VCR problem - Fix it to use with Magnavox DVR or just copy VHS tapes w/ Magnavox DVD+VHS combo? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 04-08-2013, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a 6 head Toshiba M-781 VCR that I bought in 1995 for $500 (just before DVDs were introduced...bad timing!). I used it up until about 2005, then put it back in the original box and kept it in my closet. Recently, I took it out to test before I copy my VHS tapes to DVD and ran into some problems. Tapes load, then it stops. I took the cover off to watch what was happening...The tape loads fine, the video head spins, the roller guides push the tape correctly into position around the head, then the roller guides retract half way for some reason and it stops. This leaves loose tape just sitting there. I have to hit the power button, then quickly hit eject while holding the door open so the tape doesn't get pinched. Any ideas what this is?

Should bother trying to salvage this thing myself or sell it as is to someone who knows what they're doing? I really don't need a VCR, but I had planned to get one of those recommended Magnavox DVR/DVD recorders, such as the MDR535H, and use it in conjunction with this to transfer the small amount of tapes I have, then sell it. At this point, I wondering how much worse the recording quality would be if I just got the cheaper Magnavox ZV427MG9 VHS to DVD (doesn't have DVR), but I could transfer tapes all in one unit without the hassle.

Suggestions and ideas would be appreciated, thanks!
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post #2 of 23 Old 04-09-2013, 06:31 PM
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There are several things to consider. Is the faulty Toshiba the VCR that the tapes you want to transfer were recorded on? If yes, it would be a very good idea to get it repaired. It would give you the best playback. It sounds as it it might be easy to fix. Is there a repair shop near you? They would charge you a small fee to look it over, and apply that fee to the cost of repairs, if they can repair it, and you decide to have them do it. Doubtless, that $500 Tosh is better than the VCRs you can find new today. Well, unless someone here familiar with that model chimes in, and says otherwise. Most people here agree that it is better to have separate units, DVDR and VCR, to do dubs. It is also much easier to do good dubs with a DVDR that has a HDD, for a number of reasons. So, if I were you, I'd look into repairing the Tosh VCR, and see if that is possible, and how much it would cost. If it's not possible, or exorbitant, I'd look into getting a used VCR. and the Maggy with the HDD.
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post #3 of 23 Old 04-09-2013, 10:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPowers View Post

The tape loads fine, the video head spins, the roller guides push the tape correctly into position around the head, then the roller guides retract half way for some reason and it stops. This leaves loose tape just sitting there.

Sometimes when you don’t use a VCR for a prolonged time a few moving parts may not engage, as they should. I would put in a tape that you don’t care about the content and I would look to see if the guide pins are engaging to a point and the going back because something is sticking. I would gently help slide the guide pins just to make sure they are engaging all the way.

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post #4 of 23 Old 04-10-2013, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPowers View Post

At this point, I wondering how much worse the recording quality would be if I just got the cheaper Magnavox ZV427MG9 VHS to DVD (doesn't have DVR), but I could transfer tapes all in one unit without the hassle.

Suggestions and ideas would be appreciated, thanks!

A little bit worse, your tapes were done in a 6 Heads Toshiba/JVC machine, the ZV427MG9 is a 4 heads Phillips-like unit.
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post #5 of 23 Old 04-10-2013, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPowers View Post

I have a 6 head Toshiba M-781 VCR that I bought in 1995 for $500 (just before DVDs were introduced...bad timing!). I used it up until about 2005, then put it back in the original box and kept it in my closet. Recently, I took it out to test before I copy my VHS tapes to DVD and ran into some problems. Tapes load, then it stops. I took the cover off to watch what was happening...The tape loads fine, the video head spins, the roller guides push the tape correctly into position around the head, then the roller guides retract half way for some reason and it stops. This leaves loose tape just sitting there. I have to hit the power button, then quickly hit eject while holding the door open so the tape doesn't get pinched. Any ideas what this is?

