For some time now I have been looking for a way to improve my print washing. This is more to do with how well they are washed when I have a batch of half a dozen or so processed prints. At the moment I use a homemade tray that is sloped, with running water coming in at the top and is dammed at the bottom to create a reservoir before flowing through holes that control the level. But this only allows me to wash a couple of prints at a time which needs to be agitated now and again by hand. The solution would be a slot style washer.
This has been a thorn in my mind for sometime, that now needs to be removed. So before I build a new one I should do some research. I started off by asking a question on the FADU forum about slot widths to get an idea of what the average size maybe but not necessarily the optimum. This led to a post by another member pointing me in the direction of Martin Reed's Mysteries of the vortex research (part 1 and part 2) on how slot style washers work. It is quite an illuminating read but was a bit heavy going in places.
First of all we need to go back a step to the fixing process, because what you do here has a big bearing on how well and quickly your prints are washed. I prefer to use a rapid fix which is a plus point but it needs to be timed correctly. Next it is a good idea to place the newly fixed print straight into a water bath and agitate for a minute before placing in the hypo clearing; which is a must for FB papers in reducing wash time. ( I no long use Hypo clearing because my new wash method has shown it's not needed) When it comes to RC papers I exclude the Hypo as the papers absorption rate is next to nothing. No matter what paper I'm using they all go into a water filled holding tray until I have finished a number of prints. It just so happens that this is a good move. While the prints are in the water the Thiosulpate salts are being leached from the the papers.
When I embarked on this research I had not envisaged how complex the wash process was. I suspect not many others give it the consideration it needs either.