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Reel to Reel Storage Practices

Postby o_d_m on Mon Aug 13, 2007 8:05 am

After hearing Steve give a couple of interviews when he talks about the longevity of reel to reel tape vs. digital media, I was curious to know what preservation steps you guys take to protect your masters at electrical.


I am mainly curious because I work in an archives and we are starting to recieve a lot of old reel to reel tapes and I have no idea what steps to take to ensure their preservation. We recently got about 30 old 1/4" reels of Library of Congress field recordings of folksongs in South Georgia that I would really hate to lose because I didn't store them properly. Any help would be appreciated.
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Postby r0ck1r0ck2 on Mon Aug 13, 2007 5:11 pm

field recordings of south georgia should be cherished no doubt..


i would think the standard climate control would suffice..
excess heat/humidity that sort of thing.

obviously no em radiation..right?

maybe watch for print threw?

you'll probably want to make copies
you'll probably want to do this on reel to reel and other formats..

just a guess..
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Postby o_d_m on Mon Aug 13, 2007 6:29 pm

They are kept in a climate/humidity controlled environment. About 64 temp 42% humidity.

They are stored in hollinger boxes and never see the light of day.

They are backed up digitally as .wav files and I think I'll look in to copying them onto some new reels. (They are 30+ years old.)

One more question though.

Do I ever need to exercise the tapes to prevent the magnetic material from falling off the tape? If so, how often should I do this?
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Postby Bob Weston on Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:08 pm

Always store reel to reel tapes vertically.

Maybe put them in zip-lock bags or some sort of sealed plastic bag.

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Re: Reel to Reel Storage Practices

Postby Jeremy on Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:13 pm

o_d_m wrote:... I would really hate to lose because I didn't store them properly.


Room temperature is suffice. Make copies. Even if you drop one in the toilet it's salvageable.

Bob,

why store them vertically?


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Postby Bob Weston on Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:06 am

Just think about the way the tape sits on the reel.

Horizontally, over time the weight of the tape would deform the flat pack and remove any of the benefits of the library-wind / flat-pack / tails-out archival practices.

Vertically stored, the pack stays intact.

This is a well known archival practice. I'm sure you can read about it in some AES or NARAS or LoC document somewhere.

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Postby o_d_m on Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:00 pm

We just happened to store them vertically, they fit in the boxes better that way. I'm now glad that we did.

They are all still inside the original cardboard boxes that they were probably sold in. Is it okay to leave them there?
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Postby steve on Sun Sep 16, 2007 4:57 pm

You can (should) leave them in their original packaging. The idea occurred to me a while ago to shrink-wrap reels with a packet of dessicant inside. I haven't spoken to anyone who thinks this is a bad idea.
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Postby Jodi S. on Sun Sep 16, 2007 10:42 pm

Where can one buy those little dessicant packs? I'd like to throw them in my negative/print archive boxes - but I do not buy enough pairs of shoes to make this possible.
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Postby Nico Adie on Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:27 am

burun wrote:Where can one buy those little dessicant packs? I'd like to throw them in my negative/print archive boxes - but I do not buy enough pairs of shoes to make this possible.


http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dl ... category0=

Hope this helps.
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Postby eliya on Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:20 am

burun wrote:Where can one buy those little dessicant packs? I'd like to throw them in my negative/print archive boxes - but I do not buy enough pairs of shoes to make this possible.


ask people to give you their's. That's what Im doing, I have tons of these now.
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Postby Barbo on Mon Sep 17, 2007 8:05 am

burun wrote:Where can one buy those little dessicant packs? I'd like to throw them in my negative/print archive boxes - but I do not buy enough pairs of shoes to make this possible.


We use dessicants from these guys. Usually we buy the bulk beads as they are adaptable to various storage options. I would definitely recommend getting capsules that are rechargeable if you decide to go that route. It will save a ton of money in the long run.


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Postby endofanera on Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:35 am

Try as I might, I havent been able to find any SAAguidelines on reel to reel tape boxes and other packaging, or whether that would have any effect on the tapes. That would be my only concern, as cardboard (especially the type used in commercial packaging) often has very high acid content and is not recommended for archival storage of materials.

The dessicant is almost certainly very good archival practice in this case.
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Postby o_d_m on Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:50 am

You probably haven't found any guidelines, because so much of archival practice has dealt with manuscripts photos and other non-electronic records.

