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Author Topic: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!  (Read 17223 times)

Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2017, 04:07:27 pm »

This thread gives me an idea for a Luminous Landscape project / article / tutorial video.

How about a tutorial on "Fixing Seriously Clogged" Epson (and other?) printers?  Perhaps an interview with an Epson technician to discuss how the darn things work, and how to perform "user maintenance" properly.  Tech could discuss / demonstrate head, damper, wiper replacement also and "what to expect" when the tech shows up at the studio for a repair.  Then a "Part 2" where Piezoflush is used (and other magic techniques) to solve problems.  Obviously a disclaimer would precede "doing this yourself at home" - but having said that, this could be a really valuable contribution as opposed to tossing a printer on the trash heap as some have done.  I know there's a lot of stuff on YouTube, but who knows the quality / sanity of some of what is proposed?  The collective expertise of some of the LULA folk, combined with the clout to get Epson to speak to the issues, could provide at least a sound and comprehensive approach to raising the Epson "Lazarus Models" from the dead.  :-)

Maybe the grand finale could be Jeff Schewe, in appropriate flamboyant shirt, smashing the heck out of a printer that refuses the command to rise!  (Kinda kidding, but maybe not fully.)

Rand

Interesting idea and perhaps useful to some who are mechanically very adept; but for a number of reasonable commercial and legal reasons, the probability of Epson or Canon going beyond what they publish in the user manual or tell you over the phone is pretty much zero.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Rand47

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2017, 06:07:25 pm »

Interesting idea and perhaps useful to some who are mechanically very adept; but for a number of reasonable commercial and legal reasons, the probability of Epson or Canon going beyond what they publish in the user manual or tell you over the phone is pretty much zero.

Mark,

I figured as much . . . but hope springs eternal.  I wonder if there are authorized Epson printer repair people who might be willing to share.  Probably get their knuckles rapped by Epson, though, if they were "too honest"...  (meant without cynicism).

Rand
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Rand Scott Adams

graeme

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2017, 06:27:35 pm »


Maybe the grand finale could be Jeff Schewe, in appropriate flamboyant shirt, smashing the heck out of a printer that refuses the command to rise!  (Kinda kidding, but maybe not fully.)

Rand

Or he could try this approach:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv0onXhyLlE
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2017, 07:42:04 pm »

Or he could try this approach:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv0onXhyLlE

I think we've all come close to doing that to our printers at some time or other!  :)
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #24 on: June 09, 2017, 07:46:05 pm »

Mark,

I figured as much . . . but hope springs eternal.  I wonder if there are authorized Epson printer repair people who might be willing to share.  Probably get their knuckles rapped by Epson, though, if they were "too honest"...  (meant without cynicism).

Rand

I think service providers would be allowed to say whatever they want that isn't covered by any non-disclosure agreements or similar.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Peter McLennan

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #25 on: June 10, 2017, 11:35:29 am »

The current debate and legal battles over "right to repair" is very interesting in this respect.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #26 on: June 10, 2017, 01:56:22 pm »

What legal battles are you referring to Peter? I wasn't aware there is any such thing as a "right to repair". I would have thought any one can try to repair anything; whether they know what they are doing, or can get their hands on the requisite tools and supplies is of course another question. However, to become an officially authorized service person means that the person(s) must be trained enough and able to demonstrate a level of competence satisfactory to the dispenser of the authorization.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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rdonson

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #27 on: June 10, 2017, 02:02:36 pm »

Mark, the current battle over right to repair does indeed focus heavily on access to tools and parts.  There is also insight required as to whether or not you're breaking a warranty by doing so.

Apple, as an example, is opening up a bit.  They have started selling tools and parts to replace screens in iPhones as an example.

You can always go it on your own but there may be consequences.
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Ron

Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #28 on: June 10, 2017, 02:10:42 pm »

Mark, the current battle over right to repair does indeed focus heavily on access to tools and parts.  There is also insight required as to whether or not you're breaking a warranty by doing so.


