Versalab query

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by PhotoBob, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. PhotoBob

    PhotoBob Subscriber

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    Hi Everyone,
    Just wondering if any one has experience using the Versalab archival print washers.
    I recently ordered one and thought it would be nice to find out if there are others out there that use this product and what they think of it.
    Comparing washers out there - I found the price a very significant factor.
     
  2. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Member

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    I've owned and used the Versalab 16x20 model for about seven or eight years now and I'm completely satisfied. It's a big unit, both in size and weight (about 220-lbs/100-kg when filled). I had to build a custom frame to support a custom overflow sink that holds the washer itself. This kept it outside my modest 6-ft/1.8-m sink, and assured fail-safe unattended operation via a timer on my water tempering equipment.

    The only issue I can think of that might be a problem for some is that the divided sections for each print are not isolated. The water mixes between "compartments" so that a final wash must await the final print to be added. For me this is only a minor concern. I usually finish printing sessions late at night, then set the timer and go to bed.

    I did purchase the 20x24-inch auxiliary print rack, but have never used it. I just wanted to guarantee I had it in case it became unavailable down the road.

    I would not think twice about recommending the Versalab washers. In fact, I have actually done so several times in the past. I prefer tough, overdesigned equipment that I don't have to baby or worry about.

    Ken
     
  3. Wayne

    Wayne Member

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    I've got the 11x14 and have been very pleased with it. Do it.
     
  4. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    I really like our 16x20 Versalab as well. Very well built and works great.
     
  5. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning, Bob,

    Ditto to the comments above. I'm very satisfied with my 11 x 14 model.

    Konical
     
  6. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    ditto again :smile:
     
  7. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Bought an 11x14 a month ago..a breeze to put together, well built, light (without the water obviously) and fits perfectly in my laundry room sink. Love it!
     
  8. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I have the 11x14 version, and after having used it to wash most of my prints I have found after a few years that parts of some prints will yellow, even after extended washing (2 hours +) in 70 degree F water.

    The problem I attribute to the print surface actually being in full contact with the divider walls inside the washer. It doesn't seem to matter what flow rate I'm at either, from lowest to highest possible. I still can't see the front of the print (or back, depending on how the paper bows) releasing fully from the plastic dividers. This is enough to make me nervous.

    Prints I sell are always washed in a tray with a tray siphon, which I have found does a 100% perfect job as I don't see the same problems in any of those prints (some of my own prints are washed this way too).

    So now I use the Versa Lab as a pre-wash of sorts, and finish off with a 30 minute wash in a tray. Just to be safe.

    - Thomas
     
  9. Wayne

    Wayne Member

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    My prints are never in anything approaching "full contact" with the dividers, the water stream in each division keeps them suspended in between. They might touch here and there briefly, but only for a second or two. They never, ever stick. I have even used mine for washing 5x7 and 8x10 negs, and if something was going to stick it would be those. But they don't. There's something not right with yours. My guess would be the flow isn't strong enough, or isn't directed properly, or both. You do have to wait until its almost full to put things in, if you don't maybe THEN they might stick.
     
  10. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Wayne, the washer is always full before I put prints in it.
    The water flow rate is up to the maximum, where it would overflow if I had higher flow rate.
    I have tried to turn the nozzle tube and to no avail. A lot of the prints basically are in constant contact with the side walls, and seemingly there is nothing I can do about it. Some are right in the middle with some papers, but if I print on Ilford, for example, the paper has a natural bow to it that causes a large portion of the print surface to be in direct contact with the side wall for the duration of the wash cycle.
     
  11. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    I would email/call/smail Versalab and see if they have a suggestion for fixing the problem - from the posts in this thread it seems this isn't typical of the product. I am sure Versalab would like nothing more than to make you a satisfied customer.
     
  12. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Member

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    In fairness to Thomas, I too have sometimes observed prints nestled up against the dividers while washing. Since they are completely submerged there is no issue of sticking, or anything like that. Because they will slide out smoothly there must be a thin water barrier separating the prints from the dividers. But they are sometimes very close.

    When I first got the washer I did a Kodak HT-2 residual test and it turned out fine. However, after Thomas' comments I think I'll repeat that next time I wash prints, just to see what's up with it when the prints move over to the dividers.

    My sense has always been that with fiber-based papers - the only kind I wash in it - the residual chemistry would leach out sufficiently through either side of the print. But since Thomas is reporting anecdotal evidence that may be at a variance with that, I will retest.

    For the record, I also wash all of my hanger-developed negatives in the Versalab as well. This includes 4x5s on the 4-up hangers, 5x7s on the 2-ups, and 8x10s. I fashioned a pair of 1/8-inch brass rods into submerged racks with white nylon spacers. These hang over the sides of the washer and will suspend up to 10 hangers completely under water in the middle of the tank, once the print basket has been removed. The film hangers then sit parallel to the water jets and 3/4 of an inch apart.

    This is a nice secondary use of the unit that keeps me from having to purchase yet another washer for my sheet film negatives. I don't have much space left in my smallish darkroom anyway. Double duty is always a good thing.

    Ken
     
  13. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Member

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    I have the 16x20 and it's great.

    For Thomas : From time to time during the wash I shake the dividers to dislodge the prints. No issue at all.

    G.
     
  14. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Prints I sell are always washed in a tray with a tray siphon, which I have found does a 100% perfect job as I don't see the same problems in any of those prints (some of my own prints are washed this way too).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2011
  15. Merg Ross

    Merg Ross Member

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    I have had the 11x14 model for about a decade and use it for both 8x10 & 11x14 fiber prints. It has performed very well, with the prints suspended as they should be. Careful adjustment of the jets is important. For 8x10 prints I use four of the bars, making certain that the prints are submerged.