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 Post subject: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Thu 09, 2017 4:50 pm 
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Joined: Nov Thu 09, 2017 4:26 pm
Posts: 3
Hi, I am new to this forum and relatively new to the vintage electronic hobby. I am looking for an 8 track stereo deck for the purpose of playback for my vintage stereo system. My system is from the 80's and I have a number of 8 tracks that I would like to listen to for nostalgia reasons. What are some of the most reliable models out there and how would I go about obtaining one, other than eBay. I am not looking to spend a huge amount of money but would like one in good working order. Thanks for looking.


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 Post subject: Re: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 2:24 am 
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Joined: Jan Mon 24, 2011 7:21 am
Posts: 465
Location: saint clair shores, michigan
Sounds like a tall order to me. First of all, if you find something that has been restored, you will be paying for the deck and the restoration. If not restored, these are mechanical as well as electronic devices. Mechanisms that have sat awhile unused tend to be "gummed" up. Most of these decks use a belt to drive the capstan, and when unused that belt will usually become out of round, which can cause uneven tape speed. On the other hand, some cleaning, relubing, and possibly a new belt will usually bring them back to life. I have picked them up at estate sales for reasonable prices, however it is a crap shoot as to the electronic and mechanical soundness of the machine, and obviously the same goes for finding one in the first place.

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Bright antennae bristle with the energy - The Spirit of Radio


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 Post subject: Re: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 2:48 pm 
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Joined: Nov Thu 09, 2017 4:26 pm
Posts: 3
1968rt wrote:
Sounds like a tall order to me. First of all, if you find something that has been restored, you will be paying for the deck and the restoration. If not restored, these are mechanical as well as electronic devices. Mechanisms that have sat awhile unused tend to be "gummed" up. Most of these decks use a belt to drive the capstan, and when unused that belt will usually become out of round, which can cause uneven tape speed. On the other hand, some cleaning, relubing, and possibly a new belt will usually bring them back to life. I have picked them up at estate sales for reasonable prices, however it is a crap shoot as to the electronic and mechanical soundness of the machine, and obviously the same goes for finding one in the first place.


Thanks a bunch for the info. I am new to this and it certainly helps. I am looking to maybe pick up a Pioneer Centrix that has been professionally refurbished.


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 Post subject: Re: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 3:41 pm 
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Joined: Aug Sun 23, 2015 6:01 pm
Posts: 531
Location: South Jersey East of Philly
From my experience, 8 track cartridges don't age well.....usually the pressure pad deteriorates. You might want to check them out first before committing to a player....or just get a basic 8 track deck first to try them out.


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 Post subject: Re: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 4:00 pm 
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Joined: Jan Mon 24, 2011 7:21 am
Posts: 465
Location: saint clair shores, michigan
That's a good observation, Tbirdkid. The rollers in the carts were made of many different ingredients, and some are more durable than others. I have taken rollers out of unwanted carts and put them in keepers. It can be a big PITA, but hey what is a hobby without some aggravation?

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Bright antennae bristle with the energy - The Spirit of Radio


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 Post subject: Re: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Fri 10, 2017 4:59 pm 
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Joined: Aug Wed 24, 2011 4:35 am
Posts: 3833
Location: Sunnyvale CA
You have gotten very good advice so far - at this point, both the players you can find and the cartridges themselves have degraded to the point that if you get a working system, it's not likely to last long. I would very strongly urge you to record (either with another tape system or digitally) every single playing session and test, because long-term success is improbable. At least you will have the music saved somehow.

I wish I could be more encouraging and there are certainly a lot of people more expert than I am on the topic but my experience has been that 30- and 40-year-old tape machines of any type are iffy propositions, and 8-track systems weren't very reliable when they were brand new.

