I'm trying to use an old JVC HR-J755EK VHS player but when I insert a cassette the machine tries to load it, then ejects it but the tape gets caught up in the mechanism, so that when I pull the cassette out there is tape still inside the player. I can pull it hard to release the tape but obviously that damages the tape.
Is this something that might be self-fixable?
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One of the most common VCR breakdowns across all brands/models. I don't personally believe in DIY VCR repairs, but many here do, so someone may chime in with specific advice. My own long experience with various JVC models would prompt me to have it professionally serviced/adjusted vs DIY attempts: JVCs tend to be rather more twitchy and persnickety than Panasonic etc. You have a fairly wide margin for error if you goof poking around in some brands, but JVC isn't one of them.
Most likely you have a worn or broken or stuck drive belt, gear or brake.
I agree with orsetto, this kind of breakdowns are not DIY repair, but DIY skills vary from one person to another so this is up to you, The first thing you will have to do is get a service manual for your model.
It depends on the design, if the VCR uses the capstan motor to drive the mechanism cam gear then it could be a simple drive belt, The second possibility is the mode switch, it gets dirty, wears out and looses contacts that tells the VCR which position the mechanism is in, If the VCR doesn't get that information it automatically ejects the tape, It's part of the design and its written in the firmware of the system control chip.
Sending it to a repair facility is not easy or cheap like it use to be, It costs hundreds of dollars in shipping and labor and few months of waiting time as those facilities are back logged. Unless the VCR has a sentimental value to you or a collectible item, the easiest way is to just buy another VCR and move on.
Remove the bottom plate to see if the belt came off or broke.I think,therefore i am a hamster.