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Re: [ARSCLIST] Cleaning moldy video tape


Yes, it is possible to remove the mold without destroying the tapes.  We do
it all the time.  Here are a few tips:

Do NOT try to remove active mold.  Expose the tapes to a dry environment for
a period of time to drive the mold into dormancy before trying to remove it.
We use a chamber kept around 20% RH for polyester-base tape.  You can tell
if the mold is dormant when it comes off in a dry powder instead of smearing
all over the tape when you wipe it.

Dry-wiping off mold only removes the flowering heads and spores from the
tape surface.  It does not kill the mold in/on the tape.

Some mold cannot be removed with a simple dry-wipe.  Common liquids used are
distilled water, isopropyl and 111 Tri-chlor.  The Tri-chlor is the only one
that guarantees that the fungus is actually dead but you must be very
careful as it is a restricted substance and, if you get it on the plastic
reel or cassette shell- it will melt them.

If you use liquids to remove the worst sections of mold, only wipe in one
direction.  Testing shows that if you wipe back-and-forth, in both
directions, you can damage the recording surface.

We've rebuilt audio decks to remove mold but I would hate to do it with a
video deck.  Some 10 years or so back, an engineering firm did just that and
ended up charging the client around $40,000.  We use machines that are
custom built specifically to deal with the specific audio, video or data
format.  It is cheaper and more effective to simply build a cleaner from
scratch than to rebuild a video deck.  It is still way to expensive unless
you plan to clean thousands of tapes.

Peter Brothers

Restoration and Disaster Recovery Service Since 1983

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx]On Behalf Of Jeff Brown
> Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 10:25 AM
> To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Cleaning moldy video tape
> Given the mechanical fragility of the base material in VHS and Beta
> video tapes, is it possible to manually wipe mold from such tapes without
> rendering them unplayable?
> And what does anyone think about the chances of success of removing the
> head drum from a video transport and building in some sort of
> fabric wiping
> pad system?
> Jeff

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