Should bother trying to salvage this thing myself or sell it as is to someone who knows what they're doing? I really don't need a VCR, but I had planned to get one of those recommended Magnavox DVR/DVD recorders, such as the MDR535H, and use it in conjunction with this to transfer the small amount of tapes I have, then sell it. At this point, I wondering how much worse the recording quality would be if I just got the cheaper Magnavox ZV427MG9 VHS to DVD (doesn't have DVR), but I could transfer tapes all in one unit without the hassle.

Suggestions and ideas would be appreciated, thanks!

I purchased a Toshiba 6 head M-781 back in 1996. That was back in the days when Toshiba manufactured it's own A/V products. (Beginning in 2005/2006 Toshiba A/V products have been manufactured by Funai.) The M781 was in regular, almost daily use into 2005. I put the M781 back in it's box and set it aside as a standby when I purchased my first Panasonic DMR-ES30 VHS/DVD Combo Recorder in September 2005. In 2007 I returned the M-781 to service as a videotape player during my selective dubbing project transferring around 5,200 titles to DVD. The project took ten months and utilized two Toshiba VCRs, my well-used M781 and a little-used M745, and seven Panasonic DVD or DVD/VHS Recorders sometimes running up to eighteen hours per day, six days a week. (I still have these Toshiba VCRs.)

I mention all this because you are considering a Magnavox ZV427MG9 Combo Recorder for playing videotapes while direct recording from them to DVDs.

Here's advice I gave more than three years ago. It's still the advice I will give today:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1226593/vcr-died-seeking-recommendations-for-combo-unit/0_60#post_18129109

Be sure to read CitiBear's post directly following that post of mine.

Let me add that since that post I've had more experience with my Magnavox Combo Recorders. It's my opinion that Funai VHS mechanisms are flimsy in their design and prone to fail with regular use. That's true for all the brands Funai manufactures, e.g., Magnavox, Philips, Sylvania, Emerson, Toshiba, PYE, TruTech, etc. So, if you have more than a few videotapes to transfer to DVD, say more than fifty or so, you should not expect reliable/durable performance with a Funai manufactured VHS mechanism.

The Panasonic VHS mechanism is of a robust design and quite durable with heavy use. Unfortunately, the EZ series Combo Recorders (first marketed in 2007 and now discontinued) were full of bugs and design flaws. I no longer use Panasonic EZ series recorders-most of mine have been junked (six of them) or are set aside as parts machines. Avoid any Panasonic recorder with "EZ" in the model name. (I'm still using Panasonic ES and EH series recorders of 2005/2006 vintage, some of them are still fully functional after accumulating more than 5,000 recording hours.) I have one Panasonic tunerless EA series DVD Recorder (a DMR-EA18 manufactured in 2009). In recent months this EA18 has developed a few glitches with normal use.

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post #6 of 23 Old 04-10-2013, 10:13 PM - Thread Starter
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kjbawc, most of the recordings were done on the Toshiba. I never thought that would make a difference whether or not you play it back on the same machine, interesting.

Super Eye, I'll check out the guide pins tomorrow. (after I look at a diagram of where they are) I'm not really concerned about doing damage at this point, since it's not worth anything. I have nothing to lose.

profhat, I seem to recall that 6 head had something to do with improved picture quality in EP mode.

DigaDo, I was hoping you'd chime in. I read an old post of yours and you weren't exactly against the ZV427MG9, but it's good to hear more detail about what you think. I just got frustrated with the Toshiba and the ZV427MG9 seemed like the easy way out of my current problem. I have yet to find any side by side comparisons of an original VHS image next to the DVD copy it produces. This would've helped make my decision, but at this point it all comes down to whether or not I can fix the M-781.

