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Author Topic: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!  (Read 17221 times)

CrazyPugLady

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #40 on: June 13, 2017, 02:21:30 am »

You guys are great! Thanks to every single one of you, you are so helpful!

I soaked the head on a towel with the RED:CLEAN print head cleaner over night, just because I wanted to see what happens. Guess what: It recovered a lot. How funny. I am almost sure it's going to snap back later today, unfortunately.

Royce, which RIP Software would be able to do this? Actually, it could be done on a software basis probably? Quad Tone RIP has those purge swatches with the color values responding to specific channels. Wouldn't it be possible to convert certain colors in photoshop (as spot colors or sth.) and then just let another printer channel handle it? The printer wouldn't know it's not printing black but orange (or other way round).

Need to think about it a bit.

As for the Canon printer... I took a gooood, very good look at it but I think I'd miss the roll printing. So the P-800 it is then, with roll attachment. Bit sad about the missing cutter, and hugely sad about tossing my 4900. If only the orange channel was dead, not the black one... Such a waste! I wish I'd find another 4900 with a good head but broken mainboard or something. So I could swap the head for less than 800 .
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CrazyPugLady

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #41 on: June 13, 2017, 12:21:37 pm »

Aaaaand... it snapped back to where it started.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #42 on: June 13, 2017, 12:42:59 pm »

Decision time.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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CrazyPugLady

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #43 on: June 13, 2017, 01:33:07 pm »

Are the print heads for the 7900 and the 4900 the same heads? I know somebody with a dead 7900, with a broken mainboard  ;D
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #44 on: June 13, 2017, 01:38:17 pm »

They would probably need to be identical in every respect and I'm not sure that's the case. For example, the 4900 head sits at a 90 degree angle to the paper, whereas for the larger model the head sits at a slant. I really don't know if this makes a difference to the attachments. Someone who has gotten into both machines may know - I haven't. The core technology is the same but that isn't good enough for you - you need to know if it's an exact fit in all respects.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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CrazyPugLady

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #45 on: June 13, 2017, 01:41:08 pm »

You are right... They also have different part numbers. Meh :-(
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #46 on: June 13, 2017, 01:44:13 pm »

That may or may not be decisive, but admittedly not a good omen. Perhaps call Epson service facility, they may tell you for sure whether the parts are interchangeable.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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CrazyPugLady

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #47 on: June 13, 2017, 04:06:01 pm »

I think I'll go with the Canon iPF5100. They go from 1300 new and they bring almost everything that got me hooked on the Epson....
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #48 on: June 13, 2017, 04:27:55 pm »

I think I'll go with the Canon iPF5100. They go from 1300 new and they bring almost everything that got me hooked on the Epson....

Seven year old technology, and discontinued product in North America. Unless you absolutely need a roll holder you'd be better off with a Canon Pro-1000; if you need roll-holding an Epson SC-P800.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Farmer

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #49 on: June 13, 2017, 06:10:45 pm »

The head's not the problem.  It keeps returning to a working state, so it's not faulty.
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Phil Brown

Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #50 on: June 13, 2017, 06:58:40 pm »

Phil, based on whatever you've seen in this thread up to this point, what do you now think are the mostly likely reasons why the nozzle check keeps reverting to an unsatisfactory state?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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donbga

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #51 on: June 13, 2017, 07:07:37 pm »

I think I'll go with the Canon iPF5100. They go from 1300 new and they bring almost everything that got me hooked on the Epson....

If you are an assiduous B&W printer you may wish to consider converting your printer to a Piezography based printer. The boys and girls at Inkjet mall can advise you how to do this.
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Kees_1948

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #52 on: June 13, 2017, 11:37:12 pm »

I want to thank all contributors for this thread. It helped me decide at first to ditch my old 4900, which lost its magenta channel. Then I found the post about using it as a BW printer. That sounds worth while exploring.
Great forum......
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CrazyPugLady

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #53 on: June 14, 2017, 02:14:16 am »

Seven year old technology, and discontinued product in North America. Unless you absolutely need a roll holder you'd be better off with a Canon Pro-1000; if you need roll-holding an Epson SC-P800.

But the Epson 4900 is old technology too, and it's wonderful (while it works) :-)

What I need is:

- Roll holder and - that would be nice - auto cut
- Paper cassette so I don't have to feed ever single sheet by hand (of course not working for some papers b/c of thickness)

If I remember correctly, neither the Pro 1000 nor the P800 offer this, right?

