How-to: Repair a VHS tape

Difficulty: 2

Photo-vhsVHS tapes are not used as much as they used to be since the development of newer formats such as DVD’s, but many people still have them in their homes as they were often used to store family memories.

The Video Home System (VHS < who would of guessed) is still a very useful format. Many Radio stations use VHS for their pre recorded shows and the majority of recording studios which haven’t gone to hard drive recordings, still use S-VHS format to record their musicians.

The drawback of VHS is that the tapes can stick or break altogether. Sadly, this happens to the most watched videos, which you probably want to see again.

This article will look at how to repair a video. With the help of images in this article, you will be able to dissect one and put it back together. I wrote this article after repairing a video from when I was on TV at the age of 5, which I will finally be able to show my wife. The video has not been playable for many years.

Disclaimer: I am not a video repairer by trade. Everything I have learnt has been through my own trial and error. I am trying to share what I have learnt in this article. I wrote this article as I was unable to find the information elsewhere online. I have tried to fix 3 videos and had complete success with each of them.

It is possible that your video could be damaged as you take it apart to look at it. It would be worth first trying it out on a video you don’t care much for, before you try to fix your wedding video. There are companies that will repair videos and re-spool them. The costs are high so weigh up if this is right for you. I can’t see what the pros would do differently.

Video tapes are a fairly basic design which lets the repair be fairly primitive and basic also. The main reason for this article is to show you how to get the tape back into one piece.


Pulling apart a video is fairly easy. Putting it back together is the tricky bit. In fact, fixing the tape itself is easy too. I am hopeful that the dissection pictures will help you put it back together to its original state.

Looking at a video tape from the outside, there is not much to it. There is a flap which can be opened by pushing the button near it. This will expose the tape. The only other thing that we can do with the casing is cover or uncover the read write tab. More on this later.

Complete caseYou may want to remove the label from the spine before you begin because it is likely to be torn in half. There are 5 screws on the underside of the tape, but that’s just the beginning. You need to take caution here as the casing will come apart, but so will all the little pieces which are a pain to return to their original location. Ensure you keep the underside on a flat surface to keep the pieces in place. Pay attention to where the pieces came from as your reference for later.

As you can see, there is nothing too complicated about a VHS tape. Lets take a closer look.

Left guideRight guideThe left guide has two rollers in it, which the tape travels between. Normally, one will be plastic and the other metal. It is important to ensure these guides are in the right places. These rollers will often fall out as you open up a tape.

The right guide has only one roller which is fairly self explanatory.

Flap spring

The flap spring is a little trickier to attach. It slides onto the plastic pole and the short bent wire wraps around the clip. The longer end sits in the groove of the flap.

The most complicated part of the tape is the lock mechanism in the middle of the tape. This is often the culprit of a jammed tape.

It is hard to figure out how all these little pieces work together. You should end up being able to move the trigger backwards and forwards and have all these parts move simultaneously.

Machanism pulled








Both of the springs wrap around poles and the left and right side mirror each other. There are various designs that are used for this, but the theory is the same. You want to be able to move the centre piece and the other two will spring it back into place.

Repairing a broken tape:

There is nothing glamorous about repairing a snapped tape. We see videos of directors splicing tape and sticking it back together in the movies. The theory is the same, only we are going to use bog standard sticky tape.

It is best to use the finest tape you can find. The video is unlikely to play where the tape is, but it should make its way through the player to the next readable section of tape.

Make sure you place sticky tape on on both sides of the tape rather than wrapping it around, as this will cause friction. If it is broken at the start or end of the tape, you have the luxury to be a bit more generous with the tape. You may need to fold some of the sticky tape to hold it onto the spool. This is fine as the normal pressure from the VCR will keep it taut. 

Put the casing back together and put in the screws and see how you went.

Touching on a few related topics:

Transferring to a new video:

New videos are becoming harder and harder to come by. You may want to track down S-VHS tapes as these are normally better quality than standard VHS tapes. I have not come across a video player that can’t handle S-VHS tapes, even though you are unlikely to receive all the benefits S-VHS offers.

