How to fix your own printer

Now that I have my linux machine, astra, up and running again, one of the next things is to set it up to serve access to my printer, nova, over my local wireless network. (Nova is just as old as astra, and can only be accessed via parallel port, which my Mac laptop lacks.) But when I tried a test-print from astra, just using the regular parallel cable connection, to my dismay I discovered that nova had degraded due to neglect and age: it wouldn’t feed paper correctly. I couldn’t print. Argh!

After some googling, I determined that it would cost on the order of $50 + parts to have someone fix the printer. Not *bad*, but at that price it’s time to start thinking about just buying a new printer. But I’m stubborn, and I kept googling. And what do you know — I found (in contrast to, which redirects to

Apparently, my particular problem (bad feeding for an HP 1100 LaserJet) is one of their most common items (It turns out your printer here is only *mostly* dead!), and they sell a kit to solve it. Could it be? $19.95 + shipping, and I could not only save money, but achieve the moral victory of having fixed my own printer? The testimonials raved about success after success with this kit, many emphasizing how useful the accompanying video was.

So I went ahead and ordered one. I got it the next day (priority mail) and eagerly ripped open the envelope to find… four sheets of paper. A receipt, an ad for other kits, a half-sheet of instructions, and one page containing 3 photographs of some steps in the process, with a replacement “separation pad” stapled to the sheet. No video. Had I been duped?

With little expectation of success, I followed the instructions and replaced this little pad that the printer uses to pick up sheets. And ten minutes later, I kid you not, I sent a print job to nova… and it worked! As good as new! It’s practically magical!

So my apologies to for doubting them. Their kit worked like a charm and I did, in fact, manage to fix my very own printer. Whee!

NB: I googled the separation pad and found that you can order it for $4 + shipping online. Now that I know how to replace it, that’s what I’d do in the future. But hey, $10-15 extra for the experience of learning a new repair skill? So worth it.