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Sony TC-277-4, help

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Q8

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http://www.obsoletemedia.com/tapedecks/sonytc277.htm

Heya,

I bought this deck over theweekend at a yard sale. I know it's not the best Sony deck, but I like it, it's compact and light.

I have had a couple broken stereo decks for short periods of the time in past but have never had one to use and I have never tried to replair one. I am fairly good at fixing some 8-track deck issues.

The issue seems to be common for reel to reel decks. The pinch roller does not come up to meet the capstn on its own. You can pull and push it up, but it does not go up easily when I push it up, it also doesn't meet the capstan very tightly. The reels spin and the capstn spins. Not sure if these use belts or gers or what to engage the pinch roller. I definately need help with this.

It also occasionally has LOUD hum/feedback in one of the channels ( I have an 8-track recorder that does this occasionlly too, and I'm not sure wht causes it).
 

Q8

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Also I could use the user and service manuals for this device.
 

cupboy

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I don't think there are any belts in these except for the tape counter. What sort of condition are the heads in?
 

quadsearcher

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I'm somewhat sure the big lever engages the pinch roller. There will be dried lube on a linkage between the two, and likely dried lube on other linkages as well. Disassemble, clean out the old gunk, apply fresh lube. Can be time consuming to get the linkages apart. Not sure on that model, but some I've had to have both front and back access to take links apart.
 

Q8

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I'm somewhat sure the big lever engages the pinch roller. There will be dried lube on a linkage between the two, and likely dried lube on other linkages as well. Disassemble, clean out the old gunk, apply fresh lube. Can be time consuming to get the linkages apart. Not sure on that model, but some I've had to have both front and back access to take links apart.
Oh man, I hope I dont have to dissasemble everything to get to the linckage that engages the pinch roller. I agree that it is probably lube/loose linkage, because while the big lever won't engage it right now, it still kinda dissengages it if I have pushed it up manually. It definately has the feel of dried lube. What is the most effective thing to clean the old lube off and what sort of lube should I replace it with?

As far as the head condition, I will have to double check tonight, but I believe when I looked at them previously they looked decent.

Any idea on the feedback/low frequency noise occasionally in one channel? May be dirt on the head or something wrong with the head. Can a bad IC cause this? It seems to be intermittant and with some fiddling it stops. But when it happens it is ultra loud, causes the VU meter to go all the way up for that channel. Just one channel, right rear if I remember properly. I am also thiking that maybe a dirty/loose connection to one of the tape head pins?
 

Q8

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Also, do you guys think I spent too much for this? I got it for $90 after a lot of haggling just to get it down from $120 (the guy was pretty good at haggling and I couldn't bring myself to walk away from this deck).

Also untill this deck, I didn't know that Superscope distributed these Sony tape at first.
 

quadsearcher

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I was an audio bench tech for 20+ years, so I got used to it. If you get really lucky or know someone who does that kind of stuff regularly, it might cost as low as $60 to strip/relube and clean switches. The noise is possibly a dirty switch.
If you want to try it yourself and you haven't done one before, have a big workspace to lay all the knobs, screws, parts etc, and allow a full afternoon. It's not fun to leave it apart and come back a week later.
Alcohol to clean off the old lube, Lubriplate white lithium soap grease or similar to re-lube. Caig DeOxit to clean switches and controls. A box of q-tips and some rags.
I did a stereo Sony a few weeks ago, and when I thought i was done, I had a clutch problem on the take up reel pulling the tape too tight. Not to say that is common, but sometimes there are surprises. A Sony clutch rebuild is not something to get into the first time without help.

Or to be a bit more optimistic about it, it might be just a matter of taking the silver face off the front and you might see the link right there and perhaps a drop of oil worked-in could do it. I always go whole-hog when it's someone else's machine because if I had to do it over, well, I would be earning negative cash. Common oil mixed with whatever is in there is not the best practice 'cause it could gum up worse over time, I'm just sayin' ..... it might work.

The price seems right, the 4 channel version is rare. These Sonys are workhorses. Great motors. Not sure there is more than just a counter belt on this one, but if there is, they'd be big, fat ,and last a long time.
 

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Just like the Pioneer discussion, distribution was odd before Quad and in the first few years of it. Superscope distributed Sony tape decks in the US until '74. The products were ALWAYS made by Sony. Superscope (NOT Sony/Superscope) and Marantz products were made by Marantz. In '74, after the distribution agreement with Sony ended, Marantz introduced their own line of cassette decks and turntables.

Although TC-277-4 was Sony's most basic Q4, it was well built and a good performer. I sold many in it's day.
 

Q8

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As far as the noise goes, it seems that this thread I found on another board may provide the answer:

http://homerecording.com/bbs/general-discussions/analog-only/sony-tc-277-4-4-track-reel-reel-294045/

"forgot to mention that there was one problem that i fixed already - a broken solder connection at track 1's head. when i first hooked it up, i got nothing but 60hz buzz from track 1.

the failure was probably induced by the silly mechanical design that stuffs all those the big fat shielded cables into a tiny space. after i took the front cover off to do the repair (had to get access to a little bit more wire, as there was a 1/32" stub left on the broken one), it was like getting toothpaste back in the tube to put the cover back on again. and then another fight to get the tape path guard back on."

So that sounds a lot like my issue with the right rear. I wonder if he is talking about whatI mentioned, the actual conection to the head. I did pull the head guard off and the wires actually going to the head seemed fairly stable, so it may be the connection inside the unit (or the cable itself).

