That is exactly why I went w Patterson -the cost was easy, the product was new (not some 30 year old metal reel/tank), and I could do 35 and 120. Gosh, I really hope you can overcome these issues. Your issues are really unfortunate and I hope you can overcome them shortly. Destroyed shots are heartbreaking. You will feel it in the dark, all your senses will combine to get you perfect rolls I have faith...
Thanks Unfortunately I'm 5 for 0, but they are all practice rolls. I'm not confident attempting serious shoots yet with this history though, so
One more 120 roll tomorrow, and if there is no improvement I'll look into replacing the reels. Those AP ones and their clones look like paterson reels with training wheels, maybe that's what I need.
A Paterson reel must be dry to work, and the ball bearing needs to be free.
I recommend stainless steel reels and practice. When you get good at it you will feel better.
You can feel or hear when the film crinkles. Then unwind to the core, reposition the starting angle and try again.
Sometimes that crinkle wants to slip at the same point. So a frustrating roll sometimes takes a few attempts to get right.
But most of the time the rolls will go right on without incident.
I'll admit to never using a Hewes reel. I have some Kinderman stuff but haven't tried it yet. If you want to stay plastic, Jobo reels (the 1500 series) are a piece of cake to load. You can use either the push or twist methods to load the film. I typically push the film onto the reels and can load five reels in about 5 minutes from throwing them into the changing bag to getting them out. They are starting to get real expensive though probably because of this. I have seen a few ebay auctions lately and I am seemingly sitting on a gold mine!
I suggest you post here a picture of your film leader after you cut it. With plastic reels I had problems until I understood I made two mistakes in cutting (shaping) the leader to insert in the reel. Plastic reels want the film to advance, for its entire length, inside the spiral. The cut must be straight, and the corners must be well rounded, not clipped at 45°. The leader is the head of the "train" and it goes along the narrower bend inside the reel. If not properly cut it will resist advancement. After I learned to properly cut the leader my loading become very fast and trouble-free. I use Jobo series 1500 reels.
Also, I don't know if you use the trick of inserting the leader inside the reel while still in daylight. You then insert reel and film inside the changing bag, with all the rest (scissors, tank, tank lid etc.) and close the bag. Then you insert your hands inside the bag slowly and gently "looking" for the reel, and begin loading the film. I would never manage to put the leader inside the reel while operating inside the changing bag. It's much easier if you do this worst part in daylight.
Finally, you could build a sort of "cage" with "iron thread" (I don't know if that's the correct term in English. I think you get what I mean) and put this cage inside the changing bag. That would keep the bag away from the hands and make for a bigger air volume inside (less heat and less concentration of humidity).
As an alternative you could buy a "changing tent" instead of a "changing bag". The former are bigger and have a frame inside to keep them in "inflated" shape.
Regarding the sacrificial roll, the obvious suggestion would be to practice with it in the changing bag, not only in daylight.
Hope this helps
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Good news! Believe it or not, you are more than coordinated enough to load film reels in a changing bag and enough rolls have been processed using Paterson reels to establish out that they are of good design. Clean your reels, make sure the ball bearings are free and move nicely, practice in the daylight a few times. I find that high humidity makes it more difficult if that is of any value to you.
Good luck, you will work it out,
"Konical - I'm mostly 120 with a dash of 135 thrown in, and I'm really (pun not intended!) looking for a 120 solution. I think that Hewes idea of saying "we'll do 135 well and 120 well, rather than adjustable less well" is great, but after having a quick play with their 120 reel at my local shop, I'm not ready to give up on a plastic solution yet."
Good Morning, Postalman,
I've not used Hewes 120 reels, so I can't comment on those. For 120, I've found nothing that comes close to Kinderman reels; they have a puncturing pin at the center which helps make loading virtually foolproof. Loading 120 onto a Kinderman is about the fastest, simplest darkroom procedure I can think of.
Clean reels are essential. You should use an old toothbrush and scrub them spotless, then the film will slide on. Even a couple rolls of film developed will make the reels dirty. They need regular washing with soap to stay clean, unlike stainless steel which simply need a hot water rinse.
In life you only get one great dog, one great car, and one great woman. Pet the dog. Drive the car. Make love to the woman. Don't mix them up.
I never wash my paterson reels aside from the wash they get with the film. The darkroom is kept dust free and I don't put the reels in photoflo either, so I might be doing things a little different.
I don't use hypo-eliminator either. I just let it wash for 30 minutes or so. That might help soak off anything that would otherwise build up on the reels.
after the film is done washing, I take it off the reel and slide it through a bath of distilled water+alcohol+drops of photoflo. Reels get set aside to dry for future use. I do this in a 5x7 tray since distilled water isn't cheap for me and I don't need a large volume for this step with a small tray.
Kaiser reels have huge guide tabs leading the film in and are easy to load.... But so are Paterson reels if they are clean and totally dry.
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.