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  1. Member
    Join Date: Aug 2008
    Location: Australia
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    Hello, I was just in the process of watching some old home videos on VHS and when I went to rewind the tape to the beginning so I could watch it, it refused to play. So I tried fast forwarding for a little bit and the tape automatically ejected. I tried this a few times. After, i tried turning the reel in the tape manually with my finger to see if I could bring the play forward a bit and thats when I noticed that the film looked like it was no longer attached to the reel on the inside of the tape. It had obviously snapped or come unattached somehow. This is the oldest VHS tape we have (back from 1988 home video) and Im guessing this happened because the VHS is just getting old. But I recently had watched this tape before and I know from watching it, that the film itself is still great quality. Is there some way we can savour the film strip inside and get it fixed onto another tape or transferred to some other form of media so we r not loosing those memories? Im guessing there must be some places or people who can fix problems like this, but VHS stuff seems so primitive now, I wouldnt have a clue as to who would deal with this kind of problem. Can it even be a home fix problem? Any suggestions would be great! )
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  2. Member
    Join Date: Aug 2004
    Location: Kansas
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    VHS tape players have a lot of torque and a high speed rewind reel full of tape has a lot of inertia. The combination probably isn't enough to actually pull a tape apart, although if the tape had become brittle due to age and a bad environment I reckon it is possible. The tapes had a reflective sticker glued to the tape some inches from the end and the players used this as a warning to stop.

    Most likely, the sticker glue failed and the sticker fell off so the player continued rewinding at full power / speed and when it hit the actual end of the tape, pulled it loose where it was glued to the reel (or folded into a slit in the hub).

    It should be an easy home solution. The cartridge can be gently disassembled and the tape either re-glued to the reel or folded into a hub slit (look at the other end of the tape to see how that one was originally attached). Look around in the cartridge for the reflective sticker which with any luck will have fallen off inside the cartridge and still be laying there. If you find it, just glue it back in place with crazy glue or something similiar. Wind 10 or 12 wraps of tape around the hub and then place the sticker. That would be perhaps a couple of feet from the actual end of the hub.

    If you don't find the silver sticker, one could be made by cutting out a piece of aluminum foil and gluing it in place. The sticker would be on the shiny side of the tape, on the side away from the player head.

    If you are careful, you could disassemble a good tape to use as an example.

    Hope this helps, Good luck.
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  3. I've usually been able to open the cartridge (most have screws) and splice the tape, or reseat it in the take-up reel.
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  4. Member PuzZLeR's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2006
    Location: Toronto Canada
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    @Legendsk: Great post. I've had this problem too and corrected it in a very similar fashion and it worked good enough to digitize and save the content. Not sure about long term though if one wants to continue watching it on a VCR since I'm one that would throw a VHS tape out when I've captured it.

    @Timmaz101: I personally would recommend you make a digital version of this tape for DvD (or other) viewing. You can still keep the tape if the source is valuable enough to you, but keep it only as a source if you ever need it again. I believe, to be honest, that you may have further problems with this aging tape, and continued playback will just keep destroying it further beyond what you've just fixed. I would use multiple copies of a DvD for viewing.

    If I may ask a quick question here? What would you do with a complete cut/split somewhere in the middle of the tape? Is it just a matter of placing a bit of regular office invisible tape (like Scotch tape)? And where would you place it assuming the position of the reel in the casing - on the outer or inner part of the tape? (Or is there a better home solution?)

    I don't mind losing a second of info, and personally don't care for the most perfect splice, since I can pull some tricks in digital mode with an editor later anyway.
    I hate VHS. I always did.
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  5. Member PuzZLeR's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2006
    Location: Toronto Canada
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    Originally Posted by jagabo
    I've usually been able to open the cartridge (most have screws) and splice the tape, or reseat it in the take-up reel.
    I keep a couple of tapes aside that I don't care about for "parts". I sometimes use these to join and reseat in combination with content that I do care about.

    But like I said in my previous post. I personally don't have long term confidence in these solutions if the tape is already starting to fall apart. But they are good enough to save the source for an archived Master, or for a temp solution to get it digitized.
    I hate VHS. I always did.
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  6. Originally Posted by PuzZLeR
    But like I said in my previous post. I personally don't have long term confidence in these solutions if the tape is already starting to fall apart. But they are good enough to save the source for an archived Master, or for a temp solution to get it digitized.
    Yes, I consider it an emergency repair and the material should be spun off as soon as possible.
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  7. Member
    Join Date: Jun 2004
    Location: California,United States
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    If there is still some of the tape on the first reel, you can patch the two pieces with about 1 in. of clear tape only on the side that does not come in contact with wheels or pickups (the inside of the tape). If the tape is too wide, trim it do not fold it over. Use this repaired tape 1 time to make a digital copy and be done with it.

