Tips wanted for processing odd widths of film

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by David Lyga, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,872
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Sometimes I run (in reverse) film widths that are not 35mm or 120, namely Advantix (24mm wide), slit 120 (31mm wide), slit unperforated 35mm (17.5mm wide), slit 46mm (23mm wide). This is challenging but I do it occasionally.

    But how to process lengths longer than a foot is challenging even more! Do you have any suggestions other than cutting down the center of a plastic reel so that the spirals come closer?!? I would like to know what thinking similar situations have resulted in. - David Lyga
     
  2. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,377
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    Location:
    florida
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    David
    I have never done nor considered what you are doing but possibly you could make a tube the length needed out of pvc pipe of the appropriate diameter and attach a threaded coupling to each end. Attach a film clip or design a holder to the end caps that could be screwed to the couplings. The film would not have to be rolled. It would take some engineering but I think something like that is possible and would be cheap to make.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com
     
  3. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    NE U.S.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Kodak used to make a roll film tank that used a dimpled plastic "apron" rather than a spool. So it could take any width film up to about 120. The dimples kept the plastic separated enough for the chemistry to get to the film. I've seen similar tanks from Japanese suppliers, but don't remember the brand. Not sure if any are currently on the market, but they are probably around on ebay.
    The downside of these is that you can get scratches from the film rubbing on the plastic, and the plastic gets brittle and stained from the chemistry exposure. Reels are easier, but the aprons get around the exact problem you're facing.
     
  4. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,872
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Yes the apron method has gone out of favor (I don't know whether that is good or bad, but the apron did 'wear out'). The apron had ridges on each side to allow a free flow of solution. I tried rolling the film with a layer of cut, plastic screening but, surprisingly, the screening imparted its image onto the film. - David Lyga.
     
  5. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

    Messages:
    2,936
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    Misissauaga
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have adapted the use of Paterson reels and a single reel tank centre tube for non standard film widths wider than 35mm. I dont have a solition for narrower than 35mm other than to develop them like spagetti in a 5x7 or 8x10 print tray in absolute darkness.

    For wider than 35mm but not standard

    I don't 'click' the two halves of the Paterson reel together, but rather leave them to slide 'film width wise' freely' in the aligning channels. I slide the samller diameter half reel on the tube first, and then inner increase the diameter of the centre tube to match the diameter of the smaller rel core with self amalgamating electrical tape.

    Then the larger core diameter half reel is slid into position, and I then gingerly load a waste length of the wierd width onto the reels.

    At this stage I usually have pre spooled a few big elastic bands on the smaller shaft, and partially roll them onto the larger shaft to keep the width between reel halves in place on the first load.
    I also roll another elastic band down the centre shaft to keep the rele half from wandering too far out.

    I finalize the width with some SAPT around the centre tube on the outside edge of the larger half reel, and where the two reels may overlap to keep that width in place.

    It is a bit cumbersome, but it allows me to to process bulk loaded 70mm film, that I cut and spool on dowels or widened 35mm cassette central spindles to use in some converted roll film polaroids, and older brownie box cameras.
     
  6. rjmeyer314

    rjmeyer314 Member

    Messages:
    51
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I have one of the old Kodak tanks with an apron. I tried it on 122 film (3 1/4 roll film?) and it didn't give me decent negatives at all, whereever the film touched the apron it developed differently. I would try one of the cheap adjustable Yankee tanks. They're adjustable for several different width films. I suspect if you place the top and bottom separation just right in the light, then load your film, it may work. Worth a try. I've done advantix film a few times and I just see sawed it through 4x5 dip tanks in the darkroom.
     
