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  1. Member Theresa's Avatar
    Join Date: Aug 2005
    Location: Illinois
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    Hi all--
    I wasn't sure which forum to post this question, even hoping to just find an article. But I want to clean my JVC HR-S9800U before I start capturing and I don't want to do it wrong. Any advice?

    TIA
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  2. Yep, get a pro to do it. Yes a cotton bud and isopropyl alcohol works, but is it worth the risk if you stuff up?

    BTW I've moved you to Restoration.
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  3. Member Paul_G's Avatar
    Join Date: Sep 2002
    Location: United Kingdom
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    I use a cotton bud and a very soft make-up brush dipped in methylated spirits and slowly wipe all the heads (erase head, video heads plus drum, audio head), also the pinch roller. V rollers and the rest of the tape path.
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  4. Member
    Join Date: Mar 2005
    Location: United States
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    I use q-tips and isopropyl alcohol... be gentle and you should be fine.
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  5. Member Wile_E's Avatar
    Join Date: Jul 2004
    Location: Texas
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    Well I don't see anything wrong with using a Wet/Dry cleaning tape. That's what I use on my 9911. After about every 6 hours of playback, I play the cleaning tape for 5-10 seconds maximum. It's a Wet tape that I put drops on, so it should be soft enough to use for a few seconds of cleaning. Just don't use a regular DRY cleaning tape.
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  6. Member BrainStorm69's Avatar
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    Location: Texas, USA
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    I would suggest using chamois swabs rather than anything cotton. The heads have a nasty tendency to "catch" the cotton fibers and you either have cotton fibers stuck on the head, or worse yet, when it "catches" you accidently break off the head. They are somewhat delicate if pulled the wrong way. That is why you should never clean perpendicular to the direction the heads spin

    Here is a decent ok guide:

    http://hometheater.about.com/cs/vcrs/ht/vcrheadcleaing.htm

    If you google "vcr head cleaning", you can find many more. BTW, when these guides talk about using isopropyl alcohol, they are not talking about the stuff you buy at the grocery store - they are talking about technical grade stuff, which is 99.953% pure.

    If you want to do things the easy way, go buy a dry head cleaning tape. But don't overuse it, as it is abrasive. Dry tapes also fail to clean the tape path. You could also get a wet tape (which helps with the tape path), but they aren't particularly good for repeated uses, as the stuff you are cleaning off stays stuck to the tape and if overused, just smears the dirt and contaminants around.

    One other method is to just play a new, unused tape through your vcr for about an hour. Use the other unused half of the tape the next time you need to clean the heads. Then throw it away.
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  7. Member
    Join Date: Jul 2004
    Location: NoAm
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    If using Q-tips be careful no cotton fibers drop off or stick in the opening around the head. They used to make a foam type tip swab.
    I was taught to always clean in a horizontal motion, never up and down (vertical) across the head.
    NL
    edit> BrainStorm69 and i were posting at the same time. He explains it better than me. Nice post , BrainStorm69.
    I had forgot about the new tape use. It does work.
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  8. The new tape method does work and another trick is to use electronics grade non conductive contact cleaner spray on a new tape. Since the tape is damp, it spools around the drum giving a power clean in seconds. Never use the commercial dry or wet tape cleaner kits - too abrasive plus the action can impact more dust into the heads.
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  9. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2004
    Location: GEORGIA US
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    Yep Yep Yep. Q-Tips and alcohol is the norm, but the best would be a pro, next best would be some of them pads on a stick special cleaners if you can find them anymore (they weren't where I last saw them) They have a tighter fiber and don't snag as much as a Q-Tip. The other truth here is that alcohol quality varies and is easily contaminated. It is funny stuff, it doesn't want to stay pure. Even the high grade stuff will suck moisture out of the air and after a time will equalize out to about the same grade stuff that you get at wally world. Put some on a Q-Tip and then touch it to a clean mirror and let it dry. Then tilt the mirror around in the light and look for a haze or a ring. Suprize! That is what you are smearing all over your VCR heads. I do a dry wipe down after cleaning to get any of the haze off. It is so minute, that in the grand sceam of things it won't matter for a thousand years, but it is just one more step closer to perfection.
    IS IT SUPPOSED TO SMOKE LIKE THAT?
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  10. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    DO NOT USE COTTON SWABS!
    DO NOT USE RANDOM CHEMICALS!


    Read this: How to properly clean the heads of a VCR.

    ............

    A lot of so-called "pros" are just using Q-TIPS and isopropyl alcohol from the drugstore most of the time. And that's one of the dumbest things you could possibly do.

    Another thing that is not suggested are cleaning tapes. Those mostly smear grime along a larger area of the heads, they don't actually clean much off (if any!). When you use a swab, and you see dirt, you throw the dirty swab away, right? You don't rub a dirty one elsewhere on the head. Well, that's what a cleaning tape does, it's not smart, it'll rub and spread dirt where there was none before.

    I also dislike wetting a non-cleaner tape and slamming it into the player. I've seen people smear alcohol on a DVD and cram it into a DVD drive too. I don't understand what that's supposed to do. It'll just get alcohol everywhere, it won't actually "clean" anything.
    Last edited by lordsmurf; 18th Aug 2010 at 10:39. Reason: better advice
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  11. Member The_Doman's Avatar
    Join Date: Feb 2004
    Location: Netherlands
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    Originally Posted by offline
    The new tape method does work and another trick is to use electronics grade non conductive contact cleaner spray on a new tape. Since the tape is damp, it spools around the drum giving a power clean in seconds.
    This looks very dangerous to me with the risk of the taping sticking to the heads and doing damage.

