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alt.collecting.8-track-tapes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (Part 1/2)


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Newsgroup: alt.collecting.8-track-tapes

Information File and Frequently Asked Questions List

FAQ Version 1.7 - Updated: June 5, 1996

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
(New!) means New to this version
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
 
Compiled by Malcolm Riviera (Malco@interpath.com) with 
excellent assistance from Abigail Lavine, Our Lady of the 8-Tracks 
(abbot@pobox.com), Eric Wilson (ewilson@nr.infi.net) and Ronald 
Bensley (RBensley@gnn.com).  Please send all additions, corrections, 
and suggestions to Malcolm Riviera at Malco@interpath.com.  
Special thanks to Russ Forster for allowing me to lift freely 
from his fine publication "8-Track Mind" for many of the answers found 
below. Answers taken directly from the pages of "8-Track Mind" are denoted 
by [8TM - author name] at the beginning of the answer. 
 
This file is intended to provide a general information base and answer 
some frequently asked questions about 8-track tapes and other analog audio 
formats that are discussed on alt.collecting.8-track-tapes.  It is hoped 
that this file will be useful to newcomers to the group and help fill in 
information gaps in the minds of experienced trackers.  This FAQ is 
posted monthly to alt.collecting.8-track-tapes as well as 
to news.answers and alt.answers.  
 
Table of Contents 
============= 
 
1.  8-track tapes on Internet? Are you kidding? 
 
2.  Who invented the 8-track tape? 
 
3. A. When did they stop making 8-tracks? 
 
    B. Why did they stop making 8-tracks? 
 
4.  What is "8-Track Mind"? 
 
5.  How does an 8-track work, anyway (when it works...)? 
 
6.  Where can I buy 8-track tapes and players? 
 
7.  How can I fix broken 8-tracks? 
  
    (See new stuff!)

    A.  How do you replace the foam backing pads on tapes? 
 
    B.  How do you replace the metallic sensing strip? 
 
    C.  How can I open the cart without damaging it? 

    D.  How to Open an Ampex/Lear Jet Cartridge.

    E.  Is there any hope for an 8-track in which all of the tape is just in a  
	big pile (untangled)?  Is there any way to spin it back on the reel? 
 
8.  Can I sell my 8-track tapes on alt.collecting.8-track-tapes? 
 
9.  What about that 8-track movie....? 
 
10.  Are my 8-tracks rare or valuable? How can I tell how much they're 
       worth? 
 
11.  Why do 8-tracks break and/or jam so easily? 
 
12.  What is that black gunk where the pinch roller should be? 
 
13.  Was any punk rock released on 8-track? 
 
14.  What's the deal with quadraphonic 8-tracks? 
 
15.  What about 4-track tapes? 
 
16.  What about the 8-track tape WWW site, "8-Track Heaven"? 
 
17.  And what about Dolby 8-track decks and tapes? 
 
18. Players 
 
  A.  I have an 8-track that plays too fast; is there any remedy?  
 
  B.  What's the best method for cleaning 8T tape heads?  
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~ 
 
ANSWERS 
 
1.  8-TRACK TAPES ON THE INTERNET? ARE YOU KIDDING? 
 
Up until the creation of this group on April 28, 1995, the only resources for those 
curious about the continuous-loop cartridge format called 8-track tape 
were stuck with a list of Beatles 8-tracks and a few home page 
mentions of music collections.  There was nothing that we could use.  No 
definitive representation of American pop culture in the past 20 years 
would be complete without at least some mention of the ever-present 
8-track tape.  It's like people are ashamed to admit they ever bought one. 
 
Well, as someone I know likes to say, it's not a CONTRADICTION, it's a 
PARADOX.  What possible place could clunky old mechanical has-been 
8-tracks have on the fast-paced, up-to-the-minute high tech Information 
Superhighway?  I'm glad you asked.  Well, I guess the first point worth 
making is that the Internet is really not all that much more modern than 
the 8-track.  If you know your cyber history, you'll recall that the 
Internet emerged out of Arpanet, which was  born in 1969, when 8-tracks 
themselves were still very young.  Doubtless many a Defense Department 
computer scientist enjoyed those twin pillars of technological progress 
- email and endless-loop cartridges. While the sudden popularity of the 
'net could scarcely be missed by anyone, perhaps you were not so aware 
that the 1990's also ushered in an 8-track renaissance.  8-tracks were 
rarely considered or discussed in the late 1980's except as a cruel joke, 
but the turn of the decade brought an accelerating interest in 'tracking 
which continues to this day.  There is a fanzine, a feature-length 
movie, lots of attention from the mainstream media and even several 
brand-new independent releases available on 8-track.  Countless numbers 
of 8-track fans worldwide have "come out of the closet" and let their 
8-track interests be known.  Many more have been introduced for the 
first time to the wonders of the endless loop.  The Internet provides 
the means for these people to get together, as it does for so many other 
groups.  But what about the rest of you, the ones who are reading this 
in amused or horrified silence?  Well, 8-tracks have something to say to 
every computer user and most particularly to everyone who uses the 
Internet.  Have you ever wanted to throw your computer out the window or 
against a wall?  Have you ever been confounded by the sheer number and 
variety of things that can go wrong with your machine?  Ever spent hours 
trying to tell if the problem was in the hardware or the software?  Then 
you have something in common with the 8-track hobbyist. Imagine a product 
for which the only manuals available are old and increasingly hard to 
get.  Imagine if every possible technical support number stopped 
answering the phone years ago.  What, you say you don't have to imagine, 
that I have just described the plight of the computer user as well as 
the 8-tracker?  My point exactly.  Some 8-trackers are making a 
statement with which computer users cannot help but sympathize.  What 
more eloquent protest against the forces which make consumer goods 
obsolete before they even go to market than buying your technology in 
thrift stores?    
  
If you get nothing else out of a.c.8-t-t but the realization that there 
is more than one way of looking at the world, then you have gotten the 
point.  
 
2. WHO INVENTED THE 8-TRACK TAPE? 
 
[8TM - David Morton]  The 8-track tape has roots that extend into the 
motion picture industry.  Endless loop motion pictures were made from 
the 1920s on for advertising or other special purposes.  With the 
appearance of inexpensive reel-to-reel tape recorders in the late 
1940s, several inventors adapted the endless loop motion picture idea 
for use with the new German-style plastic recording tapes.  Of these 
inventors, only one, William Powell Lear, gets much attention 
 
Long before he set down to work on the famous Lear Jet, Lear had made a 
name for himself developing instruments and communications equipment for 
airplanes.  In 1946 Lear Purchased a California company that had tried 
to market a steel-tape loop recorder based on the old Western 
Electric/AT&T Technology [from their 1933 "Hear Your Own Voice" endless 
loop recorders]. Bits of this technology made its way into his own 
design for several models of wire recorders announced in 1946, including 
an endless loop wire recorder. But Lear's early experiments did not 
result in a line of investigation that led directly to the 8-track. 
Instead, Lear dropped the project and subsequently was out of the loop 
for many years while he concentrated his efforts on aircraft. 
 
