I do a lot of transferring of vhs to dvd. I repair vhs & 8mm video tapes regularly and understand how the tape transports. I consider myself something of an expert at dealing with vhs tapes. I have a problem that defies logic!
Here's the problem and my workflow for attempting to solve it:
Tapes are sticking and won't play, rewind or fast forward, leaving them useless and cannot be copied. So far, I have had 5 clients (over 3 month period) bring their tapes to me for transfer. The tapes were from 1986, 88, two from 94 and one from 2000. Each tape seemed to look fine and showed no physical abuse. Add to this, two of my personal videos from '88 and '89. Although I cannot confirm the storage conditions of the customer tapes, MY tapes have been stored in my video vault at 70 degrees and 66% humidity. They were premium tapes, not cheap stock.They had been played recently in 2006 but not since. This to me, was the last straw. I had assumed the customer problems had been due to their poor handling or storage. Now that my tapes are involved, I see that in not the reason. In my case, every other tape I own, other than those two, played and transferred to DVD perfectly and 15 of those tapes were as old as 1985. When inserted in ANY recorder (I have 15 professional decks, old but in top condition and clean) the tapes load fully and without stress, but when the play button is pushed, the tapes might play a second or two, then you hear a struggling sound & the tape comes to a halt. I tried rewind. That worked a little on 2 tapes and a full rewind on another. The motor was in obvious stress and you could tell it wanted to pull the tape through the path, but none would play more than a few moments. Fast forward was tried, sometimes, it worked for a minute or so. Then not. All of this was done with open cases to observe the physical activity within each recorder. You could actually see the guides buckling slightly due to tape pressure of some kind.
I opened the cassettes and inspected the tape and shell parts but could not find obstacles interfering. I took the brake release out and tried pulling on each tape and measured resistance differences between a fresh, new vhs cassette and the faulty cassettes and observed no differences. I took the reels out of the old cassettes and put them into new shells. That didn't work. I actually took one of the tapes and with a completely new shell and spools, transferred the customer's tape to the new spools by hand. That was quite tedious and the results were futile. It didn't work.
There is no logic to this problem. I have not found anyone that has experienced this. I would appreciate anyone's input to solving this problem or perhaps someone knows of another person that has experienced this.
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I have repaired thousands of vhs and beta tapes and found a lot of them with that problem,the reason it occurs is that the tape housing gets slightly warped and sometimes the tape gets a little stretched and maybe sticky.
Best thing to do with a problem tape is put the reels in a new case which you have already tried.If the tapes are stretched and/or sticky then only the sticky tapes can be cleaned.I think,therefore i am a hamster.
How many years were the tapes stored in the controlled-environment video vault? Were they ever exposed to heat, humidity, or a cigarette environment prior to storage? (The latter -- cigarette smoke -- is murder on magnetic media.) If they weren't properly stored from the onset (1986), it's possible that tape layer breakdown was already in motion before you got them in the vault.
You say you have 15 pro-grade machines, that are old...... have you tried the same tapes in a recent vintage machine ?
I have a 1990 Sony SLV HF750 which still works fairly well, but on some of my old tapes, it does the same thing you're
describing..... stops after a few seconds, and won't play the tape.
I think it's partly a tracking problem, and also think some of my tapes might have the "sticky" tape phenomenon going on
Last year I bought one of those Panasonic Combo DVD/VHS machines, that manages to play anything, regardless of
what age or condition the tape is in
I've also seen the same tape problem with open reel audio tapes..... some vintage tapes lose the lubricant or whatever,
and drag down the whole tape transport, to the point where play, rewind and fast forward is impossible
Audio professionals have a way of "baking" these sticky audio tapes, maybe the same thing is possible with VHS
It could be anything from oxide shedding to defects in the cassette.
PM me if you want a referral to a service that handles this. It where I'd send my tapes, in this condition. You can't fix this yourself. I wouldn't even mess with it.
I'd listen to what these guys have said - all good advice.
I did purchase a two-way VHS rewinder to "prove out" a tape before it goes into the deck. Before a transfer I always run the tape out to the end and rewind it. If it's going to have a problem, the rewinder usually will indicate it by stopping. This was to keep the tapes from crapping out in my VHS deck.;/ l ,[____], Its a Jeep thing,
l---L---o||||||o- you wouldn't understand.
(.)_) (.)_)-----)_) "Only In A Jeep"
yes, I agree classfour, the fellows have given very good advice. Unfortuneately, I've already done these things. My choice of the word "sticky" was a poor one. None of the problem tapes have residue and do not exibit any tightness or resistance when pulled from the spool, as I mentioned in my OP. And I might mention again, I completely hand-wound a full reel onto a new spool and loaded into a brand new shell. Doesn't sound possible, right?
