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T15

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T15 last won the day on December 12 2019

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  1. So there are basically three kinds of "spots" that I've see, all of which are on the emulsion side. One is spotting all over the negative that I now realize doesn't seem to show up in scans. Just stab on the film, no problem. Another is a sort of blob of sorts that is basically clumped together spots that tend to happen near the edges. The third are the spots I'm showing here. Yes, lowering the dryer temp drastically did eliminate them on the Portra and Ektar, but I eventually started seeing them on other film after that. I also started seeing the second type of spot, the blobs. So lowering the dryer temp worked for the pro films and the higher temp worked for the consumer films. Obviously not a sustainable solution to keep upping and lowering the temp. I believe that the two types of spots that show up in the scans are due to the black rollers in the dryer, probably the bottom one, but I'm not sure. The patterns seem to match with them exactly, I replaced the bottom one with an old one I had and it made a difference but I noticed more of the blob-type spots with this roller. I ordered three new ones from Noritsu. They're still sitting on my shelf, because tearing into the dryer housing that far is kind of pain. Right now I'm running the Portra only after the previous roll has gone completely through the machine. No spots that way either. I think that is giving the roller time to dry completely, where as the lower temp kept it wet enough to not leave anything on the film either. With the amount of film I'm running, this isn't a sustainable method either, but it beats rinsing so many rolls of film and re-drying them. Once I have the time I'll swap out the rollers and report back.
  2. Captains Log, 11/17/19 23:16 Central Time. Much has happened since my last update, but I'll try to keep it as brief as possible. I finally broke down and had a Nori tech come out. Very nice, happened to live in the same city as me, and yet we had never heard of each other. At any rate, he looked over all the mechanical stuff, checked the filter tanks, and so on and so forth. By the end of all that he was stumped, and rightfully so, it seems. Got a call from the District Supervisor, who told me to try some chemical-related things, like over/under diluting the stab tanks, adding some photo flo to the tanks, etc. All of which I did, and again, no luck. Lots of combined knowledge of chemistry though, so it was fun to try and figure this stuff out. They did vindicate me a bit when they said it wasn't surprising that the only films having issues were the pro films, because of the different base they are on. I also talked to some ex-lab people who talked to other techs who had some suggestions. No luck. Fast forward to a few days later. Tired of rinsing all these negs, the spots were on my mind again. I decided to try some more things, all crazy hunches I've had. I thought maybe the stab was too foamy, because the last tank does have a nice line of very tiny bubbles that sit along the exit roller as they spin. So I took some splicing tape and wrapped it around the rollers. The tape eliminated the bubbles, but the spots were still there. Decided again to swap out my exit rollers on the last stab tank. No change. Swapped the exit rollers on second fix rack. No change. I could feel myself starting to go down that dark spiral again, so I called it quits. Fast forward to today, my "day off." The spots are living rent-free in my head. Still, I decided to run another test roll without the dryer. As I was doing that, it hit me. I've been running these rolls without the dryer rack in place, but I've still been holding the film above the dryer vent in order to dry it. This time around I decided to hang-dry a roll, and viola! No spots! My mind was racing. Does that mean the spots are partly dryer-related? It would seem so. To be even more precise, it would seem that they are dryer-temp related, or maybe it's partly dryer related and partly chem related, and the two combined to make the perfect storm, because I've turned down the dryer temp in the past and no change. But I only turned it down by a couple degrees C at most. So I took at a look at Kodak's Z131, which says the film should not be dry until 2/3 of the way through the dryer. After much trial and error, I found that my film was basically dry about a tenth of the way through the dryer. Z131 also has the dryer temp for minlabs at a minimum of 48C. So, I thought, why not? I cranked mine down to 48.1-48.2. After running a bunch of test strips to make sure the film was still drying completely, I ran a few rolls of Ektar and Portra. My heart skipped a beat. No spots! The question of course is whether or not this is a fluke. I can't be sure, and it was getting too late to keep going, but it is promising. Most people I've spoken to have their dryers in the mid 50s, and I'm guessing their film is dry before 2/3 but those people are also running V30s, so maybe that makes a difference. At any rate, I'm very cautiously optimistic. Of course I won't be sure until I run the billion rolls we have lined up to run this week (t'is the season). I haven't seen how much Portra/Ektar we have. I went ahead and ordered some more rolls to run, which means I might not know for a little while. I've been here before, though, so I know not to get too excited.
  3. While you are in there, you should just disconnect that damn beeper. It' ear piercing. Lol
  4. Mine was doing this when I first got it. turns out it was the exhaust fan in the dryer cabinet was rusted so bad it was stuck, causing an overload. I have all the manuals for it. If you want them, let me know.
