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Old 07-26-2019, 08:20 AM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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Default Oh how we love analog tape - the downside

We've still got our Sony ARP-2003 1/4" half track tape decks here at the studio. They live in the machine room next to the Sony APR-24 24 track..



Today I was transferring a tape on this little guy. I stepped out of the studio and went down the hall to the little boys' room. On the way back I met a friend in the hall and chatted with him for a couple of minutes.

When I came back it sounded like there was an out-of-balance ceiling fan spinning out of control at top speed in the machine room. I rushed in and found that the end-of-tape sensor had gotten clogged at the end of the tape.


See that black tab on the right-hand side of the head block, sticking into the dress cover? How can you miss it with that horrible lefty-drawing-righty red circle? That's the end-of-tape sensor. If a flake of oxide drops off the tape into the hole where the optical senor resides, the machine's so-called brain thinks there's still tape passing the heads and maintains tension on the right reel. The machine had done what any self-respecting but low-IQ, high-quality analog machine would do: it spun up the tape reel to maximum speed and keep it there the whole time I was gone. I hit the power switch and examined the carnage: As the reel thrashed, it threw off little bits of tape and copious amounts of oxide as well. The debris went five feet up the wall behind the deck and fifteen feet each direction horizontally, coating everything in sight with a gritty deposit and little bits of tape that are attracted to magnets and static.

I scouted out a broom and turned to. Here's the pile, after I swept it into a pile:


The floor tiles are 24" square so that makes our little wreath about 24" square. The oxide on the wall and cabinets wouldn't brush off because it was held by static cling, so I had to wash it off. Iron oxide (tape coating) turns to mud when it gets wet. It looks like you are wiping something ON the wall, not off. It took repeated washing to get it off the walls. But we maintain the atmosphere of a surgical suite in our tape rooms, so it had to go.

I took the machine over to the repair engineers. They'll be blowing it out with compressed air and, hopefully, wiping it up.

Ah, they joys of analog.

Bob
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Old 07-26-2019, 10:04 AM
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Hi Bob

UGH!!


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Old 07-26-2019, 10:17 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Nasty. It has a smell, too.
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Old 07-26-2019, 03:45 PM
Andy Howell Andy Howell is offline
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Just goes to show that - for the most part - digital is progress ;-)
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Old 07-26-2019, 04:02 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Howell View Post
Just goes to show that - for the most part - digital is progress ;-)
For the most part. DAT and ADAT machines can simultaneously destroy tapes and themselves.
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Old 07-26-2019, 09:19 PM
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Nothing that a bit of time on the old splicing block won't fix!
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Old 08-04-2019, 09:53 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Wow, what a mess! I don't think I have ever had that happen to me.

I was thinking when I saw the photo of that Sony ARP-2003 1/4" half track tape deck, oh, what a great old tape machine! Of course, that was before I read the rest of the story!

Going back about 40 years ago, I designed some floating pumping platforms, essentially dredges, for the 3M Company where they made magnetic recording tape. They had a large lagoon with all this iron oxide sludge in it and they needed to pump it out and clean up the site. That was a mess, too, but the equipment we designed and manufactured for them worked quite well. Then again, I didn't have to do the actual cleanup work on site there.

I love old tape machines and I still have some of mine in my studio, but it has been quite a while since I have used any of them. I did spend a bunch of time about a year ago transferring a bunch of DAT recordings to digital to make sure that I had backup for these recordings.

Sorry about the mess and subsequent cleanup, Bob. Interesting story, though.

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