Years ago I picked up a very useful little rig called "The Audio Tape Fixer". It is a platform about 8 x12 with lots of brackets and posts. It is designed to hold two audio cassettes side-by side with numerous posts positioned to guide/hold the tape securely in the correct position for loading or repair. It makes it really easy to open two cassettes next to each other and swap the tape from the old cassette to a new cassette. It also has extra posts that allow you to unspool part of the tape from the shell to work on or splice if required without risk of tangling the tape. The kit came with a really cheap splicing block (which I replaced), a package of splices (long gone) and a little brass do-hicky that fits over a post inside the hubs and makes it easy to smoothly turn the hubs. The do-hicky even has an attachment so you can hook it up to a power drill and speed spool the tape (a very, very bad idea). Unfortunately, I spend about a half hour on-line looking for references and couldn't find it anymore but, if you see it on e-bay and do a lot of audio cassette repair/shell swapping, it really makes the task a lot easier.
You may also want to pick up some dental tools/picks. They make the job of threading the tape properly inside the new cassette much less of a hair-pulling exercise.
I suggest spooling the tape all the way onto one hub so there is nothing wrapped around the other hub. This allows you to keep the tape taut and you are only manipulating the leader when loading. Slip the full side into the open new cassette and wrap the leader in the cassette around the post/guide on that side (keeping the tape taut). So as not to go crazy as the tape/leader constantly slips off, put a small block of wood or plastic (even a small coin will work in a pinch) on top of the post/guide to hold the tape in place (do not cover the hub as you need to access it). Since all of the tape is on one side, you can gently turn the full hub to keep the tape straight/taut while threading the rest of the tape along the front of the cassette and around the other post/guide on the other side. Once fully threaded, turn the full hub again to make sure the tape/leader settles correctly in the path inside the cassette. Use your dental picks to move the threaded tape into position if it isn't sitting right. Put the upper slip pad back on and screw the new cassette back together. Important- after the new cassette is assembled, check to make sure both hubs turn and the tape moves easily before attempting to play the tape. It is not uncommon for the tape/leader to get caught along the front path when the shell is screwed back together. If this happens, just unscrew the shell part way, use your picks to free the tape, re-screw and re-test movement.
With a little practice, it only takes a few minutes to swap standard audio cassette tape from one shell to another.
Best of luck,
SPECS BROS., LLC
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Audio and video restoration and re-mastering since 1983
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Dan Gediman
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:46 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Update on squealing cassettes
Thank you Richard, Corey, and Steve, for your various suggestions, especially Richard’s suggested order of operations. I did read your post about splicing old tapes into new shells, and how you have reconfigured an old cassette machine to facilitate this without opening any shells. Alas, I have no such machines I can adapt. I’m stuck with taking apart the tape and splicing it into a new shell the old fashioned way and praying it all works. I can only thank God I’m not working with micro-cassettes at this time, although I actually have been given two of those as well that I’m going to have to digitize sometime soon. Thankfully, they are only about 10 years old and I’m hoping they are in better shape.
Thanks again, everyone. I”ll let you know how things go once if and when I actually succeed in getting rid of the squealing.
All the best,
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