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ELECTRONICS : (Gently!) Care and Feeding of Temperamental VCR

October 22, 1994|From Associated Press

There are simple things you can do to extend the healthy life of your videocassette recorder.

First and foremost, take care to feed it properly. Before putting a tape in, use your fingers or a coin to turn the hub until the tape is pulled taut. Then load it into the machine gently to avoid breaking the gear teeth.

In some VCRs, gears cannot be replaced individually, so taking these precautions can prevent you from having to buy a whole new machine.

A VCR can also suffer damage if a tape breaks inside. Using the same section of tape over and over may weaken it and eventually cause it to snap. If you are in the habit of taping a show every day on the same tape, be sure to set the speed at SP, or standard play, which will cause the tape to wear more evenly.

Overusing reverse scan can also cause a problem.

One video repairman compares that feature to driving a car forward at 10 m.p.h. and backward at 50 m.p.h. at the same time. The tension causes extreme wear and tear on the VCR and the tapes, which can be avoided if you rewind the tape, then forward scan to find what you are searching for.

When you are finished viewing a tape, remove it immediately. Leaving it in the VCR may cause it to stick inside, especially if there is a change in the heat or humidity. If that occurs, the recording elements may need to be replaced.

If you notice a haze visible over the programs you have taped, the recording elements probably are due for a cleaning. Wet and dry cleaners, equally effective, are available wherever you buy blank tapes.

However, be sure to follow instructions exactly. Using a dry cleaner for longer than recommended will have a sandpaper effect. If you choose a wet cleaner, let the VCR dry for at least 10 minutes before putting in a tape so it doesn't stick inside the machine.

If you use a cleaner twice and still notice the haze or other problems, take the machine in for a professional cleaning.

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