Washing FB prints

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by FrankB, May 20, 2003.

  1. FrankB

    FrankB Member

    Messages:
    2,147
    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2003
    Location:
    Northwest UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm just starting to move from resin coated to fibre-based prints, and am having a few problems with the basics!

    Washing times that stretch on for an hour are okay, but cause a log jam of prints queued up for my washer which will take a couple of 10x8's maximum. I've seen archival washers (Nova Darkroom, etc) but I can't justify that expense. So... ...I've been thinking of building a cascade system on the cheap!

    My local garden centre do seed trays about the right size for a 10x8 print for about £1 each with drainage holes in the bottom. I reckon a vertical stack of 5 or so of these in a homemade framework (wood or metal racking) might do the trick. Water goes in at the top and out at the bottom. Prints start at the bottom and move up a tray every twelve minutes or so being washed in progressively cleaner water as they ascend.

    Most rigs like this I've seen go up and to the side in a sort of terraced arrangement. This one would go straight up, which would result in a different flow in the trays.

    What do you think? Would it work?

    How do you go about washing your FB prints?

    All tips, tricks, ideas and opinions gratefully received!

    Thanks in advance,

    Frank
     
  2. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,609
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2002
    Location:
    Northern Eng
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Frank,

    If you can find a Kodak Tray syphon on ebay buy it. I used one for years and still have the prints in pristine condition to prove that it works. The downside is that depending on the tray size and print size you cannot wash more than 2 or 3 prints together.

    If you cannot find a tray syphon try the following:

    Use a developing tray, the choice of size depends on the biggest print you normally make, if it is 12 x 16 you need a 16 x 20 tray. Purchase some 15mm plastic pipe used by plumbers and drill a series of small holes along it about 1.5 inches apart. Drill a hole about 2/3rd from the bottom of the tray that the 15mm pipe will go into on each of the longest sides of the tray opposite each other at one end. Purchase from your local garden centre or plumbing supplier one stop end to place at one end of the pipe and some sort of connector for a hose to fit on the other end of the pipe. Connect this to a tap and this is your water in.
    Finally, drill a series of holes along the opposite end of the tray about 1.5 inches apart and 1 inch or so from the top. This is the water outlet. The cost is minimal and it is very efficient but like the syphon you cannot wash a lot of prints at the same time although if they are small prints in relation to the size of the tray it is possible to wash up to 10.

    I still have the one that I made many years ago even though I now use a Calumet Archival washer. I use it to pre-wash my prints as I work through a session. Each print I make goes into my home made tray which has just a trickle of water passing through. When the next print goes in I remove the previous print into the archival washer and so on and only when I finish the session do I switch on the water supply to the archival washer.

    On the subject of washing I think I read an entry of yours saying that you are starting to use Ilford Warmtone fibre paper. Might I suggest that you be careful about the length of wash you give this paper, over washing will result in the optical whitener being washed out resulting in a very yellow creamy base colour. I haven't experienced this with other papers although I am fairly certain that most modern papers do have some sort of whitener in.
     
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I built my first washer from acrylic and patterned it after the Zone VI design. It was/is capable of washing 6 -- 16X20 inch prints. The cost was something in the area of $100.00 as I recall. Acrylic is fairly easy to work with, it can be sawn on a table saw (my supplier sawed mine for me). The glue works by "wicking" between mating surfaces. I still have this washer as a companion to my Zone VI washer. Both work very well.
     
  4. Aggie

    Aggie Member

    Messages:
    4,925
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Location:
    So. Utah
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ..
     
  5. FrankB

    FrankB Member

    Messages:
    2,147
    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2003
    Location:
    Northwest UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks to one and all for the (very rapid!) replies.

    Les - Thanks for this. I'm currently using a "Paterson High-Speed Print Washer" http://www.patersonphoto.co.uk/accessories...ge2.html#bottom which I acquired 2nd hand along with the rest of my darkroom. I think it works in a very similar way to your suggestion and I have no complaints except the limited number I can do at once. Rigging up a few of your version and having them going in parallel might be a way to go.

    I take your point about washing out the brightener. I have been washing with a fairly aggressive water flow up to now. Now might be a good time to tone it down a bit! :smile: What would you suggest for a suitable washing time (water temp is usual UK mains supply (i.e. Brrrrrr!)).

    dnmilikan - Was this a vertical slot washer? If so, did you have any issues with FB paper buckling?

