Hewes Spiral Development Problem

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Ian Cooper, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. Ian Cooper

    Ian Cooper Member

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    I've been developing (120) B&W film for a number of years now without any problems. I've been using plastic self-loading spirals, and like many people had mixed luck getting the film on them. A couple of weeks back, despite doing my usual trick of waving the hair-drier over the spiral before loading, I ended up fighting a great battle with the film to get it loaded, the end result was a number of damaged frames due to creases and mechanical damage.

    Having had enough of the self-loading variety I got myself a Hewes 120 stainless spiral to give that a try. A couple of practices in daylight seemed to suggest it was straightforward, and sure enough, the first film loaded with no hassle at all! :smile:.

    Unfortunately after I'd developed the film and opened the tank I was slightly disappointed to find the film had come off the spiral and was rattling around between the spiral and the tank (the end of the film was still clipped to the centre though). Although the film had been developed fairly evenly there was a narrow strip at the extreme edge which appeared slightly different, but the main problem was mechanical damage to the film :sad:

    Having just finished off another roll of film today I set to and tried again. I was particularly careful to ensure the film was centred properly under the clip, and once again the film wound on easily. This time to try and ensure the loose end of the film didn't drift out of the spiral I peeled the tape from the end of the film and placed it from the end of the film over the side of the spiral to secure the film in place.

    During the processing (TMY2 in Rodinal 1:50, 5 inversions every minute) I wasn't quite so aggressive with the inversions in case that is what contributed to the film coming out previously. Even so, the developer got a good slosh from one end of the tank to the other.

    After finishing this time I was pleased to find the film remained on the spiral, but slightly disappointed to find a dirty great chunk of each exposure was under developed! Of course I didn't find this out until after I'd removed the film from the spiral, so I don't know whether it was the top or bottom of the film which has been affected, or precisely how it was sitting on the spiral. :confused:


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    I've filled the tank with water to confirm the volume of chemicals I normally use still comes to just over the top of the empty stainless spiral - so I know the film was fully immersed in developer.

    Although I didn't inspect the film on the reel closely before taking it off, there weren't any obvious problems in that regard. This is now the second film where there have been development problems, and the only difference between these films and all my previous trouble-free occasions is the use of a stainless reel!

    Do stainless reels need noticeably more agitation than plastic?

    Are there any other clues as to what has gone wrong before I process another 'test' film?


    Regards,
    Ian.
     
  2. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    It sure looks to me like insufficient amount of liquid in the tank, despite your checking.
     
  3. OP
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    Ian Cooper

    Ian Cooper Member

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    ...Oh, in case it's of use. Here is a scan of what the edge markings look like:

    [​IMG]

    and if you butcher the contrast about on the computer you can see the difference in development extends out beyond the exposed frame:

    [​IMG]
     
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    Ian Cooper

    Ian Cooper Member

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    Thanks John. That's what I guessed when I first saw it, hence why I quickly measured out some water to double check I hadn't just made a silly mistake! :rolleyes:

    The spiral is pretty stiff on the central column, so I don't think it slid along that, and thus out of the developer - although I admit the "under developed" area does appear to comprise of different lines of development.

    I'm guessing there does need to be some air in the tank to allow the chemicals to slosh about during agitation. I could make a spacer which will just fit between the spiral and the lid. That would ensure the spiral sat at the bottom of the tank before I test it again (and use slightly more liquid just in case next time as well)
     
  5. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Hmmm, I don't get the sharp line in the film edge area. Odd. Let me continue to ruminate. BTW, I have used SS reels since the 1960s and have never seen anything like that sharp line you emphasized.
    Are you using the SS reel in a plastic tank?
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The tanks designed for the stainless steel reels often have a central lifter but I've never used stainless steel spiral reels in a tank with a central column. I didn't even know you could.

    I'll echo the question above - are you using these reels in a tank (with column) designed for the larger plastic reels like Patterson reels?

    Matt
     
  7. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    I use stainless tanks with a central lifter and have had a couple of occasions recently when the top reel rode up the lifter and once even got stuck in the gap at the top of the lifter where the round part closes on itself (or in my case didn't close enough). My results looked very similar to yours. Sometimes it is possible for the lifter to not pass through the exact centres of the reels, but offset, and this can assist the reels in "riding up".
     
  8. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    It sounds like you developed your steel reel in a plastic tank...which is not recommended (by me, anyway). Metal tanks for developing film on steel reels don't have center colulmns. Your reel may not have been low enough in the tank -- but that would be obvious if one put the recommended amount of liquid (water) in the tank with the empty reel.

