Imagewriter II Issues/Questions

16 posts / 0 new
Last post
Online
Last seen: 14 min 23 sec ago
Joined: Jun 6 2020 - 10:50
Posts: 23
Imagewriter II Issues/Questions

Not sure if this is the best category on the forum to place this, but seems to be the best fit.  I'm having two minor intermittent issues, and one of them seems to vary from print to print on how noticeable it is.  As a kid I had a different printer (its boxed up in my basement, and the name escapes me right now.  But I couldn't find printer ribbons anymore.  I was surprised to see I could still get IW2 ribbons and tractor feed paper, so I picked one up a couple months ago for a decent price when I started getting back into using my Apple hardware.

 

The first issue is that sometimes it seems to skip a couple lines when printing in the first inch and a half or so.  It passes the self test fine, seems to print text fine (found my old Christmas lists on my bank street writer data disk!).  But anything graphically seems to wind up with some blank rows near the top of the print.  The rest of the page prints flawlessly.  And if I line up two of the affected prints, the skipped lines seem to line up almost perfectly.  So it's skipping the same spots near the top on each print.  I would have thought if it were a mechanical problem, it would occur throughout the entire print, or in random spaces.  Sometimes it seems more noticeable than others.  To rule out my childhood IIc being the culprit, I also did some tests on a IIgs I picked up around the same time as the printer.  Printing on the IIgs seems to yield similar issues.  And they are using two different cables.

 

I've attached a few scans from different programs on both computers and the self test.  I drew arrows where the issue is happening before I scanned them.  The worst case is when I used the Printshop Lovers utility to print out the fonts from the Printshop Companion.  Probably mostly just because of the alignment of where it was printing.  All the other things I printed didn't print as much in that same affected area.  But I tested it with Printshop Color, Printshop GS version, Print Magic, and a certificate program.  Each varies in how apparent it is, but its there on all of them.

 

The other issue isn't as irritating, but is mildly annoying.  Every few prints, it wants to jam up on the right hand side.  The left side seems to keep feeding, but the right just bunches up.  I included a scan of that as well, but its probably not very helpful.  Not owning an IW in the past, I'm not sure if there is some kind of known issue, or best practices to prevent this kind of thing.  Related, are there any good guides on doing any kind of cleaning/lubricating/preventative maintenance on them that might help prevent this?

 

I also see at one point someone had gotten a run of color ribbons done out of China last year.  Seems like that supply has all dried up.  I suppose the odds of someone doing another run of them is going to be pretty low.

 

TIA for any info.

 

-Nick

 

Offline
Last seen: 18 hours 9 min ago
Joined: Jun 16 2020 - 16:58
Posts: 90
Hard to tell but it may be

Hard to tell but it may be some mechanical issue/play with the paper feed system. I am not sure it's a line missing, I feel it's more "an extra line" introduced by the paper moving forward a bit too much. Why only at the top... I am not sure. Maybe at the very beginning  when the motor starts moving the mechanical play goes away and then it prints fine.

Online
Last seen: 14 min 23 sec ago
Joined: Jun 6 2020 - 10:50
Posts: 23
Yeah, that thought crossed my

Yeah, that thought crossed my mind (paper advancing too far).  But if there was something witht he mechanism, it should be happening elsewhere.  Not just at the top.  That gave me an idea though.  I have a small scale ruller (32nd, 64th on one side, 10th, 100th on the other), and looking at the Balloon font from PS, it appears all numbers and letters are the same height.  If I measure the exclamation point on row 3, or even the number 1 on row two, I get 3/8" height.  If I go back and measure line 1 where 2-3 gaps are, the letter height over all is also 3/8".  Which makes me think the paper isn't advancing too far, its skipping over it without printing.

 

I can do the same with the flag sign printed from Printshop Color.  The box boarder on the bottom measures 4/10".  But the top box is coming in shorter than the bottom.  its coming in at approx 3.75/10".  Which makes even less sense.  If the paper was advancing too far but the printer was still correctly printing every line, the box should be taller.  I don't see how it can get shorter.  It's almost like some data is getting lost in the beginning.  But it happens on 2 different apples, using two different cables.  And still odd that its basically in the exact same spot every time.

 

This is rather perplexing.

