Agfa Pro print processing machine
I'm building a new darkroom next summer and as I got an odd chance to purchase a second-hand Agfa Pro processing machine for RA-4, I thought to ask if there's anything very important to know about operating this type of machine. I have no prior experience with processing machines. How much will the estimated water consumption be, for example, with these machines?
Is there something else that I need to take into account when planning the arrangement of the facilities in the darkroom? Extra ventilation, etc?
It will be a single room of approx 10x8 feet, used for enlarging and developing mainly BW prints on RC paper. Also for developing films (35mm and 120) and maybe also drying them. Prints will be viewed and dried in a separate room (a smaller room or porch with natural light).
My enlarger is a Durst AC800 that takes some 2x2 feet of tablespace. Additionally there will be a small sink and a glass-top table for the wet side work.
>I got an odd chance to purchase a second-hand Agfa Pro processing machine for RA-4.
There are a multitude of processing machines for RA-4. I have one at the small end of the spectrum a fijimoto CP-31, which is a makimum 12" wide roller processor. The larger units I am familiar with are made by Kreonite etc.
>I thought to ask if there's anything very important to know about operating this type of machine
It is imperative that the rollers or belts be still in good shape. Shape is hard to define. Are there flat spots on any. Are they uniformly hard or sticky? There are frequently hard and sticky type once in the same machine.
The other variable is racks - are they all there to giude the prints through the roller, and are they free from cracks.
The other variable is how clean is the thing. I spent at least 10 rounds of scrub, soak, scrub and flush with dilute toilet bowl cleaner before my machine was servicable again becasue it was put away without rinsing the last of the active chemicals out of it.
Finally, are all drives working to power roller, belts, etc, and are the circulating pumps and spray arms clear and working, and do the heaters and heater controls keep temperature as they were meant to do.
> I have no prior experience with processing machines.
There is a learning curve; it is not insurmountable. I have come to use Kodak RA-RT chemistry. It is stored out of the machine between runs, becuase the CP-31 only takes 2L of developer and blix to fill it. In gas topped off glass stoarge bottles the solutions keep in spec for between 8 and 12 weeks for me before going flaky, and are then ready for a trip to the HHW depot for same recycling. A persomal use machine will live and die on how much solution it takes to top the tanks. Your usage is likely to be very low, in terms of what RA-4 is designed to be used before exhausting - it will oxidize off first. Big machines can take many liters to fill the tanks. I don't know the Agfa machine you speak of, and how big it is
>How much will the estimated water consumption be, for example, with these machines?
This will vary, and also the temperature needs of the wash water will too. My little machine has an attached wash dry unit that asks for something like 1.5l per minute, which I turn on only when I have prints running. This is a very low flow, and I have a heard time holding the something like 80F that the thing asks for.
>Is there something else that I need to take into account when planning the arrangement of the facilities in the darkroom? Extra ventilation, etc?
Mine gets power from a dedicated circuit protected by a GFCI, since the load is close to 1300W with the dryer active.
It needs a water supply, and a drain, as well as overflow tanks. I don't have a replenisher module, but if I did I would need a spot to let the relinisher solutions gravity drain into the tanks. It also will need a spot for drain jugs, to catch the overflows of the different tanks, as well as for me a general gearbox overflow for when things get spilled a bit.
>It will be a single room of approx 10x8 feet, used for enlarging and developing mainly BW prints on RC paper. Also for developing films (35mm and 120) and maybe also drying them. Prints will be viewed and dried in a separate room (a smaller room or porch with natural light).
>My enlarger is a Durst AC800 that takes some 2x2 feet of tablespace. Additionally there will be a small sink and a glass-top table for the wet side work.[/QUOTE]
Mine is a 'tabletop unit' and lives on a wheeled cart. It is abour 24" deep by about 40" long, and puts the machine top at counter top height. It lives in my 6' x8' darkroom against the wall between the dry side enlargers bench and wet side sink. When it is in postition there is just room for me to move around. I park it outside in the adjacent laundry room if I am teaching someone b&w printing,etc.
