I got a decent deal on a local pre-owned VS-640.
I already own a VS-300i and an older BN-20, both of which I bought new. I replaced the head on the BN-20 in summer 2019, and it's doing great, so I've done some work on them along with regular maintenance.
The 640 sat for about 6-7 months and was not prepped for storage. The following is the best factual chronological order of things I've done since owning it.
-First night, set it up, powered on, scrolled through menus, setup sheet, all seems in working order. Put in new wiper and felt wiper.
-Next day ordered parts including cap top, dampers and print head. The print head and the cap top are genuine replacements, not sure about the dampers (they were 4 for $100 on eBay).
- I asked the techs from where I ordered the print head what I should do about the old ink in the lines, they said to try to syringe it out and force cleaning fluid through them manually. I was successful on 6 out of 8 getting some fluid through from the back and I was draining it out by un-hooking from the dampers.
-Dampers and head show up last Thursday (1/30) and I install (including updating head rank) and do a head wash with cleaning fluid. This printer was running on an ink setup with white and metallic at the 7/8 slots, so after the head wash I re-programmed it for those to be CM as listed alternatively on the covers. I have the service notes and the service mode instructions. I do a test print without having the new cap top which hasn't arrived yet (cleaned and used the existing cap top), I get 5 out of 8 perfect nozzles on test print.
-Next day (1/31) I realize I have 2 clogged lines at the choke valve, I was able to open those lines and clear out the coagulated ink with paper clip (was pushing fluid through to front), after a powerful clean I got 7 out of 8 nozzles printing OK but missing some spots and the 8th (one of the Cyan) barely printing any on the test. It's late and I do a head soak overnight. I checked the Cyan at the choke valve and it's clean already, put back together.
-Next day (2/1) This is where things start going downhill. I get to the shop and power it on, try a normal clean and test print, finding I have far fewer nozzles firing than the night before (again brand new head). I do a normal clean, try again, less firing, and so on until there is nearly no ink coming through the head. The new cap top was delayed and still hasn't arrived.
-I pull up the dampers, carefully, and try each one on the bottom with a syringe, I'm able to pull a little ink through each. After that I get yellow to print nearly perfect but no other colors.
-I soak the head again until the cap top finally arrives today (2/5). I install and do a normal clean and manual clean and have no positive results. Test print shows 1 Magenta firing at about 15%, that's it. I feel like I've kept the head very wet with soaking so I don't think it's dried up.
I've since bought another set of dampers that I think are authentic, so I have a full set backup if needed.
Should mention that I tried about 3 choke cleanings periodically throughout if I thought I got some air in the lines trying to free the clogged ones, those didn't seem to make much difference, but I did do them. I also did an ink fill after the head wash with new cartridges per the service notes.
Seems like I have ink filled lines and dampers and a new cap top, should I replace the dampers again? Did partially dried ink from the clogged lines get into the head? Is it just air? I'm confused now and everything I do is wasting more ink.
Also on head soaking I can verify that the cap top was full and stayed full of solution at all times I was soaking, and that the cap top was draining when I released the binder clip on the drain line.
Looking for some advice on what to do next, I could really use some advice. Thank you.
Reading all and what I would have done different
HeadWash on the old head with the old inks. BTW I have no issues with the old inks - they can hang in there for a while.
When you re-ink the lines you supposed to re-tube the machine - I never do - but that is why the procedure is not endorsed by Roland
It is possible you pushed ink deposits into the new head - not feeling that
Good that you are getting some nozzles for no nozzles are a blown head.
Did you ever run the old head? The grunt of my work would have been with that one - Captops are under rated so that is good to have. I usually do a 48 hours soak on the cheap ones and save OEMs for my production. If it is less than 48 hours you are wasting your time.
Missing nozzles on a new head - I do choke cleans, and powerful cleans - no more than 2 chokes tho, and PC a good few - however, I have been know to do a couple of fills. So on ink waste - lot cheaper than new head
To save ink - use cleaning carts - you are looking for nozzle prints on the test - harder to see with cleaner, but doable.