    Aggie - Are these made by Paterson like the link I have above, or someone else?


    I notice that nobody who's so far replied uses a cascade system. Should I take that as indicative of something?! :smile: I managed to find a shot of a professional cascade online at http://www.richards.uk.com/pwash.htm (top left). Any thoughts on my DIY flavour?

    Again, thanks very much indeed for the information!

    Regards,

    Frank
     
  6. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,609
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2002
    Location:
    Northern Eng
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (FrankB @ May 20 2003, 09:03 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> I take your point about washing out the brightener. I have been washing with a fairly aggressive water flow up to now. Now might be a good time to tone it down a bit! :smile: What would you suggest for a suitable washing time (water temp is usual UK mains supply (i.e. Brrrrrr!)).
    </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    My water supply is the same here in North Northumberland although it is not mains, it's a private borehole. You might want to consider running your prints through a hypo clearing agent before washing, it will reduce the time to about 30 minutes even in cold water. Without the clearing agent I would suggest a 60 minute wash.
     
  7. FrankB

    FrankB Member

    Messages:
    2,147
    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2003
    Location:
    Northwest UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks Les. I'll try the clearing agent, especially as I'm looking at toning some of my prints which means repeated washes, etc. etc.

    Regards,

    Frank
     
  8. Aggie

    Aggie Member

    Messages:
    4,925
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Location:
    So. Utah
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ..
     
  9. MikeK

    MikeK Member

    Messages:
    557
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2003
    Location:
    Walnut Creek
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    One way to speed up your wash is to use a 2-bath fixer regimen followed by a soak in hypo clear. Taking this approach you should be able to get your print wash time down to 35-40 minutes or less.

    In my home darkroom I use a 16x20 tray and the Kodak siphon as the holding tray with the water flow set very low. After a soak in hypo clear I put my prints in my 12x16 Archival Patterson Washer. I picked this up used in the UK from Mr. CAD and paid about $30.00 for it. It was a pain bringing it back to the US but worth the aggrevation.

    For larger prints I use the tray/siphon method.

    The 2-bath fixer method ensures complete fixing without the print picking up the nasty bi-products. I bought a bottle of fixer test and you place drop on the border of a test print, no stain and you are OK. Run some control prints to determine you minimum wash time

    Hope this helps


    Mike
     
  10. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Yes, the one that I built was a vertical slot washer with the double bulkhead design that Zone VI promoted in their washers. No, I have never had any problem with prints buckling. I have washed everything from 5X7 to 16X20 in it.
     
  11. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,981
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country, N. Cal.
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Frank:

    I have a Calumet 20x24 print washer which I've used for a few years. However this year I've been reading a lot of information on the fact that leaving your prints in running water is not as necessary as I had first been taught.

    The new information I've learned is that the prints need the initial wash for a few minutes, then Perma Wash, Hypo Clear, etc then a short wash then soaking. Apparently the fix well leech out of the fiber backing just as well while soaking as in running water. After a while run the water again and then let soak again. This process should only take about half an hour to forty five minutes.

    I now use this method in my print washer and save a lot of water, just by alternating running water and soaking.

    Also there is a web site that discusses this and tells you how to build an inexpensive washer . It is www.fineartphotosupply.com. Then go to "products" then to 'Watersaver Print Wash Kits"

    Later

    Michael McBlane
     
  12. John

    John Member

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2002
  13. mvjim

    mvjim Member

    Messages:
    84
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2003
    Location:
    New York Cit
    Just for general information on these vertical washers. David Vestal wrote an article a few years back where he had run extensive tests on all the washers on the market. His final conclusion was that, with the exception of the Cascading type washer, that most of the washers required well over an hour of wash time (some required up to 2 + hours) to insure that the prints were clean. Even the cascading type required up to 1 1/2 hours depending upon how it was loaded. Just food for thought.
    Also - Les is correct when he mentions that extensive wash time will wash out the print brighteners from FB paper. And today all most all papers contain a brightener. So if your prints don't seem to have that "snap" in your highlights, this might be the reason.
     
