I found a craigslist add for a Leitz Focomat IIa for 100 bucks up near Washington, so i hopped in my truck and drove 8 hours up there to see it, it was in pretty rough shape, unused for who knows how long, dusty, full of cobwebs and a little rusted up but i took it home and cleaned it with gun solvents and oils.
Ive had a few enlargers over the years, all modern ones with built in filters or filter drawers for multigrade filter usage etc. The focomat is a dinosaur in the enlarger world but has been the iconic enlarger for all the greats in the past and carries a legend status. In order to use multigrade filters I had to jerry rig up a tray with metal wire and duck-tape, also had to dial in the autofocus by changing the configuration of screws but after a week or so fiddling around i got this gem dialed in and ready to shine again.
The construction of it is beyond any enlarger I've ever used, of course being from the Leica-Leitz factory its built with perfect craftsmanship from the solid wood baseboard to the stylish deco design and ofcourse the beautiful huge chunk of Leitz glass for the condenser. After making my first prints with this machine I fell in love... Its as if it was humanlike with its beautiful figure glowing under the red lights perched over you strong and steady illuminating your negative securely onto its easel. Its truly is a magical experience, I'm looking forward to the years of intimate times we will share together.
11x14 print on Ilford Warmtone FB paper.