Fibre washing bottleneck

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by FrankB, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Most of the time I've been using resin paper, but increasingly I'm moving over to fibre and I find that the dramatically increased washing times are producing a bottleneck in my workflow. With a 5-10 min rinse, 5 min HCA, 30 min wash, 4-20 min tone, 20-30 min wash cycle, my 16x12 Patterson rapid washer is just not cutting it!

    Given that a multi-slot archival washer is most unlikely to make an arrival in my bathroom anytime soon, and that fish tanks appear to be a darn sight dearer in the UK than the US :sad: which makes a home-build solution unfeasable...

    How do all you fibre-based printers without multi-slot washers organise your workflows?

    All help gratefully received!

    Thanks in advance,

    Frank
     
  2. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    For many years I used a Kodak tray syphon attached to a 16 x 20 tray and washed up to 4 16 x 12 prints in each run, more if the prints are smaller. The syphon is efficient and could be the answer. Get in touch with Mr Cad who will probably have one and don't forget to haggle.
     
  3. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Sounds like you are working serially - ie, washing prints at the same time that you are making new ones.

    I have always used the holding tray option. I have trays set up for developer, stop, and fix, and a fourth tray of plain water. Prints accumulate in this holding tray during the session. About once hour I dump the water from the holding tray and refill it - otherwise, the plain water tends to become dilute fixer after several hours.
    When I complete the session, I fill another tray with hypo clear, and move the prints from the holding tray into the wash aid. Prints sit in the wash aid while I dump the rest of the chemicals and rinse out those trays. Periodically I will shuffle the prints in the wash aid (moving them from bottom to top of the stack). This takes 5-8 minutes which is about perfect for the wash aid cycle.

    Then I fill a tray with selenium toner, and wearing rubber gloves, move the prints to that tray. I shuffle the prints in this tray for the toning time (this varies depending on the age of the toning solution and the prints), and then back to the hypo clear tray for another couple of minutes while I put the toner back in its bottle.
    I fill a tray with plain water. I move the prints into this tray and shuffle them a couple of times, and then let them sit in still water while I dump and rinse the wash aid tray, and then refill it with plain water. After about 5 minutes, I move the prints into the fresh water, shuffle, and then let them sit while I tidy the darkroom, complete my printing notes, etc.

    After about 10 minutes, I transfer the prints to a tray of fresh water, shuffle a couple of times, and then let them sit. This cycle repeats for about an hour, after which I squeegee the prints and place them on screens to dry.
     
  4. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I organize my workflow over a few days. I'll spend time printing, then a day or two later, when I can get back in the darkroom, I'll just tone. Depending on how much work I have, I may do two printing sessions, then tone everything together the next time I'm in the darkroom

    I use a holding tray option as well. After the print goes through the dev/stop/fix, then it goes into a holding tray of water. Anything not worth saving such as test strips and work prints gets tossed at this point. When I'm finished printing I'll get a first wash going into a large 16x20 siphon tray, dump chemicals and prepare a tray of perma-wash. After about five or ten minutes, I'll move the prints into the perma wash tray. If I have a lot of prints, I'll set up two trays. Then I dump the water out completely from the siphon tray and refill it with fresh water, then wash the prints in a final wash for about 30 minutes, and I'll shuffle the prints around during the wash cycle, squeegee then dry on screens. At this point I usually have to go fetch a child from school!

    For toning, I set up three trays, a water tray, toner tray, and the big siphon tray. I'll soak the prints in water usually two at a time for about two minutes, then move them into the toner for as long as they need, then into the siphon tray. When I am finished toning I repeat the wash cycle, 5 minute first wash, perma-wash for a few minutes, then 30 minute final wash, squeegee and dry on screens.

    It takes a little more time to get prints really finished, but my sessions in the darkroom are limited by my kids' schedules!!
     
  5. Leon

    Leon Member

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    In Tim Rudman's toning book, he recommends not leaving the prints in a holding tray of water as this will retain a fair amount of fix - as far as I understand it, too long in the fix can be equally less archivally advantageous as too short a time in there. He suggests that, if you are to use a holding tray between fixing and washing, it is preferable for this to be an HCA solution.

    I hope I have read this right as this is what I have been doing when not using an alkaline fix.
     
  6. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I agree with Les's assessement of the Kodak tray siphon. Until recently it was my main method of washing prints. I used it for over 30 years. It is highly efficient, especially when you use a wash aid. If you use a large tray and occasionally shuffle the prints to keep them from sticking together, you may improve your efficiency. I still use the tray siphon for pre-rinsing prior to using a wash aid.

    I also use a splash of wash aid in my holding tray but I'm really not sure it's necessary. A big tray of plain water with only a few prints soaking for a long period of time probably helps with removing the hypo by diluting it. Of course, you have to let the hypo drain well from the print and not slop it into the holding tray.
     
  7. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Hmmm.... Well, based on the above I can see a few changes that I can make straight away!

    Yes, I have been processing serially which (as you can imagine) has been slowing me to a crawl. I'm also paranoid about washing fibre thus I usually wash one print at a time and on the occasions when I wash more than one I use dividers to stop them overlapping.

    I think my "rapid washer" is basically a tray siphon by any other name. I will look into getting a siphon as it would effectively double my washing capacity at a stroke without needing to stack prints in the washer. Many thanks to Les and Lee for the tip.

    I've also read Dr Rudman's books and am a little nervous of going for the holding tray path. I think I may compromise and amend the cycle as follows: 5 mins prewash in the rapid washer or under the tray siphon, 5 mins HCA then into a clean water holding tray. When I'm done printing then 30 mins wash in the rapid washer / tray siphon using dividers to keep them from overlapping, tone and another 20-30 mins wash as before. If I get desperate I may stack prints in the washers, but I'd prefer to avoid it if I can.

