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Author Topic: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...  (Read 5529 times)

Thomas W. Bethel

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Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« on: June 02, 2010, 10:45:57 AM »

I have about 90 reel to reel tapes from the 50s and 60s to transfer. Much of it is Irish tape some is labeled "magnetic recording tape" in a gray box with black and white lettering. The problem is that it is sticking to the rubber idler wheel. It is not sticky shed because none of this is back coated tape. Most of the tape is Acetate and has a reddish oxide on it (probably similar to Scotch 111). I have never baked acetate tape. Is there something else that could be causing this? Has anyone had any experience with  tape this old? One box says it was recorded in 1948 another 1954 the rest are from the 1960s. The tape machines I have to transfer this with are an OTARI MTR-10 and a Tascam BR-20T. Both units are in almost new condition and have had no problems playing other tapes. These tapes all smell of old boxes and were probably not stored under ideal circumstance.

Any assistance or suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!

This is what I have found on the WWW already...

http://arts.jrank.org/pages/9712/Magnetic-tape.html

http://www.loc.gov/folklife/sos/preserve1.html

http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub54/2what_wrong.html

http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/m/424738/0/

http://richardhess.com/tape/index.htm

Thanks!!!
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
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Greg Reierson

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2010, 05:09:50 PM »

Tom,

What you really need is a deck with all roller guides. That stock MTR-10 is a fixed-guide nightmare. I modified mine with all roller guides, removed the erase and record heads and it's a completely different machine - both in the way it handles tape and the sound. I can play anything on it now and only rarely have to bake tapes.

Since you're doing so many tapes it really would be worth the investment to modify your 10 or get an A80 or something with proper guides.


GR
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JSam

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2010, 05:15:46 PM »

Some disjointed thoughts from the archival world:

Just because a tape is not backcoated does not meant it's immune from hydrolysis.  It's rare, but it happens.

Never bake an acetate, except for giggles to destroy a tape.

Irish tape was Ampex's "rejected for the Ampex brand" brand.  Named as much to compete with 3M's Scotch tape.  No rim shot needed, I'm not joking.  I don't know anyone that ever likes seeing an Irish tape to transfer...

Speaking of which, I hesitate to ever put much trust into what tape stock is actually in the box.  It varies, so you--having the tapes in hand--know better than I the likelihood of correlation, but that's something to think about.

I'm not familiar with either of your decks, but based on the makes, I wouldn't imagine they're the most gentle machines.  Have you tried manipulating playback tension?

It's good you've found Richard Hess's page, because outside of the Ampex and Studer list archives (www.recordist.com), it's the most comprehensive tape resource available online.
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Jeff Carroll

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2010, 01:00:23 AM »

Have you ruled out the roller by playing back a tape you know is good?  I have seen rubber rollers break down almost overnight.
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2010, 06:43:37 AM »

Greg Reierson wrote on Wed, 02 June 2010 17:09

Tom,

What you really need is a deck with all roller guides. That stock MTR-10 is a fixed-guide nightmare. I modified mine with all roller guides, removed the erase and record heads and it's a completely different machine - both in the way it handles tape and the sound. I can play anything on it now and only rarely have to bake tapes.

Since you're doing so many tapes it really would be worth the investment to modify your 10 or get an A80 or something with proper guides.


GR


Do you have a source for the roller guides and can you share it with me? Thanks in advance.
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2010, 06:45:00 AM »

Jeff Carroll wrote on Thu, 03 June 2010 01:00

Have you ruled out the roller by playing back a tape you know is good?  I have seen rubber rollers break down almost overnight.


That is what I thought but normal tapes playback with no problems. It is just these tapes. The idler looks like new. Thanks for your thoughts.
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2010, 06:48:00 AM »

JSam wrote on Wed, 02 June 2010 17:15

Some disjointed thoughts from the archival world:

Just because a tape is not backcoated does not meant it's immune from hydrolysis.  It's rare, but it happens.

Never bake an acetate, except for giggles to destroy a tape.

Irish tape was Ampex's "rejected for the Ampex brand" brand.  Named as much to compete with 3M's Scotch tape.  No rim shot needed, I'm not joking.  I don't know anyone that ever likes seeing an Irish tape to transfer...

Speaking of which, I hesitate to ever put much trust into what tape stock is actually in the box.  It varies, so you--having the tapes in hand--know better than I the likelihood of correlation, but that's something to think about.

I'm not familiar with either of your decks, but based on the makes, I wouldn't imagine they're the most gentle machines.  Have you tried manipulating playback tension?

It's good you've found Richard Hess's page, because outside of the Ampex and Studer list archives (www.recordist.com), it's the most comprehensive tape resource available online.


Thanks for all your good thoughts. You are of course correct that one never knows what someone reel of tape someone stuck in a tape box. Actually both of these machines are very gentle on normal tape and we use them a lot for transfers because they are so gentle and won't break splices. Again thanks!!!
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
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bigaudioblowhard

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2010, 03:02:23 PM »

If it looks like Scotch 111, it probably is Irish, or 111. Are you sure its not the splices hanging up? Or the adhesive from splices leaking over the layers of tape before and after the splice. Sometimes you can't see it on the backing, its on the edge of the tape. Fussy.

Also, sometimes the width of the tape is too wide, by even thousands of an inch, and won't play properly. Due to manufacturing flaws. In this case I've used half inch guides to play back quarter inch tape, CAREFULLY, on an ATR 102, or Studer 820. I'm assuming its quarter inch tape.

No Fast Winding allowed in this case.

I actually have a NOS half inch reel of Irish tape an old timer gave me, in the box.

bab

Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2010, 04:16:30 PM »

bigaudioblowhard wrote on Thu, 03 June 2010 15:02

If it looks like Scotch 111, it probably is Irish, or 111. Are you sure its not the splices hanging up? Or the adhesive from splices leaking over the layers of tape before and after the splice. Sometimes you can't see it on the backing, its on the edge of the tape. Fussy.

