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Copyright:   Mike Sillett


1. Intro
2. Materials
3. Tools
4. Construction

Photo of a Splice on an Eight Track tape that needs repaired.

1. Intro

One of my enjoyable activities on a cold winter day is to pull out my box of eight track tapes purchased over the course of a year, many, if not most of which, need repaired some way or another and fix the splice. I say enjoyable because in my method of repair playing portions of the tracks on many different cartridges is part of the repair process.

I will hear several songs and/or music that I may not have heard for years. Brings back some fond memories.
A recent example being Kenny Ball and the Jazzmen playing Midnight In Moscow and Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.
Or another great tape:   Marty Robbins' - 'Gunfighter Ballads'. Boy I loved fixing that one. Some great songs on there; Felina, Mr. Shorty, and The Master's Call just to name a few.

Anyway, in my method, a working eight track tape player is an essential item in repairing the tape's splice joint.

On some occasions you can get by without a Splicing Block/Aid. On other occasions the splicing block really helps in getting a good STRAIGHT splice. A straight splice is essential so as not to cause the tape to become all screwed up during it's circuitous run around the tape spool inside the cart.
If you want a splicing block/aid, before you start to repair tapes, you can make one by viewing my SPLICING BLOCK Tutorial.
All you'll need is an empty plastic jug, a credit card and some contact cement.

This tutorial will take you through the steps to repair the splice on an eight track tape. The tape's splice thereafter will be good for another 20 - 25 years.

2. Materials

( 1. ) Q-tips,
( 2. ) Rubbing Alcohol ( get the 91% alcohol. It's a much better cleaner than the 70% )

Before you insert the tape cartridge into the player take a look at the open end of the cart to see that the tape is not separated already - like in the photo below. This one is ready to repair. Sometimes you will find them like this at yard sales, etc. You at least won't need to put them in the tape player first. Consider it a bonus.

photo of an eight track tape's front end. This one showing the splice joint being separated.

Here is a tape that already has a separated sensing foil splice.

Most however will not be separated at the joint already. You will need to get the tape 'out in the open' where it can be worked on.
That's where the tape player comes in.
HOWEVER many tapes may be ready to separate at the joint because the sensing foil's adhesive is 30 or 40+ years old. Therefore, while playing, it is important to know WHEN the joint is going to make it's appearance at the front of the cart. That's what you want the player to do, that is, play the tape until the splice is almost at the front. As soon as it is almost there, listen up! when you hear the channel change taking place, quickly pull the tape cartridge from the player.

How do you know it is going to change channels you may ask?
Well, you have to look at the list of songs on that particular channel so you will know that after the last song on that channel there will be a change taking place.

SO - the first step is to put the tape into the player and note what channel is being played( you can also change channels at this time in case it is easier to follow along a song you are familiar with so that when it is almost over you know the channel changing will be taking place )

You'll note from the photo that Program/Channel 1 is playing on this tape.

photo of an eight track tape inserted in the player to determine what channel is being played.

The tape cartridge inserted and revealing that Program/Channel 1 is being played.

After knowing what channel is playing pull out the cartridge. Look at the line-up of songs.
Now note from the next photo that as soon as 'Sweet Dreams ( Of You )' is done playing the channel is going to change from '1' to '2'.
When it is near the end of that song, get your hands on the tape and get ready. As soon as the mechanism starts to make the change quickly pull the tape from the player. You will end up with the splice right in front of the carts opening.

photo of the back of an eight track tape showing the various programs/channels and the songs on each channel.

Look at the programs on the back and note the order of the songs on that particular channel your playing.

Yes it's another cartridge. I will be using various cartridges as examples throughout this tutorial.
The Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline tape from above was already repaired. You can see on the upper part of the label that I noted, in pencil, the fixing of the splice on 1/15/09 ( making a note is a good idea. A few years from now you will appreciate knowing that the cartridge was repaired already )

Now it's time for Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn.    Yeah!

Photo showing the splice joint at the front of the carts opening.

Here is a cartridge that has been played until the sensing foil strip is at the opening of the cartridge. Time to get out the tools and get to work!

