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Old audio cassette won't play

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by [email protected], Aug 8, 2006.

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  1. Guest

    I have an old audio cassette that I was going to transfer to my
    It's probably about 20 years old.
    When I play it in my cassette player it rolls very slow and uneven
    which of course does not play well.
    I can FF and REW it with no problem, and if I feel it by hand I don't
    feel anything particular.
    Is there any way to make the tape run smoother without risking the
    contents of the tape?
    Can I apply some kind of oil somewhere for example?
  2. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    The solution is certainly not oil anywhere. You need to locate the real
    source of the problem. If the machine can wind it and rewind it ok, the
    problem must be related to the way that the capstan and / or pinch roller in
    the machine are interacting with the tape. I'm assuming that the machine
    plays tapes other than this one ok ?

    If the pinch roller in the machine has gone a bit hard and shiny, it may be
    that it's just not getting a good grip on this particular tape, and the
    solution might be as simple as resurfacing and cleaning the roller. Does the
    machine play all other tapes ok ? Have you tried the tape in another machine

  3. Ohmster

    Ohmster Guest

    wrote in
    Oil? You want to oil an audio cassette cartridge? Your kidding me, right?

    If the tape medium itself is shot then there is not much you can do about
    it short of sending it to the FBI and begging them to restore it for you.
    You will of course have to concoct some sort of a crime story around the
    tape to gain their interest and then perjury charges will apply when they
    find out you were BSing them.

    What you do is this. Go find some very cheap, new cassette tapes, the kind
    with small screws that hold them together in the corners. Open up the new
    tape carefully and put the top aside for a moment. Now CAREFULLY open your
    bad tape slowly by splitting the seem all the way around with a box knife.
    When you get your old tape open, carefully remove the two reels of tape and
    put them into the new cartridge. Align everything correctly and then put
    the top back on the "new" tape with the small screws provided. Now try
    fully rewinding and fast forwarding the tape and with any luck at all, it
    will now play.

    Cannot vouch for the quality of the recording though. You take a chance
    with that but if you do what I said, you will have caused no harm and still
    have the tape to try and clean up by connecting the output of your tape
    player to the line in jack of your PC. Capture the audio to your computer
    and then run some software on it to clean it up. There is a myriad of audio
    softwares out there so take your pick.

    Good luck.
  4. I can help you, please send me a private mail, DO NOT apply any lubricant!
    I will explain how to do it.(i used to repair tapes in the 80's)

    Bart Bervoets
  5. b

    b Guest

    NO OIL!!

    if the binder in the tape ribbon has broken down, i.e. it squeals and
    jams in play and leaves heavy deposits on the deck, you may have to
    remove the reels and bake them. do a google search for `tape baking `.
    sounds crazy I know but you will see what I mean. I have had many old
    3m /scotch cassette tapes do this.
  6. mc

    mc Guest

    Why can't you reveal your secret here?
  7. Bill Jeffrey

    Bill Jeffrey Guest

    Just a random idea, since I don't play with tapes much. Wouldn't it
    help to unreel the tape and drape it out in big folds across the floor
    or across some handy furniture? The idea being to reduce to nearly zero
    the friction that the shiny pinch roller has to overcome as it pulls the
    tape off the supply reel. Yes, you would have to be careful that the
    now-unreeled tape feeds into the pinch roller at the correct angle, but
    that isn't hard. Might even have to add just a smidge of drag, though I
    don't think so. What say, all you experts?

  8. Ken Weitzel

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi Bill...

    Respectfully suggest that the same thing can be accomplished
    far more easily, and much safer by just FF'ing and re-winding
    from end to end a few times :)

    Take care.

  9. Bill Jeffrey

    Bill Jeffrey Guest

    Ken -

    Thanks for the reply. I have a few old tapes that I would like to
    transcribe, but can't. Somehow, the first 2/3 of the tape will feed
    through the player OK, but then it begins to slow down and eventually
    stop. I have tried them on a number of players, and I grant you that
    they are all pretty crappy players, but it appears that the FF-Rewind
    trick somehow tightens the tape on the inside of the supply reel more
    than on the outside of the reel. Or maybe I'm theorizing in the
    entirely wrong arena? I haven't tried looping the tape out over the
    floor, as I suggested, but was hoping to find someone who had.

