Print Washer Design

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Commonman, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. Commonman

    Commonman TPF Noob!

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    I'd like to acquire a nice print washer. I've noticed that I would have to pay a premium to get a design which will keep the rinse water completely separate. But how important is it to keep the rinse water completely separate if I'm the only one using the rinser?
     
  2. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    If the water is not kept separate the wash time starts from the time the last print was added no matter when the first print went in. I held my prints in a tray of regularly changed water until I had a batch to wash, and then put them all in the washer at the same time.

    My print washer would only handle up to 11x14, and I couldn't afford one for bigger prints. I began researching building my own, and found several articles on soak washing. They claimed that fixer is leeched out, and that moving water isn't necessary, at least for fiber base papers. Also the process tends to use less water than a running water washer. I'd use a deep tub, shuffle the prints every 5 to 10 min, and change the water every 30 min for 2 hours. I was using fiber paper, and had no problems with long soak times. RC may be different. Some of these prints are now coming up on 10 years old with no signs of trouble.
     
  3. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    There are several low cost solutions:

    Five gallon buckets for soaking
    Kodak Tray Siphon
    Patterson Print washer
    Old Arkay drum print washers
    slowly running water into a tray in your sink
    Building your own print washer
     
  4. Commonman

    Commonman TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your input (both of you). The primary reason I am looking into a good print washer is that I want to try printing on fiber paper. I've been using RC paper, which, according to what I've heard, requires much less rinsing. This appealed to me because I did not want to spend a lot of time rinsing and I did not want to use a ton of water.
    Now, I'd like to at least try fiber paper. Now I'm questioning why. I've heard that one could not possibly tell the difference (visually) between the two RC and Fiber (all other things being equal). The guy at the IFC said that fiber is better for "archival purposes" - which does not completely convince me since I'm not going to live forever. As far as leaving my art for future generations, well, I'm not sure if it matters. But back to the matter at hand, based on what one of you guys said, I think if, after removing the prints from the fixer, I keep them in a "holding tank" and then put them all in the print washer at once, the completely separate compartment thing will not be an issue.
     
  5. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    A learned eye can certainly, and easily, tell the difference between a fiber print and a plastic print. If you are concerned about quality, archival, better print latitude and producing the best prints possible fiber is your choice.

    If you are not concerned with those things, go with RC, it is cheaper, requires less water usage and most people are perfectly happy with it.

    And no, RC is not archival, no matter who tells you it is.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  6. Michael P. Harker

    Michael P. Harker TPF Noob!

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    The cheapest and most effective print washing solution is a 16x20x2 inch tray and a Kodak Tray siphon - all together about $30 on eBay.

    If you go with fiber-base paper - use two fixing trays, a 2 minute wash after fixing, a 2 minute soak in hypo clearing agent and then a 20 minute batch wash of no more than ten 11x14 prints. After every twenty prints through the first fixer, discard it and make a new tray of fixer, moving the second fixer into the first fixer spot.

    Washing is very important to remove the fixer (acid!) but dissolving the unexposed silver with good fixing is also very important.

    Dry your prints on large plastic screens, which can be made out of firring strips and plastic window screen (buy in bulk rolls).
     

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