Three years….three LOOOOONG years. That’s how long my Epson Stylus Photo R2400 sat in the closet. Carefully cleaned then packed for our move from Phoenix to Savannah, Georgia, the printer never again saw the light of day, until a few days ago. After running across a stack of 11X17″ color prints I produced using this printer, I realized the dormant potential that was just wasting away. So I cleared off a corner of my desk and was determined to bring this Epson R2400 back to life.
As I opened the box, memories of just what great prints this thing could produce came flooding back. I was always impressed with a photo paper made by a company called Red River. They offer a variety of high quality papers at reasonable prices. My personal favorite was always UltraPro Gloss in a 68lb. weight. Although I was out of that paper, I did have some off brand A4 photo paper laying around. Enough to get me up and running. As long as the three years in the closet didn’t cause permanent damage to the printer head. Although I was careful to clean the machine before putting it into hibernation, I did NOT remove the ink cartridges.
Before even trusting myself to run a nozzle check, I decided to consult YouTube for advice on cleaning the printer head of my Epson Stylus Photo R2400. And, although the printer has long been replaced by newer models, there was a good selection of videos available (both good and bad) to get me started.
The results of my first nozzle check were as I had feared. Not good. A few colors were printing sporatically, while other colors were MIA.I began by replacing the colors that did not print, assuming the ink had dried up, not allowing anything to pass through the printer head. As I replaced the first cartridge, the printer then began lighting up like a Christmas tree, letting me know that a total of 5 ink cartridges needed replacing. Luckily, when I was in my printing heyday, I always believed in having a full set of replacement cartridges on hand. And believe it or not, I was able to pull them out of my desk drawer without so much as a hesitation. My years as a Boy Scout paid off…”Be Prepared“! Well, almost. After replacing 5 colors, the pesky LK (Light Black) diode lit. Of course, the one color I did not have at my finger tips. This exercise would need to be put on hold while I ordered much needed supplies. So, in addition to the Epson LK ink, I placed an order for an Epson R2400 printer head cleaning kit I found on Ebay. I was going to need something to cut through the three years of coagulated ink pigment. So for $4.95 including shipping, it seemed like a risk worth taking. So, until the stuff got here, at least the printer looked good sitting on my desk again!
How often does it happen that everything you ordered online, from both Epson direct and on Ebay, arrives on the same day? It was my lucky day, and I was ready to see what I could accomplish. While waiting on the supplies, I continued to educate myself via YouTube videos, mostly in the middle of the night, (much to the dismay of my wife who found the topic not nearly as interesting as did I). So let’s get started. Following the instructions, I gave the printer head it’s first infusion of cleaning solution using the syringe and tubing included in my kit. While it was soaking, I was wondering if I had paid $4.95 for a small bottle of ammonia (which it what many people on the Net were using for such a task). Whatever it was, the couple of drops that hit my desk top ate through the finish in no time flat. Strong stuff.
After cleaning the head, I replaced the cartridges and ran a second nozzle check. WOW! What a difference. Not perfect, but my visions of trashing the Epson R2400 due to irreparable issues vanished! I could do this! Maybe I should have let the solution soak longer than 15 minutes. I removed the carts one more time, and re-applied the cleaning solution. I was getting the hang of the process and felt my confidence growing. This time I decided to wait 45 minutes, clean the head, and run another nozzle check. Better still. Not perfect, but better. It was time to try something different. I decided to run the print head cleaning program included with the Epson Print Utility. I had been avoiding this merely for the reason that it wastes a huge amount of expensive ink. But it was not time. I ran the cleaner. And with each whine of the machine, I envisioned precious ink flowing out of the cartridge into the waste receptacle. But sacrifices had to be made….for the greater good. Time for another nozzle check. Hopefully the last.
Again, small improvements were made with each step. Now it was time to stop being a perfectionist, and and to see what this printer could do. But first, I ran the printer head alignment tool in the Epson Utility program. What the heck. Took only a minute and didn’t use much ink. It just seemed like the right thing to do. So I did it. Enough beating around the bush. Print a picture already!
I opened Lightroom and found an image that I thought would provide a good test. Colorful, with shadow details some finer details and skin tones. Print already! Without my favorite Red River Paper, I loaded up some paper I bought at Staples, I think. Glossy Photo paper at least. No, I did not have the right printer profile for that paper, but my goal was not to produce a exhibit quality print, but to see what this baby could do after so many years of inactivity. Printing straight from Lightroom, letting the printer do the color management, I selected “Best Photo Quality”, de-selected the high speed option, and I hit print. The paper fed without a hitch (a good sign) and the reassuring sound of the Epson R2400 running through its paces began. I immediatly lifted the lid to see what progress was visible, and it was looking good! I lowered the lid and left the room, only to turn right around and once again lift the lid to monitor its progress. It’s ALIVE! With the rush of success coarsing through my veins, I felt like Dr. Frankenstein as be brought his monster to life. It’s ALIVE!!!
So, for those of you out there who see printers as “disposable” objects, think again. This project took about 3 hours of my time, not including wait time for the supplies, and cost under 10 bucks. What I got out of it was my $800 Epson Photo R2400 back up and running, ready to produce stunning images again.
There is just something about holding a fine print in your hands that beats looking at the images on a screen hands down.
If anyone has any questions about how I cleaned my printer, please ask. I’ll be happy to help in any way possible.