  7. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,872
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Yes, Mike, this is similar to what I thought to do if I did not find a better answer. I also use the Paterson plastic reels. I thought of cutting one of the reel's shafts down to maybe 1/2 inch and then, as you say, freely slide the two reels together. They would not be ABLE to snap back because the nipple would have been cut off, so I would stuff a pieces of plastic sheeting to make the precise width between the two reels more rigid by preventing the reels from getting wider than the film width. This would work. Too bad reels are not made to accept any width and then be able to be 'locked' into position. Too few do the crazy experimentations I do. - David Lyga
     
  8. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,872
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    For the life of me I cannot understand why Kodak did this in the first place. Didn't they test things thoroughly?

    Rjmeyer314's comment makes me wonder why Kodak, and ONLY Kodak allowed this fautly theory to 'develop'. As he says, the ridges prevented as free a flow of solution, as was necessary, and as was entirely possible with spirals we use today.
     
  9. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,413
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto-Onta
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    If you can find vats or long containers that you could weight the end of the roll and basically dip the film into the vat .
    A very famous lab in Paris processed by inspection this very way.
    You would basically be standing over the top of the container, may need a ladder to properly do this.
    Sounds crazy but would work.
     
  10. SkipA

    SkipA Member

    Messages:
    604
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2002
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What jeffreyg suggested above is precisely what this guy did for processing 50 foot lengths of super 8 film. He uses an outer pipe and an inner core, both made of PVC drain pipe.

    http://www.peaceman.de/blog/index.php/inexpensive-super-8-home-processing-tank

    You would be able to use the same outer pipe "tank" for all films, and just make a custom insert for each width of film you want to process. Just make sure the tubes and inserts are long enough to handle the longest length of film you want to process.

    Assuming that we are talking about relatively short lengths of film (say, under 10 feet), you might also be able to make a film winding core that will fit inside a Jobo or similar film or print drum.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2011
  11. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    Boston area
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    With a roll of 35mm film, the ridges touched the film just about where the perforations are- causing no problems at all. Our need to improvise for other film types is what causes the contact issue. It was a cheap, "hobbiest" piece of gear, like the "daylight developer" system, a bakelite tank that allowed you to place the unopened film cassette in a small opening, feed the film through to a tank and then do all of your chemistry without exposing the film to light. It works fine on old Kodak cassettes loaded with thick Kodak film, like PanX or Verichrome. Try it on a roll of Ilford, or Foma, Efke or even modern Kodak and you will be swearing in seconds.
     
  12. SkipA

    SkipA Member

    Messages:
    604
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2002
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here's another idea, perhaps much easier to implement for short lenghts of film than the PVC drain pipe processing tank I previously posted. This is from Popular Mechanics, October 1947. This article was written with movie film processing in mind, but you can adapt it easily. You'll be doing tray processing, but the methods described are simple to implement.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=0N...&resnum=2&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
     
  13. SkipA

    SkipA Member

    Messages:
    604
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2002
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You also might be able to adapt a Morse G3 movie film developing tank. They come up on ebay all the time. They are designed to handle both 16mm and 35mm film. Since the film is spooled from one core to another, back and forth, it may work with other widths of film up to 35mm.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. SkipA

    SkipA Member

    Messages:
    604
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2002
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You might also talk to a machine or welding shop in your area about making you some custom width reels. An extremely easy way to do it would be to cut down and reweld some 35mm stainless reels. They would just need to know the precise spacing you require between the spirals. I doubt this would cost more than $25 per reel.

    If I needed custom sized reels for short lengths of film, I'd probably take this approach. I believe I could do it with my chop saw and MIG welder, although it probably wouldn't look as good as what a machine/welding shop could do.

    Maybe the S.K. Grimes shop, who I believe is an APUG supporter, could do this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2011
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,809
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've used aprons a lot (particularly with 616 film, but also with 120), and they worked well. You do need an apron that is just the right size for the width of film involved.

    They worked well in the Kodak tanks, but not so well in others that didn't have the same dimensions or the same "stub" at the bottom of the tank.

    I stopped using them regularly because the Kodak tanks don't permit inversion.
     
