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04-13-2024, 07:13 PM
tomrog tomrog is online now
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One of my old standard VHS tapes is one of those extra-long ones, T-160, I think? In both of the regular VHS machines I've tried it in, it seems to kind of drag, for lack of a better word. I've run it backwards and forwards a couple of times in a standalone tape rewinder, but I don't know if it really made a difference. It sounds like the VCR is straining to play it, and the tearing seems particularly stubborn to any attempt to clear it up with tracking. I haven't tried it in either SVHS deck yet; kind of scared to, honestly! I worry best case, the tape will snap, and worst case, it will break the deck!

Anyway, I was wondering if there was any hope for it, whether it gets run through the rewinder a few times or maybe just played through on the VCR. But might that cause the tape to physically stretch out? Of course, everything on there was recorded in EP, so that probably doesn't help. I think there's really only one show worth saving, so maybe I can cue it to that show in the regular vcr, transfer it to the svhs deck, capture while crossing my fingers, then be done!
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04-13-2024, 07:51 PM
BarryTheCrab BarryTheCrab is offline
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Try a new shell.
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04-13-2024, 08:21 PM
aramkolt aramkolt is offline
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I've heard it doesn't cause any harm just loosen the screws in the cassette by just enough for the shell to start to separate which is probably good enough to get the transfer. Re-casing also is a good option if you have the shells for it.
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04-14-2024, 12:05 AM
Gary34 Gary34 is offline
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Is it the same issue that I had a little while ago? https://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/vid...ette-play.html
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04-15-2024, 03:41 AM
tomrog tomrog is online now
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(I thought I replied to this already...maybe I imagined it!)

Anyway, the tape hasn't broken, not yet anyway. I've loosened a couple of screws, but the final 3 have decided they don't want to budge, leaving me red, raw palms from fighting them and the screwdrivers. I'm trying to avoid stripping them in the process. I don't imagine using WD-40 would be a good idea!

I've got a couple of tapes that HAVE snapped, so maybe I'll just add it to that pile and put it off till later, whenever I decide to tackle those.
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04-15-2024, 04:41 AM
BarryTheCrab BarryTheCrab is offline
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Link isn’t working. Fixed! -LS
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04-15-2024, 01:04 PM
7jlong 7jlong is offline
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Controversial and likely to result in a sniff of disapproval from some quarters, I get it, but - I had three tapes in an 80-tape set that exhibited the same symptoms. Reels would turn, kind of, but visibly would rather not. After a lot of reading, I settled on baking. One was a Maxell, two were mystery tapes in generic green sleeves, 1996. Storage not ideal but not horrible, humidity very likely a repeated issue during each of the last 27 summers.

8 hours each at 135 degrees Fahrenheit, and all three are now happy and transferred.

Like I said: controversial. YMMV. I fully understand "there's no reason VHS should do that" or whatever else might get thrown at the idea. All I can say is: it worked, and three sluggish tapes that would limp along until they were rejected by three different decks are all now in the can (and no squeaking or howling from the reels). Coincidence? I doubt it.
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04-15-2024, 01:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7jlong View Post
Controversial and likely to result in a sniff of disapproval from some quarters, I get it, but - I had three tapes in an 80-tape set that exhibited the same symptoms. Reels would turn, kind of, but visibly would rather not. After a lot of reading, I settled on baking. One was a Maxell, two were mystery tapes in generic green sleeves, 1996. Storage not ideal but not horrible, humidity very likely a repeated issue during each of the last 27 summers.

8 hours each at 135 degrees Fahrenheit, and all three are now happy and transferred.

Like I said: controversial. YMMV. I fully understand "there's no reason VHS should do that" or whatever else might get thrown at the idea. All I can say is: it worked, and three sluggish tapes that would limp along until they were rejected by three different decks are all now in the can (and no squeaking or howling from the reels). Coincidence? I doubt it.
Baking is known science, nothing controversial here. But it needs to be done in clean dedicated ovens for baking tapes, not the home oven used to make pizza and cookies. Contaminants.

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  #9  
04-15-2024, 08:01 PM
timtape timtape is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7jlong View Post
Controversial and likely to result in a sniff of disapproval from some quarters, I get it, but - I had three tapes in an 80-tape set that exhibited the same symptoms. Reels would turn, kind of, but visibly would rather not. After a lot of reading, I settled on baking. One was a Maxell, two were mystery tapes in generic green sleeves, 1996. Storage not ideal but not horrible, humidity very likely a repeated issue during each of the last 27 summers.

