I found some go-to combos from that time that I've settled into but get the itch to try some things recently and thought your Xtol alternatives would be interesting, especially with you doing all of the work!
I got my Dimezone S from:
They were the only easy source for me back then and I could buy 100g quantities. I see they still supply it. They're nice people to deal with and have been a reliable source for things over the years.
Alan Johnson had the idea of dissolving sodium sulfite into water ahead of time, creating a sulfite solution that you use over a period of one or more months. Using a concentrate such as 214D is then as easy as Rodinal:
1. Measure 18 g/L (= 15.4 ml) concentrate into a beaker using syringe or scale.
2. Pour sulfite solution up to fill-line. This works out to 1+64 dilution.
For 214D, you would mix 46 g of sulfite into each litre of sulfite solution. If you wish, this can be stored refrigerated to ensure longevity. Quiz: Why 46 g/L instead of 45? Any idea how long sulfite solution will last?
Then I had the idea of doubling the sulfite (to 92 g/L) and adding some sodium metaborate to the sulfite solution, creating an alkali solution. If you then use 2.5 times as much concentrate, you should be able to make a close clone of XTOL similar to the formula I tested back in July here:
My latest alkali solution consists of:
Sodium sulfite ..................... 92 g
Sodium metaborate 4 mol .... 4.1 g
Water to ............................. 1 L
1L of developer contains 45 g of 214D (=38.6 ml) and the remainder is alkali solution (1+25 ratio of concentrate+alkali solution).
The pH matches XTOL perfectly, but the developer is too hot (overdevelops), so I need to reduce the metaborate in the solution some to get matching curves when using XTOL's times. Or maybe reduce the amount of concentrate. So I'll do more experiments. Anyway, if this works out, then 214D can be used either in its usual way or as an XTOL-clone.
Back to the mundane,
In order to avoid messing around with .05 g Phenidone I thought I would double the recipe to use .1 g. I have a triple beam balance that will measure 1/10th g. So my question now is does the 2000 mL concentrate get diluted to a working strength at time of use, and if so, what do you feel is a proper mixture/ratio might be? My process for developing 4x5 inch Delta 100 in Kodaks' Xtol is using a Jobo with constant & continuous reversing rotation and 4 Oz stock solution plus 4 Oz water (8 Oz total solution) for 1 to 4 negatives is all that is required and recommended.
Regarding weighing: The Phenidone (or Dimezone S) is the tough part, as you pointed out. For doubling, you need .1 g of Phenidone, and if your balance has a resolution of .1 g, then you might be off by half of that .1 g resolution, which is .05g. So a measurement of .1 g might actually give you .05 to .15 g of Phenidone, which is too inaccurate. That's why I recommend using an electronic scale with .01 g resolution. These cost only $12-15; search for "scale .01g" on amazon. Even then, I suggest measuring .1 g very carefully. Quadrupling the formula (60-80 ml of concentrate) means measuring .2 g of Phenidone, which is easy with a .01 electronic scale.
Sodium sulfite solution available industrially is stable under normal conditions of use and storage but may be oxidized by air (section 10):
I'd say Xtol beats the concentrate in those first two comparison scans both in grain and sharpness. The concentrate seems to have higher contrast or lower shadows eventhough the curves are similar and that makes it seem sharper, to me. I don't think it is anywhere.
Now i see there is a second set of commparison scans so
frame 15 xtol still beats concentrate in sharpness but one of the two has or seems to have better grain ..or different grain. Can't tell which. Obviously better in one area and reverses in another
I have xtol I mixed in early 09 and it still works. Whether it develops the same as when new, who knows. It's been reused after pouring back into glass bottle kept chilled
I still dont understand the need for a concentrate of xtol or amidol
frame 24 appears that concentrate has slightly finer grain but xtol is still sharper. everything seems equal otherwise