Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Removing Stuck Tape in Play Position from GE VCR

I was transferring a VHS tape to DVD via a Dazzle-type device when the GE VCR model VG4025 stopped working during the play process. A burning smell confirmed that the VG4025 was not going to power up again.

How to get the tape out? I did online searches, and there were lots of good tips for removing a stuck tape if the VCR could power up. But, mine couldn't. So, the only thing to do was open up the player.

First: UNPLUG THE UNIT. You don't want to be working with anything that could have power going through it.

photo 1
I opened the top of the case by removing three screws on the back and sliding the top back and then lifting up. (see photo 1).

Then there was a metal plate on top of the tape that had two screws on each side that had to be removed. (see photo 2)

photo 2
The next job was to get the tape out of the tape trail. It was an easy process except where the tape passed by the main roller. There was a metal piece on top of the roller and a spindle through which the tape passes. So, you can't lift the tape up and out (as with the rest of the trail). But, you can slide it under the main roller if you prop the roller open. It has a lot of tension to keep it closed, so I used a screwdriver (see photo 3) to hold it open while I slipped the tape under the main roller with a long pair of tweezers.

The tape was free and by manually turning the main roller the tape was taken up into the cassette.

photo 3
photo 4
The final problem was getting the cassette released from the play position, where it is held firmly in place, and out of the machine. I couldn't find any mechanism to do this through pushing and poking gears and levers. So, I decided to try to lift off the metal band on top of the cassette holding it in place there. (see photo 4) (Unfortunately, I took the tape out before this photo, and when no cassette is in the machine it's hard to distinguish the band from the gray metal plate underneath the cassette but easy to see when the cassette is in place. The lettering on the plate in the photo is near the top of the plate).

I thought maybe I could pry it off without damaging the cassette by putting a screwdriver under the part next to the two prongs to force it off as gently as possible (making sure the pressure was on the plate and the front of the VCR case not on the cassette). I pried on one end. No luck. I pried on the other end and suddenly the tape popped up into the release position, and I took it out through the normal loading slot. Phew!

For other models there are apparently squirrel screws or other screw mechanisms to forward the eject motion of the VCR, but I couldn't find anything like that on this GE model.


Ten Mile Island said...

Problem-solving from another era.

One reason I think I've forgotten most of what I might have known!

T. D. said...

Heh. It seems like most of my technical problems without fixes on the internet involve technologies from another era whether it's a GE VCR or early Audible file format. The post title is thanks to your coaching, TMI!

MAX Redline said...

From the description, one or more of the caps fried, which in many of the old vcr machines eliminates anything other than brute force methods for extraction. On Sony models, the ejection system continues to work after a cap failure.

Good approach to recovery; ideally the tape remains undamaged. Unfortunately, now you'll need to pay a visit to Goodwill to locate a vcr in order to proceed with your transfer project.

When I'm in the mood to transfer old stuff from magnetics to disc, I use an inexpensive Diamond OTVC to transfer the media into a computer,then do the editing and burning. It's fine for rainy days.

I have tape of the old steam-engine train ride from Hillsboro to Tillamook, winding across some amazing trestles in the Coast range, which I'll need to transfer before degradation sets in.

BTW, there are solutions on the intertubes:

I just got a tape out without too much problem.

First, unplug the machine and get a good light. I needed a very small Phillips and a medium Phillips screwdriver. The only other special tool would be a wooden or plastic "poke stick" that you can use as a lever. Preferably a foot long or so. I used a common wooden food skewer that you might grill peppers and onions.

Second, I removed the top cover and got a good look from above the tape. Then I carefully removed the exposed tape from two rollers so it was loose. Next, I gently pushed along the tape in direction of the empty spool to get it inside the tape case and out of the way. You should be able to see through the top of the tape case where the tape would spool up. You can go in either direction. Try to make as little contact with the tape as you can so it doesn't mess it up. You're just trying to get the tape inside the case so you can let the front lid close without jamming the tape.

Next, I took off the front cover of the machine (3 screws and pushed in a few plastic tabs to get it off). Next, I removed 3 screws holding a metal bracket sitting on top of the stuck tape. Finally, I used a wooden skewer (for BBQ) to pry the plastic peg sticking in the right side of the tape and gently pulled the tape out. (I also had to lift the tape up since my machine drops the tape down after it's inside--no big deal).

If you're not familiar with what I mean about the plastic peg on the right side, take a look at any VCR tape. There is a black plastic peg or tab on one side that allows you to lift the front/top lid of the tape to expose the tape. When the tape is inserted into the machine, a plastic/metal peg in the machine makes contact with this peg on the tape case which allows the tape cover to rotate 90 degrees out of the way. This peg will prevent you from removing the tape unless you can get power on the machine or lever it out. I used a lever without much difficulty.

Once the tape is out, you need to use your thumb to wind either or both tape wheels to take up the slack. I would also suggest rewinding the tape and fast forwarding it all the way in another VCR machine to get the rest of the slack out.

My tape was good as new.


T. D. said...

Max, you won't believe this but most of my time was spent on trying to figure out how to get the tape out from between the main roller and the spindle. I kept trying to figure out how to get it to lift up (as it must do in regular operation).

After that it was serendipity that gingerly prying on the top metal holder worked.

As for how to transfer the tape, I just bought a vhs/dvd recorder unit which happened to be on sale for a reasonable price and so far is working great (and is so much easier than the Dazzle-like process).

Your steam engine ride video sounds neat. There are wonderful and irreplaceable things on vhs. :-)

MAX Redline said...

Actually, I can believe it, though the ones with the pressure-plates were really sticky too. Fishers used those. As I told a friend back in the day when he mentioned he'd just bought a Fisher vcr, "Your Panasonics and Toshibas are what you buy when you want to play and record tapes. You buy Fisher if you like taking things apart."

He returned the Fisher and got a Panasonic....

T. D. said...

Max, too bad I didn't have you as an advisor back when I bought the GE. I would have gone with Panasonic or Toshiba. :-)

MAX Redline said...

Years ago, a friend worked in an Aloha tv/vcr repair shop...that's who I picked up stuff from.

T. D. said...

Max, always so nice to have knowledgeable friends to give good advice and understanding of the intricacies. :-)