Your suggestion of dedicated re-winders sounds tryable. I haven't used those in years due to poor construction and limited life. Right now, I use actual players/recorders. The 15 decks I have now are basically my re-winders. Their recording hours are limited these days, but they do play well. And like you, all tapes get a two direction fast forward prior to copying.
joecass, that Sony SLV HF750 is a great machine. I have 2 of them. The tapes do not do any better in brand new combo machines either. The new machines are not the cheap models either. They are upscale Panasonics.
I'm not trying to make this difficult. Someone has to have run into this problem. I'm not talking about Jammed tapes, tapes with warping, tapes with heat exposure, smoke exposure or tapes that are obviously stuck in some way. I'm talking about clean tapes that exhibit no negative qualities but defy logic by not playing, not forwarding and not rewinding. Each one has made the playing machine to labor severely at best and totally stop at worse. Again, my more precise testing is on my own two tapes, part of a collection of about 600. They are the only ones not working. All of the others have been transferred to dvd or mpgs without incident. The history of my tapes is known and the quality of the cassettes are high.
The client tapes, OTOH, have no controlled history so this did not become a problem to me until it happened to my personal tapes. I am a very logical thinker and I would like to think that I do good research. I don't accept that this is not a solvable situation.. At least, I would like to know that there are others with this EXACT problem that to this point, has no answers. I cannot be the only person out there. If I am, then this is simply human error on my part. I wish I could say that were true. At least that would be an answer!
Take a look at this:
66% humidity is about triple the recommended % and 70 is about 10+ degrees above archival suggestions. Temp is not as important as the humidity.
I'm now convinced you need some baking, barring physical damage as shown in that link.
Lordsmurf, thank you for your input. I don't see how anything I said in my posts would sound similar to that link you posted.
You say baking might cure it? Barring physical damage? There is no physical damage. Did my posts give you an impression of physical abuse? I have tapes that seem fine but don't play, rewind or fast forward. IF one of them plays, it plays okay but at a point, it simply stops dead. 7 tapes. 5 of those tapes each came from different clients. The other two are mine. All 7 do the very exact same thing. The question was "Has anyone experienced THIS problem?" And might there be an answer to it? If this seems similar to the problem in that link, I have not communicated well. I apologize!
And yes, my storage conditions are not ideal. I gave the temp/humidity for clarity of description, not to claim perfection. I cannot afford such a perfect room, however, tapes stored at constant temp/humidity in this range are apparently highly unlikely to be damaged by it. There are about 600 more tapes in that same room that aren't. I am in process of exercising every one of them since I posted this question. So far, I've exercised about 200 of them. So far, none have faltered and have normal playability.
These 7 tapes, all but two from different clients are unique and yet all have the same strange problem. This is the problem I'm searching the answer to. If you still contend that you have the answer above, please tell me so. At every level, ignorance exists. I'm at that level now. Searching for an answer.
Vhs tapes also come in different lengths so this should also be noted
You might try one of those vhs rewinders which also clean the tape ... our local store used to have one before everything went to dvd / blueray
Almost anything anyone could suggest has been dispelled by you saying that the tape itself looks and feels normal, yet still has the problem when spooled onto a new spool and put into a new case.
The nearest I've had is light getting to the "end of tape" sensor, causing the tape to stop prematurely. This can be caused by the machine, the tape, or the case. But it's not accompanied by the sound of the deck struggling, since it has nothing to do with tape tension - so doesn't match your problem.
Originally Posted by tepeco
Food for thought
No one has mentioned the M Load tape tension system....I noticed on my Sony 750, the offending tapes seem to create
unnecesary tension in the loading system, causing the tape to stop dead. It will play a minute or so, then stop again.
There could be many possible reasons for this besides a defective tape..... most people leave their VHS tapes in the totally
rewound position.... as in "Be Kind - Please Rewind". In the audio tape world, this is opposite of what's normally done
with open reel tapes, the tapes are stored in "tails out " position, meaning, playing from the beginning, and stopping the
tape at the end without rewinding. When any kind of tape is rewound to the beginning, the tape itself is not even on the
rewind spool, because of the irregular rewind pattern. Also tapes stored for many years sometimes have a tendency to
stick, as every time a tape is played, some of the oxide layer sheds, which leads to things like print-through.
All of this also affects the tracking signal, which also plays a part in the normal play mode.
