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Raw & Post Processing, Printing => Printing: Printers, Papers and Inks => Topic started by: Roger_Breton on January 28, 2014, 03:36:09 PM

Title: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on January 28, 2014, 03:36:09 PM
I have an Epson 4900 purchased in July 2011.
Never had to clean it. Worked beautifully.
Diligently performed nozzle check at least twice a week.
In all, I can't I printed all that much.

But two weeks ago, I noticed a few lines missing in the Photo Black, on the nozzle check?
I curse the day I fired that pair-cleaning because as soon as it finished, the PK has stayed blocked, solid.

I read a lot on this forum and others, about this printer clogging problems, seeking a solution.

After exhausting all the usual, cleaning fluid, power cleaning and what not, I tried the Windex approach.
Didn't make a dent in the PK clog.

I bought the Service Manual online and tried my way to take the head apart, to clean it.
But after reassembling the unit back, I got a perfect blank nozzle check -- I sure cleaned it thoroughly!

So now, I have to try to figure what is it that is causing the total blank out.
Why aren't any heads printing at all.

The only cleaning solution I had on hand was 95% alcool, which I injected through the intakes on the top of the head.
The surface of the head itself looked pristine.

Perhaps, the 95% alcool solution wasn't a good idea after all?
But, as I was injecting the solution through all 10 intakes, I could it being sprayed in straight, parrallel drops on the other side of the head. This, told me that the head does not need to be changed. At least, from a mechanical point of view.

Perhaps when I reseated the Inking Assembly? But even then.

I plan to reopen the printer, to take the head apart once more, later on tonight, but this time, to inject simple water through the intakes (or distilled water), to see whether the head is now blocked or not, as a consequence of my attempts to clean it.

If it is not blocked then the problem could come from the Inking Assembly itself, I figure? Someone on this forum mentioned that a new one could be had for $180, which would be reasonnable, provided that this would fix the problem.

But, as you can see, I am no Epson technician.

Any suggestion is welcome.

Roger Breton



Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on January 28, 2014, 03:58:06 PM
As you may have read, I've had awful head clogging issues with my 4900. Today I went to print and did a nozzle check. The paper came out white, every nozzel completely clogged. Then I got this Maintenance 4000 error and I'm told to look in the manual about it. Couldn't find a thing.

I haven’t tried any cleaning outside what the unit can do by itself. Maybe I should try it, nothing to lose as this is a huge paper weight at this time. I have no idea how to go about taking anything apart and cleaning with Windex or anything else.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on January 28, 2014, 04:17:08 PM
But after reassembling the unit back, I got a perfect blank nozzle check -- I sure cleaned it thoroughly!


Roger, have you tried printing something larger than a nozzle check, an image for instance?

After flushing the printhead there will be some cleaning fluid in the head and possibly air in the dampers and possibly the ink lines as well.

Did the dampers look ok, worth checking for clogging in them as well while you have it apart.

I'd forget about power cleaning and try just printing images to see if you can prime the dampers and head with ink.

Brian.

Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 28, 2014, 04:52:54 PM
Cleaning interspaced with printing in repeated cycles usually works - after how many cycles depends on conditions. I suffer through this routinely when I am away from the printer for more than a week. So far I have been able to recover it completely, but it does cost ink and time. As I write I am in the midst of this and hope it works. If it weren't for the fantastic print quality (when it's tip-top) I'd trade it for a 3880, also a great printer.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 28, 2014, 05:44:27 PM
Quick follow-up: Completely recovered from a three week absence. Took two full cleanings (means all channels), two pairs cleanings, two intermediate prints and three nozzle checks, but it worked.

I would not recommend to anyone taking these machines apart in an effort to self-service, nor would I try injecting anything into them that Epson has not recommended either as a fluid or a self-implemented procedure, and I say this notwithstanding all the previous goings-on in the now (in)famous 7900 thread - with due respect to the bravery of the innovators. I just have a perception from all I've read and been told that there's a whole lot one needs to know and will neither be told or find out about these printers before having enough information and confidence to tinker successfully. It is extraordinarily intricate technology in design, materials and manufacture.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on January 28, 2014, 06:07:59 PM
Thanks Mark, I'm not touching it.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on January 28, 2014, 06:24:45 PM
In my, personal, experience....a total dropout is usually air, not clog.  Happened to me after flip flopping blacks.  The way I found to clear it was to use the service program to do an initial charge (lots of ink) on the bank with the blacks.  Needed a few addl cleaning, but recovered what I had thought was a totally lost printer.

For the last month, I have been using the Harvey Head Cleaner to daily print a noozle check.  So far it seems to do the trick.  Humidity in room has varied from 40 to 25 (gotten a bit cold in NC).  I have had a few blips, but auto noozle check/clean, with print and the turn off/on for a while cleared these quickly.

John

PS....Mark....might be solution to 3 week trips..??
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 28, 2014, 06:46:22 PM
Hi John,

Thanks, but after several cleanings without any other intervention I'm fine, so I should just stick with that.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: davidh202 on January 28, 2014, 07:49:19 PM
First off... you panicked ! Like many of the others who have a channel 'drop out',  have now possibly done irreparable damage to the head than it might be able to recover from!
As Mark Segal said   turn to the infamous 7900 thread if you want some reading material on what people refer to as "clogs".  http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=61585.0
 
A complete channel drop out is not a clog per say it is a lack of ink flowing to the head, usually caused by too many pairs cleans  in a row, or back suction when switching black inks. The best way to deal with that before any other attempt is made, is to turn the printer on and off to recharge the lines and drive ink into the head, and then print some test prints on plain office paper to get ink flowing again ...if necessary repeat a couple of times and it will usually come back on line.
If you have not done damage to the head with what you already did, then it is necessary to recharge the head with ink with an initial charge like the first time when the printer was new. it is the only way to force the printer to push fresh ink beyond the dampers and into the head before you attempt to print. Printing with empty ink nozzles will burn them out if it hasn't happened already.
Hope you get it going again, and the head is not destroyed !  

Good luck,
David
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: hugowolf on January 28, 2014, 08:04:55 PM
In my, personal, experience....a total dropout is usually air, not clog.  Happened to me after flip flopping blacks.  The way I found to clear it was to use the service program to do an initial charge (lots of ink) on the bank with the blacks.  Needed a few addl cleaning, but recovered what I had thought was a totally lost printer.

For the last month, I have been using the Harvey Head Cleaner to daily print a noozle check.  So far it seems to do the trick.  Humidity in room has varied from 40 to 25 (gotten a bit cold in NC).  I have had a few blips, but auto noozle check/clean, with print and the turn off/on for a while cleared these quickly.

John

PS....Mark....might be solution to 3 week trips..??

I have had similar experiences with the 9890. One of my original reasons for buying it was fewer reports of clogging, but I am now beginning to feel that was purely due to fewer numbers sold.

I have had three colors drop on an MK/PK switch; then another color totally drop out during the cleaning to clear the original clog.

When it got really cold here in Virginia, I started to have intermittent lines drop out, even during printing sessions, I would print six 24” x 36” prints, then do a nozzle check print after lunch, only to discover another color totally dropping out. I could have a couple or three lines not appearing in one color, only to discover everything clean the next morning without any cleaning or printing in between.

There are not many printers that have a menu option for doing a nozzle check before every print.

My studio, in the winter varied between 18% and 35% relative humidity. I used a passive system of wet towels (re-wetted three or four times a day) to keep humidity levels at some reasonable level. A week ago, I bought a 5 US gallon evaporative humidifier, and although it hasn’t been long enough to say everything has been cured, there hasn’t been a single line drop out since. I am hopeful. I think humidity levels are a bigger factor than regular printing. I print daily, but not frequently on weekends.

Brian A
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on January 28, 2014, 09:06:10 PM
Hi John,

Thanks, but after several cleanings without any other intervention I'm fine, so I should just stick with that.

I meant the Harvey, not the initial charge....
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 28, 2014, 09:24:21 PM
Yes, thanks, I figured as much. Again, a product that may work, but Epson has not specifically recommended. Not necessary when home, because running a print or two every three days is sufficient to keep all channels intact. After a long period of absence, whatever ink has dried in the system does get resolved with a few regular cleanings and intervening prints.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on January 28, 2014, 09:27:26 PM
Point is, the HHC can be turned off when you are home and only used when you are not going to print for some time.  Just load some copier paper and let it print every day.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 28, 2014, 09:46:27 PM
And how long have you been using this stuff? Any idea what it may do to the system after considerable usage?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on January 28, 2014, 09:55:10 PM
Mark, HHC is a software program that automatically prints using a user defined schedule and the printers inks and loaded paper, nothing else.

Obviously the computer and printer must be turned on to work, so there is the issue of leaving both connected and running if you are in an area or season where lightning strike may be a problem.

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 28, 2014, 09:58:36 PM
Brian, OK, thanks for the clarification. I thought this was a cleaning fluid of some kind. All reservations withdrawn. Could make sense. Except in my personal case, I have such a backlog of printing to do that as long as I am around here there will be no issue using the machine, and when I am not around it is best shut off.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 28, 2014, 10:00:58 PM
PS. Just checked the website and see it is Windows only. That cuts me out of it. I don't do Windows any longer.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: HSakols on January 29, 2014, 09:44:20 AM
I'm going to be the sacrificial cow.  I just received some empty carts and cleaning fluid yesterday for my 4800.  I'm going to first let the cleaning solution sit for a few days and then flush. I do plan to replace with Epson Inks despite my tirade earlier of third party inks - sorry Jeff.  Anyway if that doesn't work I'll throw the printer in the Merced River and let it soak for a while.  I hope I don't screw thing up too badly. 
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: francois on January 29, 2014, 11:31:42 AM
You might want to read Dan Berg's recent experience (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=86693.0;topicseen).
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Garnick on January 29, 2014, 11:39:37 AM
As I had mentioned in a recent post and another thread, my 9900 is prone to "nozzle gaps", as I now refer to them.  It seems that the word "clog or clogging" has been replaced by various descriptions of the same symptom.  However, all of that aside, I recently did a "K" switch(both directions) and when I returned to PK I soon noticed a problem in the PK nozzle.  After one pairs cleaning the PK nozzle experienced a complete dropout.  For some time now my routine in such a case is to remove the culprit cartridge, agitate gently and then re-install.  I then shut down the printer, let it sit for a couple of minutes and restart.  The restart forces the printer to re-pressurize the ink carts as normal, since I believe most times these situations are caused by lower pressure in one or more carts.  After the restart I did one pairs cleaning and the following nozzle check was perfect.  The PK was printing 100%.  I think David mentioned this in his recent post as well, so it's not a new procedure by any means.  I used to tear my hair out and turn the air blue while running cleaning cycles, eventually power cleanings, until I finally decided to chill out and let the printer do the same.  Less stress on myself and the printer as well.  Now this may not work in every situation, but I've found it to be the answer to a complete dropout almost 100% of the time.  And as Mark mentioned, always try to run a full colour print between cleaning cycles.  That tends to keep all nozzles active and fewer chances of further problems.

Gary
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on January 29, 2014, 06:32:11 PM
For the last month, I have been using the Harvey Head Cleaner to daily print a noozle check.  So far it seems to do the trick. 
Question: how does this utility turn the printer on to do it's thing? Mine goes to sleep after awhile. Does it wake up when HHC sends it a file?
Comment: I did some internal research and I'm hearing that the 4900 and similar printers really need to be used a couple times a week.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on January 29, 2014, 06:45:18 PM
Question: how does this utility turn the printer on to do it's thing? Mine goes to sleep after awhile. Does it wake up when HHC sends it a file?
Comment: I did some internal research and I'm hearing that the 4900 and similar printers really need to be used a couple times a week.

If it is off, it is off.  You need to not gave it auto turn off.

HHC uses windows services to send a request to print a nozzle check...which seems to be enough...most of the time to keep everything ok. 

The few times I have seen "blips", I have run the auto check, then cleaned just those.  Often, I then gad to turn off over night and then find it cleared.  Next time I get a blip I plan to just turn off and, after a while, turn back on to see it depressurization is the real fix....I.e.  Air being the problem.

John
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on January 29, 2014, 06:53:56 PM
You need to not gave it auto turn off.
How do you do that? My unit just power's itself down after awhile. Is there some setting (which I can't find) to keep it running?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on January 29, 2014, 07:05:11 PM
How do you do that? My unit just power's itself down after awhile. Is there some setting (which I can't find) to keep it running?

As they say....read the fine manual... :-)

Without checking, I think it is in maintenance mode.  If you don't fine it, get back to me and I will find it.  Let me know.

John
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Farmer on January 29, 2014, 07:11:05 PM
Actually, it's glaringly absent from the manual in any obvious way :-)

You do go into Maintenance Mode - Pause/Cancel button held down whilst switching on.  Then it's under Menu Item "Power Management".  You can enable or disable the Power Off Timer and you can also set the time to Sleep Mode from 1 to 24 hours.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on January 29, 2014, 07:16:01 PM
Thanks guys.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on January 29, 2014, 07:48:11 PM
Actually, it's glaringly absent from the manual in any obvious way :-)

You do go into Maintenance Mode - Pause/Cancel button held down whilst switching on.  Then it's under Menu Item "Power Management".  You can enable or disable the Power Off Timer and you can also set the time to Sleep Mode from 1 to 24 hours.

Ya made me look it up....

Page 132

"...To set the amount of idle time required until the printer automatically powered off, press d to highlight POWER MANAGEMENT, then press r. Press r to DISABLE or ENABLE the POWER OFF TIMER, or press d to highlight TIME TO OFF, press r, then press u or d to increase or decrease the value. Press OK to select the setting you want..."
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on January 29, 2014, 07:52:47 PM
Thanks guys.

Andrew, if you want to use HHC on the 4900, contact them and get HHC Version IIIA, which is special for the 4900.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on January 29, 2014, 07:53:12 PM
OK found it too. So keeping the unit on isn't an issue. I have a PC laptop I could use for HHC but I'm wondering why I can't have my Mac do the same function with either Quickeys (Macro) or something similar (Automator). My understanding is that what HHC does is send a request to print a nozzle check on a scheduled basis. Pop plain paper into the cassette, run the nozzle check twice a week. What am I missing?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on January 29, 2014, 08:00:25 PM
OK found it too. So keeping the unit on isn't an issue. I have a PC laptop I could use for HHC but I'm wondering why I can't have my Mac do the same function with either Quickeys (Macro) or something similar (Automator). My understanding is that what HHC does is send a request to print a nozzle check on a scheduled basis. Pop plain paper into the cassette, run the nozzle check twice a week. What am I missing?

Nothing.

I have not done it, but I would assume you could set the PC up via network and have it scheduled for off hours.  Mac could be network or USB.  Just make sure you reset to cassette after other printing.

Santa Fe is dry.  I run mine everyday.  Suggest same for you.  Ink is minimal.  Paper can be used four times by turning/flipping to reuse.

John
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: AFairley on January 29, 2014, 09:49:27 PM
OK found it too. So keeping the unit on isn't an issue. I have a PC laptop I could use for HHC but I'm wondering why I can't have my Mac do the same function with either Quickeys (Macro) or something similar (Automator). My understanding is that what HHC does is send a request to print a nozzle check on a scheduled basis. Pop plain paper into the cassette, run the nozzle check twice a week. What am I missing?

Rodney, I believe Mac users have done exactly that, but I don't know the reference off the top of my head.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 30, 2014, 06:15:18 AM
I wonder whether a prolong period of printing nozzle checks alone would suffice to keep the printer in tip-top printing condition. As well, as this approach seems to work for some people, one wonders why Epson doesn't build something like it into the driver, which would be cross platform, and perhaps trigger itself without even having a computer powered on.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Scott Martin on January 30, 2014, 08:11:53 AM
...one wonders why Epson doesn't build something like it into the driver, which would be cross platform, and perhaps trigger itself without even having a computer powered on.

I agree Mark! I'm surprised Epson and Canon didn't do this research years ago and build this functionality in to the printer itself. Under-usage is one of the biggest causes of problems with large format printers today...
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Alan Goldhammer on January 30, 2014, 08:57:44 AM
I wonder whether a prolong period of printing nozzle checks alone would suffice to keep the printer in tip-top printing condition. As well, as this approach seems to work for some people, one wonders why Epson doesn't build something like it into the driver, which would be cross platform, and perhaps trigger itself without even having a computer powered on.
Perhaps Epson think that folks with these printers use them every day.  It's easy enough to do from a programming point of view.  They could also design it to print more than just a nozzle check so that more ink is used (but this would be a little more complex and they would have to figure out the optimal amount of ink needed without wasting too much).
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 30, 2014, 09:05:36 AM
Perhaps Epson think that folks with these printers use them every day.  It's easy enough to do from a programming point of view.  They could also design it to print more than just a nozzle check so that more ink is used (but this would be a little more complex and they would have to figure out the optimal amount of ink needed without wasting too much).

