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  1. #1
    jd callow's Avatar
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    Opinions on Darkroom layout

    As some may know, I was going to be building a darkroom in an old coal room in my basement. The down side it is very small – 7’x9’. The up side is that I have 8’ ceilings.

    A fellow photographer and her husband, who are close friends and travel companions, have offered their basement. I have attached the preliminary plans for the darkroom and would appreciate any feedback.

    The drawings are to scale and are also available as a coreldraw, eps or freehand file if anyone wishes to edit them directly.

    Some notes on the drawings:
    1. The darkroom will sit against the west, north and south walls of the basement.
    2. The sinks are large enough to handle 30”x40” prints.
    3. The enlarger (durst L1200) will need to be oriented north/south because the top will be situated between floor joices.
    4. The ceilings and walls will be all dry walled (sheetrock) the walls will have aluminum studs.
    5. Ventilation will be placed over the sinks and a hood over the RA4 processor. Recommendations on ventilation are enthusiastically requested.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails floorplan.jpg  
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  2. #2
    DKT
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    hmm--what kind of processor is it? any chance you can just dilution ventilation for the room? we have a big old slot hood behind our sink, and the roller transport processor just uses the dilution effect of this hood. when you stand at the sink & work though? it's like a curtain of air flowing across the trays and off the back. you never really smell a thing--great for toning. what it was designed for. our film darkroom is just dilution ventilation with the exhaust part being right above the deeptank line. the wing lynch machine is pretty much okay out in the room.

    there's a small book that has to diagrams of local exhaust hoods and slot hoods and the like. we got a copy somewhere, I'll see if I can find the ISBN number if you're interested, I'm sure a library would have it.

    I was looking at your diagram though, and was curious if you had room for the nitrogen tank for the WL? you probably need about a foot and half square for that, and someway to chain it to the wall. One thing you could do, depending on the WL model, would be to get the solution bypass valves (if you don't have em already)--this way you can run the fix, bleach etc into holding tanks for reuse or into a recovery unit in-line with a drain. something to think about....

  3. #3

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    I dont know how big is the print processor, but it looks like it is outside the room ( if I interpreted the diagram correctly). IMO I would move the print wash to the north end, take away one sink and put the enlarger and the print processor together. I can assure you is going to get old to move around the enlarger to put the print in the processor, that is one mistake I did with my darkroom, I placed the tray and sink too far from the enlarger/printing section. Other than that, it looks very good. I like the exhaust system.

    BTW, make room for some shelves and book case. I am sure you will need them.

  4. #4
    bmac's Avatar
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    Is the drier a film dryer? Where will your prints dry? I'd also reverse the order of the sinks / washer. But that is just how I work...
    hi!

  5. #5
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    This looks like a nice darkroom
    Is there any room for a second door out of the darkroom??? Possibly at the utility sink area.
    As well do you have enough space for maintenance on the Ra4 processor. Axcess from both sides.????
    If the ceilings are high enough you could make drying racks above the sink.It looks like you have 22 ft of wall to use. I could send you jpegs of the set up I use for air drying that has been very useful.
    One other point. In the summer months you will need a de-humidifier and in the winter months a humidifier. could these units be close to the hot water heater??
    How are you making the sinks , I would be interested in that.
    good luck
    Bob Carnie

  6. #6

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    If you can move the door to the end between the wet & dry areas, it would be good. You're wasting valuable counter space to have the door where it is. I suspect you cannot move it, however.

    Maybe rotate the enlarger 90 degrees to allow a full counter along that wall, even if you have to have a fold up counter across the pocket door, you'll need more dry counter space for such things as loading sheet film holders, cutting paper down to size before enlarging, etc. You may also want a 2nd enlarger, if you do 35mm work frequently. Sometimes it is just a pain to reconfigure the enlarger.

