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 Post subject: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Mar Wed 18, 2020 12:30 am 
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Location: Little Rock, Arkansas
Hello everyone. I don't usually look for 8-track players but I like the sound and the fellow selling it just insisted I take the damn thing. It's very nice looking and does not play bad and have discovered new artists from way back. Who thought Elvis and Andy William's could sound so good. Whos Andy Williams? Whos Johnny Mathus? Didn't know these two guys until yesterday. Wow those were the good old days. Musice now has no soul compared to then. What can I do to renew this player. Is there a reader head in there that needs to be cleaned like a vcr. I noticed the music kinda sounded wavey. And I had to get cassette in there just right else nothing. Any tips to get me started would be great.

Thanks Rob

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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Mar Wed 18, 2020 1:15 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
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Location: S. Dartmouth MA 02748-1225 USA
Be sure the head is in alignment with the tracks on a calibrator tape.

The head and surrounding steel frame are de-magnetized.

The head is not so worn that the path of the tape is visible. A worn head looses high frequency response.

Replace all the electrolytic capacitors in the amp.

Be sure drive belt and capstan are clean and good condition, motor lubed...

Be sure that the felt or foam pad in each tape is in good condition.

--------------------------------------------

There were some great crooners and female stars too..

I like Mathis, many of his tunes stuck in my head. For me they bring back memories of dates, together but alone on an evening, star gazing. As it was called by "Murry the K" watching the "submarine races"

My fondest memory in a 54 Chrysler on a lonely, dirt side road. with my gal listening to WKBW Buffalo, playing Yellow Submarine and patching so it ran continuously for some 45 minutes...

Actually, I more enjoyed listening to the tune on the radio. As the station got into the wee hours and fade another distance station would play the top 40 in the early 60's.

YMMV

Chas

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Last edited by Chas on Mar Wed 18, 2020 1:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Mar Wed 18, 2020 1:19 am 
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Thanks Chas..I will start there.

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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Mar Wed 18, 2020 1:41 am 
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A any pre-recorded tape may do for the head calibration but if you can get a pre-recorded calibrator tape that is a plus it should also have some tones that can be checked with a counter, tuning fork or a scope for motor speed.

I serviced a few units in the late 70's some brands had a motor failure that would cause the motor to warble after it warmed up. It was hard, then to get a new motor. It was a nice console unit too. We did get one after 6 weeks. Somehow Craig or Lloyds rings a bell. But many of the tape heads were alike...

There are several tape enthusiasts here at ARF as well as Musicologists, very, very well informed. On recordings, machines and the tunes.

You will want to use a quality oil to lube the motor and a office machine grease. Lubriplate separates and gets hard and WD-40 is for rusty bolts :shock:

There may still be 8-track repair kits around as well as splicing and electric contact foil too...

I have a combo vacuum tube Akai R-R/8-track machine and a small portable 8-track machine. Just a few tapes, no collection... Also have two Webcors R-R's and a deck all stored, not regulars players.

BTW Quality vinyl sounds terrific with a magnetic cartridge too...

GL

Chas

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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Mar Wed 18, 2020 4:45 am 
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EnglishBob wrote:
I noticed the music kinda sounded wavey. And I had to get cassette in there just right else nothing.

You are discovering one reason as to why 8 Track technology became obsolete, one other being the introduction of cassettes, and lastly, the players would love to eat the tapes.

We would sometimes use a paper matchbook cover inserted under the tape to get it to play right. You will find that eventually the tape will separate from the chrome leader. That will require opening the cartridge, and replacing the leader with quarter inch wide chrome tape. Also, the cartridge's foam backing will have normally deteriorated, but can be replaced with Frost King 3/8" foam weatherstrip. Save any cartridges whose music you don't care for, for use as parts, mainly the plastic or rubber rollers.

I think if you validate or change the rubber belt, and maybe adjust the play heads and lubricate, it should operate decently.

The wife and I used to love to play "doo wop" oldies in our home 8 track player, and Tammy Wynette would serenade me on my way to work in my car player.


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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Mar Sun 22, 2020 4:28 am 
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A very cool music media from a bygone era which has its own special charm. The problems are more often with the cartriges themselves than the player, you must be prepared for some tape fitting, splicing,etc... but 8-track cartridges are still plentiful and cheap (except for the ultra rare and very expensive Sinatra-Jobim cartridge). Most (if not all) home players were low-end products with poorly engineered cheap tape transports unable to extract the best quality these cartridges were capable of. If you're looking for the best you should try to locate a Hi-Fi 8-track deck, a few good quality models were produced by companies such as AKAI or PIONEER and with some of them you could even record your own tapes.


