View Full Version : Slosher Tray Technique

Kevin Klazek
11-Sep-2006, 05:20
After spending some time and quite a few negs trying to perfect the tray development shuffle technique, I still end up with some scratching no matter how carefull I am. So, I built a slosher tray using plexi that will hold 4-5x7 sheets at a time. For all the sloshers out there, what is your developement technique relative to agitation sequence/times? I have read Phil Bards article re slosher use, but I was was looking for any additional comments/tips. I use 5x7 FP4 with HC-110 Dil B or H. I start with a 2 min water soak.


Louie Powell
11-Sep-2006, 07:35
I also have a home-built slosher - 6-4x5 sheets in an 11x14 tray.

Like Kevin, I start with a presoak. I'm not especially anal about how long - usually about a minute. I don't think the duration is important as long as the emulsion has an opportunity to get thoroughly wet. The objective of presoaking is to wet the emulsion and stabilize it at the processing temperature.

I use HC-110 dilution H (which is dilution B with twice the normal amount of water). I find that I can get thorough, even development with 800ml of developer with my slosher in the 11x14 tray that I use. Milleage varies.

I agitate by lifting opposing corners of the slosher and then dropping them back into the solution. I agitation continuously for the first 30 seconds. Thereafter, I agitation every 30 seconds. Each agitation cycle consists of lifting the corners 8 times (4 times per corner), followed by a gentle "wiggle" of the tray - total agitation time each cycle is 6-8 seconds.

With Efke 100 film exposed at EI50 and HC-110 dilution H, my development time is 11 minutes, including about 15 seconds of draining at the end of development. I then transfer the slosher to a tray containing a quart of water and a little weak acetic acid. I agitate for about 10 seconds, and then let it rest for about 20 sec while I reset my timer. Drain, and then move to the rapid fixer. I set my timer for 3 minutes, and agitate continuously for the first minute. Then, rinse off my hands (which are bagged in rubber gloves), and turn on the lights.

While the film is in the fixer, I dump the develper and stop baths and rinse those trays. I also dump the presoak bath (which is dark green with Efke film), rinse the tray, and set it up with a quart of fresh water as a rinse. By then, the three minues on the timer will have elapsed - and if the fixer is fresh, the film will be completely clear. I typically agitate a few more times over the course of the next minute, and then move the slosher to the rinse tray. Either return the fixer to its bottle (or dump it if it is approaching exhaustion), agitate a couple of times, and then move the slosher to a hypo-clear bath where I agitate continuously for about 90 seconds. Then to a fresh water bath where it soaks in still water. I go through several successive soaking steps of 5 - 10 minutes each while I am cleaning up the darkroom, preparing film notation sheets, reloading holders, etc. Finally, the film, still in the slosher, goes into a PhotoFlo bath (mixed at half strength in tap water that has been through an RO filter. Hang to dry.

12-Sep-2006, 13:33
Would anyone post a link to the Phil Bards article? I can't find it. Thx in adv!

Kevin Klazek
13-Sep-2006, 18:34
Looks like the domain name has expired for Phil's site.

I processed my first 4 negs today in the slosher and ended up with perfect negs with no scratches or processing problems. I am sold. The agitation cycle I used was similar to Louis's. First 30 sec, lift each side twice (top/bottom then right/left) for two rounds for a total of 8 lifts per round. Rest 30 seconds. Repeat agitation. The lift is gental with the negs not coming out of the chems.

I used 2 liters of chems, but wonder if I could get away with 1 liter (11X14 tray). Do the negs have to be deep or just covered?


Ben Crane
13-Sep-2006, 19:02
I used 2 liters of chems, but wonder if I could get away with 1 liter (11X14 tray). Do the negs have to be deep or just covered?


I can get away with 1200 cc in an 11x14 try with 6 4x5 negatives in the slosher. Going to 1000 cc might be cutting it a bit tight but it likely depends on how thick your slosher is and how deep the grooves in your tray are.

Louie Powell
14-Sep-2006, 14:05
It is necessary that the negatives be covered, but you don't need a lot of liquid for that to happen.

My sink has a slight slope, and my trays are designed to be slightly asymmetrical so that they can be agitated by rocking. I only use 800ml of developer for 6-4x5 negatives, and as long as I agitate, I don't have a problem. But if I let the negatives sit with no agitation, eventually I do note that the high-end negative on the upstream side will drift upward and appear to not be totally submirged. Fortunately, this has not been a real problem for me, and is far less likely to happen if I use a full liter of liquid (which I normally do when washing).

When agitating, I try to not lift the slosher so high that it actually comes out of the liquid - but of course I can't be absolutely sure that I am achieving that goal when I agitate in total darkness! But the important part of the agitation cycle is when you release a corner - when it goes back to the bottom of the tray, liquid is forced through the holes in the bottom and sides of the slosher and flows all around the negative.