    Tony
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  8. Member
    Join Date: Aug 2004
    Location: Kansas
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    @jagabo Excellent point! I should have mentioned that at best this is a temporary repair which may last long enough to copy the tape to a new one or preferably burn it to a DVD. In the early 1980's I used lots of VHS tapes for computer hard drive backup and had to do recovery on ones that had been damaged. The worst was one that had been in a fire and the cartridge was melted. The tape was covered with smoke and soot, but after washed with soap and water and installed in a new cartridge, worked well enough to restore the replacement computer system.
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  9. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
    Join Date: Sep 2002
    Location: USA
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    Normally VHS tapes have a clear leader at the ends and a photocell in the VHS player sees that and stops the rewind. It used to be a common problem with external rewinders that didn't detect this properly and broke the tape, usually at the splice to the clear leader.

    There is also a friction brake on the deck that keeps tension on the tape during rewind or stopping. If that fails or slips, the tape will end up with slack and can be easily damaged at next play or rewind. Just take a look at the sides of the tape in the cassette after rewind. The tape edges should be smooth, indicating a proper rewind. If not, have the deck serviced or risk more tape damage.

    When the tape breaks, the tape is stretched near the break, usually making a few seconds or so unplayable. Just be aware of this during playback. You can buy splicing kits that use tape that won't clog the VHS heads. If you really must use scotch tape or similar, wind the tape well past that splice so that section doesn't come in contact with the guides or heads. The tape adhesive is not good for the heads or the guides.

    Or, since part of the tape is stretched anyway, you can also reattach the tape end to the reel itself. Not really recommended as auto rewind will damage the tape further, but if you label the tape and are careful, it avoids doing a splice. Most times there is a clip at the hub of the reel you can pull out and use that to reattach the tape. This also works if the tape leader is pulled out of the hub, though that is unusual.

    Good advice to experiment on a junk VHS cassette. There are a fair amount of small parts in there and you want to become familiar with them and where they go.
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  10. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
    Join Date: Jun 2003
    Location: dFAQ.us/lordsmurf
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    I dissect the old tape, and a new tape, and fix it. It's easy if you've done it before, seemingly impossible if you haven't. I still remember my first time, and that was well more than 10 years ago. Thought I'd never get that tape fixed.
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  11. Member PuzZLeR's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2006
    Location: Toronto Canada
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    If anyone's interested, the best VHS tapes for "spare parts", from my experience, are Fuji High Quality HQ 120 - the ones that came in a white and green box (with red and silver diagonal stripes in the middle) sold sometime in the 90s. I don't buy any today so not sure if they're still sold. But grab a couple if you can.

    These were always the easiest to dissect and put together without too many of those springs and cogs, etc. Others can give you fits, but these Fuji's always clicked in place. I've hung on to a few for when there's a need.
    I hate VHS. I always did.
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  12. I'm a Super Moderator johns0's Avatar
    Join Date: Jun 2002
    Location: canada
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    One thing you should watch out for is if the vhs machine has a faulty end sensor then more tapes will be broken off at the end,the way to tell is try and rewind a tape that's near the beginning and if you hear that it's makes a clunking sound when it gets to the end then its faulty.

    This can happen to either or both sides so the tape might break when ff to the end also but thats less likely,the end sensors are not very expensive,~10 but in a repair shop the labor will be high.
    I think,therefore i am a hamster.
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  13. Member
    Join Date: Aug 2008
    Location: Australia
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    Hey Cheers for all those suggestions, they are great. I agree about transferring to digital media and scrapping the tapes... this was actually the reason I was watching them in the first place so I could upload the footage onto my mac and save it for editing to a dvd. The only thing that worries me is ive never tried disassembling a vhs cassette before, am worried if I start tampering with the insides, im going to do something wrong and damage the film strip for good. Will have a go with it on an old tape first anway. But if it all does seem to complicated or its too hard to fix, where could I take the tape for someone else to fix for me? Just a regular service place who wont charge me a bucketload for it? If it helps my location is Perth, Western Australia.
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  14. Member PuzZLeR's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2006
    Location: Toronto Canada
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    If you really are concerned about the surgery, and the tape is important enough to you, I personally would consider it an investment in a professional service, especially if it's really only one or two tapes. They are all capable of taking broken tapes and getting the most out of them.

    I've already selected the top 5 tapes in my collection that are going with a service to complete my project of all my VHS tapes.

    I'm not sure of your location, but there are plenty of reliable, and credible, mail order services that would be more than glad to do it for you. In fact, to save on shipping, just tell them to scrap the tape when you're satisfied with the final production.

    Don't worry about edits with them - too expensive. As long as the content is captured properly, you can always do your touches later on as well.
    I hate VHS. I always did.
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  15. Member hech54's Avatar
    Join Date: Jul 2001
    Location: Yank in Europe
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    Just take apart TWO tapes side by side....one you don't care about and the one you NEED to fix....use the throwaway as a guide/reference for the important one.
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  16. Member
    Join Date: Aug 2008
    Location: Australia
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    @ Puzzler: Cheers, yeh it is pretty important to me. Its the only home video baby footage we got. Are there any particular mail order services you would recommend?
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