Opinions on Darkroom layout

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by jd callow, Aug 13, 2004.

  1. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    As some may know, I was going to be building a darkroom in an old coal room in my basement. The down side it is very small – 7’x9’. The up side is that I have 8’ ceilings.

    A fellow photographer and her husband, who are close friends and travel companions, have offered their basement. I have attached the preliminary plans for the darkroom and would appreciate any feedback.

    The drawings are to scale and are also available as a coreldraw, eps or freehand file if anyone wishes to edit them directly.

    Some notes on the drawings:
    1. The darkroom will sit against the west, north and south walls of the basement.
    2. The sinks are large enough to handle 30”x40” prints.
    3. The enlarger (durst L1200) will need to be oriented north/south because the top will be situated between floor joices.
    4. The ceilings and walls will be all dry walled (sheetrock) the walls will have aluminum studs.
    5. Ventilation will be placed over the sinks and a hood over the RA4 processor. Recommendations on ventilation are enthusiastically requested.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. DKT

    DKT Member

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    hmm--what kind of processor is it? any chance you can just dilution ventilation for the room? we have a big old slot hood behind our sink, and the roller transport processor just uses the dilution effect of this hood. when you stand at the sink & work though? it's like a curtain of air flowing across the trays and off the back. you never really smell a thing--great for toning. what it was designed for. our film darkroom is just dilution ventilation with the exhaust part being right above the deeptank line. the wing lynch machine is pretty much okay out in the room.

    there's a small book that has to diagrams of local exhaust hoods and slot hoods and the like. we got a copy somewhere, I'll see if I can find the ISBN number if you're interested, I'm sure a library would have it.

    I was looking at your diagram though, and was curious if you had room for the nitrogen tank for the WL? you probably need about a foot and half square for that, and someway to chain it to the wall. One thing you could do, depending on the WL model, would be to get the solution bypass valves (if you don't have em already)--this way you can run the fix, bleach etc into holding tanks for reuse or into a recovery unit in-line with a drain. something to think about....
     
  3. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I dont know how big is the print processor, but it looks like it is outside the room ( if I interpreted the diagram correctly). IMO I would move the print wash to the north end, take away one sink and put the enlarger and the print processor together. I can assure you is going to get old to move around the enlarger to put the print in the processor, that is one mistake I did with my darkroom, I placed the tray and sink too far from the enlarger/printing section. Other than that, it looks very good. I like the exhaust system.

    BTW, make room for some shelves and book case. I am sure you will need them.
     
  4. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Is the drier a film dryer? Where will your prints dry? I'd also reverse the order of the sinks / washer. But that is just how I work...
     
  5. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    This looks like a nice darkroom
    Is there any room for a second door out of the darkroom??? Possibly at the utility sink area.
    As well do you have enough space for maintenance on the Ra4 processor. Axcess from both sides.????
    If the ceilings are high enough you could make drying racks above the sink.It looks like you have 22 ft of wall to use. I could send you jpegs of the set up I use for air drying that has been very useful.
    One other point. In the summer months you will need a de-humidifier and in the winter months a humidifier. could these units be close to the hot water heater??
    How are you making the sinks , I would be interested in that.
    good luck
    Bob Carnie
     
  6. voceumana

    voceumana Member

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    If you can move the door to the end between the wet & dry areas, it would be good. You're wasting valuable counter space to have the door where it is. I suspect you cannot move it, however.

    Maybe rotate the enlarger 90 degrees to allow a full counter along that wall, even if you have to have a fold up counter across the pocket door, you'll need more dry counter space for such things as loading sheet film holders, cutting paper down to size before enlarging, etc. You may also want a 2nd enlarger, if you do 35mm work frequently. Sometimes it is just a pain to reconfigure the enlarger.

    My work with a Zone VI enlarger trying to print 35mm was a disaster--the lamp was too dim (97% of the light was falling on the negative carrier instead of the negative in this format), the bellows wouldn't compress enough for small enlargements from 35mm. I realized that it is difficult to make one enlarger for all formats, and even if it does, it's probably cheaper and better to have one for large and one for small formats, if you can fit it in.

    Put a counter from where the enlarger is, to at least the pocket door and rotate the enlarger so you face the front of it as you are in the aisle. As it is, you'll have trouble dodging & burning in from the left side, as it's boxed in by the wall.

