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VCR Cleaning

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Joined: 28 Jul 2012
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PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 3:22 pm    Post subject: VCR Cleaning  Reply with quote

I just found 2 vcrs, while I was cleaning out my garage this weekend .  What would ya'll think the best way to clean them would be?
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Joined: 23 Dec 2008
Posts: 48

PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lots of tutorials on the Internetz. Short version:

Take off top cover to expose the transport mechanism. Very carefully blow out dust with compressor, being very carefull around delicate parts.

NOTE: Late model VCRs may be difficult to access the tape transport because of a circuit board on top. Or, there might be metal shields covering portions of the transport. When removing screws, take special care to note where each screw goes. On VCRs, there are often a variety of different kinds of fasters, each one going in a certain location. Don't assume they're all interchangeable. It's considered bad form to put screws back in the wrong place, or leave them out entirely.

Next, using 91+% IPA and cotton swabs, remove dirt and debris built up around base plate of transport, include the grease on the tape guide tracks. Do not touch the rotating head drum.

Next, using approved chamois swabs and head cleaning solution, clean all parts in the tape path, including entrance/exit roller, tape guides, audio/control head and pinch roller.

Inspect pinch roller for evidence of glazing or cracking. If glazed, you can remove the pinch roller and try a rubber restorer solution. You want the rubber to be non-shiny and able to grip the tape, not for the tape to slip on the hardened rubber.

Very carefully clean oxide debris from rotary head drum, but do not get anywhere near the head themselves. Use only back and forth motion, not up and down. Be sure to clean around the "rabbit" groove, especially near the entrance and exit sides, as tape oxide can build up here. Also, be sure to clean all the tape oxide from the five narrow grooves in the upper part of the drum, this can cause stiction and poor back-tension.

(The rabbit groove is not the gap between fixed lower drum and rotating upper drum, but is the helic lip along the bottom drum that the bottom edge of the tape rides upon.)

Using approved chamois swabs and head cleaning solution, place wetted swab on middle of head drum and rotate head drum slowly, to permit the areas around the video head to be cleaned. Do not move the swab up or down or you will risk breaking off a video head. They are very fragile, made of iron ferrite. Do not use a cotton swab, as the fibers can get attached to the microscopic head gap and ruin the heads.

Apply fresh grease lubricant, of the kind approved by the VCR manufacturer, to the video guide tracks. If unavailable, use a black lithium grease.

Inspect cam gear assembly for evidence of hardened grease. If so, you'll have to do a detailed disassembly and degrease/regrease the bottom of the cam gear assembly, with fresh, manufacturer's approved lubricant, or black lithium grease. The symptoms will be the tape not fully loading up around the head drum, then the machine goes into a shutdown mode. This is caused by a belt slipping that drives the cam gear assembly, due to hardened grease.

Do not use WD40 at any time, anywhere in the VCR. This is considered bad form. In fact, keep the WD40 in another room entirely. Only amateurs who don't know what they're doing use WD40.


Former VCR Repair Technician
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