Potential buyers of Rondinax tanks often wonder what washers should be present on the wheel that turns the spiral and on the screw that holds that knob in place. In the various English versions of the instruction manuals, the knob one turns is called the winding, turning or rotary knob; the screw that fits in the middle is the packing screw, sealing knob or locking knob. In the Kent they are called the winding knob and locking screw and in the Essex, film drum knob and locking screw.

The following photograph, from a relatively recent plastic-bodied Rondinax 60, shows what washers should be there: a rubber washer and then a celluloid disc on the surface that turns against the wall of the tank plus a small rubber washer on the locking screw.

Rondinax 60 Styrene

The rubber washer has hardened into a solid disc in most of these old tanks and the celluloid washer has often been lost. Similarly, the small washer on the screw is either hard or missing.

The large rubber washer is hard in this old tank but the celluloid disc is still there. No washer on the small sealing knob.

The large rubber washer is hard in this old tank but the celluloid disc is still there. No washer on the small sealing knob.

What looks like a replacement rubber washer now rock hard; celluloid disc is present but not the small washer on the sealing knob.

What looks like a replacement rubber washer now rock hard; celluloid disc is present but not the small washer on the sealing knob.

In most cases, it will be found that an old tank does not leak other than slightly even though the washers on the winding knob are hard and the celluloid disc is missing. If the winding knob is difficult to turn the remaining washer can be sprayed with a PTFE lubricant and allowed to dry. The smooth-surfaced celluloid washer can also be replaced by a disc of Teflon (PTFE) sheet available in a thickness of 0.5 mm from eBay sellers. The thick rubber washer can also be replaced. Something suitable can usually be found in a DIY shop or plumbers’ merchants.

In a Rondinax 35U I have, there is no washer on the large winding knob. The knob fits perfectly without one and does not leak other than a few drops during film processing. There is a small rubber washer on the locking screw.

In short, old or missing washers in a Rondinax tank are not deal breakers.

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