Simplicity and the Leitz Valoy II
I have a simple dry darkroom (DR) in our laundry room. I use a Jr Lab red bulb in a 10 inch silver reflector hung on the cabinet door handle. On top of the washer I place a 1/8 inch thick plywood cut to extend the tray surface area. The enlarger is a nice Valoy II with Gralab 450 digital timer and larger Gralab process timer. The DR is usable when its dark outside.
The Valoy was acquired a year ago and not used. I have other enlargers and darkroom space outside the home. Today I got up in the wee morning hours to test ADOX Variotone Premium paper at home.
Crap, the enlarger required a cleaning prior to use. 8 screws hold the head and condenser assembly together. I quickly did a cleaning which included the helical. I gained appreciation for the enlarger which disassembled without fuss and was easy to put back in working order.
The outstanding characteristics are a Valoy is so small, easy to move, superior light source, smooth helical for focusing, and quality German engineering not duplicated in non Leitz -135 enlargers.
The Valoy lacks a filter holder and ideally requires hard-to-find short neck bulbs. I'm using a 75 watt Sylvania No 211 which seems to work fine. I'm sure one can rig a filter holder to a Valoy.
As much as I love MF, when its time to simplify to the bare minimum, a Leica camera and Valoy II is what I'm keeping.
The last point is how easy and inexpensive it is to have a DR in the home. Most B&W prints are under 8x10 so you don't need a large processing footprint. Quality prints for desk top or album presentation are easy to produce from small format. For shear beauty, its hard to beat a toned, gelatin silver print.
VC filters with the Valoy II
My solution to using VC filters with my Valoy was to fashion a bracket from aluminium stock and attach an old Kodak Polycontrast filter holder. Photos show holder swung out of light path for unfiltered printing and in the light path when using filters. Both Kodak and ILford below the lens filters fit nicely in the holder.