I always thought all the wire made by W-C was stainless as well, but  
apparently there were at least couple of different grades (which I've  
seen reference to in some literature from the 1940s. Would have to dig  
for the source). I have seen some wire which has exhibited a  
crystalline type of oxidation (usually easily cleaned). I have also  
seen rust on some Pierce wires. Again, I think there were a couple of  
different grades which were manufactured over the years.

The mold I have seen would appear to be primarily caused storage of  
the wires in cardboard boxes in very damp conditions. I don't think  
that mold would grow on the wire itself (but I wouldn't completely  
discount it). The cardboard _will_ transfer mold spores to the spool  
however, so it's best to keep the wires in a dry environment, and  
eliminate any wicking of moisture by getting rid of the cardboard  
containers. On the other hand, _if_ the cardboard containers are in  
good shape, you could opt to keep them, and store them within a sealed  
plastic container. The only question would be whether the acid from  
the cardboard would have any long-term negative effects on the wire.

I've never really experienced any issues with print-through on wires.  
Rather interesting, given how tightly packed they are. Probably has  
something to do with the coercitivity and retentivity of the wire  
itself. Could be an interesting topic for research some day...


Quoting Steven Smolian <[log in to unmask]>:

> Actually, the Webster-Chicago wire is stainless steel and won't oxidize.
> I've done hundreds of wires and have yet to see mold, though I expect it's
> possible.
> The Websters have to be heads out as the take-up reel is much larger and
> part of the playback device.
> Since wind is the fatal flaw- I won't do mare's nests- and the balance of
> tensions within the device and the free movement of the bobbin are what
> usually go out of whack to cause the tangle issue, I'd leave it alone until
> transfer time.  Winding for storage rather than related to transfer is
> asking for trouble.
> Kinks in the wire often develop in storage and will jerk the wire during
> playback, sometimes breaking it.  For music especially, I usually make two
> passes, recording both but inevitably using the second as it then unwinds
> more smoothly.
> The Peirce-GE machine uses the same style feed and take-up reel.  It may be
> feasible to wind these tails out.  You could do the same on the Websters if
> you wanted, dubbing them with the signal backwards and reversing tit
> digitally.  I don't know of any studies which investigate when print-thru
> occurs on wire, though there may be a document covering this topic somewhere
> in Marvin Camras' papers, possibly at IIT.
> And though the wire supplied with the Peirce was also stainless steel, I've
> worked on some where someone would his own and which rusted through in
> clumps.
> Steve Smolian
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Scott D. Smith
> Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 8:51 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] wire recordings - archival storage
> Tracy,
> This is an area where not a lot of research has been done (at least that
> I've ever seen). However, based on my experience, I would at least
> recommend the following:
> 1. Do not store them in the original cardboard containers, as it invites
> issues with mold and moisture.
> 2. As much as possible, make sure there there is a _consistent_ wind on
> the pack, with no loose strands. (This is probably _the_ most important
> part for long-term storage).
> 3. A threaded leader should be attached, if there is none present. The
> end should be taped to the top of the spool with an archival, non-bleed
> tape (the 3M "zebra" tape is perfect for this).
> 4. As oxidation of the wire is always an issue, (especially with lower
> grade wire stock), it would be best to keep the spools in an airtight
> plastic container (a small 16mm plastic film canister might be an
> option). A desiccant pack would probably be a good idea as well, but
> would have to be changed periodically.
> I don't really have an opinion one way or the other regarding tails out
> or heads out for storage. More than anything else, I think it is
> important to have a well functioning machine which can properly wind the
> spools at a constant tension.
> Scott D. Smith
> Chicago Audio Works, Inc.
> Tracy Popp wrote:
>> Dear ARSC list members:
>> I have been doing research on archiving wire recordings for a project we
> are
>> working on here at Univ. of Illinois. I have yet to find any  information
>> about preferred archival storage of these types of recordings - storage
>> orientation, preferred archival containers, etc. I have seen
> recommendations
>> regarding storage environment temperature but nothing definitive on
>> container or orientation.
>>   I'd like to hear about how you and your institution approach archival
>> storage of wire recordings and if you have any particular resource you've
>> used to guide your decisions. Thank you in advance and I look forward to
>> your responses!
>> Best,
>> Tracy Popp
>> Graduate Student
>> Univ. of Illinois
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