25 years old cassettes unusable?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Vinny123, Nov 26, 2021.

  1. Vinny123

    Vinny123 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Florida
    A couple of months ago I found an Onkyo double cassette deck at a thrift store. $10 and in really mint condition. I have several sealed, unused and stored at room temperature metal cassettes, Realistic/ Radio Shack and Maxell. They have to be somewhere between 20-25 years old. I meticulously cleaned and demagnetized the deck and treated the rollers w rubber restorer. I played one prerecorded cassette that I picked up and it played fine. I even recorded onto a cheap type one tape w no problems. When I tried two sealed Maxell and two sealed Realistic metal tapes the deck kept shutting down and what recorded was warbled. Examination of the tapes showed ripples and waves on the tapes themselves. I’ve purchased some Maxell types 2’s off EBay. These type 2’s have to be around the same age as the metal tapes that I’ve had to trash. Should I expect even sealed nos cassettes to be prone to rippling, waving, etc? Are metal tapes more apt to deteriorate over time? I wouldn’t mind fooling w the deck and making a few mix tapes, but the prospects don’t look great. Any thoughts appreciated!
     
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  2. nosticker

    nosticker Forum Guy

    Location:
    Ringwood, NJ
    I'd suspect that your machine is damaging the tapes. Had one brand done it, I'd blame it on a bad run of tapes, but that both of them were messed up suggests a tape path problem--or perhaps why that deck was abandoned in the first place.



    Dan
     
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  3. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    With tapes it depends how they were stored over the years. You have no idea about any of that with eBay tapes. Some higher grade tapes (anything better than type 1) can become "sticky" over time. Sometimes winding the tape back and forth completely a couple of times will make it usable. If not, not much you can do.

    As for the tape deck, if it hasn't been serviced all bets are off. Old tape decks are very finicky and most need work to perform properly.
     
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  4. Vinny123

    Vinny123 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Florida
    Agree re the deck. Oddly, it seems fine.
     
  5. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    Sometimes a freshly cleaned tape head can cause a squealing or chattering known as "scrape flutter" as a tape is being played. They used to sell silicone-based tape head lubricant to help prevent this, or you can try the DIY approach of simply rubbing your finger across the tape head, and the little bit of oil from your skin is enough to lubricate it and prevent the squealing.
     
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  6. MassHysteria

    MassHysteria Music Lover

    Location:
    Minnesota
    Another rule of thumb is to always fast forward and rewind the tape through once or twice before playing it the first time.
     
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  7. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ.
    Aye, but you can't tell by just looking at it sadly. I have 40-yr old tapes, NOS, that will blow you away on my decks.

    [​IMG]

    If you like the deck, get it serviced, transport stripped and rebuilt, caps replaced, rubber refreshed or replaced. Then you're golden.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
  8. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    South Plymouth, Ma
    Yes and check the center pad, making sure it's there and didn't fall off from age.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Vinny123

    Vinny123 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Florida
    I’m thinking that the deck is ok because I’ve played prerecorded tapes that sound pretty good.
     
  10. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Model #?
     
  11. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ.
    Really wouldn't hurt to get it inspected. Mechanical items of that age and complexity need all the love they can get. Your call.
     
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  12. MassHysteria

    MassHysteria Music Lover

    Location:
    Minnesota
    Sounds like it could possibly be a worn pinch roller. I’ve had decks with a worn roller do the same thing with different types of tapes.
     
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  13. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy Forget Scientific & Enjoy the Music

    Location:
    Northwest, USA
    When it comes to the cassette tape itself,, yes I have seen that symptom. Improper storing of tapes will do that. Out of 100 brand new blanks tapes I record, I get atleast 5 to 7 of those. It also works (just like one of the member says here) sometimes if you fully fast forward and rewind it to relieve the tensions and slack. But honestly once that ripple is there (which occurs mostly in the beginning and the end of the tape) In my early days I cut the rippled part and set it back on the reel. But today when I encounter something like that, I stop the recording, toss it away and put another new tape and works fine.
    If sill doing it, No harm what @jusbe said, just fix it or get it fixed in and out. But either or and to run it smoothly, youll still have to do the work for they are 30+ years old.
     