I think with very little effort they could do the programming and find a suitable design to print that would do the needful. The fact is that not all their customers run these machines all the time because when we bought them Epson never made a point of informing us that this would be an important operational consideration in choice of printers.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Scott Martin on January 30, 2014, 09:29:54 AM
Perhaps Epson think that folks with these printers use them every day.  It's easy enough to do from a programming point of view.  They could also design it to print more than just a nozzle check so that more ink is used (but this would be a little more complex and they would have to figure out the optimal amount of ink needed without wasting too much).

I've spoken with a few peopleat  both Epson and Canon about this and their attitude was "people need to know they have to use these things" . My impression was that they felt it wasn't their job to watch out for under usage. In a beta program six years ago I detailed the needs of the printer to protect itself from under usage but that seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 30, 2014, 09:40:02 AM
Well, if "people need to know they have to use these things" don't you think it's the primary responsibility of those companies to tell us what we need to know? But they never did that because it would have impacted on sales. So that response you got is completely disingenuous. "Peole" can't be expected to know this without being advised, because the 3800 and 3880 before these x900s certainly never needed this kind of baby-sitting.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Scott Martin on January 30, 2014, 09:48:39 AM
I completely agree Mark. So far, both Epson and Canon have missed an opportunity to "do the right thing" and protect these printers from under usage damage. Smarter integration could have solved this years ago. They have ignored customer feedback on this very issue for a long time and customers are suffering now more than ever because of it.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 30, 2014, 10:05:57 AM
Of course they could always rescue their reputations on this matter by developing the algorithm and offering users an up-dated driver with that included. :-) :-)
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: shadowblade on January 30, 2014, 10:36:30 AM
It would have been so easy for Epson to implement a setting to deal with underuse and infrequent, but heavy use, as well as something to save the printer when you're away on a shooting trip.

Just an automatic setting to print a few lines from each nozzle daily, or twice daily, or however often the temperature and humidity demand. Put a pile of cheap A4 paper in the printer and let it maintain itself through regular use.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Scott Martin on January 30, 2014, 11:41:55 AM
Of course they could always rescue their reputations on this matter by developing the algorithm and offering users an up-dated driver with that included. :-) :-)

Yep! Should have happened a long time ago but it's never too late.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Some Guy on January 30, 2014, 01:00:40 PM
Wonder if some of the RIP outfits like Ergosoft StudioPrint or similar haven't thought of incorporating a "Print a nozzle check page timer" into their software?  Anyone with connections to them?

Fwiw, I have a 3880 and it plugs at times so I need to run it once a week (I don't know who said they don't plug as they do!  Maybe less so.).  I even have one of the Epson small Charm portables for field use using dye ink and it will plug solid within two weeks.  When it plugs, it takes about 3-5 power cleans and then the ink cartridge is done.

"Use it, or lose it" seems to be the printer's mantra.

SG
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: shadowblade on January 30, 2014, 01:28:48 PM
Wonder if some of the RIP outfits like Ergosoft StudioPrint or similar haven't thought of incorporating a "Print a nozzle check page timer" into their software?  Anyone with connections to them?

That would require the computer (and RIP) to be running all the time - including when you're away for weeks or months on end. And, if there happened to be a power failure or surge while you are away, the computer would restart and the software-driven maintenance would cease.

Quote
Fwiw, I have a 3880 and it plugs at times so I need to run it once a week (I don't know who said they don't plug as they do!  Maybe less so.).  I even have one of the Epson small Charm portables for field use using dye ink and it will plug solid within two weeks.  When it plugs, it takes about 3-5 power cleans and then the ink cartridge is done.

"Use it, or lose it" seems to be the printer's mantra.

SG


Roland printers (which also use Epson heads) have an automatic self-cleaning feature which keeps the print heads working as long as the printer is left on.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on January 30, 2014, 02:57:15 PM
UPDATE.

What a saga. The printer still refuses to print anything. I spoke to Epson tech support. They were adamant that they "don't support customers at the hardware level". Yet, he was able to answer a few questions which did not lead to any solution. I got better luck speaking the the local Fuji guy that fixes these machines. Until he sees the printer physically, he can only speculate. I took the head apart one more time just to make sure that it wasn't blocked mechanically, it is still let cleaning fluid pass through. All may not be lost. Still, the printer does not produce any image, the nozzle check pattern produces a clean and immaculate sheet -- impressive. I'm still not sure that the head is NOT completely blocked but I have now established that cleaning does not pass any fluid through the head. I tried putting in a brand new ink maintenance tank that I previously weighed at 248g. I figure, if ink actually travels through the head, it is going to show up in the ink maintenance tank. But, there was no difference before and after cleaning, the tank still weighed 248g. Which leaves a few possibilities open. Either ink is blocked in the Ink Selector Assembly (a definite possibility) or in the tubes (yet, none of them are showing bubles and are all full). Or, it is possible that the pump, on the cap assembly fails to create the required vaccum to pass ink through the head. I wish there was a simple diagnostic to check the pump? Or, as the Fuji tech suggested, it is possible that the mainboard is not sending signals to the system to fire ink? This machine is really complex, and without any kind of "model" of how it operates, it's hard to figure.

I was hoping that, perhaps, through an Ink Flush and initial ink charge, I would get ink flowing again in the head and salvage my printer but now that I know for sure, that no ink is pulled in the cap assembly, forget doing an Ink Flush. It won't do anything.

Just spoke to my friend at Fuji and he's not convinced that the head is still operational. According to the symptoms I describe, it's possible that the pump cap assembly would need to be changed. But it's possible the problem is the head. I am thinking that, perhaps, cleaning the head differently? With a solution like PiezoFlush? Worth trying. At this stage, the printer is getting closer to the door by the day... Will make sure to buy the Extended Warranty Program *if* I decide to give more of my hard-earned money to Mr. Epson again. I may go for the 3880, which is less exensive, but I so appreciate the convenience of roll fed.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: AFairley on January 30, 2014, 03:53:37 PM
In response to some of the previous posts, except for memory space limitiations, there is no reason the firmware could not contain a feature to intermittently print a test pattern, it could put the machine in and out of sleep mode to do so.  I wouldn't hold my breath for such a feature though....
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on January 30, 2014, 04:15:23 PM
UPDATE.
 I took the head apart one more time just to make sure that it wasn't blocked mechanically, it is still let cleaning fluid pass through. All may not be lost. Still, the printer does not produce any image, the nozzle check pattern produces a clean and immaculate sheet -- impressive. I'm still not sure that the head is NOT completely blocked but I have now established that cleaning does not pass any fluid through the head.


Roger you say that the head is letting cleaning fluid through, how are you testing this, what are you seeing that tells you fluid is passing through?

Quote
Which leaves a few possibilities open. Either ink is blocked in the Ink Selector Assembly (a definite possibility) or in the tubes (yet, none of them are showing bubles and are all full).


Provided you have correctly seated the printhead into the damper assembly the seal should be ok.

It would be unlikely that all dampers would be blocked, so I'd rule that out, individual dampers could have blockages but some channels should be passing ink when primed.

Regarding the ink lines, yes it's possible to have air bubbles trapped in them and also for ink to coagulate or clump through non-usage, you can usually see clumped ink or air bubbles in the ink lines using a torch


Quote
Or, it is possible that the pump, on the cap assembly fails to create the required vaccum to pass ink through the head.I was hoping that, perhaps, through an Ink Flush and initial ink charge, I would get ink flowing again in the head and salvage my printer but now that I know for sure, that no ink is pulled in the cap assembly, forget doing an Ink Flush. It won't do anything.


The ink system pressurizes the ink carts which forces ink through the ink lines to the damper assembly and finally into the printhead. Unless you have disassembled any of the air pressurization system then for the time being I'd rule that out.

Quote

I am thinking that, perhaps, cleaning the head differently? With a solution like PiezoFlush? Worth trying.


First I would try good quality de-ionized or distilled water and see if it passes through the printhead.

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Farmer on January 30, 2014, 04:27:36 PM
Alan makes a valuable insight - firmware memory restrictions.

That said, it's certainly possible given that periodical cleaning is run on solvent machines (the user can vary or switch off).  However, whilst some people find that periodical nozzle checks help, and there's no doubt that all inkjet printers prefer to print, I would stress something I saw recently and have taken to really liking "the plural of anecdote is not data".  Not meant to be snarky in saying that, by the way.  Manufacturers need to cater to the majority first, then the rest, and the based on cost/return - there's also the cost of not doing something, which can be made "higher" by providing more feedback to them...

Sometimes things get lost in a statistical morass and some effort is needed to bring it to light.  Sometimes it's a vision of the future which overlooks the present, too.  Usually, though, it's just less of an issue at the top level than it is to the individual, which doesn't make it any less painful for the individual nor is it unreasonable for companies to be looking at the big picture.  So, yeah, more feedback!
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: tsjanik on January 30, 2014, 06:03:15 PM
I have a sparingly used 4900 that has been very reliable.  A few dropped nozzles when not used for a few weeks, but otherwise perfect with some notable exceptions: I read a thread here a few months ago about a troublesome 4900.  So I checked mine and C channel was completely blocked!  A few cleanings cleared the blockage.  Yesterday, I started reading this post, which of course prompted me to do a nozzle check - PK half blocked.  I've tried two cleanings and three prints and still see blockage in the PK with a nozzle check, but the prints show no signs of nozzle blockage.  Anyone had a similar experience?  I'll try a gray scale later to see if I can see the effect of the blocked nozzles, but I've learned two things: a good print is possible even with some dropped nozzles and to stop reading 4900 problem threads :)

Tom
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on January 30, 2014, 06:24:06 PM
In response to some of the previous posts, except for memory space limitiations, there is no reason the firmware could not contain a feature to intermittently print a test pattern, it could put the machine in and out of sleep mode to do so.  I wouldn't hold my breath for such a feature though....

I would not hold my breath either....which is why I decided to try the HHC.

For those with a PC, it is all of $40.

For Macs, I assume Andrew will report if HHC could run under emulation.  At worst, a $200-300 cheap laptop/net book will probably work just fine.....cost quickly saved in ink, I am sure.

John
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on January 30, 2014, 06:27:36 PM
For Macs, I assume Andrew will report if HHC could run under emulation. 
I have a windows laptop I could use like you guys. Having it run just to do this isn't high on my list.

 I'm wondering about just having something I own do it under Mac OS X which is running every day anyway. Quickeys, Hazel, Automator. First I need this beast serviced.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on January 30, 2014, 09:38:24 PM
Brian,

you asked "Roger you say that the head is letting cleaning fluid through, how are you testing this, what are you seeing that tells you fluid is passing through?"

I directly inkjet fluid into the intakes of the head, one by one, using a syringe and a transparent 2" tube attached to the end of the syringe.
So I make sure that the tube covers the intake completely and I slowly inject, watching the liquid coming through at the other end of the head.
It's plain to see this.

You also suggested "First I would try good quality de-ionized or distilled water and see if it passes through the printhead."
Which is what i did tonight. My wife brought some distilled water and I used it on the head the same way I did yesterday with Windex.
Sadly, no improvement.

What frustrates me most is not being able to diagnose the print head once and for all.
Opinions are divided. Some swear that injecting anyting into the head directly with a syringe is the kiss of death while others, who claim to have seated on Epson tech training, explain that there is no harm to be had to do this.

So, at this stage, the only way I could ever know whether the problem stemps from the head would be to have another one, spare, to throw in, to compare.
But for the price they go at, might as well get a whole new printer. Which is crazy.
I could conceivably bring the printer to an authorized service center, which would not be so crazy.
But, at $200 an hour, plus the time to get there, plus my initial cartridges are almost empty... You get the picture.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on January 30, 2014, 10:08:15 PM
I have been reading the other posts in the forum and I deemed important to mention that the low humidity level in my office might have played an important factor in my head clogging ordeal. I'm looking at the reading on my meter right now in my office, on Jan 30 2014, and I get 20 degrees Celcius and 24% relative humidity. 24% is really way too low? I've really been negligent  :-[. Over at Transcontinental Printing where I work on and off, I make sure the humidity level never goes below 40%. They have a 9900 and head clogs are a fact of life, plus other issues. Relative humidity is surpremely important.
I'm considering going forward with either another 4900 or a 3880 (or a Canon? heck! I was even looking at Xerox at a point...), extended warranties for the two additional years *but* the most important purchase will be that of a humidifier. Egg on my face...
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mike Guilbault on January 30, 2014, 10:12:00 PM
What is the humidity in your print room?  

I've found this to be a HUGE factor.  I was having problems with my 4900 for three months - still printed fine, mostly, but I couldn't get rid of three partial nozzle clogs in the 3 months. I was also having problems with the yellow channel in my 9900.  Once I got a decent sized humidifier I've not had a single drop out in three weeks.  This in central Ontario where the humidity was down to 26% before the humidifier.  I haven't used either machine for about 12 days. Fired up yesterday and perfect nozzle checks on both of them and the prints were perfect too.

I really think keeping the humidity above 40% (40-60% recommended by Epson) is the key.  Mine is kept between 45 and 50 most days - sometimes drops to 38-40 by the end of the weekend when I'm not in to fill the humidifier.   This is the one I purchased: http://www.sears.ca/product/kenmore-md-454-litre-digital-humidifier/642-000017871-758_3_29982OC
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on January 30, 2014, 10:31:19 PM

I directly inkjet fluid into the intakes of the head, one by one, using a syringe and a transparent 2" tube attached to the end of the syringe.
So I make sure that the tube covers the intake completely and I slowly inject, watching the liquid coming through at the other end of the head.
It's plain to see this.


Ok just steady pressure, that's good.

Quote
You also suggested "First I would try good quality de-ionized or distilled water and see if it passes through the printhead."
Which is what i did tonight. My wife brought some distilled water and I used it on the head the same way I did yesterday with Windex.

The water should form a fine stream of tiny water jets indicating that the nozzles or at least most of them are not totally blocked.

Quote
What frustrates me most is not being able to diagnose the print head once and for all.
Opinions are divided. Some swear that injecting anyting into the head directly with a syringe is the kiss of death while others, who claim to have seated on Epson tech training, explain that there is no harm to be had to do this.


Roger, check this link  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXEkfSD_HYY) for a video of the process and although it's for an Epson 4880 the head cleaning principles are the same.

If after performing the process there is still no ink being expelled from the printhead then it's time to try an "Init Fill' or initial fill from the service menu (see the service manual you downloaded), this will use quite a lot of ink so be sure each cartridge has at least 40% or more of ink.

Hope this helps.


Brian
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Farmer on January 30, 2014, 11:37:53 PM
Andrew - anything that can script opening the driver and clicking on Nozzle Check and then closing the subsequent dialogues, would work fine.  There should be numerous utlitiies available for OS X that could do that running in some sort of cron.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Ray R on January 31, 2014, 02:54:46 AM
I am interested in which version people are using on their 4900.

I have had my 4900 for sometime, and looked at using Harvey Head Cleaner but there was not one available for the 4900.

Having checked today there is still not one listed.

I emailed them sometime ago and not received a reply.

Thanks
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on January 31, 2014, 06:08:44 AM
I am interested in which version people are using on their 4900.

I have had my 4900 for sometime, and looked at using Harvey Head Cleaner but there was not one available for the 4900.

Having checked today there is still not one listed.

I emailed them sometime ago and not received a reply.

Thanks

Try again.....I got an almost immediate reply.  You are looking for version III-A

John
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Ray R on January 31, 2014, 09:05:11 AM
Thanks,

I will try again

Ray
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 31, 2014, 09:25:37 AM
UPDATE.

What a saga. The printer still refuses to print anything. I spoke to Epson tech support. They were adamant that they "don't support customers at the hardware level". Yet, he was able to answer a few questions which did not lead to any solution. I got better luck speaking the the local Fuji guy that fixes these machines. Until he sees the printer physically, he can only speculate. I took the head apart one more time just to make sure that it wasn't blocked mechanically, it is still let cleaning fluid pass through. All may not be lost. Still, the printer does not produce any image, the nozzle check pattern produces a clean and immaculate sheet -- impressive. I'm still not sure that the head is NOT completely blocked but I have now established that cleaning does not pass any fluid through the head. I tried putting in a brand new ink maintenance tank that I previously weighed at 248g. I figure, if ink actually travels through the head, it is going to show up in the ink maintenance tank. But, there was no difference before and after cleaning, the tank still weighed 248g. Which leaves a few possibilities open. Either ink is blocked in the Ink Selector Assembly (a definite possibility) or in the tubes (yet, none of them are showing bubles and are all full). Or, it is possible that the pump, on the cap assembly fails to create the required vaccum to pass ink through the head. I wish there was a simple diagnostic to check the pump? Or, as the Fuji tech suggested, it is possible that the mainboard is not sending signals to the system to fire ink? This machine is really complex, and without any kind of "model" of how it operates, it's hard to figure.

