I purchased a Beseler motor base the other day for $15 at a garage sale in the hopes of using it with a Unicolor tube when I could find one to develop my sheet film as described at http://www.largeformatphotography.info/unicolor/
When I purchased the motor base the guy gave me an Ilford Mark II Ilford Processing Drum used for up to 8x10 Cibachromes. As I haven't yet found a unicolor tube I'm thinking about just using this tube like the BZTS tubes but in the daylight. I will go through all of the steps just like using the unicolor, but when I'm through I will soak the sheets in hypo-reducer to remove the anti-halation layer--this tube is flat on the inside unlike the unicolor tube.
If there's anything inherently wrong with this idea or you have any suggestions let me know!
I have the same base, and a the unicolor drums on it. There are several of them on Ebay right now. I think it would be best to find a unicolor drum for the sake of consistency. I don;t think you will get even development with the ilford drum.
I plan on holding out for purchase of Unicolor tube from ebay, but I am looking for something to use right now. Maybe I'm looking at the wrong place on ebay, though, the only 8x10 unicolor paper drum on ebay at the moment also comes with the motor drive which I don't need.
What size film? I've got a unicolor motor. I think a 352? Something like that. But I intend to use Jobo 2500 tank and reels. I was lucky enough to get a good deal on a new tank and one 4x5 reel. I'm waiting for the truck to bring me the 35mm reels. I decided to go with the Jobo tanks just in case I ever decide I want to try a jobo processor. Not likely considering the price. I'm not the biggest fan of used reels either. What I'm hoping is that I can batch process a bunch of film at once. No matter the format.
I use regular hand-inverted tanks for my 120 and 35mm film and only need the drum to do 4x5 film. I looked into the Jobo system for 4x5 but can't justify the expense and even if I could I wouldn't be able to afford it. Also, I'm planning on using a drum system as my darkroom is light-tight enough for printing (did some fog tests) but not for tray-developing film.
FWIW, I tried the Dev-Tech and the Western developing drums without much success. I bought a Unicolor kit off ebay for about $40 and it works great as long as you make sure the base in level or the ..tank ...will ....roll .....away!
This really wasn't the question, but some may be interested that I use a Jobo drum for processing my 5x7 and 4x5 sheet film. I had heard such terrible things about the motor in the Jobo base, that I built my own rotary base. It is about the size of the unicolor rig, but I put a bigger motor in it. I bought some nylon gears, a toothed belt, some wheels, shafts, and I had some pvc sheet plastic. From this I made the base. I got the rotation speed I wanted (actually I have two speeds by changing the belt over). It is small and the motor will never burn out or stall (unlike some Jobos). Works great. The motor was the big expense at about $100. One could probably salvage a motor for cheap from some other application.
I know the feeling. If you watch the Jobo used pages on the Jobo website you can some times find good deals. The 4x5 single reel kit used to be [might still be] on sale for I guess half the retail price. Brand new but rain damaged box and manual. The problem is the tank that it comes with is too small for the motor base. You need to keep an eye out for one of the bigger tanks. Some people claim they can do inversion with the single reel kit but I really can't believe it. I might believe it's possible to do inversion with that tank and the roll film reel but not the sheet film reel.
I started rotary processing with the Unicolor/Beseler motor base and drums. I was really please with the results and still use it for processing my 5x7 and 8x10 sheet films
The drums I used were for print processing and not film, but they work fine. So why not give the Ilford drum a try, it might just work for you. The insides are smooth like the BTZ tubes so you never know.
Make sure the emulsion is facing into the tube. I have always used a plain water bath as a presoak.
I now have a Jobo CPE2 Plus that I use for B&W & E6 processing of all film sizes up to 4x5, but I still use the old set up for the larger film sizes.
I have used a Unicolor motor base with both Unicolor, Beseler and Dev-Tech drums for developing sheet film in various sizes. They all worked fine for me and I imagine the Cibachrome type drum should work fine as well, provided the cap allows for a sufficient quanity of develper, which of course can vary with developer and strength of dilution.
With any type of rotary processing I strongly recommend the following.
1. Presoak of three to five minutes, and make sure that the back of the film is wetted, especially with smooth wall tubes like the Cibachrome, Dev-Tech and BTZS.
2. Lift the drum from the motor base every minute or so and give it vigorous sideways agitation to prevent bromide drag and to break patterns caused by constant agitation on one plane of rotation.