So recommendation - clip the lines to the dampers and check back at the ink lines - ensure all are snug
Check your flushing adjustment for if head is not squarely seated - you are pulling air.
In doing the nozzle test - check to see if you see the appropriate colors lining the captop - 1st indicator
when you do a cleaning - look at the lines going to the pump - ensure you see fluid running in both - if only one - Bingo
lastly - on your captop - cheap or OEM - cheap check bottom - two lines for the hoses the 3rd is capped - no cap - you are not getting suction - all I can provide - since you did yeoman's work!
Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my post, much appreciated.
I'm kicking myself for not doing the wash and fill before installing the new head. I was getting nothing at all from the old head so I thought that meant nothing would be able to make it to through the system.
First, captop appears OEM, I've verified this morning that I have movement through both the tubes, and things are moving well during a PC.
I only have 2 cleaning carts left and both are only about 25%, so I'm working with ink right now. I've checked the back of the machine and verified that there are no leaks. Everything is a little messy since I was taking things apart manually and cleaning tubes before I installed the new head (and a bit after). But I had cleaned most of it up and everything was dry back there, connections snug, etc.
So today, I started with a flushing adjustment (made a minor adjustment), then PC and a nozzle test after, recovered about 85% of the black but no other progress. Proceeded to a choke clean and another test print, no progress. Did another PC and test print, no further progress.
I've attached a pic of the nozzle test from this morning. Following today's cleanings I'm not seeing any yellow in the captop, I can see some Magenta, some Black and some Cyan for sure. There was a little yellow this morning before I started the cleanings as you can see in the pic.
I'm thinking about clipping the lines to the dampers and replacing them with the OEM ones I bought.
If you have any other advice I'm all ears.
Also, clearly my pump is working at the panel but I'm wondering if one of the circulating pumps could have some dried ink like I found in a couple of the choke lines and be sluggish or not moving ink. Wondering if that could cause any issues with nozzles. Come to think about it I have not heard the printer come to life and circulate at all. But, I have been soaking a lot with power off a lot of days. I have heard the pump(s) clicking back there like normal during cleanings, etc.
Coagulated ink in I found in the chokes were not in either of the lines that split to the circ pumps, they were both right in the middle (4 and 5).
I replaced all dampers today, had some yellow ink clotting in the one damper. Was able to pull cleaner all through that line and now all colors are pulling clean through the dampers. Got some Cyan, Black and Magenta on the nozzle test but the Cyan had some "static" look when it first started. Did 3 powerful cleans just to get that.
I'm going on the assumption that the head is clogged with bad ink from sitting idle, I'm getting bits of it back but I can't power clean 50 times. So, I've ordered 8 cleaning carts and I will be doing a head wash to try to break all that up and save the head, it's all I can think of now since I've done everything else.
I'm going to soak the head until the cleaning carts arrive.
Sounds like a good plan. No choice in trying to save the head. If you need specific colors you can try printing blocks of that color to move that color. You are may need to check the damper and hope it clogs there and not down in the nozzles. These are all good lessons. Thanks for updating your post. Others are watching, and learning from you.
Did a full head wash with new flush cartridges. Got all the lines clear except one Cyan is sucking air and I can't figure out where, so it moves slow.
After the wash and fill there was no difference in nozzle test, so basically a waste of time. I took the head out and soaked it in an altoids container so it was not touching bottom, pulled some cleaner back through every channel, assuming the head was blocked with old ink. Went outside and pushed cleaner through each channel to get a full and nice stream of liquid coming out like waterfalls. Thought that would do it. Installed the head and found no further progress from last nozzle test, waste of time. Thinking I messed up the head somehow.
Desperation time. I took the print head out of my BN-20 and installed it on the VS. First test print using ink from the BN-20 still in the head was perfect on the VS-640. Took the chance and did a cleaning and figure I'll leave this head in the machine. Well, I've got 7 out of printing nearly perfect, just missing about 4-5 nozzles on the light Cyan.