  14. shadowlord

    shadowlord Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austria
    Try to turn the tape hubs by hand with a pencil, if they turn without much resistance the tape is probably fine.
    My bet is on hardened / glazed pinch rollers.
     
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  15. Dennis Metz

    Dennis Metz Born In A Motor City south of Detroit

    Location:
    Fonthill, Ontario
    Playing this one 30 years after buying it
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    Or slathering random gook on the rubber drive components...
     
  17. McLover

    McLover Senior Member

    Location:
    Athens, Tennessee
    I have TDK and Maxell that old, which give no trouble, and reliable on known good machines. Agree with you. Now post 1988 TDK SA is another story, railroad prone.
     
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  18. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ.
    Yup. Generally I have avoided TDK from the 1990s onwards. They're not all bad, but they are hard work and risky business finding sources that were stored well given their more fragile nature. Before that, they're just fantastic and a reassuringly high quality experience.

    These Ds in the photo BTW, feel like precision items. It's surprising how well made they feel. Even more so, given their age.
     
  19. McLover

    McLover Senior Member

    Location:
    Athens, Tennessee
    TDK D from that era, never let me down or gave any issues. Those were reliable, well made cassettes, which were workhorses, and performed superbly for Type 1.
     
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  20. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    @Vinny123
    Maxell tapes have arguably been about the best of any in terms of longevity. Realistic tape is a craps shoot though since tapes with this brand name were made by many different manufacturers from Tandy to Memorex, to Maxell, to Ampex, etc, depending on the specific tape-line and the year of production (all of these changed over time).

    If NOS Maxells are being eaten, I would suspect the machine first, not the tapes. Belts and idlers inside of tape transports don't last forever, and most cassette decks are approaching 40 years old today.
     
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  21. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex UK
    Could the tapes you brought off ebay be fake?
     
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  22. qwerty

    qwerty A resident of the SH_Forums.

    If it's only occurring with specific tapes, I would tend to blame the individual tape. Back in the cassette heyday, if a tape wasn't travelling well I would hold each side of the cassette and give it a strong twist in each direction, not worrying if I heard a crack (no cassettes were damaged). Then a complete fast forward and rewind to re-spool the tape. If a specific tape still didn't travel well, I would discard the tape (or if it was a pre-recorded tape, I might also try transplanting the tape into another cassette housing). There were good and bad batches of tapes produced and sold, I recall a batch of BASF cassettes that shed oxide so badly that I needed to clean the heads several times during the playing of a side of the tape. Poor storage and treatments of tapes can also produce problems. Spilled cans of drink certainly caused playback problems for many cassettes for obvious reasons.

    Magnetic tape has been made with different formulations over the years. Unfortunately, a popular manufacturing formula unknowingly at the time resulted in the tape chemically degrading over time, this is what is referred to as "sticky tape" syndrome. The degraded polymers form an adhesive sticky property. Sometimes unspooling the tape will result in oxide being removed from the tape. Studio mastering tape affected in this way is "baked" - heated in an oven, which can enable the tape to restore to functionality (at least for a limited time, good enough to make a copy of historic recordings). This can be done with cassette tapes with sticky syndrome, but it's often not worth the trouble.
     
  23. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    I still have a bunch of mix tapes I made in 1982...they still play. Plus a bunch of blanks.
     
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  24. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    no guarantees on anything ebay! It's always a crap shoot unless you are familiar with the seller...that's a strong possibility China knockoff?
     
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  25. A Grain of Sand

    A Grain of Sand Forum Resident

    Location:
    Riverside, CA
    Howard Stern said he recorded a bunch of his early shows on cassette. He said he baked the tapes in an oven to restore them. He did not say if this worked so I wouldn’t try it. He did not give a time and temperature. It sounds like a recipe for disaster but it was fun to listen to.
     
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