What Is It That Compells Me…


Reel deep thoughts...
Sometimes I just don’t know…I consistently and routinely peruse a number of online marketplaces for a wide range of audio gear and instruments. I have all sorts of projects that remain unfinished. Granted I have something of an excuse since my life is really busy with family and day job demands, but I can’t stop looking. I’ve become really selective. Lately it’s cassette portastudios. It has to have good potential to clean up, and the transport has to be non-functional in one or more of several ways. That way it’s cheap. I’ve worked on enough of these by now over the years I pretty much peg what needs fixed before I even buy it. Anyway, I buy one, clean it up, fix it, play with it a little, and before long sell it. The latest is this Tascam 488mkII I picked up…$150. Not the best price. Headblock assembly wouldn’t engage the tape and would start hopping up and down, and capstan wasn’t spinning. So I figured it needed a capstan belt and the headblock motion assembly was either broken or partially seized up. I drove a couple hours round trip to pick it up. Not my best purchase. But I meet the guy and the unit looks super clean under the dust and grime, everything is there. This is what I look for. And I don’t know what compells me to do these things…I was right, just needs a new capstan belt and I disassembled the headblock motion assembly, just needed new lube and the primary gear spindle needed polishing…works like a charm now…capstan belt $11 shipped. Pinch roller is in beautiful condition. Looking at the capstan shaft and heads I don’t think this thing was used much at all. Everything is in really nice shape. But I have to tear it all apart, DeoxIT the switches and jet out the faders with Faderlube…literally wash the top panel with soap and water…like…it’s not gonna make it sound any better. But I can see the clean surface past the scunge and so I have to get rid of the scunge.

I don’t really understand myself.

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I’m willing to be your therapist and explain yourself to you 😂

No charge! But just this one time. Further sessions require cash or refurbished gear. 😂

Ok beginning your therapy.

You were that curious kid, you were the one that looked at things and studied them hoping to solve the mysteries contained within.

Rather than watch the TV you wanted to take it apart.

And with many things you did just that, took them apart.

This brought on a whole new set of challenges. How do I put it back together?
How do I make it work?

Many projects were failures, but the goals were never abandoned.

And when it was taken apart and fixed, the dopamine rush was like no other.

Later upon discovering music, the focus went to musical related objects...an obvious next step.

Also, deep down in your subconscious mind are a recycler, a rescuer of things others have given up on, a champion for the underdog.

As time went on, the realization that you couldn’t save the whole world through your efforts you became more selective.

Mixed in with your willingness to help others with your hard earned knowledge, that would make you a true humanitarian.

There! How was that?

Btw, the four track looks nice 👍🏼
Nothing wrong with what you're doing at all.
1. you're restoring something that would end up in a landfill
2. you're satisfying the deep seated need, as a virgo I understand, to clean something up that has potential
3. it's a hobby, nothing ever wrong with that
4. you're practicing your skill set instead of leaving it dormant.

I have had to come to terms with my intentions as of late, spending a lot of time and money delving into these analog devices on top of spending lots of time and money building a studio to house all my instruments and so on. People ask me all the time what I plan to do with said studio... I stutter, usually, trying to come up with something.

But lately, I've decided to just start telling people that it's my hobby, something I'm interested in, a collection that is potentially useful to me and my friends, engaging my mind in long-gone skills and techniques that should be remembered, etc etc etc.

PLUS the added benefit is that I have gotten to be a part of this community, learn from many others and hopefully contribute along the way.

Have fun and, Cory... we need you here and your expertise, so keep on looking, buying cheap, tearing it apart and restoring all of it!

That said, I picked up a Tascam 244 at a garage sale for $50. Rubber is goo, belts are gone. I have new of all, just need the time to dive in, clean it up and get it working again, or sell it for parts. I hope to work on it soon. Even if I never use it, It will look really cute as an art piece with my Tascam 388, M-520 and MS-16.
I applaud your compulsion, It's the same thing that cause people to buy the hulks of old cars and restore them. Sometimes it just gives you a degree of satisfaction that you've brought something back to life, sometimes it allows you to turn it for a tidy profit.

Some of us just enjoy learning how things work. We take things apart and if possible fix them. That's a good thing.
Thanks for the story, Cory. I can relate to a degree. I certainly don't have the aptitude and experience you have, but I have spent a good amount of time fixing up analog machines.

I'm curious ... what does Mrs. Sweetbeats think of it? Does it cause any friction?
Sorry for the delay…been a busy few days and I didn’t expect any responses to this thread.

