Request advice on small bathroom darkroom

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by daleeman, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Let me run some ideas by you and see what you think. Space and the ability to take the darkroom down quickly is important.
    The challenge is to print 35mm and 6x6 (love to do 4x5 ) with a temporary set up and break down darkroom in a small bathroom by the spare bedroom in a condo. We occasionally have guests and such so I need to be able to take everything down and store it.
    I will add photos and dimensions of the bathroom in my next post. Basically there is a commode, small vanity with a sink and a shower with some hearty glass sliding doors.

    My first problem is I do not presently own an enlarger, but just about all other materials I have or can come up with. That may be a blessing because hunting for something to fit the need might be better than trying to figure out how the last enlarger I owned could fit in the space.

    I am considering building a base for said unpurchased enlarger that would span the lip of the sink of the vanity and cover the sink. Like to have the sink, but there is no counter space available. Leaving the commode for a place for paper safe, a seat and personal needs.

    Placing the trays in the bottom of the bathtub and living with sliding the glass doors back and forth to go from the open side on the left for dev and stop, the right side open for fix and wash. A simple hose down from the shower head into the wash tray may not be the best for archival washing or my back, but OK.
    One other option is a rack of some kind to place the 4 trays vertically above each other. the Dev on down to the wash. That way one does not need to bend over the tub and slide the glass doors back and forth. I think I like this option better, because moving the glass doors and leaning in from atop of the commode from the left side of the tub is not fun and the wife will not like me taking the glass doors off all the time. (I think)

    Print drying might be accomplished on a small homemade rack or by blotter book.
    So please add your thought here on what might be the best way to set up and tear down a simple darkroom in a spare bathroom.
     
  2. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Since it's attached to a spare bedroom, I'd setup in the spare bedroom. If it's carpeted, roll out a rubber mat so you don't stir up dust while working. Have the enlarger and paper safes and and dry materials in the bedroom. Put trays in the tub, perhaps with a tray stacker if you don't want to keep sliding shower doors. If you could get a handheld shower head as some showers/baths also have, you could have a raised table in the tub to hold your trays and save your back. Put a wire or string up near a wall in the bathroom for drying prints and film.
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Dale, if you are up for a road trip, I'll give you a Beseler 23C set up for 35mm, you'll have to locate which ever medium format negative holder and lens for it.
     
  4. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Guess I missed the mark. It is in the hall by the spare bedroom. There is an exhaust fan and power in the bathroom, but the bedroom has windows and true, carpet.

    Rick, I apreciate the offer. I'm going to look up the footprint of the 23C, it might be really big for what I got going on.

    Lee
     
  5. Double Negative

    Double Negative Member

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    Anything's possible. :D

    [​IMG]
     
  6. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    It may not suit your purposes, but here is part of my solution to a similar problem: It's a stainless steel kitchen trolley. I got this one from Ikea ,but I would be amazed if you couldn't get something similar elsewhere. My bathroom as you can see is tiny. This not only makes wheeling the enlarger in and out simpler, but provides space for paper & whatnot without tripping over it all the time.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    That is cool. My first thought is that without the bottom shelf it would span over the commode, free up the sink and make it easy to roll the enlarger out of the bathroom. Ikea you say... there is one about 4o miles from here. Are the shelves able to be placed anywhere in the frame?
     
  8. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    The space sounds about the same as mine, a 3/4-bath with a drying cabi^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hshower stall and a sink but no tub. I don't have an enlarger, but I do LF tray development, so I have the wet side of a typical darkroom without the dry side.

    I found I needed to put in a narrow table along the wall next to the sink; it was physically possible to arrange trays along the back of the toilet and in the sink, but it was a ridiculously ad-hoc setup and someday I was going to dump chemistry all over the floor in the dark. Under the table is a good storage space for chemistry; trays on top, daylight tanks and reels on the back of the sink. I think that's easier than having to work at floor level in the tub.

    To me, the hard part is finding storage space for what is technically known as Random Crap. The big obvious things, paper safes and bottles of chemistry and stuff, you can think about in advance, but you know how there are things that make you say "Hey, that'd be useful in the darkroom" and you squirrel them away: clips and pens and whatnot. If you're building surfaces already, build in some drawers or shelves to hold that stuff!

