plastic totes for darkroom trays?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Nick Zentena, Dec 31, 2004.

  1. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Anybody ever consider using these instead of large trays? Price of a set can be cheaper then one large darkroom tray. They even come with lids.

    I need a large deep tray for lith printing plus I wouldn't mind a set of 16x20 trays. But even cheap 16x20 trays aren't cheap so I thinking of these things.
     
  2. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    I've used cat litter trays in the past and they have worked OK. I'd have thought a plastic container is a plastic container, only the name and price changes. Also the large plastic drums that restaurants get oil in, cut vertically work very well.
     
  3. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    I'm ALWAYS on the prowl for bargains, so this does sound like a good idea. The only thing I would say is that you will want to make sure that you permanently label those plastics so you do not use them for something else. If you are talking about the Rubbermaid© type containers...they are notorious for holding scents in the plastic.

    Tony's idea of cat litterboxes is actually an excellent choice since they are made to withstand ther permeation of odors.
     
  4. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    I picked up a few of these at WalMart and they work great. The one's I picked up are about 12x16, so they'll be good when I get my enlarger finished and start printing 11x14. I've been looking for something that'll be good for 16x20, but so far the only things I've found have been too deep.

    I do have standard 8x10 trays, but I find myself using them much less often than the cheap WalMart trays. I have set aside one of the cheap trays for Selenium toning...I figure that I can afford to replace it if it gets too messed up. It's already pretty well permanently stained, but rinsing thoroughly with hot water gets rid of any lingering odors.
     
  5. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Walmart sent me a flyer which got me thinking-) The underbed ones look okay. The other deeper ones are fairly cheap. I think I need to take a tape measure with me.
     
  6. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Many years ago I worked with a guy who was into power boating. One of the lessons I learned from him is that boating accessories always cost more at the boating store than they do at the ordinary hardware store.

    The point is that tools and gadgets that are marketed for a narrow niche application always cost more that functionally identical products that have broader uses.

    My graduates either say "Pyrex" and came from K-mart, started out as urine collection containers in drug testing programs, or were intended as disposable hospital glassware.
     
  7. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    That's true but you need to pay attention to avoid getting bitten. I worry about how well they'll hold a lot of liquid. Will it flex alot when I rock the tray. Will it react with the alkaline or acid chemicals.
     
  8. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    You can judge the flexibility before you buy the tray. As to chemical reactions, I really didn't worry much about that as these are some fairly thick plastics. If they were going to react, the most I'd be out is one print if I didn't notice right away, plus a couple of bucks. So far, though, no problems at all with the cheapest things that WalMart sells.
     
  9. DeanC

    DeanC Member

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    Speaking of graduates, there might be a few of you interested in this: I picked up some decent quality graduates, beakers and a triple beam balance from an eBay seller with a "science supplies" store for pretty cheap. Go browse for seller macnanbio. Their prices were good, they were pleasant to deal with and having "real" glassware in the darkroom is nice.

    Dean

    ps. I have no affiliation with them other than as a satisfied customer.
     
  10. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I bought 8 plastic containers that go under the bed, approx 50inches wide x 10inches lenght and 10 inches depth,
    I labeled them dev stop fix fix wash hypo toner and used them quite succesfully to produce 30 x40 murals. Very easy to use and when finished they are stackable and go under the sink
    The only problem I had was the washing stage as they hold so much water It is really a chore to dump and fill enough to get a good wash. After the prints have gone through the stages of printing the rolled paper is quite fragile therefore care must be taken at the washing stage, I bought a large sheet of plexi to use for squeegie purposes and hang the prints back to back to stop some of the curl when drying. Pop them in the hot press an whammo 30x40 murals.
    All the acessories to do this were bought at the Home Depot for under $200.
     
  11. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I was thinking of buying a bigger one. Drilling a hole for a drain and then using the thing for a print washer. Only thing is I'm not sure what to use to keep the prints apart.
     
  12. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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  13. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Aha! Another one of my "el-cheapo" pieces. I bought a vertical storage tray, some cheap plexiglass, and a short piece of hose. I glued the plexiglass in place vertically in the storage tray, leaving room at the bottom. I snaked the hose down under the slots and I just turn on the water. The water fills the tank and just overflows the top. The whole thing sits in my laundry tub and I can wash 16 8x10 prints at a time.
     
  14. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Many years ago, and I';m really sorry I can remember who was the inventor of these, I received instructions on how to make a print washer using plastic bins (i used a square bathroom trashcan).

    You needed:
    - The plastic bin
    - Hose attachment (1female, 1 male)
    - Some nylon thread (fishing thread of something thicker)
    - 5 minute epoxy

    1. Poke a hole (about 3/4") and attach the female hose attachment to the bottom side of the bin.
    2 Poke another hole for the exit hose at the top of the opposite side and attach the hose.
    3. With a ruler mark vertical lines that will be where you want your prints to be standing "vertically" on both sides of the bin (about 7mm appart).
    4. Poke holes about 7mm apart on those lines and start "weaving" the nylon thread so that prints will be separated
    According to the instructions it was best to make a "lattice" with the thread, by weaving thorugh every other hole going from both ends.
    5. After the nylon thread was weaved I used 5 minute epoxy to seal the holes.