  17. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,470
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For the apron to work, the film width must match the apron width. The ridges on the apron are to suspend the film so it does not touch.

    To solve your problem I'd just modify some reels. Plastic reels and tanks are cheap or free. I use a modified Jobo reel for 8.5x11 (Minox).
     
  18. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,872
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks all. It is amazing how seemingly simple question can end up being so difficult to find a definitive answer for. I still think that 'standard' click steps on adjustable reels should have been abandoned in favor of odd sizes never being a problem. But Americans always like 'convenience before universality' so the marketplace disqualifies my opinion.

    I liked the 1947 Popular Mechanis article and others here have contributed well to this quest. Thanks. - David Lyga.
     
  19. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,191
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2005
    Location:
    Los Alamos,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I wonder if you could rig up custom stops for an adjustable reel using stainless steel pipe clamps or something similar. Even nylon cable ties might work.
     
  20. SkipA

    SkipA Member

    Messages:
    604
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2002
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The simplest solution that would provide the same level of processing quality and ease of use as a 35mm steel reel is to have a machine shop cut some down and reweld to size.

    Now if you took that a step further, a cut down reel could be made adjustable. Cut them apart close to one spiral, weld small stainless tubes with an ID slightly greater than the wire size of the reel onto each short stub, tap two of the tubes near their outer ends for a set screw. Insert the longer prongs of the other reel into the tubes of the first one to the desired depth, and screw down the set screw.

    It would take some precision welding, but that is not beyond the ability of a decent machine shop. Frankly I'd rather have reels cut down and rewelded to the exact width I need, as it is simple to do, but the variable width reel could be done.
     
  21. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,004
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can make a long processing tray (or tube) with a trip to a hardware store for some PVC pipe, and develop the long roll like sheet film. To make the tray, cut the pipe into a semicircle, and make "feet" for the ends, so you don't have to hold it level the whole time.
     
  22. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,979
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If the apron you're talking about is what I think it is (was), they were format specific. We used to call it lasagna... The only "lasagna" I ever saw was for 35mm. As Whitey said, the edges only touched the sprockets. They had to be used in a single reel tank, but worked well.
     
  23. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    Cleveland, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Semi-stand development ... now what's the matter with that? Latest fad, I'd say. So hard to be so ahead of one's time when it comes to fashion, and then when the rest of the world finally catches up there is still more vilification to come. [insert smiley if you need one]
     
  24. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    Cleveland, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I used to use an FR adjustable tank for this sort of thing. I imagine the Yankee would work just as well. They were swirly stick agitation tanks, and the reels have a habit of becoming fragile over the past 50-60 years.

    My FR has been long lost. If I had to replace it I would buy one of those Paterson clones (AP?? - blue lid instead of red) and go at it with a file and rasp.
     
  25. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    Cleveland, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I seem to remember the apron system was originally developed for developing film that was up to 5" wide [and commensurately long] and be easily loaded on a reel. Even then the original apron 'reel' needed a special loading machine/box.
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,773
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Indeed, Kodak sold aprons for each size of popular film so that the dimples in the edges would only touch the edge of a given size.

    At KRL, we often were faced with processing long lengths of odd widths of film. This is how we did it:

    We got a large graduate cylinder (250 ml, 500 or 1L for example). We got a rod and hung a film clip on thee rod and then we hung the film, emulsion side out with both ends clipped to the rod, making a loop. We then took a "C" shaped metal weight and we hung it over the bottom of the film loop thereby reducing the apparent length by 1/2. So, 3 feet (about 1M) of film was reduced to 1.5 feet which fit in a 500 ml graduate very handily.

    Agitation was done by lift and drain using the metal rod with the clip attached.

    After the Photo Flo step, we removed the weight and unclipped one end to hang the film up to dry.

    Try it, it works. And this reminds me that Bill Troop and I were discussing a book or a series of articles on handy darkroom tips like this that I learned at EK.

    PE