hey bob--like I said no offense to anyone about the european machines, but this Ilford processor we use takes different thread sizes for the internal plumbing parts and finding these little seals, springs, gears and the like is murder in the US. We almost had to get a worm gear cut at a tooling shop, but lucked out in buying a junked machine to strip a gear off of. If you have to replace a roller or something, forget it. You can't even get a water supply hose easily to fit this thing.
We've had an Ilford machine for over ten years now, and have replaced every part at least once including the body. the first machine failed within less than a year and Ilford had to replace it, even though it took forever for them to admit there was problem. We had a service contract for about ten years and they go into bankruptcy and tell us they haven't made parts in over 2 years....they were still trying to sell these machines brand new last year, and they couldn't even support them...now, they say they aren't even making the parts, so how do they even plan to support this stuff? Legally they're supposed to do it for 7 years, but they couldn't even supply a worm gear or a water hose, much less field a phone support call.
so forgive me, but I wish we had bought the Colex or the Kreonite models....not the Brand X, Italian made model that has integrity problems that cause it to cave in on itself and warp all the parts and cause hairline cracks in the plastic fittings, causing leaks....the one the Serco techs call the "soft mold".
This other lab, when it came time to replace their aging Kodak machine, they went with a Colex Studio 50. They were sold on the support from Colex, and the fact that they could buy packaged parts kits. I know they went with a service contract even though I think the company told them they were so reliable they wouldn't need it. That service contract? man, it's like 3500 a year on top of 15K for the machine....you can get a rebuilt 20 inch RA4 Kreonite with a warranty for about 5 grand. Plus, Kreonites are bare-bones machines and there are service shops all over the country.
I look at it like our Wing Lynch machine-- there's nothing that can go wrong that we can't fix ourselves. The dealer we use--we can call him up and he talks to us free on the phone and walks us through the repairs. He's a nice guy--but in an experience with Dunning recently, they were the same way even though no sale was in it for them.
Ilford is so different---they charge by the minute for tech support without a contract, and with the contract they just try to get you off the phone. We called them a few months ago after a hose busted on the machine, and they told us it was a standard US hose thread--which it ain't...it's a british thread, and it took about two days to get this sorted out and made a big mess...so, turns out that we get the hose off an old Colex machine from another lab. So what does that tell me about getting a Colex and needing a new hose someday? tells me to buy a kreonite, when I can go down the steet to the local plumbing shop and buy the parts I need.
I dunno--just a long drawn out bad customer service experience that I guess will only get better when the machine finally dies. I know I sound crabby, but I'm just trying to pass along some advice to anyone thinking they're going to get help by calling Ilford at this point. If you got the Colex, or the Kreonite--you can just call those companies and bypass Ilford altogether.
fwiw--I recently got an email from a guy in a large lab that uses the same model machine. He was trying to swap gears if we had a spare one...this lab is probably the largest I can think of that would be using this machine. If they can't get the parts, we're doomed.