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Mysterious Spotting From Black and White Processor


Calebsavage
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hello, having an extremely annoying problem with our black and white film processor (Copal CFP-3130 converted to black and white, similar in design to a Noritsu 400 series). for the last couple months we've had ugly spots all over the negatives that vary in size but are generally circular and extremely stubborn if not impossible to wash off. 

Here's a quick list of all we've tried: Replaced all 8 circulation pumps, replaced all foam and rubber rollers in the dryer, scrubbed all racks, ran machine with Hydra Blitz film processor cleaner, also ran it with Titan Blue processor cleaner, replaced (almost) all of the original hoses and tubing, removed scale from heaters, replaced filters, and even more unpleasantness. We've ruled out the replenishment system, ruled out temperature control issues, ruled out the chemicals themselves,and ran several dozen test rolls. Still the same result.
It looks like an oily type of contamination, we can see a sort of oil slick floating on the surface of the tanks and have tried carefully drawing off the surface of the fluid to catch any contaminants but it just keeps coming back. No matter what we've tried (even when running the machine with only water in all of the tanks) we can see a bubble or something in the sprocket holes of the film when it crosses between tanks.

I'm going absolutely bonkers trying to fix it... we've been developing 30-40 rolls a day of B&W by hand (the old fashioned way) and it's really not fun.
Any other suggestions for getting it running clean again? Replacing the machine is not really an option... plus everything seems fine mechanically but the spots will not go away no matter what we do.

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Hello @Caleb Savage - not familiar with the processor, but love a good processing mystery. You say its been happening for a couple months, have you been running rolls this whole time, or just trying to tackle he issue again? Does it happen on every roll? 

The fact that you're seeing some sort of oil is unsettling, I'm not sure there is anything in the machine that could be introducing that. Has something maybe happened/changed with your water supply? Maybe try mixing tanks+replenishers with distilled/filtered water to see if it makes a difference?

My initial thought was dryer temperature... have you tried messing with that at all? I've seen film that is dried too quickly have issues with spotting. Nothing quiet as consistent or patterned as this though.

 

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2 hours ago, kodak_service said:

It is necessary to treat replenishing and working tanks with an anti-algae agent.

We tried with a copper sulfate anti-algae agent, which helped get the tanks and lines much cleaner but didn't solve the problem. Right now we have all the replenishers disconnected to rule out that part of the system, but we will treat them against algae before hooking back up. We also tried a very diluted chlorine bleach solution to kill anything else that was left in there.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/16/2022 at 1:08 PM, oliphaz said:

Hello @Caleb Savage - not familiar with the processor, but love a good processing mystery. You say its been happening for a couple months, have you been running rolls this whole time, or just trying to tackle he issue again? Does it happen on every roll? 

The fact that you're seeing some sort of oil is unsettling, I'm not sure there is anything in the machine that could be introducing that. Has something maybe happened/changed with your water supply? Maybe try mixing tanks+replenishers with distilled/filtered water to see if it makes a difference?

My initial thought was dryer temperature... have you tried messing with that at all? I've seen film that is dried too quickly have issues with spotting. Nothing quiet as consistent or patterned as this though.

 

We had it running flawlessly for about a year, but since the problem began we haven't run any customer rolls through it. Each time we change a variable in troubleshooting, we run a few inches of fogged film to test for the spots but they're always there on every roll-- even with only water in the machine (the film is obviously undeveloped but the spots are still visible on emulsion and base).

My current suspicion is that some contaminants are trapped in micro-porous areas in the racks and tanks, and I'm wondering if there's any kind of sealant product we could treat things with to add a smooth protective layer over everything.

I think we have ruled out the dryer, we've tried it at a much lower temperature with the same results (as well as replacing all film contact surfaces inside of it)

Edited by Calebsavage
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Have you checked the temperature? Although you said it's not an option, if I were in your position I would recommend purchasing Filmomat if we could process 30-40 rolls a day.

To narrow down the problem and find a solution, try scooping up the problematic B&W chemicals inside the machine and test if you have the same results when you use them by processing manually with your compact developing tank.

 

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