I would really go for the P5000 (the "new" Epson 4900) in a heartbeat but I'm afraid it will clog and die when I'm not using it permanently. I heard the head technology is the same, so I'm expecting head clogs and failures to be fairly common. I'm not a print studio owner. I do print on a regular basis and my clients order prints very regularly. But there can be a week with no printing when I'm busy with other things. Or maybe two weeks when I'm booked out of town or in the very rare case that I'm on vacation. I really don't want to have a 2000 Printer die on me after 2 years and "light" usage. It needs to work at least 3 years to be profitable.

The Canon IPF 5100 does fit into my planned budget and so far offers everything I need. Yes, it may be "old" technology but the print quality is good, right?

The Canon Pro 2000 also really looks like a lovely machine. It's way over my current budget but I could probably work on this (save, sell my soul to the devil, photograph weddings...). It's bigger than my current printer, which is awesome, but also the downside, because I don't even know if I can get this beast into my office (old house from 1900 with tight doors and up in the 3rd floor...).

Now, back to my old Epson 4900, there is something else I noticed:

I upgraded to the newest firmware a few days ago and it now performs an auto nozzle check all the time (haven't yet found the option to turn it off...). While it was complaining about the clogged MK nozzles a few days back, after I started with the cleaning and printing procedure, it doesn't complain anymore. It doesn't "see" the nonworking MK nozzles as clogged. The pattern still has a lot of missing spots, though. Does this scream "fried head" or "failing pump" at you?

Maybe I should just order a new pump station and take it apart just for the fun of it. Now, that I decided I need a new one anyway, I could as well just try my luck with a screw driver...
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #54 on: June 14, 2017, 07:30:29 am »

You're right - there's nothing necessarily unusable about older technology just because it's been superseded. The context here, however, is that you are on the cusp of deciding whether to buy another printer and if so what model, so it's an opportunity to take advantage of better print technology at the same time. I had a 4900 for five years until I had to ditch it, and while it lasted it made excellent prints. It's just that the inkset is superior for the P800 and the P5000, resulting in deeper Black capability, more permanent Yellow, and they say improvements to Orange and Green in the case of the P5000, as well as improved protection from clogging.

On the subject of clogging, I've had a P5000 in my office since April 1st, and it is now mid-June. This is too short a time period for coming to firm conclusions, but I have found with judicious settings for maintenance management that I described in my review, it's actually pretty good, and I have purposely left it unused for up to eight or ten days to see what happens. Yes, it needs cleaning cycles, but the printer handles them internally and satisfactorily. If you have a preference for roll-holding with in-built cutting mechanism, then this is the preferred model for you.

But before you do that, "Farmer" has doubted here - more than once - that you have a print head problem. He's consistently right about this kind of stuff so when he offers that opinion I take it seriously. Assuming he's right this time as well, the next most likely culprits are impurities remaining in the lines from your use of cleaning solutions, or failure with the pump/capping/damper assemblies. If the problem is confined to the Black channel (right?), it leans much more to the damper. The two assemblies can be replaced and they would life-extend the printer. But before going that route, I would suggest thoroughly purging the lines leading to the clogged channels using nothing but ink. Check the website of Marrutt USA for further insight on dealing with this; it has extensive resources on the 4900.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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CrazyPugLady

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #55 on: June 14, 2017, 08:45:51 am »

On the subject of clogging, I've had a P5000 in my office since April 1st, and it is now mid-June. This is too short a time period for coming to firm conclusions, but I have found with judicious settings for maintenance management that I described in my review, it's actually pretty good, and I have purposely left it unused for up to eight or ten days to see what happens. Yes, it needs cleaning cycles, but the printer handles them internally and satisfactorily. If you have a preference for roll-holding with in-built cutting mechanism, then this is the preferred model for you.

The thing I'm a bit afraid of, is, the printer becoming another "pet" to care for :-)

Think tamagotchi... I don't have any problem with a weekly maintenance routine, like cleaning the wiper, flushpad, capping station, paper path.... But I don't want to make a total fuzz about printing. Nozzle check, clean, another nozzle check, another clean, printing 3 sheets, seeing a clog, doing another clean, another nozzle check, print some more, repeat. I know printers need some love and attention, but I don't want one that gives me more grey hairs than my actual pets do :-)

Maybe Epson printers are very reliable and trouble free. And maybe I have the wrong impression because I bought a second hand troublesome machine. But currently, after reading so much about them, they appear a bit fussy. If the printer heads were 500 each and user replaceable, no problem. But with them being at least double the price and non user replaceable, I am just a bit in panic about a premature head failure.

On my current 4900:
I'm not 100% sure how to proceed from here. I now saw that the head can recover quite a bit, although I have never seen it print a perfect pattern (3 lines keep missing). That means I could replace the pump/selector unit and still have a dead head. Who knows.
What I need to test it is a new selector unit and - the bad thing - new ink cartridges. With around 85 a pop, this isn't so cheap to find out.

