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8 Track Cartridge Tapes
What do I need to know to use / repair them?
Question:©What are 8 Track cartridsges
Answer: A cartridge that encloses a tape loop that plays because looped endlessly. While 8 Track tape is the same width than open reel tape for reel to reel tape recorders, it's track assignments are different: There are 8 tracks running in the same direction, where only 2 of the 8 tracks are accessed by stereo recorders at one time, playing one of the 4 available "programs". The playback head of the player can be advanced to the next pair of tracks or the next "program" by pushing the "program" button on the player. Once the tape loop plays all the way through, there is a piece of alluminum foil on the tpae that "tells" the player to advance to the next program. The total play time of all programs thus is 4 times the length of the tape loop. Advanced player designs allow to automatically stop the player after the last program has played, but the nature of 8 Track is to play cylclic and if not stopped endless. ©2008 ultraelectronicactiv.com
Question:©What do I need to know to play 8 Track cartridges so that I get the maxium life from my player.?
Answer: My suggestion would be to examine each and every tape cartridge before using it. The reason: Many 8 track tapes have a foam pad behind the tape where the tape touches the playback head. Due to age this foam pad de-composes into a gooey sticky substance. If such a tape would be played on known to be good player, it would contaminate the deck as the gooey substance will get onto the playback head and it will prevent the tape form travelling - in other words: the tape would not play right, but even worse then can contaminate other good tapes. In order to correct the contamination problem, one would need to dispose of any of the contaminated tapes, and take the deck apart to quite some depth and clean it out (electronics repair work - $50 minimum)
To test tapes: with a finger press the tape towards the inside of the tape -
cartridge against the foam pad. If it fully bounces back, then the cartridge is good. If not, the cartridge is bad and should not be played. Various degrees of degradation: foam first becomes soft, possibly brittle (breaks down into particles which can contaminate the tape), then gooey. All are a problem. Tapes that are found to be "no good" can be "repaired" by carefully removing all of the foam pad. Careful not to contaminate any of the tape while removing the pad! Possibly pull the tape somewhat out of the cartridge. (It can carefully be worked in again) Most tapes play fine without the foam pad.
Question:©What other problems can occur with 8 track cartridges?
Answer: Another common problem to 8 track tapes: the tape is a loop that is glued together with a piece of aluminum covered piece of splicing tape. The glue dries out. Once the tape reaches the end of the loop it will snap apart as the glue no longer hods the tape together. Such tape cartridges would need to be opened to be repaired and spliced back together with a splicing block and the appropriate electrically conductive splicing tape. In rare occasions I have tape splicing blocks and repair tape available for sale, but always could try to repair your tapes at my regular shop rate. And for treasured cartridges that are worth the money spent repairing, I offer tape cartridge repair services.
Question:©How to repair broken cartridges when I do not have the needed conductive splicing tape?
Answer: Assuming that you have what it takes to splice the open tape loop back together: If needing the piece of conductive splicing tape to trigger track advancement: after having spliced the tape loop back together carefully glue a full width very thin piece of aluminum foil onto the tape surface with a very small amount of rubber cement type glue. Use a rubber roller to flatten the aluminum perfectly, while the glue still is soft. Carefully clean off all contaminants form the tape when all done and lubricate the aluminum foil with silicone liquid or tape lubrication liquid. This technique requires practice, so do a few junk tapes first. . 2008 ultraelectronicactiv.com
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