I am new to posting here but not to reading here. Hi everyone. Thanks for unknowingly helping me in the past.
I have read about many experiences with the Epson 7900 - clogs, cleanings, power cleanings, utilities cleanings, Epson service experiences, total machine replacements, humidity, ambient room temperature regulation, and on and on. My experience has been different than any I have read so far, so I offer it here. Perhaps someone like me - a year ago, can learn from me - now.
I am not a professional printer or photographer. I am just an enthusiast. I have been printing with two Epson 4800s for a year now - one for PK, the other for MK. I bought them both used after spending way to much money on printing my photos at a lab. One machine had 1,800 prints on it, the other 20,000. They both ran, and continue to run today, flawlessly. In fact the 20k machine is printing panoramas behind me as I type this. By the end of today it will have paid for itself nineteen times since I bought it. I love both machines, never have problems. Considering this great experience I have enjoyed while entering the printing world, I re-invested some of the money that the 4800s earned and bought a current model Epson 7900 with a good friend of mine. We bought this 7900 used, off an active member of this very "Printers, Papers and Inks" forum on Luminous-Landscape.com.
When we first got this Epson 7900 it had a cluster of clogs in the yellow channel, and one clog in the PK channel. I won't bore you with unnecessary details. Familiar story - no amount of any and all possible cleaning cycles cleared either of them.
That disaster amounted to strike 1 - on our Epson 7900 DIY clog clearing adventure..
After over a month of research, cleaning exercises, calls to Epson service (who have always been very polite, but not helpful considering clog clearing advice. Instead they always say "we can send someone out if you like?"), we decided NOT
to have an Epson serviceman come fix our machine. Too many threads on this forum suggest these visits amount to no more than some guy blindly bolting new replacement parts onto your machine until finally hitting on a solution. Money comes too hard to me to justify that kind of bleeding. So considering this 7900 is not under warranty, me and my photo/printing genius buddy decided to, figuratively, dive into this Epson 7900 ourselves. Here is what followed:Clearing print head clogs on the Epson 7900 - Windex and paper towel method:
To revive the entombed Epson 4800s which I rescued from the forgotten retirement home of printers passed, I performed the "Windex on a paper towel under the head for a night" trick. It worked like a charm, I've never had a problem with either machine since. So naturally my first thought for this 7900 was "Go for the Windex". Not so easy though, unlike the 4800, the 7900's head sits vertical. I managed though, ultimately the technique works just the same. The wet paper towel sucked ink from the head of the 7900 just the way it did on the 4800. But it didn't solve the clogs.
Strike 2 - on the Epson 7900 DIY clog clearing adventure..
This failure lead to our next attempt - Clearing print head clogs on the Epson 7900 - cleaning solution and refillable carts:
I did about a hundred searches online about clearing clogs on an Epson 7900. I learned two amazing things. First, anything you really need to know about an Epson 4800 is in a video on youtube. Second, nothing you really need to know about an Epson 7900 is in a video on youtube. Always instead these searches ended us up at home-grown printer maintenance websites looking like a sixteen year old developed them. Still I called though, not many options out there for an Epson 7900 do-it-yourselfer. "Cleaning solution" was always the best answer I got. So we bought four refillable carts for the 7900, with the intent to run this cleaning fluid through the head-clogs on ONLY the channels we chose. This worked so well I was shocked. The printer accepted all the third party cleaning carts minus one - which is about on par with what this 7900 typically does with Epson's own OEM carts. They gave me extra chips for the carts, just in case, which once swapped out on the one problem cart worked perfectly. Now for the cleaning cycles..
It took ten pairs cleanings for the cleaning fluid to show up in a nozzle pattern check. That seemed reasonable. After five more pairs-cleanings we did a nozzle pattern print on glossy paper - which when held up to the light just right suggested that all the clogs in the YW channel were clear. You couldn't see the color of the ink in the YW pattern, but you could see the sheen. However from what we could tell the PK clog was still there. So be it, one out of two aint bad. We decided to put the ink carts back in and check our actual results. Here's where things went sideways.
With the lines now fully charged with cleaning fluid, simply re-introducing ink into the line in pairs-cleanings was not effective. Rather than watching the line turn yellow as ink approached the head, which is what we had planned on, the cleaning fluid-filled lines very effectively diluted the ink as it slowly entered the line. This is an obvious result now that I think about it, but we did not see this coming. Instead, theoretically, we could have done pairs cleanings until we went blind and the lines would still have traces of cleaning fluid in them.
So just so you know - oh you reader of internet forum help threads - this method may sound great on paper, but it's gonna cost you in the end. Instead of doing four million pairs cleanings to fully clear the lines of cleaning solution, we did two SS cleanings from the utility window. That charged the line I'll tell you. Bye bye cleaning solution. But also good night to the rest of our ink... Just one SS cleaning filled over 20% of the maintenance tank.
If you think that's a downer, wait till I tell you what happened when we ran a nozzle pattern check. The PK channel was exactly the same. The YW channel was worse.
Strike 2.5 - on the Epson 7900 DIY nozzle clog clearing adventure...
