I still run a 7600 as well. After checking all nozzles are fiing, I find banding issues resolve themselves by printing high speed off and 1440 dpi. Even 720 has caused problems at times.
Heads may be available fom American inkjet systems if you want to keep this tank of a printer running. Every time I think about upgrading I read about 7900 issues on this forum!
I do wish I could figure out how to do neutral b&w however.
One of the first things I tried was 1440 with no HS. Didn't solve the problem, so I removed the capping assembly and cleaned it and the wiper blade thoroughly. Originally I would move the head to the right and work away with a Q-Tip and distilled water to clean the wiper, but eventually I removed the right end cover and the cap station, much easier to access all necessary parts, including the print head itself. That machine hasn't had the right end cover installed for many years, the control panel sits on the upper front panel just to the left of the where the end cover would be. That way I can check the wiper very easily, also remove the whole cap assembly, clean and reinstall within 30 minutes. Very convenient. However, this time it seems like a rather stubborn issue that I've run into.
I definitely agree with your statement concerning the x900 series printers. Within the first year of use mine had a new print head, capping assembly and wiper, as well as other service calls. I'm sure Epson was never glad to hear my voice calling in and entering the serial number for service. Of course they had their log of issues, as did I. Needless to say, I extended the warranty for the next 2 years and it finally expired about 2 months ago. Within that period I figure I could have bought 1 1/2 new 9900s for what the service/parts calls would have cost without the warranty. The warranty extensions were certainly NOT inexpensive, but definitely an insurance policy I wouldn't want to be without for those machines. I'm on my own now, but of course I've also learned a lot about the printer and maintenance routines, including head replacements. All of which I'm sure you have read on Eric's post here, most excellent. All of this to say that I feel more comfortable knowing that I can probably take care of most situations that might come along now.
As far as the neutral B&W issue is concerned, in the past Ive had very good results with QTR(QuadTone Rip). I imagine you are familiar with this program, very cost effective and does a great job on Fine Art papers. Unfortunately there are no curves(profiles) for Photo Papers with the PK ink, but for me that was never an issue, since the 7600 was MK only. I had done printing for a local photog on the Epson Cold Press Natural a while back and he was blown away by how neutral it was. If you're not familiar with the program you can download a trial version here, http://www.quadtonerip.com/html/QTRoverview.html
. I wish there were some profiles for Photo Papers, and there might be, since I haven't had an opportunity to check it out recently. Other wise I guess you could try the ABW(Advanced Black & White). Woops, I forgot, the 7600 driver doesn't have that feature included. If you are using an MK setup I would seriously recommend QTR. You can also set up your own curves for split toning, very useful. I think the app is till selling for around the $50 point, so a great deal.
Thanks again Jim,