  5. People think I'm crazy, but it happens. I've seen some posts recently on other forums about customers getting back film from other labs with the same spots. I haven't solved the issue, no. I cleaned out the fix tanks and replaced the short hoses running from the rep pumps to the filter tanks, which seemed to help a little, but at this point I'm not really sure. Here's what I've been doing, though. I run any Portra I have first thing, before I run anything else, and I run them all back to back. As soon as the light turns green, I drop the next roll. If you wait too long, the spots show up. I've found that doing it this way greatly reduces the chances of them showing up, or it makes them only show up on the first bit of film, which is usually just exposed leader. They still show up on Ektar, no matter what I do. It's not a huge issue, because the spots do wash off. To get rid of them, I spool the film onto a Jobo reel, drop it in a developing tank, and run water over it for ten minutes or so to make sure the emulsion is nice and soaked through (if you don't run it long enough, you'll get uneven drying and damage the emulsion). Then I soak them in some stab for a bit and hang to dry. It's a pain, but it works. I've thought about having a Noritsu tech come out, but I don't want to drop $600 just to have them suggest everything I've already done. Good luck. Let me know if you figure out anything.
  6. Nah, I think I'm going crazy. That was probably just dust and whatnot.
  7. Nope. No change. Fresh fix, water in the stab tanks. I even changed out one of the circulation pumps in the fix 2 tank. I busted out the microscope and took some images of one of the Portra test strips I used. White specs. It looks like fixer residue to me. Maybe I'll order some Fuji fix and see if that changes anything. Feeling defeated, but it's not the first time. Attaching some blurry images of the microscope. It was hard to focus and get the image at the same time.
  8. Update to the saga of the spots. I tried fuji stab with no change. I then cleaned the stab tanks and flushed them a bunch afterward. Still getting spots, even with just water in the stab tanks. So that has me questioning the stab assumption I previously had. I've moved on to the fix. I drained them, flushed them, and filled them with water. No spots! That has me thinking it is most likely something to do with the fixer. Strange thing is that it happens with fresh fix too. Changing the dilution and rep amount didn't help. I soaked the tanks and racks in bleach-water over night and am cycling it right now. Waiting on a fixer delivery, which should be here today. I still can't figure out why it would be only happening to two film types. It's true, though. I've ran over 1000 rolls with this issue. Every single time Portra and Ektar have spots and no other films do. I can run 30 rolls of Superia or Gold back to back without a single spot to be seen, and as soon as I run a Portra roll, boom, spots. It even happens to 20-year-old Portra/Ektar. Really crazy.
  9. I'm going to try this next. Thanks!
  10. Oh, I haven't heard that before! Straight vinegar or diluted?
  11. As soon as I get the film I ordered to use as test strips, I'm going to go to town on this thing and try to figure it out. I order chemistry from a few different places. Adorama for fix and I think Unique for dev. Chemsitry is in date from what I can see. I've cleaned this thing again and again. Now you see why I'm going insane. Ha. When I was first figuring it out I thought I was going to to lose it. I've tried new crossovers, three different squeegee racks, different stab racks, different exit rollers, different rollers in some of the racks, bleach water in the fix and stab tanks, new chemistry, cleaning the rep tanks, cleaning the circulation pumps, ahhhh.
  12. Yeah, it happens straight away, immediately after mixing chems and flushing / rinsing tanks.
  13. Okay, so the circulation is fine, then. I've done that several times. The spots have been there since I started the machine. I've changed all the chemistry, and it still does it. I've cleaned all the tanks, and it still does it. The tanks are actually pretty clean anyway. I'm mixing with room-temp distilled water since we have pretty hard water where I live. Solution temps are correct, measured with three different thermometers, including one I know is right that I use for my other lab purposes. I have noticed that my fix temp runs a little low (display is correct) but still in spec. I'm wondering if one of the tubes in the manifold that heats the fixer is clogged a little, which would slow the circulation of the stab down in theory, right? I'm running hundreds of rolls a week, which is way over recommended rolls for the T15. I'm turning over the chemistry pretty frequently, well inside spec.
  14. Dave, I've already taken apart the racks and cleaned them with no change. I use the hard, porous filters and clean/change them pretty regularly. Doesn't matter if they are new or not, though, still spots. My circulation looks good in all tanks, but I've never found out if there is a way to actually check if the pumps are working as they should / pumping the proper amount.
  15. Today I drained the fixer tanks, flushed them, and put in new fix. I diluted the rep. mix and upped the rep. amount. There was a little bit of silver sediment in the bottom of the first fix tank, but not that much. I flushed the working tanks anyway with water and bleach water, about ten times in total. I ran some old rolls through it to make sure it was fine after I refilled the tanks. Then I ran a Portra roll, and the spots are still there. I also pulled the racks and cleaned them. The exit rollers appear clean to me. I can't swap the racks because of the way the crossover fits into them. The racks have to be in a certain order or the crossover won't fit down into them. The spots are definitely on the emulsion side. I've ordered some film to use as test rolls to see if I can isolate where this is happening. I think I'm going to go crazy. ha.
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