Archival print washer types

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avantclard

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Howdy, so I’m going to be purchasing an archival print washer from Underredlight, who is now offering gravity drainage as well as overflow drainage. I’ve messaged back and forth with Oleksander (the maker of these) about the features of each, but I wanted to ask if anyone here has used either or both types, and what their preferences are/were? Any feedback is much appreciated
 

Sirius Glass

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I have a Kostiner which something that sounds to be the same generic type washer. The water has a bottom drain and can overflow the excess water. I have it placed in the bathtub and it works well.

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Pieter12

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I have a Zone VI archival washer that uses overflow (both the inlet and outlet are at the top of the washer). I believe the theory behind that is the fixer settles at the bottom. Anyway, it seems to work fine but none of my prints have been around for long enough and I haven’t bothered testing for residual fixer.
 

jeffreyg

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I also have a Zone VI which works fine for very many years. They aren’t around anymore. Thorough washing by any means is what counts. The Zone VI has individual compartments for each sheet. It drains from the top through a hose so you can put it on a counter top and have it drain into a sink.
 

Lachlan Young

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The Nova ones are some of the the most sensibly designed (plenum inlet at bottom, overflow into drainage compartment at top, textured spacers), but so they should be, given that they got input from Ilford on the rheology involved. Any of the washers based on fixer being heavier than water are based on a pretty major failure of understanding about what happens the moment even a small amount of turbulence/ agitation is introduced...

What matters is to the efficiency of wash is the water change rate, the amount of agitation and the compartmentalisation of each slot (so that you aren't continually re-contaminating partly washed prints.
 

Saganich

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I have a large 20x24 overflow washer and a smaller gravity drain washer I use for film. The overflow is great if you don't have a giant sink. I keep mine on a rolling cart. The downside is if your not in a sink or bathtub you have set the flow precisely and keep a close eye on it. An increase in waster pressure will overflow the washer all over the floor. So it's not something you can walk away from for a few hours. Learned that the hard way. Not an issue with gravity washers, but you generally need a sink to put it... unless you fit an extension hose over the outlet I suppose. Never tried that.
 

logan2z

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The Nova ones are some of the the most sensibly designed (plenum inlet at bottom, overflow into drainage compartment at top, textured spacers), but so they should be, given that they got input from Ilford on the rheology involved. Any of the washers based on fixer being heavier than water are based on a pretty major failure of understanding about what happens the moment even a small amount of turbulence/ agitation is introduced...

What matters is to the efficiency of wash is the water change rate, the amount of agitation and the compartmentalisation of each slot (so that you aren't continually re-contaminating partly washed prints.

I have the Nova Washmaster Eco and it works very well. The only negative for me is that the separators seem to bow after I drain the washer at the end of a session. It sometimes takes a few days for them to get back to their original shape. I've spoken to Nova and they told me that each separator is shaped by hand at the factory to fit a given washer slot and it's imperative that they are always placed in the slots for which they have been sized. I always ensure that but they still bow. I'm not entirely sure what causes this, but the only explanation I can come up with is that they expand a tiny bit after the washer has been drained (don't know why) and that causes them to be slightly wider than the distance between the two vertical slots holding them in the washer, and so they bow as a result. Not a big deal, they do always return to their original shape, but it's still a bit annoying. The only other thing is that they market it as a 5-slot washer but the 5th slot doesn't have a textured surface to agitate the wash water. You can also convert the rapid pre-wash slot to a 6th wash shot but it also doesn't have a textured surface. So, I treat it as a 4-slot washer which is generally good enough for my purposes. Shipping from the UK to the US is pretty expensive as well, but that's certainly no fault of Nova's.
 

mshchem

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I have installed a pump on a couple of my washers. Adopted a "dishwasher" approach. I fill the washer as usual, put rinsed prints in, turn on the pump and run it for 20-30 minutes repeat a couple times. This allows for vigorous, turbulent flow across the print. I use Kodak Hypo Clearing Agent after fix, then a brief minute or two rinse, then into the washer. Easier to keep water temperature around room temperature as well.
I've picked up color processor pumps when price was good. Had to rig power supplies. Pretty much any washer can be fitted with a pump.

20240212_141201.jpg
 

Pieter12

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I have installed a pump on a couple of my washers. Adopted a "dishwasher" approach. I fill the washer as usual, put rinsed prints in, turn on the pump and run it for 20-30 minutes repeat a couple times. This allows for vigorous, turbulent flow across the print. I use Kodak Hypo Clearing Agent after fix, then a brief minute or two rinse, then into the washer. Easier to keep water temperature around room temperature as well.
I've picked up color processor pumps when price was good. Had to rig power supplies. Pretty much any washer can be fitted with a pump.

View attachment 362951
Is a pump really necessary? Won't water pressure alone do the job? I have never seen an archival washer that requires a pump.
 

Lachlan Young

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I have the Nova Washmaster Eco and it works very well. The only negative for me is that the separators seem to bow after I drain the washer at the end of a session. It sometimes takes a few days for them to get back to their original shape. I've spoken to Nova and they told me that each separator is shaped by hand at the factory to fit a given washer slot and it's imperative that they are always placed in the slots for which they have been sized. I always ensure that but they still bow. I'm not entirely sure what causes this, but the only explanation I can come up with is that they expand a tiny bit after the washer has been drained (don't know why) and that causes them to be slightly wider than the distance between the two vertical slots holding them in the washer, and so they bow as a result. Not a big deal, they do always return to their original shape, but it's still a bit annoying. The only other thing is that they market it as a 5-slot washer but the 5th slot doesn't have a textured surface to agitate the wash water. You can also convert the rapid pre-wash slot to a 6th wash shot but it also doesn't have a textured surface. So, I treat it as a 4-slot washer which is generally good enough for my purposes. Shipping from the UK to the US is pretty expensive as well, but that's certainly no fault of Nova's.

