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Videocassettes: Their Use, Care, and the Quirks of Their Brands

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#1 Diogenes



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Posted 07 February 2011 - 03:50 AM


1. Mildew
2. Slowness or Inability to Rewind
3. Less Facility for Rerecording
4. Interaction with Vcr's
5. Review of Brands

Introduction. I intend this thread to assist all those who continue to use videocassettes like me, and I shall be detailed and candid. Please wait for me to cover each eventual subtopic in turn based on my table before you address any of the later ones. After we have gone through all my subtopics the floor will be open for you to raise yours and maybe add your own table of contents.
1. Mildew. In later 1995 someone gave me my first vcr, an old RCA with a pop-up, see-through cassette compartment, plus one used videocassette to get me started. I vowed not to repeat my experience with audio recording so I solicited advice on cassette brands and planned to be conservative by sticking with 6-hour lengths. By elimination, I bought TDK (High Standard), a brand I had never tried in audio, eventually at least two 4-packs. Things went great for years.Unnoticed lurked that TDK HS had rivets, not screws. Ultimately, mildew appeared on the side of a spool, undiscerned by me. When I played that cassette again again, it so dirtied the head that it had to be professionally cleaned. This was around the time a special on The Carpenters first aired on PBS. TDK was sympathetic, and in good time I sent my first 4 tapes so TDK could get past the rivets and clean them. TDK returned my cassettes with others Extra High Grade (with screws) on to which my content had been transferred, watchable but not normal; I sealed up both sets separately and put them away. In my ignorance I assumed the mildew to be a Diogenes problem and not a TDK one. Despite my antimildew measures, in the end my second 4 acquired it. So have some TDK EHG cassettes donated to me by someone, along with a potpourri of very old brands. TDK changed policy by that time and informed me I was on my own. Meanwhile, I had embarked on other brands, brands which never got mildew.
_ _ _ _To summarize, all I can do for the riveted cassettes without added expense is spin the spools, scattering the mildew in the casement, seal them air-tight, and hope. It would be foolhardy to play mildewed and clean tapes ever on the same vcr so I shall designate a defective vcr as the mildew one. My question arises about the screw cassettes, which I intend to open and clean of mildew (though only play on the mildew vcr). Your advice on cleaning? I also could later apply a liquid mildew-preventative lightly. One of these old brands each also suffered mildew: Polaroid, Memorex, and Panasonic; ask if you want specifics on type and manufacture country. Please advise soon, as I must view certain recordings.

Edited by Diogenes, 07 February 2011 - 11:21 PM.

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#2 Diogenes



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Posted 13 February 2011 - 12:31 AM

1. Mildew (cont.). Individual posts not yet addressed will be soon, I promise, but I want to write generically to prompt further help and to think out loud. I directed this here because I reckoned you members might have cleaned videos, but if not I speak to those who have cleaned mildew anywhere. I have done so (elsewhere than my present quarters where I've run the a-c more) on refrigerator seals, the refrigerator outside, walls, the kitchen sink surface, tall cardboard boxes, and wood furniture, to name off the top of my head, but not always the same whitish mildew as on the cassettes. Here are the tasks I face:
i. Check the labels of the four oldest TDK's and the "starter" (mildewed) for certain recordings and add to my master list (from which they were omitted due to the mildew). If found, trouble, because they would have to be viewed first but they needn't be addressed first. They would be viewed on the EHG TDK's sent me by TDK so those unlabeled ones would be matched with the HS's. Anything on the starter would be a problem because I recall it's riveted, but I have scattered the mildew.
ii. If no mildew on EHG TDK's from TDK, I can watch them, but I expect mildew. I did not seal them immediately upon receipt.
iii. Next would be my second TDK 4-pack, which should have certain programs. But after checking, I shall put those aside, tactically, since they have full scattered mildew. Their content can be added to master list.
iv. Look in vertical, suitcase-shaped cardboard box at cassettes from list which I don't currently play. I expect any of the other six EHG TDK's donated to me to be mildewed, but not others. If others are, trouble, and I WILL HAVE TO SEAL ALL CASSETTES I DON'T REGULARLY PLAY and junk box. This would be infuriating.
v. If boxed tapes are okay, here's my worst fear. Besides TDK, I bought two other brands. Not mentioned in my opener is that the oldest cassette of one of those two, which was given me, has one tiny mildew spot, which has not gotten worse in two years or so, and holds great shows but not the certain programs of immediate concern.
vi. Tape spools are housed in clear-plastic, circular compartmentalizers or holders WITHIN THEIR VIDEOCASSETTES. One can't just open a cassette and have at the side of a spool. If I can't dislodge the spools, I can't clean their sides. There was mention of opening cassettes on one site, but I can't find that quickly. Please advise on that. I have isopropyl swabs and isopropyl. No Q-tips or lens fabric.
One correspondent suggested this site, but it's drastic:
I searched via metacrawler and found this, putting videocassette before mildew:
Note the two posts by JRKaru on Aug. 31, 2008.

Edited by Diogenes, 13 February 2011 - 03:46 AM.

#3 Diogenes



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Posted 20 February 2011 - 10:38 PM

1. Mildew (cont.). Let's try this once more. Let me zero in on where I sit in my work. I need a detailed diagram of a (VHS) videocassette and further advice. (The links below will be denoted by letters).
a http://www.ehow.com/...aged-water.html
b http://www.ehow.com/...video-tape.html
c http://www.inspectmy...air-a-vhs-tape/
d http://en.wikipedia....VHSTapeOpen.jpg
e http://en.wikipedia....and_tape_design
f http://en.wikipedia....VHS_diagram.svg
Link a confirms one may separate the clear-plastic reels from the spools of tape and speaks of a clamp that must be removed (see paragraphs 3 and 5), but doing this without greater specifics will be hard. Links b and c provide supplementary info and note in c the Sep. 14, 2008 comment by J.C. Franke about how to open the cassette to keep the parts in place, although link a refers to removing clamp from back, not front (?). Link d is a Wikipedia article from which links e and f are a photo and general routing (not parts) diagram, both of which may be enlarged via an icon in said article as I did for their individual links. The photo shows an opening in the reel near its center and through that opening one can see a white-plastic piece appearing to be a switch that one may move sideways. Another link, not cited, shows a different-brand cassette with a similar setup, closer to what I have. I just checked the first cassette I wish to clean, and I see in the spot discussed a structure in the shape of a four-pointed crown with the bottom of the crown along the round, circular, central axle of a spool. What I do to that structure is the question. That's all I know.
_ _ _ _If you are cynical and believe I posted this massive thread just to get repair advice, you are wrong. I could've gotten that quicker and easier. No, I posted to share ideas with fellow users because I love recording, AND I happened to have two repair questions, one urgent, so I front-loaded those in my table of contents. Some of the later subtopics comprise data which may only be found through sharing. So far I am somewhat underwhelmed by the response, although considerable views have been tallied. While few might have encountered mildew, not all of you are too young for videocassettes or have amnesia, so some have opened a cassette and maybe fooled with it. I have a few on which to practice, a tiny screwdriver, and a sturdy pen with a fine point. If no one can help, I shall call people in the industry. As promised, I will reply to posts individually as soon as I have begun actual cleaning.

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