I've attached the test print, I'm still not getting anything from the last channel which is a Cyan. I think it's sucking air but I cannot figure out where.
Sometimes you just need a head!
Also - check your Orings - for that color that it is correctly seated - it can come out of place
You could have blew the valve in the head
Could be an electrical failure in the head
Could be a bad damper
Could be a bad top
Some of those things you changed and can rule out
Many hours later and still can't get the last channel to print. Checked o-rings, replaced one o-ring. I'm getting sometimes 30% sometimes near 0% on nozzle test for that channel, they are usually pretty different looking, not consistent. I'm leaning toward something with the needle or where the cart is setting, it was a bit messy in there but so were some of the others and they are working fine. Don't know what it takes to replace that stuff. Seems like air but I can't pinpoint it. No leaks and I even clipped of some tube for a better fit, checked every connection at least twice, still seems like air.
Honestly want to put my foot through this thing at this point, wasted so much time and hours and it's always something else.
I mean you can see from this pic that I got a 70% nozzle print then the very next one almost nothing on that channel, extremely frustrating.
Not helping your issue, but your media - you can move to the left and set a new base point opposed to wasting so much. Also it is better to take one good straight on picture than to show all the other test.
Lastly as a tech at $150 an hour, that is why we swap parts than input the amount of hours you are putting in. You probably could have replaced a few heads or a failed mainboard.
As of last night the machine is printing 100%, I ran some GCVP material in it and put a new blade and was printing and cutting. 3 perfect nozzle tests.
Not sure what thing we did that made it stop sucking air, because I checked each connection many times, but the last 3 things we did were as follows:
1. replaced both o-rings in the brass fittings at the back of the VS-640 (one connecting cartridge to line and one about 4 inches below that connecting to a plastic adapter). Again, I had replaced one 2 days ago and the other looked fine but I had some new o-rings so we tried it again. They did not appear to be leaking before we replaced them.
2. Replaced damper with one of the old dampers from my BN-20 (now disabled for parts). Again, that damper had already been replaced twice, so I cannot confirm this actually did anything, maybe better seal on the manifold.
3. Removed one side of the "Y" above the damper in question (Cyan) and siphoned a lot of ink out, this is the line we determined had some air bubbles inside it and choke clean wasn't working. This is the last thing we did before the tests started coming out perfect. I had done probably 30-40 different cleans and nozzle tests for 3 days and never had a test come out perfect like it is now. BTW, I have done this before as well, at least 2-3 times but not ever on just 1 side, usually both together so after the "Y".
We buttoned up the printer and now I'm waiting on some more supplies before putting it into production. I'm still not convinced this thing is over but I know it is not the print head.
I also replaced the cap top twice and ended up with the same one that was in the BN-20. I had 2 authentic and one generic, the one in it now is an authentic. This was done earlier in the day.
My advice to anyone getting an older Versacamm or Roland that has not been prepped for storage:
1. If you know you're going to replace the head and dampers just remove them in the beginning and take off every possible panel for better access. Wait for all your parts to arrive before starting the work.
2. Buy cleaning carts for every channel (8 for me) and pull cleaner through the lines from the front of the machine with a syringe, if you can clear all the lines this way then great (if they are not clogged they will be easy to pull), if not check inside the choke (or chock?) for dried ink, take the choke connections apart. Clean any dried or coagulated ink 100% thoroughly.
3. Only install new dampers and print head once you are sure the lines are 100% free of old ink (they should be clear) and tubes should not be leaking anywhere. I didn't do this thoroughly and it cost me a print head.
4. After install do a head wash and ink fill and you should be good to go. Mine had sat for about 7 months. If you don't have them you will need the "service notes" for your machine and knowledge of how to access the service mode (if VS series). These can be found online with some digging.
5. Obviously, replace all the regular maintenance parts such as wipers and cap top and use new ink when you put in the new print head.
I estimate this project will cost you around $4,500 and probably take 6 hours of your time if all goes well, so plan accordingly.
Thanks for the feedback and thorough recap of your journey!