In the mean time, the focus of endless loop technology shifted from wire 
to tape and from Lear's Chicago headquarters to Toledo, Ohio.  There, 
Bernard Cousino, the owner of an Audio Visual equipment and service 
company, became interested in endless sound recordings.  He won a small 
contract to build a "point of sale" device -- that is, a store display 
that played a recorded message over and over endlessly.  
 
Cousino, aware of the widespread use of short motion picture film loops 
for similar purposes, began experimenting with an 8-millimeter endless 
loop film cartridge marketed by Television Associates, Inc. of New 
Hampshire.  Cousino soon developed a cartridge specifically adapted for 
audio tape that he marketed in 1952 through his company, Cousino 
Electronics, as the "audio vendor." The little cart could be used with 
an ordinary reel-to-reel player -- the cart fit over one reel spindle 
and the exposed loop of tape was fed through the heads. Later, Cousino 
would develop the Echomatic, a more advanced two-track cartridge which, 
like the later 8-track, required a special player. In the meantime, 
another inventor named George Eash designed and patented a similar 
cartridge that came to be known as the Fidelipac.  Following Cousino's 
pattern, Eash designed and patented a cartridge with similar 
specifications, later modifying it to include a more complex reel 
braking mechanism.    
 
Eash's cartridge was the basis of dozens of commercial applications of 
the endless loop, two of which were particularly successful. Eash's 
Fidelipac design became the basis of several new recorders adapted for 
radio station use; by the early 1960s, many radio stations had put some 
or all of their music, spot announcements, and station i.d.'s on carts 
that could be quickly inserted and played and which could be 
automatically stopped at the beginning of the recording.  
 
The second main commercial application was in the field of auto sound.  
Earl "Madman" Muntz was a former used car salesman who became something 
of a local celebrity on the West Coast by opening a chain of television 
retail outlets selling TV sets that were manufactured by his other firm, Muntz 
Television, Inc. When he discovered the Fidelipac in the early 1960's, 
he threw in his lot with the endless loop, never to return to the 
television business.  
 
Muntz had inexpensive Fidelipac players custom manufactured in Japan, 
and licensed the music of several record companies for duplication on 
carts.  Even though the players were intended to be installed in cars, 
Muntz sought to enhance the appeal of his product by adopting stereo 
tape standards established by recorder manufacturers a few years 
earlier, and his players used the new, mass  produced stereo tape heads 
being made for the home recorder industry by firms like Michigan 
Magnetics and Nortronics. These heads but two stereo programs, a total 
of four recorded tracks, on a standard 1/4 inch tape.  
 
Muntz players caught on quickly, starting an autosound fad in 
California which slowly spread east. By 1963 Muntz players were to be 
found stylishly adorning the underdash regions of Frank Sinatra's 
Riviera, Peter Lawford's Ghia, James Garner's Jaguar, Red Skelton's 
Rolls Royce, and Lawrence Welk's Dodge convertible.  During 1964 and 
1965 a number of major labels began issuing new releases and old 
favorites on 4-track, and the Fidelipac looked like it was going to be 
the next big thing in consumer audio.  A number of home players even 
appeared. 
 
Suddenly Bill Lear appeared on the scene, newly world famous for his 
Lear Jet business plane, and announced in 1965 that he had developed a 
cartridge with eight tracks that promised to lower the price of recorded 
tapes without any sacrifice in music quality.  Lear's enthusiasm for 
loops had not faded after the failure of his endless wire cartridge of 
the late 1940s. In 1963, he became a distributor for Muntz Stereo Pak, 
mainly in order to install 4-track units aboard his Lear Jets.  
Dissatisfied with the Muntz technology, he contacted one of the leading 
suppliers of original equipment tape heads, the Nortronics Company of 
Michigan.  He specified a head with much thinner "pole-pieces" and a new 
spacing that would allow two tracks (or one stereo program) to be picked 
off a quarter-inch tape that held a total of 8-tracks.  Although a 
departure from the Muntz player, the technology of the closely-stacked 
multi-track head was by the early 1960s well established in fields like 
data recording.  Lear in 1963 developed a new version of the Fidelipac 
cartridge with somewhat fewer parts and an integral pressure roller.  
During 1964, Lear's aircraft company constructed 100 players for 
distribution to executives at the auto companies and RCA. 
 
Just how Bill Lear got his products from the drawing board to the 
dashboards of Ford Mustangs and Fairlanes is a little unclear.  
Certainly Lear carried with him the cachet of his successful business 
jet project, and had many personal contacts in industry.  And in a 
roundabout kind of way, he already had ties to Ford.  In the 1930s Lear 
and his partner Paul Galvin had together built Motorola into a leading 
manufacturer of car radios, and Motorola was now affiliated with Ford.   
 
Whatever the details of Lear's selling job, the keys to its spectacular 
success seems to have been the backing of both Ford and the recording 
industry.  After getting RCA Victor to commit to the mass production of 
its catalog on Lear Jet 8-tracks, Ford agreed to offer the players as 
optional equipment on 1966 models.  The response, in one Ford 
spokesman's word, "was more than anyone expected."  65,000 of the 
players were installed that year alone.  The machines were initially 
manufactured by Ford's electronics supplier:  the firm that had 
pioneered the mass produced auto radio or "motor victrola" -- Motorola.  
 
Meanwhile, a number of new contenders rose up to enjoy fleeting moments 
of glory.  Bernard Cousino, arguably the source of much cart technology, 
has rendered a seemingly endless succession of endless loop 
technologies.  He had a measure of success with his Echomatic cartridge 
in the 1960s as a "point of sale" or educational audio-visual 
technology, largely by adopting Eash's strategy of licensing his designs to 
other firms.  In 1965 the success of the Echomatic spurred the Champion 
Spark Plug company (a subsidiary of Ford) to purchase a controlling 
interest in the firm.  At Champion's insistence, Cousino Electronics 
became a manufacturer of Lear-style players and was a major supplier for 
Sears Roebuck.  Looking for greener fields, Cousino had in the early 
1960s also linked up with Alabama entrepreneur and firebrand John 
Herbert Orr, whose Orradio Industries tape manufacturing firm (makers of 
Irish Brand tape) had recently been acquired by Ampex.  Orr and Cousino 
cooked up Orrtronics, a company that made a background music system 
based on the old Echomatic cartridge.  While Ford debated the adoption of the 
Lear Cartridge in 1965, Champion Spark Plug funded the development at 
Orrtronics of a competing system.  This was the ill-fated Orrtronics 
8-track, a remarkably better sounding but commercially unsuccessful 
response to Lear's cart.  The Orrtronic cartridge had a somewhat 
different tape path that reduced strain on the tape and allowed better 
head-to-tape contact, and was somewhat more compact to boot.  
Nonetheless, no record companies seemed interested, and the idea was 
stillborn.  Cousino continued to patent endless loop devices, such as a 
miniature cartridge and, now in his 90s, he has recently submitted a 
patent for an endless loop videocassette.   
 
Endless variations on the endless loop cart appeared during the 1960s 
and 1970s; a.c.8-t-t readers will undoubtedly continue to discover 
obscure cart formats.  The best known, of course was the Playtape, a 
tiny cart introduced in the fall of 1966 which later re-emerged in 
slightly modified form as the basis of a Dictaphone Corp. telephone 
answering machine in the 1970s.  Answering machines, in fact, were a 
major source of new endless loop variations from the 1960s on.  The 
success of the Fidelipac in radio spawned a host of imitators, including 
both the well known Audiopak (which by the way is still being 
manufactured), the Aristocart made in Canada, the Marathon made by some 
Massachusetts firm, and the Tapex.   
 
