Has anyone built their own developing tank?

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I have recently bought several 8x10 sheet film hangers and one rubber tank. Has anyone here built a 3-5 slot tank (similar idea as as a"Nova" tank except for sheet film (maybe 2-3 hangers)? Seems like it would be a good idea as you could size the tank for the number of sheets you wanted to process at one time on a one shot basis (minimizing the volume of chemicals used). Or am I missing something? Was thinking of using plexiglass, any idea as what to use for glueing the pieces together?.

-- Beau Schwarz (ejschwarzjr@hotmail.com), February 19, 2001


This doesn't exactly answer your question, but you might be able to find some used s.s. tanks for this purpose. They're not all the 3 1/2 gal. size you normally would use for a hanger that size. The manufacturer of our deep tank, makes them in a whole range of sizes. Like a 1 gal. tank for an 8x10 hanger. This is only 2 1/2 in. wide, and would hold up to 6 hangers. One gal. is still alot of chemistry for one shot use, but most people just run a replenished line in a deep tank setup. It is possible to find used deep tanks, although they might be a bit dirty. A new set up like this will be pretty expensive, though. Good luck whichever way you decide to go.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), February 19, 2001.

You can build any size tank you want out of plexiglass. By the glue where you buy the plex. But I use a rotory drum(Unicolor) for my processing. Much less chemistry and ease of use. Pretty cheap too. James

-- lumberjack (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), February 19, 2001.


I remember back when I used sheet film hangers. Unless I got things exactly correct in my technique I used to get what is referred to as "surge". It is especially noticeable when you have nice clean skys. I was told it came from uneven circulation of developer around the holes in the sheet film hangers. Down through the ages alot of people have used hangers and probably had better luck with them then I did with regard to surge, but you might want to try one tank first with developer to see whether you are going to like that system before you either buy or build more tanks for it. kevin

-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), February 19, 2001.

Beau: I gotta agree with Lumberjack on the use of the Unicolor drums. You can pick up a used and rotor base about as cheap as you can build a tank if you have to buy all the stuff. I would recommend you buy two of the drums and while you are washing the first one you can put the other on the base to develop. As for the tanks, you may can find a plastic tank or even a plastic file box if you shop around at kitchen equipment stores, home centers or Walmart. There are all kinds of narrow plastic boxes being made. You can use acetone to bond Plexiglas and seal the seams with RTV if you decide to make them.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), February 19, 2001.

Kevin, that is sometimes also referred to as "bromide drag"...deep tanks are the kind of thing that you either love, or hate. I guess I'm the odd man out on this forum, because most of you all hate them. If you get your agitation down, and you have a clean/properly maintained tank, you won't have this problem. We shoot on alot of studio gray backdrops, and beieve me, you'd see it (and I have with some of our interns in the past..), sometimes this is made worse if you're using a developer that's over repl., or has alot of byproducts built up in it. It will "surge" as you say, through the holes on a hanger, and drag across the film. Resulting in that lovely streaking look. I guess I haven't sold this idea very well, but it works for me...

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), February 19, 2001.

I'm going to try and answer your question Beau. I too contemplated building tanks out of plexiglas. After pricing the materials, (including having the pieces cut to insure that all angles were square), I found it to be less expensive to buy used tanks. Much less expensive for that matter. Clear plexi is the least expensive, but not really suitable for tanks, and the solid grays, in the appropriate thickness is, of course, alot more costly. And I didn't need to go tot the trouble of building the tanks and then see if they were all indeed water tight.

If you do decide to build your own, check out glue manufactures web sites. The German companies have a "program" in which you specify what materials will be bonded, and under what conditions they will be subject to, ie. water, heat ect. The correct glue will then be reccomended.

-- William Levitt (Light-Zone@web.de), February 20, 2001.

I had a friend who is a sheet metal worker to build several for me and they are great... floating lids and all!!!

-- Scott Walton (f64sw@hotmail.com), February 20, 2001.

I imagine you probably could get someone locally to make these for you out of stainless steel and it might be cheaper than one of the big lab suppliers. Personally, I have seen whole 1 gal deeptank (as I described) lines, 4-5 tanks, with floating lids, and lids, plus baskets, sell used for just a couple of hundred dollars. These have been set up for nitrogen-burst, but that's no big deal no get around. If you wanted to get someone to make these for you, you might want to check out some of the catalogs by, for starters, Leedal, California Stainless, Regal/Arkay, Calumet, and Kreonite. I'm sure there are more. At least this way you might get an idea as to what dimensions you might need for a tank. These would probably even help you if you decided to use acrylic. Another good material for a dyi project, might be Sintra. This is really just compacted PVC sold in a sheet like you'd buy plywood. It's waterproof, you can drill it, route it. cut it on a table saw, glue it, you name it. It's a great exhibit construction material (our Wing Lynch cabinet is even made of this), but it's pretty expensive. You shouldn't need too much for a tank line, though. Check with local plastics suppliers if you're interested in this, you can't get it in a Home Depot. Good luck.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), February 20, 2001.

Having lots of epoxy resin left over from building my sink as well as those "skills" I'm tempted to make some tanks out of quarter inch plywood. First i think I'd coat the whole sheet of plywood, both sides. After it dried I'd cut it up and assemble it using the epoxy resin as a "glue." this is how i made my 18 ft. sink and no leaks and its been a decade. But much thicker plywood of course. The epoxy which coats it also holds it together. The screws you use i don't thing hold it together like the epoxy does. It just keeps it together so it can dry intact.

-- Mark Rabiner (mark@rabiner.cncoffice.com), November 04, 2001.

You might check with an automotive battery recycling center. Some of the bigger truck batteries with the top taken off will hold 8x10 sheet film hangars well. I have an older, home made 4x5 developing tank with 3 slots that will take 6-8 4x5 hangars. It is an old BF Goodrich commervial 6 volt battery. Works very well. I am not original with the idea but got it from an old photographer who made his own from farm tractor batteries that had died. They are hard rubber, basically indestructable and with the slots work perfectly. Some of the bigger truck & commercial heavy duty batteries will work for larger sheet film sizes.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), November 05, 2001.

Yes. If you are looking for a cheap way to get large dev, fix, and stop tanks try looking on the internet for used NDT (Non-Destructive Testing) equipment. We are a radiography company and we see a lot of this stuff for sale really cheap.

I know of a guy who builds tanks to order for under $50 dollars Can. This will hold 14 by 17" film. Anyway keep developing. Take it easy!

-- Jamie Gauthier (jgauthier@irisndt.com), July 12, 2002.

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