Sticky Shed Syndrome – we have the cure!

1980s tapes bearing the Ampex brand name are likely to suffer from Sticky Shed Syndrome which requires care and attention to rectify. We have a solution – at £30 per tape!

Image showing four Ampex U-Matic Videocassettes on a table top

A selection of Ampex U-Matic Videocassettes – all suffering from Sticky Shed Syndrome

Thanks to a manufacturing error back in the 1980s and into the early 1990s, many U-Matic videotapes and also audio tapes bearing the Ampex brand name suffer a problem that makes them unplayable when inserted into a videotape recorder or onto an audio tape recorder.

The symptom is a loud squealing heard as the tape passes around transport spindles and across pickup heads and which not only leaves a horrible sticky gunk on the spindles, guides, pinch-rollers and heads but it can also damage the machine itself.

Binder layer hydrolisation

The problem is known throughout the video and audio industry as Sticky Shed Syndrome, which is a reference to the shedding of a sticky compound that results from the chemical agent that binds the magnetic tape layer (the actual recording surface layer contain the magnetic particles) to the polyurethane backing. Due to a fault in the chemical process, the binding agent has moisturised to the point where it rises to the surface of the tape and creates a stickiness which deposits itself on anything that comes into contact with it.

The solution

Those working within the music recording industry and video transfer have discovered that the best way to temporarily resolve this issue is to subject the tape to a constant temperature to the point where the moisture is “baked” out of the tape. Once this is done, it’s usually possible to achieve a good playback of the tape for at least two weeks, after which the process needs to be repeated.

Here at SimplyDV, we’ve been receiving an increasing number of Ampex videotapes (mostly U-Matic lowband, BVU, BVU-SP) and all of them have recently showed identical symptoms. Contracting this “tape baking” process out to third parties is time-consuming and expensive.

That’s why we’ve developed a system for doing it ourselves – with excellent results. Within days of introducing our own method of de-hydrolising video and audio tapes we’ve undertaken transfers of 1980s Ampex archive material originating from MTV, Virgin Atlantic, the Royal Australian Air Force and Marshall Amplification.

The cost

We have decided to set a standard charge for tape baking at £30.00 per item. That’s a lot cheaper than London Soho facility company rates and the results are just as good. We have our own special process that doesn’t damage your recordings and leaves the tapes in better condition than they were when we received them.

Give us a try. Contact Colin now to discuss your requirements.

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1 Response to Sticky Shed Syndrome – we have the cure!

  1. Pingback: Restoring old David “Kid” Jensen DJ interview | SimplyDV : Digital Video Solutions

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