All you need to do is hook up two video recorders side by side by wiring up the video and audio. The next step is to press play on the original and record on the other. Make sure you get these around the right way, as there is no undo button!

Transferring to another format:

EvermediaIt is not hard to transfer your video to a digital format, however it is time consuming and you will probably need to buy some extra equipment to plug into your computer. The cost should not be more than around $AU100 for the hardware, assuming you already have a computer and DVD burner.

Using a gadget as shown to the right lets you connect your VCR to your computer. You can then use something like Windows Movie Maker (comes with Windows) to copy your videos to a digital format.

Once you have it in digital format you can copy it to a DVD or compress it as a DivX file for playback on your computer. 

There is a lot of information available on other websites on how to do this.

The Read/Write tab:

VHS tapes have read/write tabs, just like you would see on a floppy disk. With video tapes being harder and harder to come by, you may find it easier to buy used videos, or recycle your own. If it is a commercially released video, the read write tab is probably removed. All you need to do is place some tape over the hole and your video recorder will over-write it.

This is also useful to protect your content. If you have a special video that you want to keep safe, you can remove the tab, and the VCR will spit the tape out when you press record.  


I feel the video is a long way from being obsolete. I know a guy who bought around 10 Beta players and hundreds of tapes when it looked like they would become obsolete. He is sure to have weeks of viewing pleasure at a very minimal cost. Now is the time to buy VHS tapes to enjoy for the years to come. And then it won’t be long before DVD’s will become obsolete as well.

I hope you have successfully managed to repair your video and found the article enjoyable. Please stick around and check out some other articles at Inspect My Gadget.

Related Posts

69 Comments so far »

  1. Paul Mig said, on March 22, 2008 @ 11:23 am

    OMG this was exactly what I needed. I popped the screwes out of a stuck tape and little plastic pieces fell out all over the place. I was able to collect them but had no idea where they all went until this web page. THANK YOU you saved Pocahontas.

  2. al collins said, on April 13, 2008 @ 8:18 am

    I have a Tdk shg video tape, as i must have purchased this tape as is . I used your info to repair video in the past. As i went to repair another tape and found it did not have screws in it but like a rivet and was wondering if you had ever fixed a tape with no screws.
    thanks Doug

  3. Chris Duckworth said, on April 13, 2008 @ 11:18 am

    Hi Al, I haven’t come across the riveted tapes before. If I was in your shoes, I would find a tape with screws in the casing, which you don’t care about. Crack open the rivets and transfer tape spool to the screw tape case.

    I can’t see this damaging the case tape if you are careful. You will also get to see how to put them back together as you will have a spare casing next to you for reference. Labels will be hard to keep if there are any.

  4. Emily said, on April 23, 2008 @ 5:28 am

    Thank you so much for taking the time to put this information together. You saved my movie. It was store bought, but the case was dropped and cracked and no longer playable. I put the store bought tape into a new case and it works wonderfully. But I would not have been able to do it without your pictures. I was not aware of the locking mechanism and it fell out before I could see how it fit.

  5. Chris Duckworth said, on April 23, 2008 @ 10:15 am

    Hi Emily, thanks for the feedback. I am very happy that the article was able to help you. I was hesitant about putting it up, thinking nobody uses VHS these days and people would think I was behind the times. Keep the VHS dream alive!

  6. John said, on June 13, 2008 @ 3:39 am

    The VHS tape broke at the spool and I can’t rethread the spool. When I try to slide the locking tab in place to hold the tape on the spool the tape (Leader) crinkles and only a portion of the tape is staying under the locking tab. Is there a trick to this. I’m not having any luck.

  7. neonola said, on June 25, 2008 @ 10:58 am

    You saved the day with this info! After jamming the tape in the machine, I needed to cut and tape the tape itself as well as taking apart and putting back together the cartridge. Never done this before, but it works fine now. You rock!

