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ARSCLIST  November 2014

ARSCLIST November 2014

Subject:

Re: splice cleaning and repair

From:

Steven Smolian <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 15 Nov 2014 12:19:07 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (95 lines)

Naphtha, i.e., Ronson lighter fluid.  It's the only ingredient listed on the
container.  Dunno about other lighter fluids- this is the product I've used
for this purpose (and removing price-gun type labels from records and LP
covers) for 50 or so years.

As a bona-fide old-timer, I'd like to add that back in the day (before
digital declicking), when transferring 78s and lacquers to tape and
declicking them subsequent to their transfer, more complex wave forms,such
as French horns, pianos and double reeds, the spice was attempted a number
of times, and played after each attempt. The distance between the two sides
of the splice was critical.  Even if mot completely successful, the
phase-bang (just made that term up) could be mitigated by infinitesimal
changes to the distance between the tape ends.  French horns caused the most
serous problem.  I remember working for hours on a version of Schubert's
"Auf dem Strom" with Dennis Brain.  I still love the piece, not always the
case when such intensive time has gone into a project.  One point is that,
when inspecting those splices now, a flash of white splicing tape (viewed
from the oxide side) may be a deliberate spacing rather than initially
careless editing. 

There were declicking devices available at the time.  I used the Packburn
from its earliest days but the audio extrapolation devices (grab a piece of
the previous sound, delay it and patch it over the click as made by Garard
and many other were hopeless.  

Steve Smolian

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2014 11:00 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ARSCLIST] splice cleaning and repair

One man's experiences, but should work anywhere with the same laws of nature
and physics ...

I spent yesterday transferring several reels of 1957 Audiotape 1/2" (acetate
backing), all of them with numerous splices to clean and/or replace. This
was done at John Chester's studio.

Per John's previous experiences, we used naptha as our cleaning solvent,
applying with Q-tips. It's worth noting at this point that John and I used
precision tools intended for surface-mount circuit board work, and
everything was demagnetized before we started work. In my opinion, naptha
ends up being a viable replacement for freon. It completely removes
splice-glue ooze and doesn't effect the brown-iron oxide or the acetate
backing on these tapes. It also doesn't cause the tape to be greasy, more
brittle or any other condition that makes splice replacement hard or
impossible. Cleaned splice sides line up just fine in a block and adhere
just fine to modern splicing tape.

We first carefully unscrewed the reel flanges and cleaned any splice-glue
ooze that was visible on the edge of the tape pack, both sides. This ended
up greatly improving the odds of a splice-layer cleanly detaching without
the splice coming apart.

Once a tape's edges were cleaned, the flanges were screwed back on and it
was carefully hand-wound onto a supply reel. Splices told of their location
by a slight edge-stick from residual ooze two layers back from the splice.
usually, this ooze was quickly cleaned with a swipe along the tape edge. The
layer behind the splice is key because the oxide will rip off if it's not
gently detached from the splice. My experience was, a gentle naptha swipe on
the tape edges and then very gentle coaxing off of the layer worked every
time. We had no audible oxide peel. I found at that point, it helps to clean
the back of the splice, sometimes just enough naptha got introduced through
the edge of the tape to loosen up where the center of the splice had oozed
onto the adjoining acetate layer.

The splice itself was always tricky. Out of total 100+ splices encountered,
we had to replace approximately 40 of them because the spliced area couldn't
be coaxed up from the adjoining acetate without detaching the old splicing
tape. When we could coax it up, it was just a matter of cleaning the ooze in
the middle of the splice and cleaning off the ooze on the adjoining acetate
layer. We opted not to replace splices that would come up cleanly because
the tapes are so old and fragile (and brittle). It's a calculated risk to
remove old splicing tape and clean pointy angles of tape that is brittle and
prone to shedding oxide. So, we only took that risk when we had to. Of all
the repaired splices, none lost oxide at the splice point and, in fact, when
we played the tapes we were both impressed at what a blade-ace the original
editor was (the late Harold Lawrence).

The repaired tapes played back A-OK on John's Ampex ATR-100 (which is
finicky about things like splice-height, splice alignment and tape layers
stuck together). Playback and transfer is with Plangent Process. More
details on the results soon. Suffice to say, I was very impressed with
everything I heard and remain super-impressed with John Chester and Jamie
Howarth's can-do attitude and superb craftsmanship.

For what it's worth, we were able to clean all those splices and get all the
transfer work for two complete reissues done in about 10 hours (including
short lunch and dinner breaks), which seemed very efficient.

-- Tom Fine

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