DIY Print Washer - The Basics

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by yeknom02, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. yeknom02

    yeknom02 Member

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    Hello everyone,

    With prices being what they are, there's no way I'm going to buy a "real" print washer. Since my local pet store is getting ready to have a sale on aquariums and I'm thought about expanding my prints to FB paper eventually, I thought it would be a good time to start thinking about making my own print washer. I've only used one once before in a friend's darkroom. I remember there were some dividers inside, so that multiple prints could be washed at once.

    Now I'm also guessing that dividers won't be my only requirement - I may need a hose for the inlet and outlet. Can someone explain the principles behind print washing, so that I know what I have to engineer?

    Also, has anyone built something similar, and can you offer any recommendations?
     
  2. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I bought an aquarium, then glued in sheets of plexiglass on alternate sides. Piped in water from the sink using a hose from a chandlery connected to the sink with part of a sink sprayer from the dollar store. Drilled a hole at the bottom of the other end with a diamond saw and inserted a through hull fitting to seal it off, with a bit more tubing connecting it to the sink. I keep a piece of wood under one end to help the water drain.
     
  3. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    I imagine getting good water flow spread throughout would be the biggest challenge? I could easily see a case where the water became largely stagnant in part of the tank.
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    there used to be a company out of ny state that made kits to transform an aquarium into a print washer ..
    from what i remember it was just a fishtank ( you supplied that )
    2 pvc tubs with slots cut in them ( one tube at each end of the tank )
    plexi sheets to put film against / dividers that slide into the slots to keep them upright

    fill the tank up with water ... and let the prints soak ...
    use a hose as a syphon ( or drill for a clamped hose as dbp does ) to get rid of the water ..
    fill up again, let soak .. drain
    repeat until clean ...
     
  5. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I have a 20x24 Nova archival washer, but when doing, say 1 to 4 prints only, I'll use 5 min in Permawash and 5 min wash in a tray with a Kodak siphon.
     
  6. Mats_A

    Mats_A Member

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    As I understand it FB paper get washed by diffusion of fixer into the water. I save on a print washer by doing the following:
    Fix 1
    Fix 2
    3 minutes in a water bath
    3 minutes in HCA
    Wash print under running water for a minute
    Let soak in a tray filled with water for 10-15 minutes
    Dump water and refill. Repeat 6 times.

    I have toned FB prints washed this way in selenium and had no discoloration.

    I'm sure when I get rich I'll reconsider and buy a Nova washer.

    r

    Mats
     
  7. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    Find out what the aquarium, dividers, hose, hose fittings, glues etc will cost you, factor in your time if that is worth anything to you, then buy http://www.versalab.com/server/photo/products/washer1.htm

    Seriously I dont want to discourage you from making one if thats what you want, but I do like my Versalab.
     
  8. Todd Barlow

    Todd Barlow Subscriber

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    I built my own vertical print washer using an aquarium, see the link here or use the google search feature and type in "DIY vertical print washer"

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum43/26140-diy-vertical-print-washer.html

    I have made some changes since my original design and if interested I will photograph and post.

    my 11x14 version cost about $80 which is between a 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of a Versalab and it was an enjoyable project to engineer, build and use.

    From all of my reading on washing, it is less about water flow and more about the fix diffusing out of the paper which soaking will do.

    Todd
     
  9. yeknom02

    yeknom02 Member

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    Todd,

    Your post (which I saw a long time ago) was my inspiration, but I wasn't able to find the thread again! I'd like to know what you changed in your design and why.

    Since print washing is more about diffusion than flow, do you fill it up and then periodically drain it?
     
  10. walbergb

    walbergb Subscriber

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    I built my own print washer. The principles: (1) The top of the outflow has to be above the inflow. I spaced mine 1” apart vertically. (2) Since the hypo sinks, place the intake tube so that the open end sits on the bottom of the tank. (3) Drill a hole (mine is 1/8”) at the top of the outflow tube. If the water level gets low, the siphon tube will fill with air and stop the loss of water. (4) The drain end of the siphon outflow has to be below the bottom of the tank to maximize the outflow. (5) My tank holds over 200 lbs of water. You will need a drain plug. I positioned mine in an outside corner instead of the end. (6) The washer should be located in a sink in case of overflow. (7) Given the total weight, reinforce the sink. (8) You will need two shut-off valves to control the water level.

    Plexiglass is expensive so I searched for an alternative. I found kids plastic snow sliders ($0.97 ea. at Giant Tiger). They are perfect: flat, smooth, thin (most important), & firm (but not rigid). I used two sheets of Plexiglass for the outsides and 10 plastic sheets to create 11 chambers. If I were to do it again, I’d replace a middle plastic divider with another sheet of Plexiglass to add some rigidity (not that my original design needs it). I used nylon threaded rods, spacers, washers, nuts, and plastic connectors to avoid rust.

    By drilling 4 holes through the dividers at approximately 11” and 8” from the top and inserting PVC water supply tubes to act as a false bottom, I can wash 11x16”x20”, 11x11”x14”, & (22) 8”x10” papers in the one tank simply by moving the tubes. The top edge of each size of paper is always 1-1 ½” below water level and easy to access.

    I have to say that the only reason I built my own and didn’t buy one is that I retired from teaching at a community college; and before I retired, the students in the welding program built the tank (including drilling the holes for the bulkheads) from ¼” aluminum at no cost to me.
     
  11. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I have been happy with tray washing the last 11 years. 1 min in an alkaline fix (TF-4), 5 min rinse, tone as required, 5 min rinse, 10 min in a wash aid, 20 to 30 min tray wash with 6 fill and dumps. Tray capacity is 4 or 5 5x7s, 2 or 3 8x10s, 1 or 2 11x14s. Advantage, low cost, small storage footprint, no fuss with heavy tank. This works great if your DR production is low for each session. Before washing I trash prints which do not meet my standard. Reduces print volume for the wash step.
     
  12. natelfo

    natelfo Member

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    I took a tray of each size and drilled a couple of small holes in the bottom, I set it under the sink and let the water pour over it. Works well as I only wash one print at a time. If I start needing to wash multiple prints, I may need a different method. I will not spend $500-$800 on a plastic tank with a hose, to me that's crazy.
     
  13. Keith Pitman

    Keith Pitman Subscriber

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