Offline
Last seen: 18 hours 9 min ago
Joined: Jun 16 2020 - 16:58
Posts: 90
Well, at the beginning you

Well, at the beginning you are adjusting the paper by hand. Then the printer starts and the motor engages - it may take a few steps to clear some play-mechanical issues.

 

Try this: get a longer sheet or simply stop the print half way through a task. Do not touch the printer. Then start another print. (Even though I kind of remember my ImageWriter going back and forth to find the top of the sheet but maybe it won't happen on printshop.)

 

I am still thinking of the feed motor. Look at the pics below: I have merely filled in the white line and now the black horizontal pattern is thicker than all the others.

 

Online
Last seen: 14 min 23 sec ago
Joined: Jun 6 2020 - 10:50
Posts: 23
Actually, the way the IW

Actually, the way the IW works is I just set the first 3 holes of the paper on the first 3 pegs of the tractor, then hit the form feed button.  The IW then advances the paper to what must be the ideal starting position.  No back and forth, and I'm not touching the roller after I clip the tractors on the paper.  Its all done with motor feed.  I do recall some printers that did the whole back and forth thing you mentioned.  I seem to recall that more on early inkjets.  But my memory may not be right on that.

 

I did what you suggested, started a print, canceled it, then I did manually advance it slightly, and started the same print over again.  It only made the gaps in the first print, not the second.  And I noticed something on this one.  It seems like the first gap is the widest, then each gap gets narrower as it goes.  It also looks like the gaps are bigger on the left than the right.

 

Another odd thing I also just noticed, is it looks like before the first gap, the print is shifted ever so slightly to the left.  I can see 2 full rows of print that are slightly off to the left.  Then a 3rd row starts, but not only is it slightly further to the right  than the first 2 lines, but on the left its overlapping quite a bit with the 2nd line above it.  And that also gets narrower as it moves to the right.  Somewhere around 3/4 of the way it doesn't look like it is over lapping any more.

 

Given that the issue is lopsided (worse on the left than the right), I wonder if it's also somehow tied into the issue where sometimes the printer wants to bunch of on the right side when the edge of a new sheet is fed.  Its just really strange that it only happens at the beginning of a new sheet, and not a new print.  To me, that rules out the Apple, the software, and the cable.  It just something quirky the printer is doing at the start of a new sheet.  But what?  And why only with a new sheet?  Maybe whatever sensor determines the edge is off when I have it auto feed the sheet to the starting point?

 

 

Offline
Last seen: 18 hours 9 min ago
Joined: Jun 16 2020 - 16:58
Posts: 90
I watched a video of the

I watched a video of the printer. Indeed, the feed does not move the sheet back and forth. 

 

Could it be the paper not being flat with the drum and as such introducing a small gap? What if you start the first print in the middle of the sheet?

 

In any case I feel this is going to be difficult to diagnose as it may be something very minor on the gears that won't show up looking with bare eyes.

Online
Last seen: 14 min 23 sec ago
Joined: Jun 6 2020 - 10:50
Posts: 23
I printed a page where I had

I printed a page where I had the IW pull the paper through to the starting position, then manually rolled it up to the paper bail.  Maybe about an inch or so.  It printed fine.  Then I started wondering if the paper bail was some how causing problems.  When it does it's bunching up thing, it looked like it was bunching up under the bail.  But I usually didn't look that close, I just angrily rolled the paper back and ripped it off.

 

While thinking about the bail, I realized it seems like the gaps first start when the page gets up to the bail.  I printed a sign off with the bail up, and I wound up having the gaps, but they started lower on the page.   As where when the bail is down, the gaps are fairly consistent in the placement.  Also looks like I maybe have some more minor gaps, but only on the right when the bail was up.  Could be coincidence, could mean something.

 

I have no idea at this point.  I sort of feel like I'm grasping at straws.  A gear issue seems unlikely, as I should have issues either multiple spots on the page, or in random spots.  As the odds of a faulty gear always lining up with the top of a page is unlikely, as the drum just constantly turns.  There is no way that every single piece of paper fed in winds up just happening to hit a bad gear spot in pretty much the same place every time.  I guess I could try taking out the drum mechanism to inspect it, and see.  It just seems unlikely.  And I'm not sure if the technical manual I found covers that.  It may, as it seems to cover several other aspects of maintenance and replacement.