    Running a new tape for a while , specially chrome dioxide based ones will indeed help to clean clogged heads.
    Also it is important to clean up the tape path, which will often get more dirty then the videoheads.
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  12. The contact cleaner method does work, but I never suggested it to the OP. It is a "trick of the trade" when you don't have time to service the equipment. A ear bud is better, and when correctly used won't tear. I find those synthetic micro swabs can smear.

    A pro clean and service will clean all the guides, rollers and pathways as well as replace warn parts such as the belts etc. That is the "best" option.
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  13. Member
    Join Date: May 2005
    Location: USA
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    Since we're on this topic, I've got a few questions. When should you clean the heads? Is there a certain time limit like six months or three months or two weeks? Is it related to how many hours you use your machine to record or to play tapes? Is a good guide 100 hours or 200 hours or 400 hours? What do dirty heads look like on the screen?
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  14. Member
    Join Date: Mar 2004
    Location: Toronto, ON
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    No pro will touch a rotating head drum with a Q-Tip. The risk of fibers pulling off the Q-Tip and causing problems is large. There are specalized cleaning swabs for video head drums and tape guides.
    The time between cleanings depends on the type of tapes and enviroment the machines are in.
    I know of people who wont accept any tape they cannot verify the manufacturer of. Some tape stock is garbage and I would run sandpaper through the deck before some tape stock.
    Devlyn

    "Speed, Quality, Cost... Pick two"
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  15. Sorry guys, gotta revive this; will using contact cleaner with cotton buds be OK?

    Can't find Q-tips here...
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  16. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2007
    Location: Republic of Texas
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    Yeah, this old thread is one that I've never seen, and I was a bit surprised by all the cotton swab suggestions. That's fine for the audio head, but hazardous for the video drum. Long ago, I worked at a major video duplication center (hundreds of VHS tapes made in a single pass), and the techs consulted with the VCR manufacturers about head cleaning. As a result the video drums were always cleaned with chamois wetted with grain alcohol (yeah, the kind you get from the liquor store).

    Thought I'd pass that along.
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  17. Actually, I was thinking of not doing anything with the video drum; just the erase and audio control heads cos' the drum looks clean but the heads are not...

    Will my method still be OK?
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  18. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2007
    Location: Republic of Texas
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    Contact cleaner is likely too corrosive. I wouldn't use that.
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  19. *Searches in cupboard*

    Hmm... Got a bottle of head cleaner fluid, will that do too?

    PS: How do I know whether my stuff is too corrosive for the VCR?
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  20. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    DO NOT USE COTTON SWABS!
    DO NOT USE RANDOM CHEMICALS!

    Read this: http://www.digitalFAQ.com/forum/showthread.php/panasonic-ag-1980-2108.html?p=11353#post11353
    That's how you properly clean the heads of a VCR.
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  21. If I were to say that I did use cotton swabs and that fluid with only one of the metal tape guide, am I in trouble?
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  22. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Maybe.
    It's easy to really screw up ferrite video heads.

    Does the picture look okay?
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  23. Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Maybe.
    It's easy to really screw up ferrite video heads.

    Does the picture look okay?
    Picture still the same as before it seems; some white specks can be seen on the top half of the picture (used a new tape to test; it was wrapped before yesterday!).

    And I did not touch any of the heads at all...
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  24. Member
    Join Date: Aug 2007
    Location: United Kingdom
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    Just to add to this that I have been making a small study of VCR pinch rollers. When new they are matt black/grey but after use they gain a polish with micro-cracks (like on tarmac up a steep hill). This polish and cracking does not come off with cleaning swabs or cleaning tapes. Since regular tape speed is critical to a good picture and steady linear sound I now use 800 grade emery disks on a lapping machine and allow the roller to run at a slight angle to the disk, removing the top (stressed) layer of the roller. As the material is removed you can actually see that the stress cracks go a little way into the roller and once the roller is matt again I wash in warm water and re-fit.
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  25. Hmm... Went to the local hypermarket and got myself denatured alcohol (95% ethyl alcohol, 5% methyl alcohol) and a piece of chamois cleaning cloth from the automobile care section. There is no such thing as chamois cleaning sticks though...

    Will this do?
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  26. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    More often, you'll find "foam swabs" -- it just needs to be non-cotton.
    If the cloth is kept tout, it should be fine, although I'd still opt for a swab of some kind.
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  27. Well, I was planning to make my own swabs by cutting the cloth and sticking them onto sticks... Will keep a look out for foam swabs too...

    And is my alcohol ok? Mine does not contain isoprophyl alcohol...
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  28. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Denatured is fine.

    Both of these are easy to find in a drug store.
    - Non-cotton swabs are often by the makeup counters.
    - Alcohol is with band-aids.
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  29. Member wulf109's Avatar
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    Location: United States
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    I remember from the heyday of VCR's that one school of thought was that running a high grade tape through the VCR was an effective and safe way to keep the tape path clean.
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  30. Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Denatured is fine.

    Both of these are easy to find in a drug store.
    - Non-cotton swabs are often by the makeup counters.
    - Alcohol is with band-aids.
    Thanks, will check those out...

    But in the meantime...

    *Looks at table*

    *Prepares to clean VCR*



    Go figure...
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