dirty processing tanks; advices for cleaning ?

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I have bought, at a photo fair, a set of very old "combiplan" processing tanks. They are covered by a heavy layer of greyish, silver containing material which does not dissolve at all, even after a long incubation in hot water. I have been in a professional photo store in order to buy some specialized cleaning solution, but they told me that, due to environmental concerns, this type of solution was not allowed anymore in Europe. Does anybody know how to clean these tanks ? I thank you very much in advance

-- matthieu l.s. (lstrauss@infobiogen.fr), March 22, 2002


Nova Darkroom in the UK sells "Tarbuster" which is an environmentally-friendly cleaning agent that you spray on, leave for a few minutes and scrub off with a small brush(supplied). It brings up the Nova processors like new and I'm sure it would be worth a try on the CombiPlan tanks.

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), March 22, 2002.

Does it really matter if the tanks are dirty?

-- violin (tyler@nova.es), March 22, 2002.

You could try using a cleaner called Photofinish. It's a mildly abrasive paste, that is sold in a small tub....it's made by the company that makes PEC-12...Photographic Solutions. It's non-toxic, and biodegradable. We use it to clean out our deeptanks with, in praticular the fix tank and the develpper tank. I clean as much of the bromide buildup--the brownish gray crap you're probably seeing--off the inside of the dev. tank and floating lid. In a stainless steel tank, if you do this regualrly, you can keep it pretty clean. If not, you may never get it off completely, but I don't think it matters too much....with hard rubber and plastic tanks, they just get stained in the longrun. All those chemicals will cause this type of buildup, the insides of processors and tanks will look pretty awful usually, but this will have little effect on the final product, as long as you can get the stuff off that's going to come off....Photofinish is also good for cleaning out trays as well, and it won't conatminate chemistry either...I've used those acidic tank cleaners, but they can get pretty nasty...this stuff is a great product to have around the lab, and you can use it on your hands as well....hope this helps.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), March 22, 2002.

Ilford Ilfoclean is made for removing silver sludge, though, it's possible you have to do the cleaning cycle more than once. AFAIK, the silver sludge doesn't matter in BW work, but will affect processes like Cibachrome. Tar comes from the ethyleneglycol oxidation remains in chromogenic color processes, and there's many tar removers on the market. I would also be interested to hear about some better method of removing the silver sludge. Jan

-- Jan (janeeral@vtoy.fi), March 24, 2002.

Thank you very much for your kind responses. "Photofinish" and "Tarbuster" are unfortunately impossible to find in Paris. I found, by chance, in the photography department of store, a bottle of a toxic darkroom cleaning product containin sodium bichromate. It worked very well on the silver deposition (almost black) which was on the bottom of the tanks. However, it was totally uneffective on the heavy layer of greyish material which covered the external parts (cover, spigot) of the tanks. I tryed, without any success, acetic acid and a concentrated solution of sodium hydroxide. Finally, I get rid of most of this material using courage, energy, a scrubbing brush and a domestic detergent.

-- matthieu l.s. (lstrauss@infobiogen.fr), March 25, 2002.

matthieu, Do yourself a favour and AVOID sodium bichromat: a know carcitogenic agent, very nasty stuff.

-- Hagai Kaufman (hagai@albatross.co.il), March 26, 2002.

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