Having failed for what effectively was now the third time, and at this point being psychologically prepared to push this Epson 7900 off a very high cliff with lots of huge rocks below, me and my genius buddy decided to roll up our sleeves and literally
dive into the Epson 7900. What follows is what we found.Clearing print head clogs on the Epson 7900 - according to the Epson service manual:
So we got a copy of the Epson Service Manual - the very manual service men use in the field as they blindly throw parts at your printer. I don't know, maybe you all have copies of this manual. I found it fascinating. If you would like a copy of it for yourself you can download it online - just google it.
As it turns out the dampers should be replaced every year. So my first question was "WTF is a damper?"
In case you have this question too, here is an Epson 7900 damper:
Here is where your Epson 7900 dampers live - this clear plastic box which houses all the dampers is called by some (on ebay searches) - the "Selector Unit". Others call it the "Damper Unit". Epson calls it the "Damper Assembly". It's Epson part # 1504216. If you study the image you will see there are two dampers (orange and green pair / PK and MK pair) which are capped by a plastic housing which extends rearward, over a small black box with a tiny shaft exiting it's left side. This is actually the switching station - where your Epson 7900 swaps from PK to MK ink.
If you follow the manual word for word, it suggests you should replace each of these dampers once a year. Epson sells these dampers for just under $40. Your Epson 7900 uses 5 of them. Do the math yourself, 5 x $40 = $200. But when you shop around you eventually find out you can completely replace the entire Damper Assembly - manufactured by Epson - for about $250 full retail. In order to replace each damper you really have to be careful. The underside of this plastic Damper Assembly, which consists of lots of tiny veins and arteries where all the colored inks flow to your head, is covered ONLY by very wimpy aluminum foil. Sneeze and you will tear it.
We decided to replace it. I shopped around ebay and found a local Epson parts supplier selling OEM units in factory sealed boxes for $230. No brainer. FYI, you can buy third part dampers for just under $20 - but why would you. Just get the whole assembly and be done with it.
Next up is the Epson 7900 wiper blade
. Everyone I spoke with told me to replace the wiper blade. Apparently after each cleaning the wiper blade, in a series of passes, wipes the face(es) of your print head clean of any and all traces of excess splooge. With all the talk of how delicate print heads are on this 7900, I consider this wiper blade to play a critical role in the life and maintenance of your printer. I'm not sure what I expected this wiper blade to look like, perhaps some space-age self-cleaning bionic rubber blade from the 22 century? Well it's not. In fact I hate to disappoint you but it looks quite a lot like this:
So as it turns out the Epson 7900 Wiper Blade is about as big as the tip of your pinkey, and it's about as high tech as that bowl of Cheerios you ate this morning. I guess that's good though. Maybe it's not so expensive? It's $16 bucks. What keeps it clean is that white(ish) strip of nice soft cleaning pad - or so you think its soft, right? It IS after all called the Wiper Blade Cleaner, and the Wiper Blade is made of soft rubber - so maybe it's felt you think. It's not felt. It may as well be made from concrete. Go ahead bite it, you'll see. Yet somehow, hard as it is, if you look closely this cleaning brick actually got warn out by the rubber wiper?
Trust me that is no small accomplishment - something soft destroying something hard. Our wiper blade did not come out of it's 900 prints unscathed though (yes that's all this 7900 has ever printed, so it's likely your 7900 is worse off than this one). Upon close examination our wiper blade is torn, and has a bit of "listing to the right" problem. This is likely one of our worst problems. I can imagine clumps of dried ink building up wherever this wiper blade does not touch the head properly.
So how do you replace the wiper blade. I could tell you but I won't. Rather I will tell you that the next thing the Epson manual, and anyone you call and ask advice from, suggests is to replace the "Capping Station". Here we go again right - WTF is the capping station? Here is the capping station:
This capping station parks itself directly over each individual bank of the Epson 7900 printer head - to form a seal, so no ink dries up on the head. So here-in lies a potential problem. If your wiper blade is out to lunch it leaves gobs of dried ink on your head, which in turn affects the seal that the capping station can make on your head, which in turn causes more ink to dry up on your head. Think of it like Dominos - one element of this chain fails and the whole printer goes to hell in a hand-basket.
Three images up you can also see another replaceable part on your Epson 7900 - the flushing box. It's simple to follow what this does - just behind it are pipes leading to your maintenance tank. It's the dump station for your cleaning cycles - where your head parks itself while spewing all your ink down the drain. Each of these parts are special order items. Wanna know why? Because they all come included, and pre-assembled as part of this great family of cleaning system parts when you buy what most call the Epson 7900 "Pump and Cap Assembly". Epson part # 1523796
So what all this seems to be amounting to are the replacement of two parts - the Damper Assembly and the Pump and Cap Assembly. But we still need to flush out this existing head, which for sure would already have been replaced for just about what we paid for this entire Epson 7900 - if we went with an Epson Service technician coming out to fix this clog. Instead we are hoping to avoid that. I have reservations about our strategy for flushing this head. I just don't think throwing it in the dishwasher is a good idea...
Tomorrow morning I am picking up both of these OEM parts, in factory sealed boxes, for a grand total of $320. I promise to update this thread with our results.