Tomorrow I'll check the guide pins. Someone else mentioned it might be the gear lever.
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post #7 of 23 Old 04-10-2013, 10:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPowers View Post

kjbawc, most of the recordings were done on the Toshiba. I never thought that would make a difference whether or not you play it back on the same machine, interesting.
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Actually, it makes a rather BIG difference. I had many tapes that would play "acceptably" on just any recorder, but would play well, that is for a VHS tape after all, in the machine that originally was used to record it. My dubbing project was hampered by the STUPID practice I had of recording successive programs on a single tape, using various recorders. I too assumed it would make no difference when playing back the content. I learned that I was wrong! frown.gif

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post #8 of 23 Old 04-11-2013, 01:54 PM
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With my experience:

If you recorded your tapes using SP speed on a properly aligned 4-head or 6-head VCR then your tapes should track well on any VCR that is also properly aligned and has at least 4-heads. I’m using my two JVC SVHS decks as an example. Either deck will track any SP tape I throw at it – and I have thrown many tapes at it. There is some tolerance using the full 58 micron track width.

If you recorded your tapes using SP speed on a properly aligned multi-speed two-head VCR then your tapes should still track well but be a bit noisier due to the heads being narrower and under lapping, not taking full advantage of the SP track width. If you used a SP only speed two head VCR - then that is the same as using a 4 or 6 head multi-speed VCR as the deck will have wide SP heads,

If you recorded your tapes using EP/SLP speed then you may run into problems because there is a lot less alignment tolerance using such a narrow track width.

As to a true 6-flying-video-head VCR – you are correct Jpowers. Two heads are the standard SP heads, two heads are old school wider overlapping EP heads and two heads are the newer true 19-micron EP heads. Note only one pair of heads is used to REC or PB.

Oh the roller guides are the guide pins. And you are right it could be a gear or some other part sticking – I would gently help load the tape and see if that clears it up. As well as prolonged non-usage, stacking stuff on top of the VCR can also result in sticking or misaligned moving parts.

Good luck! smile.gif
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post #9 of 23 Old 04-15-2013, 10:26 PM
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JPowers, given that most of the tapes were recorded on the Tosh, Digado vouches for the quality of that machine, and it sounds like a simple mechanical problem, I would definitely have it repaired, if you don't get it working yourself.
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post #10 of 23 Old 04-16-2013, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, it's not the guide pins or the gear lever. I wonder if I can just sell this to someone for $20 who knows how to fix these things and put the money towards another one? I can't say I'm thrilled about the idea of spending more money on something I'm going to get rid of anyway. Such a shame, because I took good care of it.
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post #11 of 23 Old 04-16-2013, 04:34 PM
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I wonder if I can just sell this to someone for $20...

You can try but in all honesty I doubt that you could get $20 for a broken consumer VHS VCR. People are having a hard time getting $20 for a fully functioning VHS deck.
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post #12 of 23 Old 04-16-2013, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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You can try but in all honesty I doubt that you could get $20 for a broken consumer VHS VCR. People are having a hard time getting $20 for a fully functioning VHS deck.

You're probably right. I saw some on Ebay going for up to $90, so I thought maybe someone could fix and sell it. If anyone here wants it, I'll give it to you for free, provided you pay for shipping. It would be nice to give to someone who could use it.
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post #13 of 23 Old 04-16-2013, 06:11 PM
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JP, I think you're making a mistake. If working, it's the best thing to play back your tapes. You could probably get it fixed for $100, or less. When you're done with it, you would have a working high-end VCR to sell.
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post #14 of 23 Old 04-16-2013, 09:19 PM - Thread Starter
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JP, I think you're making a mistake. If working, it's the best thing to play back your tapes. You could probably get it fixed for $100, or less. When you're done with it, you would have a working high-end VCR to sell.

I'm not going to pay more to fix it than it's worth, though. It's disappointing, but if someone here can fix it for themselves, they can have it for free. Perhaps I can get a good deal on another one?
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post #15 of 23 Old 04-17-2013, 12:24 AM
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I'm not going to pay more to fix it than it's worth, though. It's disappointing, but if someone here can fix it for themselves, they can have it for free. Perhaps I can get a good deal on another one?

