|An 8 track player works by pulling the tape out from INSIDE the full reel, passing it across the playback head,
then replacing the tape as the outer layer on the reel. This allows the tape to be played continuously, never
ending or stopping. But, the 8 track tape is prone to many problems because of its self-destructive design.
Since the tape is pulled from the INSIDE of the reel, obviously there is some friction. The manufacturer treats
the actual tape material with a graphite-type lubricant, which ends up on the rubber roller that NEEDS
friction to operate properly! Also, there is a foam pad in the tape cartridge which is designed to keep the tape
in firm contact with the playback head. These foam pads lose their springiness, causing track bleedover.
The tape is joined by a foil sensing pad which runs over the internal track change switch. When this sensing
foil becomes worn, it will no longer trigger the internal switch and you have to change tracks manually.
Assuming your 8 track machine is operational at all, most problems are actually the fault of the TAPE. The
most common problems and their causes are listed below:
|NO SOUND AT ALL First, listen closely for the tape moving inside the cartridge. If the tape is not moving, there is nothing
for the playback head to pick up. This is a common problem and can be caused by a loose belt, oily capstan, capstan coming
apart. If your player plays other tapes acceptably, then cleaning the roller on the suspect tape might fix the problem. Possibly,
the tape could even be so stubborn from storage that it won't move without a little help. If you CAN hear the tape moving, then
check your connections. If your player has a headphone jack, this can narrow down the problem more quickly and confirm that
your machine is producing sound.
TRACK BLEEDOVER This is almost always caused by worn foam pads on the tape itself. If the playback head is not kept in
firm contact with the tape, it can move around a bit and straddle tracks. If ALL tapes exhibit bleedover, than your head may be
out of adjustment and your machine needs repair.
WON'T CHANGE TRACKS Again, it's probably the tape. Worn sensing foils cause this. If you can change tracks manually, then
your tape probably needs new sensing foil. If you cannot change tracks manually, your machine needs repair.
SPEED VARIATIONS Technically called "wow and flutter". This can be caused by tapes that haven't been played in many years.
They tend to become unevenly packed in storage, and slow down the machine when it tries to pull the tape from the tightly-packed
portion. Usually, letting the tape play completely through several times will repack it evenly and restore smooth
operation. If ALL tapes play poorly in this respect, then your machine needs repair.
MUDDY SOUND, LACK OF TREBLE This is usually the result of a dirty playback head, but could also be misalignment of the head.
RUNS WAY TOO FAST Sounds like your machine ate a tape in the past, and has several layers of tape caught around the
capstan. This increases its effective diameter and, thus, its speed. Removing the offending layers of tape can be a delicate
operation, as it is often necessary to turn the tape drive the wrong way to remove it and restore proper speed. Thankfully, there's
not much danger in trying this at home before sending it in your machine for repair.
SOME TRACK INDICATOR LIGHTS DON'T WORK This is a machine repair job. You either have burned out lamps or a dirty
switch inside the unit. This condition has no bearing on listening to tapes, and won't hurt anything if left "as is". THIS WILL
ALWAYS BE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR MACHINE AND IS NOT CAUSED BY THE TAPE.
WARBLING SOUND Usually caused by worn foam pads on the tape itself. Sound fades in and out, etc. If your pads are still nice
and springy and your machine plays other tapes, then the suspect tape may have become accidently demagnetized.
|How much to fix my model? CLICK HERE
|"What kind of experience do you have?"
|I repaired my first TV (the family TV) at age 10, and was making money at 13 fixing TV's and stereos for friends, and
service invoices copied on the mimeograph machine at school (remember those?). Since then, I have maintained a
side business in addition to various technical jobs and musical pursuits, including:
1. Troubleshooting and repair of TV's, radios, VCR's, turntables, cassette decks, Nintendo games, CD players,
8 track and reel to reel decks, guitar amplifiers, PA equipment and instruments in my business.
2. Degree in Electronics from the US Navy in 1981, with my specialty in Avionics, flights systems and controls.
3. Worked at SLM Electronics in St. Louis, Mo. in the mid-80's. Manufacturer of Crate, Ampeg and Audio Centron
guitar amps, PA and professional stage and recording equipment. Worked primarily as a circuit board tester
and technician, troubleshooting and repairing circuit boards to component level.
4. Worked at Pacesetter Electronics in St. Louis in the late 80's. Manufacturer of 2-channel FM receivers for
3M, Muzak and the Illinois Farm Bureau. Worked as wavesolder machine operator and bench technician.
5. Began writing music in the mid 90's and have since earned 5 awards from BILLBOARD for my original songs
(see "My Music" page). Recorded, produced and released my first CD on a home computer, available on Rhapsody,
Napster, iTunes and all other major music sites. Joined ASCAP as writer and music publisher.
6. Amid all this excitement, I've also managed to squeeze in 25 years as a Service Technician in Heating and
Cooling, repairing and installing furnaces, air conditioners, humidifiers, water heaters and electronic air cleaners.
Though hopefully out of the trade for good, I remain a certified universal HVAC Technician.
7. MY CURRENT JOB - Avionics Technician at a licensed FAA repair station, Repair and Overhaul department. At
the time of this writing, I leAd the department of 12 bench techs in quality and quantity of repair work produced. I
currently float between 4 benches and am "signed off" on 24 different products including Direction Finding systems,
Data Interface equipment and a CRT based, cockpit mounted master display for all NAV-COM equipment. I also
repair an LCD based "synthesized vision" unit which uses a known worldwide terrain database and GPS.
Update: Barry left his day job on June 15, 2012 to fully devote his time and attention to Barry's 8 Track Repair.
