The rainbow-stained circles of middle-class Hell – Cantos I – IV


Don’t try this at home.

Well, do, but at your own risk. No really, what I describe here will seriously invalidate your warranties.

Canto I

Having waxed lyrical about the pros of inkjet printers, my experience over the last two weeks has been a sobering reminder of the cons. The A3 duplex Brother MFC-J6510DW seemed fine at first, but I had growing problems with it feeding multiple pages and creating an unsatisfactory number of spoiled prints. The print count was only about 3.5k when it got to the stage where I couldn’t get a single full page from it without big gaps in the ink. Even immediately after a head-clean cycle.

No matter what I tried, nothing worked and I had to give up on it. Amazon were very accommodating, despite it being well after the 30 day return deadline, so it is going back. I’m more than a little disappointed because it showed great promise despite the print quality being only mediocre. That was fine for the purpose I bought it for, non-photo low-cost DIY print, but it just didn’t hold up.

The tri-lemma I have now is whether to get another one the same, or similar Brother printer, or to start from scratch with a different brand.

Canto II

No worries, in the meantime I can use my backup A3 printer. An old Epson Stylus 1160 that is at least 12 years old. It’s hardly been used for a number of years and I didn’t expect it to work reliably without a bit of attention. It doesn’t print borderless and it’s pretty slow, but at least I can print some copies of my “Catalogue” Issue 01, which does not require photo quality or edge-to-edge printing.

Unfortunately, I think I gave it a bit too much attention, and after multiple head-clean cycles it just stopped working altogether and is displaying a line of four flashing LEDs which, according to the service manual that I managed to find online, means it needs a proper service because it’s probably registered a critical number of head cleans. Doh!


Debris from my unsuccessful attempts to resurrect my Epson Stylus Color 1160.

Now it’s just sitting there, flashing at me. So here’s the middle-class hell. I hate the thought of giving up on it, or just binning it, but it’s probably going to cost me £50-ish just to have it looked at, and it might not even be repairable. If it is fixable, it might cost me more than a brand new, superior replacement printer, and that just doesn’t seem right.

Maybe not so much a circle of hell, but purgatory at least.

Canto III

So, this left me with no working inkjet at all, as I had neglected buying spare cartridges for the A4 Epson Photo RX585. Anyway, this prompted me to finally get around to installing the continuous-ink-system (CIS / CISS) that I bought for it in August last year. The RX585 is truly photo-quality but I have hardly used it recently due to its running costs. Genuine Epson inks are eye-wateringly expensive, although excellent, and the third-party ones I had been using made it only tolerably economical.

However, things have moved on, and in the period when I was passing around the dark side of that particular moon, much cheaper options have appeared. I’m not sure how long these CIS systems for domestic printers have been around, but I only got wind of them last summer and took the plunge with one from for the meagre price of £26.47. It looks like a rebadged generic import and has a carelessly translated manual. Coralgraph include some extra documentation, written in much more competent English, and installation was trivial apart from one VERY IMPORTANT DETAIL (see below).


The continuous-ink-system (CIS) from Coralgraph about to be installed in my Epson StylusPhoto RX585.


Loadsa ink.

At the price, nothing within me expected it to actually work, and it didn’t. At least not at first. Maybe I skimmed the pidgin manual a bit too quickly, or maybe it just wasn’t mentioned there, but Coralgraph’s tech support got back to me very quickly and pointed me at this video which includes the VERY IMPORTANT DETAIL.

The thing I missed was the pushing the levers forward until they make a positive click, despite the cartridge feeling that it was already seated quite positively. When I re-installed it worked straight away and my initial tests are very favourable. The pipes had a lot of air in them on arrival, but a few head cleans visibly sucked this through. The system arrived full of ink and it all looks very promising and economical. The only real downside is that, after installation, the scanner lid does not close fully. Fortunately, the printer works with the scanner lid open and it can be fooled into thinking it is closed by pressing an easily identified switch.


CIS successfully installed showing trailing ink pipes.

I’ll keep you posted as I print more with it.

Coralgraph also offer refillable chipped cartridges, if you don’t feel inclined to have tubes trailing from your printer, and vendors on Amazon offer very cheap compatible cartridges these days for many printers.

Anyway, I’m back in business, at least up to A4 borderless & photo printing. A qualified redemption.

Canto IV

My next multi-lemma is which replacement A3 printer to go for. The ones I am considering are the Brother MFC-6510DW (again), the Brother MFC-6910DW (the same but a few bells and whistles including an additional paper tray), the Canon Pixma iX6550 and the HP OfficeJet 7000. All have much cheaper compatible cartridges available, and third-party CIS systems too.

More middle-class Hell to come…

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