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Old 01-07-2018, 11:30 PM
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Robert Grant Robert Grant is offline
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Video head cleaning [I]crisis[/I]

A little less than two years ago, I installed a few VCRs on my sets, of various ages (one is actually a Beta), went to clean them with video head cleaning cassettes, only to find that all of them had empty fluid bottles!

At that time, I was able to buy a new cleaner cassette from a big box store (the cassette is VHS, but the fluid is also used in a Beta cassette. I made sure to close the cap on the bottle of fluid as tightly as I could every time I used it.

Fast forward to today, I went to to a head cleaning in a recently acquired VCR (playback is fine, but new recordings look fine only in scanning mode. In normal playback, the picture is vertically displaced and there is no sound).

To my shock, the vial of cleaning fluid is already completely empty! I just can't understand how it can all disappear (like, whatever happened to the theory of conservation of matter?). Is the plastic vial deliberately porous, so that customers have to frequently buy more product? (a vile vial?)

So it occurs to me that I (we - VCR users) will need a substitute for head cleaning fluids. I found an MSDS for one brand of head cleaner from Britain, that gave the ingredients as pentane and Penta-2-ol. The latter is another name for isopropyl alcohol (which is what all video head cleaners smell like), but Pentane is hard to come by.

Last edited by Robert Grant; 01-07-2018 at 11:52 PM. Reason: Spaced paragraphs as seever left justifies every line of text.
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Old 01-08-2018, 12:29 AM
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Those head cleaning cassettes are horrible on heads, and in my opinion, can do more harm than good. The only way I would ever recommend cleaning video heads of any variety is to use strips of ordinary copy paper with some high percentage isopropyl alcohol and hold the paper against the drum with one hand, and spin the drum with the other. I made a video showing the process. https://youtu.be/QZM4Q2paDNQ
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:28 AM
kf4rca kf4rca is offline
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I think that is normal for it to evaporate like that. The molecules are so small they slip right thru a tightly closed cap.
At the TV station we used alcohol. But the field crews used a cleaning tape which worked well. You are only supposed to play a cleaning tape about 10 seconds or so. If that doesn't fix it, you've got other problems.
I remember a CE I worked for once, looking at the alcohol bottle in the tape room, saying, "I think somebody is drinking this stuff," as we used quite a bit of it.
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Old 01-08-2018, 11:38 PM
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For our Sony digital HD reel-to-reel machines, we used Everclear grain alcohol for head cleaning.
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Old 01-09-2018, 10:53 AM
dieseljeep dieseljeep is offline
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Originally Posted by kf4rca View Post
I think that is normal for it to evaporate like that. The molecules are so small they slip right thru a tightly closed cap.
At the TV station we used alcohol. But the field crews used a cleaning tape which worked well. You are only supposed to play a cleaning tape about 10 seconds or so. If that doesn't fix it, you've got other problems.
I remember a CE I worked for once, looking at the alcohol bottle in the tape room, saying, "I think somebody is drinking this stuff," as we used quite a bit of it.
A related thought, in these colder climates the molecules in the air in tires slip past the wheel beads. To minimize this problem, the tire shops recommend using Hydrogen.
It seems, that's the reason soft drinks go flat in plastic bottles after a while.
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Old 01-09-2018, 11:49 AM
Chip Chester Chip Chester is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old_tv_nut View Post
For our Sony digital HD reel-to-reel machines, we used Everclear grain alcohol for head cleaning.
And here, lint-free Tech Wipes. Spin the head, hold the wipe steady. No up-and-down. No q-tips/swabs except for guides or stationary audio/control track heads.

Are your Sony machines HDD-1000 type?

Chip

Last edited by Chip Chester; 01-09-2018 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 01-09-2018, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dieseljeep View Post
A related thought, in these colder climates the molecules in the air in tires slip past the wheel beads. To minimize this problem, the tire shops recommend using Hydrogen.
It seems, that's the reason soft drinks go flat in plastic bottles after a while.
Hydrogen?!?!

Given that it is the smallest atom there is, if ANYTHING was going to leak out of a tire, it would. Then there is the whole explosion thing.

Methinks you meant NITROGEN, which is a common upsell scam run by tire shops...
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Old 01-09-2018, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chip Chester View Post
And here, lint-free Tech Wipes. Spin the head, hold the wipe steady. No up-and-down. No q-tips/swabs except for guides or stationary audio/control track heads.

Are your Sony machines HDD-1000 type?

Chip
Yes, they were HDD-1000.


[Off topic]: Charlie Rhodes (who was formerly head engineer of video test equipment at Tektronix, and during testing ran the Advanced Television Test Center (ATTC)), devised a frame format converter that would take any of the proposed scanning formats, slice it into rectangles, and piece it into the Japanese 1125 interlaced frame so the HDD-1000 could record and play it. Tektronix built a small quantity and sold them to proponents.

http://www.vintagetek.org/wp-content...rt-Article.pdf

[sorry for the diversion]
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Old 01-09-2018, 09:29 PM
Chip Chester Chip Chester is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N2IXK View Post
Hydrogen?!?!