  8. Katelyn B. said, on July 6, 2008 @ 10:47 am

    I don’t know how long this page has been here but it was a great help! I had my favorite Dorris Day Tape (“Lover Come Back”) torn and I didn’t know what to do. Lucky I found this page and learned the easy solution. Now I can watch my tape without worry! :) I am happy to see that there are others out there who still care about VHS tapes!
    Thanks Again,

  9. R. Mizell said, on July 12, 2008 @ 4:57 am

    Thank you very much, Chris Duckworth. Your website is very informative, and prevented me from pulling my hair out (smile). I have the Alfred Hitchcock, set of 4 (VHS) “Mystery” Classics, which I am going to donate… However, in the process of packing the items in a suitcase…one of the flaps on the vhs tape broke…Well, I decided to take the flap off an old tape to replace the broken flap… Yes, it was easy taking the vhs tape apart, however, putting it back together… that was another ordeal! So, I did a search for ‘how to repair a vhs tape’, and your website came up.

    You did an excellent job, in explaining and the photos were a great deal of help, as well. Thanks again!

  10. Grant said, on July 23, 2008 @ 11:31 pm

    Thanks for this.. The tape I have (ordered online and arrived smashed btw) actually has all the pieces inside broken or out of place, which to me means it’s irreparable, even with the help of this handy guide.

    Anyone ever transferred the actual tape into another casing, and have any thoughts on that process? In theory I think it could be simple, but would like to know if there are any complications involved?
    thanks again!

  11. Chris Duckworth said, on July 24, 2008 @ 5:17 pm

    Grant, how frustrating for you. I agree with you that in theory, transferring the tape should be simple.
    I have never transferred a tape. Is the spool damaged? If the spool is alright, you can probably transfer it without much problem. If the spool is damaged, you will need to put it onto a new spool which will take a long time. I don’t see any real problems with it though. You would just have to make sure you spool it the right way around and keep an even tension throughout. Tapes stretch easily.
    From the tapes I pulled apart for this article, they had various different parts, depending on brand, but the way the tape works was the same for all of them. Lastly, if you do need to respool, pick a tape of similar length. Some 30 minute tapes have a large spool (lots of padding), while the longer tapes have space for 3 or more hours of tape.
    If I was in your shoes, I would give it a try. I am hardly experienced in this area though.

  12. Pat said, on August 13, 2008 @ 3:58 pm

    Thanks Chris for the information. I was searching for a company to do the repair previously but decided against it because I didn’t won’t to send my tape across the country. Then the light bulb came on maybe I can find information on how to repair it myself. Which led me to your site. After taking a couple tapes apart, putting them back together and playing them in the VCR I’m now ready to tackle the repair my favortite tape.

    Thanks for sharing you knowledge.

  13. Henry said, on August 18, 2008 @ 11:12 pm

    i also wanted to thank you for a very informative and helpful site. i was able to repair my broken vcr tape…even after losing one of the springs. haha! my particular tape was weird. there were the five screws, but there was one more rivet in the center that i had to pry open. but in the end, with your guidance, it worked! thanks and keep up the good work!

  14. Grant said, on August 19, 2008 @ 9:04 pm

    Thanks Chris. The notification when you first replied must have gone to my junk mail.. anyway..

    Thanks for the info. I haven’t attempted it yet as I haven’t managed to borrow a VCR yet. The spool does seem 100% fine though, so it should just be a case of transferring that. I’ll post a comment here when I get around to it though to let you know how it goes, and any tips etc if I come up with any.


  15. Terri said, on August 22, 2008 @ 1:56 am

    Thank you so much for this! I have an unreplaceable 8-hour tape (part of a 48 hour marathon!) that my mother somehow ran over with her power scooter. I can’t wait to try this. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  16. Red said, on September 5, 2008 @ 12:00 am

    John, above,

    I don’t know if you’ll check back after so much time, but I just did the same thing. Slide the retainer out sideways, but snap it back into place by pushing straight down towards the center of the hub (with the leader underneath, of course)

  17. J. C. Francke said, on September 14, 2008 @ 6:11 am

    The thing that really needs to be stressed about this procedure is that once the screws are removed, the two cassette halves should be held together tightly until the tape is flipped, label side UP. All the springs and movable parts are held in by gravity and the pressure of the lid. If you lift the bottom (screw side) up – everything falls out. I’ve worked in video retail for about 20 years and I can’t tell you how many people have brought me a home repair job with all the little parts in a bag.