@RFR the therapist: it is just a little creepy how much of your first post hits home. And the second post is about 100%. But back to your first reply: your post brings back some memories…there’s a picture my Mom or Dad snapped of me when I was maybe 6 or 7…I’d discovered the Comet scoring powder and a sponge and was cleaning the bathroom sink. Like deep clean. I recall the buildup around the faucet fixture and somehow realized in the sink itself there was buildup that didn’t belong. Nobody asked me to clean it, I recall just knowing it could shine…got the comet and the sponge and went to work. I remember enjoying the effort and results, and being politely indifferent at the marvel of my parents. It was for my own enjoyment I made that sink shine. And then some years later I recall now I used to take my Dad’s three-head rotary shaver…there was a little brush…you could get all the trimmings and skin flakes and buildup out of it, take the rotary blades out of the screens, and by poking the brush at the surfaces really get the buildup off. And use toilet paper to wipe everything clean to a shine after that. I wasn’t doing it as a favor to my Dad…no disrespect to my Dad, but I knew it wasn’t critical to his shaving or the operation of the shaver that I did this. Yes he did wonder why his shaver was so clean and I vaguely remember him asking me if I cleaned it…I think I was around 9 five or take at that time. I just liked making it look new. And yes I did take my toys apart. I was curious how they worked. I think the first time I distinctly remember this was at around age 8, I had an original issue Kenner brand Star Wars X-Wing fighter toy…I wanted to know how it was you could push on R2-D2 and the wings would expand to the ‘X’ formation. And I saw screws. And I knew where I could find a screwdriver. And I had no apprehension about not being able to put it back together. And I did take it apart, and I did put it back together, and was satisfied I learned how it worked. That was the compulsion; no other reason than I wanted to know. So I guess I’ve always been this way. Thanks for triggering the memories.

@Slouching Raymond I love my Tek TM 500 gear. That’s also been a labor of love because, like pretty much everything I have, I had to buy it on the cheap left for dead or otherwise compromised and figure out, often with help, how to fix it and get it working. The “scope” you see is an SC 502 in a TM 504 mainframe along with a DM 501A DMM and a PS 503A power supply. To the right, out of the picture frame, is another TM 504 loaded with an SG 502 oscillator, FG 502 function generator and AA 501A distortion analyzer. I have a bunch of other main frames and modules, but those are the key modules on those two TM 504 frames on the “workbench.”

@flyingace not a Virgo…a little kreepy you could take a stab at a timeframe in which I was born lol. But I’m sure I’ve shared that info somewhere. Hey, I like the “it’s a hobby” response you’re adopting. As far as I’m concerned, as long as a “hobby” isn’t harming others or taking away from your obligations to provide for others, it really shouldn’t be anybody else’s business. Judgment is a great vehicle for stifling a person’s passion. You do you inasmuch as it doesn’t impact others. Your studio build looks really nice and you’ve got some good gear to work with.

Oh, and 244 for $50? Done. That my favorite 4-track cassette Portastudio. I have 4 of them currently. Think I can make two good ones out of the bunch, sell one and still have a pile of spares for the one I keep. I have spent the most time with a 424mkII as far as cassette 4-track, but when I realized the 244 has vertical channel PCBs with their own metal sub-chassis, and analyzed the signal path…I mean, c’mon…the 244 weighs twice that of a 424…metal…analog VUs…244…that’s it for me.

@famous beagle well that is a two-fold question in a way. I was married to a former Mrs. sweetbeats for 19 years. As much as she tolerated my interests, both with gear and playing and performing, it was also clear it was not acceptable. Anything that didn’t directly benefit the family in her eyes was against the family. There’s a lot more to the story. It was a pretty unhappy situation overall outside of the music and audio technology. In my mind it helped me to cope with the negative situation, and truly I wanted to pass the interests along to my children…to share and connect with them a part of me and even teach them some trade skills they might rely upon in a pinch someday. It became an escape, while I was still very active and engaged in providing and child rearing. But me staying up until the wee hours to tend to my interests and help me cope wasn’t acceptable. And I get it. But she didn’t want to work on the issues in spite of my asks over the years and long story short there’s a divorce and remarriage in the story…not because of the music and gear interests…there’s a much bigger set of issues that were at play there. And, again, I was a hard-working engaged provider throughout. That’s according to others close to the situation. Anyway, my wife today knows I’m a geek and likes the musical side of me. We have some atypical challenges to support with our family on top of the ongoing toxicity with my divorce from many years ago…but I’m much happier in my relationship with her. If we had more time and freedom I’m sure I would be in some local cover band or something and I’m pretty sure my wife would be my biggest fan. And she can sing. But she won’t admit to it. But she’s got something special. And I’m forever smitten. Maybe someday there will be more time to have fun with these collective interests. So there’s not the same degree of need or dependence on the “escape”. These days it’s more purely “hobby”. And we have to work some opposite shifts, so when there’s time while she’s working that’s when I’m working on stuff. And that’s after other obligations are met, not as she demands but as I identify. And not as a matter of hiding it, but because when we both have opportunity to be together and do stuff together I am more interested in that, which was not the case in my former life at all…an existence driven by fear, invalidation and conditions. So…to answer your question, today’s Mrs. sweetbeats doesn’t have a problem with my interests because she doesn’t feel threatened by them or have a need to control them, and I, in kind, don’t have an interest in filling my time with those interests to such a degree that it impacts what little time we have together in our very busy family schedule. Hope that makes sense.
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I don't think you're weird. You like what you like.
I don't like build up, dust and grime and there's a certain satisfaction in cleaning or fixing something. There are some for whom this might spill over into OCD, but better to have a penchant for fixing and preservation, than the disposable "don't fix it, just buy a new one !" attitude that much of today's products seem to carry inherently.
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@flyingace not a Virgo…a little kreepy you could take a stab at a timeframe in which I was born lol.
LOL. When I wrote that, I was talking about myself being a Virgo and ”particular” about things that way. Not guessing at your sign, I promise! :)
Yah, my 244 cosmetically will never be worth a whole lot, it looks like someone left a rubber instrument cable on top of it and it got heated up in an attic or garage or storage and melted into the surface. Otherwise, the rest of it appears to work just Fine. I hope to get that capstan Wheel and belts replaced to test. I’ll bug you about it when I get questions! :)
Sweetbeats, here is a picture of a keyboard I completely took to bits and cleaned up.
It is a Roland EG101, and was given to me a few years ago.
It was disgusting, stank, had cigarrette burns on the keys, grubby, with hair and gunge every place there was room.
One of the keys is missing here, as I was removing the burnt area, and filling the hole with resin.
I scrubbed the whole case, all the buttons and knobs, and even washed the speakers.
It can now reside in my house.
Roland EG101.png
In thinking about this stuff myself, I put it down to me wanting to preserve methods of doing something that I find vital to my core being. So like, 4 tracks signify a huge change for the better in my life, in around 1993, discovering Ween and diving into the world of home recording. It changed my life and has formed some of my greatest memories. So, in wanting to collect and preserve things relative to that, be it something I wish I had back then or that signifies some big moment, it's a way of making those memories still feel relevant and current. If this stuff is obsolete, broken & useless, then so am I haha.
Maybe moot to this thread about preserving old equipment?
I recently saw a programme here call "Salvage Hunters, The Restorers" A guy was restoring a sit upon arcade driving game that had a glass front plate about 2ft by 18" back painted with complex features in a variety of colours. The paint was flaking off very badly but it turned out the plate could be scanned and the missing details and colours redone.

