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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Apr 2006
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    Hi folks,

    Can anyone advise the best way to clean up physically grubby VHS tape please?



    I have a substantial number of VHS tapes, both retail and home-recorded, that have been in storage for about 10 years and must have been in a damp environment - most have signs of mould inside the cassette on the edges of the spooled tape. This varies from a few white spots to a complete layer of grey fuzz (yuk!).



    Some of the tapes still play perfectly well, some jump and switch to BW images randomly, some play OK but the picture has gone to soft focus, and some seem to have lost everything and appear to be blank now.



    There should be some good stuff on some of the tapes, original TV broadcasts from the 70s and 80s. I'm hoping that the better ones will be salvagable and if anyone knows a good way or cleaning up the actual tape surface and spools, I'd be pleased to hear. I notice some tape rewinding machines claim to clean the tape too, but haven't seen this type available in the UK, just on eBay USA, and not for export.



    Any ideas welcome and appreciated!



    Cheers,

    Pip.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Me again, follow up to my own query, for anyone interested...



    I picked up a "Geneva PF-740" video tape cleaner from USA (just needed to change the transformer for a 240v input model, same output). This machine scrubs the tape surface as the tape runs over brush-covered pillars - with or without the use of a cleaning fluid on the brushes (recommended by the maker for badly soiled tapes). This has worked fine for some tapes, but needed several run throughs on most (in one case 8 times, cleaning on FF and rewind = 16 passes - surprised there was anything playable left inside the videocassette after that, but there was and it was OK!). Slightly soiled tapes cleaned up fairly easily and played OK, others cleaned up but with some picture degradation (usually colour fade) or a few jitters. The worst tapes seem to be beyond hope though - presumably too much damage done already.



    A couple of lessons I've learnt from this (a) videotape shelf life is limited, even in good storage conditions (unfortunately some of mine were in bad conditions!). Some references suggest 25 years maximum in good storage and with regular rewinding to air the tape and ease any uneven tension - I wouldn't trust anything for more than 10 years in optimum storage now. (b) if you've got stuff on videotape that is unique, irreplaceable or rare, get it onto DVD without delay!



    Pip

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    Thanks Pip, this is very useful. Just waiting for someone to venture the suggestion that DVD has a limited life as well...



    rgds

    Rob

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Hi Rob,

    DVD life..... well, I've heard 100 years mentioned, but how the hell do they test that?? A few of my home-burned DVDRs are failing after just a couple of years (keep a double or treble back up folks!!).



    No doubt DVDs will be replaced and so will Blu-Ray or HDDVD (or whatever its called) in due course, but so long as we can copy on from one format to the next, or players are backwards-compatible (i.e. will play all our old DVDs) that's not so bad.



    In the meantime, DVDR or hard drives are the only readily available option for most of us. It's just so time-consuming converting all those old VHS tapes!



    Pip

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