 

If I really want to start grasping at straws, maybe I have some caps going bad, and they initially aren't working correctly and maybe causing the motor to jerk.  Again, a very big stretch,  But I'm low on ideas.  If I went through with it, it wouldn't hurt anything.  Worst case, the caps will be good for another 30 years.  And there can't be more than $15 of caps in here at most.

 

Online
Last seen: 14 min 23 sec ago
Joined: Jun 6 2020 - 10:50
Posts: 23
So, maybe it is paper bail

So, maybe it is paper bail related after all.  Or at least maybe just part of the problem.  I was just looking at it, and noticed it felt odd when flipping the bail up and down.  Suddenly I noticed that the left hand side is missing the spring that keeps tension on the bail when it's up against the drum.  It's hard to see in the picture, but I can see hooks where the spring should be.  And the bail doesn't feel right when flipping up and down.  I wonder if that is what is causing all my issues?  If not causing it, I imagine it isn't helping.  So, anyone have a junk chassis around and would be willing to part with a spring? :)

 

I can maybe find something close at my local Ace hardware store.  They have like 3 different containers of springs in various lengths and tensions.  I'm assuming I'll want to find one that is similar in both fashions, or else I could wind up shifting problems to the other side.  Worst case, maybe it at least stops my bunching issue, even if it won't fix the printing issue.

 

 

 

 

 

Offline
Last seen: 18 hours 9 min ago
Joined: Jun 16 2020 - 16:58
Posts: 90
you can place an elastic band

you can place an elastic band to test for now.

 

I do not know honestly. But I notice on your last test that before the gap there is an overlapping line.

You said it won't do any lines if you start printing in the middle of the sheet - so when the sheet is well caught under the bail? I suppose the paper may warp a bit when it tries to go under the bail and the "bubble" causes the issue until the head has iron that out?

Replacing capacitors on a 40 years old machine cannot hurt. But I am not sure this is the issue to be honest.

Spectre's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 1 day ago
Joined: Aug 17 2018 - 23:26
Posts: 46
I'm hungry feed me.

Does this happen if you use friction feed? It would be one way to sort for sure its part of the feed system problem.  The other thing that occurs to me is, if I recall right, both sides of the tractor are driven from one side with a bar joining them?? If so perhaps the left side for some reason has heavier/worse wear than the right.

 

A

Online
Last seen: 14 min 23 sec ago
Joined: Jun 6 2020 - 10:50
Posts: 23
I haven't tried fiction feed.

I haven't tried fiction feed.  But it does seem very related to the paper bail.  I tested the printer with both bail springs removed and held the paper bail down on each side with my fingers (took the front cover off, and flipped it around so the magnet tripped the reed switch but I still had access to everything) while it printed.

 

It printed perfect.  Got two new springs from the hardware store that seemed similar in length and tension.  Put them on, got spaces again.  With the new springs still attached, started a new sheet, held my fingers down on each end of the bail, no lines.  Let up, started a new sheet, printed with lines.

 

So it seems completely related to how much pressure is on the bail.  Maybe I need stronger springs to hold the bail down?  It really seems like the more pressure I put on the bail, the less likely I am to get spacing issues.  Or maybe something else is going on, and me putting extra pressure on the bail is offsetting it?  I don't know at this point.  I just know when I hold the bail down manually, no spaces.  I let it go, I get spaces.

 

I can test more tomorrow.  Although I doubt things will change.  For now, I need sleep.

 

Online
Last seen: 14 min 23 sec ago
Joined: Jun 6 2020 - 10:50
Posts: 23
I tested a single sheet of

I tested a single sheet of friction feed.  It printed fine with the new springs I put in and no additional pressure.  So, I'm not really sure what that means, if anything.

 

Any further testing is on hold for now.  I managed to finally get the power board out from the underside.  Whoever designed this has a special place waiting for them in the after life.  Even following the Apple technical manual for board removal, this thing just didn't want to come out.  And the Sams manual way over simplified it.  Probably spent 2 hours over 3 different days trying to get this thing out.  So needless to say, it will be staying out till I finish the preventative maintenance on it.

 

There are a couple of rather large IC's on the board attached to a big heat sink.  While trying to research how to get this board out, I came across a post else where from someone else who had recapped their IW.  He eluded to the fact these ICs are pretty much obsolete.  So if they fry, you are out of luck.  He recommends cleaning the old dried thermal paste off, and applying a new coat.  So I guess I'll add that to the list of things to do along with the recap.  Just need to get more paste/grease, as i used the last of mine up a couple months ago on a different project.

