Paper processor cleaning tips

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Damian, Jul 3, 2009.

  1. Damian

    Damian Member

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    Hi All,

    sorry for posting some somewhat naive questions. But I've just bought my first second hand paper processor. Before I start using it, I'd like to give it a little TLC. The rollers have a bit of hard water markings on it, and on the exterior of the dryer head there is a chemical build up, next to the drive mechanism that looks like salt - well a brown silver based salt, obviously not sodium chloride.

    Just wondered what you'd recommend with regards to cleaning it up, and also with a view towards general maintaince once it's all set up.

    Many thanks

    Damian

    www.dkgriffiths.com
     
  2. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    Damian,

    Can you be a little more specific? Is it a B&W or color processor? Is it a 16", 20", or a 30" slot processor with large racks of rollers for each bath? Is it a small table top unit? Are the rollers rubber or nylon?

    Accessing all of the rollers and guides is critical for a thorough cleaning. There are some tricks and techniques that can make reaching the inner rollers of the RA-4 roller racks very doable.

    Regardless, don't plan on substituting good old-fashioned elbow grease with a chemical solution.

    Let us know specifically what you have.
     
  3. Damian

    Damian Member

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    Hi Thomas,

    thanks for getting back to me. It's a Meteor Seigen Metoform 7040 processor with the drying unit. It's a 16" table top unit and the rollers (in large racks) are rubber. It has mostly been used for RA4 - though it can do BW as well. It is in generally good condition just would like to start using it with a good spring clean - I'm not too scared of elbow grease! and then some tips on how to keep it top notch would be really helpful.

    Many thanks

    Damian

    www.dkgriffiths.com
     
  4. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    Damian

    I'm not familiar with this one so I can't give you specific tear-down instructions. If your processor was used for RA 4, you may find two types of build up on your racks. The RA 4 developers tend to leave a dark, purple-brown tar-like build up, while the blix will leave a chalk-like scaly build up. Even the rinse tanks can show rust and hard water staining.

    As I said, I'm not familiar with your processor, but my guess is that they are a more horizontally aligned version of the Hope and Kreonite processors. These have 4 removable racks of rollers, each similar but sightly different. They should be labeled. The development tank rack will have a gripper roller that grabs the paper from the slot, the blix tank will have a guide rail in stead of the gripper... the 2nd rinse tank will have a pair of squeegee rollers that feed into the dryer.

    If your racks are removable, do so, and soak them in soapy water. Depending on how well the processor was maintained, the developer rack and tank will be the most difficult to get clean. It may require just a simple wipe-down with a sponge after soaking. The developer tank in my Hope required a putty knife. The objective is to get all of the rollers clean, even the ones that you can't see or reach.

    You should see some stainless steel guide rails. They are curved strips of polished stainless steel that guide the paper through the racks and into the next rack. They should have 2 pairs of pins protruding from each end. On one side of the guide, the pins will be spring-loaded, making removal of the guide easy, giving your fingers and/or a tooth brush access to the inner rollers.

    The racks in my Hope processor require the removal of these guides and one of the rollers for complete access (strained as it may be) to the inner rollers. Removing just one roller requires loosening all 8 bolts on the rack frame to give me just enough wiggle room to remove the bottom center roller. Your configuration will no doubt differ.

    Before removing any of the guide rails, use a grease pencil to label each rail, the corresponding holes, and the direction and orientation of the rails. Because the rack frames are common to more than one type of processor configuration, there are many more holes in the racks than there are pins to fill them.

    Consider replacing all tubing and performing a thorough cleaning before you do anything. Adding chemistry should be done after testing the processor with water. You should test paper feeding, (dry to dry), developer and blix tank temperatures, replenishment rates, and for leaks. When the paper exits the processor with no stains or chalky residue, it should be safe to add the chemistry.

    As for cleaning maintenance, the best thing you can do is prevent the chemistry from sitting still in the tank. You should stoke up the old beast, replenish the chemistry, and run a few sheets through across the width of the rollers every couple of days.

    I batch process about 4-5 times a year. Each batch lasts about 10-15 days, during which time, the volume of processing is very high so the idle time is quite low. I will generally (but not always) remove the racks and give them a good stiff hose down during the batch processing.

    Keep it clean!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2009
  5. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I brought a tabletop RA4 processor, a fujimoto CP-31 back to life after acquiring it in a crud infested state. My best friends were nitrile rubber gloves, dilute toilet bowl cleaner, nylon scouring pads, of the sort that you use to encourage eggs remains from the frying pan in kitchen dish washing, and lots of water rinses. I would fill with dilute toilet bowl cleaner, and leave it to run for a day, then pull all, scrup what had come loose, rinse, and repeat.

    If your rollers are not in good shape, price what replacements cost. Their replacement cost alone may make the project non viable from the get go
     
  6. Stephen Frizza

    Stephen Frizza Member

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  7. Rombo

    Rombo Member

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    Try with Tetenal Colour Lab Cleaner or Tetenal Dev Tank Cleaner. I use them both, and they are very good for cleaning RA-4 processors.