3. Tools
( 1. ) Eight Track Tape Player ( used to advance the playing tape to the correct area AND for musical enjoyment )
( 2. ) Sensing Foil Tape ( the type with the adhesive already on it )
( 3. ) Clear Packing Tape ( get the good packing tape - don't use scotch tape )
( I was told by someone in the know that the Adhesive on a good quality packing tape is pretty much the same as the adhesive on the roll of sensing foil you use so there should be no qualms about using it in repairing your eight track tapes. )
( 4. ) Razorblade
( 5. ) Scissors
( 6. ) Splicing Block or Splicing Card

4. Construction

Use a pencil, straw, swizzle stick or something similar to pull some tape from the front of the cart opening. You will need to pull just enough to comfortable work on the joint area. Not to worry, getting the playing tape back inside is easy, although there is a right way and wrong way. The last photo will go into that explanation.

Photo of the playing tape being pulled from the front of the cartridge so the splice joint can be repaired/replaced.

Pulling some tape from the front of the cart to fix the sensing foil splice.

Flip the tape over. Do the reverse side first to keep the tape together.
You will want to clean off the lubricant normally found on the reverse side of eight track tapes ( yes 8 track tapes are different than other audio tapes ) so you can put a strip of clear packing tape on it.

The clear tape has no affect on play. It is being put on for two reasons:
        ( 1. ) Additional help in keeping the tape together, now and for the future repair of the sensing foil portion on the front, and
        ( 2. ) A 'helper method' by virtue of the fact that once the clear tape is in place on the reverse side you can remove the sensing foil from the front - CAREFULLY - but the playing tape will still be held together. With this method you can get by without using a Splicing Block/ Splicing Card.

Photo showing the rear-side of the playing tape being cleaned of the lubricant that is part n' parcel in eight track tapes.

You'll want to cut a thin strip from the clear packing tape and apply it to the area you just cleaned. You can use scissors or a razorblade to trim off the excess clear tape from each side of the playing tape. Of course, if you can manage to cut a strip of clear tape slighly less wide than the playing tape you won't have to trim anything.
Remember that the clear tape on the back won't be seen so it is not critical that the strip be perfectly formed.
About 1 inch long and a bit less than 1/4th inch wide will work fine.

Cutting a strip of clear packing tape. The tape will be applied to the rear-side of the playing tape after the lubricant is cleaned off with a Q-Tip and alcohol.

Cut a strip of clear packing tape to be used to splice the back of the playing tape.

With the clear packing tape applied on the back of the playing tape to keep it together you can now remove the the old sensing foil from the front.
If you're real lucky, which happens much more than you would think, that little piece of sensing foil will just about fall off. I have played tapes with the idea being to get the joint up front on the cart and as soon as I pulled it out upon channel change the splice fell off. If I would not have pulled it out a few things could have happened, none of which are good.

I can remember my Janis Joplin tape. What a scenario that was. It's playing. I'm waiting for the last song to finish to pull the tape out. The phone rings so I run upstairs to answer. While on the phone I hear the track change and it continues playing. I figure what the heck, the joint must be okay so I just let let it play. I get done on the phone go back downstairs and get sidetracked on another tape all the while listening to Janis. It's playing fine until I heard no more songs and when I looked to see why noticed 600 feet of tape on the floor( my player has no cover - on purpose - so I can constantly check on a tapes progress or clean the inside player mechanisms ). It just kept right on playing after the joint separated and instead of feeding itself inside the cart it fed itself onto the floor. Luckily I had no cover on the player. Anyway, that was a a repair requiring an empty Reel-To-Reel spool and some wide open spaces. It's now working great again.
The point of this anecdote is to explain/emphasize how important it is to fix the splice. Don't assume that if the track changes a couple of times okay that it will continue to work okay, otherwise you will have a Joplin experience.

Now back to work.
Other times the sensing foil will be almost ready to fall off on one side and still be decently attached to the other. A little effort and you can pull the better attached side off.

Photo of the old sensing foil being removed. First from one direction then from the other. It is now barely attached - ready to fall off.

