Developing Cirkut film - tips and tools and techniques

Discussion in 'Panoramic Cameras and Accessories' started by frobozz, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    I'm surprised there hasn't been a thread on this already (or maybe I didn't search hard enough?) though there's obviously been discussion of it in other threads.

    There's the "bathtub gin" seesaw-it-in-buckets method. I think Jamie Young uses a big custom made tray. Mark Crabtree has discussed ideas for modifying a stainless steel spiral. I have visions of being able to modify an RA-4 paper processor to even be able to do color with precise enough timing and temperature.

    ...and then I just went and bought this:

    [​IMG]

    It also comes with the motor to automatically run it back and forth. Sort of a seesaw method setup turned sideways and made extremely compact.

    Obviously that will do nicely for respooled 9-1/2" aerial film. I *think* I might also be able to modify it (basically, by removing the top flanges from the spools) to just barely fit 10" film on there, depending on gravity to keep it down on the bottom flange and not riding up into the mechanism.

    Anyone used one of these rigs for Cirkut film? Any other tips or stories to share?

    Duncan
     
  2. Len Robertson

    Len Robertson Member

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    The only Cirkut film developing I've done is the roll/unroll from one hand to the other in Rubbermaid plastic dish pans. This seems to work well for B&W although I've never cared to test how even the development is across the negative. I believe the tubs need about 2 1/2 gallons of chems to cover the negative and have some working depth. One advantage of this method is 8", 9 1/2" or 10" can be done without any adjustment to the length of a reel.

    I have the reel mechanism for 9 1/2" aerial film like the one you pictured. I don't have the tanks though so I have never tried using it. I'm looking forward to seeing how it works for you.

    I tried the idea of cutting up Patterson plastic film reels and extending the width between the halves to 8" using plastic water pipe. I wasn't able to load 8" film onto the reel but I'm not sure I was as careful as I should have been when making this so the reel halves may not be spaced quite the right distance and parallel. Also, after modifying the reel I read on one of the darkroom forums that Patterson plastic reels even in 120 size can become difficult to load due to build up of chemical residue in the reel grooves. And of course when I did this I sacrificed my oldest, scruffiest Patterson reels for the project. I believe I got this idea from the IAPP newsletter and someone was using this reel idea successfully for 8" C41 developing. I don't know if the extra 2" of width using 10" film would make this a lot more difficult or not.

    I would very much like to find more information on extending the width of stainless steel reels. I've heard of this but never seen any details such as what size reels to modify. I don't know if 220 reels would work or larger diameter 70mm reels are necessary. It seems the spindle that spaces the reels halves apart could be made from plastic rather than stainless steel (which would presumably involve welding). I don't know if there is an epoxy product that can join SS to plastic that is resistant to photo chems.

    The idea of a reel system appeals to me as I've been having success developing 120 B&W by the semi-stand method. It would be convenient to scale semi-stand up to 8" or larger film size.

    Len
     
  3. OP
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    frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Here's a question for you - you see how my reels have top flanges, with pins to adjust them at all the popular aerial film sizes? I think I could fit 10" film on there if the top flanges were gone... but the assembly is riveted together, so removing them becomes tricker. Drill out rivet, replace with low profile stainless screws and nuts? Not sure. But then I found a picture online of a slight variation on this rig... that had no top flanges from the factory! Like I am theorizing, I bet that gravity keeps the film in place enough against the bottom flange to work just fine. Here's a screen grab of that rig (in case the web page goes away some day):

    b_5_01.jpg


    So, which style do you have?

    Duncan
     
  4. Len Robertson

    Len Robertson Member

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    Duncan - It has been a long day here so I won't write as much as I'd like, but a couple of things:

    My aerial film unit has no top flange but the dimensions appear to be different than the one you posted the picture of. I'll measure and post those tomorrow.

    Mine (and I suppose yours also) has a slot in each drum and a device to capture the end of the film. It seems like this alone would keep the film from riding up on the drum, whether there is a top flange or not. But I need to think about this more.

    Len
     
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    frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Oh yeah, duh! Good point. I suppose on a really long roll of aerial film it might walk up in the middle, but not across 3 to 6 feet of Cirkut film.

    Duncan
     
  6. jamie young

    jamie young Member

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    I use trays for most all of my developing and have been happy with it. I have a system I use where I only need one tray. I use rollo pyro which is a one shot developer. I start with water in the tray and get it in unrolled so nothing sticks together.
    Next is the sodium metaborate predeveloper, then developer, then water for stop, then fix. I keep them in order in buckets behind the tray. after the light comes on I wash for 5 minutes, do a second sodium metaborate wash to increase the staining effect, then wash a bit, photoflo, and hang to dry. I have various trays up to 10' by 16 inches which I also use for printing
     
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    frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Did you make (or have made) those trays? I just don't think I'm going to have the room for that, ever, which is why I've been investigating more compact options.