If I interpret the service manual right, I need to do an ink eject on all inks, then change the selector unit with the dampers, and then do a new initial ink charge. That will burn through approximately 80-100ml of ink per cartridge, twice. At least 5 to 6 or the cartridges would need to be replaced for this. Muchos for just trying my luck. I COULD probably buy some cheap refill ink set for 300 for this purpose (mainly, because I could continue using the carts with other, much higher quality Lyson inks for example), but if the nozzle pattern still doesn't improve after it, I have probably blown the money.

I guess I need to have another night of sleep over the decision. :-)
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #56 on: June 14, 2017, 09:12:40 am »

I have an intuition that your 4900 is going to require long-term TLC - more than you would care to opt-in for. I also have an intuition that spending ANY MORE THAN the cost of one PK (or MK) and one LK ink cartridge to thoroughly clean-out that channel pair is quite likely a case of throwing good money after bad. That said, here is what I suggest before you buy anything else:

(1) Make sure you have enough genuine Epson ink in the PK (or MK) and LK cartridges to do many power cleans, and focus on cleaning the PK or MK/LK channel pair only. Download the Marrutt USA purge pages for those two inks. Use cheap paper like Epson UPPM for the printing. Do this three, maximum four times in a row per day for the next week: Print the purge pages. Power clean the channel pair. Reprint a nozzle check. If clogs show, reprint the purge pages, re-power-clean the channel pair. Do this cycle no more than three or four times in one day and then let the printer rest over night. Keep this up for at least a week or two, always doing the nozzle checks to track progress.

(2) If after a week or two of this, there isn't sustained success, I believe the next step is to replace the damper and see whether that works (about 200 dollars here in Canada).

(3) If after replacing the damper and running enough ink through it to get the whole pipeline properly filled, it is still not working properly, replace the pump assembly (about another 200 dollars here in Canada).

(4) Up to now, two possibilities: [a] you could have wasted about 600 dollars on ink and parts (plus time) if none of this works, either because (i) you just aren't proficient enough at doing correctly what a trained technician can do, or (ii) the problem really is in the printhead after all. Alternatively, if you do succeed, you have restored the printer at least incremental cost.

(5) In the case of [a] I think your obvious choice based on the feature set you say you prefer and your space and budget considerations, is to buy a new P5000. Recall, it comes with a one year warranty extendable for a price to three.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2017, 07:11:26 am by Mark D Segal »
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Pete Berry

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #57 on: June 14, 2017, 01:04:46 pm »

I think I'll go with the Canon iPF5100. They go from 1300 new and they bring almost everything that got me hooked on the Epson....

The 5100 is the only 17" fully pro-featured challenge to the p800, with all the features of the 4900 and more (eg full time PK/MK blacks), and why Canon chose to eliminate the roll feed on the "Pro" 1000 is beyond me. After 11 years - first five with the iPF5000, and in the sixth with 5100's (my second a year ago), looking at its output, be it subtle pastels, in-your-face colors, or stunning B/W, I see absolutely no reason to covet a new generation 17".
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Farmer

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #58 on: June 14, 2017, 09:02:15 pm »

Mark - I'm still back at the ink path and/or the cleaning unit.  Those are things that create recoverable problems, either due to leaks or build ups or just general age eventually.
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Phil Brown

CrazyPugLady

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Re: Unclogging Epson 4900 - diving me nuts!
« Reply #59 on: June 15, 2017, 02:44:32 am »

Good morning folks,

weird things happen, so it seems.

First, after discussing the printer situation with my husband, we agreed on a higher budget than I initially thought. Yeah, it's my business and my money, but I discuss every purchase bigger than 500 with him, to rule out any case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome or "Oh it's so shiny I need it!" in the first place. But he is fine with it, wow :-)

The 4900 must have heard the discussions about bringing it to the recycling center, because the head started to improve again (without me doing anything but researching new printers). So now, I'm giving it the "cleaner on a towel under the head" treatment again for the day. Let's see if this does anything.

Going through my pile of purge pages, I DO notice an improvement. It started with badly overspraying the purge patches, which stopped completely. I now have around 3 lines in the nozzle check pattern missing, which are quite sturdy. No overspray but still, faint banding. The banding could also be an issue of misalignment. But before fiddling with the alignment, I hope to clear the head a little more.

*IF* the head improves further, I will go for the new capping station, new ink selector and new inks in general. If there is no more improvement over the next days, that's gonna be the end of the cleaning efforts.

The thought of converting it to a black and white machine is really tempting, but I don't know if it will get much usage. I do the most printing for my clients, and some stuff for my portfolio or my personal work. But I guess not enough to keep it healthy.

Let's see, wish me luck :-)
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