Brett


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 Post subject: Re: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Mon 13, 2017 12:06 am 
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Joined: Dec Thu 10, 2015 7:01 pm
Posts: 157
Location: Aurora, IL
Here is my experience with 8 tracks.. I have two players and both have received maintenance and work well with a minimum of work done on them to get them running again. Although I never owned one or even took them seriously back in the day, I find them interesting to play around with now. Maybe because they make weird clunky noises... kinda like my joints in the morning! But also honestly.. some of the tapes have fantastic sound. Seriously close to some of my vinyl.. I kid you not.

Both my units still utilize the original belts which surprisingly are in good shape. So just proper cleaning/lube and replacement of old electrolytics can get these functional again. And I've used one player for over a year (with repaired tapes) and zero problems. Ideally you also want to clean and degauss the head. But you want to go with good unit made all with metal.. no plastic in the track changer as those I've read have a lot more problems due to faster wear.

All tapes I've ever acquired have first been opened/repaired with new sense tapes and either new pressure pad ( dense foam kind ) or replaced pads ( ones with two metal arms ). This MUST be done to have a reliable tape otherwise your tape will break at the sense location fairly soon after playing. So only buy tapes you can open and learn how to do this repair properly or don't bother with 8 tracks. There are many videos out there that show you how to do all this if you look which is how I learned a lot about them.


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 Post subject: Re: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Mon 13, 2017 3:36 pm 
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Joined: Aug Sun 23, 2015 6:01 pm
Posts: 531
Location: South Jersey East of Philly
Hopefully you don't get one with the dreaded melted drive belt...that stuff sticks and marks up anything it gets on! PIA to get it all out of the player too.


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 Post subject: Re: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Mon 13, 2017 9:47 pm 
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Joined: Nov Wed 27, 2013 5:59 am
Posts: 385
Location: Metzger Oregon
First of all, I agree 100% on the advise to replace sensing foil and pressure pads. Once this is done, the format is quite reliable.

Second, I have a Pioneer Centrix deck that I am planning to sell, not refurbished but just a good working deck. Feel free to send me a PM if interested.


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 Post subject: Re: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Tue 14, 2017 6:58 pm 
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Joined: Dec Thu 10, 2015 7:01 pm
Posts: 157
Location: Aurora, IL
Changing the sense foils is a necessity.. a high number of tapes broke for me at the sense foil when I was in the process of locating it the first time I played the tape. You have to be fast and hit the eject or pull the cartridge right at the change when you hear the clunk. If the foil breaks one end will be pulled inside the cartridge. But if you time it right and it remains intact.. the foil will be right there to see.

On tapes with pressure pads on metal tabs.. if you locate the sense foil without it breaking, I've replaced the foil and the pressure pads on the metal tabs without having to open the cartridge. Was able to do that for many of them. Many times if you just put a little sideways pressure on those pads they will fall off as the glue has all but failed. As far as the foam type.. you need to open the cartridges to replace those. You will often find that foam is falling apart if you touch it. But they usually last just long enough to locate the sense foil before opening the tape.


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 Post subject: Re: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Fri 17, 2017 4:53 pm 
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Joined: Nov Thu 09, 2017 4:26 pm
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I would like to thanks all who have posted in this thread. I have found the information vary usefull and have learned a lot about 8 track players. Pm sent to "classicelectronicsguy." Thanks again!


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 Post subject: Re: New member LF 8 Track player
PostPosted: Nov Sat 18, 2017 6:49 am 
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Joined: Feb Mon 06, 2012 7:24 pm
Posts: 2188
Location: Gold Country, (Stanislaus National Forest) California 95235
Personally I would open every single one and at least tap in a little fine-grain artists' graphite out of a little thin tube you get at the craft shop.

There are three BASIC types of 8-track and then variations on a theme.

The most common type is the CBS which either has two three or five tabs that are removed by G E N T L Y bending back the tabs to clear the bottom of the shell. The best way to do this is to have a couple small flat head screwdivers - one to bend the tabs back and the other one to keep it open while you bend the other ones back i.e. start w the one nearest the front of the cartridge and stick the other screwdriver in to keep it propped open and then do the other(s).

Some have one in the front and one in the middle and that's it - others have one in the front and two on each rear corner others have all four and a few have five.

