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02-08-2020, 07:55 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Warning: BASF tapes from the early 80s tend shed oxide.

At the early stages of tape breakdown, the oxide doesn't literally shed off. What happens is it pre-sheds. Physically, the tape appears to have cracks or spiderwebs in the black metallic surface. On playback, the image has massive dropouts, while the audio may be fine or distorted.

When you start captures, you should always check the tape physically, as you don't want to stick a tape with shed or mold (or similar) into an expensive deck. But pre-shedders tend to appear fine. However, after one play, the oxide breaks down.

After some research, I believe pre-shed is actually accelerated due to cold VCR heads, and in colder climates (or colder times of year). This is almost opposite of the fact that hot weather accelerates tape aging. But both are true.

Besides just heating the room to 70-75 degrees (F, a trick I've recently learned is to preheat the VCR. By that I mean you need to get a commercial tape, and let it run for at least an hour. It will heat the deck internals.

With non-cold room, and preheated deck, the VCR will behave long enough to capture the tape. There's still a high likelihood the tape will be entirely screwed after that one play, so DO NOT MESS UP THE CAPTURE! You may find yourself with a ruined tape, impossible to capture.

And BTW, this is precisely why the advice to "FF/REW all tapes before capture" is ignorant.

We recently had a couple client tapes that had 2-3 minutes of footage destroyed because their tapes were horribly degrading, and this is how it was recovered. Both were the first tapes of the day, and cold heads zapped them. I had a personal tape suffer the same fate last year.

BASF is most common to suffer, but it's on the only brand. And while older 80s tapes mostly suffer, not all 80s tapes have this issue (probably 99% do not), and I've seen it a couple times with 90s tapes as well. But especially be careful of 80s BASF tapes! Much like Panasonic caps, or JVC DDs, it seems we're hitting a point where 80s BASF may also be time bombs.

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  #2  
02-09-2020, 05:59 PM
cbehr91 cbehr91 is offline
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Good to know as I have a few BASF tapes from the 90s. Another VHS related timebomb I've experienced not once, but twice recently is the leader tape breaking on Maxell Epitaxial (Hi-Fi and HGX-Gold grades...not junk) tapes from the mid 80s upon rewinding. It's not the end of the world to put a new leader tape on, but it's a troubling trend since I have quite a few of those Maxell tapes.
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02-09-2022, 10:42 PM
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This is becoming more common, so wanted to bump.

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