While carts themselves continued to be manufactured in the U.S., makers 
of 8-track players disappeared after only a few years.  The manufacture 
of 8-track players shifted almost entirely to Japan between 1965 and 
1970.  There were a few valiant efforts to revive the flagging American 
industry, but to little avail as the foreign firms cranked players out 
in huge numbers using cheap labor.  Nonetheless, Quatron, Inc., a 
Maryland firm, shone brightly for a few years making the now highly 
desirable Model 48 automatic 8 track changer, but its star soon faded.  
By the time the major record labels stopped offering new releases on 
8-track, there were no domestic manufacturers of home or auto players.  
 
 
3.  A. WHEN DID THEY STOP MAKING 8-TRACKS? 
 
You are assuming, of course, that nobody makes 8-tracks anymore; there 
IS at least one country music TV-album outfit from Tennessee who still 
market their goods on 8-track (Cindy Lou Records).  Also, a few hungry 
young bands have put out homemade 8's recently of (mostly) alternative 
music.  But you're probably talking about the big labels, who had 
8-tracks out of the stores by 1983.  The mail-order record and tape 
clubs, however, kept the Reaper away from the door for another few 
years, offering exclusive 8-track versions of top albums for some time.  
These tapes don't quite have the quality of prime 8-T craftsmanship, 
but watch your friends eyes bug out when you show them you have George 
Harrison's _cloud nine_  or Michael Jackson's _Bad_ on 8-track.  The last 
Columbia Record Club 8-track we know of was _Chicago  XIX_, which 
shipped in 1988. 

It has been reported from one tracker that in Mexico 8-tracks abound. This
tracker reports to have recently (1995) purchased some brand new Tejano,
brought into the country illegaly.
 
B.  WHY DID THEY STOP MAKING 8-TRACKS? 
 
Consumer demand for the 8-track-tape format was strongest from 1970-74. 
The format began dramatically losing market share after 1975. IMHO, the 
reasons the format fell into disfavor are: 
 
Audio industry improvements in the cassette format. During cassette's 
first few years, sound quality was mediocre, marred by tape drop-outs, wow 
and flutter, modulation noise, hissing, tape jamming, distortion, and poor 
frequency range. But in the early 1970s, cassettes were improved so that 
(potentially at least) their fidelity was equal to, or better than, 
8-track... the major audio manufacturers put their R&D efforts into 
upgrading cassette. 
 
The "high end" 8-track deck makers, Wollensak, Akai, Pioneer, and 
Realistic, stopped developing improved 8-track units around 1974. In fact, 
the short-lived Elcaset format received the R&D efforts that would have 
gone into better 8-track decks. 
 
Manufacturers adopted cheaper, flimsier, less reliable cartridge 
mechanisms. Tape jamming and mechanical problems were a major "kiss of 
death" to consumer acceptance of 8-track....and these problems were 
entirely avoidable if the tape makers had maintained consistent design 
standards and quality control. 
 
Relatively few decks, and relatively few 8-track-tapes, incorporated 
Dolby noise reduction. The Dolby-B system was widely adopted for cassettes 
during the late '70s, while very few 8-track decks incorporated Dolby 
circuits.  
 
In short: the same industry that improved cassette tapes from a mediocre 
dictating-machine medium to a hi-fi music format, failed to offer and 
promote improvements for the 8-track format.  Now they're trying to get 
rid of cassettes in favor of CDs...and then get rid of CDs in favor of 
HDCDs or the Smart Card. 
 
 RBENSLEY@GNN.COM 
 
4. WHAT IS "8-TRACK MIND"? 
 
8-Track Mind is the quarterly journal currently edited by Mr. Russel 
Forster of East Detroit, MI.  From it's Statement of Purpose: "We of the 
8-TRACK MIND are dedicated to our one pursuit:  to keep analog alive  
(in whatever form) for the coming day of its ultimate victory.  We will 
supersede all formats yet to emerge.  We and our followers adhere to the 
doctrine of the 8-NOBLE TRUTHS OF THE 8-TRACK 
MIND in all of our creative pursuits." 
 
THE 8 NOBLE TRUTHS OF THE 8-TRACK MIND 
 
0)  Understanding one's fate leads to greater acceptance. 
1)  State of the art is in the eye of the beholder. 
2)  Society's drive is on attaining rather than experiencing. 
3)  In less than optimum circumstances, creativity becomes all the more 
     important. 
4)  Progress is too often promises, promises, promises to get you to 
      buy, buy. 
5)  "New" and "improved" don't necessarily mean the same thing. 
6)  "Naive" is not a dirty word. 
7)  In seeking perfection has the obvious been overlooked? 
8)  Innovation alone will not replace beauty. 
 
The magazine features the always amazing Letters to the Editor section, 
frequently the largest section in the magazine, where trackers around 
the world unite in extolling the virtues of the endless loop cartridge; 
the rest of the publication is comprised of feature articles, fiction, 
art, and poetry from the vast cast of 8 TM writers, and PLUGS, a page of 
analog contacts provided in lieu of  classifieds and other advertising.  
 
At the time of this posting, the latest issue was #86, Fall 1995.  
Newcomers to 8TM are frequently surprised that this many issues have 
been published.  The answer lies in the early history of the magazine:  
The first 68 issues of 8TM were the creation of Mr. Gordon Van Gelder.  
Van Gelder began the magazine in 1970 and was its editor until it went 
under in 1982, when its creditors took  possession of its warehouse 
and took twelve years of back issues, which had been carefully preserved 
in polyurethane bags, and recycled them for newsprint (the creditors got 
$68.23 for them).  The magazine was revived in Chicago in 1990 with 
issue #69 under the guidance of Van Gelder, his son Keith Van Gelder, 
Russ Forster, Dan Sutherland, Kari Busch and others.  Due to internal 
turmoil at 8TM, by issue #74 Russ had taken over as editor/publisher 
with both Van Gelders leaving the magazine's staff.    
 
It is published in Feb., May, Aug., and Nov. by 8-TM Publications, P.O. 
Box 90, East Detroit, MI 48021 0090.  Single issues are $2; 
subscriptions are $8/yr (make checks payable to Russ Forster). 
 
 
5.  HOW DOES AN 8-TRACK WORK, ANYWAY (WHEN IT WORKS...)?   
 
An 8-track cartridge contains a length of 1/4 inch tape.  The ends 
of the tape are connected by a metal foil splice, thus forming a loop.  
The tape itself is divided along its length into 8 channels, or tracks 
(hence the name).  The playback head plays 2 of these tracks at a time - 
4 programs in stereo.  Inside the cartridge, the tape is wound around a 
central hub, or spool.  Tape pulls out from the center of the spool.  It 
moves to the top of the cartridge, where it connects with the playback 
head in the player through an opening at the top of the cartridge. A 
pressure pad in the cartridge presses the tape up against the playback 
head.  The capstan (part of the player) is spun by the player's motor.  
As the capstan spins, it rolls the tape against the pinch roller in the 
cartridge.  The capstan and the pinch roller move the tape along its 
path at 3 and 3/4 inches per second.  The tape finally loops back to the 
central hub, where it rewraps around the outside of the spool. When the 
entire length of tape has gone through this loop, the metal foil splice 
in the tape passes by a solenoid sensing coil which is positioned right 
next to the playback head in the player.  This moves the playback head 
along the width of the tape, and it starts to play a new program (remember, the 
tape contains 8 tracks, only 2 of which are supposed to be played at once).   
 
