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Repair guides and support for videocassette recorders including Betamax and VHS (Video Home System) players.

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2 VCRs eating tapes

I just bought two VCRs (different models, from different sellers) because the two units I already had finally failed.  But the new units are both eating tapes, and they were each advertised by the sellers as being fully tested and operational.  Here's what happened with each machine.  A store-bought tape plays for about a minute, then stops and the machine shuts off.  Turning the machine back on ejects the now-eaten tape.  Using a brand-new (still sealed) blank tape, machine records for about 10 seconds then shuts off.  Power back on, tape (also eaten) ejects.  Using my "home recorded" tape, does the same thing....plays 10 seconds, shuts off, etc.  (First VCR is a Toshiba, second is Phillips/Magnavox.)  The Toshiba still has my tape stuck in it, and I can't power the unit on to try and get the tape out.  My next step is to use another unit I have - which I know works fine - and see what happens.  The cable TV box uses an HDMI connection, but I have the appropriate converter, and I've never had this problem.  And thoughts/suggestions?  (I have a large collection of classic films on VHS, so stopping use of VHS is just not an option.)

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You will probably need to take the cover of the VCR off to get the tape out. It sounds like your mode switch is not working. Clean the mode switch and see it that helps. Also check the o ring to see if it is in good working order, if not may need to replace that.


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Tapes get chewed in VHS machines if there is a bad Pinch Roller. ( it is a black hard Rubber Roller about 1 inch high, found on the right side of the Video Head Drum)

The other reason could be a physical one - some dirt or lint on the Roller or the guide arms.

Un plug the VCR from the mains Power supply. carefully open the top cover (there should be two screws on either side of the machine, and one at the rear).

Now plug the machine ON, and load a Cassette tape and observe the guide path / arms, when the tape is unspooled from the cassette.

Observe the tape as it rolls from the left side of the spool, to the right.

I'm pretty certain it will be something mechanical - a foreign object like a broken piece of plastic, or some pin or clip which must have been inadvertently dropped inside. Eject the cassette and remove the foreign object. If possible, clean the Pinch Roller with Iso-Propyl Alcohol. Use a soft clean cloth soaked in the Alcohol.

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I have been a VCR Technician for over 20 years. I most cases it is the Pinch Roller - also known as the Capstan Roller - which is faulty. It is big black hard rubber roller to the right side of the Video Head Drum.

I suggest that you open up the cover of the VCR, and then observe what happens when the Tape is played. observe what is happening.

It might require that you may have to replace the Roller.

Otherwise, can you share a small video of the process - 10 to 15 seconds - with the cover removed ?

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The Toshiba needs to be opened up to carefully exorcise the tape without damaging the heads, etc.

Why both are doing this is a mystery. Maybe the process of removing the tape will give you a clue.

Once you get it out, you can view the operation to see if you can tell what is starting the dinner process.

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The tapes are being 'chewed' because the Take Up Spool is not taking up (Spooling) the slack tape.

You have the following options.

  1. Open the cover of the VCR (2 side screws and 2 screws at the back), and observe what is happening. In all likelihood the Take Up spool (Right side of the cassette) is Not spinning. IN this case, observe why?
  2. Shut the VCR, unplug the machine, and open the bottom cover. Is the Drive belt fine? If it is broken, cracked, etc, it will not be able to spin the Take Up spool. Replace the Belts.

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