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Last updated: 7/23/02

Also, see How to Troubleshoot Printer Problems

Q.  What is wrong when a laser printer prints grey pages?  

A.  The photoreceptor or drum may be defective. Increasing the print density setting may fix it temporarily.  The photoreceptor may be part of the toner cartridge.

Q. What is wrong when a laser printer prints all black pages?

A.  The drum is not being charged.  The charger corona wire is probably broken or not making good electrical contact.  The charger corona wire may be part of the toner cartridge.  Try uninstalling and reinstalling the toner cartridge.  If that doesn’t work, try another toner cartridge.

Q. What is wrong when a laser printer prints dark pages and double images?

A.  The print intensity may be set too high.

Q. What is wrong when a laser printer prints all white pages?

A.  The transfer corona wire may be broken.

Q. What is wrong when a laser printer prints pages that are dirty or smudged?

A.  The fuser assembly is probably not working.  The fuser melts the toner onto the page.  Be careful; they can get very hot.  The toner cartridge may be leaking.  A paper jam can cause this.

9/24/02 "bigbrother" submitted the following bit of wisdom via our forums... 

Problem: Brother 1250 Printer puts text on the page ok, but the background of the whole page is gray.

Solution:  Try replacing the toner.  Unlike many other laser printers, the 'unused' toner on some Brother Printers gets recycled back into the toner cartridge.  Many conventional laser printers put the used-toner into a waster toner hopper located on the drum.  This is why many Brother printers have a drum life in excess of 20,000 pages, and many conventional Lasers have a drum life of only 6,000 pages.

Once the toner has been through the printer a couple of times without being used, it looses it's electrostatic properties.  When these properties are lost, you'll start to get a gray background on all printed output.  Although there may be toner left in the cartridge, the toner is 'spent' and the cartridge needs replacing.

Conventional Lasers exhibiting gray backgrounds, the first port of call would be a replacement drum - be aware that the Brother printer is quite different!!!

Note, the replace toner signal may not illuminate (at least my didn't).

My 3,000 page toner cartridge lasted 3,800 pages, so no complaints here     

The last 300 pages were rather grey though!!!

9/25/02 "Twinhead" from our forums submitted this about Brother lasers...

I had have also such problems.

This time it was with 4 Brother HL 1270N printers on my work.

the pages are printed grey on the entire surface and black letters are not totally black anymore.

The grey is also not equaly shared across the surface.

I have taken out the drum unit and the toner cartridge, blown the printer clean with compressed air, replaced the drum unit and a new toner cartridge and cleaned the corona wire.

It solved the problem.

It seems that the system has difficulties to spread the toner equally when the cartridge is near empty.

If you take out one cartridge, you can determine if it is (near) empty.

Take it out and lay it flat on a solid surface.

Let it there for about two minutes and pick it up with as less of movement as you can.

move it between you and a lightsource or a window. (Keep it horizontally!)

Then look at one of its short sides straight with its axis to the other short side. (As if you attempting to watch through it like a tube)

If you can see light through a little round window, it is (almost) empty.

Replace it if so.

Q. What is the "specified" maximum length of a parallel printer cable for a PC?

A.  There are two kinds widely used parallel port printer cables for PCs.  The old "standard" IBM Printer cable and the newer IEEE 1284 bi-directional cable commonly sold today.  The old IBM printer cable was a rather loose standard having its roots with cables originally designed for Centronics printers.  It was uni-directional from the PC to the printer and had a 25-pin male DB25 connector at one end  and a 36-conductor male Centronics connector at the other end.  The "standard-issue" cable was six feet.  The maximum cable length was commonly stated as 15 feet.  I have operated printers with old 20-foot IBM PC cables and some, not many, PC/printer combinations will work with a quality 25-foot cable.  There are devices which can extend this length significantly.

Commonly available IEEE 1284 cables have a 1284 Type A, 25-pin male DB25 connector at one end and either the older 1284 Type B,  36-conducor male Centronics connector or the newer 1284 Type C, 36-conductor Mini-Centronics connector at the other end and are available in 6, 10, 15, 20, and 30 ft lenghts.  The specification also calls for various cable configurations with different connector genders.  The maximum specified length of a IEEE 1284 cable  cable is 10 Meters (approx. 30 feet) for data transfers at rates up to 2 Mhz (of course, this maximum requires that the ports at both ends of the cable meet the IEEE 1284 spec as well as the cable).  IEEE 1284 cables should work with older IBM printer ports (SPP = Standard Printer Port) and uni-directional printers.

