Several months ago my wonderful HP Z3200 printer began throwing little black specks all over the prints. It turned out that the drive belt for the printhead carriage was failing. Disintegrating. Not an uncommon problem, but after only three years of what has been, for a production-level machine, very light use, the belt must have been from a defective or substandard batch.
The belt is worth $38. The service call by HP to do the repair would be $1349. To reach the belt, the machine has to be completely disassembled. Right down to the chassis. My friend John has experience with these big printers, and he offered to work on the machine with me while visiting relatives nearby. So yesterday—all day yesterday—we tore down the machine, replaced the belt, and managed, with some false starts, to put it all back together again.
This is what a very blown drive belt looks like.
We were using an online video of the repair process, along with a downloaded service manual for a previous model of the printer. John left when we had it assembled, and I couldn't find documentation for a post-maintenance calibration test that the manual called for, so decided simply to power up the printer. When it boots, it announces that it is doing print system prep, which generally takes two or three minutes. When it had been sitting turned off for nearly two weeks because of the power failure after hurricane Sandy, the print system prep took more like twenty minutes, but worked. This time, after being shut off for three months and then completely disassembled, the print system prep went on endlessly, something like an hour and a half. But it looks as though the software in this model is capable of doing everything on autopilot. Finally, it ordered me to load paper for a head alignment check, which went just fine.
So the next step was to get out rolls of my three favorite papers and run calibration and ICC profiling procedures (the printer has it's own spectrometer and profiling system built in) on each.
To my great relief, everything seems to be working perfectly. One problem is that the main system cooling fan—or the power supply, they're pretty much one complex contiguous unit—is making sounds that mean it's going to fail at some point. But, complex as it is, the job of replacing that unit is much simpler than doing the belt. You only have to tear down the entire left side of the machine, and I think I know enough now to be able to do that on my own.
So, next step was to call up the file for a print someone ordered earlier in the week.
Oh, that bit of blue tape? That's holding a T15 torx screw that, well, should be somewhere in the right side pieces of the printer. I've got to use the service manual to try to figure out where it should have gone.