From the previous description, it is probably pretty obvious why 8-track 
is so terribly prone to malfunctions.  If you don't have a cartridge 
handy, get out a ruler.  Dividing 1/4 inch into 8 separate tracks makes 
for very small tracks.  Now think about the fact that the playback head 
has to pick up only 2 of those tracks at a time.  When you further 
consider that the playback head itself moves all the time, virtually 
assuring that it will eventually become misaligned, it becomes painfully 
clear why 8-track so often produces crosstalk or "sound bleeding" from 
one program into another. The relatively complex path that the tape has 
to travel is another problem.  This, combined with the fairly large 
number of moving parts in the cartridge, encourages tangling and tape 
backups.  Since the capstan's movement regulates tape speed and 
movement, the somewhat tenuous grip that the capstan/pinch roller 
combination has on the tape sometimes leads to tape slowdowns, even if 
the motor is moving at a correct and steady speed (which it often 
isn't).  Furthermore, the tape splice, the most vulnerable part of the 
loop, is put under constant pressure.  Four times during the playing of 
each tape, the splice is pulled past the playback head and through the 
capstan/pinch roller wringer.  This constant wear on the splice 
encourages it to split, which it often does.  Lastly, the age of most 
8-track cartridges means that some of the parts are likely to be 
decayed.  Foam pressure pads and rubber pinch rollers are the most 
commonly decayed parts of an 8 track, but the adhesive used on the metal 
splice also tends to break down.  
 
Abigail Lavine (abbot@pobox.com) 
 
6.  WHERE CAN I BUY 8-TRACK TAPES AND PLAYERS? 
 
The only retail outlets that still sell new 8-tracks are truck stops in the 
mid-west and the west, but they're mostly country music titles (see 
answer #3).  However, I did find a still-sealed Blue Oyster Cult track 
at a truck stop in Texas in 1993!  The only sources that remain for 
tapes and players are the usual:  yard sales, estate sales, auctions, 
flea markets, thrift stores, etc.  Also, let all your friends know (no 
matter how embarrassing) that you're collecting 8-tracks, and the word 
will get out.  People will suddenly start giving you 8-tracks and 
players that they find in their basement, their parents' attic, etc.  
Run ads in the local paper; strike a deal with local thrift stores or 
flea markets telling them that you'd like to have first dibs on 8-track 
goodies; go to junk yards and look in '60 and '70s cars for still intact 
car players (also, a lot of junk yards pull the players out of the cars 
and offer them for sale separately).  Also, use the Internet!  Put the 
word out on alt.collecting.8-track-tapes, or run a free ad on the 
"8-Track Heaven" web page in the Classified Ads section 
(http://pobox.com/~abbot/8track/) and check out the dealers' page 
there as well.   
 
And since Radio Shack (the last bastion of 8-track wares) dropped 
8-track players from their catalogs a few years back, there is no 
commercial source for 8-track tape players.  For years, rumors have 
floated around the 8-track community that vast warehouses of Radio Shack 
8-track equipment sit quietly,  somewhere, waiting for a well planned 
8-track commando raid...  
 
If you're lucky enough to live in New York City, though, Canal Street's 
many offbeat shops sometimes turn up new, in-the-box 8-track players.  
Otherwise, the above mentioned places apply. 
 
Finally, check the back pages of 8-Track Mind magazine for current 
listings of dealers that may have tapes and/or players for sale.  Happy 
hunting!   
 
7.  HOW CAN I FIX BROKEN 8-TRACKS? 
 
In the olden, golden days, local music dealers or record & tape shops 
would repair 8-tracks for a small fee.  These days, though, you gotta do 
it yourself.  The Realistic 8-Track  Cartridge Repair Manual is the best 
single source of instruction for repairing broken tapes.   You can 
purchase a copy of this manual for $4 from: 
Big Bucks Burnett
P.O. Box 720714
Dallas, TX 75372.  (Write for availability first). 

(New!)  In 1996, anywhere from 15-25 years after most 8-tracks you find 
will last be played, there are going to be problems playing most of 
them again unless you do a few things to prevent breaks and chewup.

As far as the player is concerned, you will have to clean the heads 
and roller as well as you can to eliminate buildup of residue.  You 
would also do well to have a head demagnitizer (which is avaiable 
at any radio shack).

As far as the tapes, when I get a new one, especially a tape I 
really care about, I DON'T STICK IT IN THE PLAYER.  I open the cart 
and make sure the tape rolls the way it's supposed to and that the 
spool closest to the center of the wheel hasn't risen above the 
rest of the tape making the tape coming from the center harder to 
come out (and easier to fold).  Opening CBS/Columbia & GRT carts 
are the easiest (just don't break the tabs), the black Warner and 
Capitol(easiest tab to break) carts are a little harder, and the 
RCA carts are next to impossible without a drill, however the RCA 
carts are the most well developed and reliable.

Once you make sure the tape is rolling correctly, you need to find 
the foil tape that splices the tape together.  I have a deck with 
fast forward that I can set to eject at the end of the program.  
This is the best way to handle it.  Once you find the foil, replace 
it with new foil and reinforce it on the back with splicing tape 
(both items easily found at your local radio shack).  You have now 
made the splice the strongest part of the tape.

As far as the pads, again depending on the manufacturer, you may 
need to replace them.  Older CBS, GRT, WB, & all Capitol pads will 
need replacing.  By '79 or '80 (earlier for CBS), the pads were 
made of a spring-like foam that will last indefinitely (as opposed 
to the earlier gooish pads).  Again, RCA & earlier Atlantic carts 
have actual metal spring pads that do the best.  You may need to 
re-glue the felt pads onto the metal springs.  If I'm out of pads I 
have scavenged from non-desirable tapes, I use auto 
weather-stripping with scotch tape on the outside cut to fit the 
tape area.  This can be found at any auto parts store.

As far as rollers, you are okay unless you have an older ('60s - 
early '70's) tape with the gooey roller.  Replace those immediately 
because even if they seem okay, they're not.

If you throw away any 8-tracks, be sure to scavenge them for 
rollers, pads, spools or even the shell itself because it always 
helps to have spare parts around.