    Can you make a "Murphy bed" sort of arrangement for your enlarger table over the sink, so that you can flip it out of the way relatively easily when not using it? It seems like convenience is important here---you're never going to get any printing time if it takes you an hour to set up for every session.

    -NT
     
  9. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    If you go to a hardware store and buy some exterior plywood, and legs which screw into metal bases which are afixed at appropriate locations, you have an easily set-up and taken-down tables which fits into
    • the shower space for holding processing trays while printing, and
    • one straddling over the commode for the enlarger

    In my single days I used to have a Beseler 45VXL that was kept in the spare bedroom on a low TV cabinet to permit the very tall column to fit in 8' ceiling. Blackout material over the windows allowed me to do the printing in the bedroom, and loading the Jobo tank with the print paper. And I would set up a table in the tub shower to hold my Jobo processor.
     
  10. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    no, but if you are handy with drill and saw you may be able to modify it. Although if you are going to do big mods you might be better off making something yourself anyway, of course. This model is called "Udden" but it might be called something something else in the USA or perhaps not available at all.
     
  11. smithdoor

    smithdoor Member

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    Can you take a photo of your bathroom and the size

    Dave
     
  12. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Certainly will tonight when I return.
     
  13. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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  15. ac12

    ac12 Member

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    I can do it in even less space, a half-bath.
    I put a compact enlarger (Durst M600) on the toilet. A frame like the Ikea cart would be even better as it gets the enlarger higher.
    Then on the counter I use either an old Honeywell rocking print tray (so I only need 1 tray to process in) or a drum processor (Unicolor, Cibachrome, etc). This takes up relatively less space than trying to use multiple trays. The challenge for you is to find a Honeywell Rocking Print Tray or a Heath/Mitchell Color Canoe. Processing drums are relatively easy to find, so that might be a better option, and making a manual roller base should not be difficult, or just get a motorized base.

    In an old apartment, I did similar to what was mentioned.
    I made a plywood platform that went over the tub, the enlarger was placed on this.
    I made a partial sink/shelf that went over the toilet and the end sat on the counter. I put the 8x10 processing trays in this.

    My enlarger, a Durst M600 is great for this application, as it breaks down and stores very well. The Durst box is more compact and easier to handle than the comparable Omega enlarger box. The trick is to find someone that still has the box for the enlarger. Many boxes were/are thrown away after purchase.

    If you have the space, a friend has a Beseler C23 on a microwave cart. She stores the enlarger on the cart in the corner of the family room, under a dust cover. Then when she wants to print, she rolls the cart into the bathroom. In this way, she save on the enlarger assembly/setup time that I have to do. I think she has a platform on the tub where the trays are.
     
  16. Waldi

    Waldi Member

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    This is exactly what I have done, used playwood and foldable leg placed playwodd on top of vanity extending it into tub. it take me about 10 minutes to setup my darkroom and about 15 to store it. This way I do not occupy bathroom and only for developing and printing sessions. Mind you I have storage room right next to bathroom so I can temporarily store setup in there.
     
  17. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    I used to have an apartment where I set up a temporary darkroom - here is what I did - there was a hall closet outside the darkroom, and I kept everything in there when the bathroom needed to be used for less artistic purposes (it was a 1 bath apartment). I had a card table that I set up over the toilet, and put the enlarger on that. I used an Omega 600 enlarger with an easel and a paper safe built into the baseboard - it handled 6x6 and 35mm which were the two formats that I was interested in.
    I built a table with a lip around it and four short folding legs - the table sat over the bathtub and provided a nice sink area. I used a shower head on the end of a hose for print washing.
    I had to hang a black cloth over the mirror, and I replaced the lights in the fixture over the sink with a red safelight bulb.
     
  18. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Bathroom images and measurements

    8' ceilings
    6' from door to shower doors. Shower 28" wide
    65" wide room
    Vanity 31" high
    56" from Vanity to ceiling Sink extends above vanity by 1.5"
    Vanity is 36" by 21" (standard 2 door kind)
    Commode 9" from (tank lid) the vanity. 7" to the shower doors.

