Scuffs On Prints - Epson 9800

I’m a first time poster here so I apologize if this has been discussed on this forum before. I did look around first.

I’m running an Epson 9800 printer, almost nine years old to the day. She has been a beauty, no problems so far that a set of cleaning cycles hasn’t been able to fix. I have replaced any parts to date. My workflow is sporadic. I am a photographer who will print like a madman for a project and then the printer will sit idle for several weeks. Then I’m back at it. Sometimes, but not always, I’ve had to run four normal cleaning cycles to get a good nozzle check and then everything is fine again.

I’ve recently been having a stubborn issue with scuff marks appearing on prints - see attached example. Arrows show print direction. I normally print on rolls of Epson Hot Press Bright but the scuffs are also appearing on plain white paper. I use the 9800 cutter blade to cut prints from the roll rather than doing them manually. I’ve been doing this for about a year without any problems. I have read that this could cause dust build up because of the thicker matte paper I’m using.

I have cleaned the flushing and cap stations with Injket Mall’s Piezo Fluid. They appear to be clean although they had some debris buildup on them before I cleaned them. I have also cleaned the wiper blade. I also used the Piezo Flush to clean the printer head the way it’s shown on the video put out by Inkjet Mall (swinging folded paper towel with piezo fluid underneath the printer head). I have done this about three times over the course of a week. I have waited 24 hours after these cleaning operations.

My maintenance tanks are at 28% (left-side) and 34% (right-side) capacity. I have two new ones at the ready.

My Platen Gap has been set to “Widest”. I’ve reset it to this setting every time I turn the machine back on after a manual cleaning.

I have not run a power cleaning cycle up to this point. Three of my cartridges are at below 50% capacity so I’d have to buy new ones in order to run a power clean. I haven’t done this yet because I’m not sure that a power clean is the correct solution for this particular problem. My images are coming out perfectly fine, all color channels are working properly - I’m simply getting the scuff marks you see on the jpeg. I suspect that there is some kind of dirt that the printer head is picking up as it goes back and forth.

I live on the East Coast. Although it can get humid during the summer, we run central A/C throughout the house and humidity appears to be normal. Same in the winter, I don’t believe it’s very humid in my studio.

On a previous thread posted by drewharty (“Platten Gap Causing Marks on Print?”), I saw this resolution for an issue that sounds a little bit like mine:

“The problem with the black marks on prints has been solved. I was going to take the 9880 back to the Epson service tech I bought it from for service, and he suggested i drop the pump cap station and flushing box and check the print head frame for any ink build up…There was a good amount of accumulated ink/dust or lint build up on the slanted sides of the print head frame and top. I throughly cleaned the print head frame and have not had any black marks since.”

I’m not sure what “drop the pump cap station and flushing box and check the print head frame for any ink build up” entails but if somebody believes that this would help, I’d be willing to give it a try. I have never taken anything apart on my 9800 up to this point but I’ll certainly give it a shot if I have to.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.