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A solution to reduce spoking in old acetate tapes

Filed under: archival practices,Racal Store 4DS,reels,Tape Aging — 2008-04-15 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2008-04-15 by

It appears that many old acetate tapes when played on high-quality audio recorders will suffer spoking when left in a play wind condition. I have discussed this problem here. Since posting that, I have taken one of my Racal Store 4DS recorders and removed the heads to save them from wear and now use that to re-spool any tape that shows spoking when played on a Studer A80, Sony APR-5000, or Studer A810.

I have just completed about 25 seven-inch reels of circa 1960-1965 acetate tapes (Scotch 111A, Audiotape, Soundcraft, Ampex 511, etc.) and about 20% of the tapes showed evidence of spoking after being played on the A80. These were rewound (approx 120 in/s under capstan control) on the Racal Store 4DS and then played at 15 in/s back onto their original spool.

With the heads removed, there are no fixed guides that contact the tape, just the two rolling tension guides and the capstan.

For photos of the Racal Store 4DS, please look here where I discuss its use (with head/guide assembly) for playing squealing tapes.

Please also read this post for a “do not try this at home” note.



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