Large Trays

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by jeroldharter, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I am trying to figure out how people archivally process large prints like 20 x 24. At a maximum, if I were to use 2 developer trays, stop, 2 fixer trays, water rinse, and hypoclear, I would need at least 11-12 feet of sink space plus room for a washer. I am finding my 8 foot sink unhelpful. Thanks for any advice on how to process larger prints.
     
  2. David

    David Member

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    I don't understand two developer trays. but, it works for me to have one fixer bath then a holding tray with water. When I'm ready for the second fixer I eliminate the developer tray(s) and stop bath and replace the first fixer with the second and then have room for hypo clearing as well. A two stage process.
     
  3. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    You could try one tray and many buckets, with a good rinse in between chemicals. Lloyd Erlick recommends this method. I think it's described at www.heylloyd.com, although I just tried the link and it's not working at the moment.

    I have an 8 foot sink which'll hold three trays (Cesco) big enough to do 20x24. I use a developer, stop and fix. Then it's into a holding tank. When I'm done printing, I throw out or bottle the chemicals and replace them with whatever else is needed to carry out the process, such as fresh fixer, toner, hypo clear...

    I'm also working on making vertical tanks out of ABS big enough to do 20x24" prints. In fact I have all of the pieces cut and just need to glue it together.

    Good luck.
     
  4. wilhelm

    wilhelm Member

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    Stack them up. I have a critical lack of space in my darkroom (no sink, and it's actually a closet, not even a "room"), so I built a rack out of 1x2s which holds my dev, stop, and fix trays; it's about 12 inches tall, and has the footprint of about one and a half trays (11x14s, in my case). I think it cost me a whole $5 in parts, and 2 or 3 hours to build.
     
  5. C Rose

    C Rose Member

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    Hmmm.... I get the concept, but how'a about some pictures??

    :smile:
     
  6. chiller

    chiller Member

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    A fairly simple approach is to use the long narrow troughs that are used for wall paper. They will easily handle the print size you want and are only about a 75 x 12 cm base footprint.
     
  7. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    You didn't mention whether you had room for two 8 foot sinks. I am doing 16x20 in trays in one 8' stainless Arkay sink that I bought second hand for $300. If you have the room and can find one at that price, that is another answer.

    John Powers
     
  8. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Thanks for the advice.

    I like the homemade tray ladder idea, but the large trays are heavy and floppy when full of liquid so it might be messy at times. I don't have room for the second sink. The batching idea might work best for me. I recently saw a brief video clip of Clyde Butcher's darkroom. It showed his assistants processing a very large print, probably in the wallpaper trays but I did not realize what it was.

    Peter,

    If you figure out how to build a functional slot processer, please post pictures etc. I found out that the Nova 20x24 Trimate is unavailable in the US. I suppose withenough motivation and $1600 I could order one from Europe. It seems like a difficult project. The slots would have to be narrow or the chemical volumes rapidly escalate. Cleaning the bottom of the slots would be difficult, just like in my Nova 16x20.
     
  9. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    My plans are out in the workshop, and so I'm not positive, but I believe the tanks will be 2" from the front to back when you're facing the wide side. At the moment I'm trying to decide if I want to make a water bath for all of the tanks, or if I want to put a small titanium water heater in each tank. I'm leaning toward the latter method.

    As an aside, the closest polyethylene tank that I could find was 4 inches from front to back, which is too big. That's too bad, because if there were ready made tanks, this would be a very easy project.

    I'll make a holding try for FB prints similar to the one that Nova uses in their FB processor.

    Regarding chemical use, I plan on replenishing everything. For a developer, I'm thinking about DS-14 (I think that's the right number), which is an ascorbic acid/phenidone developer. These tend not to stain trays very much.

    How often do you need to clean your Nova? I'd been hoping to do this, say, every 6 months or so. My plan was to empty the tanks. Spray them out, and put in a weak bleach solution overnight if there's stuff I can't get out.
     
  10. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning, Jerold,

    Very occasionally on E-Bay, a comercially-made drum originally intended for processing 20 x 24 inch color prints will be listed. If not, I'd suggest buying a length of plastic tubing around 10 inches in diameter, gluing a solid piece of plastic across one end and a similar piece with a 5-inch centered hole (for pouring, draining, and inserting the paper) across the other. It won't be light-tight, of course, so process under safelight through the fixer step.

    The drum approach works quite well. I have a 16 x 20 Chromega drum and have largely given up tray processing in that size. Years ago, I made a drum similar to that described above and used it to process prints which were about 40 inches wide; I made an accompanying platform with four plastic furniture casters mounted wheels-upright and rotated the drum manually. It's a little awkward and a little messy, but it's a lot more practical than dealing with super-large trays.

    Steve's suggestion about wallpaper trays also sounds like a good one. I bought a set of those about thirty years ago intending to try that approach, but never actually did. Maybe someday. . .

    Konical
     
  11. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    I have a 20x24" drum for my jobo. These drums are meant to be used with RC paper. As such, they have little ridges which can leave marks on FB paper. I've tried using fiberglass window screening to line the drum. This seems to work. For big prints, this might be the way to go. However, I rarely make prints this big. That's why I'm building the slot processor, as it'll be more convenient for smaller sizes as well.
     