The tracking signal tells the machine at what speed to play, e.g., SP, LP or EP
Years ago audio and video tape professionals would always advise fast forwarding and rewinding tapes several times
before attempting normal playback.
I've also seen this peculiar phenomenon with audio cassettes, the stop and go problem for no apparent reason.
I think the problem the OP has is a many-faceted one, a combination of the tapes themselves, and the machines used
to playback the offending tapes. Also tape thickness, such as T-120 or T-180 may play a part.
Personally, I wouldn't drive myself crazy trying to figure out what's wrong..... I would take the problem tapes to a faciltiy which does professional video transfers, and see what they tell you
joecass... The tapes that you mentioned with unnecessary tension in the loading system... did you get them to play or rewind after they stopped working for you? If so, what did you do to make them playable again?
"All of this also affects the tracking signal, which also plays a part in the normal play mode. The tracking signal tells the machine at what speed to play, e.g., SP, LP or EP "
This is one reason I keep a really old 1981 deck -- I can manually specify playback speed for SP, LP or SLP.
Tepeco : I never found a solution as to playing the offensive tapes on the ancient Sony 750. However, last year
I purchased two different DVD Recorder/VHS player combo units, one a Panasonic, the other an LG.
Both of these units will play the problem tapes without a hitch. I do not invest much time in VHS, but last year I
did a lot of VHS to DVD transfers using the Sony, except for these few tapes that would not play. It seemed as
though the Sony could not handle the tension required, and some obvious misalignment in the old tapes' tracking.
I tried cleaning the tape path, the heads, and the stationary tracking and erase heads, it didn't help.
I'm not a rocket scientist, I did some research on VHS on the Internet, seemed like these symptoms were common
with old machines and old tapes. Once I did the VHS to DVD transfers using the new machines, I just got rid of
the tapes, end of story.
You have to remember regardless of the quality of VHS tapes, there are always going to be a few in the manufactured
batch that might not have been cut correctly, or sub-par tape coating or lubrication, leading to particle shedding
or oxidation. As others have mentioned, it might not be visible to the naked eye, but there must be some sort of
defect in these few tapes of yours that refuse to play correctly.
...with open reel tapes, the tapes are stored in "tails out " position,
heres what you do. i've been working on VHS tapes for ever and no what to do. and what you need to do is take out the brake release and those other two things on each side of it out and leave them out. in-fact once takin' out put them in the trash. put the tapes back together and that will end your problem. yes the reels will be very loose but thats ok i've never had a problem with that, ever. give it a try and let me know what happens and how it turns out. this should work it all way has for me.
Thank you for that advice divalover159, I'll give it a try. I got a tape to work last week by exercising the dickens out of it for hours on end. It finally got free. I used an open deck and let a desk lamp warm the tape all day and through the night all week while I would try to rewind and FF as much as possible. Once I got it to go both directions without stopping, I put it in my duping machine and away it went without a hitch. I might add that the recording was exceptionally nice looking. I never thought of taking the brakes out. That can't hurt, huh? Thanks again.
hey no problem. like i said i always do this all the time. never had a problem with it at all. please let me know how it goes.
It's the tape and not the shell. Basically no matter what you do with the shell it won't fix the problem. Baking will fix this problem most of the time which is basically what you did with the lamp but I prefer an oven as it's a lot faster.
Yes, that's true, as the shells have been replaced and brake shoe removed to no avail. It apparently is the tape, however I would have thought that totally re-spooling the tape to new hubs would have aired them out and loosened them sufficiently. They just don't feel like there's enough tension/adhesion to keep the vcr's mechanism from winding them. My homemade tension tests seemed to indicate that there is no tension difference at all. It's like a really good magic trick..... if I didn't see it happening, I would not believe it possible.
I am not 110% sure on this but I think it's the tape compound that has changed. Does the tape feel very dry, almost brittle?
tepeco, Have you found a permanent solution to this problem? I have a dozen tapes with the same issue. It is def the tape sticking to itself causing this. Even with hand rewinding they still jam. Did you try the baking? I have tried that with reel-to-reel audio tape and is has not worked.
I have exactly the same problem with 3 VHS tapes a customer gave me to transfer to DVD. They are all AMPEX 189 T120. I have done all the things that tepeco has done with the same negative results. Quite frankly, I'm stumped. I learned a while ago, when I was dealing with some problem AMPEX UMatic 3/4" cassettes, that AMPEX tape doesn't fare well over time. The main problem, according to my research on problem UMatic cassettes, is sticky shed syndrome. However, these 3 AMPEX VHS tapes show absolutely no sign of this syndrome. I am in the same boat as tepeco - I want to know the cause and the solution.