    I ttook me a good day and a half to finish it but I thought it was a satisfactory washer for 8x10s.


     
  15. DeanC

    DeanC Member

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    The 11x14 version of the Vesalab washer is currently onsale for $185. Given a full time job and a 15 month old running around my house, a day and a half is easily worth $185. I like cheap as much as the next guy but sometimes DIY costs more in time than you save in $$$.

    Dean
     
  16. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    The problem is once you get over 11x14 prices start climbing fast. I can get brand new 11x14 trays for $4.50 Canadian. They're Praff [IIRC]. Wouldn't hurt if they were a touch deeper but other then that perfect for me. 16x20 Praff trays are 4X the price. Over that size it gets worse. Other brands are much more expensive. Wouldn't be a big issue if I made a lot of big prints but when I mostly make 8x10s the cost of a set of 16x20 trays starts adding quite a bit to the cost of each print made. So cheap big trays for light use is a bonus for me.
     
  17. mark

    mark Member

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    Just to jump in here. All of my Hydroponics reservoirs are walmart specials. The only one that flexes is the 45 gallon container. And that only happens at the top. I have two underbed storage containers as small reservoirs and were filled the top with solution and did not flex. All you have to worry about is them drying out and cracking under large wattage HID lamps. Not a common practice in darkroom work so that means no worries at all.

    To add to what titrisol said. Instead of all the cutting and fitting of thereads that will leak just drop a hoe from the top to the bottom and cut a drain hole on the other side. Easy as sin and has worked to flush hydroponics reservoirs for years.
    Just my 2 cents.
     
  18. eric

    eric Member

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    I read on the pure-silver list about another guy who used cat litter tray as well. I was at the kitchen supply store and they sell large flat plastic containers. Very well built. Built to withstand someone throwing into a commerical washer.

    BUT...someone suggest to epoxy little plastic things on the bottom so the prints don't get stuck. Good idea I think...
     
  19. Shmoo

    Shmoo Member

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    Food service basins, trays, whatever you want to call them, are great. I got mine for about $6 each at Smart & Final. They're about 13x17" and about 5" deep and are made of a heavy grade gray plastic (about 18% gray in fact). They're normally used to bus dishes in restaurants. I use mine to wash prints but will be getting more. The plastic is pliable enough to work with and won't shatter so it might be easy enough to convert with hoses, etc. into a proper washer...

    S
     
  20. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Years ago, I read in a book or one of the photo mags about processing the occasional "mural" sized print. The technique was to build a frame from wood (1x4's, for instance) the size needed and then use a sheet of heavy plastic as a liner. It would work, but would be fragile. In more recent times I've seen this same technique used to build a basin for soaking wooden parts being stripped of paint on a remodeling site.

    I've even read of people doing really large prints (I don't know where the paper comes from) by doing them on the floor with the chemicals in buckets and using a mop to "paint" the developer and fix. I don't think I'd want to try that one.

    There are always alternatives. On a practical level, one is more limited by the sizes of paper available and the room to process it, rather than trays or chemicals.

    Cheers, y'all.
     
  21. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    You can get roll paper in pretty wide widths. At least 36". You then end up with a whole bunch of new issues. Like how to focus. I've got enough problems with the new baseboard I made. No way I want to deal with wall projection-)
     
  22. jstewart

    jstewart Member

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    I recently bought a cheap solution for large trays at The Container Store (large chain store). Look for drawer liners.. they come in a variety of sizes. I bought the 14 x 19 " size for about $6 a piece. I like these because they have really low sides, about 4", unlike the underbed storage bins-- they are more like a tray and less like a bin. Also they have very flat bottoms so I can use small volumes. Rocking the tray is really easy.

    They are probably too flexible for large volumes (> a couple liters), but I don't use large volumes. Small volumes can be emptied back into the jugs, even with the large trays (takes a bit of balance). They haven't cracked yet and don't appear to be ready to. Might try this if you can find a store with drawer liners.
     
  23. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Big box hardware stores such as Menards, Lowes, and Home Depot carry large trays of HD plastic that go under a washing machine or refrigerator.
    36"x36" they have about a 3" depth and sell for about $9. You could buy 3 of them, cut platic out of one to use as a divider for the other 2. Would give you 4 wells. Use a caulk such as 3M weatherstrip adheisive. I don't think it outgasses and is pretty impervious to chemicals. Go the the plumbing section and get a piece of self threading pipe and 3or4 stopcocks and you have an easy way to empty after each session.

    Look in the phone book for any restaurant wholesalers near you. They will most likely have a used equipment section were you can buy the already mentioned bussing tubs for $4 or $5. Sometimes you can get lucky and find large 4"deep pans for making rolls that would just fit 16x20. They might be $15 or $20 each but those will last forever. Heck I almost bough a used sandwich grill with the top that hinges down for about 80$. Looks just like a dry mounting press. Mount prints and have a rueben sandwich in the same session!