* Cleaning and Maintenance *

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Do it yourself Reel to reel for sale.

Welcome to "Do it yourself"

  • To get the best sound and performance when playing and recording with your deck it needs cleaning on regular basis.

  • In order to assure long life span for your tapes, and top performance at all times: heads,tape-guides,tension-rollers need to be clean.
  • Any build-up of foreign matter can clog the sensitive heads and "muddy" poor quality of sound.
  • Dirty heads and travelpath can cause loss of high frequency response.
  • Unsatisfactory tape erasing can come from a dirty erase-head.
  • Increase of flutter and wow on playmode is another sympton that the travelpath needs cleaning.

  • A mirror-like finish on the face of all heads + tape path is a must for best performance.
  • When cleaning a good head cleaner should be used.
  • Don't use rubbing alcohol, it contains water and will leave a film on your heads.

    Sony TC-366

  • Pinchroller needs regular cleaning for both feeding the tape between capstan-shaft and correct speed.
  • No headcleaner or alcohol on the rubber. Quality of lifespan of pinch-rollers and idler-wheels is different between the brands and models.
  • From my experience early Teac's like 4010 becomes very hard but solid, later model X-300 small cracks can be seen instead.
  • Terry Witt's excellent service with re-rubber both pinch-rollers and idler-wheels is highly recommended when cleaning doesn't help. Visit Terry
  • Also keep your heads and guides demagnetized. When using a demagnetizer follow the instructions carefully, otherwise you can destroy the heads and electronics inside the machine.
  • Occasional use of the tape releases strains and adhesions for longer life.
  • Ideally, extremes of humidity and temperature should be avoided when storing any magnetic tape.
  • Optimum conditions are 40-60% humidity at room temperature.
  • If tape is stored for a long period of time, occasional use of the tape will generally minimize most harmful effects.
  • Cleaning old dusty tapes can be done with a clean dry lint-free cloth while rewinding.
  • Splice together a broken tape: Use splicing tape and a pair of scissors or razorblade.
  • Do not use ordinary cellophane tape as it tends to deteriorate the tape.
  • Neatly overlap the tapes to be spliced and cut the position diagonally. Place a piece of splicing tape on a flat surface.
  • Then place the two diagonal tape ends together on the splicing tape, shiny side down. Be careful that ends meet, but do not overlap. Trim the edges off and you have a perfect splice. * Different Recording Terms *
  • Capstan: A rotating shaft which engages the tape and pulls it across the heads at constant speed.
  • Asimuth adjustment: The adjustment to position the headgap exactly perpendicular to the horizontal base of the tape.
  • Crosstalk: Signal or sound leakage between two channels.
  • Distortion: Any difference between the original sound and the reproduced sound after recording.
  • Dual Track Recorder: Type of monophonic recorder which records or plays back half of a standard 1/4 tape in one direction and the other half in the opposite direction.
  • Dynamic range: The ratio between the softest and loudest sounds a tape recorder can reproduce without distortion.
  • Editing: Selection of certain sections of tape recordings and the deletion of unwanted portions,then splicing them together in desired sequence.
  • Erase Head: The magnetic assembly on a taperecorder where the tape passes to remove previosly recorded signals.
  • Feed reel: The reel on the taperecorder which supplies the tape.
  • Flutter: Very short and rapid variations in tape speed and sound.
  • Frequency:The rate of repetitionin cycles per second (cps)of musical pitch.
  • Low frequencies refer to bass tone.
  • high frequencies to treble tone.
  • Head alignment: The correct position of the head and gap, with respect to the magnetic tape.
  • Hum: Low frequency noise usually from power line or magnetic fields.
  • Input: The receptable or jack trough which a signal is fed into an amplifier or computer.
  • Ips: Abbrevitation for tape speed in inches per second.
  • Monitor head: The head on the taperecorder which when connected to the proper circuitry, makes it possible to listen directly off the tape while the recording is being made.
  • Pinchroller: A rubber roller which engages the capstan and pulls the tape with constant speed and prevents slippage.
  • Playback: Reproduction of the sound recorded on the tape.
  • Playback head: The magnetic head which picks up signals from tape for playback.
  • Powercord: Cable used to connect the machine usually AC voltage.
  • Pressure pads: Felt pads mounted on arms which hold the tape in close contact with the heads. Mostly always used in "one motor" operated machines. (example:Sony TC-230)
  • Sound on Sound: A method in which previosly recorded material on one track, may be re-recorded on another track while simultaneosly adding new material.
  • Splicing tape: A special pressure sensitive non-magnetic tape used for splicing magnetic tape.
  • Take-up reel: The reel on the right side of the taperecorder which accumulates the tape on playback mode.
  • Tape guides: Grooved metal posts located on either side of the head assembly, to keep the tape tracking properly across the heads.
  • Tape transport: The mechanical portion of the tape recorder mounted with motors, reel spindles, heads and controls. It does not include pre-amplifiers,power amplifier.
  • Wow: Repetitive slow variations in tape speed.