  18. Paul W said, on October 15, 2008 @ 6:08 am

    I have an irreplaceable home Christmas video from 1992, that hasn’t been played in about 10 years. i noticed it is not rewound all the way, but is in the middle, so I tried rewinding it, but it’s stuck (not in the VCR just wont rewind all the way). I will practice your procedure on another useless tape first, but what if the tape I want to fix is stuck to itself, like ti’s glued? Is there a way to unstick it, or is it more likely the parts of the tape are the problem?

  19. Chris Duckworth said, on October 15, 2008 @ 7:44 am

    Hi Paul, two of the tapes that I played with appeared to be stuck, as in glued. I think it was a tension issue. Pulling apart the tape to roll it past that point fixed the problem for me. Pressing the little square button by the flap may allow you to manually wind the tape without removing it from its case, but this could stretch the tape. I think you will find when you open it up, that you won’t be able to notice the problem part fo the tape. VCRs are very sensitive to minor problems.

    I should add, if the tape is irriplaceable, you may want to see a professional. Everything in this article was writen based on my own trial and error. There may be better ways of doing this.

  20. Irv said, on November 9, 2008 @ 7:54 am

    Hi Chris, I have a VDR tape that doesen’t want to play. I put in the VCR,hit play, It acts like it starts up but stops suddenly and the “err”(error on lcd display) comes on. I ejected the tape, Inspected it and found it stretched a little right at the start point. The spools will not turn so I can’t adjust it manually. I read your info and removed 4 of the 5 screws and found the center screw has a different head on it with 3 slots instead of the normal 4 slots like a phillips head. What can I do and/or is there another way to free up the spools? Thanks for anything you can help me with.

  21. Chris Duckworth said, on November 13, 2008 @ 9:26 am

    Hi Irv, it might be a security screw. You could head out to an electronics store and find a matching driver head, or you could break the current case and transfer it to another case with normal screws. It is all guesses though. I haven’t come across this problem, nor tried to transfer a tape myself.

  22. Cathy said, on December 4, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

    I bought a tape of “The Snowman” for about two bucks at Goodwill. It was stuck.

    I opened a second tape to use as a guide, being careful to use JC franke’s suggestion about flipping the tape over after removing the screws. So, I could see where they are all supposed to go.

    I put the tape back together and it is not stuck anymore. Thanks for posting this How-To!

  23. C G said, on December 6, 2008 @ 5:56 am

    Thanks! I inadvertently hit eject instead of stop when the phone rang during an exercise tape. I used your instructions, and especially the photos, and repaired the tape. Since the library owns it, I’m especially pleased.

  24. Rob said, on December 6, 2008 @ 3:13 pm

    Thanks so much – My tape came apart at the spool and I opend it to tape it back on, and as soon as i opened it little bits flew everywhere!

    OMG!! thank god your pictorial vhs repair guide saved that day – easy and quick.


  25. Jill said, on December 30, 2008 @ 1:19 am

    Uhm…o.o I’m only 16…but since I don’t want a DVD player, I still use VHS tapes. And, since you know alot about them, can you help me? :]

    I have a VHS T-120, and I recorded about 5-6 episodes of a show I watch on it, and the last episode on the tape is kind of strange. I’ll play the tape one time, and the last episode will work no problem, but sometimes when it gets about 10 minutes into it, the tape messes up and gets all fuzzy, but only on that one episode. It’s kind of like you have to catch the tape at the right moment to make it work, but it only works about 20% of the time. >.<

    Do you know why is does that, and how I can fix it? Because if it does work sometimes then I must’ve done something right and didn’t notice it. T.T Help would be great, cause my family can’t help me. :]

  26. Alex said, on January 2, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

    Thanks for the great walk through – what’s funny is the content on my tape and the reason for the project almost matched up exactly with yours. I wanted to show my wife the only video I have of me at the age of 6 but the tape had been broken for years. Now I just have to find a VHS player … *laugh*

  27. Rob said, on January 5, 2009 @ 4:19 am

    Many thanks – the repair worked fine. The photos help so much.

