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Aged HP Inkjet getting stuck?

By Tech-butnotIT ·
I recovered 5 HP Inkjet printers recently, and by using this as a 'last shot' fix, you can save some $$ - for a spell. But you trade time for the recovery, so keep in mind that HP Inkjets tend to cost as little as $100 these days.

Various models have responded to this method:
an old 520, a 932, a photosmart 1100, and a couple more.

The problems are as follows.
Used the printer for a long time with no issues.
Gradually, the printer begins to have sticking cartridge issues.
The sound is a big clue - the belt which pulls the cartridge left and right has teeth, and when the cartridge carriage assembly starts sticking in place, the teeth will skip, usually very loudly.

Eventually the printer gives up, flashes an error, and that is the end of the printer.
You visit the printer, open up the covers, and the shiny chrome rail is covered in ink of some color.
You try to manually slide the carriage and it sticks.... badly.

What happened?

As the printer rail has ink on it, that is one clue. The carriage getting stuck is another clue.

What I suspect is happening: as the ink builds up on the rail, the carriage begins having difficulty getting unstuck. The normal start of a print job has the carriage moved to the far right, where the cartridge gets prepared for printing - it prints a shot of ink into the empty cavity of the printer, wipes the head, then tries to move the carriage over the paper.

During the sticky times, the carriage drive assembly notices the difficulty, and sends the carriage back to the rest position.... but the job is not started, so the cycle repeats. Sometimes the carriage manages to get past the sticky spot without much noticeable difficulty.... sometimes this cycle repeats until the cartridge empties out, if the user is particularly tolerant.

Once the cartridge spits out the droplets (at the start of the job), many of those droplets remain airborne, looking for a place to land. The chrome rail is one such place. Evidently, this is the cause of the failures.

WARNING: do not tip the printer if you decide to relocate it. The ink does not dry very quickly when the whole cartridge is spewed into the right side cavity of the printers. This ink has remained liquid for months in my experiences. Thus, any dead inkjet is a suspect for liquid ink. One pair of my pants will attest, the ink can flow. The carpet in the offices will also attest. ->DO NOT TIP THE PRINTERS WHEN YOU TRANSPORT THEM <-

Solution:
Unplug all cables, cords; remove all cartridges, all paper.
If you can see how to do so, remove the cover from over the printing area. Most covers do come off, but not easily.

Transport the printer to a utility sink, plan to spend up to a few hours there, if you are as thorough as I am. Or as little as 20 minutes total time.

Warm water, pour water all over the chrome rail. That is the secret repair trick, warm water. But then, we can't leave this all simple, now can we?

I am quite thorough, rinsing and tipping the printer a dozen times, until the water flows clear.

You should also expect to be as thorough, but since the whole repair involves simply getting the ink off of the chrome rail, you might innovate and use a moist towelette to wipe the rail..... But you would still have the mass quantity of ink inside the printer cavity.... your call.

Rinsing and tipping will instill water into motors, so drying time needs to be loooong and tipping the printer (to a new orientation) several times along the duration makes sense. That is what I did for the 5 printers.

All 5 will print, one of the 5 has some difficulty wiping the cartridge, I believe the wiper motor is siezed, but is it siezed by ink ot siezed by rust from the water? I think the seizure is ink based, but I'm not interested in that depth right now.

After the chrome rail is cleaned of ink, I suggest a well placed drop of light oil is in order, since the ink is corrosive and may have etched the chrome, causing yet another sticky area to start the whole process over again.

So far, 5 months and only the one wiper issue.

Your mileage may vary, but hey, it was headed for the trashbin, right? And the moist towelette idea seems to be the shortest possible quick fix.

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