In Part 1 of this series, I had to use a backup VCR (Panasonic NV-FJ620) as my primary VCR (Samsung Worldwide VCR SV-4000W) had failed. The backup VCR did an admirable job of playing VHS content, both PAL and NTSC and delivering content in those formats.
Some VCRs will support NTSC playback, but the output signal is PAL60, which PAL TVs can interpret, but video capture cards generally have difficulty dealing with. Similarly, some VCRs will support PAL playback, but the output signal is NTSC 4.43 (not native NTSC 3.38), which is the equivalent of PAL60 in the NTSC space.
I was really disappointed that my primary VCR had failed as it could handle other broadcasting formats as well including SECAM and lesser used formats including PAL-M (Brazil), PAL-M (Argentina), NTSC 4.43 (Middle East) and MESECAM (Middle East). Not only could it play these signals, it could also convert between them. I could just imagine that this VCR would have been popular with individuals, such as embassy staff, who get shunted around the world for work.
Could I get my primary VCR working again? It had lots of bells and whistles, so it was worth a try. My hunch was the the failure was likely to be mechanical rather than electrical. I decided to strip the VCR down rather than try to find a business that might still repair VCRs (haven’t seen one on a long time).
When I lifted the tape deck assembly off the chassis, look what I found lurking down the bottom.
It was a broken drive belt (the only one in the unit) that had finally snapped with age. Could I get a replacement? First stop was to download the service manual (isn’t the internet wonderful) to identify the part number. Next, I contacted Samsung Australia via an online 24/7 chat service and supplied the part number to the customer representative I was dealing with.
Samsung has some of the best customer service I’ve experienced. This is not the first time I’ve used them. The last time was for a large flat panel TV that had a dark shadow in the lower right quadrant of the screen. It was out of warranty, but Samsung replaced it free of charge within two days of me reporting the problem. In my opinion, industry heavyweights like Microsoft and Sony can learn a lot about customer service from Samsung.
The chat agent texted me contact details for Samsung’s service agents CAMTEC SERVICE & PARTS and SMART VISION in Western Australia. Both indicated that the part had been discontinued and was no longer available. Drats! The SMART VISION person I spoke to suggested I try contacting Nick from NIXFIX as someone who still repaired VCRs, kept a stock of belts and might have an equivalent replacement belt for my VCR.
NIXFIX only operate on Tuesdays and Fridays. I contacted NIXFIX on Friday when I got the lead from SMART VISION, but wasn’t able to get out that day to see them. I got to meet Nick the next Tuesday. Man, was he helpful and passionate about working with technology of a bygone era. Nick didn’t have a suitable belt in his bag of tricks, but said he had contacts that might have. On the Friday of that week, I got a call from NIXFIX to come in as Nick had some additional belts for me to try. We struck gold! He had a belt that would suit. Here’s a plug for NIXFIX for my Perth readers.
Here’s a view of the belt installed under the tape deck assembly.
Here’s a view of the tape deck assembly installed back in the chassis. Note that it isn’t easy to get to the capstan belt, which is underneath the tape deck assembly. Interesting, considering it’s the bit most likely to fail.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I cleaned the tape head with a pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol before enclosing the unit in its skin, turned it on, put in a tape and the VCR burst into life. For an investment of AUS$5 for the belt and some elbow grease, my primary VCR was back up and running.
Edit: Check out these postings as well for other relevant topics.
- Digitising VHS Tapes: Part 1(3) – Digitising Process Considerations
- Digitising VHS Tapes: Part 2(3) – Samsung Worldwide VCR SV-4000W Repair
- Digitising VHS Tapes: Part 3(3) – Digitising Process Refinements
- A Bypass Switch for the Time Base Corrector