Do Tape head cleaner or rubber conditioner go bad?

Jmoog

New member
I have a couple of bottles of tape head cleaner and rubber conditioner that I received with a Tascam TSR-8 years ago. The bottles must be at least 12 years old. Are these bottles still ok to use?
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
The cleaner is likely to be isopropyl alcohol so depending on the seal, the alcohol could have evaporated and left you contaminated liquid - but put a drop on your warm hand and see if it vanishes in the usual manner. No idea what the rubber conditioner has an an active element, so you'd have to investigate that one.
 

RFR

Well-known member
Ive had nothing but bad luck with that crap. Even when new. In particular the rubber conditioner. It actually creates gummy punch rollers.
For heads Qtips and 99% rubbing alcohol. For rubber parts little bit of mild dishsoap works fine.

There are plenty of threads about this topic.
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
I use 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol from MG Chemicals (out of Canada, I think) and if I recall, I got it through Mouser.
It comes in 1 quart bottles...I have two that I bought at least 5-6 years ago, and I'm still on the first bottle, so I expect that the two quarts will last me for at least another 10 years. I'm not worried about it....this is as pure as you can get it commercially.

AFA the rubber conditioner...I too have some of that same Tascam stuff from 20 years ago, in the small glass bottle. I think there's about half left. I used it more regularly way back in the day when I first bought the stuff, before I knew better. I have not used it in many years, which is why that half bottle is still around after 20 years. :D
I use plain water to clean my pinch rollers...and if you need more than that, a drop or two of dish detergent will do the trick, and then wipe/rinse with water.
The conditioner would only be needed of you have a roller that's going dry and all slick. The conditioner will bring it back to life, but it's a losing battle, and it will eventually need replacement, plus if you keep using the conditioner, it will actually soak into the roller and eat it away from the inside out. A very light application and then quickly rub it off dry with a clean cloth or Q-Tip...don't let it soak or dry off on the roller.
Anyway...I don't think it goes bad sitting in the bottle...it's as clear as it was after 20 years, and it has the same nasty smell.
 

RFR

Well-known member
Woeps. I meanth the heads indeed and didn't mention the rubbers. Changed that in my prev reaction.

The post I read mentioned both head cleaner and rubber conditioner. In both the post title and body of the post.
So, I commented on both. :)

Either way, I think both products are junk, new or old makes no difference to me.
Maybe originally I got a bad batch, maybe I improperly used the rubber conditioner but it doesn't matter. The bias against these products is firmly established.

Even Terry, who does excellent roller restorations, suggests dish soap and water for the runber parts. Good enough for me. :)

For the heads, good rubbing alcohol is cheap and lasts forevet.
:D
 
How can people answer any of these questions with no knowledge of the product at all?
I have the Teac pink and blue or green rubber cleaners. NO they do not go bad.
The Pink solution was similar to if not exactly dry cleaning solution. It evaporates very quickly and we at Teac Factory Service in Chicago used Denatured alcohol when they learned that it worked just as well and did not have the O zone depleting nature of the pink hydrocarbon.
I seem to remember that the name was Trichlorotriflouroethane.

The blue color solution was made by Rawn in Wisconsin. It is 97% Naphtha which is what I use from the paint or hardware store myself. The blue color is photo reactive and if left in the sun it will turn green. That is the only change that will take place but the color is just there for looks.
The chemicals work the same right down to the last drop.

Now as to using Isopropyl alcohol. It does no good to use that on tape heads or rubber. It does not have the ability to dissolve oxides and the binders used with them. It is like using water on such products in that all you get off is from friction not the chemical.
Denatured alcohol is cheaper and does the job well and I have been using it for 45 years so far. It can be used on rubber for cleaning and in 45 years I have yet to see a pinch roller crack due to the use- most all these alcohol warnings are from people that repeat stories with no basis in fact.
So the stuff you paid a lot of money for like S721 is all a ridiculous profit making product for those who sell them. They are of no real use by the people that know what they are doing.
Denatured Alcohol for about $12 a gallon at Home Depot and Naphtha as well will get all the stuff you need to service tape deck.
On occasion I use Nu Finish Car polish for heads to polish off corrosion but it also leaves a surfactant that make for better tape to head contact.
I have proof of this as I have seen variations of audio level be cut in half just by the treatment of the nu Finish polish from the orange bottle.