  28. Chris Duckworth said, on January 5, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

    Jill, it may be that the tape is stretched or heat effected. There is not much you can do about it. It is one of the main reasons VHS tapes have been superceeded by DVD’s.

  29. Ray Voith said, on January 31, 2009 @ 3:23 am

    First of all thanks to the great instructions.

    I had a tape that broke and I was able to fix it and use
    it to record to DVD.

    Here is what happened:

    – I did the fix but the tape would still not move.
    – I transfered the tape to a newer case
    – tape would still not move

    – so here is the new “trick” I had to do
    – remove the two tabs that are controlled by the
    release lever so they could not catch the spools

    – now the tape worked

  30. Ray Voith said, on January 31, 2009 @ 4:43 am

    I forgot to mention in my last comment

    I suggest that you modify the note to directly incorporate peoples’ suggestions in the body of the message, so that people will see things like:

    – opening with the screws down
    – transferring the spools to another case
    – etc

    They can easily miss these suggestions, since most people
    (or at least me) read the main note and try the procedure
    and only later see the other helpful hints

    Thanks again for the original post

  31. Pete Curtis said, on March 17, 2009 @ 8:59 am

    I’m surprised no one has stressed the risk of playing a spliced tape. The danger isn’t to the tape, but to your VCR. I’ve worked in video for 25+ years. As a rule videotape should _never_ be spliced. The heads are extremely delicate and sit on a drum that spins very fast. The heads can easily be destroyed by a splice, no matter how carefully done. They can even be destroyed just by running a wrinkled or otherwise damaged tape over them.

    The _only safe way to repair a VHS tape is to transfer the tape to two new cassettes after cutting out the damaged part. You’ll need to be careful not rewind or fast forward the tape to the end of the reel or your VCR can jam (since the end-of-tape sensor won’t work).

    You may be lucky (some folks always are), but you also may ruin your VCR. Just thought someone should mention this fact.


  32. Chris Duckworth said, on March 17, 2009 @ 9:16 am

    Thanks for the info Pete. It is good to have information from someone who has worked with tapes write here. As mentioned in the article, my experience is all trial and error.


  33. Rose said, on May 5, 2009 @ 4:09 am

    I’ve been working at a video store for 10 years now
    And we fixed all our tapes and never had any problems
    With them damaging any ones VCR. I think if a splice
    Is done with care the tape can last forever.

    Question: I have a tape to repair its a very old tape
    And one we never came across, it has one screw in it
    We can not remove, well its more like a rivet and were
    wondering if it permanent. Have you every come across this?
    The tape broke at the very end and its a valuable tape
    And we want to fix it.
    Any advice?

  34. Chris Duckworth said, on May 6, 2009 @ 10:06 am

    Hi Rose, you probably have more experience in the matter than I do. I have come across tapes like this. If I was in your shoes, I would break the current case and transfer the spool to another case with screws. Make sure both tapes are of a similar length as the casing may be diferent.
    I am not sure if this will work in all circumstances, but it has worked for me.

  35. DannyBones said, on May 10, 2009 @ 8:05 am

    Thanks so much! I took the tape apart myself, and got lost. I just needed those photos and a brief understanding, and now we can watch “Never Ending Story”! My wife needed it for a lesson tomorrow. THX!

  36. Dominic Speight said, on May 24, 2009 @ 12:49 am

    Thanks for your article, it has been written very well.
    what i do want to ask though is i have a tape which i would like to watch however when i play it the picture is fuzzy and has white lines and jumps a lot, tracking doesnt seem to help either.

    what im wondering is, is there a way to repair this fuzziness? or is this just wear on the tape?
    i cant find a new tape and the dvd is $257 its that rare!


  37. Chris Duckworth said, on May 24, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

    The fuzziness is often a sign of stretching. You mihgt be able to try the tape in another play to see if you get better results, or use a head cleaner.. but the end result is the same, the tape is damaged.

