Sony reel to reel problem

sugarmapleJune 17, 2011

Hi. We have a Sony Sterecorder TC 530 reel to reel that isn't running right. We would like to check on the internal mechanisms and clean it but we're not sure how to go about it. Anybody with old tech knowledge? Thanks.

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Wow! While you don't describe what "isn't running right" is, the TC-530 was manufactured from around 1966-69 - it's going to need a lot of work.

Most likely the problems you are having are either: speed is off, bad wow & flutter, hum in the audio, or noise and pops in the audio.

It will at minimum require complete disassembly, cleaning/lubrication of the mechanics, replacement of rubber belts/drives, and what is known as "recapping" - replacing all the dried out electrolytic capacitors in the electronics.

Also, depending on the amount of hours on it, it may require lapping of the record/playback heads and creative repair of bearings.

The other thing to consider is the condition of the tapes on the reels: are they just as old, how have they been stored, have they been run through once in a while, or have they been packed where the oxide will just fall off?

If the tapes are OK, and the recorder has enough sentimental meaning to you, then you may want to find someone locally who restores old radios and televisions and talk to them about it.

There are people around who do this and most have a lot of integrity since it has really become more of a craftsmanship project to do these restorations.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 8:41PM
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Hi Yosemitebill and thanks for responding. I bought it at an auction for $9.00. I have some reel to reel tapes of my grandparents singing hymns, etc. that I would like to transfer to CD's. The player already had a reel to reel on it and an empty one and when we turned it on it was playing very fast (think faster than Alvin and the Chipmonks). When we changed the speed it didn't make any difference. Then my husband figured out that it was stuck on fast forward. When he turned that off the tape would play normal for about 2 seconds then slow and stop. He has opened it, took off one of the belts and noticed that it has somewhat of a point at one end so he is hoping to replace that (where do you get one of those!) and try to clean the inside mechanisms. The tape it came with appears to be some sort of a mass, maybe a wedding, but we are using that as our experimental tape as I don't want to ruin my grandparents tapes. If you are interested, I'll come back and give you updates as we really want to get this to work so I can give a copy of my grandparents singing to my remaining elderly aunts and uncles. Sugarmaple

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 1:51PM
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Tape speeds are governed by a wheel or roller that pinches the tape between itself and another roller. This is positioned after the tape read/write heads. If the speed-controled roller is not closing to pinch the tape when PLAY is selected, the recorder will play in a fast mode.
When I 'nudged' mine to close, everything worked fine.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 4:30PM
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While sitting here thinking I may have the service manual for the TC-530, I remembered I sold my complete library of Sony A/V manuals to somebody in the mid 1990's.

So, I Googled around and came across this video on a TC-530 that someone put up that I think you will very useful - link below.

From what I recall, that was a round, as opposed to square belt - we're talking about a cross section view of the belt here. It should be flexible and not dried/cracked or, as is more common in old equipment, spongy/stretchy.

The idler wheels should also be flexible and not hard. The pinch roller, which engages to the capstan shaft should be flexible and not hard and glazed.

You can try cleaning rubber parts with alcohol and a q-tip or small rag. The alcohol should be the type you buy in small cans in the paint/wood working area, not rubbing alcohol.

You also may need to remove "things that rotate on shafts" like the idlers, clean the inside and shaft with alcohol, re-lubricate and reassemble. CAREFUL when removing and installing those small "c" clips since they fly away and disappear in a blink of an eye.

The easiest to find oil that will work for you is probably fishing reel oil in the little pen-type dispensers. It is easily absorbed by the sintered bearings - the bronze section inside the idlers that slips over the shaft. It'll also work on the motor if it uses sintered bearings.

If the main drive belt from the motor is in bad shape, let me know and I will see if I can find the dimensions for you - then it's Google time. Turntable belts are still being made and available but drive belts may be a little more difficult.

Here is a link that might be useful: Youtube TC-530 video

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 8:42PM
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roommate moved out and took a box with 15 tapes of mine. swore for years he did not have it. 20 yrs ago. so last year he mentions he found the box. lots of recordings of friends band. i gave him deck/tapes and he transferred most to computer files. still has deck. yes, it is an old sony.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 8:54AM
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Thanks for these ideas. I'm going to have my husband read them after work - sounds like you all have some good ideas.

yosemitebill, we did go to youtube and watched all the videos before we tried to open it up. My husband went to Radioshack and bought some electronics cleaners which he used but said he thought it didn't work.

Then, the other day, he was just standing by it, not working on it, and reached down to fiddle with something and said that something just popped into place - and I believe it was the metal part that pushes up the tape and holds it in place like randy427 mentioned above. But, it being summer, we have yet to put it together and try it.

joe mn, I'm glad your friend found your tapes. Did he have to have a particular program for the computer to transfer? That's what I want to do. Before I bought this Sony, I had found a music store that said they had a reel to reel and a computer program to transfer. I wanted to come up right away but they said they had to find the reel to reel, clean it and make sure it still worked. Well, several months later she said they had found it and would start trying to clean it. This was just over a year ago. I called several times over the year and was told that they hadn't cleaned it yet, were busy, etc. Then, in May, she texted me a picture of their reel to reel. I went there, and on their counter was the reel to reel, and she said we would have to schedule a time when her husband and the other music instructor weren't teaching. I'm still waiting for the time to go in. She also told me then that they don't have a computer program for transferring. Now, I've been very patient as this music store is a 2 room enterprise run by a very nice older married couple, but I know that the people I want to make these CD's for are even more elderly. So, when I found this Sony I had to buy it.

Yosemitebill, I'll have my husband check the drive belts.

And after all this, I'm hoping that the tapes are still in good condition. I'll just have to hope.

Thanks for all your input. Sugarmaple

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 9:54AM
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don't think you need special program to record. just use audio cables to input on computer. friend #2 had tapes. friend #3 is doing the transfer. #3 loves podcasts and all audio stuff via the web. i have little interest.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 1:46PM
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Like I said...

"You can try cleaning rubber parts with alcohol and a q-tip or small rag. The alcohol should be the type you buy in small cans in the paint/wood working area, not rubbing alcohol."

But like you said...

"My husband went to Radioshack and bought some electronics cleaners which he used but said he thought it didn't work."

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 9:09PM
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Well...bad news. My husband couldn't get it to work. He spent I don't know how many hours cleaning it, working on it and trying it each time. While he believes it can eventually be repaired, he doesn't have access to all the parts needed and he's busy with other projects. He started to research online where to get the parts he thinks are needed (but it would still be try this part - does it work, try that part - does it work, etc.) but I asked him to stop because there's someone about 20 miles away who advertises that he can transfer the tapes onto CD - for a cost. At this point, I would rather put the money into transferring for a set price than to keep putting an uncertain amount of money into repairing the Sony. I just initially thought a working reel to reel would save me money.
So I am going to call someone else to do it but my husband said he is going to keep the Sony and work on it (when he's done renovating our bathroom and kitchen). He's not giving up but I want to have these transferred while I still have elderly aunts and uncles who may enjoy hearing these tapes. Thanks to all who replied - we appreciated your input and ideas and we enjoyed your stories.
Thanks - Jim and Colleen

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 11:25AM
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