NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, November 2003
Would You Like Printer Repair With Your Order?
by Mark Presky,
Los Angeles Computer Society


Hunger contributed to the repair of my inkjet printer. Several months ago I was driving along Santa Monica Blvd. in West LA, approaching a set of the Golden Arches, when I realized that it was Filet-O-Fish Friday (99 cents), and I was hungry. I have significantly reduced my consumption of fried foods, but the thought of deep fried compressed minced cod (or whatever they use) oozing with a glob of fatty, salty tartar sauce was too much to resist - I must have been REALLY hungry.

After receiving my order I sought a clean table upon which to dine. There was one unoccupied small table well seasoned with various condiments, so I looked further to a larger nearby table occupied by only one gentleman. After asking if I might join him at the table, and introducing myself, I started up a conversation. He was dressed in a jacket and tie, so I asked what he did for a living. When he said that he serviced computer peripherals including printers and fax machines - my ears perked up. I told him that I had been wrestling with a frustrating printer problem for over a year and hated giving up. He inquired further.

Problem
I told him that my HP 694C would print a page or two and then stop suddenly often mid page, to inform me that the printer carriage was unable to move. Over the months I had discovered that by turning the power off and then using rubbing alcohol (not orally consumable spirits) to clean the stainless steel or chrome shaft upon which the carriage with the ink cartridges traveled, I could get it to print another page or two or three ... if I was lucky. After several months of this I finally replaced the 694C with an even older HP 600 monochrome printer (manufactured in the days before humans were upgraded with retinal cones) of my fatherís that I kept in the closet for emergencies.

Solution
The gentlemen said that it sounded like the bearings underneath the carriage were clogged with dried ink. I asked him how ink would even get there. He responded that ink tends to distribute itself everywhere inside most printers. He is no longer amazed at the places he finds it doing damage. He suggested using a small amount of Windex on tissues to dissolve and tease out the congealed ink from the bearings, and then to lubricate, sparingly, the shaft upon which the carriage moved.

Fixed
Later, I pulled the inoperable printer from my closet and set it up on the kitchen table. I assembled some discount glass cleaner (sorry, Windex) and several off brand Qtip type cotton tipped sticks and went to work. Close examination revealed a glob of gelled ink on either side of the carriage adjoining the shaft. I must have gone through about 20 of these cleaner dampened cotton tipped sticks before the amount of dissolved ink coming from the sides of the carriage where it joined the shaft began to subside. It just kept coming and coming. There must have been a cartridgeís worth of ink in there (OK, I exaggerate a bit). I then used the tiniest bit of silicone gel lubricant (an amount the volume of about a quarter of an apple seed) and spread it over the shaft. Although I spread it so thin that I couldnít see it, I then wiped off most of that with a clean tissue. From my years of experience maintaining medical equipment I have learned that less is usually better in these situations.

Conclusion
Now, time for the test. I replaced the older printer on my system with the newer, and hopefully, fixed instrument. After plugging it in and powering it up, I requested the printing of a 6-page document. IT WORKED! After all the hours of frustration I had endured with that printer I was not satisfied. I now ordered it to deliver another 6 pages. And another. I was ecstatic.

My day was made. And I owe it all to fast food. It maybe clogged my arteries, but it helped me clean out my printerís clogged carriage bearings.

Hey guys and gals, maybe we should be trolling for new LACS members at fast-food outlets, offering to help with computer problems.

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using this article as long as it is kept in context with proper credit given the author. This article is brought to you by the Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization of which this group is a member.

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