View Full Version : Well...I'll be damned!

Richard Boulware
2-Feb-2006, 15:08
Thought I had seen it all....until today.

About an hour ago, my dear friend I have known for 30 years rang my doorbell to return a movie he had borrowed, and he had a large plastic Safeway bag. He handed me my movie and then reached in to his bag and produced two HUGE Nikor stainless steel developing tanks. I mean they were HUGE. They looked like typical Nikor developing tanks that would hold a single #120 reel, all complete with small cap for draining solution, and light tight, etc.

Having been in professional photography for a long, looong time, I thought I had seen most of what was out there and used most of it too.

My friend is about eight years my senior and in his twilight years he is happy as a master woodworker turning out woodworking 'art' (and I DO mean art) in his 2000 sq'ft wood shop.
He keeps finding photographic stuff to help me baptize my new 1000 sq.ft' darkroom, gallery and teaching facility.

My friend was manager of professional services for Honeywell in Denver. At that time they handled Pentax, Rollei, Nikor and a whole bunch of stuff, and I did most of the advertising and product photography for all these brands. A FINE client.

My friend explained, as he opened the first of these huge Nikor tanks, that these were made for developing 4X5 film, or any other odd size sheet film. I was stunned, as I had never before seen these Nikor tanks, although I know that some other manufacturers tried this in plastic with horrible results. I had never seen or shot this product. Amazing.

The core of the tank is a complex of stainless steel ribs and slots that could be described as metal workers art. I have already counted over 150 spot weld slots. The tank will hold 12 sheets of 4X5 curled inward like a 'Nautilus' shell. They slide in on grooves of stainless steel that are about 1/4" wide, and about 1/32" thick. The top of the slide assembly is adjustable so you could process any weird size film, like 3X5", 2X5" or whatever. This assembly slides up or down and has four tiny little stainless steel twist screws to secure the position. The film slides in on the horizontal axis.
The tanks are 4.5" wide, and 5.0" tall with light tight lids with small caps to drain.

It must has cost a fortune to make these tanks, and I would welcome any information for old-timers like me, about what they might have cost.

I used some old out-of-date film to load the tank, and it is a breeze, seeming to be even better and faster than loading the 60 Kodak SS film hanger I regularly use.

In today's market, the manufacturing cost, even with computerized manufacture, would be most expensive.

I'm measuring the capacity and calculating amount of developer agent and volume of the tank right now. Perhaps I will have to load only six, instead of the twelve slots, to make it work with diluted Rodinal....but hell, the convenience would be incredible. I have measured and each piece of film is separated from the other by a full 1/4".

Yeah....I know. I'm an old 'geezer, and had my fifth or sixth Leica M when most of you were but a lusty gleam in your fathers eye...but so what. Maybe there are some other ole' fart's out there who know about this item.

Even if it doesn't work out, the unit is pretty enough to be used as darkroom 'art' on a pedestal!

Anxious to hear any information on this very unusual Nikor reel for 4X5.

Fresh Eyes..........

Bruce Watson
2-Feb-2006, 15:23
It's um... not that rare I'm afraid. They show up on feebay all the time. And they work beautifully - almost like the 35mm tanks, but bigger.

As I recall there were at least two versions. One size the tank fits the reel pretty closely. The other is "tall" in that there is more room between the top of the reel and the lid. I can only guess as to the reason for the different versions.

As long as you have the stainless steel band that runs around the outside of the reel to hold the sheets in, it should be painless and work exactly like you think it should. Nice piece of work, this.

John Brownlow
2-Feb-2006, 15:25
I don't know about 'all the time'. They are hard to find with all the right bits (that stainless steel band). Lovely things.

Michael Graves
2-Feb-2006, 15:42
Heck, Richard. I'm an old geezer, too. I had my first fifth LONG before I had my sixth Nikon. But I used to have one of those Nikor 4x5 tanks. I still kick myself for selling it. Like the other guys said, if all the parts are present, it works very nicely.

David A. Goldfarb
2-Feb-2006, 15:54
I have one, and I really like it. E-mail me if you want a scan of the instruction sheet. I learned how to use it without one and discovered that the instructions mention all the tricks I found by trial and error--like setting the reel so the sheet has about 1/16" of play, and curving the sheet in the direction of the reel as you load it. It takes about 1200 ml of solution.

2-Feb-2006, 16:11
I found mine very tricky to load. But the worst part is that it takes 30 seconds (or more) to fill or empty the tank through the top. Much better to have an extra tank and transfer the reel with the lights out. I think that Honeywell got into the photography business by buying Heiland Products and then expanding with other brands. They had fine products, great personnel, and really bad top corporate management who killed the golden goose.

Richard Boulware
2-Feb-2006, 16:52
Bruce Watson: Yes I have an extra tank!
John Brownlow: Yes I have the SS band.
David A. Goldfarb: Thanks for the offer on the instruction sheet. I'll back chanel you.

BTW, I don't think my unit has ever been used. How exciting.

Just "show's ta go ya", nomatter who,..... new things are always around the corner.

"Ancora Imparo"....( I am still learning....from the Latin))

Fresh Eyes....and thanks.

Richard Boulware
2-Feb-2006, 17:17
Bill: You are right on target about the Honeywell corporate structure. Fine people like Mike Tatem, Gene Wentworth, Milt Latsonas and others. We used to have lunch every other week at the Holly Inn in Denver, for 'Tacoritos'! I did so much work for them, I was considered part of the corporate family I think.

Fond memories of Tatem giving me the #2, 6X7 Pentax to test when I went to do the official portraits of the Lockeed L-1011 at Palmdale, Ca. for TWA. (That camera wound 120 and 220 film so tight on the take up roll, a light leak was IMPOSSIBLE. The noise it made was like an old steam locomotive changing from 'drive into reverse'! Really fine lenses with the kit.

Tatem and Wentworth rushing over to my studio with the only two models of the newest Pentax 35mm and we shot them in 8X10 Kardan, until two in the A.M. Cameras left for NYC at six A.M. the next morning.

Fond memories, Fine people, Fine products.

I am blessed for having been a tiny part of that operation.

Richard Boulware
2-Feb-2006, 17:28
Just a P.S. on the 4X5 Nikor reel processor. Anyone have any idea what these things sold for on eBay. I just want to know for insurance purposes. Mine is new, with Ss band, and a second tank with complete lid system for both tanks. Many thanks.

John Brownlow
2-Feb-2006, 17:43
I would insure them for $180 each or so. On ebay they go for anything from $120 to $180 or so. This one went for $163.50:


Of course if you were actually thinking of selling one....

ronald moravec
3-Feb-2006, 11:08
Bought one from a photo net guy in Utah for $100. I did not know what was coming.

Slow fill times are the problem. Solved by storing the loaded core in the dark, filling the tank and lowering the reel/core in. First agitation is lifting out and back in. Inversion works fine for subsequent agitation.

Size the height of the core by testing with the actual film to be used. You need some play, but not too much. Too much and film falls out. Too tight and it springs away from the core.

You may pour developer out (allow 20 sec) and add other liquids with lid on center cap off.

Without the band to hold the film on the core, the tank is worthless.