These can also be little D-shaped tabs where you can actually see the tab and what it's grabbing onto and then there's other tabs that are hidden inside and you have to push the screwdriver down inside the slit to bend it back before you can open it up.

Some may also have the front tabs opening one way and the back tabs opening the other way - so like with all of the other kinds listed below - get some practice tapes 10 for $1 at the thrift shop that contain music you don't care about - and practice on that.

Second kind is the Ampex which has 3 or 5 tabs accessible from the underside.The slant on the tab tells you which way to pull it in order to disengage it from the shell. This you have to be careful with because if you separate the bottom too far the tape will fall off the reel and have to be thrown away.

Third type is the RCA riveted version which has one or two rivets on the underside which have to be drilled into and extracted S L O W L Y with a headless-bolt remover. When you are done - replace it with a normal Phillips-head countersunk wood-screw of the same length and width.

RCA also has sonic-welded versions that also sometimes show up on GRT tapes. Those you can't do anything with other than score them all around with an X-Acto knife and then pry around from the left rear to the front and right rear of the frunt. Then you have to wiggle the screwdriver into the weld behind the tape path that you can't reach with the X-Acto knife and pop that loose next.

The back of every 8 track like that has securement tabs that engage a lip to ensure the halves stay together prior to sonic welding - so once you pop the two sides and front apart - you should be able to open the top like a book after which the sonic weld on the back will break.

The last kind is a Capitol which is a variation on a CBS 2-point securement - except this time there's a SCREW under the label in the center and often times one just above the top edge of the label as well. Simply unscrew and lift the top off the bottom and set aside.

You will notice that contrary to other tapes (except cassette) the oxide (playing surface) faces outward instead of inward. Care must be taken when splicing to avoid creating a Mobius Strip by connecting the oxide face to the lubricating face which will then cause your tape to sound dull after a fashion if you can even hear it at all.

Pressure pads have already been covered (weatherstripping for the foam versions and moleskin for the metal prong pad versions works well) but as discussed briefly above - the pressure roller is what needs the most attention.

Rubber rollers come in two basic sizes - found MOSTLY on CBS carts but there's a handful of Ampex carts that use rubber rollers as well. If the rubber is the type that - like the drive belts - has turned to tar - if your tape touched it - good luck trying to get it out.

Sometimes a little naptha works - but only if it's a very tiny piece - otherwise you might just as well edit the piece out and re-splice. Of course only the end of the tape requires a foil channel changer on the oxide face - all other splices need to be made with standard splicing tape and the graphite side facing up.

Rubber rollers that are intact would most certainly need some Rejuvamax the same as any rubber pinch roller of any 40 or 50 yr old tape deck. Thread a bolt through it, spin on a nut to secure it in place and put the bolt into the drill motor.

Run the motor with one hand (or on low speed with trigger lock) and apply the Rejuvamax with a cotton ball until fully coated. Let dry awhile and then repeat the process applying an emery board to the roller to restore the necessary grip needed to pull the lubricated tape through the mechanism.

This needs to be done periodically even after you put it back together because the roller will get filled up with the graphite impregnated on the tape and evantually lose traction, possibly being one of the causes of subsequently being ``eaten'' by the player.

Other tapes will have plastic rollers and for those that are not in close enough dimensions to rubber rollers taken from parts carts - you will still have to live with the endemic plastic roller.

A few companies offer very thin rubber sheathing on plastic rollers to improve the grip - but again this is temporary due to the same graphite on the roller problem described above.

Next thing you will need is an ALUMINUM splicing block for quarter inch tape available online anywhere tape supplies are sold. When editing the tape prior to re-splicing and re-applying the changing foil - use the 45-degree or 60-degree diagonal cut for easiest passage of the splice through the mechanism.

For the splicing tape - get half-inch and set the two ends graphite-side-up and apply diagonally across the tape and rub with your fingernail or pencil eraser to ensure adherence especially through the graphite.

