Epson 4900 – More False Progress
Just when I thought I was turning the corner and getting ready to put this printer to work, I’ve discovered a failure in my methodology. I now know that all the progress I thought I had made was an illusion. The system is not any better than when I first received it.
Two days ago I removed the print head from the printer. This is actually very easy and only involves removing a dozen or so small Philips head screws. I also removed the selector assembly, which sits on top of the actual print head. The print head was surprisingly clean and passed cleaning fluid through all of the colors except black. The selector assembly still had old ink in many channels, in indication that piezoflush was not getting through from the cartridges (which are filled with piezoflush, not ink).
After cleaning, reassembling, running an ink charge and doing a #3 (strong) head cleaning, I found that I had all ten colors printing when I printed a 10-color purge page. A purge page is an image you print to make the printer exercise all of its colors. It’s basically ten vertical colored stripes with each stripe being exactly the color of one of the channels. As encouraging as this was, I knew I still had a problem. A nozzle test of the printer printed only three colors. The three colors did print perfectly, which is good, but the other seven colors were totally absent. I expected some of the channels to still have clogging, but this should have been indicated by nozzle checks that were partially or mostly present – not missing entirely.
Not knowing the answer to this, I did what I always do – post a question on a forum where knowledgeable people lurk. I posted to both luminous-landscape.com and inkjetmall.com (Cone Inks). A poster on inkjetmall.com responded and informed me that the 10-color purge page is not a valid test of the print head. To do a proper test of the channels one needs to run the calibration mode page in the application Quad Tone Rip (QTR). I have QTR – it is what I will use to print with when I get the 4900 running – so I went ahead and printed the calibration page. Oops – the calibration print showed that I only have three channels working. All of the others are out of commission. This validated the nozzle test and proved the 10-color purge page to be erroneous.
So now I know I have a printer with only three functioning colors out of ten. I need seven to do the black and white work I hope to do with the machine. My next step will be to replace the printer head with an alternative that I have. If any of the missing seven colors print, it will indicate that my old head is junk. If only the three current colors print it will indicate that something upstream from the print head, probably the dampers, is out of order. I’ll then need to start swapping the dampers around to see if I can isolate the failed components.
I still have a lot of work to do. The actual parts swapping is not time consuming, but each ink charge takes nearly and hour and #3 cleanings take twenty minutes or so. Add in the time to run test prints and suddenly you have chewed up a good part of the day. Good thing I’m retired!
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