Vintage 70mm Rewind Processor

One of the best used-gear finds I've made in the past few years is a hand-cranked rewind processor for 70mm film. This unit was originally made for the military by Fairchild.

This elegant little processing unit can process at least a hundred feet of 70mm film, 150 feet of thin stuff like Infrared Aerographic 2424, yet it's so compact that it can be loaded inside a standard changing bag. It takes exactly one gallon of chemicals, and has a big daylight loading spout on the front so that the chemistry can be changed rapidly in daylight.

Other than the stainless steel crank handle and the two stainless steel reels, the moving parts are a simple set of gears made of fiber-reinforced phenolic resin, seen in the third photo. The rest of the unit is made of sheet stainless with soldered seams and spot-polished finish on the finer parts.

The reels have spring-loaded clips that hold the end of the film in place. For loading from a 15-foot cassette in a changing bag, I clip down one end of the film and use the processor's crank to wind it all off the spool, no risk of fingerprints or scratches.

A very similar unit came with an accessory motor drive that sits on top of the tank lid.

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