  14. edz

    edz Member

    Messages:
    685
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2002
    Location:
    Munich, Germ
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (mvjim @ May 21 2003, 12:15 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>J His final conclusion was that, with the exception of the Cascading type washer, that most of the washers required well over an hour of wash time (some required up to 2 + hours) to insure that the prints were clean. </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Baryta prints should not need more than 20 minutes of washing if processed correctly. The "trick" is to use rapid fixer in high concentration (for example as typical for films) to fix the paper in under 1 minute followed by a quick bath in 1% Soda sicc. solution. The Kodak syphon is a good tool but a nice trick is to let the paper sit for a tiny bit and then dump out the contents to let fresh water come in.. With a Kodak Tray Syphon and another Tray or two for soaking in 20-25C water one can process quite a few prints.. probably more than many of the more expensive washers deploying a less than ideal routine.

    I got a large centrifugal pump and my next "experiment" will be to see about just pumping room temperature water, perhaps filtered through cotton wad,..
     
  15. shooter

    shooter Member

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2003
    The "trick" of the one minute fix with film strength fixer may well put your images on the path to fading much quicker than you expect. Ilford recommends this method... with their papers. Some papers will not fix properly in this time. They also say it works with fresh fixer. This may mean that after two prints in a litre of working solution you have to dump & pour new or lose the working strength and "archival" properties you are looking for.
    Better to use the two bath method & be safe rather than shortcut on time & lose your prints.
     
  16. edz

    edz Member

    Messages:
    685
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2002
    Location:
    Munich, Germ
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (shooter @ May 22 2003, 01:45 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>The "trick" of the one minute fix with film strength fixer may well put your images on the path to fading much quicker than you expect.</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Although slightly more tedious one can--- and probably should--- test papers for their fixing times in YOUR fixing brew of choice (inclusive of concentration), similar to film, as the clearing time X some factor like 2 or 3, depending upon the rejuvination and maintaince of the fixing bath. Overfixing increases the washing times but does not increase the archival perminance of the pictures--- and can via underwashing prove to reduce same. The key is to fix as short a time as need be, inclusive of sufficient room for error given the decline in the effectiveness of fixing baths and the dangers of underfixing, to reduce the demands on washing. This too can be tested for--- washing time for "fresh" fixing is the max. time you'll ever need as washing time will decrease over time.
    In summary:
    - choose a fixing time that is sufficient for the most exhausted state of your fixer you shall be using + a factor for error. 3x the clearing time tends to be more than sufficient.
    - choose a washing time to meet your targets for remaining hypo from a starting point of fixing using the time established above and fresh fixer.

    Following the above procedures I think you will find that using concentrated fixer and a good washing procedure (dumping out the water a few times during the wash) times of 20 min shall prove sufficient.
     
  17. FrankB

    FrankB Member

    Messages:
    2,147
    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2003
    Location:
    Northwest UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Many thanks for everyone who took the time and trouble to reply. I've gathered a lot of information as a result!

    For the time being I'm going to chuck the plans for a cascade washer and adopt the following washing regime:

    Dip / soak in a bath of fresh water for 30 secs to 1 min
    Washaid bath
    Tray washer for 30 mins
    Test at least one work print from each session with a residual hypo test kit.

    If washing starts to slow things down too much I'll build some of Les's tray washers and run them in parallel to my existing unit.

    Then all I have to do is dry the swines flat...!

    Thanks again,

    Frank
     
  18. edz

    edz Member

    Messages:
    685
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2002
    Location:
    Munich, Germ
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What is usefull here are those "old" flatbed print dryers. You maybe won't feel the need to express dry your prints on them or explore the art of ferrotyping but they do very good service to flattening prints and, despite the general view, are, when correctly handled and maintained, hardly less archival than the highly touted practice of using screens and vacuum presses.
     
  19. MikeK

    MikeK Member

    Messages:
    557
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2003
    Location:
    Walnut Creek
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Edz:

    I used one of these dryers for years with good results but ferrotyping was a regal pain. Keeping the glazing sheet clean so a print would not stick became a nightmare.

    I now air dry my prints face down on a fiber glass screen then finish them off in a dry mount press, and ferrotyped prints are now a bad dream from the past :smile:

    Mike
     
  20. edz

    edz Member

    Messages:
    685
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2002
    Location:
    Munich, Germ
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm not advocating these here for gloss.. not even for express drying.. but for flattening of prints.. Used 20x16" driers cost a tiny fraction of vacuum presses and unless one is dry mounting..