I was hoping that, perhaps, through an Ink Flush and initial ink charge, I would get ink flowing again in the head and salvage my printer but now that I know for sure, that no ink is pulled in the cap assembly, forget doing an Ink Flush. It won't do anything.

Just spoke to my friend at Fuji and he's not convinced that the head is still operational. According to the symptoms I describe, it's possible that the pump cap assembly would need to be changed. But it's possible the problem is the head. I am thinking that, perhaps, cleaning the head differently? With a solution like PiezoFlush? Worth trying. At this stage, the printer is getting closer to the door by the day... Will make sure to buy the Extended Warranty Program *if* I decide to give more of my hard-earned money to Mr. Epson again. I may go for the 3880, which is less exensive, but I so appreciate the convenience of roll fed.

Roger, I hope you haven't destroyed your printer, but honestly, people who are not trained in the servicing of this high-tech equipment really shouldn't be messing around in it - I suffer clogging issues with it too, but I would never go beyond what is in the product manual and what Epson Pro Graphics advises over the phone. Fortunately I have always been able to recover it using Epson-recommended routines, but if the time comes that it simply doesn't recover I would be faced with a fairly straightforward proposition of either letting them repair it, or replacing it, whichever is cheaper. When I discussed the extended warranty question with an Epson rep here in Canada I was advised on a candid basis that the return rate is too low to make it worth the cost. Assuming this is a true reflection of their overall experience with this printer, it would seem that those of us who need to leave them unused for a period of time have a particular issue that needs a particular solution of the kind being discussed here (automated printing cycles). I am also thinking of further increasing the humidity level in my office. I continue to believe this is an excellent printer with one major issue for those of us not using them continuously.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 31, 2014, 09:29:53 AM
Roger you say that the head is letting cleaning fluid through, how are you testing this, what are you seeing that tells you fluid is passing through?

Provided you have correctly seated the printhead into the damper assembly the seal should be ok.

It would be unlikely that all dampers would be blocked, so I'd rule that out, individual dampers could have blockages but some channels should be passing ink when primed.

Regarding the ink lines, yes it's possible to have air bubbles trapped in them and also for ink to coagulate or clump through non-usage, you can usually see clumped ink or air bubbles in the ink lines using a torch


The ink system pressurizes the ink carts which forces ink through the ink lines to the damper assembly and finally into the printhead. Unless you have disassembled any of the air pressurization system then for the time being I'd rule that out.

First I would try good quality de-ionized or distilled water and see if it passes through the printhead.

Brian.

Brian, you sound as if you are a person with a professional background in the technology of this printer. As you are offering some fairly detailed technical advice here I think it OK to ask about your professional expertise with this technology, or are you speaking from the experience of "informed and successful tinkering"? Just curious.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on January 31, 2014, 10:43:21 AM
Andrew - anything that can script opening the driver and clicking on Nozzle Check and then closing the subsequent dialogues, would work fine.  There should be numerous utlitiies available for OS X that could do that running in some sort of cron.

Super easy! I built an Automator action to print a small target. The 'script' points to whatever document you want printed. I'll probably use a very small patch target I can read off my iSis so I can clean the heads and if necessary, measure the data.

Then one can trigger the event from iCal (Calendar). Very easy, very flexible.

The reason I suspect there is no HHC for Mac is it's totally unnecessary! The OS has all the tools built in. I was also able to get a 3rd party utility I use a lot (Hazel) to call the automator script too. But using Calendar would work for free but clog up your calendar with the event to print the target. I'll probably use Hazel. Here's what it all looks like:

Automator plus Hazel
(http://www.digitaldog.net/files/Automator.jpg)

Build the same Automator actions but save as a Calendar Alarm (you'll see the icon for this when you make a new doc in Automator) then access from iCal/Calendar:

(http://www.digitaldog.net/files/CalendarEvent.jpg)

Only issue at this point is the printer defaults to roll printing, I haven't figured out how to force it to sheet from the cassette. But I don't print rolls anyway, have a lot of paper I will never use so I'll stick with that for the time being. Even if I set the front panel for Sheet, the script somehow forces roll and there's an error. I suppose one could put cheap butcher paper in the roll and use that but I'd like to figure a way to use either path. But for now, the 4900 will clean itself a couple times a week at no cost for a software solution.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 31, 2014, 10:47:58 AM
Looks ingenious Andrew, but seems to mean you need to leave your computer on and alive - no big deal if you are around, but for absences of several weeks it would make me a bit uncomfortable. I like to shut everything down and not need to bother the Mrs about babysitting my office when I'm not here. That's why a device-based utility would be so much more elegant a solution - if only Epson would develop one.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on January 31, 2014, 10:54:10 AM
Looks ingenious Andrew, but seems to mean you need to leave your computer on and alive - no big deal if you are around, but for absences of several weeks it would make me a bit uncomfortable. I like to shut everything down and not need to bother the Mrs about babysitting my office when I'm not here.
Yes the printer has to be left on and thanks to others here I did so in the panel. You can still turn it off and the script will just not run (no harm, no issue). Plus I popped a KillAWatt on the printer. In it's awake but low energy mode (just sitting there), it uses a mere 6 watts which isn't bad. When printing it's far more and when cleaning heads, far more usage. So in the long run, having it on and print 2-3X times a week might save energy, ink and frustration in the long run.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 31, 2014, 10:55:43 AM
Yes the printer has to be left on and thanks to others here I did so in the panel. You can still turn it off and the script will just not run (no harm, no issue). Plus I popped a KillAWatt on the printer. In it's awake but low energy mode (just sitting there), it uses a mere 6 watts which isn't bad. When printing it's far more and when cleaning heads, far more usage. So in the long run, having it on and print 2-3X times a week might save energy, ink and frustration in the long run.

I don't have a problem leaving the printer on, especially as it will be automatically used. My concern is leaving the computer on during prolonged absence.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on January 31, 2014, 10:59:36 AM
I don't have a problem leaving the printer on, especially as it will be automatically used. My concern is leaving the computer on during prolonged absence.
I feel the same way. And the computer (my MPB) will be with me anyway. So I'll turn off the printer, ignore the script or turn it off. I'll see what Calendar does if the printer isn't hooked up but the event triggers itself. I suspect nothing, we just move along with our work. Hazel will probably pop a error in it's log, again it might not be something that disrupts you from home base. If I know I'll be gone for a week plus, I'll power down the Epson and suffer the consequences when I return (clogs). At least I don't have to use the (ugh) Windows laptop and buy another product, the Mac can do it.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Alan Goldhammer on January 31, 2014, 01:14:42 PM
My concern is leaving the computer on during prolonged absence.
PCs have a sleep mode and can be programmed to wake up from it and I'm sure that Mac systems have something similar.  The only thing you have to worry about is a power outage and if you have a sufficient backup power system that should be OK.  I have a Home Theater PC that is left on 24/7 but it's in sleep mode except when I watch TV, it is recording a show, or it needs to download updates.   It's been running in this mode for four months now without a single glitch.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 31, 2014, 01:17:03 PM
The only thing you have to worry about is a power outage

Bingo - something one can count on these days.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: tsjanik on January 31, 2014, 02:39:15 PM
FYI: A video for cleaning 9900/4900 from Pro Digital Gear.  Basically involves unplugging the printer and parking the head over a Windex soaked paper towl.  Seems fairly risk free.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU6PbizbKaw
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 31, 2014, 02:53:24 PM
Seems fairly risk free.


Is this speculation, or actual technological knowledge about the eventual impact of Windex and its associated fumes on or in the print head?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mike Guilbault on January 31, 2014, 03:39:59 PM
I tried the windex 'trick' and yes, I used the original Windex formula, and ended up with more clogs than before. Tried it on two separate occasions with the same results.  If you're going to use a solution you're probably better off with AIS's CLF007 or CLF007+. 
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 31, 2014, 03:42:08 PM
you're probably better off with AIS's CLF007 or CLF007+. 

Is there professional validation (apart from the vendor) regarding the long-term impact of these solutions on the print head?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: tsjanik on January 31, 2014, 04:28:12 PM
Is this speculation, or actual technological knowledge about the eventual impact of Windex and its associated fumes on or in the print head?

I'm not advocating the method, simply supplying the information.  I would think that my use of "seems" would indicate a degree of uncertainty. 
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 31, 2014, 04:32:40 PM
I'm not advocating the method, simply supplying the information.  I would think that my use of "seems" would indicate a degree of uncertainty. 


OK, thanks. That clarifies the status of the information.

I hope contributors will pardon me for being a bit sticky about the origins and authenticity of advice on dealing with these printers, but I think it is really important for readers to be clear about those matters - these machines are complex and expensive and we don't want to do things to them that could have longer term impacts of a kind that people who are not thoroughly trained in the technology may be unaware of.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on January 31, 2014, 05:26:23 PM
Brian, you sound as if you are a person with a professional background in the technology of this printer. As you are offering some fairly detailed technical advice here I think it OK to ask about your professional expertise with this technology, or are you speaking from the experience of "informed and successful tinkering"? Just curious.


Hi Mark, I'm not an inkjet technician but have an electronics and software development background, my direct experience is with an Epson 7880 which sat broken for 8 months which I've restored to working condition.

Reconditioning required solving the current problems the OP has and clogged ink lines, replacement of clogged ink dampers, damaged CR scale and sensor replacement, replacement of all ink bay cartridge connectors, wiper blade replacement and required reassembly adjustments.

This project including study of Epson ink formula patents was carefully researched before work began.

I'm not advocating that frustrated owners with clogged machines jump right in and start tinkering; in the case of the OP he'd already started pulling the machine apart so I'm offering some guidance given my experience with my restoration.

You definitely need some technical skills or experience in disassembly and reassembly of electronic-mechanical machines or devices and the service manual.

Anyone without these skills (and patience) or with a machine still under warranty would be better served calling the makers service department.

Brian.

Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 31, 2014, 05:42:08 PM
That's pretty impressive, thanks.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: tsjanik on February 01, 2014, 11:22:16 AM
My PK block is persisting and yet I can produce prints with no noticeable fault so I'm reluctant to try anything other than a simple clean.  I have found a number of references to using Windex or proprietary liquids such as AIS's.  It's amazing that after so many years of Epson clogs there is no consensus on how to clear the head.  If there is a reliable, safe method, one would think Epson would publish it. I tried a simple experiment last night: I allowed water to sit on an old print overnight and found water has no ability to solubilize the pigment; Windex, on the other hand, created a suspension of pigment from the print within 20 s.  Isopropanol and ethylene glycol (from antifreeze) solubilize the pigment but are slower than Windex.  I've found as many warnings about Windex as testimonials and other contradictory statements.  I wonder if anyone has tried a glycol?  Epson has a cleaning cartridge for the 9600 which contains a solution consisting mostly of diethylene glycol (based on the MSDS sheet).

Tom
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 01, 2014, 11:25:26 AM
It's amazing that after so many years of Epson clogs there is no consensus on how to clear the head.  If there is a reliable, safe method, one would think Epson would publish it.

Tom

I think that's the rub - there probably isn't. I would think Epson has no interest in perpetuating customers' misery if there were a better way-out than what they publish in the manual.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: tsjanik on February 01, 2014, 11:49:26 AM
I suspect you're right.  Amazingly I can produce perfect test prints (including grayscale) with ~10% of my PK nozzles blocked.  I've compared to earlier prints and can see no difference.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: davidh202 on February 01, 2014, 11:53:52 AM
I'm really surprised the printer is allowing you to print without a message saying it needs to be cleaned and locking itself up from going further.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: davidh202 on February 01, 2014, 12:04:13 PM
The reason why Epson does not condone or advise any recommended proceedures, is due to liability issues!These machines are very delicate  (especially the heads).
There are too many inept people who would mess the printer up and blame them!!
We have already heard issues with people attempting wiper replacements and not seating the wipers properly, which could easily damage a head.I have no doubt whatsoever that if Epson thought is was prudent to do self maintenance on these PRO machines they would have a section in the manuals on what and how to do it.

After the never ending 7900 thread by Eric, it became perfectly clear that some are lucky and most are not in trying to clear "clogs" .Every solvent known to the human race was discussed and tried. The problem which remains ,is being able to distinguish between a 'Clog' ,a 'Drop Out' or a 'Damaged Nozzle- head'

This issue continues to go around in circles ;-)
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 01, 2014, 01:06:30 PM
UPDATE 2

Ran into an inkjet repairmen yesterday, while visiting a new client.
He was working on a 7800 that needed much love.
Naturally, I told him about my miseries...
He hypothesized that, perhaps, the pump no longer worked?
We'll see. He's coming over next week.

Earlier that day, I telephoned a company called PGtech, in Montréal, that advertises repairing Epson printers.
For $90, they say they can give me an estimate of repair.
I only have to physically bring the printer over to them.

So, I'm still not giving up on my 4900. I wish I could diagnose the problem better...

Thank's everyone for chiming in.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 01, 2014, 01:50:43 PM
Yes indeed - correct diagnosis is the first step to a reliable cure and absent our ability to do that, the remedies are not self-evident.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on February 01, 2014, 06:11:26 PM
I've found as many warnings about Windex as testimonials and other contradictory statements.  I wonder if anyone has tried a glycol?  Epson has a cleaning cartridge for the 9600 which contains a solution consisting mostly of diethylene glycol (based on the MSDS sheet).

Tom

Hi Tom, Epson Ultrachrome K3 ink does contain both ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol according to msds information.

Watch this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU6PbizbKaw) produced by a US based distributor who recommends the Windex on paper towel method to clear a nozzle clog.

They appear to be a mainstream supplier and an authorized service center.


Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 01, 2014, 07:55:15 PM
UPDATE 3

While searching for information on the pump and cap assembly, I stumbled on Amazon reviews. Of the 21 reviews, most were very negative.
To the point that, I consider myself quite lucky for the 2 1/2 years of trouble free operation!

I was looking into getting a "non-Epson" printer, as a point of self-pride (after gone through a 3000 and a 4000 before). I was becoming quite enthusiastic of the Canon PRO-1. (Can't find anything like the 3880 or the PRO-1 in HP? And other than HP and Canon, what else can be had for inkjet printing?) After going through the 4900 printers mostly negative reviews on Amazon, i was curious what the verdict was on the 3880? It seems the reviews were mostly positive, with the exception of some paper feeding issues.

Amazon also has some PRO-1 reviews. Seems that the quality of the prints is phenomenal. But the printer seems to be plagued with the usual paper feeding issues and surprisingly high ink consumption.

I am hesitant to get another 4900, instead of getting a 3880, but the mostly negative reviews on Amazon (worse horror stories than mine) is making me think twice. I can remember going through *one* refurbished 4000 printer unit with Epson in the past, during its one year of warranty, and having to repack mine and arranging to UPS pick-up to get it back to Epson was a real pain. Many people recount going through similar refurb replacement units with 4900s? So, while I can buy an extended 2 years warranty program with Epson, there is no garantee that I'll enjoy trouble-free operation. And that's the last thing on my mind right now.

My 4900 is sitting accross the room and has been rendered useless for close to the last three weeks now, and it's starting to eat up in my moral....
Need to get back into printing.

Anyone with any experience with feeding sheets of paper in the 3880? Is it as bad as some claim it is?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 01, 2014, 08:05:10 PM
I had a 3800 before the 4900 and it was virtually trouble-free. The 3880 is about the same build and has even slightly better print quality. If you don't need a roll holder I'd have no hesitation about it.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: tsjanik on February 01, 2014, 09:06:31 PM
Thanks Brian.  I'm getting good prints despite the lost nozzles; I can't understand why that should be, but I'm reluctant to try anything even remotely risky.  Ironically, that's the same video I linked in my first post. 


Tom
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mike Guilbault on February 01, 2014, 10:36:38 PM
My 4900 clogs (or drop-outs or whatever they were) persisted for almost 3 months. The windex didn't work (made it worse actually) and it wasn't until I used the AIS solutions AND up'd the humidity that it cleared - and almost instantly when I got the humidity to 50%. I fired the 4900 up today and made a series of prints after being shut down for over two weeks. Not one gap in the nozzle check and perfect prints.  Don't give up yet. 
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: tsjanik on February 01, 2014, 11:45:06 PM
Not giving up Mike; however, as I consider buying a 44" printer, I am concerned about the Epson clogging issues. 
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 02, 2014, 07:45:35 AM
Tom,

There are quite a number of people still using HP Z series printers and are happy with them, but where is HP in the inkjet printing business today? Other than Epson and other makes using Epson technology, that leaves Canon. Many people use and like their printers too, but they also clog - except you don't see it until the print heads need to be replaced altogether - completely doable for about 500 dollars each. So much depends on how you prefer to manage your clogging risk. Before making a decision, try to access a dealer where you can print the same file - preferably one with many colours and much micro-detail - from comparable Canon and  Epson printers and see which delivers better print quality.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: tsjanik on February 02, 2014, 09:50:34 AM
Mark, as search the forums for user experience I've become aware of all you say.  Given the apparent user satisfaction with HP printers, it surprises me that they appear to withdrawing from the fine art market.  Too bad, lack of clogging and gloss optimizer are strong points for me.  Canon printers can have their own issues apparently.  Maybe I'll return to the darkroom (just kidding).