    Duncan
     
  8. Len Robertson

    Len Robertson Member

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    On my aerial film developing unit, the bottom flange measures 6 1/2" diameter, the center spool is 2 1/2" dia., the distance from the spool to the outer edge of the flange is 2", and the height of the spool is 10". I noticed the rod that goes down through the film spool is held in place by a cotter pin through the rod, somewhat hard to see, between the underside of the bottom flange and the bottom frame piece. If the cotter pin is removed and the rod pulled out of the top of the frame, the spools can be removed from the frame.

    The Rubbermaid plastic tubs I've used for film developing have a slight slope to the sides. The inside bottom measures approx. 9 1/2" X 10 3/4" and 11" X 13" near the top. Depth is approx. 5 1/4". 6 quarts of liquid gives a depth of approx. 3". I seem to remember this tub was usable but somewhat confined for rolling/unrolling Cirkut film. I mostly did 8" film although I think I managed to do 9 1/2" width too. Probably a slightly larger size would be more comfortable to work in although needing more liquid to cover the film.

    If anyone reading this thread doesn't quite understand the rolling/unrolling method, this video starting at about 2:35 shows it being done with a print:
     
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    frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Aha!! I thought I was good at figuring out mechanical stuff, but I had not spotted that cotter pin there! To be fair, it runs through a little guard tube and is very hard to spot.

    Got it out, then with a fair bit of effort got the rod out (it didn't want to slide through the hubs, probably gummed up with crud.) And then a whole bunch of parts fell out. Oops. Mostly little hub spacers that go inside the center hub and are going to be darn near impossible to get back in, yikes. But I'll figure it out.

    With the top flange gone, I have an easy 10+ inches on the hub height, BUT the lock lever for the pinch slot sits a tiny bit lower than 10". So there will be a tiny bit of bending/pinching along that edge if I used real 10" film. But worth a shot. Assuming I ever get it back together!

    For the historical record, the flange adjustment height choices on mine seem to be: 3", 5.25", 5.5", 5.75", 7.25", 9.5".

    Duncan
     
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    frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    OK, paying more attention as I took the second one apart...

    There's a tall spacer between the top of the frame and the hub top inner flange. Then just on the other side of that flange, inside the hub, there is one of two shorter spacers. That's going to be the hard one to get in. It does NOT quite fit through the holes punched in that flange! I have to put it in from the bottom, rattle the heck out of it upside down until it finds its way to the top, then try to poke at it through the holes to center it as I feed the rod through. That will be fun. Then there's the second of the two shorter spacers on the bottom, in a similar position, just inside the bottom hub center flange. But also down there is a very thin steel plate with a spring attached to it, that is the very last thing the rod goes through before it goes through the bottom hub center flange (between the short spacer and the flange.) That will all be easier to deal with because of the generously sized holes down there. I'll assemble it by holding the whole thing upside down, which will allow the various spacers and things to kind of sit in place while I try to feed the rod through them, and poke at things with skinny screwdrivers slid through various slots and holes.

    This thing was well washed when last used but not actually cleaned. Whatever tarnishy-looking coating of chemicals was on it was severely irritating my hands, and that's not usually a thing with me and photo chemicals. Must have been some interesting aerial film chemicals, yum. I thoroughly scrubbed everything and I'm waiting for it to dry before reassembling.

    Duncan
     
  11. jamie young

    jamie young Member

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    I had some stainless trays made by a heating/cooling firm, but have since made my own plexiglass trays. The heating place was Warren Heating in Madison, WI. At the time they were quite reasonable ( 18 years ago)
     
  12. Len Robertson

    Len Robertson Member

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    The only reason I noticed the cotter pin is one of mine is missing and the lower end of that film spool flops around in the frame. Since the pins are so hard to see, I thought I would mention the location for the benefit of anyone wanting to disassemble one of these units.

    I remembered another Cirkut film developing method. I'm almost certain this idea came from Bob Erickson in Florida who used it for 8" C41 negative film. He used a long length of 4" black plastic sewer pipe (ABS may be the designation); probably 72" or whatever the length needed for the Cirkut neg. The negative was slipped into the 4" pipe lengthwise (I think he built a removable velvet lined funnel fixture to guide the film into the pipe). Each of the four corners was taped to the inside of the 4" pipe with waterproof tape. Then one end was capped, developer dumped in the other end and it was capped. Agitation was by rolling the pipe on the floor or darkroom sink. I suppose the pipe could be floated in a long water filled tray for temp control.