I do fear taking it apart a little as this will be the first r2r that I've attempted service on. However, I do like learning how to do these repairs myself as I do not have a repair person I trust. Plus it always seems when you take something in, it takes them forever to even get to repairing it. The only person I imediately know would be good for this job is a friend of the family who is a retired audio repair guy, but unfortunately he recently had a couple strokes and was placed into a rehabilitation center/assisted living home and while he is getting better, he is still going to be there a while as he cannot walk well yet.

On a happy note, I forgot to mention that the $90 I paid also came with two big boxes of tapes. Only a few pre-recorded tapes, they are classical and non-quad. The rest of the music tapes appear to be classical self-recorded non-quad. Now the interesting part, is that about half of all the tapes are actual pre-recorded radio commercial promo reels. They are all from the early 90's. Some national brands like Coca-Cola, some local places like local auto dealers. But a whole ton of radio station commercial tapes from around 92-93. Interesting!
 

Q8

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Well, I took the front off of it and can officially say that I don't think I have the guts to go further. I cannot easily access the linkage that engages the pinch roller and I'm afraid to try. I do believe that the buzz is from a bad solder of a wire to the head. I may be able to fix that but it would help to know which wires correspond to which channels. Not sure if someone can help with that.

Good news though: I scrutinized the head condition. The head is in amazing condition!! Almost like-new looking.
 

cupboy

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Lack of good back tension on these 1-motor designs does keep the heads in better shape. Of course you'll get more tape dropouts due to the tape-to-head contact not being as good.
 

Q8

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Now I need to figure out how I am going to get this repaired as I do not want to dissasemble it to the extent that I would need to to access the pinch roller linkage properly.

Anyone know someone good in the Dayton Ohio area?
 

cupboy

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You wouldn't believe what it costs to get stuff fixed nowadays. You can get cheaper hourly rates from German car mechanics, but they probably wouldn't want to work on it. I paid approx. $200 to get a VHS VCR fixed that had a power supply circuitry problem. Yep.... I really liked the VCR so it was worth it at the time.
 

quadsearcher

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You wouldn't believe what it costs to get stuff fixed nowadays. You can get cheaper hourly rates from German car mechanics, but they probably wouldn't want to work on it. I paid approx. $200 to get a VHS VCR fixed that had a power supply circuitry problem. Yep.... I really liked the VCR so it was worth it at the time.
The day I decided to close my shop was when the first very cheap VCR came in, client declined $60. I asked what he thought was appropriate and he said $10 or $20. This was around '99. It might sound like I should've hung in there but an example like the above might happen once in a year. The shop hourly back then was $65 which meant I took home about $16K/yr. Sounds like I should start over in Utah with $100/hr.! :)
 

quadsearcher

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Tip: Is there a University in or near Dayton? See if they have a Technical Services Dept. for servicing their own stuff, and if there is someone there who wants to and is allowed to service off-campus tape decks. They might have a non-affiliated rate that is higher than in-house but still lower than the trunk-slammer techs who would rather repair X-Boxes.
 

Q8

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Tip: Is there a University in or near Dayton? See if they have a Technical Services Dept. for servicing their own stuff, and if there is someone there who wants to and is allowed to service off-campus tape decks. They might have a non-affiliated rate that is higher than in-house but still lower than the trunk-slammer techs who would rather repair X-Boxes.
I never thought of that. Usually campus tech guys like a good challenge and have to deal with challenging equipment all the time. I would imagine most universities have at least one veteran tech that has knowledge about decks like this. I will look into that, Sounds like a good tip.

The last time I took something to an actual repair shop, gave it to the guy, he had it 2 months and never touched it. I just went back and took it from him cause I realized he was going to take forever. He had not even attempted to diagnose it yet. His shop is out of business now. I wonder why.

I had a friend take a VCR to the shop to fix it. It was eating tapes. It was a really ultra high end model so he wanted to keep it. He got it back and it still ate tapes. He lost the reciept and when he took it back the next day the guy basically just told him he was SOL without the reciept. When they were just talking about how nice the VCR was the previous day.

So I have a bit of distrust for these repair shops.

I have thought about trying these guys. They seem to be the only place around here with a web site. They have A+ with the BBB but that doesn't always mean they are any good.

http://www.buckeyeelectronics.com/

Anyone have any good tips to determine if a shop is worth taking your beloved electronics to?
 

cupboy

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Better just to forget the whole thing and offer it as a parts machine on an auction site. You'll come out ahead.
 

Q8

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As far as financially, I agree. That at this point the proper financial decsion would be to cut and run. But I do like this particular model even with it's shortcomings. I also don't like to give up on electronics, especially when the issues are so simple. Even if I do not toss a bunch of money at it now, I will eventually find myself a fair person to do the work that I am not able to do. I am also self-teaching myself a lot about electronics repair and may at some point have the confidance to dissasemble it to the point that I feel comfortable that i would reassemble it properly. I hate to see a machine that only has a minor issue be parted out as well.

I also have somewhat of a sense of commitment to helping to preserve rare equipment. Especially rare quad equipment. This sense of commitment may be foolish, but hey, what can you do.

Also, you never know, there could be a member of this board that lives near me that reads this thread tomorrow and is a veteran bench tech.
 

Circular Vibes

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Might I suggest a couple ideas? First, maybe save the deck as a weekend project and take your time. It really isn't hard with a good exploded diagram, and maybe a relaxing drink or two. Second, do you have a reference library in your area with the old SAMS manuals? I haven't worked on tape decks for some time, but if you like puzzles and have patience, it will be worth the effort and you will know it was done right. As to the relaxing drink or two, as a bicycle mechanic by trade, I can tell you that we sometimes have problems rated in the number of beers it takes to solve it! This may be a two or three beer problem ;-). I am not specifically advocating alcoholism, just relaxing and observing the way it works in a slightly slower pace will make it easier and clearer.
 
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