I wasn't aware of the dissertaion. Can you supply a more complete
----- Original Message -----
From: "Scott D. Smith" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 6:48 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] wire recordings - archival storage
> The discussion of various wire piqued my curiosity, so I did a little
> digging. I didn't find the exact reference I was looking for, but found a
> couple of similar citations. I think most of this research was done by
> Brush Magnetics and Marvin Camras at Armour Research, with similar
> research done by the Geramns.
> The best reference I found was from "The Recording and Reproduction of
> Sound" (Oliver Read-Author; Howard Sams-Publisher; ©1952). In the section
> on wire recording, there is a reference to the use of medium carbon steel
> wire, which was produced from medium carbon steel rod. I think this was
> probably what some of the early Pierce wire stock was. There is also
> reference from a Fidelitone source which outlines differences between
> /"Regular Stainless Steel Wire"/ and /"Stainless Steel Recording Wire"/.
> It essentially outlines the fact that the Stainless Steel Recording Wire
> undergoes some specific QC and other treatments during manufacture. There
> was quite a bit of research that went into this at the time, and I haven't
> had a chance to look up all the references. I do recall that there tended
> to be a high rejection rate of the stainless steel rod used to produce the
> wire, and that it had to fall within specific limits on the B & H curve.
> In the excellent book titled "Elements of Sound Recording" by John Frayne
> and Halley Wolfe (John Wiley & Sons, ©1949), there are references in a
> response chart from Brush Development to /"Carbon Steel Wire", "420
> Stainless Steel Wire", "Brush Wire Type BK-913",/ and /"Coated Paper
> Tape"/. (If you're curious, the paper tape beats them all!).
> As I recall, the reference that I had previously seen wire stock referred
> to as "Type 1" and "Type 2" wire. Wish I could find the damn thing...
> I think the part of oxidation problem is as a result of the pot metal that
> was used for making the wire spools, which in the case of Webster-Chicago,
> I believe are anodized aluminum, although I have frankly never researched
> it. I have seen problems in the past with various anodizing, where either
> the metal was contaminated, or the anodizing was not done quite properly,
> resulting a sort of white powder substance. I'm not a chemist, so I will
> leave it to someone else to speculate on exactly what the nature of this
> might be.
> Your comments on print-through are interesting. It certainly would seem
> that wire would be prone to this-strange that it doesn't appear more often
> (on the other hand, the 40 db S/N ratio might have something to do with
> One of these days, in my spare time (yeah, right), I'm going to go down to
> the IIT archives and take a look at the Armour papers relating to the
> research on wire recording, although David Morton has already covered much
> of this in his dissertation on Webster-Chicago.
> (BTW-the Webster-Chicago plant still stands at 5610 W. Bloomingdale in
> Chicago. I took some exterior photos a few years ago, and hope to make a
> tour of it sometime).
> Scott D. Smith
> Chicago Audio Works, Inc.
> Angie Dickinson Mickle wrote:
>> Scott D. Smith wrote:
>>> I always thought all the wire made by W-C was stainless as well, but
>>> apparently there were at least couple of different grades (which I've
>>> seen reference to in some literature from the 1940s. Would have to dig
>>> for the source).
>> I would be very interested in your reference to this when you get a
>>> I have seen some wire which has exhibited a crystalline type of
>>> oxidation (usually easily cleaned).
>> I've seen this also. To me oxidation is rust, but this is definitely
>> some environmental reaction. It does not seem to effect the recording or
>> the integrity of the wire in the least. And I find it more often on the
>> metal spool itself than the actual wire.
>>> I've never really experienced any issues with print-through on wires.
>> I hadn't either until very recently. A very loud volume passage on a
>> wire definitely could be heard seconds later. It could be argued that
>> that low level garbling that is frequently heard on wire could be
>> print-through. On the other hand, it could be incomplete erasure of
>> previous recordings. I could never tell. Weighing tails out storage to
>> future playback equipment compatibility, I'd continue storing heads out
>> with a proper, even wind. Because, here's my question. After being
>> stored heads out for 50 or 60 years, how much worse can any print-through
>> Angie Dickinson Mickle
>> Avocado Productions
>> Broomfield, CO