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  1. #11

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    The Big Enlarger

    Work's been hectic lately, but I've just finished the first major step of the build out; wall-mounting my 4x5 enlarger:

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    Due largely to multiple rounds of careful measurement, the head snugs up nicely between the rafters at the top of the column:

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    Next up: the 4x5's drop table and dry-side counter space.

  2. #12

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    The stars align: I just picked up a matching pair(!!) of sinks via ebay that precisely match the dimensions I'd been planning on. While I miss the opportunity to seriously overbuild a pair of darkroom sinks, this is a big help towards getting the darkroom functional quickly.

  3. #13

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    I'm overdue for an update! The design and construction of my drop-table is done. Ironically, the day after I finished it, my copy of Tim Rudman's Photographer's Master Printing Course arrived... which included a rather similar design. It has three levels: the top is standing height, but well above the base of the column due to the low ceiling. The middle level is the normal basebord height, at a nice sitting level. The bottom level is for bigger enlargements and uses a larger baseboard. The hardware visible at the corners are heavy duty adjustable lifters turned upside-down. These let me fine-tune the baseboard level separately at each height.

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    I've also assembled one of the two fiberglass sinks I mentioned previously. I won't build up the other sink until I've gotten some plumbing work done.

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    I've got two pieces of marine plywood to use as plumbing boards, approx 48" by 13" each. I'm currently planning for a utility sink faucet plus two extra tempered taps at each sink. I may add a Y adapter on some of the tempered taps, especially on the "wash" sink. I'll also want a faucet dedicated to mixing for the tempered water line. I'd love a Haas Intellifaucet, but that's out of budget for this year.

  4. #14
    Rick A's Avatar
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    I SEE WHERE YOU HAVE OPEN RAFTERS

  5. #15
    Rick A's Avatar
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    I see where you talk about openrafters. In my experience, this a real DUST problem. Every time someone walks above your darkroom, it dislodges dirt, and debris down onto everything!!! put a ceiling up -- trust me when I say I speak from experience--You dont want to be in the middle of an exposure, and nasty crap is setteling onto your work.
    Also, if possible, try to have at least two separate electrical circuits(3 or 4 would be great) to isolate your enlarger from other functions, especially any tank heaters, as they can cause a current fluxuation.

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralnphot View Post
    I see where you talk about openrafters. In my experience, this a real DUST problem.
    Thanks for the advice; Jerold Halter has warned about this problem as well. I'm currently planning to use plastic sheeting to seal off the open rafters. Fortunately, I've observed very little dust settling on the (covered) enlarger in the few weeks it's been mounted.

    Also, if possible, try to have at least two separate electrical circuits(3 or 4 would be great) to isolate your enlarger from other functions, especially any tank heaters, as they can cause a current fluxuation.
    I have one circuit already, but I expect to end up with only two total in the room initially. I've got two LPL enlargers, a 4550XLG and a 7700. The 4550 has a stabilized power supply; I'm not sure about the 7700, however. I may also consider using a voltage stabilizer for the entire dry side.

  7. #17
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    It is looking good. Thanks for sharing the images.

    That picture of the enlarger head between the rafters is a little concerning. I suspect everyone that sees it will say you should lower the thing and cover up the ceiling. I would say that also.

    In my case, the ceiling carries all the gas water and electrical to the whole house, so I was unable to cover it over. Dust falls down every time some one walks on the floor above.

    I'm currently experimenting with rubberized spray on coatings to try and seal the wood between the rafters. I see that your rafters and ceiling are painted, so maybe you will be ok.
    Last edited by ic-racer; 04-16-2009 at 01:30 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    I see that your rafters and ceiling are painted, so maybe you will be ok.
    I think the paint does help out quite a bit. Not to worry, the ceiling will be covered over at some point during the project. The enlarger head itself is sealed up in the meantime. I'm not going to drywall it, as I rent (I will say again: best. landlord. ever.), but I'm going to line the rafters and ceiling over the dry side with something dust-proof, dark, and removable.

    It's also crucial that I not block off the ceiling over the dry side completely as my air intake is the space between the rafters the top of the framing. Some gaps (over the enlarger) will be blocked, but others will simply have light baffles installed.

    Currently, I can summarize the state of my Wet Darkroom as being neither Wet nor Dark. Thus my tasks are:
    1. Light-proof the gaps between the rafters in the dry-side wall.
    2. Patch a couple of minor light leaks in the wash sink wall.
    3. Trying to make the door light tight is a lost cause; easier to sail to Japan in a sieve. I'll do some partial light blocking and use a dark cloth.
    4. Get the wall marked up for the hot/cold water and drain plumbing placement.
    5. Determine placement and layout of the two plumbing boards.
    6. Coat the baseboards, tray ladder rails, and plumbing boards with epoxy resin.


    Another conundrum I face regards ventilation and plumbing access around the developing sink. Specifically, behind-sink venting and the plumbing want to be in roughly the same space. I can't just add depth; there's no room to bring the sink out from the wall any more. I did get a quote from Cal. Stainless on a lovely 60" wide combination vent hood and shelf. Cost was on the order of the entire expected darkroom project...

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by John W View Post
    ...I did get a quote from Cal. Stainless on a lovely 60" wide combination vent hood and shelf. Cost was on the order of the entire expected darkroom project...

    Have you tried a heating contractor that has the ability to form sheet metal duct (assuming they still exist)? Galvanized steel won't be as pretty, but for a hood should last just as long.

  10. #20
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    I find that ventilation is over-rated but my situation might be atypical. I rarely have open trays of chemicals out and don't use brown toner or some of the nastier smelling items. But if you want it well ventilated you might be able to put in a small bathroom fan on one end of the room and a louvered vent on the other end of the room (for return air). If you don't have a way to supply new air to the room, you might as well not bother because the fan is just sucking a vacuum and does not function well. If you use a light-tight louver, put some air-filter material in it to minimize dust.

    The open rafters will curse you if you don't cover them up.

    For the print washer, consider building a small bench for it placed at right angles to the sink. That way the washer can be lower so that its top is even with the sink and it is easier to get prints in and out. You can drain the sink with a flexible vinyl hose into the same drain that supplies the sink. That will give you much more sink room as well. A fully loaded print washer is quite heavy and immovable and might bow your sink a little.

    For simple gadgets to plug light leaks (like though a power outlet on a wall that faces into the sunlight) I just use masking tape and a leftover "sleeve" from a TMAX Readiload. For the door, you might try some of the stuff that goes on the bottom of a garage door to seal out air. You can cut it to length and use brads to nail it up as a flange on the outside of the door. That takes care of most of it. For the bottom of the door you can use towels or one of those insulated snakes that people use in the winter to seal the heat at the bottom of the door (but those can be dusty).

    Your project looks great. Keep posting pictures as it develops.
    Jerold Harter MD

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