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Is my tape machine worth fixing? Teach 80-8 Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 21st December 2010
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
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Is my tape machine worth fixing? Teach 80-8

So I got an 80-8 awhile ago for cheap. It sat unused for about 1.5 years when I got. I finally took it to a tech, and he biased it and calibrated it, and demagged the heads for me.

Before I have ever used it, I had a friend try it for a project. He and a few others could not get it to record... (They have worked with tape before, so I know they are not idiots when it comes to this.)

If the record head is bad, is this going to be worth hunting one down? Should the tech have seen any issues with this machine in the callibration, biasing/de-magging process.

I am just unfamiliar with the science of getting a tape machine up and running.

Any thoughts?
Old 22nd December 2010
  #2
If the tech did a proper calibration then the machine was working.

So either he didn't do a proper calibration or your friends don't know how to operate it. Unless something went wrong between the time the tech had it and your friends started using it.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
danetate's Avatar
Yeah, you can't properly align a machine without putting it into record.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #4
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.
Have you tried operating the machine yourself?
.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #5
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlaugh87 View Post
If the record head is bad, is this going to be worth hunting one down? Should the tech have seen any issues with this machine in the callibration, biasing/de-magging process.
The calibration process with the 80-8 involves running the MRL tape, turning some pots on the circuit boards, but not physically aligning the heads.

the 80-8 was a very non-standard machine when it comes to the heads. You can not separately align the heads yourself. There are no screws to turn. All 3 heads come on a monobloc that had to be set up by Tascam.


I seriously doubt you could just replace the record head. Or even buy one separately. As far as I know you have to get the whole monobloc and there are apparently some special tools. Who even sells this monobloc these days? Maybe buy a 'parts machine'??

I recently fired up an old 80-8 to do a transfer to Pro Tools for mixing. Did the mix and sent it off. The client called me up and said, where are the drums? I said, there were no drums. He said "I know there were drums because I was the drummer!"

Went back to the machine, played the tape again - still no drums. Opened the front panel and started jiggling the circuit boards, lo and behold, a couple of tracks that were silent - with flat meters - suddenly started playing drums! Let go of the circuit boards and the tracks dropped out again. Ended up jamming a q-tip in there to keep the pressure on the contacts long enough to do the transfer.

To the question "worth fixing" ?? I would say, if you have a stack of old half-inch 8 track masters, and are getting paid to transfer them, yes.

Otherwise, no.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #6
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I usually jump the gun with issues involving my gear... This machine is my first attempt at using tape to record (I'm sadly a child of the digital age).

I guess I will have to mess around once I get it back and then post my concerns. I just wanted to see before hand if this is something that the tech could have noticed (if there is even a problem)... I'm hoping these guys didnt know what they were doing !
Old 22nd December 2010
  #7
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are you sure you guys are threading the tape properly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlaugh87 View Post
So I got an 80-8 awhile ago for cheap. It sat unused for about 1.5 years when I got. I finally took it to a tech, and he biased it and calibrated it, and demagged the heads for me.

Before I have ever used it, I had a friend try it for a project. He and a few others could not get it to record... (They have worked with tape before, so I know they are not idiots when it comes to this.)

If the record head is bad, is this going to be worth hunting one down? Should the tech have seen any issues with this machine in the callibration, biasing/de-magging process.

I am just unfamiliar with the science of getting a tape machine up and running.

Any thoughts?
Old 22nd December 2010
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
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I can't say for sure, but the guys are well know artist in town, and there was three different guys (who have all worked with tape) come to the conclusion that something was wrong.

I will have to try things out when I get it back, I know that the playback was working fine when I sent it away. I didnt have the means to test the record function (Im trying to restore an older console to run with this machine)
Old 22nd December 2010
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knox View Post

are you sure you guys are threading the tape properly?
Here's a picture of an 80-8 properly threaded:
Is my tape machine worth fixing? Teach 80-8-vinteac80-82.jpg
.
...You'll also be needing this:
80-8 Manual.zip.
.

.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
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Very helpful! I did have the manual, but my residence changed a couple of times. In that process, I lost it... thanks a lot. Once I get this guy back I'll let you know how the testing goes!
Old 22nd December 2010
  #11
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.
Oh, and here's another thing you might want to know about:
RAWN Re-Grip Rubber Drive Cleaner
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This may help you with all the rubber parts (like belts, pinch-rollers, etc.).
.

.
.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #12
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if it isnt' recording, i doubt it's actually the record head.

generally, if all tracks have an issue it's something global (like a power supply issue) , or user error.

one possibility is that they simply had it hooked up backwards, it'll still (kind of) pass signal but won't record properly. i know, 'cause i've done it!

i'd take it back to your tech and watch him show you that it either works or doesn't work.

-chris mara

Old 23rd December 2010
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
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Thanks for the advice.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #14
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jlaugh87's Avatar
 

Quote:
one possibility is that they simply had it hooked up backwards, it'll still (kind of) pass signal but won't record properly. i know, 'cause i've done it!
Chris, could you elaborate... are you talking about the guys who were using it maybe feeding the signal incorrectly?
Old 23rd December 2010
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
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I recently had two decks into Teac/Tascam for service and was less than impressed with their service and customer interaction. Not sure what happened to this company as they were the cats-ass back in the 70s and 80s.

I ended up doing the 3300SX-2T alignment myself and found azimuth off, and the output was off by 4.2dB according to manual.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
If the tech did a proper calibration then the machine was working.

