the tooth, basically falling to pieces (plastic cracking, broken gears, worn out parts...), and spares availability is basically zero...

    I'm slightly tempted by the Nova Darkroom processors, but I'd rather have something that takes exposed paper in on one end and deals with the processing so I can stop worrying about it and... well... spend more time experimenting with the enlarger :D

    Cheers,
    Phil.
     
  5. Luseboy

    Luseboy Member

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    haha well my jobo most certainley is not falling to pieces, and parts are fairly easy to find, but a jobo is not what your looking for. I think what you want is one of those machines that they use in a 1 hour photo lab. They are, however, designed for color processing, but you can probably figure out how to make it work. They are pricey, but i see them pop up on ebay sometimes. I believe one was for sale on here a few weeks ago... The other option would be to just use inkjet paper and not worry about the whole thing. If your printing digital anyways, i wouldn't think it's totally worth it to rig it up to print on photo paper, you just run into so much extra work, just to print digital. whatever floats your boat i guess, but personally, id think if your gonna go digital as it is, why not just use inkjet paper?
     
  6. philpem

    philpem Member

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    Strange... that's not what I've heard... :confused: Someone's telling me porkies!

    That's probably on the other end of the scale to what I want. While you could in theory convert a Fuji Frontier to B&W, it would involve a heck of a lot of work...
    • Dismantle and clean all the replenishment hoses, pumps and tanks.
    • Give the process and wash tanks a REALLY good scrub. Then get a bottle of Chemkwik and remove the stains, marks and muck.
    • Full new set of process solution filters.
    • Figure out how to hijack the replenisher system to run from jerry-cans instead of those ruddy Fuji cartridges.

    The other problem is, they're too damn big, and designed for high-volume. They just don't make sense when you're only wanting to do a few dozen prints on evenings and weekends.

    A Durst Printo or something like it would be the ideal. I guess a Thermaphot of some description would be the thing to look for... or an Ilford 2150, but I have no idea if you can still get parts for those (even though the manuals are on Ilford's website).

    Still doesn't look like a "real" photographic print though... and the print finish tends to get marred a lot easier than silver-halide RC/VC paper.

    I'd just like to prove that it's possible to do this (building a laser photo printer) without an R&D budget equivalent to a small country's GDP. There's another thread of mine hanging round here about this little project... Even if it doesn't work perfectly, it should make a nice experiment :smile:

    I just don't want to end up spending an indeterminate number of hours meddling with the laser calibration, only to find that it was dead-on and the error was due to a processing foul-up...
     
  7. OzJohn

    OzJohn Member

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    What you are looking for is a benchtop roller processor and the one you suggest, the Printo, is good example and one of the most compact but like most of these machines parts supply would be difficult. I use a Fujimoto (may have been sold under the Jobo brand in US but it uses rollers not tubes and is dry to dry). I bought it new 10 years ago and apart from a couple of easily fixed electrical problems it has been faultless but I expect I could have problems if I needed something like a new circuit board. Things like pumps, motors and heater elements can usually be substituted and there are firms who refurbish rollers (I think there is a thread here on APUG about this). Often these processors use parts that are similar to or identical to those in minilabs eg the chemical filters and pumps in my Fujimoto are the same as those in a particular minilab for which parts are still available.
    Kreonite used to be the biggest selling roller processor and may the one with the best parts availability. A unique design feature of this brand is the use of "socks" to refurbish the rollers and it is an easy user repair. Unfortunately the Kreonites were built with a bit too much mild steel and not enough stainless and plastic so many show prominent rust but not usually in places where it counts.
    Be aware that with the exception of a couple of machines made by Ilford, most roller processors were designed to process RC colour paper. Consequently they generally have two process tanks and 1 or 2 wash tanks. Most, but not all, have variable transport speed and all have some form of variable temperature control in the process tanks but generally not in the wash tanks. My Fujimoto was designed for RA4 colour paper but it processes B&W very successfully. I use Ilford 2000RT chemicals in a 4 minute process schedule comprising 1 min each in dev and fix and 2 minute wash. This was determined by experimental variation of temperature and transport speed. You do not need a stop bath with roller machines because the exit rollers are designed to effectively squeegee the wet print before it enters the next tank.
    When buying colour processors second hand try to avoid older machines that were originally designed for pre RA4 papers because the processing time was much longer and many of these machines have been very inexpertly RA4 modified to shorten the paper path and/or increase the transport speed and temperature - a recipe for disaster given that parts are only going to become harder to locate.
    If you manage to get a roller up and running properly, you will love being able to make a print dry to dry in about five minutes.
    By the way, you say you only use RC and that's good - never put fibre paper through a roller machine because most are designed to exploit the natural rigidity of RC paper to guide it through the rollers. Fibre usually ends up in the bottom of the first tank or wrapped around a set of rollers.

    Good luck OzJohn
     
  8. philpem

    philpem Member

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    To be honest, I'm not overly concerned about electrical/electronic failures. I have the tools and expertise to do component-level repair on circuit boards if need be (though it helps if I have a working board to compare against!)

    What I'm most concerned about is buying a machine, finding that the rollers are shot, and not being able to replace them.

    Yeah, it's great being able to do that at work. The dry-to-dry time on our Frontier is about 3 minutes, or slightly less if the dryer assembly is 'running hot'. The catch is, the Frontier doesn't do a great job with B&W. Even after a full recalibrate, there's always a colour cast. Never get that with colour though...

    It'll be a rather cold day in a normally-hot place before I get rid of my enlarger (Meopta Axomat 5, in need of a new lens and a bit of cleaning work...)

    I've heard the horror stories... :-/

    I'm somewhat tempted to build a machine from scratch -- stainless steel food serving trays should do fine as dev tanks, racks can be made from plastic sheet and commercially-available fixings, but the rollers and filters aren't easy to find. Temperature control should be a piece of cake -- a 75W fish-tank heater or three should be plenty. For drying? A couple of squeegee rollers and the guts of a hair dryer or fan heater :D

    Now if someone knows where I might be able to source a dozen or so chemical-resistant rubber rollers and some minilab circulation filters (and suitable filter mounts)... :smile:

    Thanks,
    Phil.