Old Enlarger... Need help

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by stingray, Oct 28, 2005.

  1. stingray

    stingray TPF Noob!

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    I'm new to this site and was so glad when I found it... the internet never ceases to amaze!
    I have just done a course in black and white photography at school and needless to say I am keen on continuing outside. I have access (thankfully) to a dark room at a primary school that my mother works at.
    The only problem however, is that the enlarger is ANCIENT.
    I tried to do an enlargement the other day but had to put my paper on a shoe box to get it up to where the image was focused! At this point it was far too small for use.

    The problems are as follows:

    It seems that no matter where you put the enlarger head on it's little adjusting rails, you cannot get the image size above about an eight by ten.
    At this point it is shockingly out of focus and as yet I have not at all been able to focus the image at the level of the board, no matter how small.

    I have included some photos for your reference and I hope you can be of assistance... otherwise i may just have to buy myself a new one...

    [​IMG]
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  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Meopta makes good but cheap enlargers.
    First thing to do is to take it to pieces and give it a thorough clean.
    Then you have two controls over the image. The rails at the back allow the whole enlarger head to move up and down - this varies the size of the image. The max size will depend upon the size of neg and the lens.
    The enlarger will actualy cope with 6x6 negs - as well as 35mm. Hence the blades in the neg carrier.
    You may need to give the main rails a light coat of petroleum jelly. And it looks like it is a friction type - the white knob is used to raise and lower and presses a wheel or similar against the column and gets a grip by friction. If this is worn or the clamp is too loose then it can't get a grip so you need to fiddle with it to get it to tighten. Might need to be 'creative'.
    You focus using the second knob under the carrier. Again it's friction and you have to do the same fiddling about to get it to work properly. You sometimes find that the tension produced by stretching the bellows is stronger than the friction and you have to use a little force to focus it.
    Make sure the bellows are light tight.
    There is also a white knob behind the housing holding it all on to the slider on the main rails. This means that the head can tilt which will cause the neg to only be in focus in the centre. You need to square it up - even a fraction of a millimetre out can make it almost impossible to focus.
    The lens is an EL-Nikkor which is a beauty. I use one and they don't come cheap. However it is filthy and it needs a good clean with proper lens cleaning kit.

    Meopta enlargers are good workhorses once they are set up. The quality of the print is largely determined by the lens you use. But they are quirky and you may find yourself looking around for something better in a year or two. But it will be more than adequate for now.
     
  3. stingray

    stingray TPF Noob!

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    thanks for that help... you seem to be a real guru round here.
    what I find strange is that everything seems in good working order and yet it is still impossible to focus the image at a decent size.
    I made some headway today with it after i made the first post by changing the aperture down as far as it would go (darkest) and you began to see some definition in the image... however it was still out of focus along the full range of the rails and much too dark to see properly if it were completely in focus.

    The rails that move the entire head ARE very tight, slow, hard, whatever you would say, but they are moveable and while in repeated use this would be a pain, for the moment just setting (or trying to set up) up the thing, this does not seem so important, as things just go slower.

    Presumably if it were to work at all there would be some point where the image would just click (or jarr!) into focus for a split second, but this has not happened as of yet.
    Though I am new to doing my own enlargements in the dark room, I have used a working enlarger enough to operate it pretty well, no matter where the last person's left it hanging... I do think that this enlarger needs something more complex than just a little clean... that would help i'm sure but for the moment that's not my main worry.
    No use cleaning something if it doesn't work at the end of that...
     
  4. PlasticSpanner

    PlasticSpanner TPF Noob!

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    I think the first step should be to give it a good clean! Even if this doesn't cure all the problems it will make finding the causes a lot easier! If the school has offered to let you use the enlarger then you should consider cleaning and servicing it as a return favour.


    Is the lens on an extension tube? I had a similar problem with my 2nd hand Durst in that it was impossibly close to the paper when it finally focussed!
     
  5. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    To be honest I'd really need to have a look at the thing in person before I could sort it out. It's a very simple design that's been around for 100 years or so which means any faults are simple to fix. The hard part is working out what's wrong in the first place.
    Have you tried setting the enlarger at a reasonable height and then working the focus knob to get the lens to travel the full length of the focussing rails? Make sure it travels the full distance.
    If you can't get the thing in focus (and the point of focus is very small so it's easy to miss) then the other possibility is that the lens is too far away from the neg to focus.
    As it's a 6x6 enlarger it's set up for that and the position of focus for an 80mm lens is further away from the neg than a 50mm. I had a Krokus enlarger that was of a similar design and they got around it by having a seperate 'tub' mounting plate for the 50mm lens.
    It looks like there is a seperate screw-in lens board on which the lens is mounted. You unscrew that and replace it with the 'tub' board which is like a shallow inverted cup. It moves the lens nearer to the neg plane and allows a 50mm lens to focus.
    I suspect this is the problem but I can't guarantee it.
    There's a picture of one here:
    http://www.silverprint.co.uk/dark4.html
    You also need to check that the condensers are in properly. I've known problems arise from having them in upside down.
    Meopta are still making enlargers so you could try contacting them and asking
    http://www.meopta.cz/index.php




    (Over the past 30 years I've worked as a pro and as a photography lecturer. People always get me in to trouble-shoot, solve problems, set up darkrooms and write courses. I've also worked unofficially as photographic conservation advisor to two London museums. Most of the time I've had to work on a shoestring or less so I've learned how to fix, mend, rebuild, fudge and lash-up with the best of them ;) )
     
  6. stingray

    stingray TPF Noob!

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    thankyou so much... that was exactly the type of reply i was after...that sounds like a very logical explanation... the whole 6x6 thing not being designed for 35mm. The enlarger has been used exclusively for photograms for the last 10 years, maybe longer so it's quite possible that it is not set up in a state that can service 35mm... I will check everything out more thoroughly, as you say, it IS a very simple design, nothing at all fancy.
    Any ideas what the tray is in the 3rd picture down that has a yellow handle?
    Thanks again for your help,
    Will
     
  7. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    He is. Despite his modest answer, there are very few questions that Hertz can't appropriately address. We're lucky to have him here.....sorta. :mrgreen:

    Good luck with this enlarger! Hope you can get it back in good working order. :)
     
  8. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Looks like a filter drawer. You put multigrade filters in there to print on multigrade papers. You can also use it for colour filters for printing from colour negs - but I wouldn't advise it.
    Look on the bright side - you have at least got an excellent EL-Nikkor lens. Even second hand they go for around $100. Clean it carefully.



    (And I might be a fount of all knowledge on things Photographic, but I know nothing about anything else. What planet is this btw?)
     
  9. stingray

    stingray TPF Noob!

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    thanks a lot...yeah i think that will need a good clean and good news about the lens... that thing seems to happen to me all the time... something that looks otherwise crappy turns out to have some little gem in it.
    I'll let you know when i work out exactly what the problem is.
     
  10. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Cheek! I like to think there are no questions that I can't appropriately address - but sometimes I choose to let others have a go :mrgreen:
     

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