gainer: my gut tells me that wouldn't be enough to fix the problem, but i don't know until i've tried! so i will give a try. thanks!
rick: thanks, i'll give the semi-stand development a try. less agitation is the key i think, whether semi or full. i appreciate having some starting numbers to work with.
dave: i agree, it's not worth modifying to any major extent. but i'm a big fan of working with what i have (or what someone's given me for free, which in this case i've got two of these things from two different people...hmm, that should tell me something?).
tray development is inconvenient for film, for me. the taco method works but is limited. i got some (free, of course!) cibachrome tubes and a motor base from someone recently, and was all excited...but they don't have any ridges inside to secure film, so it's probably a bust. the motor base is cheap and will no doubt fail as soon as i spend money on a jobo tube.
i suppose i should break down and try tray dev, just to say i have. but it takes 1/2 hr to convert the laundry room into a darkroom, so i only do that for printing. which means i'd be doing it on the floor of the bathroom...
first, i'll try the tips above.