I probably should have said that the concepts of the Nova design are good, but that the capacity of some of them is a bit small - as good as the Eco is, it was clearly meant for home/ small scale users, with bigger capacity users being directed to the Academy. Sometimes it would be really useful to have an 8x10 version with 12-15 slots...
 

Sirius Glass

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Is a pump really necessary? Won't water pressure alone do the job? I have never seen an archival washer that requires a pump.

I have never needed a water pump either. The water flow will take care of that. Also one can use Hypo Clearing Agent to reduce the washing time and saving water.
 

DREW WILEY

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All my acrylic slot washers use a combination of automatic siphon from the bottom along with a bit of direct bottom drain. Very water efficient and gentle. Aggressive water flow is not desirable. I made three sizes of them:11X14, 16X20, and 20X24. My 30X40 washer works on a different premise.
 

mshchem

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To each it's own. Probably diffusion is adequate. These washers were invented to sell. 2 of the 3 washers I have came to me for 5 cents on the dollar, at least a decade old, took me hours to get the protective film off the plexiglass dividers. Water here is under pressure, air dissolves in the water, when it exits the tap the air comes out of solution. Very tiny air bells collect on the surface of the paper, preventing salts in the paper from being dissolved in the wash water. If you run 3 gallons per minute or faster you can get away with it. Slower I have issues.
All commercial color processing works with these pumps. Counter current washing final tank flows into 2nd to last, 2nd to last flows into 3rd to last.
This is how critical solvent cleaning works.
I'm not going to fool around with Counter current washers. I just use recirculation for a period, siphon off the water refill rapidly, run the pump again, repeat until desired residual fix is reached.

It's only logical.
 

mshchem

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I have never needed a water pump either. The water flow will take care of that. Also one can use Hypo Clearing Agent to reduce the washing time and saving water.

I've been using hypo clear since it came in yellow cardboard boxes with wax paper liners and sold for 49 cents. 😆
 

mshchem

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Is a pump really necessary? Won't water pressure alone do the job? I have never seen an archival washer that requires a pump.

There's some washers that use big bubbles of air to help circulation.

One very important thing to consider, here in Iowa the mains water is very cold 4°-10° C year round. Using hypo clearing agent really helps (according to the Kodak guides of old) reduce the need for 20° C wash water.
Cold water makes washing inefficient on even ineffective.
Always good idea to test for residuals.
 

DREW WILEY

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Whether the bubbles helped at all is questionable. I think it was Salthill which tried that concept.
 
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The main thing with any washer is adequate and even flow to change the water enough over the course of washing. When in doubt, drain and fill the washer 2/3 of the way through the wash cycle.

Testing washing is easy. Run several fully-fixed but unexposed pieces of paper through the wash cycle, pulling and testing them overall with HT-2 at different intervals (submerging the whole print in a tray would be best, but drops in strategic spots of the print works well too). You can see if edges get washed sooner or vice-versa, or if there are dead spots in your washer.

Best,

Doremus.
 

gordrob

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took me hours to get the protective film off the plexiglass dividers.

I have a 20x24 Gravity Works print washer sitting in the garage with the protective paper film on the dividers. I tried last summer when i got the washer to remove the paper and quickly realized that it was going to take some time to remove the covering. Maybe a project for the spring when the weather starts to warm up.
 

RalphLambrecht

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Howdy, so I’m going to be purchasing an archival print washer from Underredlight, who is now offering gravity drainage as well as overflow drainage. I’ve messaged back and forth with Oleksander (the maker of these) about the features of each, but I wanted to ask if anyone here has used either or both types, and what their preferences are/were? Any feedback is much appreciated

both work fine. You need to find out which will work with your setup for draining the water. If it is standing on your work surface, an overflow drainage is, obviously, not work for you but, if you can have it in your sink, all is fine. Also, consider that they are very heavy when full and shouldn't be moved when full(one reason being your poor back, the other hat the washer may crack). So. a drain option is very useful!
 

mshchem

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I have a 20x24 Gravity Works print washer sitting in the garage with the protective paper film on the dividers. I tried last summer when i got the washer to remove the paper and quickly realized that it was going to take some time to remove the covering. Maybe a project for the spring when the weather starts to warm up.

Sometimes a little gentle heat from a blow dryer may help. I have a 16x20 washer and 11x14 washer that I got this way. It took a lot tugging to get the paper peeled off. I use my 8x10 frequently, the others occasionally 😊
Beautiful stuff, I got this stuff when the original owner wanted it gone, except for the 8x10, I've been using it for over 30 years.
 

DREW WILEY

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The paper was still left on the dividers??? Wow, never heard of that one before. It can be miserable to remove when old. You can get a special solvent for its adhesive at plastic shops. Citrus solvent like De-Solv-It also works well if you're patient. Wear nitrile gloves; and if you need help from a putty knife, make sure it's a plastic one to prevent scratching the acrylic.
 
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