Print washer as stop-bath
I'm new posting, but have already looked through a couple hundred pages in the forum---quite impressive! I am in the process of setting up my b&w darkroom after being without one for MANY years. I have been slowly getting what I was missing through Craigslist and now am ready to start assembling/fabricating what I need to complete the project. I even found a 16x24 print washer. A bathroom we don't use much, except when we have company, has been secured! The plan is to build a table over the tub (wet side) and a shelf over the toilet for the enlarger, all this can easily be removed when necessary. The washer will be set on a low shelf in the middle of the table, the shelf will be low enough so that the top of the washer will be just about the same level as the developer and fixer trays. This design will give me two 21" wings on either side of the print washer, which allows for a 16x24 max print--this should be more than what I plan on needing. The print washer MUST be part of the table layout as I don't really have room to install it anywhere else. My question, does anyone see any drawbacks to using the print washer as a stop bath as well as to wash prints simultaneously? This is assuming I can keep track of which prints are getting "stop-bath rinsed" and which are getting the final wash. I plan on using RC paper. Any and all input will be greatly appreciated!
Even though your print washer may be continuously running and changing water you will also be continuously contaminating the wash. Another solution for your limited space would be a tray stacker. That would let you have three trays with the footprint of one. Check at B&H or Calumet for availability and sizes.
Hmm... introducing developer whilst simultaniously removing fixer. I wouldn't do it, but thats just me. My work means too much to me to chance a problem. Is there a reason you aren't using an acid stop? I know some folks don't use it, but it negates any chance of contaminating the fix, and the possibility of improperly fixed prints, or maybe even allowing for stains on the print.
“What is a master but a master student? And if that's true, then there's a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession.”ť
I think you will want the developer closer to the enlarger (unless you are such a speed demon that you are on to another print before the first is out of the developer).
Get a smaller set of trays for normal prints. flowing water is good for a stop bath, but a print washer is overkill. If you are using a normal fixer, use a normal acidic stop bath. If you are using an alkalai stop bath like tf[3,4,5] then water is the choice.
I've built a stand for stacking the big trays in my darkroom too. Not many people have room for 4 monster trays (dev, stop, fix, wash)
You could use the outflow from the print washer to feed a tray used for a continuous flow water stop.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
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Thank you for your input. I do like the idea of stacking the trays. I had thought of if at the beginning but I figured it had a major drawback as I hadn't seen them mentioned anywhere, even by those with small/cramped darkrooms. If everything goes well, I will start and finish the darkroom this coming weekend. I already upgraded the fan to a quiet, high efficiency unit, the only drawback is I won't be able to install a secondary fan for positive pressure in the darkroom---hopefully dust won't become an issue. I also have the hardware to get the water from the tub's spout. I also have a couple of rolls that I already developed, ready to start playing!
The cross contamination makes sense. I thought the amount of developer in the wash(with continuous flow) would be so minimal as to not be an issue. I'll look for a way to test for that.
The reason use the washer as a "stop bath" is because of room, I don't have much flat surface area to put all the trays(in the sizes I would like).
The washer would be running anyways since I will need to wash the prints. I actually got a very nice assortment of trays with the purchase of the washer so I will be able to use the appropriate size to minimize chemical waste. As far as the developer tray placement, it was put there just for the benefit of showing an image---a picture is truly worth a thousand words!
I just don't have the room to have a separate tray for the washer's overflow.
I had read once that exhausted developer actually makes for a pretty good hypo clearing agent. I believe it was in The Amateur Photographer's Handbook by Aaron Sussman. Although I personally believe that an acetic acid stopbath is the best thing for halting development like a Ford Pinto slamming into a bridge abutment. Sometimes it's all you've got to salvage the print that seems to come up with runaway development. As far as contamination, if you're using a rotary washer like the old Richards, the contamination would be like peeing in the ocean.
Here is a picture of the washer, I don't know if there are many other models but mine is for 16"x20" prints. It's fairly long and high, but the nice thing is that it's only 12" wide. As mentioned previously, it will be inset into the table so that all I will "see" in the table's surface is a 12" wide tray.
My bathroom layout looks almost exactly like yours.
I have my 16x20 washer in the tub itself, with a tub-sized table over top. Thus my workflow is dev/stop/fix across the top of the table, rinse in an 18x22 tray fed from the washer overflow as Matt King suggest, wash aid in a similar tray that sits on top of the print washer, then into the washer. Sort of over-the-top, then under-the-bottom routing. The wash aid tray position will have to be reworked when I start printing 16x20, but 11x14 is fine with the above set up.
Might that type of scenario work for your needs?