The only place I use Isopropyl alcohol is on cuts or to clean PCB's after denatured. That is it. Rubbing alcohol from a medical store is all full of water perfumes and other junk. No one should be using any form of that stuff. It comes out of cheapness and stupidity that it is bought.
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
How can people answer any of these questions with no knowledge of the product at all?
I have the Teac pink and blue or green rubber cleaners. NO they do not go bad.
The Pink solution was similar to if not exactly dry cleaning solution. It evaporates very quickly and we at Teac Factory Service in Chicago used Denatured alcohol when they learned that it worked just as well and did not have the O zone depleting nature of the pink hydrocarbon.
I seem to remember that the name was Trichlorotriflouroethane.

The blue color solution was made by Rawn in Wisconsin. It is 97% Naphtha which is what I use from the paint or hardware store myself. The blue color is photo reactive and if left in the sun it will turn green. That is the only change that will take place but the color is just there for looks.
The chemicals work the same right down to the last drop.

Now as to using Isopropyl alcohol. It does no good to use that on tape heads or rubber. It does not have the ability to dissolve oxides and the binders used with them. It is like using water on such products in that all you get off is from friction not the chemical.
Denatured alcohol is cheaper and does the job well and I have been using it for 45 years so far. It can be used on rubber for cleaning and in 45 years I have yet to see a pinch roller crack due to the use- most all these alcohol warnings are from people that repeat stories with no basis in fact.
So the stuff you paid a lot of money for like S721 is all a ridiculous profit making product for those who sell them. They are of no real use by the people that know what they are doing.
Denatured Alcohol for about $12 a gallon at Home Depot and Naphtha as well will get all the stuff you need to service tape deck.
On occasion I use Nu Finish Car polish for heads to polish off corrosion but it also leaves a surfactant that make for better tape to head contact.
I have proof of this as I have seen variations of audio level be cut in half just by the treatment of the nu Finish polish from the orange bottle.

The only place I use Isopropyl alcohol is on cuts or to clean PCB's after denatured. That is it. Rubbing alcohol from a medical store is all full of water perfumes and other junk. No one should be using any form of that stuff. It comes out of cheapness and stupidity that it is bought.


You kinda had my attention until you mentioned nuFinish. :laughings:

Also denatured alcohol is not something I would EVER put on my tape deck heads...never mind the rubber roller...because it usually contains other chemical additives that can cause issues...acetone being the first one that comes to mind.

"Denatured alcohol is used as a solvent and as fuel for alcohol burners and camping stoves. Because of the diversity of industrial uses for denatured alcohol, hundreds of additives and denaturing methods have been used. The main additive has traditionally been 10% methanol, giving rise to the term 'methylated spirits'. Other typical additives include isopropyl alcohol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, and denatonium."


The notion that you need some kind of strong chemical to dissolve the grit-n-grime off your heads and tape path, makes me wonder how often you clean your heads that they need that kind of attention?
Like I mentioned...I use 99.9% isopropyl alcohol...the industry standard for tape deck head cleaning. It breaks down any mild surface grime to be removed with gentle rubbing...and since it's almost pure isopropyl, there is no water, which is something you would NOT want on your metal parts...
...however, for cleaning the rubber roller, water is probably the safest thing to use...not any kind of alcohol, solvents or Naphtha...and again, if you need those kinds of chemicals to clean your rubber rollers...how much grime are you dealing with, anyway...?
Maybe you should avoid bad/old tapes with issues, and you won't have to clean as much. ;)
I run 499, 911 and 468 on my 2" and my 1/4" decks...and I rarely see any kind of build-up of crud.

I said medical alcohol. That mostly is denatured alcohol.

