The Editors and Readers of COMPUTE!
New Life For Old Ribbons
I have a Gemini 10X printer with a cloth ribbon, and have discovered a way to refresh the ink on a used cloth ribbon. First take the ribbon out of the printer and spread it out on newspaper, then spray an even but light coat of WD-40 on the ribbon. This will darken the ribbon a bit. After letting the ribbon dry overnight, wind it back into the cartridge and reinstall it in the printer. It's almost as good as a brand-new ribbon. This works because the WD-40 breaks up the ink particles and redistributes them from the unused portions of the ribbon.
John A. Hashem
Your method seems to be a good one, since WD-40 is a solvent, in addition to being a lubricant. The only question is whether or not the remaining WD-40 would interfere with the printhead, or infuse your correspondence with a petroleum odor. The added lubrication couldn't hurt, but it could cause extra dust to accumulate and gum up the printhead. Here's another trick that's worked for us. Pull out a small section of the ribbon, and make a half-twist. Now wind the twist into the cartridge and continue winding until the twist pops out again (it could take a while). The ribbon is now upside-down, and the rear surface of the ribbon has now come to the front. Since printers use only a portion of the ribbon, this should bring a fresh, unused part of the ribbon into play. Do not use this technique with carbon ribbons (which work only in one direction), or if your ribbon cartridge is too tightly wound to let the twist pass all the way through. Some ribbon cartridges automatically perform this half-twist for you.