Yes Ron, I can see that being an issue. The companies often won't sell proprietary materials to unauthorized parties. They probably have a legal right to do that. And companies often specify what kind of intervention on their products will void the warranty. I would think this is also within their rights, and people undertaking unauthorized repairs are responsible to understand the limits. So I remain somewhat perplexed about the legal cases Peter mentions. Perhaps he'll explain.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #29 on: June 10, 2017, 02:33:39 pm »

Yes Ron, I can see that being an issue. The companies often won't sell proprietary materials to unauthorized parties. They probably have a legal right to do that. And companies often specify what kind of intervention on their products will void the warranty. I would think this is also within their rights, and people undertaking unauthorized repairs are responsible to understand the limits. So I remain somewhat perplexed about the legal cases Peter mentions. Perhaps he'll explain.
Mark,
the issue is that companies argue that repair manuals are intellectual property and can only be distributed to those who are 'certified' repair persons by that company.  Nikon was infamous for this in times past; don't know what it is like today.  The voiding of the warranty is a read herring; obviously a 'certified' repair person is backed by the company if he/she screws up the repair.  The fact that an individual wants to bear that responsibility should be OK as long as it is clear to them that the product may no longer be covered in the event they screw up.  Because Epson have been so closed regarding repairs of their printers we have had long threads here on how to do things (including the huge tread by Eric on how to resuscitate a 7800 (I think that was the printer model)).

I don't by the argument about selling things to "unauthorized" parties.  Heck, they sell printers to anyone who wants to buy one.  Printers are merely a conglomeration of parts (though it would be expensive to start an Epson parts story by purchasing and stripping a bunch of printers for parts). 
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #30 on: June 10, 2017, 07:59:10 pm »

Mark,
the issue is that companies argue that repair manuals are intellectual property and can only be distributed to those who are 'certified' repair persons by that company.  Nikon was infamous for this in times past; don't know what it is like today.  The voiding of the warranty is a read herring; obviously a 'certified' repair person is backed by the company if he/she screws up the repair.  The fact that an individual wants to bear that responsibility should be OK as long as it is clear to them that the product may no longer be covered in the event they screw up.  Because Epson have been so closed regarding repairs of their printers we have had long threads here on how to do things (including the huge tread by Eric on how to resuscitate a 7800 (I think that was the printer model)).

I don't by the argument about selling things to "unauthorized" parties.  Heck, they sell printers to anyone who wants to buy one.  Printers are merely a conglomeration of parts (though it would be expensive to start an Epson parts story by purchasing and stripping a bunch of printers for parts).

Alan, I find this portrayal of the situation unusual in the sense that:

(1) Epson service manuals are created by Epson and therefore they are Epson IP. Furthermore, they were not created to be safely usable without training. They were written to COMPLEMENT the training of printer technicians. I know this, because I have discussed it with someone who authored one or more of those manuals. And I've been advised of their copyright and distribution status. So this isn't an "issue" - it's just a matter of legal and operational fact.

(2) I would like you to point me to the law in the US that would obligate Epson to sell machinery components to unauthorized parties. As far as I know, a company is within its legal rights to do this, whether we like it or not.

(3) Epson is not closed to the repair of their printers. They have contracted with (and trained) a service network to do this - what people think of it is another talk-show - opinions are all over the place, but it's available to repair the printers. The long thread by Eric occurred because Eric decided that he wanted to do this himself and not involve the authorized service facility. That of course was his choice, he was courageous, it was educational for himself and many readers, even humourous at times, and Epson never prevented him from embarking on this odyssey. 
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Royce Howland

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #31 on: June 11, 2017, 06:46:32 pm »

I have attached a nozzle check image, I was able to get an even better pattern yesterday evening but I couldn't find the print right now. As you can see, the middle where the pattern is broken has some dirt spots. This is where I think the printer might want to print but probably can't build enough pressure? After the print - clean - print -clean marathon yesterday there were only 2-3 rows of lines missing, the others were good. Even the bulging borders (deflections?) were straight. But then, after the night, back to square one.

So I am really not sure if the print head is dead, because it WAS able to print yesterday. If the head was fried, it wouldn't have changed the pattern, or am I wrong?

Hi there, thanks for posting that image. In my experience, this is exactly diagnostic of a failed (or failing) print head. I've annotated those "bulging borders" in red circles, see attached. Whenever I've seen those (and I've seen them quite a few times), it has proved out that the head was done for. I believe it's a physical failure of the head surface. As you continue to try to clean and print with the printer, this area eventually will just "fail hard", and probably will grow in size. If some of the lines are coming and going right now, it's probably just earlier in the failure cycle.

