View Full Version : Arkay print washer

Bill Kumpf
27-Mar-2006, 06:12
Has anyone used an Arkay’s Loadmaster print washer model 1620A? This stainless steel unit consists of a horizontal drum that rotates within outer chamber. It is driven by water pressure. Do the prints actually tumble? Does this damage the prints?

I currently use a Kodak tray siphon. Is this an improvement?

Thanks is advance

Joseph O'Neil
27-Mar-2006, 06:45
Yep, I have one. Bought it used, but in good shape. I never use it anymore. Couple of problems;

1) Uses a huge pile of water, and you have to ahve the water pressure pretty high to get the drum to rotate;

2) Damaged prints. Dunno if I am doing it right or not, but the couple times I tried it, I damaged my prints. Never again.

I think this washer is/was designed for large, public darkrooms - the one I boought it from was a darkroom at a local university that was open to the student population (you had to sign up, reserve times, etc, ec, but essentially a public darkroom for sudent rental use).

In this enviroment, you had litterally several students at once washing prints, most often RC paper, and if memory serves me correctly, becasue I used to use that darkroom myself about 20 years ago, it was mostly smaller print - 4x6 or 5x7, you very seldom saw 8x10's in the washing drum.

So, if you are planning to use it for washing a pile of RC 4x6 prints at once, you'll love it, but otherwise, for say 8x10 or 11x14 FB prints, you can only do one at a time, and even then I've had a print damaged. Also, when you see the volume of water used, and the space taken up by this thing. a tray and siphon looks really good.

I now use an old, old Patterson print washer - you can see a newer version here

Mine does up to 11x14, and for 20x24 prints, I go back to the Kodak tray and siphon.

good luck


Joseph O'Neil
27-Mar-2006, 06:47
PS - forgot one more reaosn I don't like the thing - very, very LOUD. Squeaky loud. Think about it, how do you lubricate the drum bearings that stay under water without cross contanminating your prints?


ronald moravec
27-Mar-2006, 07:20
It needs new bearings. Contact Arkay or Berry Berring. I guess it uses sintered bronze ones that are self lubracating or there are seals missing or worn that isolate the bearings from the water.

It is designed for fiber prints, not RC. It will damage RC.

For my low volumn work, I just add fresh water to a tray and shuffle the prints. Then move to a new tray with fresh water and reshuffle. About 6/8 trays and a few weighted soaks will get them clean with far less water. This works because fresh water is always being used, not diluted dirty water.

I never have bought a print washer because of the large volumns of water required to run them. The trade off is 1/2 hr of labor.

neil poulsen
27-Mar-2006, 08:52
I've used one for years. I would agree that they're loud. I got mine for $100 and only recently purchased a new 11x14 Versalab washer.

Frankly, I would steer clear of the 1620. Even for fiber prints, the prints tend to drift together, and there's a question of how effectively they're washed when that occurs.

Joseph O'Neil
27-Mar-2006, 09:44
Quote:: "It needs new bearings. Contact Arkay or Berry Berring. I guess it uses sintered bronze ones that are self lubracating or there are seals missing or worn that isolate the bearings from the water."

Good advice - exactly the problem. I actually did look into that a few years ago. Then I found out a new set of bearings would cost more, a lot more, than I paid for the whole washer itself.

Quote:: "It is designed for fiber prints, not RC. It will damage RC. "

You gave me a good, unintentional laugh. The times I used it, while it was still in the university darkroom, I almost never, ever saw anything but RC prints in it. First time I ever tried a box of 8x10, FB paper, I was up there, put a couple of my prints in (after wasting half the box to begin with- but that's another story :), and you know what happened? Those little 4x5 RC prints with thier sharp corners just speared the living heck out of my single weight, FB paper prints (like I siad, I was pretty green at the time - single weight FB paper - ugh! :).

Well, my poor prints looked like somebody hit them with a shotgun loaded with razor blades.

The only reason I bought the washer years later when they shut the darkroom down is it was part of a larger package deal - in order to get the enlarger and a few other items I wanted, I had to buy a whole group of items at once.


ronald moravec
27-Mar-2006, 12:07
You mean the RC ones didn`t spear the othe RC ones?

Single weight- I don`t see how anybody can work with that stuff at all unless it it ferrotyped.

My photomentor ran a wedding business for 20 years and was very fussy about quality. No expense or effort was spared to furnish the very best. He used one of the Arkay drums and tested each batch for residual hypo. He never had prints come back stained or faded.

You probably have to be careful not to overload it just like a washing machine.

Mark Sampson
27-Mar-2006, 13:40
Basically, it's an obsolete beast that's difficult to work with, is well known for damaging prints, and delivers a wash of qustionable quality. The vertical-slot print washers, (from the East Street Gallery original to whatever's available today) were invented to deal with the shortcomings of the rotary washers and the tray-siphon method.