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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Mar Thu 26, 2020 4:38 pm 
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Location: Gold Country, (Stanislaus National Forest) California 95235
Expanded explanation of some of the above postings:
EnglishBob wrote:
I noticed the music kinda sounded wavey.
Apart from the machine itself needing good belts and good traction therewith and the capstan sleeve and motor oiled regularly - the tapes themselves have rubber rollers inside which frequently get coated with the graphite backing impregnated onto the tape causing it to slip.

The carts with the plastic rollers are even worse - mostly because it's next to impossible to find rubber-coated replacements - but with either one it's possible to disassemble the cart CAREFULLY in the manner suited to that type of cart and then clean and roughen up the rubber or plastic roller therein.

Do NOT use alcohol or acetone on the plastic rollers as they will dissolve and get sticky and only use it on the rubber rollers in a pinch as repeated use will dry out the rubber and cause it to harden.

The reverse problem occurs in usually GRT carts from the 60s and 70s where the rubber roller turns to tar and in the worst cases is next to impossible to remove from the tape itself, the cart, or the residue in the player.
Chas wrote:
I have a combo vacuum tube Akai R-R/8-track machine.
My Dad used to have a Wollensak 2-track/4-track player the school for which he did volunteer AV maintenance let him have a few of. By the time I was nine he gave me one and taught me how to use it.

A year or two later when I got the Akai combi-player I made simultaneous 4-track reel and 8-track recordings from the 2-track reels my Dad had from the 50s and early 60s so that we could play them in the car.

We lived right down the street from the Ampex duplication plant in Chicago so after a neighbor's father got a job there I started getting less-than-perfect 8-track shells and short-ends off duplication pancakes and loading my own from both that as well as all the leftover NAB carts being thrown away by the radio stations.
Chas wrote:
There may still be 8-track repair kits around as well as splicing and electric contact foil too.
Not so much kits - but to assemble your own is very easy.
Most things can be found in local stores or ordered online

Quarter inch aluminum splicing block from e.g. EdiTall/Xedit/Splicit

Single edge razor blade box cutter and supply of blades from any office supply store

Splicing tape (do NOT use Scotch Tape it oozes and sticks)

Quarter inch wide self adhesive weatherstripping foam as mentioned above

Artists powdered graphite in a 5 gram tube (to sprinkle on tape
packs and spindles for the reel and the roller to loosen them up)

Aluminum (not chrome) sensing foil 7/32 or half-inch from either film supply houses (proximity detectors) or security outlets The 7/32 you snip off a piece line it up and paste it in. The half inch you apply diagonally and shave off the edges in the splicing block before removing the tape.

Small flat bladed screwdriver for bending retaining pins back to separate cart halves
1/8 inch drill bit for RCA carts that are held together by a headless screw.

Medium size Phillips screwdriver.

Some carts - usually Audiopak by Capitol - are secured with a Philips screw in the center.

Small strips of fine grain sandpaper to clean and roughen up the rollers.

Alcohol `tap' container and cotton swabs to clean the heads and capstan/tape path.

Wand demagnetizer.

Set of calibration 8-tracks (can get them on a reel from STL in San Jose and wind them into your own carts)

Teflon slip discs with quarter inch holes in. Still fairly readily available.
You can use a TEENY bit of grease under the reel in a pinch but it's not advised.

Some carts - usually RCA - are sonically welded like most cassettes - so after determining the cart is not one of the conventional types with the tabs in the top or bottom - you have to take the box cutter and score carefully around the seam and then take the screwdriver and pry apart inbetween the corners and work your way around.

To load your own with blanks, or if you get a good recorder and want to dump out the old copy of the album and record a new one onto better tape from a modern digitally remastered copy - or create your own mixtapes - lots of places still have New Old Stock of loop tape which has the necessary graphite coating impregnated onto the back.

Radio station combination tape timers/cart-winders are still fairly easy to come by if you look around.
It's highly recommended to use these (or even two) vs trying to wind and wind back onto all but the smallest reel decks (or even a Living Letter 3-inch or 4-inch type player)

Instead of the rim drive type I recommend the capstan drive and just splice a length of leader a couple of inner-circumference turns long onto the head, run the tape through the normal tape path including the capstan and play at normal speed.

After the reel is as full as you want it, pull the leader out of the center and save it for the next one before splicing the head to the tail, re-threading the tape path inside the cart and re-assembling.

``Tuning'' the Head
With most players - of the five head adjustments (wrap rack zenith height and azimuth) you will only have to worry about the last two. Height references whether the head and the track are correctly matching up or too far up/down to read properly.

Azimuth references whether the head is cockeyed to the left or right from the track it's trying to read.

