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,
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.
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.
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! :-) 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?! :-) 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!
</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! :-) What would you suggest for a suitable washing time (water temp is usual UK mains supply (i.e. Brrrrrr!)).
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.
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.
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
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.