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02-25-2016, 09:27 AM
AdamEurope AdamEurope is offline
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My question is: how often do you have to clean your S-VHS VCR's heads today?

My case:
- a clean S-VHS VCR (after big manual cleaning/wet cleaning + delicate wet-cleaning cassete);
- brand new original S-VHS tapes!!!;
- at the beginning the recorded image is good;
- after 8 hours of S-VHS EP (SLP) recording VCR shows some comet-tails when playing;
- after 16 hours of S-VHS EP (SLP) recording VCR is unable to play the recorded tape (static/TV snow), TBC won't help. (But this is NOT the same issue as with my NV-HS960. NV-HS930 sees that tape is recorded in EP)

Manual cleaning or using cleaning cassete causes that VCR can play S-VHS EP, but after approx. 16 hours of recording it needs another cleaning. There are no difference between manual cleaning and using cleaning cassete.

Recorded tape is playable after head cleaning, but shows some horizontal black-white comet-tails (I can live with it, anyway).

Internal VCR auto-cleaning mechanism is detached, because it was dirty as hell.

I am curious, why do I need to do it so often? I read that VHS heads cleaning is needed every month of usage, not everyday.
1. Is it normal to clean VCR every 16 hours of EP recording?
2. Is it a sign of worn-out heads?
3. Are those tapes such deteriorated today?
4. OR maybe is it a sign of bad capacitors in head amplifier board or Y/C boards or PSU or temperature problem?

Last edited by AdamEurope; 02-25-2016 at 09:42 AM.
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02-26-2016, 06:15 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Every 16 hours of operation (recording and playback combined) sounds more often than I would expect. I would expect more like every 100 hours or so under "normal" conditions.

However, it will depend on the condition and quality of the tape used, the history of the VCR and its condition, and the environment in which the VCR is used. Old tape stock and tape stored under less than ideal conditions can sluff off material that can clog heads. The VCR may contain crud and corruption that moves about that a typical head cleaning will not get. And a defective VCR can damage a tape to the point that will cause issues in another machine (a bit like playing record using a damaged stylus can ruin the record.)

If the condition is specific to one machine, suspect the machine. If specific to some tapes, suspect the tape/tape stock.
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02-29-2016, 06:57 AM
AdamEurope AdamEurope is offline
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I did another manual clean and there were many tiny particles on heads and on the bottom.
I am using brand new S-VHS tapes. Tape made in Germany.
Maybe the first time is the dirtiest?
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03-01-2016, 06:10 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Some folks would wind/rewind a new tape first to even out tensions and allow trapped particles from manufacturing to fall out before the tape is wrapped around the heads.

Sounds like the system needs more than a head and guide cleaning. Some gentle compressed air and a thorough vacuum may be in order.
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03-01-2016, 08:00 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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I changed the post title for brevity. You originally asked about head cleaning "in 2016". But I wanted to mention that head cleaning has no changed over time. Whether it was 1986 or 2016, dirt is dirt, grime is grime. Time takes a toll, and owns no calendar.

At most, in 1986, admittedly I'd have done a really crappy job of cleaning. But with quality VCRs being rarer now, I'd for sure take care of it. I'd not neglect it now.

16 hours is bad. Not just overkill, but bad. You'll long-term cause problems.

Comets (magnetic dropouts) is a confounding error. It's usually sign that the tapes are dropping debris on the heads, or that the tape is in poor shape. Or both. Sadly, in that case, yes, you'd need to clean it more often.

Magnetism is often talked about, but nothing concrete is proven. It's my belief that certain decks actually pull more debris from tapes, due to the magnetism of the head. So some here are apt to demagnetize their decks from time to time. The interval differs from user to user.

The static charge of the air in your home/office may be at fault too. It's still heater season in many places. That means lots of static in the air.

It will just take some time, patience, and a good process of elimination to find the problem. But hopefully this gives you a lead.

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#svhs #head #cleaning

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