Also, sometimes the width of the tape is too wide, by even thousands of an inch, and won't play properly. Due to manufacturing flaws. In this case I've used half inch guides to play back quarter inch tape, CAREFULLY, on an ATR 102, or Studer 820. I'm assuming its quarter inch tape.

No Fast Winding allowed in this case.

I actually have a NOS half inch reel of Irish tape an old timer gave me, in the box.

bab



Thanks for the suggestions.

The tapes we are working on now have no splices in them and measures .250 with some precision calipers at various places throughout the tape. Some of the other tapes that we are transferring are spliced ON BOTH SIDES with Scotch Tape....YUCK! We will have to redo those splices before we can do anything with the tape. Thanks again for the helpful information.


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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
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chrisdoremus

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2010, 01:42:13 PM »

Could be loss of lubricant.....
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Fenris Wulf

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2010, 07:20:27 PM »

If the tape is not sticky, but makes a horrible squealing sound as it passes over the heads, the problem is loss of lubricant. I've used Film-Guard with good results, and it's safe on acetate. I applied it with a cotton pad while the machine was in fast wind.
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Andrew Hamilton

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2010, 02:51:32 AM »

Hi Thomas,
    Sounds like a reel good time ahead of you.  If it's acetate, don't apply heat, but humidity may be good.  ABC veteran Richard Hess's site has all the pearls of wisdom you will hopefully require.  If you haven't done so already, do download the .pdf called,

HESS_Tape_Degradation_ARSC_Journal_39-2

    He covers a lot of bases on the topic of soft binder syndrome.  The solution Marie O'Connell came up with, involving an IV drip of iso and a custom windshield wiper in front of the capstan was inspired.  And Mr. Hess's own cold-play technique on squealing tape was also genius - putting the Racal machine in a refrigerator, or on the patio during Winter (but without actually freezing the tape)...   Also, he recommends, as others have already noted, reducing tension.  And, as Greg says, remove the erase and record heads.  Rotating guides may be gentle at fast speeds, but they also introduce pressure mag which can cause erasure.  That contingency may prove less worrisome than never getting the tape to spool, of course...   Normally, what you really want is laboriously slow spooling.  See if you can add some resistance to the network that determines the spooling speed.  On the ATR, there's a jumper to go from 120 down to 60 ips, or something on that order.  But Mike Spitz can slow it down a lot more.   Might be doable in the field on your own brand, too.  In addition, playing the tape at 2x can reduce the stick-slip issue.  This would necessitate altering the header of the captured file to show a 1x sampling rate.   Probably only acceptable on voice recordings or other low quality tapes.  But, hey, it's Irish.

index.php/fa/14898/0/


Andrew
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2010, 08:59:33 AM »

Andrew Hamilton wrote on Sat, 05 June 2010 02:51

Hi Thomas,
    Sounds like a reel good time ahead of you.  If it's acetate, don't apply heat, but humidity may be good.  ABC veteran Richard Hess's site has all the pearls of wisdom you will hopefully require.  If you haven't done so already, do download the .pdf called,

HESS_Tape_Degradation_ARSC_Journal_39-2

    He covers a lot of bases on the topic of soft binder syndrome.  The solution Marie O'Connell came up with, involving an IV drip of iso and a custom windshield wiper in front of the capstan was inspired.  And Mr. Hess's own cold-play technique on squealing tape was also genius - putting the Racal machine in a refrigerator, or on the patio during Winter (but without actually freezing the tape)...   Also, he recommends, as others have already noted, reducing tension.  And, as Greg says, remove the erase and record heads.  Rotating guides may be gentle at fast speeds, but they also introduce pressure mag which can cause erasure.  That contingency may prove less worrisome than never getting the tape to spool, of course...   Normally, what you really want is laboriously slow spooling.  See if you can add some resistance to the network that determines the spooling speed.  On the ATR, there's a jumper to go from 120 down to 60 ips, or something on that order.  But Mike Spitz can slow it down a lot more.   Might be doable in the field on your own brand, too.  In addition, playing the tape at 2x can reduce the stick-slip issue.  This would necessitate altering the header of the captured file to show a 1x sampling rate.   Probably only acceptable on voice recordings or other low quality tapes.  But, hey, it's Irish.

index.php/fa/14898/0/



Andrew


I wish I had found Richard's site before. It does have a LOT of information. Thanks so much for your response.

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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2010, 06:27:50 AM »

We finally were able to play the two bad tapes. After some experimentation and lots of help from others on this board and after doing a lot of research on the WWW - we took the two tapes and put them in the freezer of my refrigerator for about an hour. Then we played them on the Tascam BR20-T with no problems. Thanks again for all the helpful suggestions. This is a GREAT web board!!! Very Happy
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
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Andrew Hamilton

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Re: Old Tape Problem NOT STICKY SHED...
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2010, 02:37:19 AM »

Glad you enjoyed success with the transfers, Tom.  I gather that by leaving them to cold-soak for only one hour, you were able to optimize the time in the freezer while precluding the acetate tape from actually freezing hard.   While Mr. Hess has proclaimed the virtues of "cold playing" tapes which squeal, he does advise against actually freezing acetates:

"...Freezing acetate tape (especially) is considered bad as many of the formulations included fatty-acid lubricants. Remember, this was from the 1940s and 1950s and one of the best lubricants of the era was sperm oil..."


He was able to use the regular section of his refrigerator when it was too warm outside to be cool enough for cold play al fresco.

Best part of your discovery was to learn that your machines are not too rough on tape to transfer old, delicate, decomposing tape!!     Cool  





Andrew
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