8 hours each at 135 degrees Fahrenheit, and all three are now happy and transferred.

Like I said: controversial. YMMV. I fully understand "there's no reason VHS should do that" or whatever else might get thrown at the idea. All I can say is: it worked, and three sluggish tapes that would limp along until they were rejected by three different decks are all now in the can (and no squeaking or howling from the reels). Coincidence? I doubt it.
Speaking of magnetic tapes generally, proper baking of certain tapes is a practical and proven technique though hardly ideal. But only on certain tapes. Some tapes should never be baked. Baking (of certain SSS affected tapes) does not solve other issues like a tape contaminated with dirt (the dirt must be cleaned off), oil or grease (the oil or grease must be cleaned off) or mould (the mould must be cleaned off) etc.

Generally, "Sticky Shed Syndrome" first manifests itself in playback as loss of signal and squealing. Only after further playing does the tape start to slow down, sometimes completely stopping and even snapping. My first example of a stretched and snapped tape was last year. It came to me on two reels after the owner had snapped it. The tape was a well known SSS prone 1/4" audio tape, and in this case a studio master tape. I wouldnt even think of playing or winding such a tape since it's already known to have SSS. Always we bake such a tape first and only then unwind or play.

From this distance and not having access to your tapes to check them, it's impossible for any of us to be sure what went on in your case. "Sticky Shed Syndrome" was common in many open reel audio tapes and some professional video tapes such as UMatic and Betacam. But not common with VHS tapes AFAIK. I've not seen one. I havent found much clear information after Googling "VHS tapes Sticky Shed Syndrome".

There are online lists of audio format tapes requiring different treatments and precautions but I've never seen a similar list for various brands and types of consumer VHS and Betamax tapes. I'm still looking.

Last edited by timtape; 04-15-2024 at 08:57 PM.
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04-15-2024, 09:30 PM
7jlong 7jlong is offline
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I mentioned baking because the OP’s symptoms were familiar, and baking as even a remote possibility had not come up yet (unless I missed it). As was brought up above, the resources and info for video tape baking are not as extensive as for audio, and so I was simply offering some small anecdotal evidence that (3) VHS tapes in my possession were reluctant to turn before baking, fine after. I’ll say again: feel free to take it as anecdotal only. Yes, I get that others find sticky shed in VHS questionable and/or rare, as I implied in my post above.

Will it work for the OP? Should they even try? No idea. Just grist for the mill.

As for the other points made, I guess I thought it was obvious around these parts, but: Of course do your own thorough research before attempting a new method, as I mentioned. Of course do not use a domestic oven. Any good article on tape baking stresses this rather quickly.
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04-15-2024, 10:30 PM
timtape timtape is offline
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Thanks for the qualification.

You mentioned humidity. Playing tapes in a somewhat humid environment (humid for both tape and player) is another factor in increasing tape drag, especially at the large video drum but really the entire tape path.

Unlike audio cassettes and machines, VCR's with their rotating drums have long had an internal "dew warning sensor" feature which is designed to prevent the tape from playing or winding if a certain level of moisture inside the machine is exceeded. Enough moisture on the tape or drum can be enough to act like an instant brake, locking the fast spinning drum to the tape and possibly causing tape and machine damage. Perhaps different tapes have different levels of basic friction which up to a certain level of humidity doesnt cause obvious problems, but above a certain humidity, some tapes may increase in friction drag before others do. Perhaps the baking in your case was enough to at least temporarily lower the humidity at the tape surface as it passed over the tape path. I'm just speculating here.

On the day you played those three tapes, were they played under the same conditions, having come from the same storage conditions? Did you play any of the other tapes at the same time, their having also come from the same storage conditions, both short and long term? It just seems odd that the three tapes with drag problems werent all the same brand and type. I'm trying to find a factor common to those three tapes.

Last edited by timtape; 04-15-2024 at 10:42 PM.
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04-16-2024, 08:56 AM
7jlong 7jlong is offline
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I mentioned humidity in describing how they were stored (which I had no control over), not capturing conditions. Thanks for the detailed description, but I am intimately familiar with the impact of humidity, having spent some fleeting time in the early 90s working on my Great American Novel which was to be titled: Why Editing Bays Should Not Be Installed In Turn Of The Century Industrial Boston Basements... but my agent thought the title was a little unwieldy. Maybe someday. In the meantime I learned to keep a hygrometer near my gear and behave accordingly, and to store my own videotapes in the most climate-controlled room in the house. Cheers.