Given that it is the smallest atom there is, if ANYTHING was going to leak out of a tire, it would. Then there is the whole explosion thing.

Methinks you meant NITROGEN, which is a common upsell scam run by tire shops...
Brings a whole new meaning to having a blowout.
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Old 01-09-2018, 09:37 PM
Olorin67 Olorin67 is offline
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ordinary Plastics are fairly porous to volatile solvents. it will permeate right through the plastic. that's one reason most cars have gone back to metal fuel tanks. even rubber fuel hoses on lawnmowers have to be certified low-perm material now. Company I work for now just spent big $$$ testing permeation of fuel cap gaskets, I had to find a lab that can do gas chromatography.
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Old 01-10-2018, 09:49 AM
dieseljeep dieseljeep is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chip Chester View Post
Brings a whole new meaning to having a blowout.
I knew I specified the wrong gas.
How about the refrigerents used today, highly explosive but won't damage the ozone layer.
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Old 01-10-2018, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Robert Grant View Post
A little less than two years ago, I installed a few VCRs on my sets, of various ages (one is actually a Beta), went to clean them with video head cleaning cassettes, only to find that all of them had empty fluid bottles!

At that time, I was able to buy a new cleaner cassette from a big box store (the cassette is VHS, but the fluid is also used in a Beta cassette. I made sure to close the cap on the bottle of fluid as tightly as I could every time I used it.

Fast forward to today, I went to to a head cleaning in a recently acquired VCR (playback is fine, but new recordings look fine only in scanning mode. In normal playback, the picture is vertically displaced and there is no sound).

To my shock, the vial of cleaning fluid is already completely empty! I just can't understand how it can all disappear (like, whatever happened to the theory of conservation of matter?). Is the plastic vial deliberately porous, so that customers have to frequently buy more product? (a vile vial?)

So it occurs to me that I (we - VCR users) will need a substitute for head cleaning fluids. I found an MSDS for one brand of head cleaner from Britain, that gave the ingredients as pentane and Penta-2-ol. The latter is another name for isopropyl alcohol (which is what all video head cleaners smell like), but Pentane is hard to come by.
I would dump the cleaning tapes and learn to do a proper manual cleaning. Not only are cleaning tapes hard on the heads, they miss 95% of the dirt on the tape guides, capstan, pinch roller, and other parts that contact the tape.

I use 91% (or better) isopropyl alcohol as cleaning fluid. Q-tips are fine on the tape guides, but not on the video heads. Use something lint free like fine weave cotton cloth (a scrap of bed sheet) or even printer paper.

You picture problem is probably not caused by dirty heads. It sounds a lot like the timing pulse from the head drum is missing, so it doesn't know when to switch heads. On JVC VCRs, this is usually caused by an open electrolytic on the drum motor.
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  #13  
Old 01-12-2018, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andy View Post
I would dump the cleaning tapes and learn to do a proper manual cleaning. Not only are cleaning tapes hard on the heads, they miss 95% of the dirt on the tape guides, capstan, pinch roller, and other parts that contact the tape.
In the case of my Sanyo VCR4400 (a Beta VCR), I think I'll have to settle with the cleaner cartridge. This unit seems to be designed to thwart any attempt at nondestructive disassembly.

Quote:
I use 91% (or better) isopropyl alcohol as cleaning fluid. Q-tips are fine on the tape guides, but not on the video heads. Use something lint free like fine weave cotton cloth (a scrap of bed sheet) or even printer paper.

You picture problem is probably not caused by dirty heads. It sounds a lot like the timing pulse from the head drum is missing, so it doesn't know when to switch heads. On JVC VCRs, this is usually caused by an open electrolytic on the drum motor.
Thanks for the info. From yours and other replies, I gather that highly pure alcohols are recommended and that pentane is not necessary.

My VCR discussed in this post is a Toshiba SD-V393, a combination VCR and DVD player.
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Old 01-15-2018, 07:40 AM
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We used only 91% isopropyl alcohol, its dirt cheap.
For a cloth REAL chamois. Never clean up & down. Never get a
Q-tip near the heads. We wouldnt sell the cleaning tapes but we
sure removed quite a few that got stuck & did damage !

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000ODTJE6...6&linkCode=asn

Expensive but SAFE & you can use them over.

73 Zeno
LFOD !
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  #15  
Old 01-15-2018, 08:46 PM
dieseljeep dieseljeep is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeno View Post
We used only 91% isopropyl alcohol, its dirt cheap.
For a cloth REAL chamois. Never clean up & down. Never get a
Q-tip near the heads. We wouldnt sell the cleaning tapes but we
sure removed quite a few that got stuck & did damage !

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000ODTJE6...6&linkCode=asn

Expensive but SAFE & you can use them over.

73 Zeno
LFOD !
I have an unusual cleaning tape called "Discwasher". IIRC, it's made by the same firm that made some kind of cleaner for CD's.
It uses some kind of fabric in place of the tape, plus it's a dry method.
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