VCR Head Cleaning


Old 06-21-13, 08:44 AM
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Lightbulb VCR Head Cleaning

How to professionally clean a VCR.

Items needed: Q-Tips brand, a good quality paper towel, lubricant from Radio Shack: Cat#: 910-3887 Model: MCL100L-L25C. Denatured alcohol is best but isotropy will work just be sure you remove any residual from the oil in isotropy.

1. Remove unit from power source first!...

2. Remove the top or “Can” of the VCR.

3. Look into the VCR, the bright chrome approximately 2” in diameter disk is the video head. Great care should be taken in the following step. DO NOT use a Q-Tip here!

4. Cut the paper towel into 1” x 4” strips and fold in half so you have a 2” long, 1” wide strip (or so, doesn't’t have to be exact). Wet with the alcohol (Not dripping).

5. Gently but with semi firm pressure with your index finger apply the paper towel to the video head. Turn the video head around the towel not the towel around the head and for no reason move the towel up and or down. Do this for a few turns and move the towel to a clean spot and do it again. That’s it, it’s clean. No need to dry it as the alcohol will evaporate in a matter of seconds.

6. Now look to the right of the video head, among other things the audio and control head will be next in the tape path. From here on you can use Q-Tips. Wet the Q and gently but firmly (If that makes sense) scrub the head.

7. Again look to the right you will see the pinch roller and capstan, clean those with a Q-Tip.

8. Now again look at the video head, directly if front of the head you will see the two, most likely white “Take up Posts” that feed the tape up onto the video head. Clean them with a Q-Tip. Now look below those take up posts you will see the track on which they slide forward. Put just a drop or two of the lubricant on the tracks. You can clean off some of the grease that is there from the factory but not all of it unless you can locate a lubricant called “Black Molly” or “Lubra-Plate”. Either of these are excellent lubes.

9. Now that you have an idea of the tape path, look in that path for any other item that should be cleaned. To the left and even with the video head is the “Erase” head. It should be cleaned.

10. Now look at the “Basket” this is what to cassette slides into to feed into the “Transport”. On either side of this basket you will see the small rollers or just bare pieces of metal that ride in slots as the cassette feeds down. Put a drop of lube on each of those.

11. At this point you can leave the can off the VCR and plug it back in. Put a tape in and bench test (Play) it before putting it back together. This is just in case the paper towel may have left residue on the head and cause the picture not to display. This is why we recommend a good grade paper towel. If you wish to spend the money you can purchase Cat#: 910-0061 model: 2314-10 again from Radio Shack. These are Chamois Pads that I highly recommend but not needed if you are careful with the paper towel.

12. In some severe cases the above cleaning may not clean the video heads. If you look at the head you will see, set 180 degrees out from each other, two small dark slots with little tabs set in them. These are the actual video pickups and these are what you must be very careful of. But should the heads still not be clean, you can take a good quality business card, using the back side of the card, fold it in half and firmly press it against the pickups only and move the head back and forth ONLY ON THE PICKUP! Do this to each pickup. This is to be done in extreme circumstances only! There is a special cleaning rod made of fiberglass for this purpose but it can be hard to locate. The business card is an old tech trick and has worked many times for me.

13. If you follow these directions you should have no problems. It only takes a few minutes and is much safer than used a cassette type head cleaner which can and has destroyed many a video head!

14. This method is tried and true and if you damage anything don’t blame or yell at me!...:NO NO NO: Be careful, take your time and all will go well...

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Old 06-22-13, 06:34 AM
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I prefer a coffee filter instead of a paper towel and Q tips. We used coffee filters at our video production facility. Similar to Tech Wipes, they have the proper amount of abrasive properties without lint, dust, or cotton threads.

Also, there is no need to lubricate. The tape itself has a lubricant as part of its formula. Applying a lubricant to tape guides can actually cause head clogs the next time the same tape is played.

If a tape seems to be unplayable because of head clogs and you've cleaned the heads only to see it clog again within a few seconds, the tape's binder is probably dried out. You can reactivate it by baking it in an oven. Seriously! Very low temperatures (130 degrees or so) for up to 4 hours to thoroughly heat the tape, then shut off the oven and let everything cool in place for several hours to room temperature before you play the tape.

You will only get one or two plays after you bake, so it's best to transfer it to a digital form on the first play after baking.

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