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Thread: relapped heads for TSR-8

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    relapped heads for TSR-8

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    trying to decide between having worn play/rec head relapped or just replacing it with a new head, a new head from JPK magnetics runs under $400, not sure price on relapping or lifespan of relapped heads... I only use machine for myself and isn't used more than a dozen songs a year at the most,.. anyone have experience in using relapped heads?

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    Most of the machines I’ve had had relapped heads. It’s not about the lifespan of a relapped headstack, the question is what’s the life expectancy of a stack when new and how much wear does it have on it vs how much do you use it? IMO head life is mostly a non-issue for the periodic home studio user. A friend of mine used to operate a well-known multi-format tape transfer service. His machines were running most hours of the day 7 days a week. He had a 2 inch machine that was running those hours for a couple years and he decided to proactively send the head assembly in to John French when he had scheduling opportunity for an inspection. He was assuming it would be near end of life. Nope. It was at 50%. So he had it relapped and off he went, back to near 24/7 operation. Keep in mind his machines were meticulously, properly and routinely maintained and tensions were set using the HF droop method which helps to minimize tape tension and wear if the machine allows for it. So much depends on your setup, tensions, frequency of use, etc. But, again, generally speaking, for the periodic home studio operator a headstack will last a lifetime. I think a relap is less than $400 and you get the full inspection and optical setup with that. If you buy the new headstack you’re still going to need to send it in for an inspection and setup and that will cost around $150 IIRC. So you need to just pick your poison, but keep it in the forefront most heads last a long, long time unless they are operating full time or are improperly adjusted/setup. Just some perspective for you.

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    Interesting to hear that tension is a factor in the life of tapeheads, I've actually have a tension meter like the one shown in the maintenance manual havent used it yet, I'll put it to use

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    thanks Sweetbeats, waiting on some ballpark estimates on relappingÂ… seems JFR doesn't want to give even a ballpark estimate on relapping, response is "too many variables, please send it in" if im only saving 50 bucks id rather just get new, if its say half price id rather relap the heads, just emailed IEM in Illinois.. that seems to be the main deciding factor, and as well the resale value on these machines might be higher with a new head vs relapped, so ill wait and see what IEM says

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    That’s an understandable response from JRF. There are indeed many variables and I’m sure John French has learned from experience it’s dangerous to give out estimates in light of those variables. Last time I had work done on a headblock assembly by JRF I sent it in to get the estimate.

    Don’t forget that the cost of a new head is not just the cost of the head. Unless you want to risk premature wear or poor performance out of the brand new head, you’ll need to send the assembly to JRF or similar to have the head mounted and aligned unless you can do that yourself. I know if it was me I’d be sending it out for optical alignment and setup before tape touches it, but that’s just me. So add some bux to the new head cost ($150 maybe?) and include that in your consideration as you weigh the new head vs relap decision.

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    Hey sweethearts, this is easy-out... heard back and it's only 80 bucks a head to relap them, but unfortunately my heads have spacing in between the tracks, and cant be repaired, when you're talking about spending extra to have heads aligned are you familiar with tsr-8 's specifically? There is no alignment on the headstock,, the tapeheads are fastened by 2 screws and fastened down tight with no room for ajjusting

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    The wrap angle is adjustable, as is the fine set azimuth, though you’d do that on the machine.

    I believe the TSR-8 record/play head is the same as the 38, 48, 58, ATR60-8...one screw actually mounts the head to the headblock assembly, and then two small set screws provide for fine azimuth adjust. Because the mounting is via one larger screw, that allows for the pivoting to adjust the wrap angle. That’s the adjustment I would want setup optically so it is exact as can be to ensure best performance and longevity.
    Last edited by sweetbeats; 1 Week Ago at 21:33.

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    I seem to have a lot of correction to do here.
    First a head is lapped NOT relapped unless you do it a second time which is ridiculous.
    Second the need for lapping is almost non-existant as heads are normally worn in a way that they are still usable.
    I have seen many heads that are worn uneven due to the stupid head mount method- unless you want to give away hundreds of hours of the
    less worn portion by lapping it off then there still is no reason to lap them as many machines still work good without this lapping process.

    Next- Optical alignment does not make things perfect and in fact I have had optical aligned heads come from JRF and they were put on the machine and alignment checked and they were off requiring the adjustment be done on the actual machine not some abstract optical method that is a ball park adjustment at best.

    I wish all this lapping and relapping conversation would change into cleaning heads as it is far more favorable than all this lapping which most time is just a waste of money.

    It seems that people on the internet grab onto a term and then over use it with no knowledge of what they are doing just like the people that think these You tube video people are smart- 99% of the time they are idiots trying to look smart but they always leave holes in the proof that they are smart by using wrong terms or doing things the WRONG way. A capstan shaft is a capstan shaft NOT a spindle, A reel table is a reel table not a spindle- not everything on a tape deck is a spindle and that word alone usually disqualifies them as knowing what they are doing.
    Best regards,
    Skywave Tape Deck Repair, Chicago area

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    Very surprised at your response Sam as having heads lapped and relapped has been standard practice for professional studios for many years - long before the internet was even thought of (though I have no experience of Teac/Tascam reel to reels). The main reason is to improve the head to tape contact as lapping brings the head profile back to its original shape. Yes, the machines still work without lapping and for home use the performance may be acceptable but for serious professional use lapping is needed.

    I'd agree with you about most of the stuff on Youtube - some of it may be useful but much of it is cringeworthy and it is hard for a non-expert to know who to trust.
    JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration
    http://www.jrpmusic.co.uk

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