I have a box of old VHS-C tapes to transfer for my father. They play fine, and seem to have mostly been stored well, but a significant number of the tapes have an issue with the exposed gear spindle. I suppose because of the pressure applied to the gear, along with age, those spindles have actually snapped out of place. The gear can easily be pushed into the cassette, where any playback device would be unable to reach it. It is loose in the housing, rendering it unplayable despite the presumably fine condition of the actual tape.
It's clear my only course of action here is to crack the shells open and try to either fix the shell, at least long enough to capture the tapes, or go through the process of moving the spools to a different housing entirely. Perhaps I could thread multiple spools from broken shells into one normal sized VHS shell? Not sure what my options are here, and I don't know if this is something that is common.