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  #1  
11-18-2020, 01:12 AM
Rad Video Rad Video is offline
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Hello!

I have been collecting rare and weird VHS tapes for over 20 years, almost entirely from the 1980ís. I was obsessed around the time the independent video stores went out of business, and my collection ballooned to around 2500 tapes, a large number of them now rare and out of print. After I got married and started a family, my collection made its way slowly into boxes to sit in a series of basements and storage units until finally coming to rest in our current home.

Iíve decided to begin finally selling my more valuable tapes and so, Iíve been brought out the old gear (Sharp XA-905 Professional Series) and started testing. Rewinding, fast forwarding, and generally beating around these tapes for the afternoon has been shocking in just how unbelievably dirty they are inside. Iíve found little piles of dust around the tape path inside the machine, Iíve cleaned black dots off the head, the tapes even look dirty inside the cassette. I can see dust and dirt on the tape as it plays. The majority of these tapes havenít been played through in 20 years, and many havenít been played in 35 years, being that no one with any sense would watch the film anyway. While the equipment is getting dirty very fast, after some kicking around most of these tapes are playing quite well in three different VCRs, although a couple tapes have been rejected and donít seem to play anymore.

So here is my challenge: what can be done to improve this process? I can clean the surfaces that get dirty inside the machine, I can vacuum out dust, but is there any folk wisdom or tips from old pros that could help me? Is there conventional wisdom about playing old tapes that havenít been played for a long time?

Pretend youíre me. Some of these trashy old big box horror movies sell for $100, Iím obligated to make sure that tape rewinds, fast forwards, and plays all the way through before I sell it. If you were me, would you buy a separate rewinder or VCR and fast forward/ rewind each tape 10 times before playing in the best VCR to test audio / video? Would you just play all the way to the end in the best VCR, and then rewind normally? Would you hold a q-tip or a microfiber against the tape as it rewound? Opening the cassettes to clean them isnít practical, most have tamperproof seals on the edges. Is there a common sense way to clean up this process, some 1980s rental store secret, or video archivist hack?

Thanks for any and all input on my problem, I appreciate any help I can get.
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  #2  
11-18-2020, 02:55 AM
latreche34 latreche34 is online now
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For the amount of work you are going to do ask yourself a question, Is it worth spending half hour or so for each tape? (1000 tapes is about 2 months based on 8 hrs a day), If I really was you I just wipe out the outside for a quick picture, list it and move to the next one, If the buyer complains give'm a refund after you get the tape back, Then you can work only on the few returned tapes and figure out what's wrong with them. Media mail is very cheap, so paying round trip for returns is not a big deal, Kind of like having the buyers do the sorting work for you with an extra postal fee.
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11-18-2020, 07:54 PM
Formica Formica is offline
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Are you sure this dirt is not mold?
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11-18-2020, 08:04 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Do you have a clean studio release of "Song of the South" in there?

A few thoughts.

1. Prioritize - work the tapes you most want to sell (e.g., most money coming back) first.

2. Set aside any suspect tapes for working on later. If a tape falls apart, clean up and abandon it.

3. No need to FF/REW the tape several times. But one run through spot checking the play (sampling) several times to be sure it does work is good for anything you plan to sell.

4. Make sure your listing is accurate - tell whether or not the tape has played OK recently and how it was tested before sale or is offered "as is". (Don't be like many VCR listers claiming thing work when all that works is the pilot light.)

5. No need for a special rewinder, you can use a VCR that works, but test first with an unimportant e.g., blank) tape.

6. Keep the VCR's clean and free of dust. Gentle vacuuming, proper head cleaning

7. If you need to open or replace a shell make copies of the spine and face label first, print on new label material for reinstallation, and list the cassette as repaired if that is the case.

And content is king, the media only for museum collectors interest in the physical thing, not the video itself. Thus important stuff should be captured and archived for future reference.
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  #5  
11-21-2020, 01:03 AM
Rad Video Rad Video is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formica View Post
Are you sure this dirt is not mold?
It could definitely be mold in some cases, the tapes have been more or less unsupervised for 10 years. Lots of white dust along the tape path when playing some of the tapes.

How does that change things, are there different ways to clean when following mold through the tape path? All my gear is stored in warm, dry areas, it should be safe from any mold growth.
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  #6  
11-21-2020, 01:32 AM
Formica Formica is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rad Video View Post
It could definitely be mold in some cases, the tapes have been more or less unsupervised for 10 years. Lots of white dust along the tape path when playing some of the tapes.

How does that change things, are there different ways to clean when following mold through the tape path? All my gear is stored in warm, dry areas, it should be safe from any mold growth.
The mold can form inside the tape cases. There are plenty of guides to dealing with moldy tapes here. The imprtant thing is that you shouldn't be playing them in that condition, because it seeds mold into the machine and clogs up the heads.
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