Q.  Where can one find help with a LaserJet IIIP that is producing an ERROR 52?

A. Early models of the LaserJet IIP/IIIP, Apple Personal Laserwriter, QMS PS410, and other printers with the Canon LX laser engine have a defect in the scanner assembly  that causes the scanner speed control IC to overheat and burn out. This is sometimes indicated by the smell of a printed circuit board burning.  This error can begin as an intermittent error which can be corrected by pressing Alt-continue (on HP printers), but eventually it cannot be worked-around this way.  HP's web sit suggests taking the printer to HP Authorized Service Center for repairAn upgraded assembly with step-by-step instructions can be purchased from All Laser Service for about $70 U.S.  The assembly is buried deep in the center of the printer, and takes about three quarters of an hour to change.

Q.  I  Keep getting a message saying 'There was an error trying to write to...' when I try to print to my HP printer.  Any ideas?

A.  The printer software is loosing communications from/with the printer. Are you using the same cable as the one you used on the laptop? You may have a marginal cable which will work on one computer printer port and not on the other; not likely. It should be an IEEE-1284 (bi-directional cable). Check for pushed-in pins on the printer cable. Screw the PC end down and latch the Centronics end at the printer. Remove any other device you may have attached to the port; e.g., scanner. Click Cancel, turn the printer off, unplug the printer cable, wait a few seconds, reconnect the cable, make sure the printer is on with no error lights, restart Windows, and try again. Remove and reinstall the paper (paper out can cause a printer communications error, at least it can in DOS). Try the various printer modes in your computer's CMOS Setup. ECP+EPP usually works with bi-directional printers, but others may fix the problem. Try F8 just as Windows starts to boot, select the DOS prompt from the resulting menu, find a non-zero length text file (one that is 1-2K would be a good choice) (e.g., autoexec.bat or something ending in .txt), and print from DOS with:
C:\>type autoexec.bat>lpt1:
C:\>type filename.txt>LPT1:
If that works consistently, the problem is probably in Windows.
Be sure Windows is set-up correctly with the correct printer driver and something else (another printer, FAX, etc.) is not assigned LPT1: Be sure the 710 is set as the default Windows printer. Try it on another desktop computer. If that works, try another printer on the suspect computer. I have seen cases where a baby AT motherboard was upgraded, but the printer cable/header assembly from the old motherboard was used and caused problems, but that is very rare. Also, the cable connecting to the motherboard could be backwards or loose.

Q. Why do Spool32 errors occasionally occur when printing with an HP LaserJet  in Windows 95/98/Me?

A.   This can be caused by interference with the spooler by FAX or answering machine software.  Try these steps:

  • In Start, Settings, Printers, click the printer driver with the right mouse button, Details, Spool Settings, change Spool Data Format settings from RAW to EMF or vice versa.
  • In the Spool Settings, select Print directly to printer.
  • In Port Settings, try unselecting everything that is check-marked.
  • Run a virus scan.
  • Upgrade the LPT.VXD file. (Windows 95 only)
  • Use one of the built-in Microsoft drivers.
  • Download the latest version of the product driver from http://www.hp.com.
  • Temporarily close the interfering program for printing purposes. Press CTRL + ALT + DELETE to open the Close Program window.  Highlight any fax/answering machine program listed and select End Task. Repeat this process for each program listed that may interfere with the printing process.  Try again to print. If printing is successful, the program(s) closed was interfering with the printing process.   Uninstall or deactivate it.
  • Remove temporary files in  C:\TEMP and C:\WINDOWS\TEMP.
  • Windows 95 only...  install the alternate Lpt.vxd file.  Rename C:\windows\system\lpt.vxd to lpt.old.  Copy the Lpt.vxd file from the Drivers\Printer\Lpt\lpt.vxd on the Windows 95 CD to C:\Windows\System.

Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.