If you do what I described above, your 8-tracks will be as reliable 
if not more so than the so-called 'superior' formats in mass 
production today.  Since I've adopted this method, I've never had a 
tape break and I've eliminated 'ghost tracks' or hearing another 
programs on the listening program.  If the record companies had 
cared a little more in the outset, the 8-track wouldn't have had 
such a lousy performance reputation.  But we all know what they're 
about (and it's not whether their product is reliable in the long 
term).
mcgriff@gnn.com (G. Allen)

A.  HOW DO YOU REPLACE THE FOAM BACKING PADS ON TAPES? 
 
The easiest way is to save the pads from old tapes and use them to 
repair others.  If you don't have any old pads, you can also use a cut 
up sponge.  Some people have  had some luck using adhesive foam 
weather stripping from the hardware store.  They usually have several 
different widths/thicknesses/stiffnesses to choose from. Take out the 
old pressure pad, scrape off the old deteriorated foam from the 
stiff plastic backing and stick on the new weather stripping (the 
adhesive makes this very easy).  You can then trim the weather 
stripping to the correct size and put a piece of Scotch Magic tape on 
the top side of the weather stripping where it will contact the 
backside of the tape.  The Magic tape provides a smooth surface for 
the tape to pass over." 
 
You also may use felt pads (for underneath ashtrays, etc.)
to replace the foam pad of a tape.  This felt pad already has a self
stick backing and the cost is @1.00 for an entire sheet! 

B.  HOW DO YOU REPLACE THE METALLIC SENSING STRIP? 
 
This is one of the most common repair jobs with 8-tracks. The metallic 
strip is located at the splice that holds the two ends of the tape 
together, and this is where tapes often break.  And sometimes the foil 
strip just wears out without breaking, causing the same track to play 
over and over. Radio Shack still sells rolls of the foil sensing tape, 
believe it or not.  You can get a small roll for a buck or two, and 
it's already cut to the proper width for 8-track tape.  Just use a 
razor blade to cut a piece to the correct length.  It's adhesive on 
the back and attaches to the existing tape easily.  Make sure you put 
the metallic tape on the shiny side of the tape (the side facing the 
playback head) or it won't work! 
 
C.  HOW CAN I OPEN THE CART WITHOUT DAMAGING IT? 
 
Malcolm says:  There are many different types of cartidges, and they 
each need a  different approach. The easiest are Columbia TC8 carts; 
if you have one of those, just pull the 3 little tabs back on the back 
side of the cart, which will allow the cart to snap open easily. It 
can be closed the same way with no damage to the cart. Most other 
carts require 
a small amount of damage to get open. It's just the reality of the 
cart design: they were not designed to be opened once sealed. 
 
Jeff Economy says:  My favorites are TDK and Capitol blanks ("In the 
beautiful box"); they actually have screws to open 'em up! The TDKs 
are also especially nice as they have this little anti-jamming device 
inside that keeps the tape locked when it's not in play. Unfortunately 
the foil strip is prone to peeling off. 

D.  HOW TO OPEN AN AMPEX/LEAR JET CARTRIDGE

by Abigail Lavine

Why is it that Ampex, the absolute last word in audiotape for the
serious professional, consistently produced 8-track
cartridges with pinch rollers which turn to gummy goo? It's true.
 9 out of 10 Ampex/Lear Jet cartridges have dangerous and
unusable melted rubber pinch rollers. And on top of that, the carts
are especially difficult to open in order to replace the roller.
But with a little bit of work and foresight, you can create a kit
which will make opening them oh so much easier. I learned the
secrets I'm about to share from 8-track repairman extraordinaire Joe
Wally, of Wally's Stereo Tape City (see Resources and
Dealers ). The man is a professional. Literally. He's been repairing
8-track tapes as part of his job since before some of the
people reading this were even born. Joe Wally uses an ordinary kitchen
knife, a hex screw driver or socket set, and two
specially prepared hex head screws. The first step is to force the
kitchen knife into the seam between the two sides of
the cartridge shell at the top, near where the tape is exposed and the
pinch roller is visible. Pry the two sides apart a
bit. Now turn the cartridge over, so the label is face-down and you
can see the five little holes on the back. The middle hole is
slightly larger than the others, and this is the one to attack first.
You'll need to have a hex head tapping screw which is just
slightly larger than the middle hole. When you find the correct size
screw, hacksaw the sharp end off of it. While you're at it,
find a slightly smaller screw, one that's a little bit bigger than the
four smaller holes, and saw the end off that one too. Now
screw into the middle hole until the two sides of the shell begin to
separate. Move on to the four smaller outside holes one at a
time. The two sides should spread apart. At the end, you can remove
the screw in the middle. Before you completely pull the
two sides apart, BE SURE TO TURN THE TAPE OVER ON THE TABLE SO THAT
THE LABEL IS FACING UP. That way the spool of tape inside will stay in
its path. Change the pinch roller and do whatever other repairs may be
necessary. In the end, the two sides should go back together with a little effort,
or a few raps from a mallet, or with great care in a
workbench vise. 
 
E.  IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR AN 8-TRACK IN WHICH ALL OF THE TAPE IS 
JUST IN A BIG PILE (UNTANGLED)?  IS THERE ANY WAY TO SPIN IT BACK  
ON THE REEL? 
 
Yes. 
By hand.<deep sigh> 
 
Ičll assume it broke at the splice, and that you have all requisite 
parts, know what they look like, know where to put them, and have 
a new piece of foil track switching tape (or can reuse the old). Brace 
yourself, andlet's get to work... 
 
Make sure you know which end is the beginning. If unsure, wind it on a 
reel-to-reel reel, find a low-tension r-r machine (any track arrangement) 
and play it back. You'll get multiple tracks, but should be able to 
distinguish forward from backward. 
 
Put the empty hub on some convenient spindle, and start 
hand-winding, with the beginning of the tape at the inner 
circumference, oxide side facing out. Wind CLOCKWISE. Leave about 3-4cm of the 
beginning end sticking up. 
 
Keep going until youčre done <big sigh>. 
 
Holding the body of the hub (NOT the tape pack), gently pull the 
tape end (the end--at the outside of the pack) until friction happens, 
or the pack rotates as a whole. This removes excess slack. Don't make 
it too tight! 
 
Test tension: Pull beginning end (center of pack) outward, along its 
length a little bit. If it fails to pull out easily, the pack is too 
tight. If it falls out sideways, the pack is too loose. This judgement (as 
well as tightening & loosening techniques) requires practice. I can 
explain no further here. 
 
Put the hub back in the shell, thread the tape per usual. Add/remove 
outer turns to get the correct length to make the splice (err on the side 
of too loose). 
 
Splice, add foil, reassemble, test. 
 
 
8.  CAN I SELL OR TRADE MY 8-TRACK TAPES ON 
     ALT.COLLECTING.8-TRACK-TAPES?  
 
Sure! Just post a list of 8-tracks for sale, including artist, title, 
condition of tape, whether it's sealed or not,  and the price (or you 
want list if you're just interested in trading). Of course, don't be 
surprised if you get flamed if your prices are too high! A lot of 
trackers are against treating 8-tracks as collectors items, like LPs and 
45s.  Of course, it's inevitable that certain tapes will become sought 
after for one reason or another, but perhaps there's a happy medium we 
all can live with. 
 
However, an even better place might be the Web site, "8-Track Heaven," 
which has a classified ad section for buying, selling, and trading 
8-tracks and players. (see question #16).   
 
