Considering that I am the guy that did specify the ovens for The Library of Congress - yes I did specify lab grade ovens and for good reason.
In my experience there is always a way to do something cheaper, but I am not convinced that this should be the goal of most transfer projects or studios.
My assumption - which may be incorrect for some on the list, is that the tapes are valuable and for that reason one would NOT want to have a science experiment, but rather a well defined and repeatable process that would yield consistent results over many applications. Because one would have a consistent and repeatable process - other issues that might arise could be examined with the knowledge that other variables could be eliminated - due to a repeatable and defined process. Not having real instruments puts you in a place where you really have no idea what results you get, nor the reasons for them. If that is your goal - then by all means an EZ Bake Oven is the tool for you!
I did make the presumption that because they ARE being baked, that these are known sick puppies, and could use some special care and attention, otherwise why are you baking them in the first place? So by definition, I would think that it would be prudent to take extra special care with some one else's stuff when you know that there are problems. This is particularly true if you are doing this as a professional and charging for your services.
I freely admit that if I had the opportunity, I would take a certain amount of delight as an expert witness dissecting the opposition (meaning someone using a food dehydrator being sued for gross negligence) if they chose to use a $59 food dehydrator in the treatment of clients tapes. I can think of all sorts of lines of questioning, like asking if the vendor also used it for potato chips and vegetables and other salty snacks or perhaps curing their Beef Jerky when they were not busy doing the project. You see doing things like this can get one into a whole world of pain = just to save $300 - which is about the price of a decent used lab grade oven on Ebay - and to be fair I am including shipping. There are several on Ebay right now that look quite serviceable for $200. I just looked and there are 776 lab ovens available on Ebay right now - some are environmental chambers with vacuum chambers and all sorts of fancy stuff, but the vast majority are perfectly suitable Blue M and Fisher Scientific Ovens that are lab devices that will give repeatable results with precision for tiny money.
So I guess you have to make a choice - if you are a hobbyist and do this for fun and the tapes are really not valuable and you really don't care because they are all yours, and you have no interest in having any kind of process that is repeatable, then I guess you might want to consider things like a food preparation dehydrator. And that is probably true for lots of things in a studio. You always can find cheaper speakers can't you? If on the other hand if you really are a professional, then buying a lab grade oven that probably will cost less then what you charge for one or two reels that you will bake for a client might be a reasonable investment on behalf of your clients, and ultimately offer you a more productive facility and process.
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