Why won't the printer grab the heavier paper?
I just ran into this problem this morning. My printer used to be able to grab paper of all different thicknesses and run them through. However, now it will only grab very thin paper.
When I send something to the printer, I can hear the rollers spin and the paper wiggles just a tiny bit (indicating, to me, that there is some contact between the rollers and the paper). There are even "tread marks" on the paper, so that indicates to me that the rollers are trying to grab the paper. But, it just can't seem to "lift" the heavier paper. What I tried was pushing the heavier piece of paper at the start of the print cycle, then the printer was able to grab paper and run it through.
For now, I guess I'll just run cheap, thin paper through the printer. But, I'd like to figure out if there's a way to fix this before I decide to get a new printer.
Hi! As you suggested, this usually has to do with the tread on the rollers wearing down over time. Higher-end printers (particularly HP lasers & office/pro grade printers) usually have maintenance kits available with replacement rollers, but a quick search on eBay didn't reveal any for that model unfortunately. The manual it came with may tell you if there are replacement parts available from HP.
I'm not too familiar with your specific printer, but does it have an alternate front of back paper input? Sometimes printers have envelope feeders, or alternate feeders for different types of paper, and generally these are a better way to feed in thick paper, if yours does happen to have a secondary feed method.
I've heard of people using light sandpaper and nail files to slightly rough up the rollers, which might be something to try.
Also, the manual will generally state what paper weights the printer will work well with. While it handled heavy paper before, that may have been thicker paper than the printer was designed for, and so when replacing it, it would make sense to make sure you're getting something designed for the paper weight you like to use.
The give away is the smudge marks you mention when you take the mis-fed paper out. Your rollers are dirty. Even very old low volume printer rarely have worn rollers- I wouldn't try roughing them up the tread is usually quite deep and wear is unlikely. Clean them with someting with mild soap in it and than rinse real well with damp lint free cloth. Sometimes they get dirty from doing a lot of two sided printing the ink on the already printed side rubs off on the rollers ( do you put your already printed one side pages in with the print facing the paper roller? Sometimes its not worth the paper saved for the problems it causes. Also be sure to buy good paper and store un-used paper, sealed in the original wrapper.
From my time in radio I remembered the conditioner we used on rubber pinch rollers when they started slipping on tape (yes, that long ago). I had a old bottle that I have used from time-to-time to fix print rollers. Unfortunately I've lost track of the bottle, but I think it was CaiKleen RBR... here's a link to buy a small bottle. Price is about $13 for 25ml (and that should last a long while).
Radio stations don't use a lot of tape anymore, but it's good for printer roller AND for that old 8-track player! Use a cotton-tipped applicator, and carefully, it's pretty sticky stuff.
you don't need sandpaper or anything abrasive to roughen the pickup roller: this can be done with a wetwipe or, failing that, an ordinary eraser designed to remove pencil marks from paper
the reason they lose their grip is due to microscopic paper dust clogging the surface of the rubber. use an eraser and you'll be fine