The main drawback to any commercial size roller transport processor is the volume of chemistry required to fill it, and the volume of chemistry that will go bad before you exhaust it thru use. It can become a very un-economical project very fast. The chemistry starts aging the minute you put it into the machine, and continues until it is useless, even if you never put a sheet of paper thru the machine. Even if it has replenishment, for replenishment to work you HAVE to run a minimum volume of paper thru the machine daily, since the chemistry requires a certain turn over to stay in balance.
As Photo Engineer has frequently stated, the modern Kodak RA-4 RT replenisher can be used (diluted to working strength) as a developer in trays or tanks at room temperature and get results that are within Kodak specifications for the process. So, you really don't need a sophisticated processor to do infrequent RA-4 printing.
A GFCI is a nice and useful device, though I don't understand why you relate it to the power consumption of a device. As long as an electrical source is able to provide an electrical potential to break the human resistance (at the very situation) and deliver a current which is hazardous, which are all mains in the house and many wirings in our devices, a GFCI (of the apt sensitivity) is something to think about.
In a small darkroom environment, a large industrial processor is usually a big ask. Both in terms of physical size and chemical usage.
I have used a lot of industrial processors, they are usually long, or deep, sometimes both. The tabletop processors that were very popular in the late 80's to the late 90's for RA4 and B&W work, would possibly be a better alternative.
I myself have had a Durst Printo since they came out, it replaced my Durst RCP20 (I think that's what it was called) After the Durst Printo came out the small Fuji RA4 machine came along, it also is a very nice unit.
Of all of the small processors that I know of, all are designed for one speed of the paper, usually RA4 speed, which is quite fast. If you are going to do B&W paper then you will have to run the bath quite high, nothing wrong with that, I've done it.
With my Durst Printo I have the ability to change the roller speed, by changing the gears around. By doing this I can run paper through in a 60 second cycle, which at 25C gives a really full development of RC paper.
The Durst also has one very unique feature, the chemicals are churned by an Archimedes screw. This large screw serves two purposes, one, it eliminates the requirement of a pump and their inherent problems of seals leaking. Two, the bulk of the screw is designed to displace chemicals so that you get a long cycle through the bath, but using a minimum amount of chemicals.
The Printo uses 2.5 litres of solution for each bath.
The real kicker for the Printo unit is that it pulls apart for storage. My Printo lives on a set of shelves, stacked on top of each other.
You need an into unit, plus two normal tanks. One of the motor units will have to be a Mot Therm, whilst the other can just be a straight Mot. The Mot Therm is one with a heating element and thermostat, The normal Mot doesn't have the heating element.
They could be worth a look!
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Thank you for the responses so far!
Actually I haven't had the machine shipped in yet so I don't know about the amount of chemicals its tanks will hold, etc. It's a medium-size one and takes 50cm wide paper (20 inches) I think. Maybe it's one of those Agfa PRO 53cm/minute machines seen mentioned in the Agfa chemicals literature, I'm not sure.
I would investigate the availability of suitable RA-4 chemicals in your country before taking delivery of your processor. While RA-4 chemistry is readily available here in the USA, we still have to pay extra shipping charges (HazMat charges) to have it shipped to us. You reside in a relatively small country, and the chemistry may not be so available in an economical form.
The processor comes with a stash of chemicals, spare pumps and parts, and several rolls of papers. I'm practically buying it for the price of the paper, so the risk involved is pretty minimal.
If it doesn't work well for colour processing, I'll try the machine for BW.
Well, we shipped the machine last night and it was too large to fit through the front door of my tiny darkroom house, but sideways. The machine type is Agfa Pro FA 53.
It is possible to order RA-4 minilab chemicals from at least one German distributor. I don't know of any domestic vendors yet.
But first I'm going to clean the machine and then see if it runs with the tanks filled with water. The machine now occupies most of the available floor space in my print drying room...
who knows alternative for RA4 backlit film beside Kodak (duratrans, duraflex)? Or Kodak is monopolist? Thank you :-)