Tom
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Alan Goldhammer on February 02, 2014, 09:53:13 AM
I had a 3800 before the 4900 and it was virtually trouble-free. The 3880 is about the same build and has even slightly better print quality. If you don't need a roll holder I'd have no hesitation about it.
Really?  I thought that the 4900 with it's "better" print head is supposed to deliver higher quality prints?  If what you say is correct than the 3800 is still the "gold standard" for 17 inch printers.  For long prints, one can always cut roll paper to the desired size (I've done a 17x30 print this way).
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Alan Goldhammer on February 02, 2014, 09:56:21 AM
There are quite a number of people still using HP Z series printers and are happy with them, but where is HP in the inkjet printing business today?
HP was hemorrhaging money for some time until Meg Whitman took over as CEO.  She made a lot of tough decisions about the future of the company.  Unfortunately, I think they view(ed) fine art printing as one area not worthy of further investment.  We'll see, but I'm not optimistic that they will be a player.  Too bad Kodak isn't in this area (he says in jest).
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 02, 2014, 10:08:12 AM
Really?  I thought that the 4900 with it's "better" print head is supposed to deliver higher quality prints?  If what you say is correct than the 3800 is still the "gold standard" for 17 inch printers.  For long prints, one can always cut roll paper to the desired size (I've done a 17x30 print this way).

If you review my review of the 4900 you will see where I mentioned its wider colour gamut. How much of that you see in a print is another matter. It does deliver better quality - though how much of it is visible is for the viewer to judge. The 3800/3880 series are great printers reliably delivering really good print quality with minimal fuss and bother.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 02, 2014, 10:10:16 AM
HP was hemorrhaging money for some time until Meg Whitman took over as CEO.  She made a lot of tough decisions about the future of the company.  Unfortunately, I think they view(ed) fine art printing as one area not worthy of further investment.  We'll see, but I'm not optimistic that they will be a player.  Too bad Kodak isn't in this area (he says in jest).

I think she was right about that one, given the huge problems that company faces. I agree - not likely to resume any time soon. But one can never say never. They still have a toe-hold in the high-end industrial printing market for really huge output.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: shadowblade on February 02, 2014, 11:35:03 AM
I think she was right about that one, given the huge problems that company faces. I agree - not likely to resume any time soon. But one can never say never. They still have a toe-hold in the high-end industrial printing market for really huge output.

Ultimately, the HP machines all use the same technology, regardless of whether they're printing photos, art reproduction, prepress, signage or engineering blueprints.

They already have arguably the best inks on the market, and these inks are used not only in their dedicated photo printers, but also in their CAD printers (e.g. Z6200). If they're going to continue making printers at all, they're likely to use the same inks, or improved versions of them. In other words, there's no reason a future printer won't be good for printing photos, even if that isn't its primary purpose. After all, people use Mimaki and Roland printers for photos and fine art, too.

The only thing that could kill off HP as a photo printing option is if they decided to cut back on the number of inks in the printer, arguing that signage, blueprints and other commercial/industrial functions only need a basic four-colour process.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JRSmit on February 02, 2014, 12:36:54 PM
I find the 4900 the "gold" standard if you will. Compared to the 3800 it is more refined,  better  nuances.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on February 02, 2014, 12:44:13 PM
I find the 4900 the "gold" standard if you will. Compared to the 3800 it is more refined,  better  nuances.
Based on recent tests once I got my 4900 unclogged, I'd say that's true if comparing the 3880 to the 4900. I prefer the 3880 in many ways, but the output from the 4900, with a proper file that can utilize it's gamut will appear a higher 'gold' standard than the 3880. The head techology, which is probably a cause for more clogs when not used regularly, the additional inks do make a difference for the better.

Mark's point about head replacement should be observed when comparing other printers to the Epson print technology.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 02, 2014, 12:56:47 PM

The only thing that could kill off HP as a photo printing option is if they decided to cut back on the number of inks in the printer, arguing that signage, blueprints and other commercial/industrial functions only need a basic four-colour process.

Ink is probably the least important consideration when it comes to making commercial decisions about whether to support a product line, with all that it involves.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: shadowblade on February 02, 2014, 01:51:35 PM
Ink is probably the least important consideration when it comes to making commercial decisions about whether to support a product line, with all that it involves.

What I'm saying is that, if HP announces that the next printer is a 54"-wide, high-speed 12-colour printer, designed for printing blueprints, indoor signage or whatever, there's no reason the same printer can't also be an excellent photo and fine art reproduction device, even if that isn't its primary purpose.

If, on the other hand, the same printer is designed with just four inks and larger tanks, or even three sets of four heads for faster print speeds, it would be nearly useless for photos.

In other words, the next device's suitability as a photo printer depends not on what HP decides to call it or what its 'purpose' is, but on how many inks it can use at the same time.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 02, 2014, 04:49:19 PM
Thanks for clarifying - I see what you mean now.

Even in that context, there are other factors that would matter very much as well - for example, dithering and dot lay-down technologies, droplet size control, native resolution........
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 02, 2014, 04:58:58 PM
Update 4

Been conducting additional readings and found a site where many reported using nail remover as a cleaning fluid?
Others were reporting blowing compressed air, carefully, off a bottle of Dust-Off, to clean the head? With good results.

So, having nothing to lose, I gave both of these "techniques" a try.
And I took a hi-res picture of the head after doing injecting nail polish and blowing air.

Here is a link to a high-res 19 meg RGB TIFF image,  showing the face of the head with rows of tiny dots of fluid.
http://sdrv.ms/1dk3Ve9
(I could not get the server to accept a low-res version of the file)

This, to me, suggests that the head is not "physically blocked" by dry ink.

Some member has suggested in this thread that, having originally circulated 95% alcool and Windex through the head, that this  effectively "killed" it. But in my research, I have not come accross a comment to sustain this view? Other than a reply by John Cone :

I would not have recommended alcohol because of the amount it dries, nor windex because it contains too much ammonia.
At this point - your head is not functioning and it does not sound like a clog.
I think it may be damaged beyond PiezoFlush to repair.


My hypothesis today is still that the vacuum pump failed? But I won't know until I dismantle the right side of the printer to get to the pump cap assembly.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 02, 2014, 05:06:33 PM
The blockages might be where you can't see them.

It is very hard to know for sure at this point whether you have done irreparable damage to the head. However, unless you are technically trained/qualified to do so, my instinct would be that the more you mess around in it, the higher the risk of causing real damage.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 02, 2014, 05:07:54 PM
Thank's Mike. I am considering buying the AIS fluid.
Worth the try.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: shadowblade on February 02, 2014, 08:13:12 PM
Thanks for clarifying - I see what you mean now.

Even in that context, there are other factors that would matter very much as well - for example, dithering and dot lay-down technologies, droplet size control, native resolution........

No doubt. But I can't see any of those going backwards in any printer...
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 02, 2014, 08:57:07 PM
I can. Variance of specs may depend on what the printer is designed for.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on February 02, 2014, 09:32:37 PM
Update 4

Been conducting additional readings and found a site where many reported using nail remover as a cleaning fluid?


Nail polish remover is mostly acetone, a very aggressive solvent; I wouldn't use it as it may damage the head by dissolving internal epoxies or cements that hold the structure together.

It also contains oil.

If you have used it then I would immediately flush any remaining acetone using deionised water.


Quote
This, to me, suggests that the head is not "physically blocked" by dry ink.


This was evident when I asked if deionised water passed through the head and you said it did.



Quote
My hypothesis today is still that the vacuum pump failed? But I won't know until I dismantle the right side of the printer to get to the pump cap assembly.


The only vacuum I'm aware of is vacuum pressure in the capping station to suck ink through the printhead into the waste ink tank during cleaning and power off.

When printing, the ink carts are pressurized via the pressure pump which is a positive pressure not a negative pressure.

As I said previously, unless you have disassembled components in the pressure pump assembly or associated pressurizing tubes running to the ink cartridge bays then it's unlikely this is your problem.

Did you find any air in the ink lines?



Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: davidh202 on February 02, 2014, 11:28:53 PM
Roger,
you are a glutton for punishment!

we went through all this for two years with the infamous 7900 thread, and went around in circles, only to find out nothing Eric did would restore a head to working order, and finally gave up.
David
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 03, 2014, 07:00:13 AM
Roger,
you are a glutton for punishment!

we went through all this for two years with the infamous 7900 thread, and went around in circles, only to find out nothing Eric did would restore a head to working order, and finally gave up.
David

Yes, that is/was indeed the case. I am pretty much convinced that only a small number of people in Epson know the true causes of these periodic episodes. Epson could do the public and themselves a substantial service by issuing a bulletin first exposing what percentage of all printers sold in the model line have experienced these apparently unrecoverable ink delivery issues (from what I hear it is extremely low), explaining what the problems REALLY are likely to be under the more usual stress scenarios and indicate whether they can be resolved and if so - how. Because of all the negative publicity they have received in numerous threads and several forums, they have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain in terms of PR and future trouble avoidance by doing this, but I have come to appreciate it is unlikely their lawyers will advise them to say anything - especially in the sue-crazy USA where publication of such evidence could contribute to the risk of class actions etc.

Under the circumstances I think all this amateur research is (potentially expensive) entertainment and perhaps even a bit educational for those doing it, but likely a waste of time in respect of usable results. I would like to be proven wrong, so Roger should keep posting his updates as the tinkering proceeds.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark F on February 03, 2014, 12:26:30 PM

I really think keeping the humidity above 40% (40-60% recommended by Epson) is the key.  Mine is kept between 45 and 50 most days - sometimes drops to 38-40 by the end of the weekend when I'm not in to fill the humidifier.   This is the one I purchased: http://www.sears.ca/product/kenmore-md-454-litre-digital-humidifier/642-000017871-758_3_29982OC

Some time back I read a post on this forum (but not this thread) that the poster had raised the humidity and solved his clogged head issue by simply keeping a small glass of water in the printer during periods of non-use. This did not work for me and one or more heads clogged during periods of non-use. I never measured the humidity under the closed top of my 4880 but the water did evaporate so I assume the humidity level was at least 40% in that enclosed area. I'm not a techie but it seems after reading this and the prior 7900 thread that this whole thing is hit or miss. Using Windex or another solution works for some but not for others. The same for special software or humidity control. About the only sure thing seems to be frequent (read daily) printing. Or maybe a special incantation on the full moon?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 03, 2014, 12:32:19 PM
Actually, Epson's specs for humidity is a range of 20% to 80% for Print Quality Guarantee. Mine is never less than 20%. If I am printing every other day or so the printer works well. If I leave it for a week or more, it needs cleaning. I have come to the conclusion that frequent use is the key issue.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark F on February 03, 2014, 12:50:10 PM
Actually, Epson's specs for humidity is a range of 20% to 80% for Print Quality Guarantee. Mine is never less than 20%. If I am printing every other day or so the printer works well. If I leave it for a week or more, it needs cleaning. I have come to the conclusion that frequent use is the key issue.

I just checked my 4880 manual, which states: "20-80% RH, 40 to 60% RH for optimum print quality, and for optimal operation humidity should be between 35 and 45% RH". I do not know if there are different  specs for different printers.

it has been my experience that frequent use means a full color print. I print at least a test pattern daily, the wavy line version, but that did not work either. One day there is always a clog but perhaps the daily test pattern print decreases the frequency?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 03, 2014, 01:28:50 PM
Printing the test pattern is not sufficient.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: davidh202 on February 04, 2014, 09:09:10 PM
I actually believe that recommended humidity levels are more likely related to proper hydration of the printing papers and their reception to absorb ink, rather than it's affect on the ink  which essentially is in a completely sealed environment until it is actually discharged from the nozzles. There  may be some affect to help the ink from drying the surface plate of the head and capping station but would have no other impact on the rest of the ink delivery system from the carts to the outer surface of the nozzles. From all accounts in  many cases the people who are actually lucky enough to clear actual "clogs" ( a few missing nozzles), hydration appears to work because it is head surface related.This is what the AIS fluids work on.
O
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: hugowolf on February 04, 2014, 09:34:24 PM
So far, after buying a humidifier and keeping the humidity levels between 40 and 45%, I haven’t had a single line drop out. Prior to that, during the winter months here in Virginia, I could have lines drop out between prints. Full color, Granger charts, nozzle check prints, it didn’t matter.

I am at the moment, hopeful; and wishing I had gone with humidity control earlier. I am almost to the level of trust I have with the 3880. It has still been too short a time for me to draw reliable conclusions.

Brian A
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mike Guilbault on February 04, 2014, 10:15:00 PM
What did I tell ya! ;) 

I had read 40-60% somewhere (manual I believe) so I've been keeping the room between 45-50%.  Fired up the 9900 today - no printing, not even turned on in 4-5 days - perfect nozzle check and print on canvas was beautiful. Without the humidifier, the RH is around 25-30% (central Ontario -5 to -30 celsius over the last month).  Maybe I'll try dropping it to 40-45% and see what happens - but then again, it's working so don't want to fool with it too much.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: hugowolf on February 04, 2014, 10:31:32 PM
This winter has been much worse than last: outside humidity at 28-33%. Last winter I managed to keep the indoor humidity above 30% most of the time, but his year I would sometimes come in on Mondays to 18% rel. I’d raise the humidity to over 30% before a nozzle check print, but I was frequently seeing dropped lines in several colors.

The new 5 USgal humidifier keeps things going throughout the weekend without a problem so far. We have had temps below -15ºC more than once this year.

I prefer the paper at or below 40%, but the printer seems to prefer it more moist. 40-45% is my compromise.

Brian A
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Alan Goldhammer on February 05, 2014, 08:48:20 AM
One thing to be careful of with adding humidity to home in cold climates is mold growth.  We have a whole house humidfier system built into our furnace and when temperatures drop below -10C excess humidity can cause mold spores to appear on edges of walls and windows if too much moisture condenses because of the cold ambient temperature within the room.  We routinely keep our house heated at 20C during the day and dropping it down 17C at night.  During the recent very cold weather I see lots of moisture condensation along the inside of window seams (and yes, they are double paned windows).  Just something to look out for.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mike Guilbault on February 05, 2014, 03:32:22 PM
I do my printing at the studio, but at home it's around 30-35% and that's where I coat my canvases and stretch.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: MHMG on February 05, 2014, 04:30:23 PM
What did I tell ya! ;) 

I had read 40-60% somewhere (manual I believe) so I've been keeping the room between 45-50%.  Fired up the 9900 today - no printing, not even turned on in 4-5 days - perfect nozzle check and print on canvas was beautiful. Without the humidifier, the RH is around 25-30% (central Ontario -5 to -30 celsius over the last month).  Maybe I'll try dropping it to 40-45% and see what happens - but then again, it's working so don't want to fool with it too much.


Actually, most inexpensive hygrometers don't measure low RH very well and err significantly on the higher side with their readings. A quick check with a psychometric chart or calculator for a -10 degree C outdoor air temperature assuming that this air is also at the dew point temperature (meaning 100%RH maximum moisture content in that outdoor air) returns a 12%RH calculated value when that air is then sucked indoors by your furnace and subsequently heated to a reasonable indoor temperature of 20 degrees C. If that outdoor air is -20C, now you get to 5% RH indoors once heated to human comfort levels.

Without additional moisture being added by the HVAC system these RH values are typically the kind of indoor RH home owners will encounter routinely in a cold northern wintertime climate like Ontario. Very dry conditions indeed. Centrally located whole house humidifiers can pick that RH up to about 20%, but trying to go much beyond that and you will eventually suffer expensive building damage. You may even notice water condensing indoors on the window sills. The extra moisture pumped into the building can also condense inside cold exterior walls where you won't notice, especially around the window casements that aren't always perfectly insulated.

Bottom line: If you want to boost your Epson printer"s RH conditions up to 40% or 50%RH and you live in a cold wintertime climate, you will need to consider tenting the machine or making sure your portable humidifier is being used only in a centrally located room with no walls or windows adjoining the exterior above-ground walls.  Many modern home floor plans don't have such a room unless perhaps in a finished basement. Just a heads up for those folks living in bitter cold climates and contemplating adding additional moisture around their printers. You may want to consult with an HVAC company to make sure how to do it safely.

cheers,
Mark
http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mike Guilbault on February 05, 2014, 11:02:52 PM
Good points Mark.  Fortunately, my printer room is in the centre of a commercial 3 storey building (bottom floor). I'm going to dial it back a bit anyway and see how it works... maybe keep it at around 35-40%.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: John Caldwell on February 06, 2014, 07:47:03 AM
Mike, What humidifier did you end up with?

John-
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: hugowolf on February 06, 2014, 12:22:59 PM
Mike, What humidifier did you end up with?


