SS reels, how bent is bent?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by mgb74, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I've been struggling trying to load stainless steel reels and using language that shouldn't be used. Could be the reel or could be my technique. I've used plastic for a number of years.

    So I took a couple of my Omega brand 120 reels and measured with calipers (hey, it's -11 F outside so a good time to do this). Measuring the inside width at four equal opposing points I get the following: 2.225, 2.258, 2.270, 2.260 (measured in inches). I measured a second and got: 2.258, 2.254, 2.252, 2.260. I haven't yet measured a reel and then tried loading it to see how it correlates.

    My question is how far out of alignment can a reel be before loading becomes an issue?

    I'm pretty sure all my reels came to me used. Since I have a fair number, I don't want to jettison them if the problem is me. Right now, I need to load in a changing bag so that may at least part of the problem.

    I know that Hewes reels are widely considered to be the best and perhaps I should just buy them. But I won't until I'm reasonably confident that the reels I have are bad.
     
  2. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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    When it is -11f that's a good time for this kind of thing. That said, when they become difficult to load, that's when they are too bent. I have one that is visibly bent that loads fine, and others that I have had that are less bent become difficult. I suspect that it is more a matter of how they are bent, rather than how much. I have tried to straighten bent reels with varying success.
     
  3. Sim2

    Sim2 Member

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    Hey there,

    May be a daft question this, but have you ever amnaged to load a steel reel ok? (sounds a bit harsh - not meant to). If you have loaded a steel reel before then you *may* have a feel for when a particular reel is not "behaving" itself, if you haven't loaded a steel reel before you have no reference point.

    If this is the first time using steel reels I would suggest selecting just one reel, sacrifice an unshot roll of film and load the reel in daylight. At least you will see what is happening. If that works, repeat till it can be done with your eyes closed and then try it in the changing bag. If that reel never works, try the same with another. Sounds tedious, but it's -11F outside - what else to do? :smile:

    If one reel works and another doesn't - then one of the reels is dodgy, if none of the reels work it could be all reels are dodgy and/or your technique is not right.

    Using steel reels for the first time *can* be tricky compared to plastic. Have fun and good luck.

    Sim2.
    P.S. perhaps retitle the thread?
     
  4. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I used steel reels successfully back in college, but that was ages ago (and it's not a daft question). Since then, plastic.

    Without going into too much depth, while I can continue to use plastic reels where I have my darkroom, I want steel reels for another location with less storage space (I can load film in steel reels while still wet from a prior roll).

    But I'm really just curious as to what is an acceptable tolerance. Though, as Jason said, it might be more how they are bent vs. how far.
     
  5. Sim2

    Sim2 Member

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    Hmm, never really thought about tolerances. Ages ago when I was responsible for a b/w process line, the steel reels were lobbed back into a storage bin after use - hate to think how bent they migh have been! Still, they tended to work ok or we might have just filtered out the difficult reels as we went along.

    I think that the suggestion that when the film won't load then the accepatable tolerance has been reached is a good one !

    Hope you get them to work.
     
  6. mikebarger

    mikebarger Member

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    I'm a little like Jason, I've got one that is bent so much you can see it 5 feet away. It loads great.

    I've thrown away reels that look, didn't measure, perfectly straight but for some reason became way to difficult to use. SS is the only type I've ever used for roll film.

    Mike
     
  7. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

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    Maybe sacrifice a roll and load your reels in the light to see what it going wrong where.
     
  8. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Its a good idea that whenever you get a new reel (of any make) or resurrect a reel you have not used for a long time, to practice loading it a couple of times in the daylight with a scrap roll. If it loads, its ok, if not, its not. How it clips on to the film, is it centered enough, and other possibilities come into play.

    I don't think you will find any reel measurements real uniform so, by itself, is not the answer. Then again, I am not a real reel engineer, so may be wrong.l :wink:
     
  9. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Intrigued, this sent me downstairs to get out my vernier calipers. I have a 120 reel of dubious ancestry, purchased new maybe 20 years ago (but carefully handled, and not often used) and I just recently treated myself to one of the legendary Hewes varieties.

    The Brand-X measured 2.256 2.245 2.242 2.273(!)
    for -0.012 +0.019 around an average of 2.464

    The Hewes measured 2.248 2.252 2.247 2.248
    for -0.002 +0.003 around an average of 2.459

    One might conclude the reputation of Hewes is well-deserved! I find mine to be way easier to load. I also attribute that to the Hewes having a clamp that releases by pushing a wire loop that points away from the film end, as opposed to the Brand-X having a loop you have to sort of push, finagle and force the film end under. I believe the Hewes design allows releasing any tension with the film correctly aligned, that helps a lot. In fact, I had taken to loading the Brand-X without putting the end of the film in the clip, finding that much easier. A fraction of a degree of lateral mis-alignment adds up to quite a problematic error as one tries to wind 25 or 30 inches of film onto a reel.

    Isn't it nice when measured facts agree with perceived reality?! :D
     
  10. Sim2

    Sim2 Member

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    I love the vision of photographers around the world sitting measuring reels with their calipers - who says we're geeks!
    Awaiting more measurements, whose going to do the comparative spreadsheet?

    :munch:

    Sim2.
     
  11. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Any problem I had with loading 120 SS reels became moot when I stopped using whatever attachment method was provided and, like Thomas, just started the film, perhaps, one quarter turn and allowed friction to take over.
    I have Brand X, Y, Z, Hewes, Kinderman, Nikor. I use whatever is on the peg closest at hand.
     
  12. Ross Chambers

    Ross Chambers Member

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    I used a straight edge to check a couple of suspect second hand 120 reels. But I didn't check the straightness of the straight edge edge first. I'm a failed geek.

    I do use Hewes and find them very good, I also don't attach the leading end (except to the sensibly designed 35mm version) but I must try the clip on the 120s.

    Regards - Ross