Now, if you want to learn things about rehabbing a printer, I would never say don't bother to do the things described in this thread and elsewhere in order to get to grips with a bunch of printer maintenance tasks. You'll definitely learn a lot through the process. I just believe that you'll ultimately find yourself replacing the head, if you want to get this printer working. If the budget for doing that is workable, then it's just some extra time and cost to do the other activities first, and then proceed with the head replacement as need be.

Note that Epson has not designed a head replacement to be a user service kind of thing. Even if you buy the head and are technically accomplished enough to do the actual replacement (which is a bit involved), there are some other things that go with it beyond just installing the new head. These include making a few adjustments using a specialized Windows-only maintenance software program that's not normally available to us users.

I'm comfortable doing quite a lot of maintenance on our fleet of Epson printers, including some fairly involved parts replacement tasks that involve a lot of disassembly. But I don't do head replacements myself... I get Epson authorized techs to do them. YMMV of course. :)

Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #32 on: June 11, 2017, 07:05:00 pm »

Hi Royce,

I believe you are correct about all that, possibly except for one thing: what to do about a head failure. You have laid out one option, which is to replace it. Let us take into account that the Epson 4900 is now an outdated model, replaced by the SC-P5000, key advantages of which I outlined in my review on this website. And this particular 4900 was purchased second-hand posing the risk of other problems waiting to happen with no warranty. Around here, a new head for a 4900 costs about $1500 plus the service call and installation time. By the time all that gets paid for, one is dangerously close to the cost of a new SC-P5000 with a one year warranty and 800 ml of an improved inkset. Once I saw myself into endless cleaning cycles, I donated my five-year old 4900 to the Electronic Recycling Association here in Canada. I think CrazyPugLady has a choice of two options based on your diagnosis and it's pretty clear to me, at least, which is likely the more prospective.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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enduser

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #33 on: June 11, 2017, 09:26:15 pm »

There are no hard-and-fast rules about printer repairing, as proven by Mark Lindquist's experiences. There are people in the printer user world who have all the technical skills to deal with complex machinery like printers, and then some.
Sometimes such a person will seek out others who are like minded users and it's of little help to hear again about intellectual property and the rights and wrongs of having access to service manuals.
Many skilled folk borrow manuals in the engineering world and that isn't illegal. (e.g. The Public Lending Right in the UK.)
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #34 on: June 11, 2017, 10:08:08 pm »

There are no hard-and-fast rules about printer repairing, as proven by Mark Lindquist's experiences. There are people in the printer user world who have all the technical skills to deal with complex machinery like printers, and then some.
Sometimes such a person will seek out others who are like minded users and it's of little help to hear again about intellectual property and the rights and wrongs of having access to service manuals.
Many skilled folk borrow manuals in the engineering world and that isn't illegal. (e.g. The Public Lending Right in the UK.)

Don't shoot the messenger, but I'm only telling you that in the particular case of Epson service manuals, they are Epson's IP, and like it or not, we have been reliably advised previously in this Forum that the ones in the public domain are there illegally (bootlegged). Of course nothing has prevented mechanically savvy people from buying one of those bootlegged manuals and repairing their printers - no one is going to be apprehended for it; but that doesn't change the legal status of the manual. It just means people are working around it. I'm not passing judgment on the "rights" or "wrongs", I'm just pointing out the legal position in the context of a discussion with Alan about court cases purportedly resulting from the company exercising the kind of control it does over this aspect of its after-sales programs. Given how long this has been going on and the absence of a successful challenge to date as far as I know, I suspect they are within their rights. But you're right - that doesn't help people with DIY repair intentions. In this regard, of course one also wants to consider what is worthwhile doing from a purely practical perspective. In the particular case under discussion in this thread, even if the person had the manual, the technical skill and a replacement printhead etc., it's by no means clear that it's worthwhile putting that kind of time and money into this machine.
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Royce Howland

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #35 on: June 12, 2017, 10:13:15 am »

Hi Royce,

I believe you are correct about all that, possibly except for one thing: what to do about a head failure. You have laid out one option, which is to replace it. [...]

Yes, Mark, quite true. I caveated that option if the owner wished to get this particular printer working and/or wanted the experience of rehabbing a printer. Obviously buying a new printer would sidestep the whole issue of repairing this one, and provide a new manufacturer warranty, etc. Although at a higher cost; budget was stated as a constraint in the original post.

