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Copyright:   Mike Sillett


1. Intro
2. Materials
3. Procedure

photo of a set up for fixing 'Tight-Wound' 8 Track Tapes.
A set up for fixing 'Tight-Wound' 8 Track Tapes

1. Intro

You're at a thrift store or a garage sale and you bought several old 8 track tapes. You get home and discover that a couple of them will not work in the tape player. The capstan just spins on the tape's surface wearing an impression into it. You then try to loosen the tape by running your finger across the tape right over the wheel and again, no movement. In fact, trying to grab a portion of the tape and pulling on it won't budge it either.

What you have on your hands is a tape that has become 'tight-wound'. That is, the tape is wound so tight around the reel that it will not allow the 'exit' portion of the tape, which is at the inner part of the reel, to leave.

Not to worry though. It can be fixed. It will take a bit of doing and a bit of knowledge but once done you will be able to fix any that you run across again.

This tutorial will take you through the steps to repair a 'tight-wound' eight track tape.

2. Materials

( 1. ) an empty 8 track tape cartridge ( or an empty reel-to-reel spool ),
( 2. ) Some double faced tape.
(3.) A pencil with a nice soft eraser.

3. Procedure

Open up the cartridge and look at what the innards of an eight track operate.

photo of an eight track tape's inside's.

Here is what the inside of an eight track tape looks like.

You will need to cut the tape.
Ideally, the best place to cut the tape is at the sensing foil splice, as shown in the photo below.

photo of the front of an eight track tape.

The sensing foil splice is the ideal place to cut - or halve - the tape and start the unwinding process.

However, that may not be possible since it might be buried way under all the turns. If that is the case then you will have to cut the tape near where it joins the 'exit' portion - near the inner part of spool. That will mean one song will have a very brief 'blip' upon playing, if you do a very good splicing job when all done.

Once the tape has been cut - neatly - we want to start unwinding it unto an empty reel. At one time I used to use an empty reel-to-reel spool to take up the unwound tape but have discovered a much easy method. At least you don't need to buy an empty reel-to-reel spool.
An emply 8 track cartridge works great. They are cheap. Buy one at the Goodwill and remove all the tape and discard. The spool within it will be at the exact same plane, when the two cartridges face each other.
Attach each cart to your kitchen counter, or, if your spouse complains, to a 1 X 4 pine board, with a couple of small pieces of double faced tape.

So, here is the scenario - there are two opened tape cartridges setting on the counter - on top of double-faced tape.
One on the left facing to the right that needs unwound.
The other facing toward it.
The distance they shoud be apart is a personal preference. I like about 6 inches. Others like a foot or so in order to observe the condition of the tape as it is being taken up onto the empty spool.

photo of eight track tape cartridges. One that needs unwound and the other to use as the 'take-up'.

The reddish tape on the left needs unwound and then rewound. The tape on the right is the 'take-up' spool.

In starting the unwinding operation, take the portion of tape ( we'll call it the 'outer' portion ) from where you cut it and tape it with a little piece of tape to the hub of the 'take-up' spool.
Leave the other portion of tape where the cut was made sticking up near the 'exit' area.

photo of an eight track tape's inside's showing the portion of tape that starts the unwinding process.

The lower part of the tape - 'Outer Portion' - is what starts the 'unwind'. It is attached to the spool of the other cartridge.

Secure the 'outer Portion' of the tape to the take-up spool.

photo of an eight track tape portion being attached to take-up spool.

The outer portion of tape is attached to the hub of the take-up spool

Once the tape is secured to the hub of the take-up spool use a pencil, with a nice soft eraser on the end, as an aid in helping to revolve the take up spool.
I have an acquaintance that rigged up a round rubber eraser epoxied on the end of dull drill bit and using his reversable hand drill rotates the spools on low speed.
Works great he says.
Some day I might try that.

photo of an eight track tape being unwound from one cart and wound onto another.

The silver plated spoon is laying over the tape in the correct position, that is, showing the face portion of the tape, so it can be inspected while unwinding.
It's a good time to find flaws if there are any.

Once all the tape is taken up onto the 'take up' spool it's time to reverse the procedure.

The last piece of the tape that was unwound from the bad cartridge is now brought back, placed around the hub from the bottom and a small piece of tape is used to attach it to hub, making sure there is about one inch sticking up over the hub so it can be grabbed after all is rewound.

photo of an eight track tape being attached to hub of original to start rewinding process.

Attaching the end of the unwound tape back onto the original cartridge spool.

Now, using the pencil, wind it clockwise until all is back on the spool.

photo of an eight track tape being wound back onto original.

Rewinding tape back onto original spool.

Once all rewound back onto the original spool it is ready for repairing other essentials such as making a new pressure pad and / or fixing the sensing foil splice.

photo of an eight track tape that has been unwound and then rewound.

All rewound and no longer tight wound.

Get the knack of repairing eight track tapes by starting with playing tapes that have not yet separated completely and which feature content that you could care less about. That way you will develope a bit of comfort working on tapes, with the materials and using the tape 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 some really good content and / or that are totally separated.


Rewinding a tight-wound tape depends on the condition of the tape. Email me and make inquiries.

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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Even a dollar would be helpful.

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