Both of these adjustments can be done very easily with a small screwdriver.
Do the azimuth alignment first with the corresponding screw on a good calibration tape and then do the head height adjustment (often on the same azimuth tape) for best performance.

If you knock the head out of it's caddy, then you will have to start from scratch and do the other three adjustments first and then repeat the height and azimuth adjustments.

And finally there's quadraphonic (early form of Dolby Surround).

You can tell a Q8 three ways:
1 by the notch on the upper left side when placing the cart in the player
2 by looking at the program content - Q8s will only have 2 programs instead of 4
3 by listening to see if you hear what sounds like a different copy of the same song
on Programs 3 and 4 as you hear on Programs 1 and 2

Many Q8s are rare and worth considerable amount of money so check around if you have any or come across any before you play them in just any old player.

If you want to make your own Q8's from stereo sources - just about any matrix decoder made today that has a 5.1 analog output other than for speakers will do nicely. You may need to get Y adapters to combine the center channel with the left front and right front or run it through a simple 5.1/4.0 conversion box easily found online or built at home.

To actually record Q8 ONTO the 8 track itself of course you have to start with the correct Q8 shell.

As far as machines, there's two ways to go.
1 A good high quality Q8 recorder such as a Technics 858 or Akai equivalent
2 An 8-track 8-channel quarter inch multitrack reel deck (Fostex or Tascam) converted down from 15 IPS to 3-3/4.

Both of these operate in real-time-plus so it takes roughly an hour and a half to make an hour long album since you have to record each of the two programs individually. The only thing to be said about making the original recording on the reel-to-reel is the considerably more stable transport mechanism and considerably higher grade electronics.

You can also use higher grade/high-bias tape on the reel to reel and play it back normally in the cart for a better sound - especially with the addition of Dolby B Noise Reduction that is very hard to keep calibrated and keep the tape aligned well enough recording on a cartridge deck.

Welcome to 8-Track.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Apr Fri 24, 2020 4:50 am 
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EnglishBob wrote:
Hello everyone. I don't usually look for 8-track players but I like the sound.......

Indeed you do my friend..... Analogue is goregous!!!!!

I love your picture,look at all those cartridges!!


I mi$$ my player like crazy...... Its out being repaired :(


I hope ya get her happy and playing the best she can!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Aug Sat 29, 2020 2:49 am 
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Location: Bay City Mi
8 Tracks took it on the chin by consumers as a lousy medium ... most 8 tracks were purchased to play in car players ... usually cheaply made players...so you would get cross talk and loose fitting cartridges ....where they got their reputation as junk.... to listen to 8 tracks you need a quality player. the player you show looks to be a quality player... when set up properly and as mentioned good condition cartridges these will produce sound comparable to a reel to reel in performance


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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Sep Tue 01, 2020 8:26 pm 
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You have a 1966 model, that was RCA's first complete home player, they made it as just a deck without speakers also.

It has a very robust mechanism and with good tapes it does not have any audible speed wavering or flutter. You have
been given good advice above for cleaning and belts.


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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Oct Sat 24, 2020 11:58 pm 
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Fifties, I have that very same Craig recorder, from the 1970s; I was making my own oldies compilations even back then. Still have the Motorola in dash AM-FM and eight track player too; it outlived three cars.

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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Nov Fri 06, 2020 7:32 pm 
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Weatherstrip is too abrasive!

How to replace deteriorated foam rubber pressure strips in 8-track tape cartridges.

Image
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmGPudGGIqU

John is a member here: viewtopic.php?p=3206030#p3206030


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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Nov Sun 08, 2020 5:01 pm 
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I think the only 8 track tape I ever got was a Pink Floyd album. I had a player I got at school for free that was just a playback mechanism with line outputs like an add-on. That did not stick with me, even then I was looking forward to a cassette deck but the first tape machine I bought was an Akai RTR. I forget what the drive looks like on an 8 track but if it has a capstan like a cassette, that needs to be cleaned and the capstan roller if it exists, might have a flat spot in it or something. Otherwise it is probably a dried out or stretched drive belt. And some of those tapes have enough internal friction to rotating that can make speed irregularities, I suppose. If it was used alot, probably does have alot of head wear, too.

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 Post subject: Re: First 8-track player. How I make it play better.
PostPosted: Nov Mon 16, 2020 4:58 am 
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One girl that I knew always wanted to hear "Dark Side Of The Moon". Whenever she got in the car, her first words were "Where's Pink Floyd?"

Another girl REALLY liked a 1960s oldies compilation that I had made. I think that we wore out at least one cartridge!

Good times, from the late 1970s and early 1980s.....

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