As you can imagine, my work at this facility is under the jurisdiction of FAA regulations, ISO 9001 standards and
Aerospace safety guidelines, as well as the Department of Transportation. My department overlooks Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University and their private runway, where small planes take off and land all day long. In fact, we
system-test our DME's (Distance Measuring Equipment) by making sure it reads exactly 0.6 miles from their
flight control tower at all times. I work with and have access to the latest and finest test equipment, fellow techs
and engineers. Our equipment is precisely calibrated by Syprus every few months, and our benches are audited
monthly for ESD safety, expired chemicals and adhesives, and full compliance with FAA standards and flight safety.
"What was wrong with it?"
I don't even plug it in. I perform full repair and restoration, THEN your unit is ready to safely test. Due to my many
years of professional experience, all it needs after that is minor adjustment. In almost all cases, your machine will
require multiple repairs to restore reliable operation, with the main cause of failure being "years of neglect".
|"What is my unit worth, where can I find this model, etc"
|"Can you get me a belt for my unit"?
|I regret that, along with my other interests and responsibilities, I am not able to function as a parts supply house.
There IS one exception, however: If you have been a customer in the past and have hired me to perform repairs
on a unit at my regular rates, I will try my best to help you locate a belt for the next year or so. If you're just a zealous
do-it-yourselfer looking to save money, you'll need to do some research and locate a company who is in the
business of selling parts. I have spent countless hours and dollars to locate my parts sources, schematics and
service information just to be able to do this type of work. It may be selfish of me, but I'm not one to give my
research away for free. My business is repair work - period. I usually don't respond to parts inquiries, sorry.
Only in rare cases will simply replacing a belt will bring your machine back up to snuff. Most manufacturers used
a specific belt tension to set the correct speed, and you would likely need at least 5 different belt sizes to get your
machine playing properly again. It's really a job for a fully-stocked repair shop in most cases, as most 8 track
motors have changed speed slightly over the years, and even the maker's recommended size will no longer work.
|"I got my unit back and it still has a problem"
|In almost every case, it is your TAPES that now need repair. Unless recently repaired, almost ALL 8 track tapes you
find at garage sales, flea markets and Uncle Harry's estate need to have the foam pads and foil splices replaced. The
foam pads lose their "spring" over the years, even in "new", sealed tapes - and the foil splice will break very soon,
sometimes spilling several feet of tape into your machine which might require a professional to safely remove.
My failure rate is so low as to be nonexistent for all practical purposes. You should NEVER play a tape in your machine
without first replacing the pads and foil splices, even a sealed tape! If you are convinced that my repair
work is faulty, I will send you a known good tape at YOUR expense for testing purposes. If that tape will not play
properly, then I will gladly repair your machine again. But first, try cleaning the head and capstan, since it only
takes a few seconds for a bad tape to gum up your machine all over again. For a technician with my experience,
8 track machine repair is a very simple thing, and the fault will almost always be your tapes that need repair.
A great place to have your tapes repaired is 8 Track Avenue They also sell new foam pads and foil splices.
|Here is a very general guide to common 8 track problems:
|"I need to get my machine repaired - what is the procedure?"
|Note the general type of unit you have - you can find it by clicking HERE This page of the website lists the general types and
my flat rates to repair them. If you're unsure which general type your unit falls into, please don't hesitate to E-mail me
There are a few "off the beaten path" type units that you may not find, in which case it is best to send me a picture of the unit.
Please give make and description of problem on CAR UNITS before sending.
You can either send payment with your unit, or wait until repairs are completed. In VERY RARE cases, I might request an
additional $50 on a Delco after you've sent the initial payment, but it hasn't happened yet so far. I tend to not charge any more
for additional work once I've quoted a price and have received payment, but it could happen someday in an extreme case.
If sending payment with your unit, please make check or money order payable to BARRY'S 8 TRACK REPAIR. We prefer not to
accept payment until your unit has been fully diagnosed and a firm repair quote has been given to the customer.
Send it to:
Barry's 8 Track Repair
4783 N. Glenrosa Circle
Prescott Valley, AZ 86314
Please pack CAR UNITS this way: Packing Car Units
|These questions are better answered by an 8 track ENTHUSIAST, not a repairman. My mind is on
the business, and I have never been interested in the 8 track cult, except to be the top dawg of 8
Many folks consider me some sort of 8 track "broker", but that is not the case - I just fix 'em.
|"How much do you charge?"
|With my FLAT RATE PRICING SYSTEM, you will always know in advance how much you'll be paying for my service.
Pricing is based on the general TYPE of unit, not how much work is needed to repair it. On this website is a full page
with pictures of all types of units, along with my flat rate price to fully repair them. To view the page, CLICK HERE
|"I just need an adjustment, I just need a belt, I just have a little noise, etc.
Can you do just this and give me a reduced rate on my repair?"
|Since all 8 track machines are at least 30 years old, I only perform COMPETE TEARDOWN AND FULL REPAIR.
Unless I perform this full service, any problems you don't currently have WILL become problems soon - and you don't
want to pull the unit out of your dash again, then pay again to ship it to me for these additional repairs. My method of
repairing these machines is based on decades of experience, and knowledge of what commonly goes wrong in time.
|"What payment methods do you accept"
|We cheerfully accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diner's Club, JCB, checks and money orders
payable to BARRY'S 8 TRACK REPAIR. We do not charge extra for credit card payments, and we do not share your
personal information with anyone. We DON'T accept PayPal, Western Union or direct transfer of bank funds.
|For a cool animation on how the 8 track format works, click here
|To E-Mail me, CLICK HERE
|Frequently Asked Questions
|4783 N. Glenrosa Circle
Prescott Valley, AZ 86314