Stupid thing...washed a tape at

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Old December 28th, 2009, 08:31 AM   #1
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Stupid thing...washed a tape

So I hear a rattle in the dryer last night and what do I discover, the tape with my daughter's third Christmas on it. It's a Sony DVM60 (the ones that come in the blue wrappers). Shot with a Canon HV20 at HDVPF24. Just wondering if this is something I can put in the camera, play one pass to another deck and then throw away. Also, wondering what the washing process will do to the heads on my camera.

Mark Hendren, Mark Five Productions
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Old December 28th, 2009, 08:46 AM   #2
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Have you previously captured the footage or not?
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Old December 28th, 2009, 10:13 AM   #3
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The drier has probably done more harm than the washer did. Tape cassettes usually latch the spools when ejected so the tape should not have unwound. It may however have stretched with heat which may make it useless pretty much.

You may strike lucky. If you have an old camera and the tape has already dried out somewhat, don't try to play the tape straightaway. Wind the tape forward and rewind a few times to get some air over damp spots and detach any adhering layers.

If the water is still there and hard to get out from between the layers, you might try putting the cassette inside of a vacuum bell in a high school science classroom for a few hours and boil off the moisture at room temperature that way. A refridgeration or automotive airconditioining engineer might be able help you out.

A phone call to the FAA in the US might help. They may have ways of recovering drowned tapes. I think the flight data recorders may be wire recorders.
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Old December 28th, 2009, 10:35 AM   #4
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Surgical option

At least you now know whether the tape lubricant is wet or dry. :-(

Sorry, couldn't resist that.

More usefully, the tape would almost certainly be so tightly wound that most of it would not be in contact with the detergent and the water. The other parts of the mechanism could be damaged though. If there are any metal parts in the tape housing they may well have corroded. The temperature of the wash may also be a problem - the lower it was, the more chance of recovery. Whatever you do, the damaged tape must be completely dried out as soon as possible but not using excessive heat.

I suggest that if you have not previously backed up this tape and it is your only copy, the best course of action might be to sacrifice an identical new Sony tape and open up the housing (don't know how easy that is with Sony tapes - some pro tapes have tiny screws holding the case together rather than being welded), carefully remove the tape and attached reels from the new cassette and substitute the equivalent parts from the tape to be salvaged.

This is a fiddly business but I've done it with other brands of tapes (not water immersed admittedly). If you have an older or 'B' camera I would use that instead of your main one. Try to test that the tape path is OK before attempting to play it (release the little plastic lever in the cassette on wind it on a bit by hand then rewind by hand).
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