RA-4 in Fujimoto CP-31
I'm trying to work out how I will process RA-4 prints in my Fujimoto CP-31. In particular, how much working solution I'll need to mix for a session, how long I can use it before discarding it and starting over, plus just some of the logistics of using the processor. This will be my first time to use it. What I'm looking for is a check on my plans, plus advice from experienced printers, especially those of you who use a small roller transport system like the CP-31.
These are the publications I've based my plans on:
Z-130-04 Using KODAK Ektacolor Chemicals in Roller Transport Processors aka Using KODAK Ektacolor Chemicals in Professional Finishing Labs
Various parts of the Z-130 publications
CIS-49 Preparing Smaller-Than-Package-Size Amounts of KODAK Processing Chemicals
J39 - Tray, Drum, and Rotary Tube Processing with Kodak Ektacolor RA Chemicals
The chemicals I bought:
Kodak Ektacolor RA Developer Replenisher RT #8415580
Kodak Ektacolor RA Bleach-Fix and Replenisher #8309031
Kodak Ektacolor RA Developer Starter #1026681
Kodak Ektacolor RA Bleach Fixer Additive #8036832
My equipment consists of a Fujimoto CP-31, replenisher pump unit, and washer/dryer unit. Everything is hooked up and working, tested with water. The three baths on the CP-31 main body hold two liters of solution each. The washer/dryer unit holds 4 liters, and it has a continuous flow of water through it when in use. I will use bath 1 for developer, bath 2 for blix, bath 3 for the wash bath 1, and the w/d unit for wash bath 2.
I'll be printing only 8x10 for now. Processing time is 45 seconds per bath at 35C. Replenishment occurs each time a sheet is fed into the input rollers. I have my replenisher set for 10ml (setting 2). For 8x10 paper, that is one milliliter over the specified replenishment rate of 16.2 ml per square foot for Premier Endura paper, but only 1/3rd the specified rate for the blix (per Z-130-04). So the blix replenishment will be low, and I presume I'll need to compensate with additional replenisher periodically. I don't have a way to set different replenishment amounts for each pump, so far as I know.
I have no idea how much I'll really be able to print per session, but I'll assume 50 sheets for now. Since each bath holds 2 liters, I'll need 2.5 liters of working solution each for the developer and the blix.
I've read that at least a couple of people on the forum mix the entire batch of developer and blix (10 liters each, in my case) and store it in multiple filled containers with no air space (canning jars, for example), and they say it keeps fine for a long period of time, more than a year. However, Kodak says in J-39 that the mixed solutions in full stoppered glass containers are only good for 6 weeks for the developer and for 8 weeks for the blix.
So I plan to mix partial amounts, per the instructions in CIS-49. There are also instructions in J-39 for mixing less than full volumes. I didn't do the math, but I suspect they come out the same for the RA RT solutions. The J-39 deals with the case of mixing a single non-replenished batch in 1L increments, whereas the CIS-49 gives amounts for 1 liter increments assuming replenishment. Developer starter is only added to the initial tank amount in CIS-49 and the replenisher is used as is without added starter.
Blix (Bleach Fix and Replenisher with Additive):
The initial tank solution and the replenisher solution are the same. From table 3 in CIS-49.
Amounts for 1L, 500 ml water + 142 ml part A + 200 ml part B + 15 ml additive + water to make 1L.
Amounts for 2.5L, 1250 ml water + 355 ml part A + 500 ml part B + 37.5 ml additive + water to make 2.5L.
Developer Replenisher with Starter and extra Replenisher:
Only the initial tank solution requires developer starter. The replenisher is Developer Replenisher RT without starter.
Amounts for 1L of Developer Replenisher without starter (table 3 in CIS-49), 500ml water + 50 ml part A + 22.2 ml part B + 50 ml part C + water to make 1L.
Amounts for 1L of Developer Replenisher with starter (table 4 in CIS-49), 800 ml Developer Replenisher (from table 3) + 175 ml water + 25 ml Starter = 1L
For 2L initial tank solution with starter plus 500 ml replenisher without starter:
1050 ml water + 105 ml part A + 46.62 ml part B + 105 ml part C + water to make 2.1L
Reserve 500ml for replenishment.
