Several questions for the good forum:
The concise table of contents is here and you'll find details below.
A) Read and tried a lot before asking this, but any suggestions beyond what's mentioned below for getting 3 missing colors back?
B) Any risk in using a 9600 as a 4-color printer?
C) Anyone tried inkjetdotnano for inks?
And on to the details:
A) I have inherited two Epson 9600s, neither used for quite some time. After repeated capping station cleans, some line flushings, a firmware update, damper replacements, disassembly down to the print head, letting the lines sit full of Simple Green for a night, etc I have one (named Richard Parker) up and running perfectly. I have learned much more than anticipated about printers in the last few weeks and much of it due to searching this forum, so thanks.
One of the printers (dubbed Thorin) refuses to print three of its colors (Photo Black, Magenta and Yellow) while the other colors now print perfectly. As mentioned, I've replaced dampers; flushed the lines with cleaner; let the head sit on moist, lint-free cloth on the capping station; removed the head for visual inspection and light cleaning; ran the incremental power cleanings 4 or 5 times consecutively; cleaned the wiper etc.
I believe the pump is still functional as liquid placed at the capping station seems to disappear into the maintenance tank after the head shimmies over and does its thing. I can see the colors on the capping assembly pad even though they don't print which mystifies me. Must mean ink is getting through the lines, right? Pulling the dampers out of the head and extracting a bit of ink from the head side with a syringe leaves the damper concave and pressure is maintained. After flushing the system with cleaner all the lines seemed to recharge successfully (though at different rates which may be abnormal?).
What power moves ink from the print head onto the page? Is it via the positive pressure already extant in the lines or does it happen by some sort of pump or motor? Is it possible that all the ink is making it though the capping stations when cleaning because the pump is sucking it through but when printing some colors just aren't being spit out onto the page? I'm curious.
B) My conclusion has been to convert this printer into a 4-color printer for our simple graphic design jobs and banners. Since Cyan, Light Cyan, Magenta and Yellow all print, I'm going to take their chips off and put them on CMYK cartridges respectively. Then (either via a Photoshop action or an .icc profile) I'm going to do some channel remapping so the printer output matches something of what I see on screen. I'm not expecting perfection, but these jobs aren't at all color-critical and one working printer is enough (dysfunctional one might become used for parts anyhow). I'm just wondering if the machine might be damaged by doing this. So my ultimate question:
Do ink colors have differing viscosities or pigment particle sizes such that putting, say, a Photo Black in place of a Cyan, would cause damage to the printer?
C) I'm seeing great deals on 500ml bulk inks from a company in Oregon called inkjetdot/Nano. Under $30 for a 500ml bottle. They swear by their recipe in terms of comparability to Epson inks in longevity and gamut. Anyone tried them?
Thank you all for your insights.