View Full Version : Zone VI Washer Operations

Michael Kadillak
27-May-2004, 11:48
I just acquired a Zone VI 16x20 print washer that I have a questions about it that I am hoping that someone can answer for me.

On the discharge side of the washer, there does not appear to be a bottom drain on the opposite side of the washer where the water enters. The only discharge is what appears to be a backup open valve high on the opposite side of the washer.

Do I need to drill a hole in the low section of the discharge side of the washer and tap a thread for a drain or will this washer work effectively without a bottom drain? Was a single drain the way they came from the Zone VI?

Thanks in advance!

27-May-2004, 11:58
That's the way they came. Fred Picker was of the opinion (since opposed by others) that fixer laden water was heavier than plain water. Thus the washer is designed for the water to flow over the prints, down to the bottom of the washer, and up and out of the discharge hole. It was designed this way so the fixer would be washed away from the print, and also so that the washer would remain filled with water if the supply were cut off for some reason - the prints would always remain in water.

As I said, some people dispute Fred's assertions about fixer laden water. I'm not a chemist, so I don't know, but the washers have a good reputation.

Kevin Crisp
27-May-2004, 12:27
Michael: The drain (during operation) is on the top, at the opposite end of the inlet, also at the top. There should be a large white plastic fitting on one end, that is the drain side, the inlet for the water is smaller diameter. There should be a drain on the bottom (below the outlet fitting at the top, on the same end) with a plastic tube with a device to squeeze it shut. That is what is used to drain in when you are done.

Michael Kadillak
27-May-2004, 12:46
There is no bottom drain hole anywhere on the washer. I would guess that draining the washer in these circumstances would involve tipping over the unit to dump the water. What is confusing to me is if these came from Zone VI without bottom drains and those that I have see with them were installed in the secondary markets or by the users themselves. I would rather not mess with the unit it if works adequately the way it is.


27-May-2004, 13:00
All of the Zone VI washers I've seen have a drain near the bottom on the side opposite the inlet. I own three of the washers. The first, an 11x14, was purchased almost 15 years ago and it came with the drain then, so I don't think the drain idea is a recent innovation. In fact, it's almost necessary. A full print washer is pretty heavy and tipping it to empty may place it under unnecessary load. I would suggest a length of hose to siphon it to a reasonable level where it can then be dumped without risking a flood of near-biblical proportion.

Michael Kadillak
27-May-2004, 13:19
Great suggestion William for a siphon. I will leave it as it is and just deal with it. Thanks for the assistance

27-May-2004, 14:18
The washers came both ways with and without a bottom drain. one with a bottom drain were made after 1988. I have one with out the drain and use a siphon. Just go to a good hard ware store and buy a short piece of hose.

Brian Ellis
27-May-2004, 14:35
The Zone VI washers I've owned and used used in workshops have all had a small drain hole at the bottom of the washer to which a narrow plastic tube about a foot long was connected. The hole and tube were located on the same side as the larger tube at the top of the washer that is used to let water discharge during operation. The washers were built that way at the factory, the small drain hole at the bottom isn't something that users added themselves. If you have to tip your washer over to get the water out I'd think you're going to have a serious problem, a washer big enough for 16x20 prints that is full of water is one heavy, cumbersome beast.

If in fact you don't have the small drain hole at the bottom of one of the short sides of the washer then there are a couple possibilites: (1) you don't have a Zone VI washer (yours does say "Zone VI Studios, Inc. Newfane, Vermont" in large black letters on each of the two long sides, right?), (2) you have a factory reject Zone VI washer that was never supposed to be sold, or (3) you have the prototype that Fred Picker built by hand in his garage or another early version made before the design was fully refined (I've never heard of there being such a version but I can't say that the design of Zone VI washers is something to which I've devoted a lot of attention over the years).

Steve Williams_812
27-May-2004, 14:58
I have a Zone VI 11x14 washer. During wash operations water exits through the top drain. The lower drain plug is only for emptying the washer for cleaning.

Mine works fine and tests of wash prints show them to be washed....


Alec Jones
27-May-2004, 15:01
The Zone VI washers with a bottom drain were the later models. For the first 10 years or so, they did NOT have that fixture [sorry Brian, but your response is just WET]. The earlier washers did NOT have black paint letters - first they were CLEAR, then SILVER, finally BLACK. With respect to your items (2) and (3), "surely, sir you must be speaking in jest". FYI, there WERE several versions over the years.

Fred strongly advised not to tip the loaded washer because the weight could easily break the wall joints. His instructions were to siphon as much water as possible first. Yes, it might take awhile, but just start it one night when you leave the darkroom and it will be almost empty the next morning. There is ordinarily no hurry.

I'd suggest you consider adding a few drops of clorex when the washer isn't being used to inhibit growth of STRANGE THINGS in that fertile environment [seems to originate from the "slime" that accumulates over time]. Also, a water flow meter will pay for itself over time. Only a small flow [1 gal/min] is recommended. Fred said anything more is only wasted. In fact, the washer will work well with a number of soakings where the water isn't flowing at all, but is refreshed between soaking.

Michael Kadillak
27-May-2004, 15:14
The first 16x20 washer I purchased had the lower drain and it was busted all to hell during shipping as the box must have been put on its side and the weight of the unit (over 80#) caved in the side of the point where the lower drain valve was installed. The replacement I found for it is clearly an earlier Zone VI offering.

Many thanks to all for the insightful comments.


Witold Grabiec
27-May-2004, 20:01
Just my two cents: there is no science in installing a drain in the washer you have. Siphoning is OK but you will still have to tip the thing in the end if you really need it plain empty. Washer's strength is designed for an upright position while loaded, so draining or siphoning are the only two safe and inexpensive options.

I would search something like www.usplastic.com for a small suitable plug and install it.

Brian Ellis
28-May-2004, 15:02
Relax Alec, didn't the "prototype built by Fred Picker by hand in his garage," combined with the last sentence, maybe give you at least a hint that a little humor was intended?