hey--I agree...I always used processors (kreonite, kodak royalprints & dektomatics, noritsu) before this as part of a job, but never had to maintain them. I've just been sort of thrust into this by circumstance...
but it was always annoying to get such crummy service from Ilford, since a lot of money was going back to them for chemistry, film and paper. It's not like one little lab someplace, but many labs buying through one big system. there are still enough labs to get materials at prices lower than wholesale, because they order so much--and yet to the company it was as if we didn't exist. Our rep even quit coming after the processor died. I haven't seen an Ilford rep since 1994.....this other lab that ordered the Colex? They actually tried to get an Ilford machine last summer and Ilford never returned their phone calls. They tried for a month and even went throught a contract vendor and had no luck...I don't think Ilford wants the processing business. I think they want out of it and these machines are like a monkey on their back now. They have to legally support these things since the time they were discontinued plus 7 years, but they're tight lipped about these dates. I kind of have a rough idea from talking to serco in the past, but I know they were selling some machines at discounts at the end of last summer. Makes you wonder what sort of deal you really get when you can't get any parts....
That lab with the Colex will need a machine to run for about 20 years at least I think. I kinda doubt any of these companies--Colex or Kreonite will be around then, but I sure hope they have better luck than we have had.
okay--well --my opinions only/not my employers.
Thanks for the opinions. If I was to cut my requirement back to 11x14 and use the Jobo for 16x20 is the Durst Printo a decent system?
yeah--the printo is a pretty neat little machine, that can be regeared easily just by adjusting the orientation of the main gear. the temp is adjustable in each tank through what they call an "energy-therm". The tanks just add onto one another, so you can piggyback the thing from about 2 tanks minimum to however many you'd need. the basic setup is two tanks, with the entry module which allows you to feed a print and close a light tight lid. the wash tanks usually are set up with just the motor, which is cheaper, but I think they recommend running two in a series for the best wash, and then it has a forced air type dryer unit as well. I have one with just two tanks and run at RA4 type speeds and use b/w paper mainly...
The only thing I don't like, is that the chemistry level in the tanks needs to be almost to the very top--you just clear maybe a millimeter over the tops of the rollers, and then you only have maybe a quarter inch to the edge of the tank, and the lid then rests on top of all this. So, if you ever-so-slightly overfill a tank, leaks can happen, and it's incovenient to remove a lid to replenish. I had mine set up for a long time, like a year and a half or something and only took it down a few months ago to go back to tray processing. I had some problems with an energy-therm getting all buggy that I never have resolved, and it drove me nuts (I think it developed a short somehow inside the housing)---but I left the machine set up and replenished it. Whenever I changed chemistry, I just drained it out--refilled the tanks with warm water and ran them for about 5 minutes--dumped this back out and refilled with fresh chemistry. It was great to just run into the darkroom, warm the machine up for about 20 minutes or so and make some prints. I have an Arkay RC100 dryer, and I used a tray with a siphon for washing. My dev & fix time was 90 seconds, and I washed for 4 and then dried in about 30 seconds or so.
the printo gets expensive though as you add on modules--it gets up there in price comparable to other tabletop machines like a fujimoto or thermophot. mohr might be another one to look at, but I don't know if they do ilfochrome or not. They do RA4, b/w and other film processes though.
How long does RA-4 chemistry keep in the Printo processor? Can you keep it for only one session, a few days, or a week plus?
sorry--I'm just running b/w in the printo, so I can't really help you with the RA4 only to say that the physical set-up of the machine is the same...
RA4 should last for a week or more in it if you replenish it though. It only holds 2000ml of chemistry in each tank, so could be you won't even put enough through it to really matter. if it doesn't oxidize, you might be able to stretch it out for a couple of days, but I'm not sure what the carryover from the dev would do the blix. I don't know if it would throw the pH off too much if you didn't replenish. The tanks are really well sealed though--when you shut it down you leave the lid open overnight so condensation doesn't form, or you can pull the lids as well--but I hated to do this....I got a week and a half tops out of unreplenished machine chemistry like 2150XL and could do longer with replenished LPD and Rapid Fix A. With something like 2000RT, I could have gone for weeks on end, but I wouldn't have had enough throughput to really replenish it right. It wasn't cost effective for me to have it set up as replenished compared to just using the chemistry to exhaustion. But I still got quite a few days out of it. I managed to put a couple of thousand 8x10s through it in a year--this is just for myself, messing around at home...
fwiw--the Printo comes with a nifty little parts packet, and it has most of the gears and springs and stuff that you would need to do a minor repair. I had a gear bust a couple of years ago, and it was piece of cake to fix. I think it's well made and designed piece of equipment, even though it's like a "junior" roller transport processor. The only thing that's going to go wrong is those energy-therms or the energy-mot's (or whatever they're called). The rollers would probably eventually become pitted and might fall apart, but there are no pumps or auto-replenishment sensors or anything computerized to really worry about. If a spring lost it's tension, you could probably find that pretty easily or make a replacement. It's not as complicated as some of these biger machines though, it's really pretty simple. You could probably actually stockpile an extra tank and energy-therm and parts kit as a backup and be set, if you were set on using it for years to come.
I just burned out at the end of the year with the processor at work, and so when the printo started acting up I put it away....I'm kind of sick of dealing with busted gears and bad rollers and all that, and wondering what that "thud" I just heard in the bowels of the machine was, or why there are streaks in the image and etc. they all seem to break down sooner or later, especially in the middle of a big project or on a tight deadline.
jobo has a schedule for phased out support of the various durst printo models, so could be you can find a decent used one that's still supported and save some money. I can't see there being a real big market right now for any of these things though, with a printo or a fujimoto targeted at advanced amateurs or small labs--they cost about $4000+ new (as the full unit, only about maybe 1500 for the basic set-up on a printo, funimotos are in the 3500-5K range). Think of the competition there with inkjets and dye sub printers and even Pictro printers...I think the days are numbered for all this stuff, sorry to be so pessimistic, but good luck all the same.