I think Mike went with this http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=86649.msg704851#msg704851

I went with http://www.homedepot.com/p/Essick-Air-Products-5-Gal-Whole-House-Contemporary-Humidifier-for-2900-sq-ft-HD1409/204364015

I have nothing to compare it to, so others may be better. It does work. Has two tanks plus a reservoir. Two tanks is a handy feature, since it empties one before using the other.

Brian A
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: John Caldwell on February 06, 2014, 04:06:44 PM
Thank you (for both suggestions), Brian.

John-

Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mike Guilbault on February 06, 2014, 10:21:04 PM
Yes... this one: http://www.sears.ca/product/kenmore-md-454-litre-digital-humidifier/642-000017871-758_3_29982OC

I'm very pleased with it - usually only fill it once a day - sometimes in the morning and then again before I leave for the day, but only when it's really dry. 
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: tsjanik on February 08, 2014, 11:05:36 AM
I've been dealing with a PK block for about two weeks.  I tried a clean, printing(s), power clean all with at least a day interval between the cleans - no progress.  I then allowed a tray of water to sit in the printer and slowly saw progress in the nozzle check over a period of about a week.  Today I printed a nozzle check, saw some improvement and then clean and the nozzles that were clear are now blocked again.  I certainly didn't expect a clean to cause blockage; has anyone had a similar experience?

Tom
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on February 08, 2014, 11:14:48 AM
I have. Not sure of the exact process that occurs, but had a small amount of drop out, cleaned, and lost the whole color. Slowly over time, one jet at a time, one jet each day, I would get the color back by doing a test print each day. Very, very frustrating.

I wish I had an answer for you. Currently, my entire VM has dropped and have not been successful in getting any jets back.

Up until the point of loss, I was using the Harvey Head Cleaner, with great success, 6 months without a problem. Then the humidity dropped, didn't get my humidifier fired up in time, and bam! &/@:&(.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 08, 2014, 11:22:36 AM
Yes, doing a nozzle check after a cleaning sometimes shows gaps that did not exist before the cleaning. I have no idea why this happens, save to speculate that it could be some miniscule pieces of dry ink or dirt that get moved from one position to another rather than removed, but I hasten to emphasize this is speculation. It would really be nice and helpful if Epson would produce an extended manual describing these issues, how they occur and the best way to recover from them. It would save a lot of customer frustration. The overwhelming majority of us will still keep using their printers and inks.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Christoph C. Feldhaim on February 08, 2014, 02:18:31 PM
Yes, doing a nozzle check after a cleaning sometimes shows gaps that did not exist before the cleaning. I have no idea why this happens, save to speculate that it could be some miniscule pieces of dry ink or dirt that get moved from one position to another rather than removed, but I hasten to emphasize this is speculation. It would really be nice and helpful if Epson would produce an extended manual describing these issues, how they occur and the best way to recover from them. It would save a lot of customer frustration. The overwhelming majority of us will still keep using their printers and inks.

I simply wish I had a service manual for my 7890. I hate to see it can't be downloaded for free from Epson ...
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 08, 2014, 02:21:27 PM
That's right - service manuals their IP and they confine them to people who are specifically trained to use them.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: tsjanik on February 09, 2014, 11:55:16 AM
............... It would really be nice and helpful if Epson would produce an extended manual describing these issues, how they occur and the best way to recover from them. It would save a lot of customer frustration. ....................

Well my 4900 is slowly allowing PK nozzles to appear, I'm very reluctant to try another clean.  Yes Mark, it would be helpful if Epson had guidelines for clogging.  Perhaps there is no reliable way to clear clogs. Looking at Epson's description of x900 printers, it appears they would rather not acknowledge the clogging problem at all.

"Clogged nozzles are a thing of the past with the newest ink repelling coating and auto verification technologies", from the Epson 9900 page.

Tom
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Georgecp on February 10, 2014, 12:14:24 PM
I have lived through many of the same issues described here...I found that cleaning cycles made new clogs appear while not addressing old ones.

Over several episodes of these problems, the one thing that has always brought the printer "back" was an initial ink charge performed using the maintenance adjustment program.  I an guess why it works (new ink getting drawn into the head and filling gaps/dissolving the reason for blockages); however, I certainly cannot be sure.  I used piezo flush one time when the clog was very bad and it cleared up after sitting for a few days.

Like others on this thread, I use humidification to help the problem.  I purchased two cigar box humidifiers and fill them with glycol - I keep this in the printer well (with a sticker to remind me to remove them before I power it on)...I got this tip from someone on the Leica forum and it works for me.

I am frustrated by Epson's lack of concern for their customers who have spent countless hours, ink, angst because of a clear issue with this generation of printers.  Their silence can only be construed as a lack of pressure to respond because they have not meaningful competition.  Look at the 17" market for professional printers - other than the 4900, there is nothing new for the last several years.  Canon's IPF5100, which I owned for 5 years, is a nice yet old design.

I am not sure what this means for the serious printer market - however, it can't be good.

I hope that if Epson does provide a new head that addresses this flaw, they will make it available (for a price) even to those of us who have purchased their beta product...
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 10, 2014, 12:43:10 PM


I hope that if Epson does provide a new head that addresses this flaw, they will make it available (for a price) even to those of us who have purchased their beta product...


Sorry - with all due respect you cannot call an Epson 4900 a "beta product". You don't know how many thousands of these printers are being used world-wide and what the failure rate is. Those of us, including me, who get clogs because they sometimes sit not being used enough relative to what the printer was designed for do not make it a beta product. I too wish for more transparency and some real solutions from Epson for this specific issue, but apart from that it is a very sophisticated printer producing incredibly good quality output.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Georgecp on February 10, 2014, 01:27:00 PM
Hi Mark,

I appreciate your comment and perhaps I am being somewhat harsh; however, there is certainly enough evidence among the many stories here (and elsewhere)  that something is not right with this product line.  The fact that the printer has caused so much difficulty to the point where maintenance and ink clogging procedures overtake actual printing for low volume users is a very real flaw.

By definition, a professional product should have more robust procedures, practices, and built-in ways to prevent or solve the kind of operational problems that this printer has exhibited.  It does not.  Epson has left its best customer base to fend for itself and hide behind the "extended warranty" argument.  That is the essence of my "beta" comment.

More competition would solve this problem quickly; unfortunately, I don't see that on the horizon.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 10, 2014, 01:39:35 PM
Hi Mark,

I appreciate your comment and perhaps I am being somewhat harsh; however, there is certainly enough evidence among the many stories here (and elsewhere)  that something is not right with this product line.  The fact that the printer has caused so much difficulty to the point where maintenance and ink clogging procedures overtake actual printing for low volume users is a very real flaw.

By definition, a professional product should have more robust procedures, practices, and built-in ways to prevent or solve the kind of operational problems that this printer has exhibited.  It does not.  Epson has left its best customer base to fend for itself and hide behind the "extended warranty" argument.  That is the essence of my "beta" comment.

More competition would solve this problem quickly; unfortunately, I don't see that on the horizon.

No there isn't enough evidence. What you read in these forums is very likely an extremely small sample of total usage world-wide. Even with the clogs I have experienced due to frequent periods of inactivity, there is NO WAY cleaning procedures consume anywhere near the amount of ink I consume making prints. Unfortunately Epson has made it very difficult to track the exact data between cleaning and printing since the days when I was able to publish such findings from information their nozzle checks once revealed and they then suppressed. But I can tell from the information that is available what I am saying is broadly correct - in my circumstances. Your definition of a professional product is of course your opinion to which you are entitled. But please consider that if Epson designed the machine for continuous use and the people who use it continuously hardly experience these problems then it is a professional product even by your definition. I mainly fault Epson for not having made this clear from the get-go and not having provided more insight into causes and solutions for those affected; I would like to see them more engaged, but I strongly believe it is fear of legal complications that holds them back. The one thing I agree with you about is that more competition is unlikely. Printing is in recession as growing numbers of people are increasingly viewing and sharing their photos in other ways.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: vazuw55 on February 10, 2014, 08:14:55 PM
Wow, I just ordered a new 4900 yesterday and saw this thread today. Should I send that sucker back ??
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 10, 2014, 08:19:31 PM
Wow, I just ordered a new 4900 yesterday and saw this thread today. Should I send that sucker back ??

If you intend to use it several times a week, of course not. It's an excellent printer that should deliver great image quality you should be very satisfied with if you know how to print. If you intend to use it infrequently you may wish to consider a 3880 instead.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mike Guilbault on February 10, 2014, 09:53:38 PM
... what Mark said... and if you do get it, maintain humidity in your print room.  I liked my 4900 so much that I also purchased the 9900 and run them side by side.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 12, 2014, 07:23:07 PM
Update 6 / Feb 12, 2014

I had the friendly visit of an Epson technician yesterday. He took apart the right hand side of the printer, to get to the pump.
He hypothesized that the pump was not doing its job. But after a few "powerful cleaning", he was satisfied that the pump was not the culprit.
He managed to get Orange and Light Magenta to show on the nozzle check.
He tried one or two additional powerful cleanings while closerly observing the working of the pump and the clear tubes that are conducting the sucked up inks
to the Maintenance Tank. He must have spent 90 minutes working on my printer but in the end, he could not see what would keep the other colors to show up on the nozzle check. So we brainstorms possible ideas. He suggested I got the Epson Adjustment program to conduct and "Ink Eject" : if I see all inks passed through the tubing on their way to the Maintenant Tank then, he thought, we will know the problem is not coming from the head.

This afternoon, after obtaining the Epson Adjustment program, I tried a nozzle check first. I was suprised to see, not only Orange and Light Magenta but also
a bit of Light Cyan and Light Black. Then I tried to issue the Ink Eject command. I observe that some ink was actually pulled through the tubing but not much?
In fact, after 3 minutes of this, the printer stopped and I got the following error message "Something went wrong, please check the printer. The printer does not become ready".
This, to me, indicates that the printer is unable to complete the command fully. I tried two more times, in case. Same error message. Then, having nothing to lose, I tried issuing the "Ink Charge" command. I got a nice "The command has been transmitted to the printer. Do no send another command as long as the sequence is still running". Well, it's been 15 minutes now and nothing is happening on the printer side. Looks like the printer is still idle. Just tried sending a nozzle check and nothing? Maybe the printer knows internally that the ink cartridges are empty, most of them were "initial cartridges". I restarted the printer and the software, and tried my luck with another nozzle check but, no response? Ah! Got a "Communication error message". I couldn't turn the printer off from the front panel so I pulled the power plug and got a "Fatal Error: 3000".

At this point, I am not encouraged. I guess I coud try another Ink Eject? I have not done the SL2 which they say is recommended to "fill the head with ink" after setting a new print head? Actually, when I tried to issue SL2 earlier, nothing happened? I just tried it now and got the message "Not enough ink"?

At this point, I'd have to buy new ink cartridges to further continue the process. But I'm not optimistic about the prospect.
It's very possible that I have fried the delicate piezzo in my heads by injecting Windex, water, nail remover, 95% alcool and compressed air -- the works.

I was toying with the possibility of refilling (somehow?) the empty ink cartridges with water? Just so that I could see whether it's possible to further clean the system.

On YouTube, I saw that it's possible to inject ink in a OEM Epson cartridge, with a syringe. But I'd have to have a way of resetting the chip? otherwise, even if I fill the cartridge
with water, the printer will see the cartridges as empty?

What a saga. Better dump the printer now? And order a new one?
 




Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: John V. on February 12, 2014, 08:08:08 PM
My 4900 sits for weeks at a time currently (unfortunately), and I've yet to have any serious problems (1-2 years). The humidity here is above 50% and I print nozzle checks twice a week or so, however. What I'm wondering: I use just regular cheap copy/print paper to print the nozzle checks. Is this not a good idea? And also, should I be cycling the black inks, or does this not make any difference (from a maintenance point of view)?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on February 12, 2014, 09:13:04 PM
What I'm wondering: I use just regular cheap copy/print paper to print the nozzle checks. Is this not a good idea?
Copy paper is fine for nozzle checks.
Quote
And also, should I be cycling the black inks, or does this not make any difference (from a maintenance point of view)?
PK and Matte PK use the same printhead nozzles, so from a nozzle point of view either primary Black will exercise the nozzles, however switching the primary Blacks periodically is a good idea because it purges ink through the associated ink dampers and ink lines which helps to stop ink pigment settling in them.

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: davidh202 on February 12, 2014, 11:29:34 PM
Copy paper is fine for nozzle checks.PK and Matte PK use the same printhead nozzles, so from a nozzle point of view either primary Black will exercise the nozzles, however switching the primary Blacks periodically is a good idea because it purges ink through the associated ink dampers and ink lines which helps to stop ink pigment settling in them.
Brian.

 I fully concur with that
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: davidh202 on February 12, 2014, 11:38:01 PM
Update 6 / Feb 12, 2014

  It's very possible that I have fried the delicate piezzo in my heads by injecting Windex, water, nail remover, 95% alcool and compressed air -- the works.

 What a saga. Better dump the printer now? And order a new one?
 

Yep, at least a new head, you killed it. :'(


http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=86649.msg703998#msg703998
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=86649.msg705966#msg705966

your new nickname is now  Eric II  ;)

Sorry,
David

Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 12, 2014, 11:49:01 PM
I think the lesson of experience from both this thread and the 7900 thread simply is that if our printer experiences problems we cannot repair using the means Epson provides in the customer manual, refer the issue to an Epson authorized technician. Those of us who do not have the technical competence to service these complex machines should not try to do so.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 13, 2014, 08:01:13 AM
I wish there was a way to recirculate inks? Either when the printer sits idle for days or when the it is purged onto the Maintenance Tank.
Not the best system, currently. But, for daily usage, the current system is adequate since the expectation is to expend inks!
But for printing occasionnally, it is murder.

I, too, had my printer set on Auto Nozzle Check by default. Never touched that setting. In retrospect, didn't seem like a bad Policy even though I resent the fact that it spent ink everytime I turned the printer on since it contributed to keep my 4900 clean for 2 1/2 years. Say that it could have gone on that way for maybe a few more months had the Photo Black not become completely clogged?

I'm at a crossroad this morning. I need to find a way of recharging the empty cartridges with water to carry on testing the head? I don't want to spend $700 of inks to find out later that the head is hopelessly dead. That would really piss me off. So, water, it seems, would be perfect from this point of view. I am going to spend researching the net for ways to refill the cartridges with water while looking for that chip replacement, or how to reset it. If anyone has suggestions, please say so.

Best / Roger
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Alan Goldhammer on February 13, 2014, 08:52:31 AM
So, water, it seems, would be perfect from this point of view. I am going to spend researching the net for ways to refill the cartridges with water while looking for that chip replacement, or how to reset it. If anyone has suggestions, please say so.

Best / Roger
Water alone is likely not to work.  Epson inks contain up to 25% glycerol(s) by weight that act as a solubilizer/suspension agent for the pigment compounds.  Unless you have some in your purging liquid it's doubtful in my mind that you will succeed.  You should be able to get USP grade glycerin at a pharmacy or on line.  A suitable solution in line with Epson's would be one part glycerin to four parts water. 

NOTE:  THIS IS JUST A SUGGESTION BASED ON THE CHEMISTRY AND NO GUARANTEE THAT IT WILL WORK!
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 13, 2014, 09:49:14 AM
Thank's for the excellent Glycerin suggestion. Why I thought simple water would work is because the Epson technician that visited me tuesday suggeste it. He gave me the example of one of his clients who only uses Photo Black in the printer and leaves all other lines filled with water. But I will investigate Glycerin...
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 13, 2014, 09:58:18 AM
I have come across the following chip resetter on quite a few web sites :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=X5XzIQ7s5xo

From observation, it seems to have the same 9 contacts as on my Epson 200ml ink cartridge, 4 at the top and 5 at the bottom.
I bet I could even find this chip resetter model locally, in Montréal?

If that's the case, all I have to do is to figure out how to refill the cartridges with that mix of water and glycerin...
Can't wait to get back to testing.

A good friend of mine has just gotten his 3880 which I plan to see...
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 13, 2014, 10:02:21 AM
BTW, if anyone's interested, I located a seller in China, on www.alibaba.com, who would be willing to sell me a set of 11 refilable cartridges for $14/pc = $154 + shipping. Lowest I found while looking around was $235 from a US seller.
Not that I intend to use refilable cartridges to save money on inks, although that's a possibility.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: digitaldog on February 13, 2014, 10:25:05 AM
BTW, if anyone's interested, I located a seller in China, on www.alibaba.com, who would be willing to sell me a set of 11 refilable cartridges for $14/pc = $154 + shipping. Lowest I found while looking around was $235 from a US seller.

If inks from China are the same quality as dog food from China, I'd pass! ;D
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on February 13, 2014, 10:32:54 AM

But for printing occasionnally, it is murder.

