I own an Epson 8500 UB, and this issue has reared its ugly head after about 3 years of ownership. My original lamp failed at about 2,000 hrs, which in and of itself isn't horrendous even if it is only about half of advertised lamp life. However, in hindsight, this issue started when the earlier lamp must have started to fail, and was perhaps related to the projector heating up more than it should.
Just before the lamp went really dim, I noticed is that the fan started to be less effective. It started to make a clicking sound unless I removed the air filter -- which you can't do long term for obvious reasons. But that told me that the fan couldn't pull enough air through the air filter to properly cool the lamp and other internals.
I replaced the fan with one that has a higher CFM to add more cooling power. Also more noisy, but whatever. Trying to make a >$2,000 appliance last more than 3 years trumps a little extra fan noise.
When I replaced the fan, I took the opportunity to look for any pieces that were visibly un-seated, but I never went beyond the bottom circuit board -- not having the nerve to take the 3 LCD ribbon connectors off the lower circuit board. Behind that circuit board is where I would have found the optics assembly, according to the pictures above. Thanks for those!
Net-net, I have a new lamp that gives me good brightness, but unusable top and bottom parts of the screen. Watching 2.35/1 content is wonderful, because the top and bottom are hidden. But we use this device for everyday TV watching and gaming.
I contacted Epson to get a list of authorized service dealers in order to see how much it would cost to get a proper diagnosis. I'd happily spring a couple hundred bucks if I can get 5 more years out of this thing. Their response, paraphrased, looked like this: "here is the list of service centers in Canada, but this issue is known, is related to a defective optics assembly, and would cost more to repair than buying a new projector. We have a loyalty program if you would like to buy a new projector".
Thinking this is their planned (and hopefully fair) answer for this clear manufacturing issue, I enquired further about this loyalty program. It seems as though I got about $80 off MSRP on a ~$1200 projector. Underwhelming is an understatement. Insulting is more like it.
Here's a link to a statement by Art, the well-known projector reviewer, after he contacted Epson upon multiple reports from owners who had this issue occur during the warranty period: http://www.projectorreviews.com/blog/2010/03/08/epson-home-cinema-8500ub-projector-9500ub-projector-redline-update/
So I'm going to push this issue. I buy Epson in part because they have a reputation of standing behind their products. This is now unusable, and this is not acceptable after 3 years. I'm ok spending some money because this is out of warranty, but offering me $80 off a lower-end model is not even close to a fair response.
Thought I'd share my experience. If you're interested, I'm happy to report back here after I've spoken with Epson.