The 8-Track

Discussion in 'Cosmetic & Restoration' started by Jairus, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. Jairus

    Jairus Well-Known Member

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    I have been buying and listening to 8-track cartridges since 1973. Indeed still own the majority of tapes I purchased back then till today and thought this a good subject thread for restoration.

    My current daily driver, a 1958 Ford wagon, has a great working tape player that I found at the Goodwill! (How cool is that?)
    [​IMG]
    It is a Kraco brand made in Japan sometime back in the early 70's. It also includes an FM receiver which leaves the stock AM radio unmolested, thank goodness. (subject for future restoration)

    Very simple to install with only 4 wires to hook up and a piece of mild steel for the bracket.
    Tapes should be stored in a proper storage device and not the glove box!
    Because not only do they take up a lot of space but the jocky box needs to be kept free for passenger registration, insurance cards, business cards and old parking tickets. Beside... you might need to swap tapes and that requires something to CARRY them around in. So keep your eyes open at garage sales and flea markets for good quality storage devices. (I have 300+ tapes... you think I carry all of them in the car at the same time?)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Of course appropriate foot wear should always be worn when driving a vintage wagon...
    [​IMG]

    Anyway, back to the 8-track.
    It's a pretty good bet that most of the members of this forum own a vehicle made from 1965 to 1979. It was during those years that our blessed long roof wagons had the option of the 8-track installed and many of us owners probably poked a fat finger under the spring loaded door wondering what all the fuss was about. Right?

    It's not rocket science. The 8-track tape was invented by a consortium led by Bill Lear of Lear Jet Corporation, developed from the previous 4-track tape device invented by Earl Muntz in 1956. Earl felt that the standard 1/4" reel to reel tape, then the pinnacle of high definition sound systems, could be packaged in a more versatile and transportable package.

    The 8-track cassette inside looks like this:
    [​IMG]

    The 8-track cartridge contains a length of 1/4 inch tape which runs in a continuous loop at 3 and 3/4 inches per second (ips). The tape is wound around a hub in the middle of the cartridge. It pulls out from the center and follows a path which brings it across the front edge of the cartridge where it makes contact with the playback head. A pressure pad helps to bring the tape into proper contact with the head. The pinch roller, which is inside the cartridge, presses against the capstan, which is part of the player. The tape, pinched between the roller and the capstan (which is spun by the player's motor), is thus moved across the head. The tape itself is divided along its length into 8 channels or tracks (hence the name "8-track").

    [​IMG]

    The tape head plays two tracks at a time--stereo! A metal sensing strip connects the ends of the strip of tape, forming the loop. Here's where the real 8-track magic happens. When the tape reaches the end of a program, the metal sensing strip connects with a solenoid coil in the player. This coil causes the playback head to shift along the width of the tape. This is the loud "click' or "clunk" sound you hear between 8-track programs. The playback head, shifted to it's new position, begins to play the next program in the sequence. This process can go on indefinitely, running through each of the four programs in sequence, until the world ends, or your batteries wear out, or the tape breaks.

    Tapes do break and fail and the repairing will be explained in a later post... Feel free to post your own stories, questions and or antidotes about 8-track players you know and love.
     
  2. wingnut

    wingnut Non-Hockey Fan

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    Kraco was mainly sold by K-mart back in the day ..... the guys that owned the Pioneers, Marantz and Muntz snub their noses at the Kraco people.
    I had a eight-track Muntz with a reverberator hooked to it .... first tape was Paul Butterfield Blues Band (4-track with a eight-track adapter)
     
  3. CapriceEstate

    CapriceEstate Yacht Captain

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    Oh, I've got a ton of 8-tracks. Not the cool kid stuff, but the stuff your parents listened to, Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Frankie Yankovic, Lawrence Welk, you get the idea lol

    I still listen to them and own a few 8-track players. Glad to know I'm not alone!
     
  4. Jairus

    Jairus Well-Known Member

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    Yeah... well the big secret about 8-track players is that most of them were the same regardless of the name. The big difference in the sound came from the SPEAKERS! Not to mention how much power you had from the pre-amp. But the basic Craig, Muntz or Panasonic player was mostly the same behind the faceplate. All had the similar weaknesses and strengths inherent in the design.
     
  5. wingnut

    wingnut Non-Hockey Fan

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    Maybe so but no different from today as far as certain brands being more appealing than others, consumerism and such, but I really dont think much could out do the pioneer of the late sixties for many years to come.

    BTW E-bay usually has some pretty good deals on the units also.
     