    Three switches on long wall, Fan, White Light, Heat Lamp (I can see where the safe light goes)
    One room switch left of vanity for lights above the mirror not seen
    1 AC socket left of vanity as well, it is seen.
    Inside the shower you will see an extra curtain rod with clips hanging. I already do tank processing of film in there and hang in the shower to dry.

    Photos attached and a very iffy room drawing. Sorry for the lack of image quality, they are from the cell phone and there was a fog hanging in the room.
     

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  19. Nige

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    I used to put my enlarger (Durst M601 so 35mm & 6x6 MF but on the smaller size so I could carry it from cupboard to bathroom without disassembling) on a stand (originally for a computer monitor I think) that covered the hand basin. I put two 4x2's (as that's what I had!) across the tub (long ways) and sat my trays on them (a door cut down to size might be better) and used to wash my print in the laundry tub (another room). These days, I have a LPL/Saunders C7700 that's can be carried by one person but also comes apart/asembles real easy. My 4x5 enlarger (aslso LPL) can be carried by one but it's a struggle (more awkward than the actual weight as such).
     
  20. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    my method won't work with the glass shower screen, you wouldn't be able to reach in easily. Some kind of tray stacker might be the go.
     
  21. ac12

    ac12 Member

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    Your setup is EXACTLY like what I had in my apartment.
    So here is what I did:
    - 1/2 plywood cut to fit over the right half of the tub, to put the enlarger on. I just sat on a low stool to work on the enlarger.
    - I built a 3 sided wood sink out of 1/2 plywood for the bottom and 1x4 for the 3 sides then painted with either latex or epoxy paint. This sink was over the toilet. It had only 2 legs which were supporting the end next to the tub. The other open end rested on the counter. So I had a nice sorta long sink counter to put my 8x10 trays (develop, stop, fix) and it was right next to the sink where the water and drain were. Then I took the fixed prints to the kitchen where I had the washer setup.

    You could even use the toilet...if you had to.

    It is possible, to use a cart with the enlarger on it in your setup, but it would be tight. Either
    - The cart straddling the toilet, with processing done in the tub area, or
    - As I described mine, and you would put the cart into the wall opposite the toilet. But you would then have to squeeze between the wooden sink and the enlarger cart, when processing the exposed paper.

    BTW, I would take your bathroom over my half-bath, which is much smaller and harder to process in.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 3, 2014
  22. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    How much of a setup/tear down is acceptable?
    For example, how often would it need to accomdate guests?

    My darkroom is in our spare bathroom. I've installed a counter over the toilet (at the end-wall of the room) joined at right angles to another that fits over the tub. These support the Enlarger and associated stuff, and trays and/or my Nova. The sink is open which is where I do the film processing. On a day to day basis the room is no longer functional as a bathroom, but it all could be taken down in a few hours if necessary, the only permanent changes I've made so far was the sink and vanity which now is a narrow counter supporting a single bowl stainless kitchen sink, with temperature controlled water. Plywood covers the window to make it light tight.

    At some point I plan to remove the toilet and probably the bathtub, but for now they are still in place and functional.
     
  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have the enlarger and and drum print dryer in a bedroom. I put the exposed papers in a photographic paper box and carry it into the bathroom. I put a plywood board across the sinks, cover it with plastic that goes part way up the wall to prevent splashes and place the trays on it. The prints are washed in the bathtub in a large raised tray [the siphon is large] and it has a Kodak water siphon inject the water into the tray and pump water out.
     
  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  25. smithdoor

    smithdoor Member

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    I would put shelf over the Commode for the trays stand using PVC (sch 40 water pipe 1" or lager) glue some pipe and pull others apart for storage this will 8x10 and may do 11x 14 prints

    Use shower to the enlarger using simple shelf in the tube using pvc (sch 40 water pipe 1" or larger)

    If you are going to 4x5 you may what to find a older one from the 50's they are around 40 to 50 pounds the new ones or 80 pounds
     
  26. jpreston

    jpreston Subscriber

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    Lee,

    I have an Omega B-22 with 50 and 75mm lenses and 35mm and 6x6 neg carriers that you can have if you want. It was part of a small lot that I purchased for a time-o-lite timer, some trays and a few other odds and ends.

    Shoot me a pm if you're interested.

    Jeff