Yes, this topic really is about gloves. I've seen a few references here and at dFAQ to using lint-free cotton gloves when working with magnetic tape, e.g. for inspection or DIY cleaning methods. It's also mentioned in Canada.ca's "Digitization of VHS Video Tapes" technical bulletin.
This led me to a few brands of cotton gloves sold on Amazon.com and labeled "lint free," but all the ones I found are marketed for formal wear and/or general inspection duties, often mentioning coin inspection. Since none of their descriptions or customer reviews list applications related to film work, I did some more searching.
I wound up looking at Archival Methods Cotton Inspection Gloves, marketed as ideal for "safe handling of photographs, negatives, prints, documents, artwork and all kinds of collectibles." They are not, however, labeled lint-free.
Archival Methods also sells "Nylon Lintless Gloves" which are marketed with the statement that using "lint-free gloves is important when handling prints, film & negatives, transparencies, or artwork that might attract lint from cotton gloves." And so it seems I've finally landed on a product made specifically for this type of work, which is of value to me since there may be other aspects of its design besides simply what material its made of, that will be of use. But none of the resources I've been studying for work with magnetic tape mention nylon gloves—only cotton.
So while this isn't an especially fascinating topic, once upon a time I would have likewise considered VCR selection dull and unimportant. The more I learn about working with VHS tapes, the more I realize the details matter. So, for inspecting, and if necessary cleaning some VHS tape, what would you use? I fully understand the answer may be different for inspection vs cleaning and other uses.
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Videotape is extremely thin and fragile. The only reason to touch the actual tape is if you had to splice it, ideally putting the two cut ends a a new spool and cassette. To inspect a tape, release the reel lock (put something in the small hole under the cassette and push up) and move the reels manually. To clean the tape, there are tape cleaning machines. If the tape is moldy, the only save way to clean is to use a specialized mold removal system as some mold (e.g. black mold) is hazardous when airborne.
A T-120 VHS cassette hold 812ft of tape = ~7ft/minute. There's no way to manually inspect the the entire tape manually.
Edit: Re-reading your post, I see you mention DIY cleaning methods. Even if your gloves are lint free, there's still airborne particles in the air that could land on your glove and be transferred to your tape or cause a scratch and you move the tape through your gloves. I suspect you think that videotape is like audio tape (which is thicker and more durable) where you can touch it without risking major damage.
Last edited by lingyi; 19th Aug 2019 at 20:03.
Thank you lingyi, that basically reinforces my understanding so far. I was already seriously questioning how feasible some of those DIY cleaning methods (e.g. some mentioned in "How do you clean video tapes?") are—a TapeChek seems totally worth the four or five digit price when you think about the time involved otherwise. And for a while I'll only be digitizing tapes that are already clean and in good order. With that said, it seems prudent to learn what I can now about cleaning and repairs, so I can assess problems and handle tapes better. And at some point I imagine I am going to want to do some splicing and simple repairs.
With that said, you brought up exactly what I was going to mention next: airborne contaminants. Both the need to contain those that could come out of the tapes during cleaning, and to protect the tape itself from those in the working environment. I don't know if any protection from either is afforded by machines like the TapeChek, but imagine a clean room or at least clean air enclosure (I use one for HDD repairs) is indicated for the best results. At the moment this is academic for me—even if I ever decide to pursue that level of VHS work, it'll be a long time from now.
But I would still like to hear more about the proper gloves for general tape work (e.g. for inspection, splicing, and other simple repairs), as well as for regular VCR maintenance.
I've repaired hundreds of vhs/beta tapes and machines and never wore gloves,they would do more damage handling tapes,the only part of tapes i touched was the parts that were going to be cut off,with vhs/beta and similar machines gloves are never needed for doing anything.I think,therefore i am a hamster.
I don't understand what you mean by inspection. The only section of tape you usually see if the one when you open the door. The rest of the tape is safely on the reels which you can inspect by looking trough the cassette windows. If you see mold, it's needs to be cleaned by a specialty professional machine.
As I stated above, if you have to cut a tape, put the cut end of a new reel. You never want to run a spliced section of tape through your VCR. Ican clog your heads because of the loose oxide at the splice and potentially damage the video heads if the the splice or the splicing tape touches them.
Wearing gloves isn't necessary for cassette repairs, because again, the only tape that's exposed is the ~10" that's behind the door and hanging off the reels.
In your link, you're looking at the posts about DIY solutions, but ignore the advice of lordsmurf:
"How do you clean tapes? You don't. It's beyond your means.
Send it to a service using one of these: http://www.rtico.com/tapechek/tc400.html
Those run about $10k."
As for VCR maintenance, the only thing that you would touch with your finger(s) is the top of the head drum to rotate the videoheads while cleaning. You could wear gloves to prevent your finger oil getting on it, but it's not like it has any affect of the operation of the machine. Everything else, audio and control heads are cleaned with a chamois tipped stick. And any lint or dust that may be transferred by a glove is nothing compared to the lint and dust that passes through the machine during normal use, or just sitting there.
Bottom line. You're over thinking things. Concentrate your time and money on getting the proper hardware and software to get a good transfer.
Edit: Unlike HDDs whose platters work in a near airtight (or in the case of helium drives, sealed) environment, videotapes, vcrs and tape cleaning machines work in normal atmosphere conditions, full of dust and lint.
Just remembered. Sony used to offer free Betamax cleaning clinics at a local department store. Not only did the techs not wear gloves, but everything was done on an open table in the electronics department. Also, if you took your machine in for repairs, the techs would bring you to the workroom (again no gloves) and show you the scopes and monitors they were using to show you what was wrong with your machine before repairs.
In 1970 I got a job with Burroughs (the adding machine company!). They were just getting into electronics. Where I worked, all they made were (bare) printed circuit boards which we shipped all over. Anyways, NO ONE could touch a board without wearing dust/lint free silk gloves. Cheap ones, but silk non the less.
FWIWCranky Old Man