I wouldn't recommend that scotch tape thing with a pointly 15IPS splice on old acetate tape. It
could very easily rip the point off the splice. I don't see a need for it, since Naptha cleans all
the goo off the splice. It may work on back-coated polyester tape if done carefully. But, again, in
my experience Naptha doesn't hurt polyester or back-coating material, so why not just chemically
remove the goo?
Regarding the modern blue-colored splicing tape. There is an older kind, which was sold in the 90s
and in more recent times. It's semi-translucent and as is thin as the white-colored tape I use. It
is the same thing, in fact, as far as I can tell. One kind was white-colored and another kind was
blue-colored but I think they are just about identical otherwise. Then there is a modern darker
blue, completely opaque and thicker kind of tape. I do not like that at all because it's so think it
causes a little bump in the tape pack. It's worth noting that the thinner old style of splicing tape
also can cause a little bump, so the new kind most likely WILL cause a bump. The bump causes little
ridges in one or more layers of tape and these ridges don't go over the heads perfectly flat.
I hope we all live long enough to find this out -- I suspect ALL splices get gooey over time. It's
the nature of non-solid glue over time under pressure, it will squeeze out the edges. If they don't
go gooey, they'll dry out or do something worse like turn acidic and eat the tape itself. If I'm
still around in 25 years, and I can call these tapes in from the vault, and I'm the least bit active
and interested in this sort of thing, I'll see what's happened to the splices I'm fixing now. I
suspect it'll be ground hog day and everything will be gooey anew. As for the thick blue splices, I
plan to do some tests here with NOS tapes, both back-coated and not. I want to store them under
library-wind presure for a few years and see how audible the bump-ridges are.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2015 10:54 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Distressing data point for upcoming ARSC tape playback workshop
> Thanks for posting. All interesting.
> Question: what's wrong with the modern blue splicing tape? I use it
> successfully and don't notice anything wrong with it. Don't you worry that
> by using old clear tape, you are almost guaranteeing future splice
> replacement, since the splicing tape is already old?
> Try something stupid that works well on 1/4 tapes of all kinds. First
> thing, take Scotch tape (the desktop kind--like you would seal an envelope
> with, the usual kind that is very flexible and a little opaque), stretch
> out the failed splice on the audio tape with the old splicing tape gone,
> and stick the desktop tape down over the splicing tape goo left on the
> backside of the audio tape. Then gently peel off the desktop tape and it
> brings most of the old splicing tape goo from the failed splice with it.
> After doing this three or four times (with fresh desktop tape each time),
> there is usually none of the old goo left. Obviously, don't do this to the
> oxide side of the tape. I have done this many times and never damaged an
> audio tape once. You can usually get it perfectly clean to resplice it.
> For something like a valuable master tape, as you describe, you may still
> need to use the naphtha to get it all, but try it. It works.
> Best, John
> On Sun, Mar 1, 2015 at 9:46 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>> I am right now working with tapes from 1959 and 1961, 3-track 1/2" tapes,
>> with splices "replaced" in 1971 (according to documentation on the boxes)
>> and, in the case of 4 reels, splices cleaned and/or replaced in the early
>> 1990s. Alas, every splice so far has needed new cleaning with Naptha and
>> many of them -- even those cleaned and successfully played in the 1990s --
>> have required full replacement.
>> The replacement splicing tape put on in the 1990s has proven mostly stable
>> but there has been some ooze and stiction around some splices. I tend to
>> believe that is leftover ooze from non-complete cleaning of the original
>> splices before replacement, but it could be new ooze over the past 20 years.
>> Bottom line is that there seems to be no "permanent" splicing tape, it all
>> seems to ooze and/or dry out over time.
>> Another distressing datapoint ... This is the second batch of late 1950s
>> Audiotape acetate-backed tape I'm dealing with that has become very
>> brittle, like most of the plasticity has dried out of the backing. I
>> suspect this is made worse by over-dry storage conditions intended to
>> somehow "prevent" or "mitigate" sticky-shed in later tapes (and remember
>> that there is no proof that dry storage does either). I wish some
>> scientists would do some chemistry on acetate tapes and come up with better
>> storage recommendations. There are millions of acetate tapes and films
>> being stored under the same "keep it super-dry and cold" mandates that are
>> imposed on polyester media (and these conditions DON'T stave off
>> sticky-shed and DON'T make sticky tapes play longer after baking -- all
>> credible research and experience so far shows that ALL tapes prone to
>> sticky-shed go sticky on their own, that baking allows playback, and that
>> ALL sticky-shed tapes go back sticky a certain time length after baking;
>> the only exceptions might be -- still not widely tried or proven -- the
>> Richardson method of chemically removing the back-coating).
