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Having repaired a few cassette decks over the years, I'd say that 
Richard is probably right on at least two counts - that it's likely a 
pinch roller-to-capstan pressure problem, and that you can damage tapes 
if you don't correct it soon.  In my experience, the first thing to try 
to correct the problem is to replace the pinch rollers, and assuming the 
transports aren't next to impossible to remove from the case (MR-1's fit 
into this category), it's usually a relatively easy procedure once you 
get the transport out.  Replacement roller assemblies should cost you 
under $10, if you can find them.  But if you can't find replacement 
rollers, I have also had some success cleaning the rollers thoroughly 
with 'Rubber Renue' and a q-tip until all the shine and visible ridges 
are gone (takes about 5 minutes of continuous scrubbing) and the roller 
has returned to its original dull matte finish, but this is always a 
temporary solution at best.  I tell you this tip with some reservation, 
because in general, I think it's not a good idea to use any sort of 
chemicals on rubber rollers - it's always as a last resort when you 
can't get replacements and you just want to squeeze a little more time 
out of a dying deck.

Hope this is of some help.  Apologies to everyone for lurking for so 
long and not posting, but this is one topic I might actually be able to 
make a useful contribution to....

Peter Mosher
Toronto

Scott Phillips wrote:

>.."Think 'Dragon' ..... !!" 
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
>[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Richard L. Hess
>Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2005 7:39 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Nakamichi Tape Deck Problem
>
>It's hard to diagnose, but the problem you describe could actually be
>the tape skewing and possibly damaging the tape. Beware.
>
>It sounds as if you're losing tape-to-head contact.
>
>I'm not familiar with the 480 but http://www.naks.com tells us it was
>made 1979-1982. It is a three-motor deck with a belt drive double
>capstan and a pressure pad lifter. So, it sounds to me that something is
>wrong with the tape path. The two capstans/pressure rollers could be
>dirty, or the pressure rollers may need replacing. The belt could also
>need replacing.
>
>The pressure pad lifter pushes the cassette's own pressure pad out of
>the way, saying "I can handle tape better than you--outta my way you
>silly old piece of felt!" <smile>.
>
>So with the pressure pad out of the way, the dual capstans have to
>maintain the tension across the heads for proper playback. It sounds as
>if you're losing this tension and with no pressure pad to push it back,
>you hear the poor results.
>
>The inbound capstan is actually providing tension holdback for the tape
>and paying it out, while the outbound capstan is pulling it through.
>There is a differential (I'm not sure precisely how it's
>introduced) to maintain controlled tension over the heads.
>
>This is a two-head deck, so it is more difficult to align and it doesn't
>have playback azimuth adjustment so, unless you're doing that manually,
>you're not getting optimum playback. There are two machines on eBay
>right now (the joys of Naks.com -- it shows you the related products on
>eBay currently on each page) about in the same price range that you
>paid.
>
>Good luck!
>
>Cheers,
>
>Richard
>
>At 08:14 PM 7/7/2005, you wrote:
>  
>
>>Hey All...
>>
>>I'm sort of an amateur archivist, mostly working on underground bands 
>>of the last 20 years that may have only recorded demos on cassette.  I 
>>haven't had the money for a new deck in many years and about 6 months 
>>ago I found a used Nakamichi 480 model from the mid 80's.  It pulled 
>>tape and seemed to play and record fine when I turned it up and seemed 
>>worth the $30.  I hadn't used it in a while, but when I tried the other
>>    
>>
>
>  
>
>>day I found something rather strange.  The tape will play clearly for 
>>20-30 seconds, then will start to lower in volume and have sort of a 
>>muddy sound, not unlike a tape left in the sun.  If I hit stop and play
>>    
>>
>
>  
>
>>again it sounds perfect again for a similar amount of time, and it 
>>seems I can do this over and over with the same results.  Any idea what
>>    
>>
>
>  
>
>>the problem is?  I cleaned the heads when I got it and there was 
>>nothing obviously wrong to my very amateur eyes.  My question would be
>>    
>>
>is it worth the expense.
>  
>
>>There is a local shop that does work in Nakamichi and I'd bet it would 
>>cost $100 or more.  Do older consumer grade Nakamichis hold up over 
>>time and would it be possible to get it "tuned up" to make sure the 
>>speed it correct, heads OK, etc?  If I were to put $120-150 into it 
>>would it likely be as good or better as anything I could buy new in the
>>    
>>
>
>  
>
>>same price range?  I have piles of cassettes that I can't really do 
>>much with until I have a deck that works properly, but I'm not in the 
>>market for a new high end deck.  Any ideas on what other decks I might 
>>consider if this one is beyond hope would be much obliged.  Thanks.  
>>Randy
>>    
>>
>
>Richard L. Hess                           email: [log in to unmask]
>Vignettes
>Media                           web:   http://www.richardhess.com/tape/
>Aurora, Ontario, Canada             (905) 713 6733     1-877-TAPE-FIX
>Detailed contact information:
>http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
>
>  
>