I've run into this previously as well, and as pointed out above, it seemed to be a combination of 2 things. The longer (36 x) rolls, and dampness. I loaded mine in changing bags, and if I had mny hands in there for more than a few minutes it could get difficult. I think the idea of cutting the corners at the leading edge is worthwhile too.
My original Paterson tank has reels that are pure white. If it's damp, it's a problem. I just bought a larger capacity Paterson tank at a camera show, and the reel that came with it was more ivory colored. I haven't loaded it yet.
Obviously, you can trim the end of a 35mm roll in broad daylight. Just rewind the roll so that a bit of leader is sticking out, then trim it. For 120 film, I trim it in the changing bag.
"If You Push Something Hard Enough, It Will fall over" - Fudd's First Law of Opposition
I have had the same problem a couple of times. Each time it was because there was a tiny drop of moisture in the track of the spiral.
I now do the following, every time, before processing any film:
1. Check the reels are absolutely clean and dry.
2. Test wind an old 'sacrificed' 36 frame film into the reels I intend using, to check for 'jamming'.
3. Cut small (2mm) 45degree corners on the leading edge of the film(s) to be developed.
Only then do I set up in my changing bag.
Since I started taking these precautions no more films have jammed in the spirals.
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
It's been years since I used a "walk in" plastic reel, but I do recall an occasional problem toward the end of a roll of film. Someone mentioned that as the reel becomes loaded, the presence of a long strip of film in the spiral makes it difficult for the two halves of the reel to swivel. I recall having to wiggle the reel a bit to loosen up the film, after which it would continue to load normally.
You mentioned the possiblity that the film could be too long - I would not be concerned about this. I bulk load my 35mm film, so it's not unusual for the strip to be a few frames too long. They just wrap around the outside of the reel.
The other potential issue is that it is helpful to squeeze the edges of the film slightly to cup the film so that it is fits between between the two halves of the spiral. One of the things that I have found over 25 years of loading 35mm film is that it's hard to maintain a constant but measured squeeze - just enough to fit, but not so much that the film is distorted and bent. This probably another verison of "performance anxiety", and the solution comes with practice.
I would suggest loading the reel a few time in daylight - use some out-of-date film so that you don't feel guilty - in order to get a better sense of what is happening throughout the process. Once you see what is happening, you will know what to do to avoid the problem in the dark.
One thing I've found which can help, and I think quite a few others do this, is to not "ratchet" the film into the reel until you've nearly loaded the whole film. Rather than ratcheting, simply push the film into the reel but by bit, about 15 to 20 cm at a time, and then when it's nearly all in, you can ratchet the last bit in. Sometimes this makes loading a lot faster and easier.
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I'd second what sparx said-- a several taps or wiggling the sides of the spirals usually releases the tension that has built up.
Originally Posted by sparx
Other small things that may help:
1. I've found that if I've been too lazy to wash the reel and I absolutely must develop now, several sharp flicks with a fingernail in the area of the ball bearing or plastic cylinder (on the cheapest models) gets them moving.
2. I used to let the reel turn in my hands while loading causing more friction from film that wasn't even loaded yet. Now, I keep my thumbs on the plastic tabs that guide the film into the reel and I try to keep the film hanging tangent to the reel so no extra friction is caused.
finally as other have mentioned--- relax! and the film loads itself...
Very biased opinion? Dump the Paterson reels in the garbage disposal (I tortured mine with a lighter to get back for all the changing bag suffering they inflicted on me... ) and get the AP reels. They are MUCH smoother, have those comfortingly wide flanges to rest the film on (appreciable when you start doing 120) and are cheaper too!
Giving them a few minutes under a hairdryer also helps - for one it ensures they are bone dry. For another, they seem to expand a tad when warm helping with the "pushing a rope" process.
I can't begin to tell you how much better life is since I junked the Paterson reels!
I tried the AP reels and yes, they do load a bit easier. There is a downside, they don't seem to last as long. I've had problems with them getting a wobble that prevents smooth loading (at least of 120, 35mm is fine).
Originally Posted by NikoSperi
My vote is for stainless spirals - as long as you don't drop them, they'll last forever. Once you get the hang of loading them, you'll never go back to plastic.
Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.
Ahh the spiralproblem
Did you find the solution to your problems ?
Do not compress the two halves together while loading. Find a better holding and turning technique that will allow sufficient clearance across the width of the film. It is quite easy to hold the reel such that the top loading area has sufficient clearance but the lower half is being squeezed together. They do flex a lot, especially the newer reels. The newer are made cheaper, I prefer the older because they were made better. Profit biased progress can really suck... unless you live in China.
As far as drying them between films, a shop-vac works fine.
Imitation cameras come with big egos, real cameras do not include accessories.