I have met with people who run film archives, (UGA) so I know what their practices are for film. However, it seems like audio kind of gets left by the wayside.

Makes me feel bad for people who record their records in digital because very few people have the ability to get your music back after the DAW software you were recording it on becomes obsolete.

A friend of mine runs a studio around here and has lost the ability to go back to any of the masters he recorded from 1999-2002 because he simply can't find a software package that will open the now obsolete files.

Anyways, the dessicant sounds like a good idea. I'm not sure how applicable it is to our situation though, because our reels are stored in a humidity controlled environment. I think I'll go ahead and use them though. Can never be too careful.
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Postby Robert G on Thu Sep 27, 2007 1:54 pm

Old thread I know, but I'd figure I'd put this link from the Library of Congress in here. It covers their methods on how to handle, clean, package and playback old recorded material. The page includes open-reel audio tape, tape such as cassette and VHS, compact discs and even cylinders.

Most helpful I'm sure is the list of supply sources at the bottom of the page.

http://www.loc.gov/preserv/care/record.html
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Postby o_d_m on Thu Sep 27, 2007 2:41 pm

I just ran across this yesterday. I'm writing a paper for a graduate class on issues in preserving audio in an archives, and I am going to use this as one of my sources.

Good stuff there.

I also found a manual from the National Archives about how they handle recorded material here.

Its from 1993, so it might be a smidge out of touch with current trends and technologies.
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Postby goosman on Fri Sep 28, 2007 2:23 pm

o_d_m, I'm not 100% sure, but I think NIST has also done some papers on this issue. You may want to poke around their website for some more material.
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Postby Boogens on Mon Oct 08, 2007 7:50 pm

Do I ever need to exercise the tapes to prevent the magnetic material from falling off the tape? If so, how often should I do this?

Good question. It depends on how it's played over the years and what brand of tape. If you have a old tape dating back to the 60's, even after playing it now only once, you will probably get some backing and binding loss: don't play that tape again after transferring it, more will just come off. A slow rewind is one way to take prolong the longevity of your tapes. And keep the heads clean.
If your tapes smell like mold or vinegar, don't let them come into any sort of contact with your machine or other boxes, it's contagious.
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Postby Ferrett on Fri Nov 30, 2007 10:15 am

I Have tape from the 80s that my uncle had given me and they still played back a month ago and I have not messed with them at all. I keep everything in a climate controlled room and everything is still good to my amazement! Now a friend of mine brought some tape over the other day to transfer and that tape pretty much stuck to my pretty heads. So we had to bake those, I believe that its all about temp control, I could be very wrong but so far it has worked for me. Steve's idea of shrink wrap sounds awesome to me and I would like to know more later.
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Re: Reel to Reel Storage Practices

Postby eliya on Tue Aug 09, 2016 1:03 pm

What's the consensus on tape storage near power cords?

I have my tapes stored on a shelf, and a couple shelves above it I have a few pieces of equipemnt that feed off of AC.

Intuitively, it seems to me like it shouldn't be a problem because tape machines work off of 120VAC, and a lot of times the AC inlet is only a few inches from the tape path and turntables.

However, when I try and think about the magnetic field that the AC current generate, I get a little stuck.

Here's what I get for B in open air, assuming that there's 10A (an exaggeration) flowing through the cord and that the cord is 15cm from the tapes.

B = 1.257x10^(-6) * [10/(2*pi*0.15)] = 0.0000133 T.

To get to Webers we multiply by area, and let's say the area that the flux from the cord will interact with the tape is 0.015m^2 (2" tape times 12"). That gives

B * Area = 0.000000199 Wb = 199nWb.

But fluxivity is measured in nWb/m, and honestly I'm not sure how to bridge the two, but I'm thinking that if a 2" by 12" strip of tape is exposed to 199nWb of flux, then putting it in terms of nWb/m it is 663.3nWb/m, which is quite hot. The good news (I think) is that there's no bias applied to the tape, so that makes it harder for the AC to "print" on the tape. But I don't know how hard.

I'm also not sure how much flux would erase a tape, but would that be enough?


I bet someone worked out all this stuff before, but I couldn't find anything like that online.
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