Brother MFC-665CW Unable To Print 51 Error – Solved

The following article covers a fault found with the Brother MFC665CW that causes an Unable to Print 51 error.

After some quick Google research I discovered that no one seemed to have an idea of what causes this fault and a number of forums claiming that a purge counter reset would fix it. Seeing that the purge counter causes an Error 47 (from memory) that seemed unlikely. An Error 51 is a problem with the cleaning unit and can be caused by paper or foreign objects getting stuck in the path of the carriage or the cleaning unit itself.

So some good old fashioned tech work was required.  First off with all the covers, then I reconnected the scanner and keyboard in a way that allowed me to observe the printer and all moving parts during start-up. It was quickly apparent that the cleaning unit (right hand side) wasn’t getting drive. From there is was easy to trace the gears back to the cause of the problem.


As the picture shows, the gear that transfers the drive to the cleaning unit had split and was spinning on the shaft instead of providing drive. My easy fix was to use some high end hard plastics glue that also sticks to steel and glue the gear to the shaft. After the glue had dried for 30 mins – no more error 51.

I expect it would be possible to diagnose and perform this fix with out removing any covers.  JUST BE CAREFUL NOT TO GLUE THE GEAR TO ANY BUSHINGS OR OTHER GEARS.

This is likely to be similar to other Brother printer models that take the LC57 ink cartridge (DCP130C, DCP330C, DCP350C, DCP540CN, DCP560CN, MFC240C, MFC440C, MFC465CN, MFC5860CN, MFC685CW, MFC885CW).

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46 thoughts on “Brother MFC-665CW Unable To Print 51 Error – Solved

  1. Dave G. says:

    Thank you for writing this article. The gear on my MFC-440cn was cracked just like yours. Gluing it to the shaft solved the problem.

    1. Andrea says:

      Hi, I also have the brother 440cn and I noticed I can slide off that same gear with no resistance. Must this be attached to the metal shaft, ie, NOT slide off? If that is the case, will gorilla glue help?


      1. Easyink Support says:

        Hi Dave

        Not sure with the 440cn but I would guess that it should be attached.
        If the gear is split that would be a good indicator that it is meant to be fixed to the shaft.

  2. Michael Arthur says:

    My MFC-440 had the same error message of unable to print 51. I tried all the other supposed solutions with no success. Even took it to the repairers. Your information was spot on. Once I applied the glue to the crack and let it dry, and switch the machine on, success. Thank you.

  3. yank23 says:

    Awesome post.. Kudos to you!! Was able to verify this was an issue with power off could move white gear ( gently ) with indexfinger and metal roller didnt move. worked like a charm on mfc-665cw without any deconstruction, just open cover, sloowwly slide white gear to right just a few millimeters to expose metal, few drops of krazyglue precision tip applicator, slide gear back, few minutes to set, power on –works! Note his warning to not get sloppy and glue together any other components. I’m sure this would be 75$ at a repairshop…thanks!

  4. Translation-Interpreter says:

    I too searched any possibility of repair options online before heading to a manufacturer endorsed service shop. I applaud your hard work in not only finding the root of the problem, but also how to repair and maintain it. Just cannot thank you enough for contributing to our daily work efficiency. 4 days of printing backlog recovered in a matter of minutes. For FREE. Priceless in every way. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  5. Pablo says:

    Thanks a lot, best regard from chile, i always try to repair those machines first, the printer has only 1300 copies , and brother technical service tells me it was not repairable and buy a new.

  6. John Corzine says:

    I worked for a week trying to solve my error 51 problem. Sure enough, my white gear was split. A little superglue on the shaft and push the gear over the glue and all is fixed. The MFC-240C is a great little all-in-one, and to have it scrapped for this simple problem is wrong. Thanks so much for finding it. by the way, upon first looking at this printer, I right away noticed the loose gear and never thought to look for a crack in it.

  7. Mark says:

    Many thanks for posting this. My MFC 440CN developed exactly this problem. The only thing was that it happened the night before I had to submit some very important paperwork, literally couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
    However your article saved the day and I was up and running again within 10 minutes of seeing your article. I had to use superglue as that was all I had, however I may go back with a more suitable glue.

