View Full Version : Question about Unicolor Uni Roller 352 Motor Base

8-May-2006, 14:48
I found a few posts about this Motor Base, but none of them answer my question:

Does it change direction and if it does, how often? Also, while I'm in the asking mode, I'd appreciate if somebody could compare it to Besseler Motor Base in terms of rotation speed and overall quality. I intend to use it with Jobo Expert drum, either 3006 or 3010.

There are a couple of 352's available on eBay and if they are comparable to Besseler (which I am familiar with but can't find, at least not at a reasonable price), I am going to bid.


Steve Feldman
8-May-2006, 14:55

My experience is that a Unicolor Print Drum will rotate a bit over one revolution, then reverse. A larger diameter drum may or may not make the complete revolution. Your mileage will vary.

BTW - The motor bases are great. Last forever.

Ron Marshall
8-May-2006, 15:13
You might also consider hand rolling the Jobo on the Jobo $20 roller base. I have used this system with my 3010 for the past year and the results have been flawless and completely repeatable.

Robert McClure
8-May-2006, 15:21

A question to you, please. Are you doing film or prints? What is your technique as far a drum revolutions?

Are you doing this in daylight (once you load the tank) all the way through to final rinse?

Many thanks!

Eric Biggerstaff
8-May-2006, 15:43

I use a Jobo 3010 on a Beseler base and it works great. There always seems to be a few on auction, the condition will be dependent on the previous owner of course. I use the base that does not reverse direction, but have never had any quality problems with my development. The Beseler bases I have had ( I have had two) last for a LONG time and are sturdy.

Good luck!

Henry Ambrose
8-May-2006, 15:54
I flip my tank end for end to reverse direction.
I had thought about re-wiring the base but its much easier to flip the tank.

tim atherton
8-May-2006, 16:00
lots here


and recent thread here that covers some of the points (among lots of others...)


short answer - works well with the jobo drums you mention - if requiring a bit of dexterity

8-May-2006, 16:05

Thanks, that was the kind of answer I was hoping for. If only I could trouble you to tell me the diameter of your drum?


That's exactly the setup I'm looking to build, but have had no luck finding Besseler motor bases, either on eBay or in used camera stores. I am looking for bi-directional model, used, preferably cheap :-) but in working condition.

I ran across a couple of Unicolors at very decent prices, but since I don't know anything about them other than the fact that some people love them and others hate them, I thought I'd ask those who know.

Once I have that, I'll start looking for the Expert drum. I'm thinking 3006 rather than 3010 since I don't anticipate high volume.


I did in fact consider Jobo roller base, almost bought it, but then I realized that I could have a motor base for a very similar amount. Now, I don't shy away from physical work, but I don't quite go looking for it either if I don't have to... :-)

Thank you all for replying.


8-May-2006, 16:24
I found that the big expert drum would not turn a full revolution before reversing. I modified my drum by adding some electronics to control the reversal time. Set the time for two revolutions which I understand is what a Jobo processor does. The easy way is to disable the reversing switch and flip the drum by hand every couple turns. Or just try it as-is without a complete turn. Some people say that works OK. Also be careful that the drum doesn't fall off the base. It tends to walk and get unbalanced.

8-May-2006, 16:40

Thanks for responding. You probably replied while I was writing my response, so I didn't see it. I read your article, of course, and while it is very informative, it does not say if that particular base reverses or not. I haven't seen the other thread and there is also a wealth of info.


I think I'm too lazy for that - I'd rather have the machine do the work and I'll do the thnking. :-)

Dan Ingram
8-May-2006, 16:42
I use the Unicolor bases a lot -- with a Unicolor 8x10 print drum, they turn about 1 1/4 turns before switching. If you crack one open and look inside, you'll see that the reverse direction is caused by a simple toggle switch that kicks back and forth -- if your base doesn't reverse, it's pretty easy to fix. I have three of them, and one would not reverse when I got it, but all it needed was a good cleaning inside. Supposedly the other makes of motor bases are better, but the Unicolors work fine for me, so I never checked them out.

Eric Biggerstaff
8-May-2006, 18:55

There are two (2) Beseler Motor Base units on eBay right now. Make sure you spell "Beseler" correctly ( above you have it spelled Besseler). I just plugged "Beseler Motor Base" into the search and two came up.

Good luck,


Patrick Quinn
8-May-2006, 19:00
Marko the base you mention does reverse, but it depends on the diameter of the drum as to whether it makes a full revol;ution or not before doing so. Some find this works just fine. Others fiddle witht he motor and so on.

Steve Feldman
8-May-2006, 20:32

I've used the reversing Unicolor motor base with a Patterson film drum (for 35mm & 120) which has a diameter of 4". Gets a revolution and 1/2 then reverses. The Unicolor print drum (not the film drum - be sure to use the paper drum for 4x5 film) has a 5" diameter and gets a revolution and 1/4 then reverses. I've even used a Jobo 2850 tank for 16x20" prints (not enough room for 3 16x20 trays in my sink). Gets a bit more than one full revolution then reverses. The Unicolor drum can't walk off of the base, but others will. Keep an eye on them.

You should be good with any of these diameters. Maybe even 6-1/2" or 7". Unicolor motor bases come up on Ebay often, but don't over pay. $20 maximum. IMHO. I've used this system for many years and have never had a problem with uneven development. Crappy photographs, yes. But that's the fault of the photographer not the Unicolor system.