    I designed my darkroom in a similar sized space. Instead of the water heater/furnace, though, my wall had a 45 degree bevel along a similar space, creating a similar problem. Think about this: you can probably pay for anything else you want or need to make the darkroom function well, EXCEPT SPACE.

    I thought long and hard about my design, and took at least a few months to think it through. One thing I came up with was this: I was trying to put a 30" deep sink in it, and it made the aisle too narrow. I settled for a 24" wide sink, figuring if I ever wanted to do 16x20s on a regular basis, I would spend the money for stainless steel trays, which (though expensive) have little wall thickness and allow tighter spacing. I settled on an Arkay fiberglass sink--though more than I wanted to pay, it works.

    It is important that you work out your tray arrangement using the actual inside dimensions of your planned sink--a couple of less expensive plastic sinks I looked at had protrusions into the main area for mounting faucets--those would have prevented using big trays along those, and a 6 ft sink would have allowed only 2 16x20 plastic trays (oriented in landscape mode). Plastic trays have a wide lip, and limit your use.

    Make sure your groundwater temperature summer & winter is low enough for the temperature control to regulate--I was considering one, but found (I live in the San Francisco bay area) that the water temperature in the summer is too warm to allow a regulator to work. I saved some money by not getting one! They need cold water 5 to 10 degrees cooler than you lowest setting to regulate. Check the manufacturer's specs.

    Good luck with your design.
     
  7. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Jorge has a good point about the walking from enlarger to processor. But if you're stuck by the height of the L1200 ....

    A dry bench is always handy.
     
  8. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Sorry for the brevity of this reply. I need to leave in a couple minutes to go to beautiful Grand Ledge for my Big Brother's 50'th.

    DKT, Please send me the ISBN. I am very interested.
    Jorge, Big Mac et al. The work flow *is* wrong it is set up to facilitate drainage -- I will need to re think this.

    Bob, The RA4 Processor is badly positioned -- Good Call! I will need to move it so that I have better access.

    voceumana, The l1200 has separate mixing chambers for 35mm, 120 and 4x5. You are correct I will need to think longer and harder about the layout.

    Brian The drier is a film drier the prints were going to be dried outside.

    But I am very interested in alternatives.

    Jorge, The RA4 processor *is* mostly outside of the DR.

    I'll go in to greater detail later.

    Thanks again!

    jdc
     
  9. argentic

    argentic Member

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    I see you have a Laborator 1200. A beautiful machine. But when you start working with flashing, masking etc. it's very handy to have a second enlarger on the side. Even if you almost never use it. And it can be a small cheap one too. But without a second enlarger you have to remove your negative every time you want to do an additional technique.

    Gilbert
     
  10. DKT

    DKT Member

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    The book is called "Ventilation: A Practical Guide". By Nancy Clark, Thomas Cutter and Jean-Anne McCrane. Published bythe Center for Occupational Hazards Inc. ISBN 0-918875-00-5.

    Kodak has some really good tech pamphlets on safety topics, like this one:

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/corp/environment/kes/pubs/pdfs/J314.pdf

    The NPPA put out a booklet years ago about health & safety issues in the darkroom--called "Making Darkrooms Safe Rooms"--somehow I think this is out of print now, but if you're interested, I can dig out a copy for the ISBN number as well.

    hope this helps.
     
  11. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    The Kodak guide is, I think, aimed at commercial darkrooms with multiple occupancy, and whilst very useful, the recommendations are a bit over the top for a domestic unit. We need a good fresh air supply and a ventilation system that will take any fumes away from us. One 6" extract fan will do this with capacity to spare in all but the largest room, provided it is on the other side of whatever nasties you are using, and your working position. The air inlet must be adequate, and preferably behind you. If you can arrange to pull your make-up air from the house, then heating, or cooling will not be a problem.
     
  12. DKT

    DKT Member

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    Well, I thought the question was more to do with how to construct a local hood for an RA4 roller transport processor...if the processor is like a small fujimoto or something, then you might not need that. But, I gather since the majority of the machine is outside the main darkroom--that this is probably a 30-40 inch hope or kreonite. That's alot of nasty crap....
     
  13. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The RA 4 processor is a Hope 26" (measuring 36"x57"). It is a commercial style processor, meaning it has fairly large bathes. The darkroom will be held in the basement of a house where the owners have a small child.

