Gralab timer bogging down

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by adelorenzo, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    Hi Everyone,

    I've got a couple of Gralab timers in my darkroom, the typical big black dial model which I believe is a 300. They were given to me and probably date back to the 1970s or early 80's.

    One of them has developed a problem where it will work a few times and then start bogging down. For example, I might be able to process one roll of film without any problems and then at the end of the next 8-minute film development it will hit the last 20 seconds or so and slow to a crawl. After that happens the timer runs super slow and I can't use it anymore. Next time I come into the darkroom it will work fine until it bogs down again. When it is working it is still perfectly accurate.

    Has anyone had this problem? Any suggestions for things to look for if I open it up?

    Regards,
    Anthony
     
  2. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    I had one like that. I recommend throwing it away.

    Jon
     
  3. sr44

    sr44 Member

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    Sadly, those Gralab timers are a dime a dozen these days. You're probably better of just getting another one.
     
  4. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    throw it out before it happens in the middle of a processing run like mine (two of them) did.
     
  5. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

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    Ya, I just bought one for $15 CDN. Didn't really need it, but for $15 it's a good back up.
    Way less that I paid for my original one - way back when!
     
  6. Alan W

    Alan W Subscriber

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    Same thing happened to me,get a digital one for exposures and a stopwatch for developing.
     
  7. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    Thanks for the replies, it sounds like I'll probably stick to my wristwatch for now and see about a replacement timer.

    I like those Gralabs for the simplicity of the single big dial. I'm not interested in a digital timer as it implies a level of precision that I certainly do not have in my work. :smile:
     
  8. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Perhaps those posting can send you a new one. From my experience, a late model 300 that is going to be in better condition than what you currently have might cost over $50.
    To fix the one you have I'd measure the amperage draw when working and when 'bogged down' If the amperage goes up then take it apart and look for a source of binding. If the amperage goes down when running slow, look for a poor electrical connection or bad wiring.
     
  9. DSLR

    DSLR Member

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    I just bought one for under $30 and saw a brand new one go for for $50 on Ebay.

    I haven't found a digital timer I like, they're all too complicated
     
  10. Jim Rice

    Jim Rice Member

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    Though I have never taken one apart, they seem to be pretty straightforward. At least take a peek inside.
     
  11. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    For developing film, I use a programmable kitchen timer I got from WalMart. Cost less than $10.00.

    For printing in the darkroom, I use my GraLab. I set it for an hour and let it run.
     
  12. winterclock

    winterclock Member

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    There is a synchronous gearmotor inside. You may be able to put light oil on the visible ends of the gear shafts, but there is not much else to try.
     
  13. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    I dunno. I've never had a throw-it-away mentality. Got that from my dad, I think.

    My main darkroom timer is an ancient GraLab Model 168 stamped as having been manufactured during, I believe, the Eisenhower administration. Got it as a hand-me-down.

    It contains a very simple synchronous timing motor. I opened it up and let the entire motor/gear assembly soak in some acetone to strip away any old dirt and goo. Then I put it back together and gently lubricated a few points with some machine oil. Turned it on and it started right up.

    It has worked without any problems now for years. Matches my RF-set quartz wristwatch perfectly. I even use it to adjust the internal calibration of my Zone VI Compensating Developing Timer both for real time and compensated time.

    I once visited the majestic Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state. During the tour an engineering fellow described the painstaking procedures they used to bring generators back online after maintenance cycles. They feather them in very precisely because they are aware that there are a large number of synchronous timers still out there, and they don't want to mess them up.

    Ken
     
  14. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    What do you got to lose? I would just open it up and take a look.... My guess will be dried up oil is binding up something. You may be able to visually identify the problem and use some common item to remove it. Tooth brush, tooth picks, etc, etc, etc comes in handy sometimes.
     
  15. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    WD-40
     
  16. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    Thank you winterclock and Ken, for your thoughts on maintaining the gralabs.

    I'm in a large community darkroom, where in the past if the timer stopped working it was just chucked out "because there are plenty more". Now we are realizing that, in fact, there are very few left!

    I'm going to try and salvage a few when I go down this afternoon.
     
  17. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Nothing will ruin a clock movement quicker than WD40. I would guess the same applies to the Gralab movement.
     
  18. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I am so embarrassed. :redface:
     
  19. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Oh, WD-40 will get it running right quick. But after a few days the light volatile penetrating oil will have evaporated, leaving behind a yellow-greenish sticky goo.

    The stuff was designed for preventing rust on machined steel: Water-Displacing formula #40. It gets into tiny pores and cracks and then seals them. Great stuff for freeing rusty bolts. I used to use it on wheel bolts, but now I use nickel anti-seize. It's good for mechanisms if you follow it with a few drops of SAE-30 after things are moving freely.
     
  20. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    Pulled it apart today. Pretty well made, I would say. I couldn't see anything obviously wrong so that is where I left it. I'll keep it for parts and try to get another one.
     
  21. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    i had one with the same problem, but i just ignored it and kept using it. it grew out of it eventually. you could gralab in ohio take a look at it, but i' think, they folded some time ago, hope I'm wrong, because, they did a good job converting mine 110/220 V.
     
  22. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    Ralph, Good news! Their website is still up & running, so it looks like they're not dead.

    http://www.gralab.com/