So either he didn't do a proper calibration or your friends don't know how to operate it. Unless something went wrong between the time the tech had it and your friends started using it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
The calibration process with the 80-8 involves running the MRL tape, turning some pots on the circuit boards, but not physically aligning the heads.

the 80-8 was a very non-standard machine when it comes to the heads. You can not separately align the heads yourself. There are no screws to turn. All 3 heads come on a monobloc that had to be set up by Tascam.


I seriously doubt you could just replace the record head. Or even buy one separately. As far as I know you have to get the whole monobloc and there are apparently some special tools. Who even sells this monobloc these days? Maybe buy a 'parts machine'??

I recently fired up an old 80-8 to do a transfer to Pro Tools for mixing. Did the mix and sent it off. The client called me up and said, where are the drums? I said, there were no drums. He said "I know there were drums because I was the drummer!"

Went back to the machine, played the tape again - still no drums. Opened the front panel and started jiggling the circuit boards, lo and behold, a couple of tracks that were silent - with flat meters - suddenly started playing drums! Let go of the circuit boards and the tracks dropped out again. Ended up jamming a q-tip in there to keep the pressure on the contacts long enough to do the transfer.

To the question "worth fixing" ?? I would say, if you have a stack of old half-inch 8 track masters, and are getting paid to transfer them, yes.

Otherwise, no.
As the less than happy owner of a precurseor 70-8 right at the end of the 80s, start of the 90s, who got less than a reel of finished projects out of it before I finally gave up hauling the beast back and forth from the technician (who, even then, said that TASCAM was a total PITA to try to deal with), I'd say the spontaneous breakdown explanation is entirely reasonable.

Despite several lengthy trips to the shop and technician where I bought the machine, it never once worked all the way through at any one time. Different record channels would suddenly go south or require solenoid-tapping to try to con into record (and I can tell you that's a stone pain). On those occasions when I did have 8 channels of working record amps, there was always something else wrong -- usually the dbx NR cards which were even flakier than the machine itself.


I'm not going to tell you to give up because it's entirely possible you can get it working to some degree and get some good -- or at least fun on some level -- use out of it... but do not bet the farm on its reliability.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by fredv View Post
I recently had two decks into Teac/Tascam for service and was less than impressed with their service and customer interaction. Not sure what happened to this company as they were the cats-ass back in the 70s and 80s.

I ended up doing the 3300SX-2T alignment myself and found azimuth off, and the output was off by 4.2dB according to manual.
As the owner of five different TASCAM multi-track decks I can tell you that the good old days weren't all that.

But
at least up until 1986 or so I could go into their old East LA headquarters and get some parts. But the last time I went in there looking for parts for one of my (3) 3340's, the guy got all soto voce and whispered, Look, the word came down -- they're completely closing the parts desk to anyone but authorized repair shops so I'm just going to give you the box of old parts we'd been saving for guys like you. I'm really sorry but that's just how these guys are...
Old 23rd December 2010
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
jlaugh87's Avatar
 

This is inspiring given that this machine was/is my first real experience with tape... (aside from portastudio parties)
Old 23rd December 2010
  #19
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlaugh87 View Post
Chris, could you elaborate... are you talking about the guys who were using it maybe feeding the signal incorrectly?
yep. it's RCA inputs/outputs, which are the same sex. if they were using a bump box the hookup can get quite confusing. it'll still register input on the meters if it's hooked up backwards, but will not function properly.

just a thought.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
As the owner of five different TASCAM multi-track decks I can tell you that the good old days weren't all that.
Well, let me rephrase that... at least back then they made an attempt to make things right.

My A-3440 came back from the service center in 2007 with parts missing, most notably the rear panel that covers the electronics. Despite calls and letters, I didn't get all my parts back till this past August when I was able to con my way through the phone to the service manager. BTW, one letter went to the home office in Japan.

I don't understand how management can expect repeat business after they treat people in this manor. Unless.... they are counting on people buying new product and not knowing the background of service and support.

Luckily, I have a small cache of parts, and can do the work myself. I don't want to, but if that is what it takes.

Have you found any parts that are interchangeable? For example, pinch rollers from other brands that might work on the 3300 or 3440? I never checked, but I wonder if Otari 5050B pinch rollers work on the Tascam decks.
Old 24th December 2010
  #21
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loopy's Avatar
 

I used to get excellent service from the TEAC/TASCAM service center in Little Ferry N.J. This was back in 70's and 80's.

I had horrible service from one of their franchised service centers. I needed a motor replaced and when I got the unit back it looked like the guy dripped the solder onto the connections from 3 feet away.

I still have a 3440 that limps along.
Biggest problem with these decks is the relays and the pin connections where the various boards plug into the main board.

Try gently re-seating every board in the machine.
The oscillator card tends to work it's way loose in the 3440. That will clobber record for sure.
Not sure if it's the same in the 80-8.

Heads rarely go bad other than the surface wearing out.

BTW I had a friend who had a unit like the other person was describing.
He would fix one thing and something else would break or not work unless a relay was tapped etc.
We called it the devil's machine.
Old 24th December 2010
  #22
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. . we used to beat the crap outs 80-8s in early 80s or was it late 70s? I bought a Tascam 58 as soon as it came out) . . . that got it's ass kicked even more. Never had issues with either. Not going to say they were the best sounding machines, though we made them sound pretty good.
Old 24th December 2010
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlaugh87 View Post

This is inspiring given that this machine was/is my first real experience with tape... (aside from portastudio parties)
Well then, you're gonna LOVE this:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-mu...-subforum.html
.

.
Old 6th September 2012
  #24
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