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29384Re: [midatlanticretro] Semi-OT: Preserve old cassette tape?

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  • Mr Ian Primus
    Feb 23, 2013
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      --- On Sat, 2/23/13, evan@... <evan@...> wrote:

      > The tape is from 1976. I don't know when it was last
      > played.
      >
      > What should I do to ensure its integrity before playing it?
      > I would freak out if I started playing it and it got "eaten"
      > or otherwise damaged.

      Check the little felt pad that goes behind the tape that presses it against the head. It's glued onto a springy piece of metal. On really old tapes, I've frequently had this fall off, leaving only the springy bit of metal. The tape will sound horribly muddy, since there won't be the correct amount of pressure, and the tape can potentially scrape against the metal. Check that the pad is present, and poke at it sideways gently with a toothpick or something, make sure the glue is still holding it solid. If it *has* fallen off, best bet would be to simply swap the tape into a better shell for playback.

      When playing the tape, use a good quality tape deck, as opposed to a Walkman, boom box or other cheap deck. Not only will you get a much better capture recording, but things like "end of tape" detection are far more gentle. Also, it goes without saying that you want a good, solid tape machine - not a random used deck that's been sitting for years. When the belts start to go bad, the take-up reel doesn't run at the correct speed to keep up with the capstan, and that's where you get eaten tapes.

      I have known good, high quality, well maintained machines and can play the tape if you're willing to wait until next MARCH event, and I can bring one. But, I'm sure someone closer also has similar equipment.

      -Ian
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