I didn't offer an opinion on what I'd recommend doing, but in fact if it was me I would not choose to replace a 4900 head. In my experience the x900 series simply has too dodgy of a track record in particular with head failures. I personally would not spend a significant fraction of a new printer purchase cost to repair any x900. It galls me to say that, because I hate the modern culture of disposable tools. I love to tinker and maintain my kit, and I try to keep good gear running as long as I can. But the x900 series is fatally flawed in my opinion, and I wouldn't be prepared to spend much to keep one going...

CrazyPugLady

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #36 on: June 12, 2017, 12:46:11 pm »

Guys, I think you are right. The head is failing. I've been trying to clear the pattern again by printing and cleaning, but so far, it *always* improves a bit but then snaps back to the starting point. Damnit. :-(

What to do now? I don't know. It's a shame because I'm a bit in love with this printer. Now I can't imagine going back to my cute little Pixma Pro 9500 MK II.

A new head is around 800 here, and I am pretty confident I could install it myself. I have the Service Program and I know where to enter the new head ID. But the question is... is it worth it?

I see the new P-5000 is currently costing around 2000. Sure that's a big load of money.... Does anybody know how reliable these are? Is the clogging still the dreading issue or did they improve the head designs? I don't want to spend 2K on a new printer and then it keeps on clogging, clogging, clogging. Surely, I am not a heavy user but I'm also not going to let it sit idle for more than a few days. I have stuff to print on a regular basis but not daily.

Different thought I have:

Would it be possible to convert it to an 8-color-printer somehow? All other channels are working, wouldn't it be possible to ditch the orange, fill the cart with black and *somehow* tell the printing software that all the blacks are orange now (you know, orange is the new black anyway :D )? Yeah, I know that's maybe a pain in the butt to do but it hurts my heart to throw away a perfectly nice printer just because of those few failing nozzles....
« Last Edit: June 12, 2017, 12:51:12 pm by CrazyPugLady »
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #37 on: June 12, 2017, 01:23:05 pm »

On your "further thought" - fuggetaboutit.

Having the service manual is no guarantee of success in replacing the head. I've been reliably informed from more than one very knowledgeable source that it wasn't written for untrained people and may not be a complete enough substitute for training. Of course if it didn't cost anything except some time to try, nothing to lose trying, but there is - you're taking a risk with 800 Euros. If you'd be happy to settle for eight inks, your least cost and perhaps most advantageous alternative would be to buy a P800. The inkset is more up-to-date, it makes beautiful prints and is much less sensitive to usage rates than was the 4900. The SC-P5000 is too new on the market to have accumulated a sufficient track-record on longer-term reliability in respect of clogging behaviour. Anything I have to say about that is in my review, but it makes no predictions.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Royce Howland

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #38 on: June 12, 2017, 02:27:49 pm »

Replacing the 4900's head would be worth it if that's your budget limit, and you're confident you can do that service task, and the new head doesn't fail very quickly. Unfortunately, the latter is not guaranteed. That's why I wouldn't repair an x900... the heads essentially can fail at any time, and the amount of usage is not a factor that determines when or if they fail. If you're prepared to keep putting heads in the machine, then go for it... it's your lowest cost way to get a machine of this caliber going right now today, based on what you've already got in hand.

Switching out the inks as you describe, to work around a failed channel, would only be possible with very high-end RIP software that allows you to allocate different hardware channels to different inks, and then create custom profiles to control the rendering the image file to ink on paper. RIP software like that will cost as much as buying a new printer, so it's not really an option if budget is already the constraint in dealing with fixing the hardware.

The new Epson printers (with the exception of the P10000 and P20000) appear to use nearly or identically the same head technology as found in the x900. I've seen some early reports already of head failures on the new SureColors. So I'm personally afraid they will continue in the same pattern as the x900's, but I hope I'm wrong.

As for clogging, that's a separate issue. In my experience, effectively all Epson printers clog and you simply have to combat it if it affects you. (This includes the new P10000 and P20000 which we're running.) Not everybody has the same degree of clogging issues, due to some combination of environment conditions, workload, and perhaps luck. :)

Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #39 on: June 12, 2017, 02:59:25 pm »

In Germany you can buy a new P-800 for 1048 EURO, or a Canon Pro-1000 for 1187 Euro. I have reviewed both of them on this website, as have several others on other websites. I recommend that you evaluate these options. I think either one of them would end-up being better value than plunking 800 plus the time and effort into a failing 4900.
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