Hi Cody, “85%-negative” qualifies as a polite thread around here – a tough playground!
Me, I’m a proud (former) user of the Yankee tank...
Many years ago, I migrated to open tray processing – and will never go back – but some of my best negatives came from that ol’ Yankee tank.
When I stopped using it, I sold the tank on CL for $15 – but kept the rack for Type-55 clearing in a small painter’s bucket. Then, when Type-55 went away, I sold the rack for $10 on CL. I almost got back from two sales what I spent on the purchase!
The upshot, as I see it: The Yankee tank works well within its limitations, if you’re careful and match it w/ suitable objectives. And it sounds like that’s what you’re trying to do. Most people who curse the tank haven’t used it right and project their anger on a neutral piece of plastic. It deserves better. ;^)
Psst – use every other slot, not all of them at once!
I find it works better using semi-stand developing, 100:1 or 200:1 developer, 20-30 minute times with perhaps 3 agitations. I agitate by lifting the film rack out of the tank, much like you would with stainless hangers. Obviously in darkness, but as soon as I replace the lid I can turn the light back on. I agitate fairly vigorously for the first few seconds, or else I do a pre-soak for 20 minutes.
I know exactly what you say about the high numbers of negative posts on some forums. In fact I have two right now that are so bad, I am closing my memberships out.
This forum is not generally like that, but it does happen occasionally.
Hope you have good experience with your photography and the forum in general.
“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” - Plato
I am a devotee of Yankee tanks. I think they work great, at least for my style of developing, which is with low frequency agitation. I use whatever time/temp is called for, with no variations because of the tank. I agitate using a back and forth motion as directed on the tank lid, and as someone mentioned, sometimes you do get a bit of slopover, but I don't agitate as vigorously as the previous poster must. Just a gently back and forth of the tank is all that is required.
I also don't understand the negative comments about Yankee tanks. They are relatively inexpensive, load easily, and are straightforward to use. People sing praises of the Combi tank, yet I read about them being finicky to load and operate, and that some parts break easily. And when they were made they were a lot more expensive than Yankees. But I've never used one, so what do I know? To each his/her own.
I started out developing sheet film in a Yankee tank. I never got even development from it. The problems are evident when there are large patches of blank sky, or similar blank space. I finally tested it by first photographing a plain wall.
I tried two methods: lifting the cage up and down, and agitating back and forth according to the arrows.
When I lifted the cage up and down, I got surge marks due to the shape of the slots.
When I agitated back and forth, I got different development between the top and the bottom.
I finally gave up on the Yankee tank, and went to Jobo processing. When I don't want to fill the Jobo (one or two sheets) I use a single-sheet slosher I made and a 5x7 tray.
Your mileage may vary, but do test it by developing something with lots of sky, or a big blank wall in it.
"It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans
Some of the film I've been using has something blue on it that gets into my developer and seems to reduce it's life. If I pre-soak, or pre-wash with gentle running water, this blue crap gets washed away before I develop. I do re-use my developer (max 1 or 2 days) for multiple formats, so I've started doing this pre-soak on most. It's not tedious if I'm developing 35mm and 120, say, while I do the pre-soak on my 4x5s.