Good luck.

Ron Marshall
8-May-2006, 21:08
Robert, I use the 3010 expert drum to develop 4x5 and 5x7 b/w film in daylight. Jobo advised 50 RPM with a direction change every two revolutions. It takes 7 seconds to fill 300 ml and 10 seconds to drain. I don't do a presoak and I fill it with an ordinary funnel with the Jobo held at an angle so that it will fill faster. I rinse and Photoflow in a Combi-plan tank.

9-May-2006, 08:39
Funny how I always thought that Beseler had two "s"s and didn't even think to try a variation! And how the most obvious things are usually the least obvious when needed. Thanks, Eric.

Many thanks to all who responded for taking your time and providing so much usefull information. The things are cheap enough that I might end up with one of each just for the hell of it and then run some tests. Playing with the circuit has its own apeal and I just hope I don't get carried away in that direction too much.


20-Jun-2014, 01:56
7 years later, please forgive me for reopening and diverting the thread, there is one of these Unicolor Unirollers going quite cheaply at auction and I am wondering whether I might be able to use it to make a rock tumbler for tumbling rocks found at the beach, as a present to my son.

There are purpose built rock tumblers of course, but they are generally made in the UK or USA, and I am resident in Japan. They tend to sell at quite a premium - two to three times the price, not to mention shipping - over here.

Using a uniroller as a rock tumbler would mean leaving it running for weeks at a time. I wonder if it could take this kind of abuse.

I guess one of the problems would be that the container (I'd buy a resilient container) would "walk" off the end of the uniroller, unless it were blocked from doing so, and this block would increase friction, perhaps.

20-Jun-2014, 21:20
I would try it if it is cheap. FYI, I used one for 8x10 Jobo 3005 drums without problem so weight should not be an issue. I used galvanized steel fence fittings to make two "blockers", one for each end, with a wall flange for the base plus ~12 inches of pipe sticking up vertically, so that the drum could not walk much. The friction was insignificant.

John Kasaian
20-Jun-2014, 22:46
Nope. You'll burn up the motor and bearings if you don't break the plastic innards first. I have a rock tumbler and it is very different in construction and usage from my Unicolor. A rock tumbler runs for hours, even days at a time without overheating, while photo processors do the job in less than 10 minutes. Rocks and the tumbling slurry is quite heavy, while photo paper and the minimal chemicals needed for developing are relatively light weight. I don't know anything about Jobos, but Unicolors (and Beselers) definitely not.

21-Jun-2014, 02:49

I would try it if it is cheap.

Thank you both very much. Opinion is divided:-) It is now at about $11 and I recon that I could snipe it for less than $25 plus $10 postage and a flexible screwtop container might be had for $1. Rock tumblers start at about 60 plus 60 postage from the US for a toy. I'd probably get one at about 110 plus 60 postage, which is the cheapest of the tool-not-toy. There would be import tax on top for about 200 USD. Hmm. I like the way the Uniroller rolls in both directions my guess is that this might reduce tumbling time. It looks robust. I recon my son could be persuaded to tumble only a few rocks at a time. But perhaps the motor would be dead in three days. I will have a think.

Thanks again.


21-Jun-2014, 05:09
I tried one for polishing rifle brass with corn cobs. While it work fairly well I really believe I would wear out the motor and bearings by the continuous use
so I stopped using it for that purpose. A barrel of rocks is even heavier.

The reversing of the Uniroller will not help at all in rock polishing. Actually, will slow down the process.

John Kasaian
21-Jun-2014, 05:58
Could a viberatory tumbler do what you want? All the ones I've seen are from the PRC and low cost.

22-Jun-2014, 03:15
Thank you. I have decided against purchasing the Uniroller for this purpose. I also notice that is price at auction has jumped to $55! Unirollers are popular here in Japan.

Could a viberatory tumbler do what you want? All the ones I've seen are from the PRC and low cost.

Wow, that would be great since I hear that the vibrating type are faster. Is it on aliexpress? I had a look for a rotary tumbler, but could not find one. I purchase a lot of stuff from the people's republic. I would be grateful of a link. Is it okay to post links to vendors here? If not please be so kind as contact me via the email link on my homepage at http://nihonbunka.com

24-Jun-2014, 23:27
Is it on aliexpress? I had a look for a rotary tumbler, but could not find one. [/url]

There are vibratory tumblers from China, but the cheapest I can find is more than 200USD.

30-Jul-2016, 15:12
Just some FYIs-
The Uniroller 352 change in direction is controlled by the size of the capacitor. Swap out with a larger one and the length of time between changing directions is longer.
Also, the lubrication may seize up on an older unit that has been in storage. I bought a 'dead' one off eBay, by moving the large wheels by hand, it freed up and now works fine when powered.
When opening up the base, unscrew the center screw last. There is a large plastic washer that may become loose or lost.
I have successfully used a foam roller (from Amazon) as a holder for my stainless steel tank. There is an 8" foam roller that would need some counter weight to work correctly.
https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8632/27933247663_b6503366f1_m.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Jyncmk)

I normally use an older JOBO tank with the 352, I did this as a proof of concept.
10 60d nails (6" long) would provide enough counter weight.
The setup pictured was actually used to process the color picture.
The foam is a great insulator to keep the chemistry up at temperature.