9.  WHAT ABOUT THAT 8-TRACK MOVIE....? 
 
_So Wrong They're Right_ is a 92-minute documentary shot on 16 mm film 
encapsulating a 10,000 mile journey around the U.S. in search of a group of 
8-track fanatics, or 'trackers' as they have been dubbed in the pages of 
_8-Track Mind_ Magazine, which serves as the principal inspiration for 
the film.  SWTR follows the travels of _8-Track Mind_ Editor Russ 
Forster and fellow 8-track enthusiast Dan Sutherland in search of 
other 8-track minds.  The result is over 20 interviews which delve in 
to reminiscences, rants, political diatribes, fantasies, fix-it tips, 
sales pitches,  and everything else defining the skeptical yet 
inquisitive mind of the '90s 8-track enthusiast.  It's not a film about 
nostalgia, as some  might suggest; rather, it serves as a statement of 
outrage from a population of consumers who are tired of being told what 
to consume. 
 
CREDITS: 
 
Producer, Director, Sound Recordist, Editor:  Russ Forster 
Cinematography, Lighting:  Dan Sutherland 
Sound Mix:  Jerrell Frederick 
Soundtrack Music:  Lary 7, Wally Pleasant, Bob Jordan, Mr. Bucks, Duane 
  Thamm  Jr. 
And a cast of dozens 
 
HOW TO SEE IT: 
 
Russ is touring the US with his film Summer and Fall 1995;  look for 
announcements on AC8TT.  VHS Video copies are available for $25 from 
8-TM Productions, PO Box 90, East Detroit, MI 48021-0090.  
Make  checks payable to Russ Forster. 
 
 
10.  ARE MY 8-TRACKS RARE OR VALUABLE? HOW CAN I TELL HOW MUCH 
THEY'RE  WORTH?  
 
Sorry, but there isn't a guide to what is worth how much in the
8-track  world.  The short answer would be:  "They are worth
whatever somebody  will pay for them."  Flea market and thrift stores
still sell carts for  anywhere from 5 cents to a buck, but collectors
are driving up the  prices as we speak.  For example, John and Yoko's
_Wedding Album_ on 8-T  will net you about as much as the vinyl
version.  A copy of the aborted  second collaboration with Frank
Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim (which  didn't even make it to test
pressings in vinyl) is so scarce that the  owner of one told
_Goldmine_ he wouldn't part with his "for at least  $5,000". (8-Track
Mind #81)  Then, there IS Mr. Bucks from Texas who 
managed to sell a copy of the Sex Pistols' _Never Mind the Bollocks_  
for $100 and _Cloud Nine_ by George Harrison for $150.  To counter this, 
another copy of _Never Mind the Bollocks_ was recently sold for 1 cent 
by another collector fed up with these high prices! 

Anyone who's really curious or wants an 
authoritative voice to back a hunch might want to find a 
price guide of pre-recorded tapes (or a single artist guide 
in the prerecorded tape section) for some idea.  
The Official Price Guide series covers this area 
rather nicely and is readily available in most 
parts of the country.  However, keep in mind that the 
prices listed are for mint or very good  condition.  If 
your cart has been through the mill, and you can usually 
tell just by looking at them, don't expect to get rich.

Of course, all this about the Official guides being the 
easiest to find is based on a gut feeling, since that's the 
only one I've found in this area.  The guide to the Beatles 
is an interesting read, since it places most of the Fab 
Carts at $15-25 in mint.  It also verifies that the last 
ever Beatles solo 8 was George Harrison's Cloud 9, and that 
even in good condition (in grading terms good) it can net 
you $40.  It does place the complete Wedding Album set 
(mint) at $75, although I did see someone trying to sell 
one in Goldmine at the aforementioned $200+ 
 
If you are unsure about the collectability of your collection, just
say  "make me an offer" when you're ready to sell. 
 
11.  WHY DO 8-TRACKS BREAK AND/OR JAM SO EASILY? 
 
The main problem of breakage is the sensing foil, which serves double 
duty by holding the loop together at the splice.  Like any adhesive 
tape, it becomes not quite as adhesive as time wears on.  The best thing 
we've run across to remedy this is placing a piece of Mylar splicing 
tape (they still sell it at Radio Shack) on the reverse side of the tape 
section with the splice.  This will reinforce the splice, making it the 
strongest section of the tape. 
 
Tapes jam because the carts, over time, are exposed to heat or are 
abused in other ways.  The tape becomes packed and will no longer move 
smoothly.  Also, the tape can stretch due to heat exposure,  causing 
uneven portions of the tape loop.  Tapes that have been sitting for a 
long time, especially in shrink wrap, can be worse than old, well used 
tapes because of the heat factor.  The players can also be the problem 
here; a player with dirty rollers or heads can cause excess drag on the 
tape, causing it to jam.  Another problem is the dreaded "black gunk" 
[see answer 12] which, once it is introduced into the player, can cause 
all future tape to jam up.  Cleaning the player regularly with tape head cleaner will help.   
 
 
12.  WHAT IS THAT BLACK GUNK WHERE THE PINCH ROLLER SHOULD BE?  
 
That, my friend, is one of the most dreaded of 8-track ailments - what 
you're lookin' at is 8-track tar.  Rubber pinch roller breakdown.  
Petroleum by-product soup.  Bad news for your player, so look out!  
Check the pinch roller carefully before you stick a new tape in your 
player.  If your thumbnail leaves an impression in the rubber that 
doesn't spring back, then replace the roller.  But maybe I'm getting 
ahead of myself here.  Does everyone know what an 8-track pinch roller 
is?  It's that little wheel that the tape slides over.  You can see it 
when you look in the top openings of a cartridge, sort of off to side.  
Anyway, it's a very good idea to have spare rollers around for 
emergencies.  Actually, since pinch rollers come in such a variety of 
sizes, you can never have too many spares on hand.  Buy tapes you hate 
just for the parts and don't throw away broken tapes that still have 
working parts.  If your player has fallen victim to tar, you'll almost 
certainly need to take it apart and clean it out with a solvent like 
alcohol or acetone.  An ounce of prevention and all that... 
 
Abigail Lavine (abbot@pobox.com) 
 
13.  WAS ANY PUNK ROCK RELEASED ON 8-TRACK? 
 
[8TM - Mr. Bucks]  Think about it...punk surfaced in America in the 
late-mid '70s, which was the heyday of the 8-track era.  For three or 
four years a lot of good punk and alternative bands found their way 
onto our favorite format. Along with the Sex Pistols, there were 8-track 
releases by Television, Patty Smith, Devo, The Ramones, Gary Numan, 
Elvis Costello, The Stranglers, and the B-52s just to name a few. 
 
Others punk rock and new wave artists releasing 8-tracks were The Dead 
Boys, Blondie, The Clash, The Fabulous Poodles, The Runaways, The Jam, 
The Police, The Plimsouls, The Records, The Talking Heads,  The 
Undertones,  the Pirates,  and just about every New Wave
and punk band that managed  to land a major record deal. 
 
