Jon -- Thanks for your reply. Slow getting back because Epson did schedule a replacement and I wanted to see the result.
The guy came out, was very nice and answered all kinds of questions for me, though he was clear that all he really knew how to do was to swap out the parts Epson sent him.
He says he sees these printers run in all kinds of challenging situations, including frame shops with 2" of sawdust on the floor and shops with extremes of temperature. He says people make all kinds of modifications on their printers, which he has no issue with. He doesn't care what inks people use, but he is beholden to act on what Epson tells him.
The only real issue he has been able to isolate related to ink blockages is leaving the printer without using it for long periods. He said that he has seen heads last a lifetime or go out after two weeks and has no idea why.
He replaced the head and the whole mechanism that cleans, wipes senses and services the head in various ways.
It took one or two cleanings and then everything was clear.
Since then, it printed fine for a day.
Then, all of a sudden it went into auto cleaning mode, cleaned the heads twice and left me a message that it had detected some clogged nozzles and recommended a head cleaning. After confirming the blockage with a nozzle test print, I ran a few cleanings and after a power cleaning for the ink pair at issue, got a clear print out.
Now I am having blockages in various ink colors, some requiring a power cleaning to clear up. I have no idea how to check the wiper blade. The blockages do show up in the output when I paint a square of the color with blocked nozzles.
I periodically get a message saying "Automatic head cleaning falied. Retyr? yes? no?" Do you know anything about this??
I just noticed that there are expiration dates on your inks. I am getting past the date on some of your inks. Is this an issue? Also the cartridges say to use up the ink in the cartridge in 6 months and I have simply been adding ink to the cartridges, before they are completely empty. Is there any issue with this?
Jon Zax, a local photographer and workshop provider in digital printing, who has kind of been a mentor and who has a 9900 he says has been trouble free for 6 years, told me that he and some others he knows have been having some head troubles lately (he didn't say exactly what) and said he thought it was related to dry humidity. I asked the Epson service man about this and he looked up the spec that said they operate fine between 20% and 80%. I bought a humidity meter and it indicates that the humidity here stays between 32% & 40%.
I can call Epson again. They have to fix this, but they only come out if a power cleaning doesn't clear the nozzles.
In addition, I need some hand holding regarding a challenge I am likely to get from them because I am not using Epson inks. They said they would service it one time as I didn't seem to be aware that third party inks nullified the warranty but if there were continued inking issues they would not repair them. I offered to send them a copy of the law that says they can't do this and they just brushed it off. If they claim the warranty is no good because of the inks, what should I do, simply challenge them? How far might I have to go in dealing with them? An extended battle would screw me up.
PS -- Epson inks do have some dye mixed in. Is there any chance that this helps prevent blockages. You say that there are indications that your inks may even be less prone to blockages. Do you know why?