  38. Daniel said, on June 3, 2009 @ 3:07 am

    I have found your site very helpful in the past. Here’s a new one I’ve come across. I use my video rewinder to rewind some tapes and and it got too aggressive it seems. I have TDK video tapes that I need to repair where the tapes were torn off the hub or spool. My problem is that TDK stopped using screws to assemble the tapes. It appears to be an all plastic fastener of some type. Is there some tool out there that might get the case apart and remove thsee fasteners? I have some valuable memories on thsse tapes that I would love to retain.
    Thanks for any help you or your readers can assist me here.

  39. JR Castle said, on June 5, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

    Thank you for putting this information on the web! I dropped a tape and it split…it’s just TV comedy shows that I like to watch when I get a break. I was disappointed and was ready to throw out the tape and decided to search for a repair site…found this excellent tutorial you created! Thank you again…sincerely, JR

  40. Chris Duckworth said, on June 19, 2009 @ 10:11 am

    I would consider using a chisel and hammer, sincerely. You will probably destroy the case, but then you could transfer it to an easier to open screw type case. You would of course need to take caution doing it, and it’s by no means the professional method, but it’s all I got.

  41. Liz said, on July 21, 2009 @ 4:44 am

    What is bog standard sticky tape. I have never heard of this and can’t seem to find it on the web. I have 8mm film slicing tape, do you think that would work just as well?

  42. Chris Duckworth said, on August 20, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

    That should do the job fine.. bog standard = generic/cheap sticky tape. It’s not a brand, just an expression.

  43. Dianne said, on August 24, 2009 @ 6:50 am

    Hi,Chris. I have precious VHS tapes of my children which I am currently transferring to DVD format, via a VHS/DVD recorder. One of my tapes may have been stretched or heat damaged, at least that is what I have gathered from reading the questions and answers here. So, basically I guess I can try it in another player and if it plays better perhaps I can get a better DVD copy from it, but if that doesn’t work, can you recommend anywhere that can fix it for me? Or is it lost forever? I would be willing to pay good money for this as I am quite heartbroken. Thank you for your excellent source of information and for any advice you can give me. Dianne

  44. John Roberts said, on August 30, 2009 @ 10:56 pm

    Hi, thanks for such valuable information and your time,also. You deserve an award
    for your goodwill. I’m a tinkerer, as well, but I have to decide if the VHS devise, or the tape itself, caused the problems mentioned in your post. Overall, the tape jammed-up during ejection, leaving me to wonder if something within the VCR was out of whack. I’ll keep you posted, and your advice to (in many cases) `splice and `transfer, is very sound judgement!

    Many thanks,

  45. Jess said, on September 6, 2009 @ 4:15 am

    Wonderful stuff here–thanks–

    A question please about the Bog tape to hold the two peices together.My tape is broken in the middle.

    What is “Bog” tape.? Are we talking about regular scotch tape?

    Suppose the tape I use to make the repair is wider than the VCR Tape. Do I Cut the edge off with scizzors?

    How many inches of tape on each side would you use to make the repair? tape >> —– I ——–tape<<~~~ split is at the “I”-

    Will this proceedure effect the rollers on my VCR?

    Wow what a wonderful article by you–Thank you very much–Would appreciate a reply


    Repairing a broken tape:

    There is nothing glamorous about repairing a snapped tape. We see videos of directors splicing tape and sticking it back together in the movies. The theory is the same, only we are going to use bog standard sticky tape.

    It is best to use the finest tape you can find. The video is unlikely to play where the tape is, but it should make its way through the player to the next readable section of tape.

    Make sure you place sticky tape on on both sides of the tape rather than wrapping it around, as this will cause friction. If it is broken at the start or end of the tape, you have the luxury to be a bit more generous with the tape. You may need to fold some of the sticky tape to hold it onto the spool. This is fine as the normal pressure from the VCR

  46. Ben Tanguay said, on September 7, 2009 @ 4:45 am

    Wow hats off guys you saved my day when i was able to fix a 25 yr old VHS tape from ’84 with some skotch tape and a little finess & TLC, and of course this guide. This footage is priceless, worth more than any dollar amount. You can always make a dollar back if you loose it but time you can never recover a passing second. Unless its on a quarter century olde VHS. Y’all are lifesavers! Thanks so much.


