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Old 18th October 2017, 21:01   #1  |  Link
I hate analog
Join Date: Sep 2015
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Cleaning Analog Gear Before Transfer - VHS, VCR, Hi8, MiniDV

I have read this guide on cleaning VCRs, but I have a few questions.

1) Are there any signs or symptoms that a playback device needs cleaning? How often should I clean it or how will I know it needs cleaning?

2) Anything specific to other tape formats like Hi8 or MiniDV?

3) Anything I should look out for when cleaning a camcorder as opposed to a VCR? The parts are smaller and seem easier to break, so I need some reassurance before I crack it open and fuss something up.
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Old 23rd October 2017, 19:29   #2  |  Link
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1a) Nonstationary drop-outs will tell, i.e. while playing tape back, faults will appear at different places.
Your eyes will tell. Open the lid and inspect pinch roller, tape guides, heads.
Often tiny pieces of coating can be removed dry with a vacuum and a previously cleaned and perfectly rinsed badger hair brush.
Still the tape maybe dirty and introduce dirt back onto heads, gaps, guides, capstan and rollers. See below.

1b) Humidity, smoker's aerosol and the tape coating will decide.
Under clean conditions one may have to clean heads and tape guides once every 100 hours or every 2 years, whatever comes first.
Under dirty conditions cleaning becomes necessary much more often and if tape coating starts to disintegrate after 30-40 years
(very familiar with 1/4 inch tapes now): well then you will be cursing for how often cleaning becomes necessary.
I suggest to capture rather sooner than later.

2) I have dry-and wet-cleaned many hundreds of Super8 film meters and 1/4 inch tape with success,
dared to dry and wet-clean a few meters of VHS tapes with success,
and finally dry-cleaned a few centimeters of miniDV: uh-oh ! (7Ám thickness for a DV-60, 5,3Ám thickness for a DV-80).
I tried that once to remove a tiny fat/glue blotch and succeeded somehow, but I am reluctant to suggest this for such thin tape.

3) Indeed. These parts are smaller and unobtainium now.
No reassurance, but one guy has to do it...
In most cases you will have to unmount the cassette lid and carve a wooden tool to reach the tape guides.
Good tools, lots of light, cleanliness and patience. A service manual.
I would suggest a piece of microfibre cloth with velvety or leathery touch, no fabric.
A very clean Isopropyl from your pharmacist.
Very low pressure, only gently touching the heads while rotating them.
"To bypass shortcuts and find suffering...is called QUALity" (Die toten Augen von Friedrichshain)
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Last edited by Emulgator; 23rd October 2017 at 19:36.
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