You seem to be fixating on the cash value of the VCR, instead of its personal value to you as a tool to use in your VHS to DVD transfer project. Working or not working, it doesn't matter: VCRs are now utterly worthless except to a discriminating few who still need them. Yet those few who still need them tend to be frugal and will not offer more than a pittance even if you produce a repair bill dated yesterday. Just as with restoring an old car or camera, you'll never recoup what you put into it: no one cares that you invested $100 into fixing something if the "market value" is considered to be $20. That's $20 for a fully-operational VCR, you'll get no takers on a broken VCR: it isn't worth the shipping cost when they can just find someone else with a working unit to sell. So "residual cash value" is not the right way to approach this. Instead, think about the questions posed earlier by other members- you haven't answered these questions yet, and we can't really give you worthwhile advice until you do.

The most important considerations are:

Did you personally feel this Toshiba was providing obviously, significantly better-than-average video playback during the years it was operational, and the last time you used it? Was it a dramatically different quality from what you'd experienced with other VCRs? If yes, then you may want to consider repairing it: switching to another random VCR will mean archiving your tapes with a totally different visual "look." If you simply felt the Toshiba was nicer years ago, but don't really give a damn anymore at this late date and just want to get these tapes digitized to store on a shelf, then don't spend the money for repairs.

Your decision must also factor your answers to the second and/or third questions posed previously: exactly how many tapes are we talking about? 20? 50? 100?, and what proportion of those tapes were done in six-hour EP/SLP mode? If you truly have only a "small" amount of tapes to digitize, and most were recorded in SP mode, then you can most likely slide by using another VCR. Tons of nice lightly-used VCRs are available for under $40: something like a JVC 5912 or Panasonic AG2560 would serve very well for a small dubbing project without many "problematic" tapes.

OTOH, if you have 100 or more tapes and/or a large percentage were done in EP/SLP mode, you'll really want your original Toshiba VCR to track them properly. Other VCRs will be "OK" but not as good: problems with slight picture noise will occur and HiFi audio tracking could be a pain. This is where the true relative "value" of a $100 repair tab comes in: do you have enough idiosyncratic tapes to make the $100 pay off in improved dubbing quality? Divide the repair bill by the number of tapes to arrive at a per-tape DVD conversion cost. If you think these tapes are worth preserving in the first place, they're probably worth $100 VCR repair to optimize the results. Many of us have been down this road, investing more $ than we'd planned to get a working, better-than-average VCR to dub a large VHS collection.

As to the DVD recorder, avoid the combo unit no matter what you decide about the Toshiba VCR. The combo has a crummy VCR, and the internal transfer function between VCR and DVD is hard to control with any finesse. If we're talking under two dozen tapes, the combo might be a viable quick-n-dirty solution. Otherwise, the Magnavox 533 or 535 connected to an external VCR is a much better choice, and holds its resale value rather well. You might even look for a cheaper, used, older 2160 or 513 model: these are identical to the 533 and 535 for all practical purposes when dubbing from a VCR.
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post #16 of 23 Old 04-17-2013, 02:14 PM
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Citibear,I have to agree. It isn't the value of the machine, it' the value of the information on the video tapes. My experience was maybe more tedious than most, but in my about 1500 tapes transferred during my dubbing project, using the original VCR was key to getting a good DVD copy.

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post #17 of 23 Old 04-17-2013, 03:20 PM
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One thing to note.

This appears to be a “loading” problem and the fix could directly affect tape path alignment. Guide pins do just that – they guide the tape into proper position partially wrapping the tape around the head drum. eek.gif
Sure the tech most likely will not have to touch the head drum so the heads will still be in the exact same azimuth position on the drum and opposite of each other like before. – But that’s only one part of the alignment. Just one guide pin being off by one micron will throw it off enough that it will no longer track like before the fix.

Great to have multi-opinions from all of us experienced VCR users. Where is jjeff??? Personally I would not throw more than $30 into the fix and of-course most techs will not touch it for so little money. I still think that this could be a very minor problem but I also think that its higly probable that after the fix the VCR will no longer track exactly like before – this should not be a problem for most SP recorded tapes (if the VCR was properly aligned before and after the fix) but it may be enough to throw off the tracking off some EP/SLP tapes.

