1/2" tape cleaners?

From: John Lawson <jpl15_at_panix.com>
Date: Sat Oct 23 11:20:27 2004

A possible suggestion:

"Streaming type" front loader 9 trk drives are a dime-a-dozen - there's a
couple on the shlf at WierdStuff for $50 and that's about half too much -
but there are plenty of the Cipher 880s, HP and M4 Data drives out there.

   From my meager knowledge of media rescue, restoration, etc:

  If the tape is moldy, the first thing would be to bake it dry, in a very
slow oven, at about 120 - 140 F and no more, until all of the residual
moisture has been driven off. Maybe three or four hours, with the tape
out of it's case, natch.

  Now, inspect the tape by hand, carefully unspooling it until you get to
the affected portions. The mold should have been reduced to powder and
spores by now. There are a few species of mold that secrete acidic
compounds, and a smaller set of these can adversely affect the binders
and/or the backing. Chck for discoloration, or degradation of the tape.

   If you can blow, or gently brush off, the mold residue, and the tape is
left shiny and good-looking, then the next step would be to load it into
an old tape machine and do a read-to-EOT and rewind. This will naturally
make a mess, and I have resorted to raising the top cover, defeating the
interlocks, and fixing the hose of a vacuum cleaner near the saphire
cleaning knife and headstack, to pull in all the Gunk.

   Obviously DON'T do this with a machine that needs to be maintained in a
good running state, because it definitely get crap all over everything. If
you vacuum it up while it's spooling, then you can avoid most of this.

   If the tape has been physically damaged, either by loose packing or if
the mold or bacteria has eaten into the tape, then it can be cleaned with
a cloth pad soaked in a mild soap solution and water... many of the
'green' cleaners, either mint or orange, are good for this. You have to
spool the tape from the reel, while passing it through the cleaning pad,
(which you must check often and re-fold to present a new cleaning surface)
and then just let it flow into a tub of clean water. I have spooled tape
out into a plastic garbage container full of about 20 gallons of tap
water. [If your water is 'hard', like mine is where I live now, you have
to be quick with the drying step afterward] NOW - you have to dry it while
re-spooling it. I've used a hair dryer and one of those heat-guns for
this. It's very labor-intensive, especially rewinding the tape AND
getting it to pack properly.

   If this process is successful, then you can place it on the machine and
do the usual FF->EOT and rewind to retension it.

   Of course, the relative value of the data vs. the amount of pain and
suffering you wish to subject yourself to, is a factor in deciding what to
keep and what to chuck....


Received on Sat Oct 23 2004 - 11:20:27 BST

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