Mmm...I don't think so...not with the weird variations in additives found in denatured alcohol from brand to brand.
Denatured alcohol has its uses in the wood shop and for cleaning purposes...but I don't think they use it in hospitals for medical purposes.
I think "medical grade" is associated with the alcohol percentage...and I think 70% and up qualifies.
Now there may be denatured alcohol without any additives for hospital use...but most of the stuff found at Home Depot has additives that are not appropriate for that purpose...or for putting on a tape deck head...but some people kinda hang their hat on the "I've been using it for 40 years without problems" argument.
OK, keep using it then. I hope the acetone doesn't eat away any of the plastic on your erase head or other parts in and around the tape path. :)
 
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Golfnut6

New member
Here's a new roller cleaner:
Martin Yale 200 Rubber Roller Cleaner. Spray can used to clean rubber rollers in office printers, FAX machines. Spray it on a cloth. Works great. Available from big box office supply retailers. Do NOT use recording head cleaner on rubber rollers.
 

RFR

Well-known member
I love how condescending you are. :)

Not to take anything away from an expert, but some of us have had long term experience with the same machine. Day in and day out.
You tend to gravitate to what works best.
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
I love how all of you experts think you know more that a trained TEAC service technician with 45 years of experience.

Yup...it's as simple as reading the ingredients label on a bottle of cleaner. ;)

The funny thing is that some of these guys are stuck back in the '70s & '80s, when all kinds of very bad chemicals were in common place usage...and even TEAC's head cleaner back in the day was trichlorotrifluoroethane. Not the most healthiest of solvents, that's long been outlawed.

The "TEAC service technician" on another website (see his post #11)... Tapeheads Tape, Audio and Music Forums
...talks about the dangers of methyl ethyl ketone (which is often an additive to denatured alcohol as I mentioned in my last post)...yet at the same time he promotes the use of denatured alcohol here. So these solvents are bad stuff...but their OK because "I've been using them for 45 years"...???
Here he also talks negatively about using isopropyl to clean heads...but in that same post #11 on the other website, he recommends it...???
Kinda contradictory, and all over the place. :)

I'll stick with the 99.9% isopropyl alcohol...since it has no other additives like denatured alcohol can...and it's safe for the environment and the person using it, unlike many other solvents. So yeah...I'm pretty sure I know what I'm talking about.
 

wkrbee

Member
As Sky says Tri- clor. is what the Teac stuff is made off and it works great.
Since it's now outlawed, 99% denatured alcohol-which is a solvent as opposed to iso.which is a disinfectant- is the cheap go to-or go to Everclear if you are concerned about the additives to denatured. It's the people who use 70% rubbing alcohol who cause the bad press about alcohol. The negative buzz about Rubber conditioner is because old worn out/glazed pinch rollers would be soaked in conditioner-sometimes overnight and they would turn to goo-don't laugh I saw it happen- irate customers coming in with their melted pinch rollers multiple times at Teac L.A. " I soaked my -old- pinch roller overnight and it's bad so you owe me a new one because your product damaged it".
 
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miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
... 99% denatured alcohol-which is a solvent as opposed to iso.which is a disinfectant...

Sorry...but you're wrong. Isopropyl is a solvent.

"Isopropyl alcohol is miscible in water, ethanol, ether, and chloroform. It will dissolve ethyl cellulose, polyvinyl butyral, many oils, alkaloids, gums and natural resins.

Solvent

Isopropyl alcohol dissolves a wide range of non-polar compounds. It also evaporates quickly, leaves nearly zero oil traces, compared to ethanol, and is relatively non-toxic, compared to alternative solvents. Thus, it is used widely as a solvent and as a cleaning fluid, especially for dissolving oils. Together with ethanol, n-butanol, and methanol, it belongs to the group of alcohol solvents, about 6.4 million tonnes of which were utilized worldwide in 2011.[18]

Examples of this application include cleaning eyeglasses, electronic devices such as contact pins (like those on ROM cartridges), magnetic tape and disk heads (such as those in audio and video tape recorders and floppy disk drives), the lenses of lasers in optical disc drives (e.g., CD, DVD) and removing thermal paste from heatsinks and IC packages (such as CPUs[19])."
 

wkrbee

Member
I was quoting a search on " Difference between isopropyl and denatured". I went by that-not a expert by any means. I have used both on everything in the tape path except the pinch roller without any problems for 25+ years. I'm curious what problems users have seen caused by denatured alcohol. Also some users continue to use alcohol on pinch rollers,and wonder why they are getting glazed.
 