  6. Jairus

    Jairus Well-Known Member

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    This is true.
    eBay and yard sales, Goodwill and swapmeets etc all are great sources for 8-track players. But why would one put an underdash 8-track player in their car in this day and age of the iPod? ;) Well the discussion of digital over analog cannot be debated as digital wins every time!
    But the purpose of this thread is for the dude that wants to find an AM/FM 8-track player (top of the line) for say a 1969 Chevelle! Now that can be the holy grail for a restorer who needs to make the car a 100 point vehicle.
    The question is... how to make it work?
     
  7. wagonman76

    wagonman76 Well-Known Member

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    I've got a box about 20 or 30 that came from my aunt who graduated in 1980. Fleetwood Mac, Cat Stevens, ACDC, Van Halen.... I used to have a player for them but it got thrown out when I moved. Was a nice setup for the house, had 8 track, cassette, record, and radio and could mix inputs and dub anything to cassette. Someday I'll find another player. The junkyard I go to has tons of 70s cars and would likely find a working 8 track player. I think even the first Cavalier wagons were offered with an 8 track.
     
  8. CapriceEstate

    CapriceEstate Yacht Captain

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    It's not always about the best tech. I am listening to vinyl records as I type. They're fun, and I have a lot of vinyl's that just aren't gonna work on my iPod lol! I do use my iPod, plugged into my cassette adapter in the Colony Park. 8-Tracks are fun and in this era, it's neat to have people hop in and see you're playing them old cartridges still.
     
  9. GN300

    GN300 Tipmaster G

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    The only ones i buy now are the factory demo tapes i bought 3 at a yard sale for $1!

    sold 2 for $20!

    I had a factory player in my 79 300,upgraded it to an am fm 8-track.

    Remember laughing as 1/2 way through an Eagles live tape they said "this is from our new album, Hotel California"!

    New?

    Music...music...click click music!


    I still have a caddy demo tape will sell for $10.
     
  10. MotoMike

    MotoMike Well-Known Member

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    My first 8 track player was a model kinda like Jairus', a combo 8 track/FM that I mounted between the front seats(facing forward) on the rear package shelf of my 69 Opel GT. I had 2 small bookshelf type speakers sitting in the rear corners of the package shelf. Great tunes!
     
  11. Jairus

    Jairus Well-Known Member

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    Tape repairs are easy!
    Getting the carts open is a whole'nother matter. I joined 8-Track Heaven 13 years ago and it was a dead site then. Still loads as of this writing but has not been updated in years and for the first time some of the links are beginning to 404 when I click on them so I have been pulling all the good stuff off and storing it in my computer.

    The following is something out of the repair section and helped me a whole lot in keeping my favorite tapes going all these years. The following images are currently stored on my Fotki which will exist until the earth ends. Even so, if you are really interested in 8-track repair, pull them and save on your 'puter.

    The next post will be another pull from 8-track heaven, about how to open those darned riveted carts that is nothing short of brilliant!
    :)
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    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  12. Jairus

    Jairus Well-Known Member

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    This deserves it's own post because it is soooo simple and brilliant.

    All manufacturers of the 8-tracks tended to develop their own means of manufacturing the carts. Some are held together with screws, some snap together and some are riveted. When I was young I destroyed many a cartridge not understanding how they went together.

    How to open the Riveted cart by John Winnard


    BEFORE you do any obvious drilling, altering, etc. You might try this method.
    You will need......
    Soldering Iron
    Wooden Clothes Pin
    Center Punch
    Small hammer.

    Plug in your soldering iron, and let it warm up. Turn the tape you are about to remove the rivet from face down on a table top. Compress a clothes pin and while the clothes pin is squeezed open, insert the 'handles' of the clothes pin inside the open end of the cart. The clothes pin will apply pressure to both halves of the cart. NOW, using no pressure, let the soldering iron lightly rest on top of the rivet. When the rivet reaches the correct temp, the plastic hold on the rivet will soften, the clothes pin will force the two cart halves open. When the cart halves separate, turn the cart over with the label facing up, and open the cart. Do necessary repairs to the cart, (splice, etc. ) then put the two halves together. NOW turn the cart face down again, with the rivet up, and GENTLY tap the rivet back into place with the center punch, and hammer. Nobody will ever know the tape was opened.

    Also -- you can use the soldering iron to drive the rivet back in! That way there is no banging which might dislodge the tape.
    :clap:

    Next... I will take some pictures while I attempt to fix my prized "Queen" - Night at the Opera tape that was purchased in 1975.
     
  13. silverfox

    silverfox New Member

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    WOW....this is great info to have, Jairus! Good post.:thumbs2:
    By the way...looking at your shoes I'm not sure they are authentic Chuck Taylor All Stars. I wear "chuckies" EVERYDAY! Have several pair.:yup::D
     
  14. Jairus

    Jairus Well-Known Member

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    But of course they are real CT's! :2_thumbs_up_-_anima
     
  15. silverfox

    silverfox New Member

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    :thumbs2::clap::1st::clap::thumbs2:
     

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