    Good luck!

    Vaughn
     
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    Ian Cooper

    Ian Cooper Member

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    Correct, processed in a plastic tank - one of these...

    [​IMG]

    ...cheap, but it's done me fine up to now.

    The stainless spiral is a snug fit on the central pillar, but I ensured it was pushed right to the bottom when I loaded it. Of course, I can't say it didn't shift about during processing, the results suggest it might have done!

    I guess my best course of action is measure the gap between reel and lid when everything is in the correct position, then make a spacer exactly the right size. That way I can rule out the possibility of the spiral difting up the pole.
     
  10. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I would agree with the above diagnoses: the reel was not completely immersed in developer. In fact, I am guessing that during agitation the reel slid up on the central column and did not slide all the way to the bottom when you quit inverting the tank. I think that it stopped at different places each time between agitation cycles, giving the distinct bands on the film. I suggest buying a steel tank to go with your fine reels. And not trying to keep the tank from sloshing up and down during agitation.
     
  11. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    *******
    With Stainless tanks, and when developing fewer rolls than the tank requires, we always put in enough empty reels to keep the filmed reel from moving up and down. Just do the same thing with your plastic tank, since (apparently) it does not require the center post for light tightness--or does it.? If so, your spacer idea is the way to go.
     
  12. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    Patterson used to have a plastic ring (clamp) for the center coulum to hold the reel into place.
    You just slid it over it.

    With SS I have 2 tanks: one for 120 or 2x35 and a bigger one.
    When developing one roll of 35 film in the smaller tank I never had problems with "floating" : gravity will send the reel to the bottom.

    Peter
     
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    Ian Cooper

    Ian Cooper Member

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    Thanks for the responses.

    The tank does have a clip which goes around the central column to prevent the spiral sliding. It doesn't really seem to work with the plastic reels as it's always drifted a bit when I've opened up after processing (although I've seen no adverse affect on the film). With the stainless reel I've carried on and used the clip again, even though there's more friction between the reel and the column than there is between the clip and the column!

    Although the tank is large enough to take two 35mm reels, it will only fit one 120 reel, there isn't room to fit the other at the same time. I think the central column is needed to form a light-trap, so a simple spacer would be the best solution.

    I've had a bit of a search, but finding a supplier of stainless developing tanks in the UK seems to be less than straight forward. Plastic tanks seem to be listed by all the usual suspects, but stainless appear to be a bit more elusive.

    The general consensus does seem to be "lack of developer", so I'll concentrate on removing this possibility next time.
     
  14. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    What you can do to prevent sliding: put allways two spirals (35mm) in the tank: the loaded one on the bottom, the empty one on top.
    This would prevent the sliding of the loaded spiral !

    Peter
     
  15. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I have a couple of tanks identical to yours. Mine have red, instead of blue, top covers. The stainless reels are NOT, repeat NOT a good fit for that plastic tank. There is a risk that you might have already damaged the center core by forcing the steel reels onto it. If you haven't already, you will. That tank needs the center column to be light tight, so I wouldn't consider using it without. Go find yourself a SS tank and lid to go with with your SS reels, and everything will work out just fine.
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Ian:

    Calumet UK seem to have their own brand:

    http://www.calumetphoto.co.uk/Film+Darkroom/Processing+Equipment/Processing+Equipment/?page=2

    One caution - the illustration photos for the single 35mm and the double 35mm/single 120 tanks are switched on the info pages.

    Matt
     
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    Ian Cooper

    Ian Cooper Member

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    Many thanks for everybody's time and advice.

    I've ordered a stainless tank, so will see if that makes the processing as trouble free as the stainless spiral made loading the film.

    It's typical that of the 7 or 8 suppliers in the UK I looked at for stainless tanks, Calumet were one I missed out! Tch.



    Thanks & regards,
    Ian.
     
  18. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    If you use inverted agitation, the single reel will slide in the tank, giving more agitation than if you had two reels, or one 120 reel, in the tank. Think on it.
     
  19. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    You are on the right track, methinks.
     
  20. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    I use a rubber band wrapped around the central column enough times to make sure it wont slip and forcing it against the top of the reel. It's easy enough to do in the dark. Love will find the way.
     
  21. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I process a 120 in a half full 1 liter tank. With each
    inversion I get a bang or a thud. Hewes or Kindermann
    reel, Kindermann tank. Dan