Geezer installing a darkroom ...

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by lloyd, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. lloyd

    lloyd Guest

    September 1, 2009, from Lloyd Erlick,

    Rec.Photo.Darkroom has been pretty slow most
    of the summer. So I'm going to use it to
    celebrate my Geezerhood (turned sixty this
    summer ...) by recounting the thrilling
    installation of my darkroom in my latest new

    Unlike any darkroom I've ever had in the
    past, this one has windows. No more basement
    holes for me, eh? Instead of the
    seventy-three inch headroom I used to have,
    now it's almost twelve feet! (The room comes
    with a ceiling fan - should I use it? Or is
    it too efficient at dust redistribution?)

    Yesterday I put the step ladder under the
    window and climbed up expecting to be able to
    tape aluminum foil across the panes to
    achieve the requisite dark for darkroom. I
    actually spent some time up there earlier in
    the summer, when I was first experimenting
    with windows to keep open for ventilation. It
    wasn't much of a thrill that time, but this
    time I realized I had to have a lot more
    stability if I intended to do any actual
    work, like tearing tape or holding a
    scissors. Standing on the ladder's top step
    and all that.

    So the next step is to empty the stored stuff
    out of my processing sink and roll it under
    the window (sink on wheels, every boy's
    dream). Then the ladder goes in the sink, and
    I get three feet more reach. Immobilize the
    wheels, of course. Is this just plain stupid?
    Anybody who's actually read this far may feel
    free to advise...

    Of course, future ventilation is a concern.
    Just closing and covering the windows would
    be the easy way, but it will be hot in
    summer. It's a north facing window, and the
    air outside tends to be cool most of the time
    (or at least cooler than the rest of the
    hellish place when the sun and humidity
    combine). So I've been thinking of a method
    of blowing in fresh air through a light-proof
    vent that cost nothing (unless there is one
    that would leak cash). An air conditioner
    would be a possibility, but light could still
    get in.

    There are thrilling tales to come -
    connecting to the drain line and the hot and
    cold water. (Convenient bathroom adjacent to
    the darkroom.)

    Unanswered question: why do I have so many
    trays? I switched to single-tray processing
    years ago. So where did all these filthy
    trays come from? Or did moving just cause
    them all to band together, perhaps for
    survival? Well, they do not get to squat on
    my bed until I'm finished the darkroom. Maybe
    they can be a temporary filling for the space
    between a filing cabinet and the ceiling.

    Lloyd Erlick Portraits, Toronto.
    telephone: 416-686-0326
    lloyd, Sep 1, 2009
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  2. The (reasonably) simple solution to this is to replace glass in windows
    with some other material. This goes quite simple if you have modern
    plastic windows, then you can pull the glass out, measure the dimensions
    and get a plastic or mdf board of proper size. Then inser it in place
    of glass. If plastic is too transparent (depends on exact kind of
    plastic, thickness and colour), paint it with black paint.

    After that you can drill a hole in it, to which you attach a pipe.
    Choose a size which will accomodate a standard kithen ventilator. Buy a
    U-shaped pipe (probably you'd have to assemble it from pieces) and paint
    inner surfaces black. Also paint fan blades.

    The fan should be installed to blow air out of the room, so that it
    won't pollute air in the house. If you want fresh air from the outside,
    attach second pipe but without the fan, it should allow for enough cool
    breeze and there would be less dust.
    Standard air conditioner would not provide you with ventilation, it would be the
    same air all the time, only cooler. Which means inhalating some toxic
    fumes from your chemistry, which is not advisable.
    Maciej Zielenkieiwcz, Sep 1, 2009
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  3. You're likely to tear holes in your processing sink. Cut a piece
    of plywood to size first and put the plywood in the sink and the
    ladder on the plywood.
    Thor Lancelot Simon, Sep 1, 2009
  4. Not really. You should blow air into the room through an air filter to
    remove dust entering the room. If you blow the air out of the room, the room
    will be at a partial vacuum and dust will get in from every leak.
    A standard air conditioner will provide you with ventilation. Most have a
    lever that controls a small door to the outside. If you need ventilation,
    though, you may not find this to be enough.
    Jean-David Beyer, Sep 1, 2009
  5. Agreed. Positive ventilation is what a guy would want here. All air that
    enters the room is filtered.
    David Nebenzahl, Sep 1, 2009
  6. lloyd

