Thanks for all the helpful advice.
I am now on the lookout for a Jobo Duolab, or a Nova Monochrome. I'll scour the EBay ads for a while and maybe talk to Nova about shipping a new unit.
Amazing that the American market never seemed to have warmed to this product (or anything similar), or there'd be a lot more around to choose from.
Since its only 3 light and air sealed narrow tanks, might there be an easy DIY project ? Has anyone done this ?
I am somewhat of a newby to all this, and inadvertently sent my email yesterday without correcting my first draft. I MEANT to add the following: I use an old set of metal spring clip tongs to hold my prints in the slots (there are 4 slots in all), to ensure one doesn't escape and float down to the bottom of the slot - they are quite deep. Also, the temperatures can vary slightly from the developer (ie the first) slot to the last (I keep a water bath), but not sufficiently to significantly affect the tone or process time of a B&W print. In warmer weather I also keep a fixer tray for my prints so they do not actually spend any time in the 3rd or last slots (filed with clean water) .
The Duolab takes a bit of getting used to, but is good value for money. It is also a bit larger than the Novas, but not gigantic. (I use mine on top of my beer fridge in the spare room, where it fits nicely). It has a pleasant gurgle when the heating motor is on, a bit like an old asmathic cat purring between breaths.
As for the Focomat, as I said, you will love it! Pleasure ensure the autofocus wheel works properly, and remember to keep it lightly oiled (once a year will do it) so it doesn't stick. It will probably outlast you (I am sure mine will definitely outlast me, as I have just turned 60, and so am just a tad older than my Focomat!).
A trick I learned from using the Focomat, is not to close my lens down too much during print making, the Leitz condenser is one sharp optic!!!
If you could eventually find an Ilford Multigrade 500 VC unit, as I did (I picked mine up at a garage sale, paid more for it than the 1C, but it was still a bargain) with an exposure/filter 'keyboard' (the exact terms fail me), you would be set for life. You can use it for white light printing also. Ilford has the instructions to do this somewhere on its web site.
It's easy conceptually, but practically it's not as easy to get the materials as you would expect. At least not as easy as I expected when I first researched it.
Originally Posted by srtiwari
I thought about making one from sheet acrylic, but when I priced sheets large enough the saving quickly evaporated unless I was going to buy very large quantities and make a dozen or so. And I doubt one could sell the remaining eleven homemade units for the same price Nova gets for theirs.
One potential source I have thought about since is to rob the light diffusers from discarded commercial florescent light fixtures. It's actually a little too thin, but if you've got enough material you could make stiffeners.
Of course, if you happen to be in a position that acrylic sheets are readily available to you free or at at reasonable cost it isn't rocket science. You won't have the advantage of Nova's manufacturing experience, so you might have to work out a few kinks on your own. But if it's "almost free" then that makes the price right.