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Printek 4503 gears won't mesh up unless printer is open

Printek 4503 gears won't mesh up unless printer is open

(OP)
I worked on a customer's Printek 4503 yesterday and cannot figure out why the front tractor gear will not mesh with the line feed gear unless the printer is open.  I can have it closed all the way up to before it latches closed and the gears will mesh up every time.  I can then close it the rest of the way and it will work fine, but if I switch to the rear or center tractors then back to the front, it will not mesh on the front tractors again unless I open the case.

I've already looked for obstructions that might be preventing the tractor assembly from moving all the way back while the case is closed.  I've also checked the black and white gears and steel cable; the cable isn't slipping or stretching.  Any other ideas?

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