Hi, Mike,

I've always used masking tape, and never had any problems. The trick seems to be to stick the tape on to the base side of the film, over the spool and back on to the emulsion side.

When I was still bulk loading, I used to bulk load my film in my basement, in total darkness. I had measured the distance from a heavy duty, spring type paper clip, which was securely screwed into one of the overhead floor joists, to another clip, which I had attached to the counter. That distance was correct to get a 35-exposure roll of film, with just enough film allowed for a proper leader and trailer. As I recall, I used to get 19 35-exposure rolls, and a "shorty," which was about 10 to 15 exposures. Or, I could get 18 35-exposure rolls, and two approximately 20-exposure rolls.

I would start by popping open all of my cassettes, and placing the shells, spools and tops in three different utility containers, the kind you can buy at any hardware store for tools, parts, et cetera. A fourth container stood ready for the loaded cassettes. I would then measure 20 or even 25 pieces of masking tape, the exact length to cover the distance I required, and they were stuck along the counter, for easy removal in total darkness. My scissors were placed, business end down, in one of my rear pockets. Lights out; then, I would open the 100-foot roll of film, remove the tape the manufacturer as placed to secure the end of the film, and I would stick this piece of tape on my trouser leg.

I would attach the end of the film to the overhead clip, and un-spool it until I reached the clip on the counter. I would then cut it as evenly as I could, and let the film dangle. I would place the spool of bulk film back into the can, and I would grab a spool from my utility bin, stick the tape to the base side of the film, attach the spool, stick the tape to the emulsion side, and VERY carefully roll it up, place it in the shell, secure the lid, and put it in the fourth utility container. The reason for attaching the film to the overhead clip is that when you have exposed and developed the film, you will find that the frame numbers will be where they are when you use factory loads. I have used this method with Kodak, Agfa and Ilford film, and it works.

The reason you should stick that original piece of tape to your trouser leg, or arm, is that it won't find its way to where you don't want it, like on to the emulsion of one of your rolls. It was 27 years ago, when I was working for a large photofinisher in Toronto, I had to make an adjustment to the paper track in one of the high-speed printers. A piece of tape, which I had removed from a roll of 3-1/2 paper, and stuck lightly to the face of my wristwatch, became detatched, and ended up stuck in the printing gate. That caused the next hour's production, something like 2000-feet of colour paper to end up in the waste bin. I was reprimanded, and warned never to let it happen again. I hasn't, and whenever I work in my darkroom, everything has its place, and is in its place; nothing is left lying around.

The trick with the tape seems to be to get just the correct length to hold the film to the spool, without having too much; twice as much is not twice as good. It must be attached squarely, without wrinkles. That can be done with a bit of practice. Use a bit of scrap film to practice in daylight, and then close your eyes and try until you can do it first time, every time. Drop me a PM if you have any questions.