If you truly love this machine then get it fixed or buy another like it – other wise try a $15 VCR off craiglist.
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post #18 of 23 Old 04-19-2013, 10:10 AM - Thread Starter
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After I put it back together, it was having problems loading tapes. I finally got one to load, and now I can't even get it to eject. I was very careful to put the gear back in place properly, so I don't know what could have happened. I'm done with this thing. What about this model here?

http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/ele/3746261196.html

The seller says it's "excellAnt," lol.
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post #19 of 23 Old 04-19-2013, 01:47 PM
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That JVC was a midrange SVHS model. For $25 including remote, its a good deal (assuming it works OK).

Not to beat a dead horse, but you still have not given any description of your tapes. If a large percentage are SLP/EP, you may have difficulty tracking them perfectly on anything but a another Toshiba with the same goofy head configuration. The JVCs were similar but not the same, and JVC have their own issues with aging and drifting out of alignment. This CraigsList JVC may be a boon or a bust, depends on its condition and compatibility with your tapes.

I just started dubbing my own VHS to DVD again this week. I have so many tapes, it gets overwhelming sometimes, and I need to walk away and come back to the project. One of the most tedious and time-consuming elements is determining which VCR will best play any given tape. Like ChurchAVGuy above, many of my tapes have different sections recorded by different VCRs over several years, which creates headaches trying to obtain consistent tracking today. I've been thru so many VCRs over the past 30 years that no two of my tapes play alike. This tape dubbing work gets really tiresome really fast, so I hope you don't have nearly as many as the rest of us!
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post #20 of 23 Old 04-19-2013, 02:16 PM
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JP, I would grab that JVC right now.

If you recorded the majority of your tapes on your Toshiba in SLP/EP than most likely the newer 19-micron heads were used. That JVC has 19-micron heads for SLP/EP and should work good.

If you recorded the majority of your tapes in an older VCR than your Toshiba in EP/SLP or a 2-head VCR in EP/SLP speed then most likely the heads were 26 to 32 micron and grabbing another 2-head multi speed VCR or an older 4-head VCR with overlapping EP/SLP heads or a true 6-head VCR might track those tapes better.

If you recorded your tapes in a 4 or 6 head VCR in SP – or a 2-speed SP only VCR than standard width SP heads were use ---the JVC has standard SP heads -- grab that JVC.

Oh did I say, grab that JVC right now. $25 for a hardly used JVC SVHS in great condition is a steal!!!
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post #21 of 23 Old 04-21-2013, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
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CitiBear, I don't have a whole lot of tapes. Maybe 30 total? They are mostly sporting events. I also have the Geraldo episode where he was hit in the face by a chair by white supremacists, lol. Just a bunch of goofy stuff that would be easier to share if it was on my PC. Now that I think about it, some of it was recorded on an old Emerson 4 head I had when I was a kid.

Super Eye, I contacted the seller about the JVC. You're sure it's a 6 head?
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post #22 of 23 Old 04-21-2013, 02:21 PM
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No, I never said the JVC is a 6-head. As far as I know only select Toshiba and Sharp made true 6-head units. What I said is that JVC should have standard width 46/58 SP Speed heads and 19-micron EP heads. I would grab that JVC quickly; maybe bring a couple of your tapes with not very important content over there to try before you buy.
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post #23 of 23 Old 04-22-2013, 11:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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No, I never said the JVC is a 6-head. As far as I know only select Toshiba and Sharp made true 6-head units. What I said is that JVC should have standard width 46/58 SP Speed heads and 19-micron EP heads. I would grab that JVC quickly; maybe bring a couple of your tapes with not very important content over there to try before you buy.

Sorry, I misunderstood. Still waiting for the guy to get back to me.

Thanks to everyone for the help!
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