RFR

Well-known member
This is getting stupid. Gonna turn into an analog/digital epic event soon :)

I'm one of tthose that would never let those teac products near my machine, in particular the rubber conditioner.
And no, I'm not one of those morons that soaked my rollers. Used it as recommended and it made my roller gummy, got smart and stopped.

I have respect for people who know these machines enough to service and repair them, but also have respect for Terry who recommends the same as what I use.
99.9% alcohol on heads and mild dishsoap on rubber. It's worked for me forever with no harm so why do something else.
:D
 

cyrano

New member
TEAC's head cleaner back in the day was trichlorotrifluoroethane. Not the most healthiest of solvents, that's long been outlawed.

Tri is one of the LEAST toxic solvents. It's outlawed as one of the gases that eats the ozone layer. And even that is only for large scale, industrial uses. It's still available in small quantities, but it's no longer used as a refrigerant. It used to be a common household cleaner.

You seem to confuse it with MEK, which is an entirely different thing.

We use tri to clean medical machines, amongst other stuff. Use gloves if you use it for longer than a simple tape head cleaning. Work in a ventilated area so you don't inhale a lot of it. And don't drink the stuff, evidently.

There are NO healthy solvents, except water. And even water can kill :D
 

cyrano

New member
mild dishsoap on rubber. It's worked for me forever with no harm so why do something else.
:D

Can you define "mild"?

You'd be amazed at the stuff that's in dishwasher fluids and powders for machines, fi. Since you're not supposed to put your hands in the machine, they can be quite dangerous, especially the industrial kind...

I've even used ether and aftershave to clean tape heads. That works too. But I only tried it when nothing else was available. And you need to look at what kind of aftershave, obviously. No "creamy" stuff.

I use an industrial ultrasonic cleaner to clean parts. Like microphone boards. Even that mechanical excitation makes some chemicals behave wildly different at times. Alcohol will not dissolve most paint. But put the same part in the cleaner in a 90% water, 10% alcohol bath and it will come out without paint in most cases...

When it comes to rubber rollers, not all of those are rubber. Some are plastic. I have no idea what percentage is plastic, but I do know these are different materials. Conditioner seem to work, but not always. But I only use it when no other solution is possible. And if it ruins the roller, they go off to be restored...
 

RFR

Well-known member
Can you define "mild"?

You'd be amazed at the stuff that's in dishwasher fluids and powders for machines, fi. Since you're not supposed to put your hands in the machine, they can be quite dangerous, especially the industrial kind....

Dishwasher? ?? Whats that?? Way out of my tech league. I still was dishes by hand. :)

By mild I mean a drop or two of Dawn in a small cup of warm water. dip in with a lint free cloth and clean away. Wipe down with some warm water and dry it really well.
Bingo, clean roller. :D

No soap on heads, just rubber
:D
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
Tri is one of the LEAST toxic solvents. It's outlawed as one of the gases that eats the ozone layer. And even that is only for large scale, industrial uses. It's still available in small quantities, but it's no longer used as a refrigerant. It used to be a common household cleaner.

You seem to confuse it with MEK, which is an entirely different thing.

We use tri to clean medical machines, amongst other stuff. Use gloves if you use it for longer than a simple tape head cleaning. Work in a ventilated area so you don't inhale a lot of it. And don't drink the stuff, evidently.

There are NO healthy solvents, except water. And even water can kill :D

I'm not confused about anything. The stuff ain't no longer allowed...period. :)
How "toxic" it is...makes little difference, since it's a moot point.
 
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