  47. Chris Duckworth said, on September 9, 2009 @ 3:42 pm

    Yeah, bog standard tape is scotch tape. It just refers to any plastic tape you can find around the house. It’s probably not going to be the best tape to use, but it has worked for me and man others who have followed this article.

  48. Chris Duckworth said, on September 9, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

    I have been pondering this question. Stretched tape can’t be recovered as far as I know. There is a good chance that only a portion of the tape is damaged though so you may be able to retrieve the rest. I haven’t seen the effects of a heat effected tape, but I assume the effects are similar to a stretched tape.
    I am sorry to be the bringer of bad news re the recovery of your tape. I recommend getting on the phone and ringing around to see if anyone can recover it. Memories are much more important than a film I liked. There may be someone out there who can do something with it.

  49. Stephen said, on October 2, 2009 @ 4:45 am

    Thank you for an excellent article.

  50. Margaret said, on October 6, 2009 @ 4:56 am

    I thank you. I fixed a tape my parents had of me when I was little and they would’ve been crushed if it couldn’t be fixed. The only problem now, is that the sound isn’t coming through and everything is hooked up right. Any advice?

  51. John Lamb said, on January 22, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    WOW! Worked just great. Your instructions helped me restore a tape from 1984.

    Thanks for your clear information and help


  52. Kevin said, on July 6, 2010 @ 5:41 am

    I don’t want to rain on your parade, and this method will work. However, I have concerns about using “sticky tape” and running that across the video heads. The gap in the video heads is only fifty thousandths of an inch. I seen this gag “clogged” up by the oxide from cheap tapes. A clogged video head gap equals no playback. So, after the tape is repaired in this manner, I would not run it more than the one time to transfer the video to another tape or format. Then clean the heads.

  53. Priscila Pashia said, on July 23, 2010 @ 8:42 am

    Hey there, first of all, I want to note that I think it’s a great weblog you have here. My question is, I haven’t find out the way to add your blog rss or atom in my rss reader – where is the link to the rss feed? Thanks

  54. christina said, on August 26, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

    i have a tape that i fixed, and it now plays but for some reason it only plays for a few seconds and then the vcr powers off. anyone know what could be causing this??

  55. Lesley Ross said, on September 2, 2010 @ 10:57 am

    Thanks for the advice. My 2 yr old great granddaughter got hold of my Pearl Harbor videotape 2 and ripped it. Fortunately it was near the end and a little scotch tape did the trick, but without your know how I doubt if I could have repaired it, it would probably be in the garbage by now:)

    Thanks again for sharing what you know, and it was easy to understand, very helpful.

  56. Chris Duckworth said, on September 8, 2010 @ 11:06 am

    Hi Christina, It may be that the tape is too thick to get through the heads. I have seen this happen to VCR’s before, where there is too much tension on the motors, so the VCR turns itself off to protect itself. You may get by fast forwarding past that point by hand and then putting it in the player. It’s also possible some of the rest of the tape is damaged and stuck. I don’t really know.

  57. Chris Duckworth said, on September 8, 2010 @ 11:10 am

    Hi Priscila, There is a link dow the bottom right of the page, or you can press the subscibe menu item up the top. There hasn’t been much going on the site of late, but I am writing a bunch of content and creating a new theme for the start of next year which I am quite excited by. Life got in the way for a bit, but I hope I can have another good run of it when it relaunches. Thanks for your interest.

  58. R Hunter said, on October 4, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

    Thanks so much. I had a tape of a trip I took to Brazil many years ago and it broke. These directions Helped me to repair it.

    Thanks again.

  59. kyle said, on December 31, 2010 @ 11:47 am

    Thanks for this…I opened a tape and it basically exploded, I put it back together *sorta* but the springs confused me. Thanks again.

  60. kyle said, on December 31, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

    PS mine actually had one spring that sat in between the two plastic pieces and controlled both., needless to say it was difficult to put on.

  61. Pam said, on January 14, 2011 @ 5:10 am

    Very helpful to have pictures to look at. My tape still did not work but I think it is because of my system. The tape had a really missed up feed I fixed it but would only work off and on, with out you pictures and the way you explained everything I would of been lost. Thank you so much for this posted web site.

