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8-track machine Answered

Does anyone know how to fix one? Are there specfic points that they like to break at? I got one a while ago because my old one died (heatstroke... melted things pretty bad), and it turns out, the new one is dead, too. I'm just not sure how. I'd like to try and fix it myself, especially since many electronics repair guys nowadays haven't even seen one. Of course, if you've read some of my posts, you know electricity is right behind jumping 100 feet in the air on my list of talents. It doesn't really seem to eat tapes or pinch them, and if I plug something into the phono in, I can hear it play through the attached speakers okay. The problem happens when I need to use the built in AM/FM radio (mono and stereo options!) or play a tape, at which point horrendous static happens. I think I can hear a motor spinning (maybe) when it's supposed to be playing a tape, but no useful sound comes out. The program selector also seems to be malfunctioning, and is stuck on program 4. I've got too much money sunk in my 8-track collection to make it economical to buy it all again; I'd rather get a machine working and transfer formats. I suppose I should have tested this machine before I bought it, but even if it never works again, I'm two very nice speakers and 200 feet of speaker wire ahead, so it's worth it to me. Another idea: is it possible to build one using cassette tape heads? That would be an interesting project, if a little unweildy.


When my kids found all my 8-tracks, they said "Daddy, do these go to the Atari?"

"Why yes kids, they do, but only this early premium Atari console. Needs a new display. Here, this button changes the games, there are four to a cartridge, now if I put it in right now you'll only hear the background music..."


10 years ago

I've got too much money sunk in my 8-track collection to make it economical to buy it all again;

LOL. I never thought I'd hear that again. My wife takes the old 8 tracks into her media class when she wants to illustrate "dead" formats.

Yeah--I vote with those for finding a used one. My mother-in-law copped a record changer / 8 track combo and a stand alone 8 track player / recorder last year, all at garage sales. You can too.

Garage sales are great! The people around here have hit that time in their lives where instead of holding onto things, they're selling them after 40 years. So now I'm probably going to get them and hang onto 'em for another 40.... One time my neighbor set out a Moog synthesizer on trash day, but before I got to it, it snowed and the whole thing was covered in 1/4 inch of ice. I could see where the ice had forced almost everything to crack and break. Sad. I'll keep looking for old electronics, though, like I always do, especially if I can't fix what I have!

. That sounds like a dirty selector switch to me. Try moving all the switches around until you find the culprit. For a unit this old, it may be more than one. If it were a dirty volume pot, the static would be independent of the source. . Once you ID the dirty component(s), you need to spray some contact cleaner inside the parts while operating them over their range several times. Two position switches may require a little more cleaner and/or operating. Keep spraying/operating until the noise clears up. Since you are not very familiar with electricity, I suggest pulling the plug (don't just turn it off, there's still power available to get into) while working on it. . Once everything is clean, I like to give them a small shot of light oil (eg, WD-40) on the contacts and moving parts, but this can cause problems with dust collecting. If everything feels smooth when you operate it, you can skip this step. . . While you have the cover off, check the drive belt on the 8-track. Usually it's a thin, black "rubber band" stretched between a pulley on the motor and the drive capstan. If it has gotten hard or cracked, start looking for a replacement. Real rubber bands don't work well - too "stretchy." . If you do not hear a "thunk" when trying to change tracks, the solenoid is probably bad. Good luck finding a replacement, but you may find them at the same place you find a belt. If you are mechanically inclined, you may be able to rig up a manual plunger to actuate the head positioning wheel. You might be able to rob the solenoid from the old unit.

. If that doesn't work: garage sales, flea markets, and second-hand stores. . Does anyone still make 8-track players?

Act fast and you can eBay a New In Box automotive one no one is bidding on right now. Then you just need a quiet 12VDC source. Hey, the ATX PC power supplies have a 12V connector for an Intel P4. Whoa, now that would be a mod, a PC with an installed 8-track player! Yeah!

Oh, and just search eBay for lots of inexpensive 8-track players. You could even get a (formerly) high end one like this Fisher that also records.

Yes, you can still get blanks.

> Act fast and you can eBay a New In Box automotive one . If I had any 8-tracks left that I would haul around in a car, I'd get that for my '67 Mustang. :) . . Thanks for the links. Looks like 8-tracks aren't quite dead. I saw a TEAC deck that would be nice to have.

If I had any 8-tracks left that I would haul around in a car, I'd get that for my '67 Mustang. :)
IIRC 8-tracks were slightly smaller than a 3.5" HD. Do you have a tower with 2 open external 5.25 bays? You could probably fit it in, run the output right to a sound card input. Besides doing backups, that would be so cool looking. Post pics. Heck do an 'ible on it.

Plus you can tell people for years it's an old tape backup unit. "Yeah, it still works great, want to hear the audio files?"

. hmmmmmm One 5-1/4 bay might be big enough; depends on the player. I remember some pretty small underdash units that might fit in one. But that was a long time ago and my memory ain't what it used to be.
. 3-1/2 might work if its centered in the chassis - mine are butted up against one side :( Probably have to mod the cage a little bit.
. I'll dig out an 8-track cart later and see how it looks. The only thing that worries me is that the track changing solenoid pulls a LOT of current.
. I wonder if I still have an 8-track stashed in the garage? The home deck I used to rip the tapes blew the power xformer; maybe the transport runs on 12V.
. Great idea. I'll have to look into this.

Okay, so clean, new belt, new solenoid or manual plunger. I think I can do that. Thanks!