Ilfolab 2150 problems
I am using an Ilfolab 2150 for RC prints in the studio I work for and need help from any other users of this machine. After a few hours of use I am getting a noise from under the machine that I can only describe as a coffee percolator. Looking at the schematics it would seem that the only part under there would be the pump, but I wanted to see if anyone else had suggestions or experience that could help me before I order a new pump.
I appreciate any help.
hmm...could be the machine is just low on chemistry. After about a week or so, or after any kind of heavy use--the front tanks in the 2150 start to get low. Since the chemistry in them is being circulated by the pump back to the working tanks--you can often hear this sucking, bubbling type sound as the level drops. Eventually it gets louder, and then when it gets low enough, the float switches actually shut the machine down.
My question is how many prints have you made, and when was the last time you changed chemistry? I've made a few hundred prints in the past week on ours, and it's been 7 days since changing chemistry and I can hear this noise right now...it can sound like it's coming from under the machine, but it's really at the bottom of the front tanks.
fwiw---if you open the machine, the levels will rise in the front tanks. To get a good idea of what they actually are--get a small magnet and place it on the sensor under the dryer--to the right of the drive gear on the wash rack. If you get it in the right place, you should be able to run the machine with the lid open. This is always the first thing I do when troubleshooting weird noises in the machine.
It is possible to trick the machine though. You can turn it on and run it for a couple of hours with low chemistry and eventually it will sound a warning beep or a series of beeps, and the warning light will flash on & off. Eventually it just shuts down. You can fool it by switching it off for about 15 minutes or so and then turning it back on. It will warm up for 5 minutes or so and then run for about another hour and then start complaining again....I only know this because of a coworker I once had who was too lazy to change the chemistry out on his shift. He'd always cheat the machine along and wait for the next guy to do it.
Hope this helps--fingers crossed it's just the chemistry level. We did have a pump go out once and it's an expensive part to replace and a PIA to get at as well.
I'll look and see if the levels are low next time I hear the noise. It doesn't happen everytime I use the machine, but I may not have run long enough during each session to cause it. The trick with the magnet is a great idea, I'll write it in my notes. All in all the machine has been great and without incident. If you know of any other chemistry that can be used instead of Ilford, let me know. I just don't know how long Ilford will keep making it.
I really think what you're hearing is just the chemistry being sucked off the bottom of the front tanks as the volume gets lower. As long as you can run prints through it, the pump is probably fine. If you run it with the lid open, you'll probably see what I'm talking about.
You could take a peek under the machine--see if you can spot any leaks from the pipes--crusty, wet etc. It could also be that the standpipes aren't sealed properly, or maybe the o-rings are shot--so the chemistry could be leaking out slowly. I think if you can still use it--get prints through it--it's probably okay. I think if the pump died, you wouldn't hear that noise, but I'm not in your shoes....
For chemistry..... The tank solution is like 15 liters or so. The chem kits from Ilford are 3 liters, the machine dilutes it to 1:4. Polymax RT would probably work. I know Agfa Multicontrast would work at 1:4. 2150XL used to be sold in a larger container (less concentrated) that the machine diluted at 1:2.8 or something odd like that. I think all sorts of chemistry would work in it, once you got the ratios figure out--but replenishing would be a total PIA, so I don't know how much throughput you'd get.
There's this company called C-Pac that sells direct--makes chemistry for labs. They sell a 2150 kit:
called RC-XL. we almost got some of this recently because our Ilford order was held up & we came close to running out of chemistry.....it came through though--got a years worth of chemistry and it was in the new packaging so I think it's still being made. I'm more worried about spare parts and tech support than the chemistry to be honest.
Good luck though--KT