Vinyl Record

Acetate Tape

RISKS  This type of tape is not a stable storage medium.  It breaks or snaps easily under stress, especially during playback.  With time it can contract into a U-shape while still on the reel.  Other problems include complete separation of the oxide layer from its backing during playback, gluey accretions of oxide accumulating on the tape heads and mould growth over the tape surface.  Print-through is commonplace.  To identify acetate tape take an unrecorded piece of tape and hold firmly in each hand and give a sharp tug.  Acetate tape snaps cleanly whereas polyester and PVC tape stretches or `shoestrings’.  Early acetate tape can also exhibit `vinegar syndrome’ which is an evaporation of acetic acid and gives off a vinegar-like smell.  If the smell of vinegar is detected the tape should be removed from the storage area and copied to a more stable format as soon as possible.  Inspection on a regular basis is important as the `infection’ is capable of spreading from one acetate carrier to another.

CONSERVATION PRACTICE  Copy to another format as soon as possible.  Keep out of direct sunlight and keep away from heat and magnetic sources.  Tape heads should be cleaned and regularly demagnetised.  Leader tape should be applied to the beginning and end of each tape.

HANDLING Avoid touching the tape as much as possible to avoid mould growth.

STORAGE  The tapes, if they are retained for other than their artefact value, should be spooled through occasionally as layer to layer adhesion often occurs.  Store vertically in their original boxes and if possible in acid free boxes.

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