I, too, had my printer set on Auto Nozzle Check by default. Never touched that setting. In retrospect, didn't seem like a bad Policy even though I resent the fact that it spent ink everytime I turned the printer on since it contributed to keep my 4900 clean for 2 1/2 years. Say that it could have gone on that way for maybe a few more months had the Photo Black not become completely clogged?

Best / Roger

I had similar experience using auto check.  The black dropped out after switching.

I gave since followed Mark's suggestion, which he left out of above post.  Decide which black you want and stick with it.  I decided on PK for the 4900. Use 3880 for mixed bag of blacks, mostly MK, and mixed bag of paper sizes, such as for cards, which 4900 was not designed for.

John
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 13, 2014, 10:57:07 AM
Hi Andrew, I'm only looking for a way to complete the tests I can possibly throw at my printer before I declare it dead.
If *ever* I can recussitate the printer, I plan to continue Epson inks. I never minded paying for Epson inks.

Roger
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 13, 2014, 10:57:54 AM
Mark, that sounds like a sensible conclusion.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: RachelleK on February 13, 2014, 11:19:32 AM
BTW, if anyone's interested, I located a seller in China, on www.alibaba.com, who would be willing to sell me a set of 11 refilable cartridges for $14/pc = $154 + shipping. Lowest I found while looking around was $235 from a US seller.
Not that I intend to use refilable cartridges to save money on inks, although that's a possibility.

If you get the refillable cartridges maybe you could also get some PiezoFlush from InkJetMall instead of mixing your own solution:

http://shopping.netsuite.com/s.nl/c.362672/it.A/id.5756/.f?sc=18&category=31348

(I think his inks come from China.)
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 13, 2014, 01:16:11 PM
I was considering filling the cartridges with PiezoFlush, as a cleaning solution. Not the most expensive thing and maybe the last trick I can think of I can try on this printer before I turn it to the garbage collector, next week? Thank's for reminding me.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 13, 2014, 04:07:11 PM
Hi Andrew, I'm only looking for a way to complete the tests I can possibly throw at my printer before I declare it dead.
If *ever* I can recussitate the printer, I plan to continue Epson inks. I never minded paying for Epson inks.

Roger

Well, the present state of the printer is kind of a "sunk cost". The probability of rehabilitating it from all we have read so far would appear to be pretty low, so if you think that's correct, then the only question is how much of your time and money you think is worth committing to "research", because all you have to lose from this point forward are those incremental inputs of time and money, knowing that any prospective pay-off is a long-shot.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 13, 2014, 04:45:10 PM
Mark,

I just don't want to throw the towel just yet. The head is probably "dead" but this research I'm doing, while soaking up an alarming amount of my time, is teaching me a thing or two about a world I'm still going to be confronted with in some future. I mean, suppose I buy another 4900 because that's what I need for my work, then it does not hurt to have lost all that time researching the possibilities of what can be done to this printer. Yes, my morale is at its lowest but, if I can only try some additional cleanings... But I don't want to do it with expensive inks. I know. It breaks my heart and my bank account.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 13, 2014, 04:58:46 PM
Mark,

I just don't want to throw the towel just yet. The head is probably "dead" but this research I'm doing, while soaking up an alarming amount of my time, is teaching me a thing or two about a world I'm still going to be confronted with in some future. I mean, suppose I buy another 4900 because that's what I need for my work, then it does not hurt to have lost all that time researching the possibilities of what can be done to this printer. Yes, my morale is at its lowest but, if I can only try some additional cleanings... But I don't want to do it with expensive inks. I know. It breaks my heart and my bank account.

Oh - agreed - you can always consider it a learning experience, no doubt, and only you can decide when it's best to "throw in the towel". But I also think you may want to consider very carefully whether another 4900 will be right printer for you based on how you would use it and the environment in which you would keep it.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 13, 2014, 05:35:36 PM
Are you ever right! I loved my 4900 during the 2 1/2 years I used it. I wish that Epson would come out with a replacement model in a month or so. I would not mind waiting a bit. But I can't hold my breath for that to happen. I wish I could go to Canon or HP to "teach Epson a lesson". But, they don't care, they're a business and they have no sympathy for users like me who dare to venture out in the group of folks who turn a lot of prints with these machines professionnally, day in, day out. But I looked at HP and Canon, and have not found anything palatable in the 17" format. Epson has a monopoly on that market segment. Canon makes a 17" iPF5100 (is that the right model number?) but from what I can read, from people's experience, it appears even riskier than another 4900. At least with the 4900, with hindsight, I can rationalize buying a second one knowing I would not be stupid enough to buy a new one *without* buying the additional 2 years contract. That's at the bare minimum. I regret not having done that because i would not be in this mess today. Still, what's going to happen after three years of ownership? By then, Epson is probably going to have another 17" model out, with new features and what not. From a business point of view, I have to approach it from the point of view that this is some kind of "annuity", that if I want to have the convenience of printing in this size of output, I have to accept not paying some lump sum initially and then to forget about it, but adopt a Policy instead whereby I am willing to set aside about $800 a year for maintaining this capacity, regardless of ink usage. I know it sounds crazy, Mark.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 13, 2014, 05:42:34 PM
I don't think it's crazy at all. From all I've seen and read it remains the best quality printer in its size range and works well as long as it used regularly and kept sufficiently humid. I also think buying the extended service contract makes sense in light of the experience you've had and if you are using it professionally.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: HSakols on February 16, 2014, 09:26:18 AM
At first I thought I killed my 4800 but it has come back to life!!  I first used MIS cleaning solution and ran a power cleaning.  I then ran some nozzle checks and cleanings.  I left it for a couple of days and then ran another power cleaning.  Next I ran test prints until I got zero black streaks.  After that I replaced my Epson carts and have run at least five nozzle checks / test prints.  Between each on I put a half and half solution of simple green and water on the dampening pads.  I finally am getting clean test prints showing that my nozzles are clean.  I have ran zero power cleaning cycles while I have been using my Epson Inks.  My printer is squeaky clean and not using it for nearly a year.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: HSakols on February 18, 2014, 09:04:38 AM
Now if I had called Epson support they would have told me 1. just keep flushing ink or 2. sorry it is broken - throw it in the garbage and buy a new one.  My printer now runs like it did when it was brand new.  The bottom line is that Epson could be more helpful in coming up with solutions to help users who have clogs, but that is not part of the business plan.  I would definitely check out using a cleaning fluid for difficult clogs. 
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 18, 2014, 09:41:22 AM
Now if I had called Epson support they would have told me 1. just keep flushing ink or 2. sorry it is broken - throw it in the garbage and buy a new one.  My printer now runs like it did when it was brand new.  The bottom line is that Epson could be more helpful in coming up with solutions to help users who have clogs, but that is not part of the business plan.  I would definitely check out using a cleaning fluid for difficult clogs. 

I would like to agree with you, but it really isn't clear to me what more Epson can recommend that they haven't already done. It could just be the case that given the design of these printers they sincerely believe it is risky to put any more intervention into the hands of the broad clientele. Remember, not everyone out there is you, and everything they recommend is a potential liability of some kind. There is an issue for people not using these printers more or less continuously, which I think needs to be addressed upstream at the design and marketing stages.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: HSakols on February 18, 2014, 10:33:16 AM
I can see your point regarding liabilities of Epson to make suggestions that might not work for everyone. 
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 18, 2014, 11:48:09 AM
Update 7

Today, I got hold of a Chip Resetter for the 4900 cartridges. I was very skeptical that it would work, because it only has 7 pins and there are 9 gold contacts on the cartridges. And because I was told that these only work *if* there are more than 15% ink left in the cartridge. Still, I followed the procedure and it worked. Well, it worked for 5 out of 6 cartridges? After resetting the chips, I injected cleaning fluid in each one and I was able to launch a "Powerful cleaning". But soon after the printer started the cleaning, an error message appeared on the console reading "Ink Cartridge Error". And no matter what I did, thereafter, the printer refused to get to the main menu. I tried resetting the chip many times to no avail. The only thing I can see that could possibly explain this is the fact that, this was the first cartridge I started refilling with cleaning solution, and I remember, when I first started, using the gargantuan 50 ml syringe the store gave me, the fluid was clearly not getting in the ink pouch at all, it was spilling inside the cartridge itself while making a small mess of my desk. That's when I switched the 10ml Walgren-type synringe and it worked fine from there, as far as refilling the cartridges is concerned.

So now, my only choice it to go back to the store to buy a "compatible" cartridge, which sells for 60% of Epson's cartridges prices. (I don't want to give Mr. Epson more money at this stage).

The good news is that, throughout the "Powerful cleaning", before I got the error message, I observed ink actually flowing through the little transparent tubing that connected between the flushing station and the maintenance tank. Which tells me, it's not over yet ;-)

Roger
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 18, 2014, 01:29:55 PM
Update 8

Well, I put in my new el-cheapo Green cartridge in, which allowed me to resume testing.

First thing I did was to launch the Epson Adjustment program from my PC and tried a couple nozzle checks.
I got Yellow, Vivid Light Magenta and the Light Light Black.
Encouraged, I launched a CL2 Cleaning. I watched as ink was flowing into the flushing tube but it it was clear that, on some cycles, nothing was coming out.
I then ran a new nozzle check, just for the hell of it.

Well? The Photo Black is almost back! I have the Light Black, which is looking pretty good. Nothing in the Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Orange and Green.
The Light Cyan is back. So, all in all, I think I should pursue this.

I think I am obviously struggling with air, somewhere. I am told that air is the number 1 public ennemy of inkjet printing.

We'll see.
Title: Seriously, the iPF5100 "riskier than the 4900??
Post by: Pete Berry on February 18, 2014, 02:15:02 PM
...I wish I could go to Canon or HP to "teach Epson a lesson". But, they don't care, they're a business and they have no sympathy for users like me who dare to venture out in the group of folks who turn a lot of prints with these machines professionnally, day in, day out. But I looked at HP and Canon, and have not found anything palatable in the 17" format. Epson has a monopoly on that market segment. Canon makes a 17" iPF5100 (is that the right model number?) but from what I can read, from people's experience, it appears even riskier than another 4900...

As a 7+ year Canon iPF user (5000-5100) I admit that it is a perverse part of my nature to follow the travails of the Epson X900 series on both this and DPRev's printer forum.

I've read the Canon iPF wiki religiously since it's inception shortly before my acquiring my 5000, and there has never been anything remotely similar to the problems of the X900 printheads - owners returning early failed printers as many a four times, with "reconditioned" replacements failing from the get-go. I remember a single iPF5000 being returned for mechanical failure way back, but none since. The powered roll-feed units were frequently defective in the early 5000's, but were easily fixable - no problem with the 5100. I've don't think factory reconditioned iPF's are even offered by Canon, as I've never seen one mentioned.

Sure, there are printhead failures that seem more likely with very light usage, but the thermal bubble-jet heads are made with a huge redundancy of nozzles and auto-remapping of failed ones - which I think is electro-thermal burnout/shorting rather than "simple" ink clogging, as power cleanings rarely (never in my experience) make a difference. The two printheads, though relatively expensive at around $400 each, are easily user replaceable and consume about 100 ml ink each in the purging/recharging replacement process. I've had four failures over the years - the first two under warranty, with new ones (the upgraded PF-03's - overnighted after a single conversation with the Canon tech - who said that if a single forced cleaning didn't change the nozzle check, more are just a waste of ink.

Fours years after that, and a couple thousand sq ft later, I replaced the 5000 with a 5100 when the heads failed - and now 2.5 years of trouble-free printing, total freedom from nozzle checks and cleaning cycles aside from the routine self-maintenance with the printer left on. And this is the usual with the several iPF users I know. Where you can get into real trouble with the iPF's is when you override head error messages, continue printing, and risk blowing controller boards by drawing too much current through the failed heads.

So Roger, I would be most interested in the source of your (mis?)information about the only real, fully pro-featured alternative to the problematic 4900, with roll feed, vacuum hold down transport, and lossless 12-ink auto black switching.

Pete
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 18, 2014, 04:11:32 PM
Amazon User Reviews. Looks like they're not worth all that much?

Roger
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Pete Berry on February 18, 2014, 08:17:50 PM
Amazon User Reviews. Looks like they're not worth all that much?

Roger

I'm assuming you didn't read the Amazon Epson 4900 reviews, then: 35 reviews total - 19 were 1-star; six 2-star. Average 1.5 stars. 

Canon 5100 had 5 reviews, average 3 stars, with two 5's. One of the 1-stars was for a guy who was trying to print with a head error on one of his 2+ year old units:

 "This is a fantastic printer. We have used 2 of them for over 2 years. Until firmware ver 1.38 came out. Now it will not allow printing to continue if the head has the slightest clog. It will not even print out the sheet showing if the head is clogged. It just stops and says print head must be replaced ($500 to $600 ea) Tech support just says that the print heads are expendable."  The new firmware prevents precisely what I mentioned above - frying the controller board trying to print with a defective printhead.

And the 4900 is worth $500 more than the Canon? I imagine there are a host of 4900 users who would kill for a $600 user-replaceable head.

Pete
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 18, 2014, 10:43:22 PM
The 4900 reviews weren't glorious either, I'll admit.

Let me tell you a bit of my background.
As many, I got into large format printing using an Epson 3000 many years ago.
Then, I "graduated" to a 4000. Loved the printer. Until, one day, Magenta clogged solid.
Then, I did my homework but reluctantly gave more of my hard-earned money to Mr. Epson, in a 4900.
But my heart was not with Epson.

When I looked around for information on the Canon recently, I was turned down by the prospect of more head changing.
At $500 each, it was a lot of money. Granted, a lot less than the $1800 that Epson wants, today, to sell me a 4900 head.
Another thing that turned me off on the iPF5100 was the price, which was more than the 4900, factoring the $500 going rebate then, in 2011. Then, I was turned down by the size of the cartridges, 130ml, which, if I remember correctly, seem more expensive than Epson's.

All your points are well taken, believe me.

I took information from Amazon, yes. I also looked around on the net. Sadly, distribution for the Canon is not as widespread as for Epson. If I go to my local pro-photo reseller, few of them have Canons these days. Prepress resellers don't know anything about Canon. I have nothing against Canon myself. In fact, I tend to like Canons. I still have an i360 here, and, boy, it is still going strong as years of fatithful service. Before owning large format Epson, I had the small size Epson printers and those were the same story as my 4900. I was probably the victim of my casual usage.

All in all, if I had to buy a replacement printer for my 4900 printer today, which I'm trying to avoid at all costs, I would have to go back to Epson again. I read the other horror stories that some users have reported on Amazon and elsewhere. I remember the joy of replacing my 4000 during its first year of operation. I can empathize for those that claim they actually had to go through not one, but two or three or four printers, all in the same week. It is a royal pain.

Recently, I was even considering getting a Xerox 7800, which prints 13x19, just to get away from the pains and agony of head clogging. Wouldn't have been as wide as a 4900 or a 3880 or an iPF5100. Wouldn't have produced prints with the same depth but it would have saved me from the insult of giving more of my hard-earned money back to Mr. Epson. I mean, talk about adding insult to the injury.

This being said, I'd really like to go Canon on my next inkjet printer...
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 18, 2014, 11:00:52 PM
This business of comparing the relative economics of Epson versus Canon printers is fraught with all kinds of methodological issues. The design and technologies are so different. For Epson, the printhead is essentially the printer. When the head dies you buy a new printer. For Canon the printhead is a consumable and you are expected to replace them. So on average at 500 or so a pop, how many Canon printheads get replaced versus one Epson? No one I know has a reliable public data base on this.

Then there is the cost of the machine itself: What do you pay for the machine excluding the value of the ink it comes packed with on arrival? I haven't seen this compared model for model.

Then there is ink consumption per sq. ft. of printing. I have a reasonable handle on that variable for some of the Epsons with the papers I've used, and i have published data on that metric on this website, but Epson has made it successively more difficult over the years to accurately pin this variable and I have not sighted data from Canon users that would make a reliable comparison possible.

Then there is the value of time and frustration factor. This includes the quality of service and support both in and out of warranty, as well as the time the users need to expend on operating and maintaining their printers both for normal use and in case of trouble. To understand this, one needs to go well beyond the complaints department of web forums and understand the broad user experience for comparable models from both companies. Again, where's the data? One also needs to look at the retailing arrangements for the several companies and determine relative ease of accessibility.

As for print quality, Epson claims it has the most accurate dot placement technology and the smoothest tonal gradation capability in the industry, but then again they all claim to be the best and a number of models from several companies have become so good one is hard-put to be certain that one brand is superior to the other in all respects.

Bottom-line for me: hard to generalize in a comparative way about these machines so great care is needed parsing and filtering what one reads on the internet.

Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Pete Berry on February 18, 2014, 11:55:21 PM
Roger, I had forgotten Canon's poor Canadian representation of their iPF's and much higher prices than in the states. It seems to me that a 3880 would be the ideal choice if long panos are not your thing - it goes to 38", I believe. And neither the clogging history of the 4900 or inevitable head failures of the iPF's. My history of head failures (excepting the two early warranty-covered failures in the 5000) has been four years before the replacements failed, when I opted for a new 5100, and going on three trouble-free years with it. I do like the total freedom from nozzle checks, have gone as long as six weeks without printing sans problems, and feel I've gotten my money's worth and more.

Mark, here's a link from the Canon LFP Wiki comparing the 5100 with the 3800 and 4800 several years ago, with some specifics regarding print longevity and ink usage as well as links to a LL discussion:

http://canonipf.wikispaces.com/iPF+vs+Epson+3800+%26+4800

Pete

Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 19, 2014, 12:00:32 AM
Somewhat useful, but dated, irrelevant for the Epson x900 series and doesn't really address the kinds of factors that would be of most concern to me.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 21, 2014, 05:20:58 PM
Update 9

Didn't have a chance to work on the printer this week.
Finally found the courage to fire the beast about an hour ago.

I enclose a picture worth 1000 words.

I tried my luck first with a a powerful cleaning followed by a nozzle check.
But I was still missing C, VM, O and G. Go figure?

So, one more time, I took a chance to take the head apart. Not planning on injecting Windex or Nail Polish Remover this time, I've had my lesson.
But, much to my dismay, the state of the lines that bring ink from the cartridges on C, VM, O and G were visibly "empty", with sparse drops of inks throughout.
Please take a look at the attached photo. It'll show you what I mean.

So, using my faithful 10ml Walgreen syringe, I attempted to suck up the air out of the 4 ink lines, one by one.
But I am afraid I have not succeed much, so far.... Hope I won't have to dismantle the darn lines from the Ink Assembly Unit, because that's going to be messy.

But now I know what the culprit in my system is, air. As the Epson technician told me, if there is air in the system nothing works.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 21, 2014, 05:23:32 PM
Update 9

But now I know what the culprit in my system is, air. As the Epson technician told me, if there is air in the system nothing works.

So the important question: how did the air get into the lines?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on February 21, 2014, 05:53:08 PM
I tried my luck first with a a powerful cleaning followed by a nozzle check.
But I was still missing C, VM, O and G. Go figure?

Hi Roger, what is the state with the ink carts and ink levels? You previously said you were using flushing fluid and a refillable cart to flush with so have you flushed all the ink lines or only some?
How much ink does each cart have where the air gaps are appearing?

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 21, 2014, 10:37:44 PM
Brian and Mark,

Here's what happened, and, yes, I have refilled most cartridges with cleaning fluid.
The Green cartridge, though, is a brand new 200ml cartridge.

So, how did all that air got through in the first place? It is very possible that it was, partially, the result of the many "Ink Eject" commands issued from the Epson Adjustment Program. Eversince I knew that the head was not finished, following my discussions with the Epson technician, I reasoned that the next step was to get rid of the air that was possibly trapped in the lines and that, conceivably, were keeping the ink from flowing.
So I tried my luck many times with the Ink Eject command. But everytime, the printer started the routine and stopped, midway or at least, very partially through, returning with an error message that "something had happened" but could not know what, only that the "printer had not returned Ready".

So, my take is that, it is likely that the C, VM, O and G lines actually got emptied out of my many unsuccessful Ink Eject attempts. Otherwise, I don't know what could have cause the "pressure drop". I distinctly remember that, early on, when I experimented with taking the head apart, the lines were all full of ink.

Now, I still wish I could at least complete a "normal" Ink Eject cycle as that would give me some "known" starting point to load the lines with ink.
I don't believe there could be some hidden hardware problems. I think everything is still working fine *but* air got through and now, I have to find a way.

I plan to try issuing Ink Charges command tomorrow. and take it from there.

I was toying with the idea of putting in new, 200ml C, CM and O cartridges, reasoning that, perhaps, the business of the Cleaning Fluid wasn't helping all that much, knowing that the "problem" is not with the head anymore. But since I already have a new, 200ml Green cartridge *and* the fact that I could not suck air out of its line tonight, through my manual technique, suggests that something else maybe going on, and i should try to figure why the Green line is not charging *before* putting in new C, VM and O cartridges.

"It's complicated".
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on February 21, 2014, 11:39:44 PM
I could not suck air out of its line tonight, through my manual technique, suggests that something else maybe going on, and i should try to figure why the Green line is not charging *before* putting in new C, VM and O cartridges.

Roger, it sounds like you are inserting the syringe into the damper outlet and creating a vacuum by withdrawing the syringe plunger if so then I think you find that that all Ink tank valves are in the closed position, on the earlier models 4880, 4800 there was an ink lever for each ink bay and you could manually open and close the ink valves by moving the lever up or down.

Unfortunately it appears that Epson has done away with this manual arrangement and (I'm guessing) replaced this with an electromechanical solenoid.

The bad news is that to 'suck' fluid be it cleaning fluid or ink from the cartridges to the ink damper outlet you will have to manually move the solenoid to the open position and once the syringe is filled then close the solenoid so ink (or air) is not pulled back into the ink carts, empty the syringe and repeat until fluid moves into the ink lines and finally up into to the damper, repeat for all ink colours.

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 21, 2014, 11:51:27 PM
Brian.

That sounds very logical. It would explain why, when I pulled on the syringe, to suck ink from the line, no ink was actually "coming" through?
I thought that, perhaps, I was not creating a strong enough vacuum with my lowly 10ml syringe. But your explanation of a valve that serves to block ink out of the cartridge is most sensible. I'll see what I can find in the Service Manual? Otherwise, I was beginning to consider injecting ink manually into the lines.

Thank's a lot for the insight ;-)
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on February 22, 2014, 06:57:58 AM
Otherwise, I was beginning to consider injecting ink manually into the lines.

Roger, once you can successfully draw fluid to the damper from the ink carts then you use the same process to prime the ink lines and dampers with new ink.

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 22, 2014, 08:40:07 AM
Could it be a less labour-intensive option to make sure you have enough ink in the cartridges to do a complete renewed "first-intallation" routine - like the day you bought the printer, whereby the printer's firmware looks after all the steps needed for a proper initial charging? I believe this process actually wastes much less ink than it seems, because while it does use the maintenance tank, all the ink it primes into the lines has to be counted as usable ink for prints. The key challenge here would be to get the firmware into a state whereby it thinks it's doing a fresh install. Perhaps your service manual explains that.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: jrsforums on February 22, 2014, 09:57:51 AM
Could it be a less labour-intensive option to make sure you have enough ink in the cartridges to do a complete renewed "first-intallation" routine - like the day you bought the printer, whereby the printer's firmware looks after all the steps needed for a proper initial charging? I believe this process actually wastes much less ink than it seems, because while it does use the maintenance tank, all the ink it primes into the lines has to be counted as usable ink for prints. The key challenge here would be to get the firmware into a state whereby it thinks it's doing a fresh install. Perhaps your service manual explains that.

Mark, I don't remember if it is in the service manual, but it is pretty easy to find in the service program.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on February 22, 2014, 05:51:37 PM
Could it be a less labour-intensive option to make sure you have enough ink in the cartridges to do a complete renewed "first-intallation" routine - like the day you bought the printer?

Hi Mark, I believe the OP has already performed an Initial Fill back on this page (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=86649.120) so knows how to, at that point it failed.

If it was me I'd try to fill the ink lines and dampers manually seeing how the machine is already apart, at least then we know there's no air or blockage issue, when this is done perform a SL1 clean to flush the printhead itsself followed by some nozzles checks.

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 22, 2014, 06:04:08 PM
Yes, I am aware of the history Brian. Things are at a different phase now. Running through my mind is the possibility that an initial ink charge does certain things that one wouldn't necessarily think of or be able to achieve manually. I'm thinking it perhaps best to revert to its primary design intent as a means for curing it from the state it will be in once re-assembled. Admittedly a stab in the dark, but at least leveraging the printer's own technology.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on February 22, 2014, 06:46:31 PM
I'm thinking it perhaps best to revert to its primary design intent as a means for curing it from the state it will be in once re-assembled.

Hi Mark, definitely worth a try once re-assembled and after the ink lines and dampers are filled, could be done instead of the SL1 clean. Only after we know ink is flowing through the ink lines, dampers (and after re-assembly the printhead) into the waste tank can we then assess if the printhead has any internal damage from previous cleaning attempts by finally doing some nozzles checks and test prints.

Priming the ink lines and dampers should take 10-15ml of ink each line.

Because cleaning fluid has been used it may take several cleanings to clear all traces of it from the dampers.

All of this assumes there are no other ink delivery issues e.g. cartridges and ink levels and re-assembly.

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 22, 2014, 07:34:21 PM
Priming the ink line through the "Ink Charge" command is high on my list of priority for tommorrow.
I'm debating the chances of this command to succeed, though?
If you remember, both the "Ink Eject" and "Ink Charge" has so far resulted in undetermined errors.
I suspect the error has to do with the incapacity for the printer to carry out the command, presumably because of air in the system.
Could be. Hopefully, it is not the result of some other (worse) hardware problem, with the mainboard or some other component.
I'll know more in the morning.

Thank's for ALL your help and patience.

Roger
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on February 22, 2014, 07:53:27 PM
If you remember, both the "Ink Eject" and "Ink Charge" has so far resulted in undetermined errors.
Roger

Which is why a manual priming while you have the machine disassembled is what I'd try first, at least then you know for certain that the ink is present in all ink lines and dampers.

If the "ink eject/charge" doesn't work then you have to disassemble the machine again, so do a manual priming it's only way you can be certain the ink supply is ok.

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 24, 2014, 09:18:37 AM
Update 10

This morning, I managed to find the courage to take apart the lines / Ink Assembly Unit "interface".
I had 4 screws to remove in order to expose the tubes. I tried to take all possible précautions as I knew the ink would leak and mess up my printer.
Three of the four screws were easy to get at. But the fourth was bit of a challenge.

Needless to say, as soon as I removed the four screws and pulled, gently, apart the line connector from the Ink Assembly Unit, ink was everywhere.
Could barely contained it. Eventually, ink stopped leaking. I sponged it off all I could. Had to be really careful.

Then I reached for my syringe filled with 5cc of green ink and proceeded to inject it into the empty green line.
It was a messy operation. At first, I could see ink slowly appearing inside the tube *but* there was a point beyond which, presumably because of the air in the line, it was not possible to inject more. So, as much as I wanted to inject ink, because of the presence of air in the line, I could not inject any more : the only ink that was coming out of my syringe at that point was being spilled all over.

So, I had no choice but to reassemble the whole thing back until I can come up with a better technique.

I enclose of picture of the Ink Assembly Unit / Tube interface. You can see the top three screws I was talking about above, plus the moutains of rags I installed to protect the printer from staning with ink.

If ink can't be manually injected into the tubes that way, I'll try my luck with "Ink Load" commands from the Epson Adjustment program.
If, for some reason, this fails to charge the lines, I wander what my next step could be, to empty all lines?

Thank's for your moral encouragement.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: tsjanik on February 24, 2014, 10:26:30 AM
Roger:

May I ask how you get the 4900 in service mode for a cleaning?  I've tried ok+rt.+down and get a menu that does not include any cleaning options.

Tom
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on February 24, 2014, 10:37:37 AM
Update 10

If ink can't be manually injected into the tubes that way, I'll try my luck with "Ink Load" commands from the Epson Adjustment program.
If, for some reason, this fails to charge the lines, I wander what my next step could be, to empty all lines?

Thank's for your moral encouragement.

I would think when dealing with a narrow tube, the only way to get the air out would be for the liquid to be injected at one end and the air comes out the other. Then at the right moment you create a suction to keep the ink that was injected from spilling out the other end where the air was expelled. Then re-assemble the open end of the tube while maintaining the suction. I have no idea whether this is physically possible with an Epson 4900 because I wouldn't dare try any of this, but I'm just reflecting on "science experiments" from grade school days. Many, many moons ago.  :-) What you are experiencing is partly why I was suggesting to stick with processes that the printer firmware can generate internally.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 24, 2014, 12:54:22 PM
Well, Mark, I am about to see how far the "internal processes" will actually take me on solving this issue.

@tsjanik :  there isn't a menu that include a cleaning options in Service mode. From memory, these options existed on my 4000 but not it this firmware.
I have to purchased a "utility" program separately for $29.95 in order to communicate cleaning commands and other to the printer.


Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 24, 2014, 02:14:11 PM
Update 11

Made small progress. After reassembling everything back, I tried my luck with the Epson Adjustment program and the Ink Charge command.
This command is divived in two, one for the Right set of cartridges and one for the Left set of cartridges.

Well, this time, I started with the Right set of cartridges and got the C and VM back!

Encouraged, I tried my luck on the Left set of cartridges. What happened is I ran out of Maintenance tank.
I replaced it but the command was cancelled, somehow. Or at least, that's how it felt.

I tried another nozzle check but the Orange and Green are still missing.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 24, 2014, 05:27:35 PM
Something isn't right with the Green line. I'll worry about the Orange later.
But the Ink Charge command is having no effect on filling the Green line.
I tried changing to the old 80ml cartridge, the one I refilled with Cleaning Fluid, to no avail.
Obviously, the printer is having no sucess at drawing ink out the Green cartridge.

The Green ink line remains empty.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on February 24, 2014, 06:07:19 PM
Then I reached for my syringe filled with 5cc of green ink and proceeded to inject it into the empty green line.
It was a messy operation. At first, I could see ink slowly appearing inside the tube *but* there was a point beyond which, presumably because of the air in the line, it was not possible to inject more. So, as much as I wanted to inject ink, because of the presence of air in the line, I could not inject any more : the only ink that was coming out of my syringe at that point was being spilled all over.

Hi Roger, your method of 'injecting' is not correct, you insert the syringe into the damper opening, the same location where the printhead ink nipples seat into the damper opening.
First you need to close the ink valves on the ink bay assembly you are working on (in this case the VM,Cyan side), now making sure you have ink cartridges correctly inserted with sufficient ink/fluid in each you then open the ink valves (with the syringe inserted in the damper opening) and withdraw the syringe plunger creating a vacuum which draws ink from the cartridge through the ink lines towards the ink damper, repeat this process until ink arrives at the syringe without any air in the lines.

You need to close the ink valves insert syringe then open ink valves 'suck', close ink valves, expel ink from the syringe and repeat until you have a full ink line and damper clear of any air bubbles (or clumped ink).

You have to manually close/open the ink valves at the rear of the ink cartridge assembly which holds the ink carts for this process to work, post a shot of the rear ink bay assembly if you are not sure what I'm talking about.

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 24, 2014, 10:18:08 PM
Hi Brian,

My method of 'injecting' is not correct? Point well taken.

I just took the Ink Assembly Unit apart now and can confirm that, to the best of my judgement, *all* lines appear filled with ink.
See attached photo.

You advise to "insert the syringe into the damper opening". Understood.
This is very easy, just insert the syringe into the damper opening.

This being said, using the syringe inserted into the damper opening, I can "withdraw the syringe plunger", "creating a vacuum which draws ink from the cartridge through the ink lines towards the ink damper". Yes, this works well. And it does not take long before the syringe fills up with ink.
I just tried it on the Green damper opening and I can suck all the ink I want.

If this is the case, do I still need to find those "ink valves" at the rear of the ink cartridge assembly?
I went over the Service Manual, page by page, but couldn't find any mention of those "ink valves".
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on February 24, 2014, 10:41:17 PM
I just finished reassembling the Ink Assembly Unit (dampers) and tried my luck with a Nozzle Check.
The first one had almost all the heads missing, naturally. I am getting "used" to this effect.
But upon close inspection with a 10X magnifying glass, I swear I can see some faint lines in the Orange and Green?
As best I can see, there is ink in the tubes and I know I have enough ink (cleaning fluid) in the ink cartridges.
I'm trying my luck right now with a mild cleaning of all channels.
(Tomorrow, I'll get a new Maintenance Tank)

So what is the verdict? At 10h30pm, Mon Feb 24?

( I can't believe the time and resources I'm spending on salvaging this printer -- my wife thinks I'm crazy?)

BTW, while I was working on sucking ink from the dampers, I placed a double-layer paper towel underneath the print head and directly injected Cleaning Fluid into the Green and Orange ink nipples, in case the Green/Orange part of the head was clogged. When I removed the soaked paper towel, after 15 minutes, I could see pretty much all ink colors, including orange and green. I thought that was encouraging.

So what's the verdict? Immaculate nozzle check! Nothing printed at all, after this "normal" cleaning. A perfectly white piece of paper.
Wow! I really like my Epson 4900 printer. Back to square one...

Time to take a deep breadth ;-)

I'll get a new Maintenance Tank in the morning and do som more testing.