I did not play all three tapes on the same day, but in the same season, late winter last year (when things are most dry in New England, and yes that was deliberate). As I bumped into the problem tapes, I put them aside to keep the rest moving. To sort it out I read up on every sluggish-reel possibility I could find (including warped/tight shells, investigated, didn't seem to be the problem on mine). I was not necessarily surprised that the two mystery-brand tapes were having an issue, but indeed, the Maxell surprised me. Videographer replaced most sleeves with the generic green cardboard, so I don't have much else to offer except perhaps the reel flange style, if anyone's good at interpreting those.

Summer arrived and I put capture aside as I am not a transfer business, the project I'm working on is a donation with a soft deadline, and as we've established I am aware of and did not want the humidity variable. As winter approached, the air dried up, my editing/burning/encoding on the other 77 tapes came to an end, I did more and more reading and research, and decided to give it a go. Checked again on two VCRs first, still sluggish. Baked one tape for 8 hours at 135 degrees during the day (yes in a respected dehydrator that I myself checked obsessively when I received it, yes with a separate probe that I threaded into the trays - and absolutely not in my (admittedly iffy) domestic oven alongside my cookies). I let it settle overnight, and tried it first thing in the morning. Done.

Tape two, same. Baked that day, captured next morning. And tape three. No, I did not go back to any of the other tapes from the set on the very same day, they were already done and so there was no need. However, I have since gone back to two of the non-problematic tapes to recapture as the first try showed room for improvement. No issues.

Odd? Sure, I believe that you find it odd, which is why I couched my post in "YMMV" when I first added it, and I'll say it again: just more grist for the mill, as I find it helpful when others mention that they might have had success with a particular method of getting something done. I get that no one here wants some schmoe saying "over at DFAQ I read you can shove your VHS tapes in the oven for 8 hours at 135 degrees and it will solve your problems" without some kind of context, and at a very basic level I'll repeat again: everyone should do their own very thorough research on a corrective method that you didn't find in your VCR manual, like baking tapes. It also should probably be last resort.

The only other notable issue from that set of tapes: another Maxell. Something rattling around in the shell. Went to get it out and/or replace shell if needed, and as I was unscrewing the second screw, the screw hole in the upper half of the shell snapped off and left a hole - yes, from trying to loosen the screw, not tighten it. Carefully removed the rest of the screws, shook out the broken piece, and gave it the most gentle flex - snapped immediately. I don't know what happened in the batch of raw plastic that made those shells, but there was clearly some kind of issue. Once I had moved the reels to a new shell, I flexed the leftover pieces of the old and was shocked how easily it fell apart. Maxell used flimsier shells towards the end of VHS from what I recall, but this one felt like it had something wrong with it.

The other 76 were not notable at all save for some baked-in problems created at the dubbing stage 30 years ago.

Thanks, this was fun, I really only wanted to add the possibility of baking as a route that might possibly be worth researching in certain situations. Under the right conditions. After all reading and research has been done and absorbed. I appreciate your effort to decipher why I was successful with this method and these three particular tapes, but I don't have anything else to offer. Cheers.
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  #13  
04-16-2024, 01:49 PM
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Thanks, this was fun,
Indeed it was.

Sometimes I like to read the conversations from our members, not just post myself. And this was a good one.

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04-25-2024, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by 7jlong View Post
Thanks, this was fun, I really only wanted to add the possibility of baking as a route that might possibly be worth researching in certain situations. Under the right conditions. After all reading and research has been done and absorbed. I appreciate your effort to decipher why I was successful with this method and these three particular tapes, but I don't have anything else to offer. Cheers.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I've scoured the internet for similar info on tape baking. Always glad to hear another person's experience! I've baked a couple of U-matic tapes with obvious shedding problems. I've had a couple instances of warped VHS shells that were fixed by swapping. But I've had a small number of Betamax/VHS that seem to not move smoothly/evenly through the tape path even after trying shell swapping or repacking or (in the case of Betamax) reinforcing loose/flimsy friction tabs inside the shell.

It makes me curious if the tape is in a milder or earlier phase of the same condition as what is referred to as Sticky Shed. Possibly the top layer has not separated enough to noticeably shed, but is still causing excessive friction due to the same concept of the top layer separating from the binder. I've seen the term Soft Binder Syndrome suggested, trying to bring a more unified term for tape degeneration which can manifest in different conditions or perhaps are just different phases/degrees of the same root cause.
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