You're right about the 1 gallon sizes, for some reason I thought they did away with those when they phased out the old kits. I have a product catalog from a couple of years ago that lists those sizes though, and it looks like it would be cheaper to just buy the 5 liter kits. Believe it or not, I get $96.50 as the total for each individual chemical opposed to $58 list. I suppose you could get them for a few dollars off list from some places, but still....It looks like the 1 gallon sizes are pretty much the same as the old 1 gallon kits. Those kits were aroun $80 or so list. Bleach has always been about the most expensive chemical in E6, and is the reason why even in one-shot processing alot of people try to bypass the bleach from the drain & recycle it. The bleach in that 1 gallon size is the most expensive component--it lists at almost $40.
We used those 1 gallon kits for several years, and you need to do some tinkering with them to run in a rotary tube processor. The reversal bath needs to be diluted at 60% of it's strength--so you wind up throwing some of that away every time, or wind up with a bunch of half full bottles. We have a stockpile of partially used bottles from those kits. When we used the kits, we always used up more of one or two steps than the others it seemed, and had dozens of bottles lying around after a couple of years.....From reading the spec sheet in the catalog, it sounds like the only reason you would use that size would be to set up a small tankline that you later intended to replenish with the other cube chemistry, or if you intended to reuse it with adjustments. I still have all the tech sheets for that chemistry, and a lasting memory of it I have is the way the bleach always seemed to be in big hunks of crystals that needed to be pounded out practically when you were mixing it up....the new 5 liter kits are much easier to mix, easier to use in a rotary processor too. Chances are, if you're not shooting for critical color work or running control strips, you'll be able to just use them as is--no sodium hydroxide or sulfuric acid. Besides, 5 liters is just a little more than a gallon.....
One other thing, don't think about skimping on the amount of chemistry used. If it were me, I'd use as much as possible in my tank. If I were using a 16 oz Nikkor tank for example, even for one roll, I'd fill it up. You need almost 150 ml of chemistry per roll of film. The rate is like 250ml per sq. foot. The problem with rotatry tubes is that constant agitation can oxidize the chemicals, so if you use just skimpy, bare minimum amounts, you set yourself up for potential problems...if you wanted to stretch out the life of the chemistry, the 1 gallon sizes might be the way to do it--the tech sheets explain this, I found a link on their website, so here it is:
FWIW, you can mix smaller sizes of the 5 liter kits up. The instructions are printed on the box. The chemicals are all concentrates, it's pretty simple to do once you get the hang of it actually, you just need to be consistent . BTW--save yourself the grief of contamination problems and buy at least 4 mixing containers, funnels, stirring paddles etc. The E6 manual explains which ones can mixed in which containers. When we used the old 1 gallon kits, we used a set of containers for each step actually, but over the years went down to just 4. You can also use them for b&w chemistry, so it's not too redundant. The only other thing to worry about or think about is water quality. It needs to be sorta like a tropical fish aquarium if that makes any sense....chlorine and stuff like that is bad, but distilled water is usually not used because the ph can be off. We just use city tap water and filter it through 2, 5 micron cartridges....the water is pretty hard actually and we have to rebuild our water panels periodically.....fwiw, water is usually the main culprit of problems in E6...
My coworker is the E6 guru more than I actually, and he always tells me that he doesn't understand how people can run E6 at home when it's such a PIA....his reasoning is that the processes are probably all out of control, but the subject matter isn't that critical, so it just doesn't seem like that big of a deal....I've had some pretty bad days running control strips and getting the proess to be just right on the charts and then having the film look like utter crap and have to go back to square one, so the only piece of practical advice I can give you is to pick one film, buy *alot* of the same emulsion number, and set your process up around that. Control strips are great & all that, but they don't always reflect what the final chrome film will look like. So, could be he's right, who am I to say?
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