Mike, thanks, quite an exhaustive answer!

I can get the starter, so that's no problem. Also, I've checked the stabilizer and it doesn't contain formalin, but I can get lab-pure 37% formalin if necessary (or perharps recommended even with brand new films). As to the roller arrangement and constant temperature, could the lack thereof be balanced with drum preheat, two prewets and a slightly higher starting temperature of the developer?