    In addition to the type of processor and environment, I am a binge printer. I spend 2-4 days, 12 hours a day every week to two weeks making prints. My initial plan was to print twice a month, mixing the chem's prior and dumping and cleaning the processor afterward. It is my hope that this will keep the bleach stink down to a minimum, allow the room to air out and to minimize the chance of algae, bad chemistry and a dirty machine.

    My knowledge of ventilation is small. I have been doing a search for Ventilation: A Practical Guide. It seems very well regarded, but impossible to find. During the search I have learned a great deal more about ventilation. Most of the publications I have run across, assume a greater knowledge of HVAC then I presently have. The concentration toward being Practical appears to be what makes this book attractive.

    I suspect, I can find the Kodak publication and see if it is applicable and understandable.

    It also appears that I have put the cart in front of the horse. Opposed to organizing the room around drainage it should be built around the work flow (Enlarger -> print processor or dev trays - > wash -> dry) and to find a way for the drainage to be accommodating.

    Currently I had planned on having the prints dry on screened racks. In addition to advice about ventilation, I am more than a little open to hearing how others dry their prints.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2004
  14. jantman

    jantman Member

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    You have some very good advice already, though I haven't read all of the posts. I do have one suggestion re: the sinks. I can't tell from the drawing what size each of the four sinks are. However, it would be my opinion to put in one or two very LARGE sinks in addition to the wash sink. i.e. an 8' fiberglass or stainless sink. You could build one yourself (fiberglass) or have it mage locally by a metalworker (sheet metal/stainless).

    In addition, a wash sink is good but you want a washer too.
     
  15. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The sinks will be 36"x48" ply wood reinforced and sealed with cloth and resin (fibreglass). The sinks are arranged as follows 1) dev; 2) stop;3)fix; 4) wash or Hypoclear. Following the sinks will be an acrylic archival wash which will hold the prints vertically in slots as the water 'snakes' through the baffles created by the slots.
     
  16. DKT

    DKT Member

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    Just looking at your diagram again--I think I might group the 2 processors together somehow. Maybe put a small 4 foot sink in between. This is sorta how our film darkroom is laid out. A sink in between the deeptank and the Wing Lynch. For one thing--you need clearance space around these processors to get at the sides & backs of the machines. You don't want to cram them into a corner that makes it impossible to service them for maintenance--AND--they'll need certain heights for drainage. Then, I guess it depends on what tank size you have in the WL, but you'll be mixing up gallons & gallons of color chemistry. A dedicated sink is really nice for this. The color stuff will be the worst. Having the processors in their own little area, might make it easier from a ventilation design--you might be able to isolate them somehow. You might also be able to gang them up on the same water panel--of course you couldn't use them at the same time probably. You'll need to have vac. breakers on the water line running into the processors--probably at the water panels, and check valves as well. This is for safety. I would make sure you have a free hose on a cold water line at all times for a makeshift eyewash--or get an eyewash or a portable one and put it in on the wall next to the processors.


    the other thing is to rethink the batch processing. This will be time consuming(not to mention costly) to mix up fresh for a day and then dump. Those machines are better left with the chem loaded in them, than left dry. Then, each tank is probably--what?-how many gallons? Then, the repl. tanks. It would be better to establish some sort of routine where you can run the machine every other day or something. It's like money down the drain really--a machine is great when you need to print all day long or process film, but they're a money pit when they sit idle.

    btw--if you lived in my area, I'd loan you these books--but I'm thinking you oughta be able to find them in a library or maybe get some similar info from an occupational safety agency--like your local labor dept. website--this is basically osha, niosh type stuff. Kodak had a great publication on commercial lab design year ago. "PhotoLab Design", pub. K-13 (here again, we have a copy or two in our library). It has scale drawings of lab layouts and all sorts of specs on their design and construction. Probably out of print now--but they have other tech publications as pdf's on this site:

    http://www.kodak.com/US/en/corp/environment/kes/index.jhtml

    kreonite might be another place to try for advice--at least on what it would take as far as installation for the hope. you might want to look into how much fix you can legally dump in your area as well....


    just a thought--KT
     
  17. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    DKT (et al)
    Great advice. I will be revisiting this thread with a new layout implementing much of what has been suggested.

    In the interim I need to pursue the ventilation, the available floor space and drainage options.

    I also need to look into or see Bob Carnie about his drying racks. Having them in the darkroom would be a major plus. I have never liked curly prints and don't like the big drum driers either so I may start a thread or search for an existing one that covers that subject.

    best


    jdc