Archival Print wahser alternatives

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by dajones, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. dajones

    dajones Member

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    Ok looking around the web I noticed the average archival print washer was going for $400-500. even a kit from Fine Art Photo Supply was $130.That is a lot of film, even by 8x10 standards. What are some alternative designs people have come up with?
     
  2. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Bought all the equipment in my darkroom there including two print washers. One is a zone VI and the other a smaller Nova. I can check models if that is important to you.

    John Powers
     
  3. dajones

    dajones Member

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    hrmm

    I checked out ebay and saw some possibilities. I will definatly track that.
    I was thinking though there is not alot to these. A series slotted holders and water and that is about it. It would seam that a fishtank, some plexy or glass and some PVC and you would be in business.
    The question becomes do you need to have water flowing constantly or can you have it soak , change it out and soak again
     
  4. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I made a couple of rollfilm washers a number of years ago from stock plexi materials available at a local TAP Plastics store. The cost was about 20% of what they sell for at retail, as I recall. A print washer would be a bit more complex, but probably not overly so, if you have reasonable design and construction skills, along with the necessary tools. Woodworking hand tools are sufficent. Working plexi with power tools requires slow speeds to avoid melting when the objective is cutting.

    While running water seems intuitively better, all of the discussion I've read suggests that soak and dump is just as good - assuming a repetition of at least five cycles during the alloted washing time, and good surface contact during all of that time. In trays, for example, you'd want to shuffle the stack frequently enough to ensure that all surfaces had good exposure to the water, and then dump and replace the water at the necessary time intervals. In truth, it's a chemical disbursal process, and running water really doesn't appear to add much - other than an unattended, semi-automated way of replacing the water.
     
  5. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    Flowing constantly, I believe. If not I'm sure some more knowledgeable soul will soon correct me... :smile:

    --- Ahh, Ralph already beat me to it, I see. :wink:
     
  6. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Diffusion of fixer

    The print eliminates its fixer thru diffusion. Difffusion is created by the print having a higher concentration of fixer than the surrounding water. Agitation is necessary to quicken the diffusion of fixer into the wash water. However, a great amount of agitationn is not superior to a small amount. Additionally, washing is made more efficient with a higher temperature. 80ºF is saod to be ideal. Even more important is the use of a wash aid. The chea[est form of this is 2% sodiuk sulphite. Most efficient is the use of a hypo eliminator made from hydrogen peroxide and ammonia. There is a difference of opinion on the use of hypo eliminator. Some believe that it weakens fiber based paper. Some papers tend to frill and lose emulsion with hypo eliminator.

    The best technique would call for the use of film strength rapid fixer without hardener. I use two baths at 45 seconds each. The hardener makes washing less efficient. The short immersion in the two fixers prevents the paper from absorbing too much fixer.

    A Kodak tray syphon is capable of good print washing.

    Water changes and shuffling prints while washing is time consuming but in no way inferior to using a print washer.

    There is only one reasonable way to tell how well your prints are washed...a residual hypo test. This is available at Photographer's Formulary.

    In the decades to come you will feel that the time and effort in achieving a thorough washing of your prints was well spent.
     
  7. DeanC

    DeanC Member

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    I see that you're Bay Area local. Checkout people selling off darkroom stuff on Craig's List. There's at least one washer for sale on there right now.
     
  8. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Hi Dajones,

    This may simply be in the color section mistakenly, but you don't need an archival washer for color paper. If you are referring to it's use with fiber base paper, please ignore this with my apologies.

    Neal Wydra
     
  9. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I've been using a Kodak Tray Siphon and have no complaints. I got lucky and picked it up on that auction site for under $30 US. It seems to work best if you have a large tray (my wash tray is 16x20) and not very well at all with trays smaller than 11x14.
     
  10. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    I sprang for the Versalab 11x14 print washer a few years ago and it works quite well. Now, though, I'm going to also make 16x20 prints and the Versalab version for that size is incredibly (and unacceptably) expensive. So...I'm going to copy its design and build my own. I've already been to BJ's and found a very large plastic container that will work well for the tank part of the washer (about $15 was all I paid) and the plastic tubing will be easy to obtain from a store that sells fish tanks and the plastic separater plates will come from a plastic supply shop my wife just told me about. It'll have to go in the bathtub on a couple of supports (so the syphon will work) since it's way too big for the darkroom sink, but that'll be okay. I can't imagine the whole thing costing more than $50 and being relatively easy to build....at least I sure hope so!