Thanks mwdake. I tried a lot of the recommendations found on the forum, and as I mentioned, they all work but don't fix the problem completely. Never tried this one before though, and did a quick test with my eyes closed and it seems to be a lot better now! I also incorporated all the other things mentioned here. Speaks volumes about the design of these in that you need to mod it to work and for something designed to be submerged, it does not tolerate water well (mine is bone dry and clean btw!).

Will the paper scratch my emulsion (not a big issue going forward, I'll just leave the first frame blank)?

I won't know if it works for sure until I try to develop a few rolls so I will see if I can load up a few rolls and unfreeze my chemistry before bedtime ... I'll let everyone know if it works.