    *Common problems*

  • This is a few of all the problems that could occur. Now,you just cranked up the old player, after spending time in that closet, or on a shelf for 10-15 years. Does not work anymore, hmm. It looks good but don't make any sound or reels don't turn anymore ?
  • Does it power up? (could be the fuse)
  • Is it dragging on play? (bad belt or dirty pinch-roller)
  • Control buttons stick or don't engage ? (Dust or grit inside the switches)
  • Don't rewind correctly ?(bad belt or idler-wheel)
  • Only sound from one channel?(fuse, bad transistor, playback-head,or pc-board.)
  • Noisy scratchy switches?(dirt and grit inside the switch)
  • Slippage of tape, wow and flutter ? (dirty or oily capstan or pinchroller)
  • No sound after recording?(dirty heads) Rubberbelts get soft, grease hard and dust make contacts not work properly.
  • Here is an example:

    * Sad looking Sony TC-377 *

  • Pictures from the shop restoring a

    Sony TC 630-D.

  • This model has one drivebelt that goes from the pulley attached on the motor to another pulley for rewinding mode on the left reel. When engaged in play an idlerwheel goes against the capstan pulley + flywheel that makes your tape start feeding thru the capstan axel and pinchroller (black rubber-wheel).
  • When engaged on Fforward another smaller idlerwheel goes agains the Pulley from the capstan-motor to the right reeltable.
  • When changing speed the larger idler-wheel change position on the capstan-pulley for faster or slower speed. Also moves to another position on the flywheel.
  • These models can be very timeconsuming to restore, there is more then just replacing the belts as many people think.
  • Buying a service manual is step one.
  • I don't suggest any repair when involving electrical problems without right knowledge and tools.

  • Scary example of a "Handy Man Special" repair.
  • This Tascam 22-2 was dropped and pc-board cracked, the "repair-person" cut all the wires off, tried to solder the board back together again mounted a popcycle underneath the board to make contact (did not work)..
  • Below is a picture how it suppose to look.

  • Another common problem with several older Akai models is this.

  • When playlever or fforward lever get stuck and will not move anymore, this cam made of "potmetal" are usually cracked or swollen. Trouble models:
  • Akai X-150, M-models,1700, 1800 and 4000.
  • The newer GX-4000 D had better cam's and less problems. (note:cam's from GX-4000 D fit 4000DS model)
  • Next section of "Do it yourself" Info about idler-wheels/belts

  • About electronics and repairs: A big warning, there is high-voltage involved and I don't suggest anyone without the right knowledge and experience to repair electronic devices.
  • The free of charge information on this website is provided "as is" without any warranty af any kind, expressed or implied including limitation.
  • The entire risk as to the quality and performance of this data is borne by you.
  • Should any of this information prove defective, you and not me shall be liable for any special, exemplary or conseqvential damages resulting from use of this material.
  • Readers are strongly advised to utilize safety precautions when working with electronics or electricity to avoid all potentioal hazards.
  • The information contained herein has not been approved or endorsed by any of the manufactures mentioned in herein.
  • I have many used parts in stock for different brands and models.

    This form sends an e-mail.




  • Pictures © Vintage TX