    K W Hart Guest

    Straying away from darkrooms into air conditioners, Mitsubishi makes a two
    part system: the air handler mounts inside the room, usually near the
    ceiling and the compressor goes outside, like a normal whole house air
    conditioner system. The systems are available in different sizes and the
    compressors can handle one, two, or three air handlers. Of course with such
    a unit, there is no option for outside air.
    K W Hart, Sep 3, 2009
  7. "K W Hart" wrote
    In case anyone's interested, the Mitsubishi units are called "Mr. Slim."
    Howard Lester, Sep 4, 2009
  8. lloyd

    lloyd Guest

    September 4, 2009, from Lloyd Erlick,

    Those things are on sale around here. It's
    been an unususally cool summer, and I suppose
    a lot of stock did not find buyers.

    They're still overpriced. They occupy floor
    real estate, too, but sometimes that's what
    the window demands, I guess.

    Lloyd Erlick Portraits, Toronto.
    telephone: 416-686-0326
    lloyd, Sep 4, 2009
  9. lloyd

    Lloyd Guest

    September 4, 2009, from Lloyd Erlick,

    Thank you very much. It's been a hell of a
    ride. We've had lots of ups and downs - and
    tonight is Natalie's eightieth birthday. The
    Good News for Geezers is that
    post-open-heart-surgery sex is possible ....

    Lloyd Erlick Portraits, Toronto.
    telephone: 416-686-0326
    Lloyd, Sep 4, 2009
  10. There is a problem with the single-hose models, which should be
    pretty obvious if you think about how they work: they have an air
    _exhaust__ but no intake, right? So where does the air they use to
    cool the hot side of the freon coil come from?

    The answer is, "inside your room". So they cause continual negative
    air pressure in your room, and without it, they don't work. And what
    _this_ means is that if your structure is really well sealed, they
    cannot work at all, while if it's not, they pull in at least as much
    hot air as they produce cold air!

    It is a terrible loophole in the efficiency rating system for air
    conditioners which permits these to exist at all. If they were rated
    fairly, they would all fail the minimum-efficiency test and be banned
    from the market.

    The dual-hose models, on the other hand, work fine, if you can find
    one that's not cheap junk from the lowest-bidding Chinese factory.
    The dual-hose type, of course, uses _outside_ air which it pulls in
    using one of the hoses to cool the hot side of the coil, just like
    a normal window unit would.

    You can replace the hoses with aluminum dryer hose, which is light
    tight, and the unit should then work well in a darkroom. It can be
    hard to find a small dual-hose unit. Frigidaire makes a 9,000BTU
    model which A.J. Madison and some of the other national appliance
    delivery chains carry. I have one and it's worked well so far.
    But it does have some bright green lights on the control panel which
    you will have to tape over, and also keep in mind the inside of that
    aluminum hose is reflective and could give you a light leak if the
    other end is in direct sunlight -- you might well want to paint
    as much of the interior of the hose black at each end as you can

    Like most units the Frigidaire has some vent slots to let the unit
    pull exhaust air from the inside of the room like a single-hose
    unit if the intake hose is blocked. I have taped these over on
    other units without any trouble (they always pull some air from
    the interior of the room if you don't but in a darkroom this
    might actually give you some desirable exhaust air to carry
    airborne contaminants out of the room).

    I would not try to run a darkroom with positive-pressure ventilation.
    It sounds good in theory, but a wet darkroom makes a lot of dirty
    air which you really want out before it can irritate your mucus
    membranes and your lungs. If anything, balanced airflow, with
    fans for both intake and exhaust air, blowing across the sink,
    would be the best way to go.
    Thor Lancelot Simon, Sep 4, 2009
  11. lloyd

    Lloydat Guest

    September 4, 2009, from Lloyd Erlick,

    My landlord would love me if he only knew
    what I've done for him. He rented me a
    kitchen sink drain that contained two plastic
    straws, a plastic chopstick, and two
    stainless steel dinner forks. Quite a feat to
    get them all down there. So, while warming up
    for the main act of putting in the darkroom,
    I made the kitchen work. Next was the toilet,
    which had some broken pieces of plastic
    obstructing the drain. Then came the bathtub
    which must have had lots of hair and soapy
    gunk down there, because a sodium hydroxide
    type drain clearer worked in a couple of
    minutes. Whatever was in there got eaten up
    and suddenly the drain drained.

