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8mm camcorder problems

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by crevitch, Oct 3, 2005.

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  1. crevitch

    crevitch Guest

    I am in the process of transcribing my 8mm tapes to DVD. After doing
    about 8 of them, I started to experience sync problems. I used a head
    cleaning cassette. This seems to work, but now I cannot get through a
    whole tape without needing to clean again. This happens with two
    cameras, and more than one tape. The tapes are about 12 years old.
    When the heads are clean the tapes look perfect.

    Does anyone know what is going on? Have I damaged the machines by using
    the tape cleaners such that they get dirty much faster. Or is there
    some coincidence that I have several tapes that are dirty. Is there
    some way to clean the tape?

    I have used the camera for recording for many years without using the
    cleaning cassette, and never experienced problems with record or
    playback. However, this is the first time I am using the camera for
    playing entire 2 hour tapes.

    Any help or suggestions are appreciated.
  2. Dave D

    Dave D Guest

    You don't say exactly how much use the camcorders have had, and how old they
    are. It could be that the heads are fine, and that the 12 year old tapes are
    breaking down and leaving their gunk behind.

    However, it could be that the heads are starting to show signs of wear as
    well. Heads which require shortening cleaning intervals can sometimes be a
    warning that they are wearing out.

    I'd certainly suspect that the 12 year old tapes are past it. It's easy to
    verify, just buy a new one and see how well it works over a period of time.

    A word of warning- head cleaning cassettes are rather bad for your heads,
    and will acclerate wear. Furthermore, a cleaning cassette does not do a
    proper job of cleaning the heads IMO. You might want to invest in a proper
    cleaning kit with chamois cleaning pads and isopropyl alcohol, and read up
    on how to wet clean your heads, and indeed the capstan, pinch roller and
    tape guides. It's not particularly easy on an 8mm camcorder, but well worth
    the results if you feel up to a challenge.

    Failing that, ISTR you can buy wet cleaning cassettes, which should do a
    better job, but I don't know if they come in 8mm format. As a last resort,
    you may have to put the camcorders in for a service.

  3. crevitch

    crevitch Guest


    Thanks for the great answers. One camera is 6 years old and has seen a
    lot of use. The other is about 8 years old and has not been used much.

    Can you recommend some instructions and a kit for wet cleaning? Does
    the camera need to be taken apart? I am up for the challenge of doing
    the cleaning, but would prefer not to take the camera apart.

    I have heard that wet cleaning cassettes tend to jam. Is this true?

  4. Ken Weitzel

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi crevitch...

    Your head cleaning cassette just isn't going to do the job for you
    in this case. It will indeed abrade some of the dirt off the heads,
    but then just deposit it instead on the fixed heads, guides, capstan
    and pinch roller. It soon will find itself right back on the heads
    where it started :(

    I'd urge you to instead clean them with a bit of real chamois, perhaps
    glued onto a popsicle stick, and do all. The flying heads gently, then
    the audio and control heads, the guides, and virtually everything in
    the tape path. You should be able to see all of it with the door open.
    Repeat with a new bit of chamois until the chamois comes away spotless.

    Sadly, if the tapes you're transcribing are old and perhaps even dusty,
    you may have to do this with each new tape you copy, but old memories
    are well worth it.

    And finally, a heads-up. After using the isopropyl, give the machine
    plenty of time to thoroughly dry before putting a tape in it, lest
    the tape stick to something damp and self-destruct.

    Perhaps go so far as to put a tape of no importance in and try it
    first, before putting an irreplacable one in.

    Good luck, and take care.

  5. none

    none Guest

    Sounds like the tapes are getting a bit too old and are starting to
    break down, giving you dirty heads as a result.
    Over cleaning the heads wouldn't be the problem, just make sure
    they're good and dry before playing any tapes or you'll dirty the
    heads back up pronto.(cleaning solution is murder on old tapes and
    will wash the loose oxides off and onto the head just like that.)
    Just make sure the heads are clean and dry then capture short runs of
    the tapes to DVD instead of trying for it all at once.
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