Please, there was no criticism involved. I believed this story for years
as I was told it by Jim Wheeler. It is a common story in our business,
but I have grown sceptical of it over time and then just did the
research on the bans today after your message to see what we could tease
out of that.
I think there have been other discussions of this on several lists. I
just looked through and found this note from Dr. Ric Bradshaw, ex IBM
tape development from April 10th to me in a private conversation (Ric
has provided blanket permission for me to forward his writings as I see
> All of my direct experience (chemical analysis) of tape was done in the late 70's and the saturated long chain hydrocarbon lubricants (cetane (whale oil) and squalene (shark oil)) had been replaced with fatty acid esters. The lubricants were problemmatic for other reasons than political correctness...the actual compositon changed with the source of the mixed hydrocarbons...and over time the materials could turn rancid or just fractionate into the various compositional isomers with some of the materials prefering to crystallize on the surface of the tape when exposed to humid/drying cycles..these crystals where sufficently large to clog the read heads and glaze the capstans causing the tapes to squeel or jitter. The fatty acid esters initially seemed to solve these problems but they also had lot to lot variabiilty unless a truly synthetic material was used and not a mixture of isomers...but that cost more...I believe IBM was the only company that chose to use the purer tridecyl stearate/palmitate and monitor its composition.
> I doubt if the lubricant had as much to do with the changes in the coating integrity. The actual flaws in formulation and the extremely variable "cure" chemistry that was employed by everybody without correct monitoring or measurement of the results is more likely to be the cause of the sticky shed and variability between tapes of presumably the same formulaiton and manufacture. I believe IBM was again the only company that used mechanical analysis on every batch to optimize and control "cure"....which I tried to just stop since it didn't do what everyone thought it did anyway! At least we had real quality control.
This is oh-so-complex and I think Ric's second paragraph once again hits
on the heart of the matter.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night <smile>.
On 2010-12-22 6:40 PM, Ken Fritz wrote:
> Hello Richard,
> I think from here on in I'll just limit my postings to Merry
> Christmas, as I realize I'm in over my head with the pros on the list.
> Forgive me Mike Spitz, as a senior moment overtook me.
> cheers, Ken
> On Dec 22, 2010, at 6:01 PM, Richard L. Hess wrote:
>> Hello, Ken,
>> I find your paraphrase of Mike Spitz's statement interesting as whale
>> oil was the lubrication component of the binder system and not the
>> binder per se. Lubricants were still added to the
>> polyester-polyurethane binder system, when it was introduced.
>> While this is an interesting story and lubricant/binder compatibility
>> may be an issue, I have not been able to substantiate this in any of
>> my research.
>> The major whaling ban was passed in 1983, going into effect in 1986,
>> so whaling was prevalent through 1985, at least in Iceland as this
>> history shows.
>> SSS tape was manufactured prior to 1983. I have some Ampex 407 that I
>> purchased in 1982 that went sticky by about 1990 (or so).
>> However, the U.S. appears to have banned import of sperm whale oil in
>> I think 1971 is too early a date for manufacture of SSS tape, but
>> perhaps there were large reserves of the oil at the manufacturers?
>> I still think we're seeing a binder failure issue and not a
>> lubrication failure issue.
>> On 2010-12-22 5:19 PM, Ken Fritz wrote:
>>> This is a FWIW posting regarding the SSS problem and I'm sure
>>> many of you already know this.
>>> The owner of the only US tape manufacturing facility passed this
>>> on to me a year or so ago and I hope I'm forwarding the correct
>>> Whale oil was always used in the binder of tape until the ban on
>>> whale harvesting went into effect. We observed the ban while the
>>> Japanese didn't. We switched to a polyurethane base while the
>>> Japanese continued to use whale oil until they stopped making tape.
>>> I believe today's technology, regarding polyurethanes, has solved
>>> the problem but only time will tell.
>>> Merry Christmas all, Ken
>> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
>> Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
>> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.