    So all that remained was the bathroom sink
    drain. This was the one I planned for a
    connection that would drain my darkroom,
    which is just on the other side of the wall.
    It was made of that overpriced chrome plated
    brass pipe that is supposed to look good
    under a sink. Unfortunately it had been
    sitting there since 1977. By the time I pried
    the screw connections loose I could see the
    edges inside the pipe were bent and frayed.
    Anyway, no cheapskate move like finding a
    matching Tee fitting and getting it in there
    like it matched. Nice new ABS pipe all the
    way from the sink drain to the pipe
    disappearing down the wall. Holes cut through
    the wall and nice fresh ABS DWV pipe down
    along the wall to my sinks. Hooray. Flexible
    bilge hose from the sinks to the drain pipe
    so the sinks can be moved if necessary.

    I haven't done any plumbing in twenty five
    years. I had almost forgotten the fragrance
    of ABS plastic cement. And the thrill of
    getting it off skin! Once upon a time I could
    cut up the requisite hunks of pipe, open the
    glue can, smear it all over in just the right
    places, and carefully assemble the plastic
    trombone without getting a spot on my hands.
    But no more. My father always used to
    complain that his hands became more and more
    "un-nimble" as he got older. Damned if my
    hands aren't un-nimble compared to days gone

    I also haven't soldered any copper pipe in
    many years. Two short pieces of garden
    variety half inch copper pipe with little
    fittings on the ends. They didn't even come
    up to being called a trombone. All morning
    poking over them. I'm just glad I'm not going
    to be getting enough practice to become
    speedy. I just love those nice stainless
    steel braid covered flexible hoses made for
    connecting the hot and cold lines. They go
    through a hole in the wall so effortlessly.

    Pretty soon I'll have the pleasure of lifting
    my enlarger up off the floor onto a nice dry
    side I have yet to create. But I have the
    right stuff for it - a stainless steel table
    top forty one inches by nine feet. The most
    ridiculous things come for free. I had to
    scrub bakery evidence off it, but that was a
    small price to pay.

    So, lifting heavy objects in my near future.
    And a trapeze act to darken the windows.
    Meanwhile there is exposed film waiting and

    (I could have teenager assistance lifting the
    enlarger - but would that be wise? Or should
    I get help from my overweight geezer buddy
    that I at least trust??)

    Lloyd Erlick Portraits, Toronto.
    telephone: 416-686-0326
    Lloydat, Sep 4, 2009
  12. I can see that as a potential problem, but wouldn't it depend on where
    the air inlets and outlets were? If the air source were on one side of
    you and an outlet placed on the other side of the wet area, then airflow
    would carry the moisture and fumes away from you, no?

    But in any case I can see that careful design is called for here.
    David Nebenzahl, Sep 4, 2009
  13. lloyd

    Andrew Price Guest

    Absolutely. It's amazing they manage to sell the things at all.
    Andrew Price, Sep 4, 2009
  14. lloyd

    Bill Guest

    It's a lot of work, but worth it. I "built a house around a darkroom" (as
    my wife says) about 15 years ago. Been using it steadily since.

    One of the things I did that really paid off was to clean the room (of
    construction dust) and paint it (to freeze the rest of the dust). Then I
    installed a floor-standing air filter, with a HEPA filter element. It's
    been running ever since. My spotting needs are minimal.

    Second greatest non-photo accessory was the floor mats. Costco had them.
    The mats are about 1/4 inch thick, interlock at the edges. I tiled the
    floor with them. They are waterproof and great for the feet.

    For drying negs and prints my system is two wires strung across the room,
    anchored in 2x4 studs so they are 16" apart. Before anchoring the second
    end of each wire, I strung them with alternating spring-type clothes pins
    and 2" lengths of tubing. NOTE: the pins were strung through holes drilled
    in both handles, not through the spring. This way they hold material at
    right angles to the wire. RC papers and films hang from one clip. Fiber
    papers you can stretch between clips on the two wires. An 1x14 or 16x20
    fit easily. If you do smaller, you might want to add a third wire. No
    rack to clean, no floor space taken. Use plastic clips--my wooden ones are
    starting to stick to prints.


    Bill, Sep 9, 2009
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