Pulling off the sensing foil.
Start at one end, pull toward where the playing tape is cut then pull from the other side toward the cut.
Do it carefully and the clear packing tape on the reverse side will keep the playing tape together and straight.

Once again clean the playing tape off with the Q-Tip doused in 91% alcohol.
Apply a piece of sensing foil tape approximately 1 inch long and you're set to go.

Cleaning the playing surface in preparation for applying the sensing foil tape.

Cleaning the playing tape where the sensing foil has been removed.

If you have a playing tape that has separated, that is, you did not have a chance to put some clear packing tape on the reverse side, then you will need to use a Splicing Block or other Splicing aid.

With the Splicing Block/ Splicing Card laying flat put the tape in from each side, push down on the playing tape so that it stays in the groove. Slide the playing tape back and forth as needed, from either end, so there is a minimal amount of overlap. It does not matter what side of the playing tape overlaps the other. Apply a 1 inch piece ( don't use a piece that is too long - see below ) of sensing foil. Once the 1 inch piece of sensing foil piece is put in place you can remove the playing tape from the Splicing Block, turn over the playing tape and trim off the excess overlap on the playing tape and put on a strip of clear packing tape as previously explained.

Showing the use of the Splicing Block. The playing tape is in the recessed slot

Showing the playing tape recessed in the slot on the Splicing Block.

Getting the length of tape back inside the cartridge is a tricky little thing that requires a bit of 'touch'.
Once you get the hang of it though the process becomes second-nature.

Here is what you do.
( 1. ) Pull the playing tape from the exit side.
The exit side is on the side opposite from where the roller is. Let me say that again. IT EXITS THE CART on the side opposite from where the roller is ( the playing tape leaves it's abode from against the spool, exits the cart, glides across the foam pressure pad ( or spring pads ) and goes back into the cart after gliding across the roller. The act of pulling the playing tape from it's exit area also causes the spool inside the cart to revolve. This turning has the affect of 'taking up' the playing tape, on the outer edge, that has exited from the other side. You have to understand that there is only one spool inside the cart - NOT a departure and take-up spools. Take a quick look at the inside of a cartridge and study it a bit ).
( 2. ) Slowly pull until you feel a bit of resistance. ( What you have just done is take up any slack that may have been laying inside the cart. Once the resistance is met it's time to give a quick little pull AND LET GO. The inertia from the pull will spin the spool enough to have the affect of 'taking up', on the outside edge of the spool, the tape you initial had outside the front of the tape. You can do this a few times. When you do it right one time will work however ).
Under no circumstances should you pull the playing tape from the side that has the roller.
( the little white thing in the photo below that might look like it's a roller is NOT a roller. The roller is at the other end - out of this photo )

Showing the playing tape being pulled from the 'exit' side of the cart

Showing the tape being pulled from the exit side, taking up the slack,
and then giving a quick pull to get the disk inside to spin so as to take-up the excess tape inside the cartridge.

Get the knack of repairing eight track tapes by starting with playing tapes that have not yet separated completely. That way you will develope a bit of comfort working on tapes, with the materials and using the player as the method of getting the splice to show at the front of the cart.
After you have done a few THEN try those that have totally separated.

#### - Why not use a longer piece of sensing foil for the splice joint?
Because if the piece is too long it will take just a bit longer to glide across the solenoid in which case you will end up with the tape player changing channels TWICE maybe even THRICE - lol, not just the one time.

SENSING FOIL SPLICE REPAIR for Eight Track Tape cartridges

I repair the splice on an eight track tape at a cost of $2.00 each. Shipping is $2.00 in the U.S.A. You will have to send the tape (s) to me if you wish that done.

Replacing the Foam Pressure Pad and/or the Spring Pads on a tape is also $2.00 per tape.

Best deal is to have both repairs done to one tape and that would be $3.00. Shipping is still the same cost but you're having two things fixed for one shipping cost rather than one thing fixed for one shipping cost.

You can have me fix your tapes or you can fix them on your own using this tutorial.

Feel free to copy the information for your own use.

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