I was considering buying a whole set of fresh ink cartridges, in view of the progress I am making.
But now, I'm hesitant again...
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on February 25, 2014, 07:48:31 AM
So what is the verdict? At 10h30pm, Mon Feb 24?
Since you have the ink lines full again and also flushed the printhead, I'd leave it for a day or so before firing it up again and see if the cleaning fluid has cleared up the printhead.
Quote
I'll get a new Maintenance Tank in the morning and do som more testing.
If you have a chip resetter for the 3rd. party ink carts try using that on the maintenance tank chip, it may reset it as well, some resetters do both.

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 06, 2014, 07:25:41 PM
Update 12

Been really busy lately. Heard about the new Canon 24 and wider printer announcement...

So, I started by putting in a fresh, new Maintenance Tank in the beast before powering it up tonight.

Then I issued a "CL2" cleaning from the Epson Adjustment program.
Epson states that "CL2 on all lines is recommended after setting a new print head". They don't say why but I gather
that this could not hurt. Remember my last unsuccessful attempt, where I had all the heads unclogged but the orange and the green?
And then I, once more, took the head apart and gently injected some cleaning fluid into the ink ports of the Orange and Green?
The result was, an immaculate nozzle check pattern. Once more, I thought, I managed to go back to square one.
Disheartening, to say the least.

So, started with a CL2 tonight. The verdict? Four heads made an appearance. O, G, LLK and Y! Wow!
Then, I risked a Manual Cleaning > Powerful from the printer console.

I then ran a new nozzle check : this time *all* ink colors are showing up for the Oscars!!!
LC is perfect.
G is perfect.
Y is perfect.
LLK is perfect.
The rest of the colors are showing missing nozzles but nothing, seemingly, out of the reach of some further "gentle" cleaning cycles.

I plan to send a few pages through from my usual RIP software. We'll see.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 07, 2014, 06:34:53 PM
Update 13

Just fired my 4900 and ran a nozzle check, all nozzles are perfect except some Orange.
Who would have thought so a few feeks ago?

Was planning to order new Epson ink cartridges today but got delayed.

Can't wait ;-)
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 16, 2014, 01:24:28 PM
Update 14

Quick follow-up.

During the two months that lasted my attempts to resurect my 4900, I had it moved onto a clear area, where I could freely take it apart. Now that I received 6 new 200ml Epson ink cartridges, I reassembled all the covers and proceeded to move it back to its place in my office. All the days leading up to my "pledge of allegiance" to Epson, deciding to plough $600 for 6 new ink cartridges, I kept printing spotless nozzle checks.

But right after moving it back to its original place, after loading in the 6 new cartridges, Photo Black started to act out.
I tried different cleanings, not strong ones to begin with. So I did 4 or 5 normal ones with marginal improvements. I then tried one power cleaning, just on the BK/pair. No improvements. Hmmh, I thought. I was beginning to entertain the thoughts of, what, opening the printer again but instead, I let it sit there overnight, and shut it down. That was on a Friday night, late.

The next day, Saturday morning, I flipped the power switch on the printer and tried my luck with another Nozzle Check : perfection!
And it has stayed that way ever since. I now make sure I print everyday, without fail, to the printer, if only a nozzle check or a small image, just so that I keep the lines active and the head alive.

Will follow up at a later date...
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: BrianWJH on March 16, 2014, 06:39:44 PM
Hi Roger, good to see you are making progress, thanks for the updates.

Brian.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 16, 2014, 08:52:05 PM
Thanks for the updates. I am about to tear into my 4900, this will be useful. My main concern is, that this will be my normal process for getting the 4900 going again every 6 months or so.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 20, 2014, 12:12:58 PM
Roger,

 I am going to dive into my 4900 soon. Magenta is totally missing. I have read clear thru the work that you did and wonder where to start and how to proceed. What do you think was the ultimate culprit? Damper? printhead?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 20, 2014, 01:11:58 PM
I think the culprit was air.

You will need the little Epson Adjustment program because, the moment you decide to take the head apart, inevitably, in my experience, it's going to deplete the head from ink, and since the whole thing has to be tightly vaccum sealed, you're going to need to execite that CL2 command, which the documentation claims "Loads the head with ink".

So, where to start? I would start by taking the head apart, just to rule out any possibility of air in the tubes. With a syringe, I would suck ink out of the the Magenta like through the dampers. That's where I would start. Then, assuming the head isn't clogged on the Magenta, I would plug seat the Ink Assembly Unit back (you don't have to screw all three screws, just the two at the rear), and issue some CL2 commands from the Epson Adjustment program.

If you happen to have some true Cleaning Solution, I would not hesitate to gently inject some through the Magenta inport, to convince yourself that you have positive flow through. By now, I know not using Windex or Nail Polish Remover to do that, although I know from experience that it has not dammage my head.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 22, 2014, 02:27:13 PM
Roger,

Before I started today, I did a head check and found that both Cyan and Magenta were at a complete no show.

I have disassembled clear down to the head. I ran distilled water thru the head and selector assembly. I ran thru all ports. I figured I am in this deep, might as well go all the way. I then have put Piezo flush into all channels and will let it sit for several hours.

Before I started I did the ink eject command twice from the service program. When I took the ink tubes loose from the selector assembly, the tubes were all still full. What did you find at this point? Were your tubes empty?

More updates to come.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 22, 2014, 02:52:05 PM
Good question. For me, the Ink Eject command never completed? Every time I tried launching it.
Was it because of some deeper hardware problem? I never knew.
I invariably got a message error that something happened, an "unknown error" and then nothing further would happen, leaving me in limbo.
As sophisticated these printers are, Epson doesn't deserve first prize for system diagnostics :(
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on March 22, 2014, 04:29:19 PM

As sophisticated these printers are, Epson doesn't deserve first prize for system diagnostics :(

I applaud the progress you made as a result of research, sheer logic and tenacity, but at the same time I kinda think their system diagnostics were designed for technicians professionally trained to service these machines, so I would defer to their judgment about whether or not the company deserves a prize in this area.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 22, 2014, 04:55:19 PM
Well, their "technicians" better be taught things that are not in the Service Guide, Mark, because this "Guide" I paid $19.95 for was rather muted on the whole subject of machine operation. I am kind of skeptical. One authorized Epson service technician I spoke to didn't have a clue about 4900s, having never touched one in his "career". He said they mostly fix 9900s and the like.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Farmer on March 22, 2014, 05:19:00 PM
You paid for something that isn't owned by the person selling it to you and you're not happy with the quality?

Hmmm.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on March 22, 2014, 05:40:05 PM
Well, their "technicians" better be taught things that are not in the Service Guide, Mark, because this "Guide" I paid $19.95 for was rather muted on the whole subject of machine operation. I am kind of skeptical. One authorized Epson service technician I spoke to didn't have a clue about 4900s, having never touched one in his "career". He said they mostly fix 9900s and the like.

Maybe what you paid for is less than or different from what Epson provides to its trained technicians. But you're raising a separate issue about the competence of a technician you've spoke with. Different matter.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 22, 2014, 06:14:37 PM
so I took out the heads, ran distilled water and Piezo flush thru the head and damper. Before I put them back into the machine, I blew air thru the damper and head to clean any residual out. I then reinstalled both. I ran an ink charge, nozzle check, nothing. I then ran two CL2's with a nozzle check in between each. Nothing anywhere. Ran a powerful clean on all channels, still nothing.

At this point I am going to pull the head and damper out again and see if I can pull ink out through the damper with a syringe. Wonder if while I have it out I should charge the head with something?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 22, 2014, 06:37:41 PM
i managed to pull about 1ml of air out of each damper. i am curious of when it comes from the factory if the lines and heads are pre-charged. As for what i could see that the charge function, two CL2's and a powerful clean did not push/pull ink through the system.

tried a check and nothing. thinking now i need to charge the head. any ideas on what to charge with? I have piezo flush available.


Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 22, 2014, 07:04:01 PM
So i pulled the damper back out, checked for air in the damper and got a little air out. i pushed Piezo flush throughout the head on all channels. Soaked some paper towels on the other side. Put it all back together, nozzle check, nothing.

Isn't it 5 o'clock somewhere. Taking a break for now.

Any help would be appreciated.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 22, 2014, 07:09:29 PM
The secret ingredient seems to be time? I have no idea why but, between my many frustrating attempts, I had to let days passed.
One thing, though. At one point, one Epson technician did come to my house and manually activated the pump, the one located on the right hand side of the printer. He rotated the wheel attached to the pump in an effort to diagnose whether the pump was still functional.
After he was satisfied that, as far as he could see, the pump was not broken, he tried a few, like 3, powerful cleaning.
That's when some nozzles started to appear, but very, very faintly, and only one one or two channel.
Still, I deemed that was sufficient improvement. I must have let the printer rot for a few days at that point.

Do you see all the tubes filled with ink, solid?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 22, 2014, 07:14:50 PM
Mark,

You wrote "Maybe what you paid for is less than or different from what Epson provides to its trained technicians. But you're raising a separate issue about the competence of a technician you've spoke with. Different matter."

One "Epson" technician I was in contact with, after speaking with me a few times over the telephone, suggested the head needed changing.
Had I had the visit of this guy, I would have had to pay him $200 an hour. Not cheap. And he did come back with a quote for a new head, at $1800.
I agree we get what we pay for and remember that, everyone I spoke to, kept suggesting the printer head needed replacing. I mean everyone.
Even guys at places where they sell dedicated cleaning fluid.

Yes, there are very good guys out there.
I wish I lived in New Jersey because I would have automatically called Joe, at Laguna Services. I trust Joe to be top-notch.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 22, 2014, 07:44:12 PM
Roger,

I think you are right, let some time and frustration go by. The lines were completely filled with ink.

I do question if I have a bad pump. Ant idea on how to tell if it is working?

Big problem I am running up against is running low on ink on several channels. Like you, I hate to shell out several hundred more dollars if it is going down a hole. Do know that if I do get this thing going, I am going to switch to third party inks. See how Epson likes that  ;)
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 23, 2014, 08:30:09 AM
Jeff,

Maybe you can get hold an an ink cartridge resetter? And use cleaning fluid to refill your original cartridges?
That allowed me to extend the life of the cartridges enough to thoroughly test the machine, before declaring useless.
If your nozzle check remains "Virgin", like mine did, one of the thing I did try at one point was an Ink Eject.
Again, the command never completed successfully, but this is one of the thing I did experiment with.
Make sure, btw, that you have one or two extra spare Maintenance Tank.

At the stage you are, I also suggest taking the head apart to experiment with directly injecting cleaning fluid or mineralized water into each ink inport, to verify that fluid does go through the head. Mine produced a nice "curtain of fluid" for each channel. I kept infering that the head was still functional from this despite what everyone I contacted or spoke to kept telling me.

About the pump.

I kept suspecting the pump, if only because I had read here, from Joe at Laguna Services, that, according to his experience, the pumps on these 4900 printers were notorious to fail?
But the friendly technician who came in once demonstrated that the pump still worked. Maybe you will need to take apart the right hand side of the printer (worth it) to observe the functionning of the pump? If only to witness that fluid does drain through the little plastic tubes on the way to the Maintenance Tank? I remember watching as I issued Cleaning cycles that ink was flowing through the tubes. One manipulation I did not observe the technician do was how he manually "primed" the pump? As he explained, he manually rotated what looks like a beige plastic ring around the pump, that looks like it has been made to be turn by a human hand. AS he manually rotated that ring, he said he could see ink being displaced through.

So, don't give it up. One thing I did try, was to suck ink out of the Ink Assembly Unit. I am sure that works for you. But. So all your line appear full?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 24, 2014, 09:04:43 PM
So I waited one day since my last post and have some faint lines showing up. Progress? Think I will wait one more day to see if I get any further improvement. If not I will try a CL2 and go from there.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 24, 2014, 10:56:12 PM
Faint lines is a progress, Jeff.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 27, 2014, 11:12:52 PM
Roger,

Not much progress. In the photo attached, I am assuming this is the knob you talked about that the technician turned to see if the decompression pump is working. I used the service program to check before and after the value from the pump and showed NO change. I am assuming that this means that my decompression pump is bad.

If this is the case, now where to get one?

Happy printing.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 28, 2014, 04:45:42 PM
Yes, this is the knob I was talking about.
If missed the "before and after" value for the pump in the service program?
But I will trust your word that the pumps needs changing.
If I were you, I'd look up a certain Joe from Laguna Services.
I've seen him on Luminous Landscape coming out specifically with 4900's "failed" pumps.
If you can't get hold of him, I don't know where to send you to buy a replacement unit?
I'm not sure you can buy just a new pump? I know the pump cap assembly sells for $325 some odd.
The pump alone sells for around $100 I was told?

See, the correct functionning of the pump was for me the most difficult part of the system to diagnose?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 28, 2014, 06:09:43 PM
It is interesting, that after a little research, I found that what I was pointing to is not the actual decompression pump itself. When I turned that knob I go no change in values in the service program. The decompression pump is actually just below that knob. I turned the decompression pump and did manage to get two seperate values in the service program. But does that tell me whether the pump is working or not, or that the pump is simply turning?

Is the decompression pump the one that they are having issues with? Not sure what this pump even does? Or how to check if it is working. Wow.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 28, 2014, 06:24:18 PM
I'll bet your pump still works. When you do a cleaning, do you see any ink flow out to the Maintenance Tank through one of the little clear plastic tubes located next to the pump?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 28, 2014, 09:36:28 PM
I tried a pair cleaning on Cyan / VM, both regular and powerful. These are the only two colors to show up so far. I did not see anything come thru the tube to the waste tank.

I wonder if I could use a syringe to create some vacuum when the head is against the capping / cleaning station?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 29, 2014, 11:36:29 AM
First, do you see anything come through when you a cleaning on the other heads?
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: JeffW on March 29, 2014, 06:37:48 PM
Tried a clean all channels from the printer, not a single drop went through. Tried a nozzle check, no improvement.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on March 30, 2014, 09:59:46 AM
Well, I had the impression, at the beginning, that not a single drop was going through my 4900's wate tubing. I can't tell you what it is. For me, the "magic ingredient" was, perhaps, the many removal and reinstalling of the head? Perhaps, if you remove the head once more, make sure you can inject piezo flush through each channel inport, and that you get a nice ribbon flowing on the other side. Then, I'll know you are at the same stage I was with my 4900 when none of my nozzles were showing on the test pattern. Look again closely at the tubing to see that they're actually full. Then, try an Ink Eject followed by an Ink charge. You're likely to get some errors in the process but it ought to get ink moving through the lines, if "all" is well. You can follow it up with a powerful clean. If the pump is "temporarily" out to lunch, none of this will make a difference on the nozzle check. But it will force some agitation through. My theory. Then, let the printer sit idle for a day or two. That other ingredient in the "secret of my sucess" was time, let whatever "gravity" and "physics" play its role. I wish you could simply swipe in a new pump to see whether you get any ink going through the waste line? Remember, I wasn't able to establish this, with my printer.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on September 13, 2014, 02:58:31 PM
Update, after 100 days of having rescussitated the printer.

From March 13th to this date, Sept 13, I ran a nozzle check daily. Orange and VM have given me trouble. LK, LC too. But the printer has been most stable. Whenever I try a PowerClean on any pair, it has only made matters worse.

I have only done very slight amount of printing during that period. But I thought I reported on the surprising relative stability of the printer.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on September 14, 2014, 07:23:06 PM
Update Sept 14 2014

Needed to use the printer today. I started by running a printer characterization target, good-old TC3.5.
There were obvious streaks? So I ran a Nozzle Check. VM was missing a few lines right in the middle of the target?
I could not afford to wait. I knew I was playing with fire. So I decided to try a Power Cleaning on the Cyan/VM pair.
Obviously, it didn't help much with VM but it completely obliterated Cyan! No more Cyan. Thank you Mr. Epson.
From "experience", I knew the Cyan would come back, like the Yellow I completely lost a month ago.
So, I decided to run some random images, just to make the printer digest ink.
New nozzle check : no difference. Hmm?
Decided another Power Cleaning. Now, I was really putting my life on the line.
New nozzle check : no improvements.
So ran a few additional images.
At this point, I'm not sure whether I did a new Power Cleaning or just a regular cleaning?
But on the next nozzle check, Cyan was back! Not completely. There where some small lines missing here and there.
But it was encouraging. So I kept on sending a few additional images and, lo and behold, the Epson 4900 started to print like a champ again.

In french, I would say "J'ai eu chaud" ;-)
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Roger_Breton on September 15, 2014, 08:19:34 AM
Update Sept 15

Been printing a great deal, yesterday. Didn't touch cleaning or anything, just ran and ran and ran.
The appearance of the print was impeccable. I guess the secret to this printer is to keep it humming.
Title: Re: Another 4900 horror story
Post by: Mark D Segal on September 15, 2014, 08:50:20 AM
Yes, as reconfirmed so many times over by numerous users in the life history of this product. As previously advised, if you run into time periods when you don't need to make prints, make sure at least one real photograph, A4 equivalent size, that exercises all the channels are run through it every two to three days. A page filled with colour bars or patches would do it.