To make the initial 2 liter tank solution with starter:
1600 ml Developer Replenisher + 350 ml water + 50 ml Starter = 2L
Before I get to other questions, does my math check out? Is this similar to what you do for CP-31 processing? Got any suggestions to make this simpler?
For the Blix, which has an 8 week shelf life, it's reasonable to just make 3 liters initially, then make a liter at a time as needed. This keeps the measurements simpler, avoiding fractional milliliters:
1500 ml water + 426 part A + 600 ml Part B + 45 ml additive + water to make 3L.
For the dev, with a 6 week life, making 2.9 liter total from 2.5 liters of dev replenisher will keep measurements simpler, with only part B having a fractional amount. Making 5L at a time would avoid the fractional part B, but that's a lot of developer to use in 6 weeks.
For 2L initial tank solution with starter plus 900 ml replenisher without starter:
1250 ml water + 125 ml part A + 55.5 ml part B + 125 ml part C + water to make 2.5L
Reserve 900ml for replenishment. To make the initial 2 liter tank solution with starter:
1600 ml Developer Replenisher + 350 ml water + 50 ml Starter = 2L
Arrgggghhhh! It's become a moot issue for the moment. My Universal 45 color controller quit working (no, it's not the fuse), so I'm out of business until I get it fixed or get a replacement head.
I did get one print before it died, but it only got about 3 seconds exposure! It's quite blue. The yellow channel is what appears to have gone out.
I'll save the solutions I mixed up and hopefully be able to find a Dichro 45s head before they go bad.
Math seems right but honestly, I don't bother making small amounts. I do 10L mix at a time, kept in 5gal Doran tanks with floating lids. I spray some developer preservative in the dev container at end of each session. I dont use the blix additive. I keep the 2L tanks solutions in soda bottles between sessions. 6 weeks is nonsense, I have used it for up to a year as stored above and it is fine. The stuff is cheap enough that even if it didn't store well I would still do that.
For color heads consider the beseler minolta 45a. It is a great head, additive color with a fantastic analyzer built in. Usually in the 100-200 dollar range on ebay. I have 6 of them (5 spares), bought mostly as insurance and it is cheaper to get the flashtubes that way and have spares to boot.
That's good to know about the keeping qualities of the solutions, Ed. I don't have tanks with floating lids, but I have some Kodak 5 liter bottles that I could use to mix up a full batch. I have Beseler XDL spray to protect the developer. 2 liter PET soda bottles are easy to come by.
So I take it you just keep your tank solutions going with replenishment, stored in 2 liter bottles in between printing sessions? You don't toss out your 2 liter tank solutions after some period of time and start over with a new one?
Thanks for enlarger head suggestion. I'll look for one.
I see why you bought six of those Beseler Minolta 45a heads, Ed. The Xenon flash tubes for them haven't been made for many years and are consequently expensive. Not sure I want to go down that path unless I can get the heads really cheap.
Yes to the question of storing tank solutions between sessions. I never throw them out and start over, as they should always be relatively fresh.
The 45a tubes havent been made in a while but they are somewhat available, and last a long time. I have the set (used) that came with my first head maybe 3 years ago and they are still working fine, after hundreds of prints. I have yet to change one. Usually the heads can be found for 100-200, which is the value of the tubes alone, and in that case the whole rest of the head is a free spare. There's a 35mm mixing chamber available to replace the stock 4x5 sized one, so if you print 35mm only, you can use that and extend the life of the tubes significantly. I think it is the best color head for beseler or really any 4x5 enlarger system I have seen. Others disagree of course but the 45a was the peak of technology at the time, and about $2600+ when new. The other beseler color heads seem far less reliable too (anecdotal evidence).
I'll be printing 35mm to 4x5, with the bulk being 35mm to 6x9, so I'll need multiple mixing chambers for any heads I use.
I'm going to hedge my bets and try multiple heads. I've got a lead on a used Dichro 45s head. I will keep an eye out for Minolta 45a heads in the range you mentioned. There are a couple on eBay now, but they are closer to $300. With used color heads and enlargers going so cheap these days, I can afford to play the field. I printed with a condenser head and filter drawer a long time ago. That was pretty tediuous. I'll skip that option this time around. :)
I printed with condensors and filter pack, it was a bit of a pain, but as long as you kept the same film and paper combo, not too too bad... :-) the bigger hassle I think was using drums.