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Thread: Multiple Print Washers?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2019
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    Multiple Print Washers?

    Hey all,

    I'm planning on picking up an archival print washer, but I've been a bit stuck on what size to get. My question is, do people tend to own multiple print washers? I do print up to 20x24 from time to time, but mostly do 8x10 and 11x14, with some 16x20. On the one hand it seems silly to use a huge washer for a bunch of 8x10s, but on the other hand for the price of multiple washers I can buy an awful lot of film/paper. (Or even a new lens or two--these things are expensive!) What do people recommend?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    Multiple Print Washers?

    I’d go for one, being the largest one you can fit that you would use with some regularity. It sounds like a 16x20 would work for 99% of what you do.

    Only if you have really lots of space and money makes sense to get multiple sizes, but there’s no real good reason.

  3. #3
    Huub
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    Re: Multiple Print Washers?

    I have 2 to be honest - one for 30X40 paper, which i also use for smaller prints, and a big one for 50X60, which i use for 40X50 and 50x60 paper. The 50X60 is a huge thing, needing a lot of water to fill and not really suited for very small prints as they will sink to the bottom and will be hard to get out again.

  4. #4

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    Re: Multiple Print Washers?

    You mentioned printing to 20x24 "from time to time," and "some" 16x20's...so here's a question: When you do print in these two sizes...how many of these are there in your holding tray at the end of a session? Over ten? Less than five? Or maybe one or two?

    Some things to ponder...One - that large print washers are, well, large (and heavy when full) and use quite a bit of water. Large washers are pricier and pretty expensive to ship. In the darkroom, if a typical session of doing larger prints ends with between one and four prints (up to 6 16x20's) in the holding tray...you can wash very effectively using the "shuffle method" (gently shuffling prints with intermittent water changes both prior to and after a fixer remover bath). True, larger prints are a bit more tricky to handle with the care needed to prevent creases...but actually quite easy with a bit of practice. (The same cannot be said for really large prints...like 30x40 and 40x60 - which I process and wash individually).

    I suppose the downside of the above (shuffle washing) scenario is that you need to stay with your prints until they are completely washed, which pretty much necessitates the use of a wash aid (fixer remover) to make this practical...while you can basically leave your prints in a dedicated washer for the complete cycle - and come back after you've had supper, watched a video, had a few drinks, added a few pieces to that puzzle...whatever.

    Perhaps another way to consider this question is to look at the number of slots available for a given print washer...and ask yourself - "am I going to come close to filling those slots for X sized prints?"

    At any rate...just a few things to ponder!

  5. #5

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    Re: Multiple Print Washers?

    My advice, based on the description of your printing needs, would be to get an 11x14 print washer and wash the bigger prints in a tray.

    But life is never simple, to whit:

    Over many years, I have accumulated three washers (11x14, 16x20 and 20x24); the 11x14 is the one that gets used 90% of the time I print and is permanently set up, while the others are ‘sitting pretty’ in a corner most of the time.

    Whenever I print large prints I don’t accumulate very many (3-5) and tend to use a Kodak Tray Siphon, shuffling the prints, as mentioned by John Layton above. So why do I keep these beasts around? Because: there have been those couple of times when I printed large runs of 12x16 and 20x24 prints and the larger washers saved a lot of time. But soon, very soon, either the 16x20 or the 20x24 will have to go to make space for something else. I am very undecided as to which will have to go.

    And then, get this: I wish I had an 8x10 washer for the huge amount of 5x7 prints I have been making lately. They sink to the bottom of the 11x14 washer and it’s a nuisance to fish them out.

  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Multiple Print Washers?

    Quote Originally Posted by MCohn View Post
    Hey all,

    I'm planning on picking up an archival print washer, but I've been a bit stuck on what size to get. My question is, do people tend to own multiple print washers? I do print up to 20x24 from time to time, but mostly do 8x10 and 11x14, with some 16x20. On the one hand it seems silly to use a huge washer for a bunch of 8x10s, but on the other hand for the price of multiple washers I can buy an awful lot of film/paper. (Or even a new lens or two--these things are expensive!) What do people recommend?
    I have a 20x24 archival washer, but for smaller prints I use Hypo clearing agent and Kodak tray siphon for 5 minutes while continuously flipping through the prints. Works pretty well, seeing as it can take 5 minutes just to setup and fill the 20x24.

    Another thought I have had is that since my large prints are frequently for display, I'd use RC paper for large prints. Why waste and archival process on a print that won't be stored in archival conditions?

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    Re: Multiple Print Washers?

    Space and work flow/volume - I don't need anything bigger than 11x14 for 90% of the prints I make, and my Versalab unit is about the right size for my needs and available space. If I take the dividers rack out of the Versalab and put in my own large print holder (it looks like a rounded 'W' in profile) I can do two 20x16 at a time. That's enough for me as I can trade capacity for some time and inconvenience, but would be nothing like enough capacity for a lot of people.

  8. #8

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    Re: Multiple Print Washers?

    An additional note about shuffling fiber prints...I usually do this with the prints face to face and back to back - limiting the possibility that the "toothier" (reverse) side of a print will be in sliding contact with the more delicate emulsion side of another. Not sure if this really makes that much difference...but I figure that as I also use a non-hardening fix (as I think most of us do these days), which does put the print emulsion at a bit more risk of being scratched/abraded - why take the chance? Also, at several points in my wash cycles I will flip all of the prints over...to make sure that they all get more or less "equal treatment."

  9. #9

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    Re: Multiple Print Washers?

    I have two sizes: 11x14 and 16x20. My Versalab 16x20 washer has an insert that allows it to take 20x24 prints. Works well enough for the few I make. In my limited space, a dedicated 20 by 24 washer wouldn't be practical.

    My 11x14s take care of everything else. I've got two Paterson 11x14 washers that I've modified somewhat to have better water flow plus I've made weights for the print basket to hold smaller prints down.


    Best,

    Doremus

  10. #10

    Join Date
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    Re: Multiple Print Washers?

    I have two washers, an 11x14 Summitek, and a 16x20 Kostiner. The Summitek washes 8x10 and sometimes 11x14, otherwise the Kostiner handles 11x14, and occasionally 16x20.
    notch codes ? I only use one film...

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