    Many many thanks

  8. Paul says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. My Brother MFC 440CN — which has been a wonderful and reliable printer — wouldn’t print and gave me the Unable To Print 51 code. It turned out that my gear was cracked, just like yours. I was able to open up the crack with a jewelers screwdriver and drizzle super glue into the crack and onto the shaft. Then I used a needle nose pliers to hold it closed for 1 minute. I let it sit for 1/2 hour and NOW IT WORKS! Thank you again. I really needed it to work today!

      1. Easyink Support says:

        Hi Lissa

        To see if that is the fault you have you should be able to view the gear with out taking it apart. Just a torch will be required.

  9. Phil Simon says:

    Thank you so much for the info. My gear wasn’t cracked but was spinning on the shaft. One drop of superglue on the shaft then slid the gear over it fixed it.
    Thanks again for sharing!

  10. Bill says:

    I can see the gear. It’s off the shaft. But off with the cover? How? Can’t see any screws that holds the cover.
    Thanks much, Bill B.

    1. Easyink Support says:

      Hi Bill

      I can’t remember if there where any screws but there will be clips. It would be a case of carefully trying to work it out as I don’t have that printer to check anymore.
      For a not handy/techy person I would recomend trying to apply the fix with the covers on as they can be quite tricky to remove.

  11. TJ says:

    Vielen vielen Dank! I too, like the previous people thought I had to buy a new printer. (My MFC 240C is 11 yrs. old). With your help, I was able to find and fix the the problem.

  12. shlomo says:

    I worked for a week trying to solve my error 51 problem. Sure enough, my white gear was split. A little superglue on the shaft and push the gear over the glue and all is fixed. My printer is DCP 130C but same problem. I fixed it by bonding the cracked gear to the shaft. Thanks so much for finding it.

  13. Molly says:

    The split gear was exactly the issue with my Brother MFC-685CW which was also showing the “Unable to Print 51!” error. Could see the split gear, but couldn’t easily get to the gear to glue. Ended up buying new printer.

  14. Tim says:

    Thanks, I almost gave up on the MFC-440CN which we have been using for years. The web is full of “paper blocking the cleaner” cures etc but you diagnosis was exactly my issue.

    One less printer in land fill !

  15. Lory says:

    I was about to toss my 440CN after searching for a way to fix the error 51 problem with no results. Then I found you! Sure enough, it was the gear, and super glue fixed it. Thank you.

  16. Trisulapani says:

    What a great tip!! I tip my hat off.
    Spot on diagnosis. Fixed my printer like charm. My wheel was not cracked but it was sliding off the shaft. Drop of crazy glue on the shaft and some to the side of the wheel and not more error 51. Yeah!!!
    Will use this printer until thanksgiving as I have some ink that I need to use up. Will get me a laser printer this thxgiving so I’d ont have to deal with these inkjet shit.
    Once again, spot on recommendation!!

  17. Riccardo says:

    Bravo, hawk’s eye. After exhausting searches on the internet trying countless useless tips, I came across your post that gave me the right solution to repair my Brother MFC – 235c printer. It was not easy to identify the tiny crack that was almost invisible in my printer, even though, observing the metal bar that acts as a pivot for the plastic gear into which it is inserted, I noticed that it ran free, without transferring the force to the gear itself, which moved only a few millimeters forward or backward and then remained motionless at a complete turn of the bar. I immediately thought of a clutch mechanism that over time had become too bland, but then, your post gave me the right solution. Still “Bravo”. I saved my printer from being scrapped. One more point for ecologists. What still leaves me perplexed is the thought of how the engineers who design these equipments are not able to understand that in such a delicate point, where the stain produces the maximum effort, it is necessary to insert a metal gear, fixed to the bar maybe with an Allen screw going all the way down so as to anchor the gear to the bar that transfers its force. Will it be ingeneristic ingenuity? Or a subtle, clever marketing strategy, cynically designed at a table, in which the ultimate goal is nothing more than to build machines equipped with fragile components that must be broken after a certain number of cycles, making repairs more expensive than the machine itself , to induce users to buy new models? I am more inclined to think of the second solution I mentioned above. Thanks again a thousand. Honestly, at the very least, you deserve a dinner offered in the mile restaurant of your city. A cordial greeting, with respect and admiration for your sight of Falco.