>> Incredibly, these old tapes still sound damn good on playback, and are
>> able to move through a tape transport correctly after the splices are
>> cleaned and repaired. I don't know if this will be the case at some future
>> date. Luckily, these tapes I'm working with are backed by funding for
>> Plangent Process high-resolution transfers and defluttering, so the
>> resulting digital assets will be very high quality.
>> My recommendations, based on this experience:
>> 1. I've now cleaned enough gooey splices with Naptha to be convinced that
>> it is effective and safe for this job.Note that many hardware stores carry
>> a can or two or no Naptha at all. It doesn't seem to be widely used by
>> professional painters anymore.
>> 2. It's been helpful to carefully detach the reel flanges -- while the
>> tape end is taped down to the adjoining layers and the reel is not
>> loose-wound -- and carefully (on a flat surface) clean all visible splice
>> ooze (bubbles and chunks of white goo) with Naptha. I put the flange back
>> on and flip the reel over very carefully, then do the same on the other
>> side. Sometimes -- not always -- this mitigates stiction between layers
>> around the splice, preventing even slight oxide damage on the edges.
>> 3. It is important to inspect the layers before and after the splice, and
>> clean all residule goo off both sides of the tape.
>> 4. Very gently deal with the splice itself. It can sometimes be gently
>> coaxed up intact -- this happens about 50% of the time with original
>> splices on these tapes. When that happens, clean the splice edges and
>> center in particular, this is where the ooze will be. When the splice
>> separates, I put a good dab of Naptha on the side stuck to the tape-pack,
>> cleaning especially the center of the splice. Almost always, a gentle coax
>> with the Q-tip with them lift the splice up so it can be repaired. When
>> this doesn't happen, I used a chopstick that I whittled down to a blunt but
>> pronounced "shovel" point. No splice points mangled so far with this. I
>> then clean both sides of the splice, both sides of the tape, with a good
>> dose of Naptha. By the way, change Q-tips regularly because the accumulated
>> sticky ooze stays on the Q-Tip after the Naptha evaporates. Then I repair
>> the splice (use a high-quality, non worn-out splicing block, which isn't
>> always to acquire these days). I use early 2000's vintage white-colored
>> semi-clear splicing tape. I don't at all like this newest thicker
>> blue-colored splicing tape (which seems to be the only option these days).
>> Luckily, I have a large store of old-style splicing tape.
>> 5. When playback and transfer is complete, make sure to attach the end of
>> the reel to the adjoining tape layer (if it's stored on a hub) or to the
>> reel flange with NEW and EFFECTIVELY STICKY tape. An enemy of old tapes,
>> especially acetate tapes, is storage under loose-wind conditions. The
>> acetate expands, contracts and sometimes gets vinegar syndrome. If it is
>> stored tight-wound with the end taped down, it is less likely to get
>> 6. Under ideal archival conditions, without tight production deadlines and
>> with unlimited funding, I would say replace all old splices as SOP. Under
>> real conditions, this is not always possible. Because of that, expect to go
>> through this same procedure again if the tape is played again in the
>> future. And, given my experience with 1990s splices, I'm not sure that
>> modern splicing tape is any better about eventually oozing glue or drying
>> 7. This probably goes without saying, but demagnetize the tape path, all
>> metal tools, and work on the splice repair on a non-magentic surface.
>> 8. It also probably goes without saying, but use Naptha in a
>> well-ventilated area. John Chester turned me onto putting in a little
>> squeeze-bottle with a needle tip and then squeezing a few drops onto a
>> Q-Tip rather than having an open container and dipping Q-Tips into that.
>> This method really keeps the fumes to a minimum in a normal-sized room. I
>> keep a low-speed fan blowing air across the tape transport to move what
>> fumes do escape away from my face.
>> -- Tom Fine