 
14. WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH QUADRAPHONIC 8-TRACKS? 
 
DEFINITION:- QUADRAPHONIC SOUND:  Quadraphonic audio (aka Surround 
Sound) adds rear channels (aka Surround Channels) to stereo audio 
reproduction. Quad reproduces spatial characteristics and effects 
unobtainable from two-channel playback. Quadraphonic audio attempts to 
re-create subtle spatial "you are there" acoustic clues, and in some 
cases puts the listener literally "in the middle" of a performing 
ensemble, with musical instruments playing from all four directions 
 
DESCRIPTION - QUAD-8 TAPE CARTRIDGES (QUAD-8):  QUAD-8 cartridges 
resemble Stereo-8  cartridges. QUAD-8 tapes allocate tape tracks 
differently, combining tracks 1, 3, 5, and 7 to Program 1 and combining 
tracks 2, 4, 6, and 8 into Program 2.  QUAD-8 cartridges contain a small 
vertical notch in the top left corner, so the QUAD-8 player can 
automatically set up the proper program/track configuration.  
 
Unlike the various quad LP formats, which used matrix or 
demodulation schemes to retain full compatibility with existing stereo 
record players, QUAD-8 cartridges provide "discrete" four-channel audio. 
QUAD-8 cartridges won't properly reproduce on a Stereo-8 player, but 
QUAD-8 players can reproduce Stereo-8 cartridges. 
 
QUAD-8 PLAYBACK EQUIPMENT DESCRIPTION:  QUAD-8 players have special 
tape 
heads and circuitry which contacts the correct group of four tracks, and 
produces four discrete (separate) channels of audio output.  QUAD-8 
players also can play Stereo-8 tapes, but QUAD-8 tapes won't 
satisfactorily play in a conventional Stereo-8 deck.  
 
Prominent makers of Quad-8 decks include Akai, Panasonic, Pioneer, 
Wollensak, Electrophonic,  Realistic, and Sanyo.  However, some 
combination 8-track player/receivers prominently trumpet simulated 
quadraphonic sound (i.e. "quatravox", "quadradial", "4D", "quad 
matrix").  Some of these "impostor" Quad decks even have 4-channel 
joysticks!  Unless a player is plainly  labeled QUAD-8, Q-8,  or 
DISCRETE QUADRAPHONIC 8-TRACK, the unit won't play Q8 tapes in discrete 
quad. The "pseudo-Quad" decks merely provide simulated surround sound 
from regular Stereo audio - they lack playback heads designed for 
QUAD-8. playback.  
 
MUSIC TAPES: RCA and Columbia far exceeded other companies in terms of 
QUAD-8 tape releases. Other companies committed to significant numbers 
of QUAD-8 releases include A&M, ABC, Command, and Warner Group 
(Elektra/Nonesuch/Asylum Records).  Curiously, very few QUAD-8 titles 
were issued by EMI (Capital Records/Angel), by Decca/London, or the 
Polygram labels. QUAD-8 tapes on the Polydor, Mercury, Decca/London, 
Philips, and Deutsche Grammophon labels are extremely rare.  
 
CHRONOLOGY:  Introduced in the fall of 1970, shortly after the initial 
appearance of quadraphonic open-reel decks and tapes, QUAD-8 tapes were 
available a year before the initial quadraphonic vinyl LP records 
appeared on the market.  
 
Some of the earliest QUAD-8 tape releases were "remixes" from older 
multi-track stereo releases. Among the initial RCA QUAD-8s: the 1964 
soundtrack to "The Sound of Music" and the 1962 Reiner/Chicago 
Symphony album of Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra."  After 1971, most 
QUAD-8 releases were albums specifically mixed down for quad playback, 
often with truly stupendous (if controversial) aural effects. 
 
QUAD-8 tapes generally retailed for $1 more than Stereo-8 tapes. Part of 
this additional cost reflected the greater volume of tape jammed into a 
QUAD-8 cartridge, to offset playback time lost due to  elimination of 
two programs.  A few QUAD-8 releases were issued on two cartridges, 
or had some editing. 
 
QUAD-8 tapes were unsuccessful commercially. Some explanations for this 
are: 
 
*The public resented the industry's Quad LP "format wars". the lack of a 
uniform and high quality Quad LP system would tarnish acceptance of all 
Surround Sound home formats for many years. 
 
*Some equipment makers cheapened product quality in order to provide 
Quad capability at a price comparable to regular stereo. The resulting 
low-fi audio systems, with cheaper amplifiers, cut-rate tape transports, 
and mediocre speakers, turned off many prospective buyers from Quad 
sound.  
 
*QUAD-8 cartridges were somewhat less convenient than Stereo-8 
cartridges. Instead of four programs,  there were only two programs. 
QUAD-8 playback decks were about 30% more expensive than Stereo-8 decks, 
and very few record decks had QUAD-8 record capability. Maximum playing 
time was half that of Stereo-8. 
 
*QUAD-8 cartridges used thinner tape (similar to double-play 90-minute 
Stereo-8s), increasing the risk of tape print-through and mechanism jamming. 
 
*The Arab Oil Embargo of late 1973/74, and the corresponding price 
inflation, drastically curtailed consumer discretionary spending.  In 
the United States and other industrial countries, consumers struggled to 
buy gasoline and other inflation-impacted necessities.  They ignored 
costly frills such as Quad sound equipment. 
 
QUAD-8 releases peaked out during 1973-74, and sharply declined by 1976. 
The final commercial QUAD-8 tape release, in 1978, apparently was Isao 
Tomita electronic synthesizer performance of Holst's "The Planets" on 
RCA's Red Seal label. (This also was the final CD-4 Quadradisc LP title). 
 
COLLECTING QUAD-8 CARTRIDGES:  QUAD-8 tapes have become something of a 
"holy grail", as these tapes have become very scarce. Titles from EMI 
and Polygram labels (i.e. Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon") are 
exceptionally hard to locate in QUAD-8 format.  If you seriously collect 
QUAD-8s, build a network with other collectors, share "wish lists", and 
make trades when you locate desirable tapes. 
 
Ron Bensley  hucb46a@prodigy.com 
 
 
15. WHAT ABOUT 4-TRACK TAPES? 
 
[From "You Really Got Me," copyright 1994 by Doug Hinman]  Four-track 
and 8-track cartridges coexisted on the marketplace for some time, with 
the 8-track format eventually defeating by attrition its look-alike 
cousin (before in turn being overtaken by the cassette format).  
Although extremely similar in appearance (the only obvious difference 
between the two being a large hole in the top left underside of 4 
tracks), the two formats were not at all compatible, having been 
developed and marketed by two different and competing factions.  The 
4-track system was refined and marketed as a car accessory by 
Madman Earl Muntz, a west-coast used car dealer looking for something 
he could offer as an accessory to boost his used car sales.  His 
marketing and distribution arrangements were spotty at best, relegating 
the 4-track format to the inferior (when compared to 8-track) status of 
a regional phenomenon, most popular in such locales as California 
(Muntz's home base) and Florida, but unpopular or unknown in many other areas. 
 
