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Copyright:  Mike Sillett


1. Intro
2. Tools
3. Materials
4. Procedure / technique

photo of an eight track held together by a rivet

1. Intro

Eight track tape cartridges have at least two types of cushions / supports / pushers.
One type is the foam sponge type that over the years deteriorates into a powdery and sticky mess.
The other is the little brass spring type with the little felt pads at the end of the spring.

Most people that play their tapes do not realize that the cushions have a very important function and that without good ones in place the playing tape will more than likely sound like crap, if you can hear any sound at all.

Look inside the throat of an eight track, where the tape is inserted and you will see the solenoid, the play/record head and the capstan.

The capstan spins when the tape is inserted.
When the tape cartridge is all the way in the throat, the playing tape surface, that has the songs/music on it, is put up against all three devices you see in the photo ( the Look Inside photo you should have already clicked on ) . The capstan, while spinning, binds the playing tape between itself and the roller which is at the front part of the tape cartridge. This spinning pulls the tape from one side of the cart, which causes the spool inside of the cartridge to revolve, and the effect of the spool revolving inside the cartridge causes the playing tape to be 'taken-up' on the outer edge of the spool of tape inside ( there's only one spool inside.The tape leaves the inner edge and gets back on the outer edge - crazy amazing - really. )
Let's get back to the tapes action - The tape glides across the solenoid, then the play head all the while being pulled from one side to the other by the capstan. What is needed is something to put a bit of 'push' from the back of the playing tape's surface toward the play/record head. If there was no 'push' the tape would be gliding across the surface of the play/record head as, Muhammad Ali used to say, "as light as a butterfly", that is, barely alighting upon it. That is not good. You need to have the playing surface decently pushed against the head. It doesn't need to be real forcefully against it, just enough will do.

So why all the detail?
WELL - it's because IT'S VERY IMPORTANT. The sponge foam pad and/or the spring pads are an integral part of the engineering.
They apply just enough pressure from the rear to force the tape's playing surface against the play/record head.

This tutorial pertains to the spring pad type of cushions.        The foam type is a separate tutorial.

2. Tools

( 1. ) Scissors
( 2. ) Razorblades
( 3. ) Tweezers
( 4. ) Q-Tips

3. Materials

( 1. ) Rubbing Alcohol. Get the 91% alcohol, not the 70% stuff. It does not work well.
( 2. ) A felt pad with the adhesive on the back. Most hardware stores will have these for sale. They are often used for making padding for the bottoms of knick-knacks, lamps, ashtrays, pictures, decorative plates, etc.

4. Procedure

Pull out enough tape from the front of the tape's front end so you can work comfortably. At the end of this article I'l explain how to get the tape back inside. Very easy, if you know how.

photo showing a spring pad type of eigth track cartridge - at front of tape opening.

Here is an eight track tape that has the spring pad type of cushions rather than the sponge foam type.

If the pads are off already get the Q-Tip and soak it in the alcohol bottle and clean off the surface as best as you can.

If one is off and one is not, assume that the one still attached is not long for this world and will probably fall off at some point real soon. Remove it. Indeed, you may wish to use the one your taking off as a template.

No need to throw the one you took off away. It can still be used at some other time. I have a little baggie with about a forty or so of them in it. When I get a tape that needs new pads I sometimes use those from the baggie. A little clean up of the backs and a little super-glue or crazy-glue does fine.

These felt pads are the perfect thing and after you do both of the little pads they look good on the tape.

Here is the felt pad. You can see from the size they are decent size. You can repair quite a few tapes with one. I believe there may be three of these in the plastic package when you purchase them at the store.

photo showing a felt pad that will be used to cut out the little pads we need for repair of the tape.

Felt pad that will be used to cut out the little pads we need to make the repair.

You'll want to cut the little pads a little wider than the width of the playing tape. If the brass spring paddle area has a well defined width then cut out the pads to be the same width. After cutting out to correct size remove the paper backing from the adhesive and grab the top part of the felt material with your tweezers and apply to the brass spring paddle area.

photo showing the paper backing being removed from the adhesive on back of the felt pad.

Showing the paper backing being removed from the adhesive on the back of the felt pad.

Here we go. All done with the pads. Looks pretty good.
Some folks place a piece of clear packing tape on top of the green felt ( a piece the same size as the little piece of felt ) in the believe that the tape will glide better over the tape than it would over the felt. I have tried both. I never noticed any difference in play.
It is an optional thing.

photo showing both new spring pad cushions in place.

Here is the tape with both spring pads in place. The tape is ready to go.

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.


Feel free to copy the information for your own use.

If you need a tape repaired contact me. I repair these eight tracks on a regular basis. There is a minimal charge depending on what is needed.

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