    Opinions of the above more than welcome, and please keep your own methods coming!

    Many thanks,

    Frank
     
  8. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Actually, I think you have a good idea for the cycle. I've used the holding tray method for awhile, but I may try to amend things a bit as well. A good idea for stacking prints in a tray is always have them face emulsion to emulsion with the occasional shuffle.
     
  9. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    For most "normal" work (i.e. "my" stuff), I use a holding tray for up to about 4 prints, then shift to washing. During "shuffle" washing, I keep the emulsion sides oriented in the same direction, pulling each print successively from the bottom of the stack, and flipping it. That way, I can tell that all prints have received essentially equal time with both sides exposed to the "fresh" water at the top of the stack. But, I wash in a different area, outside my darkroom, so continuing to print while washing doesn't work for me.

    I tend to handle "special" prints (e.g. those being sold) on a more individual basis, however.
     
  10. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    Frank,
    I have a Kodak siphon washer I can sell you, if you're interested. I tend to HCA then wash my prints whilst I print fresh ones. There is an inevitable bottle-neck, but I simply put the 'excess' prints in a holding tray 'til it's their turn for washing. To be perfectly honest, if I'm printing on FB, I rarely print from more than one neg per session. That way, I can keep my throughput down. This works well for me as my Silverprint printwasher is only a six slot model. I do any toning at a later date. Anyway, the Kodak siphon is quite old, but in good condition, boxed with instructions. I see you have the good sense to live in NW England. I live in Lancaster, Lancs. If you're interested, contact me at:
    niels@rasmuss.my-bulldog.com
     
  11. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I am in the same boat as jou... I have started to use fibre and see if there really is much difference between it and RC, and am having problems justifying the absurd price of a few bits of acrylic stuck together & a few bits of pipe...

    I've been using a large tray with 6 changes of water over a 2-3 hour (ish) period. This shows clear on a residual hypo test but is longwinded and limits the number of prints I can wash at a time to 3 or 4.

    In Homebase at the moment (in my local one anyway) there are large blue plastic storage boxes that a 16x20" sheet of paper will fit. I have the bits to knock up something similar to this or this ideas - although the storage box is not so neat and tidy, being non-square... When I get a break from work, I'll cut and glue the paper dividers together (right after I have put the floor of my darkroom back together after a water pipe bust under the floorboards at the weekend and I had to rip up the floor covering and floorboards at 2 a.m....).

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  12. Leon

    Leon Member

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    bob - if you are successful in making your washer, I'd be interested in buying a similar from you if you have time/ inclination to make one .......

    ps - i know exactly what you mean about your leak - i had to do the same after one of my handy pushfit connectors didnt pushfit and spilled hot central heating water throught the ceiling and all over our newly decorated hallway a couple of weeks ago :sad:
     
  13. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Blimey, must be an epidemic! One of my overflow pipes started doing a very creditable impression of a hosepipe a couple of months ago! (Why is it always in the wee small hours?!) Luckily(?!) it was while the company I work for was considering whether it actually wanted me on their payroll (it's so good to feel wanted...) so I had the time for a couple of trips to B&Q and could sort it out for a fiver. (Someone else called a plumber to a similar problem and paid £145! I'm definitely in the wrong business!)

    Dragging us vaguely back on topic...

    Blighty - Much obliged, sir! I'll be in touch and we'll see if we can work something out.

    One-and-all - Thanks very much for all the responses. I knew I could count on you all to help me out (as you have so many times in the past!) Please keep your contributions and comments coming.

    Many thanks,

    Frank
     
  14. gareth harper

    gareth harper Inactive

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    Often I just have them all in the one tray in the bath, with the shower hose stuck in it. I'll dump the water now and again as well as rotating the prints. Once the last one is done and in the tray they get a 1hr wash, the water is dumped and the prints are rotated every 10-15 minutes.

    If there are quite a few I may use a holding tray. Don't see any problem with this, just dump and fill with fresh water now and again so hopefully the fix level keeps falling rather than rising.
     
  15. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    Bob,

    If you manage to find the time would you mind taking a few photos as you go and posting them here? I'd be interested to see how your washer fits together so I could have a go.

    Cheers

    Mike
     
  16. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    No probs: what I have in mind is not rocket science - a Stanley knife and a saw (and maybe a drop or two of silicon sealer) should do the job... Like the commercial items I linked to above, the sheets will not be in separate, water tight compartments, just held vertically by the dividers & sharing the total volume of water.

    .
     
  17. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    Eugene Smith use a stack of 3 trays, each with a siphon. Water flowed from the top to bottom tray. He put prints from the fix in the bottom tray and then moved up to top tray which was his final wash. I forgot the times he held the each print in each tray. I have both a slot washer and a rotary washer, but for the past few years I have just used the rotary washer, he does as good as job as the slot washer and much easier for me to handel. I wash 16 X 20 and larger outside using a small play pool and a siphon. I have seen used rotary washer on E bay at quite reasonable prices. I'm keeping the slot washer in case the drought here continues and we have mandatory water restrictions.

    Regards

    Paul
     
  18. stinkjet

    stinkjet Member

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    First off, you need to re-evaluate your "workflow". If you are toning the print during the same session, then why the long rinse, HCA, and 30min wash before you tone?! Use non-hardening fixer, please...a quick rinse, then into the selenium/hypo-clear combo, for as long as it takes, then into hypo clear for 3 min, then the final wash.
    Yes you should use a holding bath for prints that you will tone the same way. It'll save a bunch of time when your ready to start.

    stink