  10. T Shadow

    T Shadow Guest

    Try, as someone else suggested, putting them in another cassette first. Odds
    of the tape getting damaged outside the cassette is high.
  11. b

    b Guest

    this sounds typical of tape with a poor binder or which has hydrolised.
    As a result it produces excessive friction on the tape path and the
    pinch roller struggles to play it evenly. result is bad `wow`.
    Many times, the start of the tape plays ok due to the increased spool
    torque on the empty take up reel, which assists slightly in pulling the
    tape through the machine, which helps compensate for a pinch roller
    which is struggling. However as the spool fills up this is no longer
    the case. you can see this if you play the tape and momentarily stop
    the take up spool with a finger . If the tape (or the pinch roller) is
    in bad condition , the speed drops or varies.
    try a decent deck, or one with a new pinch roller which can grip the
    tape well; they often cope better than cheap ones in such
    cases.Otherwise baking may help....

  12. GregS

    GregS Guest

    I do remember having taking a cloth, sprayed silicon spray on it and wiping posts.
    It did help.

  13. Ken Layton

    Ken Layton Guest

    I have several BASF cassette tapes that no longer play on three of my
    cassette machines. However, if I run these cassettes on my 3m/Wollensak
    2520 cassette recorder I bought from a school district auction, it
    plays perfectly. Here's what I have found on the BASF cassettes
    themselves: the tension on the felt pad in the cassette housing is less
    than it should be. On my Wollensak machine, the tape heads actually
    protrude farther into the cassette housing making perfect contact with
    the felt pad.

    If you have some cassettes that just don't play I's suggest finding a
    nice heavy duty Wollensak/3m/Recordex unit at a school district auction.
  14. And as people have pointed out, doing a transplant is the easiest

    It takes out all the variables except the tape, and the reels.

  15. t.hoehler

    t.hoehler Guest

    Another problem you'll see is the complete loss of the pressure pad itself.
    The glue dries out over time and the pad drops out and gets lost. No
    problem, just reload the tape into another housing. I have also had some
    luck at whacking the tape cassette flat side down on a hard surface,
    flipping it over and whacking it down on the other side. Seems like it packs
    the tape evenly on the spools, reducing the drag caused by the slip sheets.
    A dual capstan - dual pinch wheel machine also does well with old tapes, as
    the tape loop is more controlled. I have a Realistic SC-30 deck, made by
    Hitachi, circa 1980 that I use to play old cassettes 'just one more time' to
    get them transferred to other media. That thing is just amazing that it even
    works anymore, much less works as well as it does.
  16. Guest

    While we haven't run any audio cassettes, we do run old 2" Quadruplex
    video tapes and have had issues with the tape getting sticky. We bake
    them in a food dehydrator 8-10 hours at 130 F. We've done around 100 in
    the last year and have had 100% success. I was worried that baking a
    3/4" cassette would have issues with the plastic case but it hasn't
    been a problem either. SO I expect it would be OK for cassettes. BTW
    the 20 years is about right for the problem to show up. The oldest tape
    I ran was from Jan of 1970.

    These guys give a pretty good explanation.


    To get the transport really clean I use Xylene but don't get any on
    rubber or plastic !! 99% Isopropyl might be a little less hostile for

  17. I've got some experience with old audiocassettes and I can recommend several

    1) Get a really good-quality tape player. If you're using a generic
    cassette player, such as a Walkman or a battery-operated unit, it may not
    have enough motor torque to overcome the tape's tension.

    2) Cheaper brands of recording tape tend to get sticky with time. You may
    notice this if you look very closely at the cassette with a flashlight as
    it's playing: the tape doesn't easily peel away from the supply reel... it
    tends to "hesitate" in pulses, adding drag and audible "wow."

    3) Cheaper tape players can't read an audiocassette if the felt pad is
    missing. Better-quality tape decks can.

    4) Very old reel-to-reel tapes are often literally baked in ovens to prevent
    the magnetic material from shedding off of the plastic base during playback,
    but this is the sort of thing done only as a last resort and done simply to
    "bump" the audio to more modern media. Until this discussion thread I'd
    never heard of anyone doing it with an audiocassette, but it's simply a
    reel-to-reel tape in a plastic shell.

    5) Giving the audiocassette a couple of hard "whacks" against a table or
    even dropping it onto the floor from a couple of feet may help. Seriously.
    This is sometimes a good temporary fix.
  18. Puckdropper

    Puckdropper Guest

    I've had that happen several times. Seems to happen more on tapes left
    in the car. Sometimes you can transplant a replacement felt pad and
    spring into the original tape case rather than moving the reels over.
    That way, you don't lose the writing on your tape with the song titles
    printed on the side.

  19. Mike

    Mike Guest

    An interesting concept, as the slip sheets are there to REDUCE drag.

    Some Philips brand tapes I had the misfortune to buy had this special
    "anti stick powder coated slip sheet" nonsense installed. From new, they
    weren't very reliable, and with playing/recording got worse.

    Ripped the slip sheets out and threw them away, worked fine after that.
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