DFX tractors: Everything we know

Servicing DFX series tractors: 

1) Please avoid a common mistake when ordering tractors: Don't confuse the DFX-5000 with the DFX-5000+. They're NOT the same! It's literally a, "square shaft through a round hole" issue. If you're getting the model number second hand, make sure the person giving it is certain they read the name from the front of the printer correctly. (Then double check.)

2) The DFX-5000 and 8000 were originally sold with tractors that had amber colored belts and plastic hinge pins. (see picture below) These "old style" tractors should not be combined with the "new style" replacements. If you have old style tractors, replace both left and right.



The "new style" tractors have gray plastic belts and metal hinge pins. (see picture below) If you have this style, you can replace just the left or right as needed, but we still recommend replacing them in pairs since it's so much work to get to them anyway. Besides, the belts can stretch a bit with age and the hinge pins wear against the plastic, elongating the hole they're in, until they fall out.



3) When replacing tractors it is very important to align the timing marks! If they are not aligned, the paper will not feed straight.

The timing mark is a tiny round dimple in the plastic. On the DFX-5000 and 8000 models, this mark will be located where the square, driven shaft, goes through the tractor assembly. On the DFX-5000+ and 8500 the driving shaft is a keyed, round, shaft. The timing marks on these tractors are difficult to see! You have to look inside the hole the keyed shaft passes through, and spot the tiny round mark in the plastic. These are almost impossible to see if the tractor is already installed on the shaft. (Another good reason to replace the pair. You have to remove the good tractor to locate the timing mark anyway.)

4) If you're working on the DFX-5000+ or 8500 you may notice that the locking levers on the right front and right rear work backwards. These models have a string that is fed through the tractor bodies. There is a small lever that is marked "free" and "lock" that is functionally backwards on new tractors. Set the lever to the locked position to feed the string through the hole during re-assembly. Swing the lever to the "free" position when the printer is assembled and you're ready to load paper.

Unlike the left front tractor, the right front does not "lock" in the manner you might expect. The left front tractor – the one with the paper sensor and wires – locks solidly to the tractor guide shaft whereas the right front locks to the string. In fact it doesn't really lock at all. It simply twists the string internally. This, in turn, puts slight tension on the paper. The rear tractors work the same way, the one with the sensor will lock solidly and the other grabs the string. The idea is to prevent users from locking tractors in the wrong position. This can cause the holes on the edge of continuous paper to jump off track and ultimately lead to a paper jam. By placing slight tension on the paper, this is less likely.

4) As a rule of thumb, we quote two hours to replace tractors, and we're pretty good at it! It's not a quick task and there's usually plenty that needs cleaning as you tear down the printer. Don't expect to get done in a hurry and make sure you have plenty of room to spread out while disassembling the printer. 

5) The left front tractor for the DFX-5000 (part# 1019882) has been discontinued. It is possible, however, to use the left front tractor for the DFX-8000 (part# 1019891). The only difference between the two part numbers is that the 3-wire cable that runs from the tractor's paper sensor to the junction board is too short on p/n 1019891! The wires on the original part were 18.25 inches long. The wires on the substitute part are only 12.75 inches. You'll need to splice in about 6 inches.

Left, right, front, rear?

Front or rear? The DFX series printers come standard with 4 different tractors, 2 in the front and 2 in the rear. The front tractors are accessed via the large door on the front of the printer. The rear tractors are easiest to see by opening the top cover and looking toward the rear of the printer. If you have a third set of tractors just above the print head, this is an optional pull tractor assembly. See our note at the bottom of this tip if you need parts for this unit.

Left or right? Epson did a funny thing when they put out their parts lists for the DFX printers. Evidently the person that named the rear tractors for the original DFX printers, the 5000 and 8000, was on vacation when it was time to name the rear tractors on the subsequent DFX-5000+ and 8500. Left became right and right became left. Needless to say, this has caused some confusion.

If you look at the exploded diagram and our digital pictures, it should be difficult to get it wrong, but just so you know.....

If you're working on the DFX-5000 or DFX-8000:

Determining left from right for the front tractor unit is just what you would expect; the left tractor is on the left when viewed from the front of the printer. For the rear tractors, however, you must stand behind the printer! This means the right rear tractor is the one with the paper sensor.

If you're working on the DFX-5000+ or DFX-8500:

Again the front tractors are as you would expect; the left is on the left as you look at the front of the printer. The orientation of the rear tractors, however, is different than the DFX-5000 and 8000! The left rear tractor is on the left as you look at the printer from the front! Therefore, the left rear tractor is the one with the paper sensor.

The optional pull tractor assembly:

There is no parts list available for this option but if you need replacement tractors, the one on the left is part number 1019886 and the right is 1019883. These same tractors are used on the DFX-5000 and 8000. They can be ordered from either model's listing on our site.



Technical Tips are informational and supplied as-is.  Compass Micro assumes no responsibility for their correctness or their  suitability to your particular purpose.