9-Track Magtape data Recovery Technique (Last Ditch!)

From: Geoff Roberts <geoffrob_at_stmarks.pp.catholic.edu.au>
Date: Thu Jun 14 18:51:08 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "Douglas Quebbeman" <dhquebbeman_at_theestopinalgroup.com>
To: <classiccmp_at_classiccmp.org>
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2001 5:56 AM
Subject: 9-Track Magtape data Recovery Technique (Last Ditch!)

> So, I took a cleaning swab, soaked it in cleaner
> (not Freon TF, and likely a poor substitute) and
> applied it against the tape, directly before the
> tape read head. It immediately stopped re-trying,
> and started streaming!

LOL. I remember using this technique back in the mid 70's when I worked
in a TV station.
This is in the days of the RCA TR-60 2" reel to reel VTR's with
quadriplex heads, about 6ft high, 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep, weighed
around 600lbs IIRC, and needed 3 phase and compressed air. Some of
the programs we
got for play (bear in mind this is country tv in Australia in the 70's)
included some that were quite old (even by 2" tape standards).
Some were so poor that they were shedding oxide the whole time, and
would clog the heads on the TR60 within minutes, causing
breakup. Technique was to stand there with an isopropyl soaked chamois
held against the tape about 3" before it entered the headwheel assembly.
This cleaned the worst of the loose stuff off, and the tape had time to
dry before it hit the headwheel.
Worked like a charm. But we used an awful lot of isopropyl that way.

> When the swab would get dry, I'd pull it away, and
> almost immediately, the drive would start retrying
> until once again, I brought the wet swab against
> the tape.

We had it down to a fine art, using 2 chamois, as one dried out, someone
handed you the other one, pre dampened.
We played several 1 hour shows to air this way until management decided
to start dubbing the dodgy stuff first.

> Doubtless, this is going to leave all kinds of crud
> on the tape path, and might even shorten the drive's
> life.

We used to clean tape paths several times a day anyway, RCA initially
recoiled in horror when we told them what we were doing, but when the
shock wore off they admitted that it was no worse than playing the flaky
tape, provided that it was dry before it hit the headwheel. We used to
get well over 1000 hours (used to get a fancy '1000 hour club'
certificate from RCA) on most of our headwheels, so it didn't seem to
bother it much. On something without rotating pinhead sized heads I
doubt if it would cause any harm one way or the other, apart from it
needing a good clean afterwards.


Geoff in Oz
Received on Thu Jun 14 2001 - 18:51:08 BST

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