    I'm also thinking Bob E. had the idea for the stretched Patterson film reel so he may have decided that was more convenient than a 6 foot length of 4" pipe.

    Len
     
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    frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Well I got it all back together again. It was fiddly and required patience but wasn't too bad. Start by rattling a short spacer down through an upside down hub until you can see it at the bottom - this is the hardest part! Then slide it to the center. Then put the reel into the upside down frame, keeping it all perfectly vertical so the spacer stays put. Then, and only then, can you sneak the tall spacer up between the reel and the frame - you can't get the reel into the frame if the spacer is already there. Poke and walk that over to the hole, while threading the crank rod through the frame hole, the big spacer, the hub hole, the small spacer, and then wiggle the inner clamp parts around inside until the crank rod slides up into the hole in that too. This will not seem possible with only one pair of hands and a lap, but it is. More hands might make it easier.

    Now you can handle the whole assembly in any direction for a bit, as you slide the rod through the whole reel hub until it pops out the other side. Now slowwwwwwly pull it back until it goes inside the reel, and then goes down until it's just flush with the inner mechanism flange. Now back to holding the whole mess perfectly vertical. Working with some needle nose pliers and going through one of the big holes in the bottom flange, put the other small spacer down onto the inner mechanism flange surface, and slide it slowly over until it's perfectly centered above the hole. Slowwwwly slide the rod up until it's just flush with the spacer, and then use those needlenose pliers to maneuver the thin stamped metal plate over the spacer until its hole is lined up... then shove the rod all the way in. Wiggle the entire reel around a bit until it's centered with the little shallow hole in the bottom frame surface, and finally shove the rod fully in all the way to the bottom of that hole. NOw, holding it all in place, with the reel shoved almost all the way towards the bottom frame, hold it sideways and use a flashlight to look down there and spin the rod. You can see the hole go past the gap between the two tunnels, then estimate when it is lined up with the tunnels. You can probably also see it lined up if you hold it just right and hold the flashlight just right and peer down a tunnel. Without changing the alignment, shove a cotter pin through the tunnel, through the hole in the rod, out through the other tunnel... and then spread the ends of the cotter pin.

    If, like me, you mangled one of your cotter pins getting it out such that it will never ever under any circumstances go back through that precision sized tunnel and hole, then you'll need to buy some more. They're stainless, 3/32"x1.5". I have some coming from McMaster-Carr. I got one back in but the other just won't go. I'm having to buy a box of 50, so you should just PM me and I can put a couple in an envelope for you. ("You" being anyone who is ever reading this and mangled their cotter pin. And also Les, who is missing one already!)

    Some pictures... The new flangeless-assembly:

    [​IMG]


    Here's how much 10" film misses by - I plan to grind off the lower half of that lever and then use a file to round the edges again.

    [​IMG]


    Here's the cotter pin we're discussing:

    [​IMG]


    And, just in case anyone is ever googling Morse B-5 (aka M-10) developing outfits and wants more details on mine, here is the data plate:

    [​IMG]


    Duncan
     
  14. hired goon

    hired goon Member

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    I've a #10 cirkut, and usually run 8" film through it, as that's all I can get lucky enough to get from the Ilford ULF program. Would love to get 10", but there's never enough buyers any given year. To develop, I simply use 3x 8x10 sheet film trays with the seesaw method. I works wonderfully well, and you only spill a tiny bit of chems. I do the same for developing the paper, and the required chems in both cases are kept to a very small minimum. Seriously, you don't need much when using this method.

    Tony
     
  15. Christopher Creighto

    Christopher Creighto Subscriber

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    Good evening,

    I just noticed this post and I have some suggestions that work for me. I mostly use my #5 Cirkut to make images although I also have a #8 outfit. I have a really, pretty easy way to process the film in, what amounts to 'almost daylight' tanks. They are made from black, 4" diameter ABS sewer pipe and have screw caps on both ends and a 15 degree elbow at one end to facilitate the pouring in and out of the chemistry. The developing tubes are mounted on a set of 4 casters so that the tube can be gently rocked from side to side for agitation ( I also gently lift one end to allow for end to end agitation). With a 4" diameter, it should easily process 10" Cirkut film. I use 2 litres of D23 developer per roll of film which is not enough to cover all of the film, all of the time but with a twice per minute agitation, the development is even. I would have included a photo of the apparatus but I can't get it to upload.

    To help with the whole process, I use night vision goggles to load and unload the film and to change the chemicals. I also use the goggles to cut and load B&W aerial film for both the #5 and #8 Cirkuts and it makes this task extremely simple and virtually mistake-proof. I can explain the goggle use in more detail if anyone is interested.

    Thanks,

    Christopher Creighton