  12. haris

    haris Guest

    One tray and change chemistry. Or, several narrow trays, print is handled in trays by curling wih hands...
     
  13. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Siphon,
    but not the orange and black one I bought, "Koehler Enterprises RA990 Transfer Pump." The hoses are too hard and thus difficult to control. They are spiral and work like a spring. One painting of my darkroom with fixer was enough to make me use a 2 ltr pitcher after clean up.

    John Powers
     
  14. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    You can purchase very large tray , at a hydroponics store. these trays hold volumes of chemistry.
     
  15. wilhelm

    wilhelm Member

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    Hi Jerold, my tray rack is quite stable even when the trays are full of solution, though it's not 20x24. I don't imagine a bigger rack would be too bad, though, because the trays are supported along the entire length of the long dimension. On mine, I've left the top two tiers open at the front, so I have full access to the trays; I was concerned that it would weaken the rack, but it's still quite solid. The joints are all glued and screwed (heh). Check the pics I've (hopefully) attached.

    Outofoptions, your double-decker sink idea is intriguing, but I can't seem to picture it in my mind. Would you have full access to the bottom deck, or would it be closed off for only the water bath?
     

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  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I think my biggest concern with a rack like this would be the potential of having chemistry from one of the higher trays splash or slosh (technical term) into one of the lower trays.

    That concern might be met if you had two rows, and two columns, with developer, under water bath, and beside that, first fix, under second fix. obviously, you would need the extra room, plus a space for final water soak/wash and HCA.
     
  17. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I had a crude version of a tray ladder in my first darkroom - I found an old wire shelf from a refrigerator, and a friend welded some legs on it. That allowed me to put the developer and stop on top, and the fix and rinse/holding tray on the bottom.

    I think the key is to load the ladder for use from top to bottom. You certainly don't want to get any stop in your developer, but you can't avoid the converse. So put the developer above the stop, the fix below that, and if its a four level design, the rinse/holding tray on the bottom.
     
  18. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Thank you all. A basic question:

    When handling prints, I don't like to put my hands in the chemicals. If I use tongs on the larger prints I tend to mar the emulsion. Any tips for wet print handling? thanks.
     
  19. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Nitrile medical examination gloves?
     
  20. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Have you tried wearing gloves and using your gloved hands? Also, what sort of tongs are you using? My first set were all-plastic, and they tended to mar prints. I bought some bamboo tongs with rubber tips and those haven't caused me any problems. I've not done any prints larger than 11x14, though.
     
  21. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    Do the trays have to be in a sink? You could put the developer tray in the sink to control temperature and then put the remaining trays on tables. At my office I use small tables 2'x4' to hold trays for Pt. work.

    For really big prints, I use trays from home depot that are designed to put a washing machine in to prevent any drips from hitting the floor. They are smooth on the bottom and work well--albeit I have to double them up if I am using a lot of chemical. They are still much cheaper than "darkrom" trays made by the photographic suppliers.

    Allen
     
  22. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I appreciate all of the help. In the end, after buying 6 20x24 trays, I decided to use the Hey Loyd method of single tray processing.

    For 11x14 trays no problem. 20x24 inch trays are a little tricky but doable. I use 2 gallon chemical storage tanks in which I mix and store 1-shot chemicals and dump them back and forth into the tray.

    At first I thought that Loyd was an obsessive compulsive with infinite time on his hands. However, he is right that the method involves minimal print handling. I have zero problems with nicking the emulsion. I don't have any marks on the paper like I get when I use the Nova slot processor. It is easy to try a different developer for a change, etc. Also, it is the cheapest way to go.

    I have decided to use a more dilute fixer in 2-steps rather than a 1-step rapid fixer. I defer selenium toning to a separate session for the sake of time.
     
  23. photobackpacker

    photobackpacker Advertiser Advertiser

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    With the larger prints, for me starting at 16 X 20, real estate for trays seems to be the problem initially but after processing, I came to realize that paper handling was the issue. The crimped-damaged print is the biggest problem I have with large prints and stacking trays sounds great but, for me, severly hampers the ability to handle the big paper.

    When you start laying out the ultimate solution for large paper processing - keep this in mind. It will save you from the pain of tossing out 75% of your finished prints due to paper crimps. Of course, I realize I am the only one to suffer this issue. :sad:
     
  24. Neil Poulsen

    Neil Poulsen Member

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    Do Archival Processing Later

    As opposed to having all those trays going at once, do a 30 minute wash when you print and archivally process keepers later on, including the second fix. A.A. discusses this in his book, The Print. In this way, you don't have to have all those trays going at once.
     
  25. Shmoo

    Shmoo Member

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    These are really great ideas for those of us with cramped darkroom spaces! Thanks for all the great ideas.

    As for gloves, I found a great source for nitrile gloves was in the gardening department of the local Home Depot. They sell a green plastic container of nitrile gloves called "Lawn & Garden Nitrile Gloves". They're lightly powdered so wash your hands after you put them on. They work great and are cheap, about $5 for 24 gloves.