  18. JASON says:

    Pulled the 5460cn apart and glued the gear. Took about 20 min. Saved me couple hundred on a replacement. Been a great machine for 14 year. Hopefully another 14 more!

  19. Deric Nichols says:

    I would like to thank you for this post, after hours of the cleaning printer head and endless frustration I stumble on your post. I looked at the gear and it was split. This post was very informative, Thank again Deric Nichols

  20. Monica says:

    Worked like a charm on my mother’s old MFC-5460CN! Thank you so much for the solution to the Error 51 alert. I slid the white plastic gear over just a tad with a screw driver and placed a dab of Super Glue next to it, then slid the plastic gear back in place. (I did see a crack). You have saved many people hundreds of dollars – thank you so much!

  21. Ashley Martin-Jensen says:

    OMG After 10mths I finally getting new ink (5 of each), So with great excitement, I updated my Software then reconnected and switched on my beloved dcp-130c.
    Then like Deric Nichols above, I spent 5 nights over 2 wks totally flushing ink system, cleaning soakage cushions, Pulling All casings off and finally checking every working part I finally noticed THE said GEAR did NOT spin with the shaft !! still I noticed no Damage to gear. More searching ,,,, I found a pic of the actual GEAR with arrows pointing to it !! I followed the link to this posting and WTAF. THANK YOU THANK YOU
    Closer inspection with no less than a magnifying glass revealed the cleanest hairline crack along the die mark at the base of tooth.
    Did I Say THANK YOU Sorry This ON TOP of LOCK DOWN !! Thankyou again

  22. Ashley Martin-Jensen says:

    Ooo I forgot to mention NO ONE via Brother Australia, including ??? service Techs was able to give any help re ” error 51 on the DCP-130c

  23. Rick Wioskowski says:

    Thank you so much, this was a well documented solution. Getting the covers off my MFC-685CW was a challenge! Once there, the gear was slipping on the shaft just as you said, giving the error 51. I used a burnishing tool to scuff the shaft and inside of the gear before mixing some Quick Setting Epoxy. Lightly coated the inside of the gear and positioned it wit a paper towel to catch glue that would be pushed out. 10 minutes later I was printing again.
    I noticed lots of contributors use Crazy Glue, I am not confident that it sticks to nylon very good. That’s what the caps on the tube are made of. I guess what ever adhesion it provides is enough friction to hold the gear in place. I just didn’t want to have to do this again. Thanks again for the technique needed to make a repair instead of a replace.

  24. Harry says:

    I can only echo all the well deserved praise, admiration and thanks – you have resolved my error 51 too, although mine was simply rotating the gear which is still (thankfully neither split or rotating on the shaft).
    I use my MFC 240C in my holiday home, so it lays idle for months. I expect t was simply stuck. But should it occur again, I will check for cracks/slippage and use your fix.

    Just wanted to say thanks and share my variation of this issue and the solution in case it helps others.
    Cheers and many thanks for your time and efforts.

  25. Emily says:

    This was the problem for my Brother MFC5460CN printer also! I didn’t see any paper pieces or paper clips anywhere, which is what other pages said the unable to print 51 error might mean. I unplugged the printer while the printer head was on the left side so it would stay there. When I inspected the right white gear (same as pictured), it had a long crack. I had to roll the gray middle bar with my fingers to get it into view. I added a drop of super glue to the white gear. I didn’t clean or try to remove the gear at all. I also didn’t clamp the gear after adding super glue (no space anyway). I just added a drop of super glue and let it air dry for an hour with the printer still unplugged and the lid open. Obviously it needs to dry while unplugged or the printer head will run back to the right side and maybe get stuck. After an hour, I put the lid down, plugged it back on, and the error message was gone. I printed a test page and it worked again! Thank you!

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