Its Copper for me....

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by ic-racer, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Thanks to a thread over on the LF forum I was lead to an e-bay seller with 8 water temp units. These were "Powers Fotopanels" and they were $60.

    I had looked at all the new water line connection methods out there, such as 'Gatorbite,' 'Sharkbite,' PEX etc. and decided to go with copper.

    The main issue is that this taps into a residential supply (my HOME!) and any issues with the pipes would affect the family.

    Also, the daycare we use recently flooded awhile back. It happened over a weekend when they were closed and it was from a bad pipe. It caused thousands worth of damage.

    So, I'm keeping with the copper with soldered joints, which is the gold standard for plumbing.

    So, here is a shot of the stuff as I get ready for the installation.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Type L (hard) and Bridgit lead free solder with Mapp gas.
     
  3. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear ic-racer,

    My apologize if you already are aware but make sure you use the thick walled pipe (it has blue markings I believe) rather than the thin walled (red markings).

    Looks great,

    Neal Wydra
     
  4. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I got one of these too. It had a price tag of $372 stuck to it! Haven't hooked it up yet.
     
  5. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Got it installed last night and it works great. No leaks.

    One comment on the Powers Fotopanel, it may have been designed with high flow rates in mind. The flow adjuster came with its locknut set to quite a high 'lowest' flow. By re-setting the locknut I got the flow rates down, but it goes out side of its operating parameters and the temp knob has to be re-adjusted for the low flow. No big deal and still a fantastic deal for $60.
     
  6. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Good choice. Mapp gas and lots of flux helps. My dad used PVC in his house, and after only 15 years it's so brittle that you can break it just by touching it.
     
  7. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    [​IMG]
    Panel mounted on wall and getting the pipes cut to rough lengths.
     
  8. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    [​IMG]
    These two pipes will get cut and "T"s will be inserted.
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    [​IMG]
    Midnight, everyone is in bed and I have shut the water off and cut the pipes.
     
  10. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    [​IMG]

    Test fit the first pipe.
     
  11. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    [​IMG]

    All joints completed.

    I did hook my air compressor up to that faucet and then brush soap water around each joint. They all looked good so I turned the main water supply back on. No leaks.
     
  12. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    That's the right idea. Leave the plastic pipe and push fit connectors for those developers who want to build houses as quickly as they can for the maximum profit. Stick to soldered copper in your own house.

    I like those 135 degree joints. They're not very common over here. I personally bend everything to fit but they would make some jobs a bit easier.


    Steve.
     
  13. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    [​IMG]

    Finished.
     
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  15. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    [​IMG]

    This is the cold water supply for the Jobo CPP2, in cases where I want to do a process below room temp. I put a thermometer on there because in the summer the cold water gets pretty warm; I need to know my cold water temp is so I don't set the Jobo to a temp lower than the water.
     
  16. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    So, I used it this morning. The main use is to fill my CPP2 with tempered water and mix the chemicals with tempered water. That way it is ready to go right away.

    BTW I still don't feel a B&W darkroom needs a mixing panel. The main reason I put it in was that I did need a WATER FILTER, so, I thought that since I'm tapping into the lines anyway, I'd put in a mixing panel also.
     
  17. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    FYI for anyone with one of these Powers Fotopanels. The seal kits are available, but with some difficulty as Powers does not want you to have them (or at least they won't sell it to me).

    I was able to get these two sets with a bunch of painful phone calls through a local plumbing supply distributor.

    I got the set for the "Volume" valve, which leaks on mine when set above the lowest setting. I also got the original kit for the on-off valve. I currently have a rubber washer in there that I matched up at the hardware store, but its not exactly correct and the knob turns pretty stiff.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Im jealous :blink:

    Nice work!
     
  19. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Dale, Thanks for the nice thread..pics were great...Evan Clarke
     
  20. domaz

    domaz Member

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    Please elaborate- I am stuck with a leaky FotoPanel. Do you have any part numbers or other inside information you could share?
     
  21. Sundowner

    Sundowner Subscriber

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    Okay, as a plumber, I have to weigh in... :wink:

    Copper is a great material, but it's not the end-all, be-all. Gold standard? Yes, before there was lined PEX. Copper's weakness is mineral-heavy water...i.e. well water. If you have that, you are going to eventually have leaks...there's just no way around it. I had copper lines in my house, and I ripped every one of them out to be replaced with PEX lines, just to stop the problems that I was having with my ultra-mineral-rich well water literally eating through the copper lines. If you're on relatively mineral-free city water...you probably won't have an issue. Not to say that the OP was wrong to choose copper - far from it, as I appreciate a good sweat job if one has the skills (Nice joints, OP!) - but there is nothing inferior about a PEX system, whatsoever. Do stay away from PVC and CPVC, if possible, though.

    As far as the connectors are concerned, we (and by that, I mean professional plumbers as a whole) were VERY reluctant to accept the Sharkbite and Gatorbite connections. They just don't look like they could possibly work. However, we were wrong: we've seen no more or less failures of those connections than we have with any other type. The biggest drawback that they have is that they are EXPENSIVE...but that can be quickly offset by the negligible amount of time that it takes to install one, the ease of installing one in a very tight space, and the simplicity of connecting dissimilar pipe materials. In other words, don't be afraid to use one. They work just fine.

    Okay, information session closed. :D It's fun to screw around with darkroom plumbing, isn't it!
     
  22. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    ic-racer, you are the man! I too love copper for plumbing. I agree with Sundowner that PVC/CPVC is great, and I used it in places where freezing is possible, but to me nothing beats the look of copper!!! Great job!
     
  23. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I have to admit I love this thread, my dad was a steam fitter and I have had enough darkrooms set up to appreciate the finer art of plumbing.

    My guy is also convinced PEX is the way to go over copper, this is a great discussion
    .

     
  24. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Ok a little story about copper drains.

    Over time they can be problematic , and if your lab/darkroom is in a building with old copper and you are dumping fix or even perceived as dumping fix, a whole lot of whoopass can come your way legally.
    I was in such a building where the copper was really old and though I did not dump fix, TRUTH, because I was a lab when a huge drain problem in the building created a problem for a lower floor tenant , I was picked on as the obvious culprit, until I proved to the city that I was not indeed the responsible party.
    What ended up happening is after a lot of cost I moved to a more secure building where the drainage system was more complete and I have never had a problem.I should add I never will operate a darkroom with someone below me and have a good floor drain. The building I left has continued to have major problems with their drains and it really boiled down to the copper over time deteriorated and to fix is problematic for the Landlord.
    7 floor old historic building with jury rig plumbing in each unit , with each tenant dumping who knows what. A plumbers nightmare or feast??

    Probably the biggest issue to deal with as a printer is how you set up your darkroom plumbing needs, now and in the future.
     
  25. canuhead

    canuhead Member

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    My waterlines are mostly copper but I have PEX for some runs and would go PEX for all future work. Sharkbite. Yep not cheap but time saved is time saved and it's just so simple to use it's not funny. Easy to remove as well. A nice sweat is something to behold but I've had some joints that had to be done several times ( can you tell I'm not a professional plumber ? )

    From what I understand, in Toronto at least, Sharkbite can be used behind walls whereas compression fittings aren't code for that purpose. I may have this wrong.
     
  26. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The Powers technical support was actually helpful by sending a PDF service manual for the Fotopanel. It has the numbers, but you can't order the parts from them.

    For the record I ordered service kits #230-131 and #440-145 from "Famous Supply". But e-mail Powers to get the PDF manual and find a local dealer: technicalservice@wattswater.com