Originally developed in 1956 (also in conjunction with Ford Motors), the 
4-track format was originally forsaken as unmarketable, and lay dormant 
until the early '60s, when enterprising Earl Muntz saw its potential.  
He acquired rights to the format and began marketing both 
hardware (players) and software(prerecorded tapes), licensing music 
from major record labels.  It was perhaps Earl Muntz's 
initiative that rekindled Ford's interest in offering an in-dash tape 
cartridge system.  The development of the 8-track format took the basic 
4-track technology and refined it, making changes designed to make the 
tape less likely to jam while playing, and to increase accessibility to 
individual selections on the tape.  In the 4-track format, the pinch 
roller (the wheel that moves the tape along as it plays) was housed in 
the player.  In the 8-track system, the pinch roller was housed in 
the cartridge itself. The two programs of the 4-track format were 
like the two sides of an LP, each holding roughly half the total 
program material.  For the next few years, the two 
configurations contested for consumer allegiance. New titles continued 
to be released on both, and the two look-alike formats were often 
marketed side by side in retail outlets. Despite 4-track's potential to 
deliver better sound quality, it was the 8-track format that eventually 
dominated.  Not the least reason for this was Ford's de facto 
endorsement.  The physical similarity between 4- and 8-track cartridges 
permitted the development of converters that fit into the increasingly 
obsolete 4-track players and enabled them to play 8-tracks. 
 
------------------------------- 
 
Ad Copy from a 1968 Muntz Ad for 4-track car players:  "The bold and 
powerful new 1968 Muntz M-45 car stereo system is one for the road -- 
anytime, anywhere!  Muntz M-45 has a lot more going for it than great 
looks.  It's got tomorrow's great automatic features, including 
convenient controls for separation,  track selection, volume, tone and 
reject.  And, maximum performance is guaranteed by the increased power 
of the new, twin solid-state amplifiers.  Here's full-range response for 
you in a strong, masculine unit that is set in a brilliant chrome finish 
and is accented by the recessed black-grain panel surface.  It's groovy! 
Muntz also spotlights the world's greatest cartridge entertainment -- 
100,000 titles featuring the greatest stars in music.  Today's greatest 
sounding cars have been stereoized by Muntz, and we've fixed it so that 
you can drive home with The Beatles, The Mamas and The Papas, Buck 
Owens, Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra, Dean Martin, The Beach Boys, 
Petula Clark, or any one of today's brightest stars.  
 
It boils down to this: Muntz is the best sound on wheels." 
 
 
16.  WHAT ABOUT THE 8-TRACK TAPE WWW SITE, "8-TRACK HEAVEN"? 
 
"8-Track Heaven," the World Wide Web site for 8-track tape aficionados, 
went on-line on July 20, 1995.  You may reach it by pointing your web 
browser to: 
 
http://pobox.com/~abbot/8track/ 
 
The site was created by Malcolm Riviera, Chip Rowe, and Abigail Lavine, 
but contributions from all net trackers are welcome.   
 
On the page you'll find many articles about 8-tracks; history of the 8-track; stuff about 4-tracks and PlayTapes, an 8-track hall of fame, sound bites, how to repair tapes; reprints of
articles about 8-track tapes; GIFs of cool 8-track covers, links to 8-track related sites, 
resources for buying  8-tracks and players, diagrams and photos of 8-track pioneers, and a 
classified ads section where you can buy, sell, and trade tapes.  
 
17. WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH DOLBY 8-TRACK DECKS AND TAPES? 
 
(Note: "Dolby" and the "double-D" symbol are trademarks of Dolby 
Laboratories Ltd.). 
 
During the mid-1960s, audio engineer Ray Dolby developed the Dolby 
Type-A noise-reduction system, which has been utilized extensively 
in professional recording studios ever since (although for it is 
becoming superceded by the improved Dolby Type SR system and, sigh, 
various digital recording systems). 
 
In 1969, Ray Dolby responded to inquiries from various audio experts 
to develop a simpler, cost-effective, but high-quality noise reduction 
system for consumer tape decks. This system, known as Dolby Type B, 
was designed to provide relatively dependable record/playback 
performance from tape decks running at the slow tape speeds (1 7/8 ips 
and 3 3/4 ips) of cassette and 8-track tapes, respectively. Dolby-B 
dramatically reduces high-frequency "tape hiss", providing a 
relatively quiet tape background. 
 
The first Dolby-equipped consumer 8-track decks appeared in late 1971 
from Akai and Wollensak. Other makers offering Dolby-equipped decks 
included Pioneer, Realistic, and Technics. A small number of compact 
combo stereos (combining 8-track deck, stereo receiver, and turntable 
with matched speakers) included Dolby. 
 
Of the major tape duplicators, only Columbia had a really 
strong commitment to encoding 8-tracks with Dolby. Columbia began 
Dolby-encoding of cassettes in 1971 and Dolby-encoding of 8-tracks in 
1973. As a result, hundreds of the most common 8-track titles (from the 
various CBS labels) feature Dolby-B encoding. 
 
Other 8-track tape manufacturers (Ampex, GRT, Capitol Records, 
RCA, MCA, Warner) neglected to offer the benefits of Dolby encoding 
to their customers.  Curiously, some Canadian RCA 8s are Dolby-encoded 
while their US counterparts are not.  Had Dolby-encoding become more 
widespread on 8-tracks, it's likely that the format's "planned 
obsolesence" would have been postponed several years. 
 
By Ron Bensley,  RBensley@gnn.com 
 
18.  PLAYERS 
 
  A.  I HAVE AN 8-TRACK THAT PLAYS TOO FAST; IS THERE ANY REMEDY?  
 
It's most likely a problem with the player, not the tape. If your deck 
has a fast forward (ffwd), it's possible it's stuck on high speed.  If 
that's not the problem, open it up (the player, not the tape).  There 
may be a speed control somewhere in the area of the motor. Just follow 
the motor wires back to the pc board. If there is a variable resistor 
in that area, give it a try. A small screw driver can be used to 
turn the control. 
 
Another possibility is that someone changed the drive belt on the 
player. The "new" belt may be the wrong size (diameter), and thus 
change the speed of the drive wheel..  If the large wheel has a slot for 
the belt, and the replacement belt is not running inside the slot, the 
speed will be altered. This goes for the drive wheel on the motor as 
well. I had one that ran too fast, turned out it had the wrong belt. 
You may need to buy a replacement belt; also, rubber bands are a 
cheap replacement and often work fine until you can find a real belt. 
The diameter I'm referring to is the cross section of the belt. Some are 
flat, sqr, round, and sometimes this cross section is very important. 
 
  B.  WHAT'S THE BEST METHOD FOR CLEANING 8T TAPE HEADS?  
 
The best results are obtained from cleaning the heads with commercial 
tape head cleaner and Q-tips.  Distilled de-ionized alcohol is a OK, 
too.  Make sure you clean the capstan, too, which is the metal rod 
that presses against the tape's pinch roller.  The capstan picks up a lot of 
crap over time and if you don't clean it regularly your tapes will start 
snagging on it and making a huge mess.  
 
Those tape head cleaning cartidges are another option, but most of them 
are pretty crappy, and the head cleaner/Q-tip method is vastly superior.  
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
 
This Info File and FAQ is compiled and maintained by Malcolm Riviera.  
Distribute this file freely, but please leave in this disclaimer so that 
years from now when I'm visiting Tokyo some hipster will approach me on 
the street and recognize me as the guy who finally compiled an FAQ for 
alt.collecting.8-track-tapes.  Thanks again to Abbey, Eric, and Ronald 
without whom this file would not exist, and to Russ Forster and the 
writers & readers of "8-Track Mind" who inspire us all to greater and 
greater heights of analog bliss. 
 

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM