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You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?

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Mark Suszko
You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 12, 2010 at 6:59:25 pm

Some very stubborn clogs on our air-threading Sony 1-inch machine. We've been running a lot of 20-year-old tape thru it as part of a transfer to new archival. And have many hours more to go. Clog is exceptinally stubborn. Take off and nuke it from orbit? Or is there a softer option? Doing it the old-fashioned way with chemwipes and isoprop right now.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 12, 2010 at 7:11:41 pm

This goes back to the days of quad, so take it for what it's worth: lintless cotton cloth and a bottle of freon. Good luck finding that stuff!

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Mark Suszko
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 12, 2010 at 7:46:15 pm

Yeah, not going to find freon easily today. The build-up in the head slot is so thick you can't get any picture out at all. I wonder about an abrasive of some sort...nah.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 12, 2010 at 7:53:01 pm

Have you ever been to the web site called Quadruplex Park? The guy tracks down & restores old TV production equipment. He might have a trick or two up his sleeve....

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Mark Suszko
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 12, 2010 at 8:18:32 pm

I have seen that site before; emailed him the question, we'll see if he responds. A buddy suggests acetone and a fine bristle tothbrush. The brush sounds too dangerous but would acetone work better than isoprop, or just faster?


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Dave LaRonde
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 12, 2010 at 8:27:06 pm

That brush idea gives me the willies... and I don't know what ELSE acetone might affect on the head assembly. As I recall, you can remove 1-inch heads from the headwheel, at least on our old Ampex machines. They machined them babies to some pretty close tolerances.

I'm thinkin' isolating the head from everything else to clean it, if necessary.

Bob Zelin frequents this forum, and he might have a good suggestion, too... along with delivering the unvarnished truth, like it or not.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Mark Suszko
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 12, 2010 at 8:31:39 pm

I think Zelin could probably just melt it off by staring/yelling at it. But I can't afford his rate to just come stare at the thing all day. My second issue is, assuming I can get the heads cleaned and not break them, what if anything can I do to keep it from getting clogged right back up again on the next tape pass? I have approx. 50 more hours of one-inch tapes to transfer. And no budget to take this job offsite.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 12, 2010 at 9:39:17 pm

If it's just one head giving you fits, I suspect a burr or rough surface on it. Got any way to scrutinize it microscopically?

But then, even under ideal storage conditions, the oxide could be almost falling off this tape.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Mark Suszko
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 12, 2010 at 9:42:21 pm

The oxide is the problem; after each time we roll a tape the drum looks like skidmarked undies.

Any opinion on using xylene or touluene versus acetone? What we've used since Freon went away was very pure isopropyl alcohol, but it doesn't have the muscle for this.


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Sam Cole
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 12, 2010 at 11:15:08 pm

What we do if a usual head clean doesn't work is get a roll of Fiji tape (most abrasive) and fast shuttle it to the end and back a few times. And then if that doesn't work just let it play for an hour.
We have Sony BVH2000 machines and the heads are not removable; you have to remove the whole head assembly.
Also, be careful when cleaning the DT head as they are easily damaged.

Sam Cole
On line Mastering Facility
FCP, Avid, Adobe
Sydney, Australia


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Bob Fiori
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 13, 2010 at 12:43:33 pm

If you still have the problem this old trick may come in handy.
A trick from the old days with IVC & Ampex 1” was to use a brand new 20 Dollar bill to lightly burnish the surface of the head. Being careful to pass horizontally over the head not up and down. Any new bill will work, but it always looked more professional to the client using a crisp new $20. It must be a new bill for 2 reasons. First the new bill has not been contaminated by a lot of handling. Second the longer the bill is in circulation it looses the surface texture that works to burnish the surface of the head. If you use the tip of your finger with slight pressure you will feel the tip of the head thru the paper. Gently move back and forth across the head. Short quick passes, very gentle pressure. You will need to do it a few times, using a new part of the paper every time you do it. As you wipe the bill across the head it will pick up the clog and after removing the contaminant the burnishing action will take care of any high spots on the surface that may have been causing it to clog. In most cases it should remove any stubborn clog, and then you should wipe the head and drum with the alcohol to remove any residue left behind. Hope it helps.

