steel reels--loading problems

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by ezwriter, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. ezwriter

    ezwriter Member

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    Ok i've tried the steel reels/tank twice now with 35mm and 120 and if they feel like they've loaded ok, the negs come
    out all blotchy and stuck and horrible. When loading the film goes on off center or (not a round wheel) or i have a 36exp
    roll and come to the end of the reel and still have 10 frames left!
    LOVE the Patterson white plastic reels -the ones with wide starter section, not the thin ones. But can't get the hang of
    the steel reels. am i retarded or too clumsy or ?
    ez
     
  2. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    have you practiced in the light with old film until you load them perfectly? then closed your eyes to practice "in the dark", and checked your result?
     
  3. jayvo86

    jayvo86 Member

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    Lol, I just went through this.

    You're just going to have to get to practicing.

    However, the trick is getting the film started right.

    On the 35mm reels, make sure that the film is hooked in both film sprockets. Pay attention to how the film flowing into the reel after it is hooked and take your time.

    On the 120 reels, again make sure you start good.The film should lay nice and flat in the clip. The clip should clasp film and not feel bouncy.

    On both reels, make sure you are bending the film ever so slightly. If you don't bend it enough, it won't go in smooth. If you bend it too much, you'll get overlap.

    You can always tell if your loaded right by touching the sides of the reel. If it feels like the film is "sticking out" the edges, you have overlap and you'll need to unwind a bit.

    It is very normal to have a little over lap when your winding correctly and have loaded it right. So, you just need to unwind it a bit and adjust.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    Why do you want to use stainless reels? I understand that they can be dried quickly or loaded wet by those with high-volume film throughputs, but for those of us who are developing a film or two a week, why would we want to torture ourselves with stainless reels? I've got a couple (they were free!) but find them a hassle to load even with film that's not trying to curl the wrong way and in broad daylight (hence they've gone up in the loft). You say you love the white plastic Paterson reels (so do I - along with the Johnson's black Bakelite ones!) so why not stick with them? Why change a winning formula? If you need more developing capacity there are enough plastic-reel tanks for pennies on the dreaded ePay.
    To answer your question ("Am I retarded?"), you're using film, so by definition that's not the case!!!
    Steve
     
  5. drumlin

    drumlin Member

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    Steel reels really have to be in good shape (not bent or warped) and totally dry in order to work right. The "wings of the tie-fighter" have to be perfectly parallel, if you'll excuse the star wars reference. These are not the droids you're looking for...

    I inherited my original darkroom gear secondhand and most of those reels were cheapos and warped to the point of frustration. I gradually replaced them with hewes reels which have seemed to hold up much better. I still have a crap 220 reel that is troublesome, but I just developed the last 2 rolls of 220 in my cache last week (with the same issues you described in the op - even with careful reeling).
     
  6. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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  7. Moopheus

    Moopheus Member

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    Plus, the little tabs on the 35mm Hewes make them far easier to load. Even the 120 reels are easier, though you still just have to be sure the film goes into the clip straight; as long as it does, it should go right on. In my experience, if you're going to use steel, the Hewes are totally worth the extra cost.
     
  8. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I have used steel reels for 35mm and 120 for 41 years with no problems (actually the same Kinderman reels). As mentioned practice. Another suggestion is to clip the "front" end both sides especially 120 on an angle, slightly curve the film as you put it under the clip, start it and put the reel on the counter top and lightly push forward while maintaining the curve. The film will pretty much load itself. With 35mm if the leader is tapered , cut it flat and cut the end as with 120 and do the same to load the reel.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  9. danfogel

    danfogel Member

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    I had this problem and switched to Hewes reels I bought second hand from a one semester photo student. The trick with Hewes is to get the film in the slot at the center of the reel. Very simple after that. But, yes, as previous posters noted, practice in the light.
     
  10. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    All the above is good advice. When I load, I hold the reel in my left hand, and keep a finger lightly on the film. That way you can feel if it starts to kink. Some films, and from reverse winding cameras, I find it easier to load the film from the spool end instead of the trailing end. I find Ilford Delta films work better this way. I just roll the film up in my hand to where it's taped. (hands must be clean and dry!). Finally, practice helps. I've been doing it for 60+ years and occasionally I still mess one up.
     
  11. Todd Adamson

    Todd Adamson Member

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    I'm fairly new to film, and have tried both. I was surprised to find the steel ones are easier for me. And Hewes are better, and easier to load, then the others. The caveat being that a couple of kinds of film seem to be harder. I have a lot of trouble with old expired film which wants to curl severely. I also seem to have issues with 35mm film that came out of one of my Pentaxes with the "magic finger" film starters, which roll the first bit of film in the wrong direction. In these two situations, I usually end up resorting to the plastic reels.
     
  12. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

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    Good quality reels make a big difference. There were lots and lots of cheap reels made. For someone already skilled in loading they will work okay if in good shape. But the cheap ones were flimsier and a lot less likely to be in perfect shape; even a relatively slight bend or dent makes a difference. The better quality reels are sturdier, but still need to be in good condition for easy loading. I like Nikor, but also hear a lot of people recommend Hewes, and there are a number of others.

    Don't give up. I have Jobo, and have used Patterson plastic, but unless I'm running color (where I want the Jobo) I grab the ss. They are quick and easy start to finish.
     