 

Online
Last seen: 14 min 23 sec ago
Joined: Jun 6 2020 - 10:50
Posts: 23
All my parts came in this

All my parts came in this weekend, so I was able to do the recap.  The recap went without a hitch.  I was surprised there was no thermal grease on the back of the STK power ICs.  They were just bolted to a giant heat sink.  I had found a thread elsewhere about someone refurbishing an IW II, and his clearly had the old grease on it.  His was the older version, that just had the apple logo on the top.  Mine is the middle revision that says "ImageWriter II" next to the logo.  There was a 3rd and final revision that moved to a switching power supply (which also moved the power and serial connections from the legs to the body, and I believe they also added the expansion RAM to the logic board).  So you could install Apple talk and have the extra RAM concurrently.  Maybe Apple thought they could save a few bucks and not add the grease.  I've seen plenty of devices form the 80's and 90's where 7805 voltage regulators were just bolted to a heat sink.  When I find that, I always clean the surfaces with some IPA, and add some grease to improve the conductivity.  The bridge rectifier was also bolted to the heat sink.  But it lacked a metal plate, so I skipped greasing it.  Honestly, I really didn't see any signs of bulging or leaking caps.  So I could have skipped it.  But now I have peace of mind that this has all name brand 105c caps (except the main 6800uF/50v filter - the 105c versions would have increased either the diameter which I for sure couldn't do, or increased the height - which may or may not have fit, but I didn't want to risk it) that will probably out live me.  Plus I hopefully ensured the STK power ICs won't fry.

 

Anyway,  I put the printer back together.  But not without issue.  Again, I have a few choice words for whoever designed this.  The power/driver board was as equally bad to put back in as it was to get out.  I finally got it in, only to find the print head would bind up on the right, and then slam into the left on a carriage return.  Turns out, there is a small bracket on the power/driver board that you have to very carefully shove all the wires under it when you are wrestling with it to put it back in.  Failure to do so will cause some of the power wires to stick through a hole in the plate below the bar that the print head rides on, causing it to bind up when it gets over there.  So I had to drop the board again and fight with it to get these wires in just the right place.  Oh, and on the others side of the board are 3 more connectors you have to wrestle with to get their wires all tucked in proper.  All while wrestling with a large power transformer.  Fun.

 

While running errands today, I was near a different hardware store, so I stopped in.  They had a much larger selection of springs than the first store did.  I didn't have the original with me, but roughly recalled the size and feel.  So I picked up 2 sets that were pretty much identical in length, but different tension.  Turns out, both were too long.  I was able to cut the weaker of the two springs i bought down to an appropriate length and twist the cut end up into a loop.  Attached them to the bail arm and spun off a print.  Good news is, it printed without issue.  Bad news is, they are so strong, the bail arm won't stay up in the higher position.  Which, isn't the end of the world.  I believe that is primarily only used up when printing envelopes.  But I would like to try and find a proper spring that accommodates both proper printing, and allowing the bail arm to stay up when needed.  Its probably not great to put so much pressure on the bail arm than originally designed.  I don't know enough about springs, maybe I can weaken the ones I cut.  Or I stop back at that hardware store the next time I'm in the area and bring my original and cut springs to try and find a better match.

Offline
Last seen: 18 hours 9 min ago
Joined: Jun 16 2020 - 16:58
Posts: 90
Well done! It's hard to say

Well done! It's hard to say from here but I feel the springs on the bail arm are just a way to cover up the actual issue which is... somewhere else. Cannot help on that though I'm afraid. 

Spectre's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 1 day ago
Joined: Aug 17 2018 - 23:26
Posts: 46
Springs

I forget where you are, and it may not be worth sending, but I've got 4xIW II's here one is already aside for parts... I've probably got a set I could send.

 

A

Online
Last seen: 14 min 23 sec ago
Joined: Jun 6 2020 - 10:50
Posts: 23
I'm in the US (upper midwest

I'm in the US (upper midwest to be exact), and I think from some of the posts I've seen from you, you are in Austraila?  No idea how much it would cost to send 2 springs all the way here.  If its not too much, I'd gladly reimburse you some how, plus a little something extra for your effort.  Otherwise I'm sure eventually I'll find something suitable.  Hopefully.

Log in or register to post comments