I am thinking perhaps the same process could be used for front panels that have had the screen printing damaged?

It happened again. Or rather I did it again…


Runs and drives, and beneath the dust appears to be *very* clean and straight…low-use. Seller reports “it speeds up by the end of the tape.” One might immediately assume this means the capstan servo board is on its way out, but I don’t think so. I think it has to do with the capstan shaft losing its grip as tape transfers from one reel to the other during playback. The capstan servo board failure usually manifests as a complete runaway state, or erratic capstan speed, not a consistent speeding up as the tape pack transfers. My hunch is either the pinch roller is hardened/glazed or the headblock motion assembly, which raises the headblock up into the tape during PLAY and RECORD, and also actuates the pinch roller, needs serviced and is having trouble moving the assembly through the full range of its travel. Or the pinch roller pressure needs adjusted, but that’s less common. I did a quick inspect of the pinch roller…it’s not bad…not great either. Haven’t powered it up yet. Anyway, it apparently fast winds and records and plays back on all tracks. I’ll know as soon as I power it up if it’s a bad capstan servo or something else.



For the 238 and RC-88 remote.

No rack ears. Grr.
Score! Sucks about the rack ears, but 50 bucks? Bingo!

I wish I still had mine. I keep finding 8track cassettes.
Well crap…new one on me…I think every transport function is perfect, but the capstan doesn’t spin at ALL. Not sure if that’s servo or power supply. Dang. Was hoping it was something easy and free for me to fix. This may be neither.
Found a set of rack ears and a replacement pitch control knob from across the pond for a reasonable price that will get here at some point. Did some research and found that an inactive capstan motor is often caused by damaged or corroded traces on the servo PCB…took a closer look at the board in my 238 and see there actually is some corrosion around some of the SMD components. I have the transport removed and the capstan servo/motor assembly partially disassembled now in order to jet with PCB cleaner and gently agitate the areas of corrosion with a toothbrush…then a flushing wash. Then I’ll let it dry and inspect with good light and my 10X jeweler’s loupe. If it looks like traces are damaged I’m likely to buy a replacement servo PCB assembly. There’s somebody selling them on eBay for $115 each. My concern is whether or not they are truly new or NOS, because they have the SMD electrolytic caps on them which is often what leads to the corrosion and in most cases the runaway capstan. But my options will be limited, because I really don’t do SMD stuff. My eyes aren’t up to it. I might attempt a repair if it was a glass fiber PCB, but it’s the phenolic base PCB material and the traces are tiny and fragile…they shoulda put it on a glass fiber board. The other pain about the replacement servo PCB assembly is it doesn’t include the coil assembly that is mounted on the underside…four flat coils so 8 tiny wires that solder to the servo board. Lots of good opportunity to mess something up there transferring the coil assembly from PCB to PCB. Anyway this all reminds me I was gonna message the seller of the replacement servo PCB assemblies and ask if these are decades old or truly contemporary replacements…