ADVICE ON CURING A TAPE-GOBBLING VCR

WHEN A VIDEOCASSETTE RECORDER BEGINS TO EAT THE TAPE THAT FEEDS IT, THE OWNER HAS ONE OF TWO OPTIONS: TAKE THE DECK TO A REPAIR SHOP WHERE THE SERVICE FEES BEGIN AT $25 OR $35 OR ATTEMPT TO DO THE REPAIR AT HOME.

ACCORDING TO THE CURRENT ISSUE OF VIDEO MAGAZINE, DOING THE JOB YOURSELF MIGHT BE THE WAY TO GO. ALL IT REQUIRES IS A MINIMUM AMOUNT OF MECHANICAL ABILITY AND JUST A HINT OF ENTHUSIASM TO DO THE JOB AND SAVE MONEY.

THE FIRST SIGN OF A PROBLEM USUALLY BEGINS WHEN THE MACHINE REFUSES TO EJECT A TAPE. IN MOST CASES, THIS IS CAUSED BY A WORN OR DIRTY PART IN THE TRANSPORT MECHANISM.

THE MECHANISM ITSELF AND THE VARIOUS BELTS AND PULLEYS CAN BE CLEANED WITH A COTTON SWAB OR SPONGE MOISTENED WITH ALCOHOL.

THE MOST COMMON MECHANICAL CULPRITS ARE A WORN OR GLAZED IDLER TIRE, A WORN OR STRETCHED CAPSTAN BELT OR A WORN OR BROKEN SUPPLY REEL BRAKE.

THE IDLER TIRE TURNS THE TAKE-UP AND SUPPLY REELS. OVER TIME, THIS TIRE CAN WEAR OUT, CRACK OR GLAZE. LOOK FOR ROUGH SPOTS, CRACKS OR A GLAZED APPEARANCE. WHEN THE VCR IS PLAYING A TAPE, THE IDLER TIRE MAY NOT SPIN THE TAKE-UP REEL FAST ENOUGH AND THE OVERFLOW WILL SPILL INTO THE VCR CAUSING A SERIOUS JAM. REPLACEMENT TIRES CAN USUALLY BE OBTAINED FROM THE MANUFACTURER OR FROM MAIL ORDER VIDEO SUPPLY HOUSES.

THE CAPSTAN MOTOR IN A VCR POWERS THE TRANSPORT MECHANISM VIA BELTS. THESE BELTS CAN BECOME DIRTY OR WILL STRETCH OVER TIME. VISUALLY INSPECT THE BELTS BY GENTLY TWISTING THEM. CRACKS ARE A SURE SIGN THE RUBBER IS EXHAUSTED. REPLACEMENT BELTS ARE ORDERED BY DIAMETER AND SIZE. A COMMON DENTAL PICK CAN BE HELPFUL IN REMOVING AND REPLACING BELTS.

THE SUPPLY WHEEL BACK-TENSION BRAKE CONTROLS TAPE FLOW. IF THE FELT IN THE BRAKE WEARS OUT, YOU RISK TAPE SPILLAGE BECAUSE THE SUPPLY REEL MAY THEN SPIN FREELY. THE SITUATION CAN BE REMEDIED BY REMOVING ANY LAST TRACES OF FELT FROM A WORN BRAKE AND APPLYING NEW FELT OR BY REPLACING THE ENTIRE BRAKE WITH A NEW UNIT.

A VCR SHOULD NOT BE OPENED UP WHILE THE MACHINE IS IN WARRANTY BECAUSE THIS MAY VOID THE WARRANTY. ALSO, BE SURE TO UNPLUG THE VCR BEFORE ATTEMPTING ANY REPAIR.

CAREFULLY INSPECT ANY TAPE THAT HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN A JAM. IF THE TAPE IS SERIOUSLY CRINKED OR STRETCHED, IT CAN PERMANENTLY DAMAGE THE HEADS.