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Thread: Modifications to Kodak 8x10 hangers for even development of double-sided X-Ray film

  1. #1

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    Modifications to Kodak 8x10 hangers for even development of double-sided X-Ray film

    I've been working on developing Fuji HR-U double-sided x-ray film in 1-gallon vertical tanks with Kodak 4A hangers and have made some good improvements that I wanted to share.

    I created a repeatable test that accentuates uneven development issues: I put 4 sheets of 8x10 film into film holders and then flash them each with a dim bare bulb for 1/10s. The resulting negatives are even but over-exposed. I then develop them in 1:250 510-pyro in vertical tanks using inert gas agitation with the standard 1s on 10s off pattern until the negatives are quite dense. The dilute pyro is unkind to uneven agitation (surge marks) and to insufficient agitation (bromide drag).

    Here's the starting point with unmodified hangers:
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    I then increase the "dehaze" setting to +50 in Lightroom to really bring out any unevenness:
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    As you can see, the side and bottom edges have surging issues from the developer moving through the holes in the hanger. The top shows four white marks due to the hanger's springs touching the back side of the top. Here's an unmodified Kodak hanger for reference:
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    I did a bunch of experiments and ended up with three modifications:
    1. Close the holes in the face
    2. Cut open the bottom of the hanger
    3. Raise the clip at the top so that it only touches the margin of the photo and extend the face so that it still holds the photo in.

    Here's the result:
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    The surge marks on the edges are gone. The clip marks on top are gone. The evenness in the center is imperfect but unchanged. There remains some ghosting at the edges where the film sits in the hangers.

    I'll follow up with details for each modification.

  2. #2

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    Re: Modifications to Kodak 8x10 hangers for even development of double-sided X-Ray fi

    Kodak 4A hangers have holes all the way around the sides facing out and holes on one of the faces. I thought the holes on the face were to improve chemical flow to the emulsion but the holes appear to be on the back -- the non-emulsion side of the film. Since HR-U x-ray film is double-sided, I thought it would make sense to drill matching holes in the other face of the hanger (left is unmodified, right has holes in both faces):
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    However, this made the surge marks much worse:
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    I additionally noticed that Carr hangers do not have holes in either the face. Taking the hint, I closed the holes in the face with a thin layer of epoxy (hot glue works too) and saw an immediate improvement:
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    The surge marks on the sides were gone. The bottom was improved, though some surge marks remained from the holes in the bottom edge.
    Last edited by Sam L; 12-Jan-2022 at 08:24.

  3. #3

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    Re: Modifications to Kodak 8x10 hangers for even development of double-sided X-Ray fi

    To fix the remaining surge marks at the bottom of the hanger, I used a cutoff wheel and a file to remove most of the metal in the bottom, creating long open slots:
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    The result was no more surge marks on the edges:
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    There is still more development at the margins (I'm guessing more turbulence from the hangers) but the lighter edges are much nicer than the surge marks from the pores.

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    Re: Modifications to Kodak 8x10 hangers for even development of double-sided X-Ray fi

    The third change I made was to address the marks left on the rear emulsion by the clip at the top that holds the film in. It hangs down relatively far below what I consider the margin of the film. On single-sided film, this is a nice feature because the film is more secure from popping out during development. On double-sided film, this is a bummer because it's actually touching one of the emulsions.

    This was a harder modification. I ended up removing the top clip and welding it back on a bit higher so that just the rod was below the edge of the film. Getting the clip off was not very hard. It's lightly spot welded on, so it was sufficient to grab the end of the rod in a vise and wiggle the hanger until it popped off. Getting it back on higher up is harder. I TIG welded it, which I imagine is not available to most people. Another option might be to tap the little dog that hangs down and bolt it back on, but this is challenging too. Modified hanger is on the left, unmodified on the right:
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    After the clip is moved up, it will only retain the film from coming out the back side. It might be possible to use the hangers like this but any sideways movement when shuttling the hangers between tanks could pop the film out the front, which is a disaster with the very tender x-ray film. My solution was to extend the front face down a bit with some stainless wire (left one):
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    The wire only hangs down as far as the clip and never touches the film during normal development. With this, the marks on top were gone:
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  5. #5

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    Re: Modifications to Kodak 8x10 hangers for even development of double-sided X-Ray fi

    I abandoned tanks and hangers for tray development in the 80s. I found that the hangers were acting like radiators around the edges of the film affecting developer temperature and activity, causing several types of artifacts.

  6. #6
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    Re: Modifications to Kodak 8x10 hangers for even development of double-sided X-Ray fi

    Interesting project. I am wondering how just a wire frame with clips facing inwards from each corner to hold the film suspended within the frame would work in comparision. Creating a new style from scratch might be no more work than to modify existing hangers.

    The sure cure is to photograph very busy scenes (such as forests) where a little unevenness does not show up in the image!
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

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    Re: Modifications to Kodak 8x10 hangers for even development of double-sided X-Ray fi

    Vaughn,

    X-ray film hangers are similar to what you suggest. The clips at the edges actually punch holes in the film with a little spike. Here are some for 14x17 film:
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    I initially purchased some 8x10 x-ray hangers not knowing that they were different from standard negative hangers. They are cheap and abundant on ebay but they are designed for deeper, wider tanks. I hadn't considered modifying them at the time and have since gotten rid of them. Here's a photo of an 8x10:
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    Shortening their height and cutting down the long rod at the top would be easy.

    They are likely too wide to fit in Arkay-style 1 gallon vertical tanks. The film sits about an inch inside of the frame on each side. I only have about 1/2 play on each side. You could solve this by making wider tanks or finding shorter clips.

    I think the hard part would be to find or make narrow clips that are strong enough to hold the film (especially from side-to-side forces) without punching holes in the film. I can stack 4 Kodak hangers in my 1 gallon tank with about 1/4" between each and they don't touch. Wider hangers would drop that to 2 or 3 concurrent negatives. Or maybe the holes in the corners are ok!

  8. #8

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    Re: Modifications to Kodak 8x10 hangers for even development of double-sided X-Ray fi

    Neal, interesting idea about temperature being an issue. I develop at room temperature, but I pre-soak the hangers and negatives in tap water, which is much cooler to start. I wonder if that's causing some of the remaining edge effects I see.

  9. #9

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    Re: Modifications to Kodak 8x10 hangers for even development of double-sided X-Ray fi

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam L View Post
    Neal, interesting idea about temperature being an issue. I develop at room temperature, but I pre-soak the hangers and negatives in tap water, which is much cooler to start. I wonder if that's causing some of the remaining edge effects I see.
    I never had a temperature-controlled tank line, just Cescolite plastic 4X5 tanks and Kodak hangers. I kept the lab at 68* in winter and 75* in warmer months.

  10. #10
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Modifications to Kodak 8x10 hangers for even development of double-sided X-Ray fi

    Sam,

    These are KODAK FILM DEVELOP NO 6

    I found a box of 12 NOS not that long ago

    These are very nice with 2 pinpoint tips and strong spring

    That 2X X-Ray film is 11X14, so it was tray processed one at a time

    I primarily use these clips for drying, they leave no dent

    I also use 2 at a time to seesaw 14X36 X-Ray by hand

    Later today I will make better images of my 8X10 tank system

    Film Clips by TIN CAN COLLEGE, on Flickr

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