    My work with a Zone VI enlarger trying to print 35mm was a disaster--the lamp was too dim (97% of the light was falling on the negative carrier instead of the negative in this format), the bellows wouldn't compress enough for small enlargements from 35mm. I realized that it is difficult to make one enlarger for all formats, and even if it does, it's probably cheaper and better to have one for large and one for small formats, if you can fit it in.

    Put a counter from where the enlarger is, to at least the pocket door and rotate the enlarger so you face the front of it as you are in the aisle. As it is, you'll have trouble dodging & burning in from the left side, as it's boxed in by the wall.

    I designed my darkroom in a similar sized space. Instead of the water heater/furnace, though, my wall had a 45 degree bevel along a similar space, creating a similar problem. Think about this: you can probably pay for anything else you want or need to make the darkroom function well, EXCEPT SPACE.

    I thought long and hard about my design, and took at least a few months to think it through. One thing I came up with was this: I was trying to put a 30" deep sink in it, and it made the aisle too narrow. I settled for a 24" wide sink, figuring if I ever wanted to do 16x20s on a regular basis, I would spend the money for stainless steel trays, which (though expensive) have little wall thickness and allow tighter spacing. I settled on an Arkay fiberglass sink--though more than I wanted to pay, it works.

    It is important that you work out your tray arrangement using the actual inside dimensions of your planned sink--a couple of less expensive plastic sinks I looked at had protrusions into the main area for mounting faucets--those would have prevented using big trays along those, and a 6 ft sink would have allowed only 2 16x20 plastic trays (oriented in landscape mode). Plastic trays have a wide lip, and limit your use.

    Make sure your groundwater temperature summer & winter is low enough for the temperature control to regulate--I was considering one, but found (I live in the San Francisco bay area) that the water temperature in the summer is too warm to allow a regulator to work. I saved some money by not getting one! They need cold water 5 to 10 degrees cooler than you lowest setting to regulate. Check the manufacturer's specs.

    Good luck with your design.

  7. #7

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    Jorge has a good point about the walking from enlarger to processor. But if you're stuck by the height of the L1200 ....

    A dry bench is always handy.

  8. #8
    jd callow's Avatar
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    Sorry for the brevity of this reply. I need to leave in a couple minutes to go to beautiful Grand Ledge for my Big Brother's 50'th.

    DKT, Please send me the ISBN. I am very interested.
    Jorge, Big Mac et al. The work flow *is* wrong it is set up to facilitate drainage -- I will need to re think this.

    Bob, The RA4 Processor is badly positioned -- Good Call! I will need to move it so that I have better access.

    voceumana, The l1200 has separate mixing chambers for 35mm, 120 and 4x5. You are correct I will need to think longer and harder about the layout.

    Brian The drier is a film drier the prints were going to be dried outside.

    But I am very interested in alternatives.

    Jorge, The RA4 processor *is* mostly outside of the DR.

    I'll go in to greater detail later.

    Thanks again!

    jdc

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  9. #9
    argentic's Avatar
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    I see you have a Laborator 1200. A beautiful machine. But when you start working with flashing, masking etc. it's very handy to have a second enlarger on the side. Even if you almost never use it. And it can be a small cheap one too. But without a second enlarger you have to remove your negative every time you want to do an additional technique.

    Gilbert
    Wilbert
    http://www.photovergne.com
    Cours photo en Auvergne

  10. #10
    DKT
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    The book is called "Ventilation: A Practical Guide". By Nancy Clark, Thomas Cutter and Jean-Anne McCrane. Published bythe Center for Occupational Hazards Inc. ISBN 0-918875-00-5.

    Kodak has some really good tech pamphlets on safety topics, like this one:

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/corp/.../pdfs/J314.pdf

    The NPPA put out a booklet years ago about health & safety issues in the darkroom--called "Making Darkrooms Safe Rooms"--somehow I think this is out of print now, but if you're interested, I can dig out a copy for the ISBN number as well.

    hope this helps.

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