  62. Linda Baker said, on March 14, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    I have quite a few VHS movies of the family and kids growing up………the “kids” are now late 20’s and up through the early 40’s……..a divorce, several moves and the movies were tossed around and lost for awhile. When I finally found them they appear to have mold on them……how do I clean these? They cannot be replaced. Is there a way to save these? Any help would be appreciated.

  63. Richard Kukan said, on September 28, 2011 @ 3:49 am

    About those TDK tapes with “rivets”. I have taken apart three of them. It is impossible to do so without breaking the shell. The first time, I simply hacked away at it until I was able to free the tape reels for transfer to fresh shell (with screws!). After that, I decided to try drilling the “rivets” out. The “rivets” are in fact solid plastic built into the structure of the shell itself, so there’s no real way of removing them, you just drill at them until they break. I used a 9/64″ bit, and started with the “rivets” farthest from the tape track. If you can break the two at the base of the shell, and the one where the security screw is on normal tapes, you should be able to pry the shell apart into two halves. Be careful to inspect the salvaged tape reels for shards of broken plastic, which you definitely do not want to transfer to a new shell! In short: it can be done, but it’s a bit messy.

  64. Khawar Agha said, on October 11, 2011 @ 3:18 am

    I have some old vhs tape I play them like half way then it kind of jams but when I fast FWD it goes all the way to the end but the couter meter doesn’t move, lets say I play up to 2 hours and 35 minutes and it jam I fast FWD to the end but meter doesn’t move ,after I rewind the tape the count meter still don’t move until it reach the 2:35 hrs count and then it start moving back ward,and I can play that portion ,,,why is that with fast FWD the count meter should move as long the tape is moving …What should i do. Thank you

    Khawar Agha

  65. Karla McKitrick said, on November 16, 2011 @ 6:04 am

    Good morning Chris,
    I found your website with helpful techniques for better recording and fixes for tape issues. Nicely done. I have been in the video biz for 30 years or so and I have come across a problem that I have never seen before. One of my customers brought in a VHS done in the early to mid 80s that she used to put old 8mm home movies on. It’s all the footage she has of her daughter and the tape won’t play beyond 49 minutes. The hubs seem to be tight. I have removed the reels and placed them in a new case, and I have lubricated the bottom of the hubs, but nothing seems to work. Since the hubs float inside of the case, what can possibly be keeping the tape from playing and fast forwarding and rewinding? I have checked the brakes and they are working fine. Help! I want to give this lady a DVD of her child. Any Ideas?

    The Video Factory
    Albuquerque, NM

  66. Chris Duckworth said, on November 19, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

    Sorry about delay in response. It slipped through. I don’t really have any ideas. This article was brought together through trial and error. The only thing I can think of is to unwind the tape with less pressure by hand, but there are obvious risks with leaving the tape exposed, and getting the right pressure by feel will also be near on impossible. I am sorry I don’t have any tricks up my sleeve that might work.

  67. PETER BOPAPE said, on March 13, 2012 @ 8:41 pm


  68. Kevin B. said, on April 4, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

    Hi Karla,

    Chances are excellent that you either found the solution to your (customer’s) tape’s problem by now or gave up, I wish I’d seen this post sooner. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a video tape repair professional working for

    What you’ve described is a classic case of deteriorating lubrication on the surface of the tape. Under less-than-ideal storage circumstances the lubrication will break down, creating a sticky substance that can cause the tape to drag along the heads of playback equipment and either causes picture interference or prevents playback entirely (with a high-pitched whine during the attempt and ultimately the ejection of the tape from the VCR). It is very likely that the footage can be salvaged, but the tape is in need of a great deal of cleaning and maybe even baking to “cure” the lubrication long enough to allow a DVD to be made. We’ve seen (and repaired) this problem with VHS and 8mm/Hi8 tapes, but haven’t seen it in other formats yet.

    Hope this can be of use to you or future searchers!

Leave a Comment

Name: (Required)

E-mail: (Required but will not be published)