Bob Fiori
Croma-Video Inc,
Collegeville, PA 19426

Mac Pro, 3GHz, Dual Quad Core, 8gb Ram


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Chuck Pullen
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 13, 2010 at 1:16:05 pm

I was expecting Bob's post to end with a joke about billing the client a $50 materials fee for using a $20 bill to clean the head!


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Neil Hurwitz
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 13, 2010 at 2:50:13 pm

All my sugestions have already been given,
although I never tried the 20 dollar bill fix.
However years ago at an IPS meeting I saw a demonstration by
either Spec Brothers or Vidipac (sorry don't remember which)about a procedure they had for "rebinding" the oxide to the backing.
This was to save historical 2 inch quad tape. you
may want to give them a ring (don't even know if both are still around) It sounds like you have a continuing tape shedding issue.
I gave up on archiving 1/2 EIAJ tape for just this reason.
Now if you come across some shrunken 16mm film you can but it in an
autoclave for 6 hours then stretch it and you got 6 hours to transfer

Neil Hurwitz


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Bruce N. Goren
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Oct 16, 2010 at 6:58:04 am

Avoid using cotton on video heads, no such thing really as cotton lint-less.

We used to have lint-less linen squares to keep Quads clean, I think the Textwipe folks supplied it. First line of defense was alcohol, and as mentioned here already, freon was the second line of defense. But freon could crack the heads if used too liberally. We kept a squeeze bottle of each on top of each machine. I remember some cowboys would drip a few drops from a bottle of freon right on the headwheel to wash away a persistent on-air clog! I would wrap my thumb with a layer of linen cloth square, drench my wrapped thumb with freon, and apply directly to the spinning head, can still hear that ziiizzzzzzzzz, managed never to slice my finger or break a head! Some guys used their bare thumbs, ouch!

Third and most potent cleaner was xylene, a powerful and dangerous solvent, smelled like magic markers, I seem to recall if you got the tiniest amount on your hands you could feel it penetrate deeply and almost "taste" it a few seconds later. Use gloves, don't breathe the fumes!

One inch head gaps are smaller and the assembly more fragile than quad so never try the crazy powered up spinning tricks we did in the old days with Quad.

Bruce N. Goren
"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"
John Wooden, Basketball Coach


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Larry Odham
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Mar 7, 2012 at 3:18:54 pm

Hello Mark,
came across your post, it's been a while, dont know if you are still needing some help with your head clogs.
The problem you are having is not as much the head clog, but the tape itself. The head clog is the symptom of a more serious problem.Tape hydrolysis - moisture has been absorbed by the binder and/or lubricant layers in the tape, causing a sticky-shedding syndrome of a black goo substance.
When a tape gets to this point, two approaches will work,1. tape burnishing on a tape cleaning machine with lint-free pellon cloth. or2. to bake the tape for several hours at 122 deg.F in a oven specially built for tape baking.
Baking works 99% of the time if the oxide layer isn't damaged. I dont do much 1 inch, most of what I do here is 2 inch quad. For example to bake-dry a one hour 2 inch tape, the oven is brought up to 122 slowly over a two hour period, and baked at a constant 122 deg f +- .5 deg. for 18 hours, then cooled slowly back down to room temp for another 18 hours.
Afterwards, the tape will usually play back with no head clogs for a short period of time from a day to a week or so before picking up moisture again.
OK hope this helps a little,I could probably bake a few tapes for you if needed,
larry@quadtapexfer.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: You old guys: Got any tricks for cleaning clogged one-inch video heads?
on Mar 7, 2012 at 6:55:24 pm

Thanks, Larry, I knew about this but wasn't in a position to bake 200 reels. We finally got them all transferred off and there's a huge gaping hole in the rack where the 1-inch used to be now. It's gone to the big repair bench in the sky, to be with Philo.


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