  13. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    On top of practicing, I suggest inspecting your reels carefully to make sure they are not bent or damaged in any way. Just a little of bend will make the film come off tracks and stick to each other. I discarded few reels that were out of shape myself.

    Also, when you are done winding, don't let go the film all the sudden. It will spin somewhat inside the reel (you have to see this) and the force sometimes causes the film to come off track IF the reels are bent slightly.

    Hewe's reels are very nice for 35mm. Wires are thicker so less chance of bending or film coming off tracks.
     
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  15. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    The only time I have ruined a roll of film was when I used a plastic reel. I have used SS reels for decades without a problem. But avoid cheap brands which may create problems.

    But that being said there do appear to be some people who are just "digitally challenged." :smile:
     
  16. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    NO! I've processed 120 for almost 20 years in stainless reels, but never quite got the hang of 35mm stainless reels. (120 seems to snap right in with no problem, unlike 35mm.) So I keep one plastic Paterson tank and two reels handy for the odd roll of 35mm, which is maybe 2 a year, tops.

    That being said, I occasionally run into trouble with a 120 reel (out of about 20 that I own). If I have trouble loading it, I mark it with a sharpie and put it back on the shelf. Second time I have trouble with it, it goes into the trash. SS reels (esp. 35mm) can look straight but actually be bent, or a bad design, or whatever. If it doesn't work, it's gone!
     
  17. declark

    declark Subscriber

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    I'll second the recommendation about Hewes reels. I have several steel reels I bought off eBay and they are fine, but the new Hewes 35mm I recently bought is a dream to load in comparison. Never tried the plastic, always heard such horror stories of jamming if there is just the hint of moisture. I practiced a bunch on scrap rolls and that is probably the key. I also feel the outer surface of the film as I'm loading it to see if it feels circular, if it starts to feel oblong I know it's jumped the track and I back up until it starts feeling round again. Have loaded a couple hundred rolls and I can only think of one instance where I got overlapping frames.
     
  18. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Not true, at least in my experience. This is true with plastic however, SS will load if its wet or not completely dry. If it will not load, there is another problem, as others have pointed out. JMHO
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I find no-name "C" slot SS easier for 35mm, and the AP/Arista wide flange plastic reels easier for 120.

    Go figure:whistling:.

    One further suggestion to add to the "practice, practice" suggestions above - pay close attention to the sound of the film as it loads correctly into a SS reel. It makes a gentle scraping sound as it slides in between layers of reel. If it goes astray, you will hear the change.

    Hope this helps.

    PS Actually, I can load the 120 SS Hewes reels fine - I just cannot get the clip to engage properly. So the film tends to escape.
     
  20. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    I gave up on steel years ago when I bought a Jobo and some tanks, and discovered the Jobo plastic reels were the best, easiest to load reels I'd ever used. I now use the 1500 series when I want to do inversion processing, and (mostly) the 2500 series for rotary processing. I haven't used a steel reel since the early 90s and if I ever do again it will be too soon.

    The only advantage I can think of is that steel can be dried quickly with a hair dryer and re-used immediately where the plastic needs a while to dry thoroughly. You can't heat them too much and even if you heat them gently the design makes it harder to get the last drops out. I neatly solved that problem by buying plenty of reels.
     
  21. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    If you absolutely must use SS reels then you'll have to decide which ones are best for you. I have used many kinds and always thought my Nikkors were the best and at the time they were. I would still have problems on occasions, but just kept plugging away. A frame or two lost here and there finally got to me when one of those frames meant something. I had known about Hewes reels for a long time, but being Dutch I never wanted to shell out the extra dough for them. Besides, I was a Nikon man and I didn't think the Hewes reels would be that much better. There I go thinking again! Well, the only reels I own now are Hewes reels. Are they that much better? Yes, and not only that they are worth the extra dough. I've also used the plastic cheater reels and they work just fine too, but like I said, if you gotta use SS use Hewes. You won't know how good they are until you get sick of screwing around with other SS reels. JohnW
     
  22. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    you must find your own way to do it---just use the light and once you figure out a way that's natural for you, then you'll be able to do it with your eyes closed....just when you have downtime watching tv...just fiddle with it when not looking---do it a couple of times and you'll find the best hand to hold it in--play play play till it feels right and that's it.
     
  23. albada

    albada Subscriber

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    SS reels are easier for me than Paterson, because SS uses two hands, whereas Paterson needs three hands (two for the reels and one for the cannister). As another poster said, the only tricky part with SS is getting it started correctly; after that it's effortless. But the reel must not be bent! Cheapo ones come pre-bent from the factory, as a recent purchase proves. I don't have any of the highly recommended Hewes, but the cheapos that I've straightened myself work fine.

    Mark Overton
     
  24. darkroom_rookie

    darkroom_rookie Member

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    My Nikor (old, USA made) tanks and reels came with a very nice large sheet explaining everything. I could scan it and post it for everyone interested.
     
  25. Arkasha

    Arkasha Member

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    Please do! As someone who just experienced his first (and I hope last! :blink:) problem loading 120 onto a brand new steel reel, I'd like to know what I'm doing wrong and how to fix it.
     
  26. darkroom_rookie

    darkroom_rookie Member

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    Arkasha, here's the Nikor sheet:

    nikor-verso.jpg
    nikor-recto.jpg