Quarter-inch (actually 7-16) loaded onto a tape dispender causes a lot of waste - although it is easier for beginners to pull a piece off - line it up over the cut ends with no space between and apply

Take the corner of the razor blade and draw a line in the channel between the edge of the tape and the edge of the channel to shave off excess splicing tape.

For sensing foil, flip the now-spliced tape over to the oxide face and repeat the process with the half inch sensing foil. Thread the tape back through the guides as directed, replaces the foam or pads, tap a couple pinhead size dots in different places on the tape pack - spin the pack to make sure it moves, reassemble the cart and do a play-test.

As reported above - cleaning the heads in the player as well as the capstan as well as keeping the heads demagnetized is also important both for sound quality as well as to prevent tapes from being eaten.

In conclusion - some tapes can get bound up regardless of how much graphite you put on. These must be unwound from the edge back to the center onto an empty cart (eraser ends of a pencil work well) and then rewound back to its original cart.

If you are doing this by machine i.e. on a reel to reel - except for a little 3-inch rim-drive player - all the bigger ones have too much torque to be able to allow the loose hub needed for correct operation. On these - attach a length of leader to the beginning - leave the end accessible to pull with and wind as usual.

Once the cart has been wound in - pull about 2 feet of tape out from the EDGE and then pull the leader tape out lengthwise with your fingers from the center until you get to the actual tape.

Unsplice the leader, pull enough tape out of the center to reach the splicing block, bring your loose end from the edge back from the other side and being mindful of the sides (oxide or graphite) apply splicing tape and sensing foil as before.

Rethread the tape, reassembe the shell and you are back in business except for sonically-welded ones which will have to be secured by cello tape or by a couple dots of cyanoacrylate in the corners to allow for future repairs.

Also in your quest for 8-Tracks you may run into Quadraphonic (early version of Discrete Dolby Surround) 8-tracks which you will not be able to play on your Stereo-Only player.
These can be distinguished two ways:

1. They have only 2 programs listed
2. They have a notch on the upper left of the shell.

They also have twice the tape as a regular album and may feel very heavy by comparison.

In addition you may also run across Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-track endless loop cartridges. The last ones in 1971 look exactly like an 8-track except they have a hole in the bottom where the pinch roller in an 8 track would have gone.

Like the Quad 8-tracks - these have only two programs listed as well and contain twice the tape - but not because of having double the channels (4.0 surround) but by having a stereo track with double the area.

Earlier ones are square, often grey or beige and also have the same hole in the bottom. These early versions also have a built-in braking system which must be disengaged prior to attempting to unwind and rewind the tape to correct for tension errors

Combi-players have a little finger to detect the hole and will bring up a built-in rubber roller to drive the tape that the 8-track-only player does not have.

In addition - for the last few years of the 8-track - a couple background music players must have gotten ahold of a ton of surplus shells and surplus players because there are plenty of examples around of half-speed 8-tracks and Muntz tapes that sound like a chipmunk on a normal player.

There's also a number of examples of DOUBLE speed 8 tracks (both Quad as well as Stereo) that you may run into - which will sound like Darth Vader on a normal player. To play them - you must have a deck that has a Fast Forward button. Simply disconnect the MUTE circut from this button and press it to enjoy the program properly.

All these are prized by collectors depending on title and condition - so if you buy up tapes by the lot and a few of these are in there - you may be able to sell them individually online to people who can play these formats and be able to pay for the rest of the tapes that way.

And no there is no Combi-Player that plays all three (Muntz, Q-8 and Stereo-8) It's one or the other (Q-8 and Stereo-8 or Muntz and Stereo-8) however Muntz DOES come in different sizes - from one-size-smaller than an 8-track to several sizes bigger.

These can of course be cut apart and wound into smaller shells, but if you end up getting a lot of these super-long-play tapes - I would just get a Muntz player that has the left side already removed so you can play all sizes.

Have Fun

_________________
2 kinds of men/tape. Low Noise/Wide Range.
LN=kind. WR=abrasive. Engineers=same thing.


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