Akai X-201d auto-reverse horror

Discussion in 'Tape' started by Analogovic, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. Analogovic

    Analogovic New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Poland
    Hello, I have bought Akai X201d reel to reel player. Everything was OK on the 1st day, on the 2nd , suddenly during some routine operation like rewinding or pause/play, I don't remember exactly, it switched the play direction. Pressing the auto-reverse buttons didn't help, switching the player on/off didn't help either. It played constantly reversed only, except of the time, when I started to record. After going to play mode- dang- the reverse. Then after a time it started to play normally (I think, I just chose "play" position). A few days it worked fine- this incident didn't repeat until tonight - twice the same issue, with the difference, that the first and the second time helped rewinding and changing the tape into one with aluminum end part. Maybe with this issue there is connected another one- while playing in the reversed mode, the right channel has very poor quality. I have read somewhere, there might be a need of cleaning something inside... I have no idea what to do, cleaning of the heads with professional liquid didn't help. The problem is, I have no experience with repairing of electronics, and there is no service in my city, the equipment was bought on an auction. Is there a chance, that a layman could do such a cleaning, if that's what is necessary? I'd be grateful very much for any hint!

    Maciej (Poland)
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018

     

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  2. audiojones

    audiojones Jonesin' for audio Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    I have run into reversing issues with X-201D and similar Akai units before, believe it or not once it was caused by the off-brand tape I was using at the time. Apparently the composition of that particular tape was too conductive and the machine would switch itself into reverse after a while whenever I used that tape on any Akai deck with that same 3 motor auto-reverse transport. Never did it on a TEAC or other brand of deck, only on Akai lever operated 3 motor auto-reverse decks. Try cleaning the two reverse sensor poles (one is where the tape just enters the head block and the other is just as it leaves) and use a different tape.

    If it still kicks into reverse it could be a grounded wire for one of the reverse sensor poles or the reverse button. The other cause of this issue I’ve run into with these units is a bad 2sc458 transistor used to trigger the auto-reverse (the sensor poles and reverse switches are connected to a series of transistors which trigger the reversing relays). Usually when it’s the transistor though it starts going into reverse and forward randomly, though transistors have different failure modes so it still could be that. Hopefully it’s just a simple problem with the type of tape you’re using though.

    The lack of sound in one direction or the other is a common one with these decks, it’s caused by the head reversing switch that is attached to the head plunger mechanism. It moves inward when the head solenoid pulls the head back for reverse operation to change the track selector knob function (that big knob on the head cover). All of the head signals go through it and the contacts get dirty all the time. Best thing to do is remove the head cover (the track selector knob uses a very small Allen screw) and try to get a little contact cleaner into the slide switch then push in and release the playback a bunch of times. You can just barely see the end of the head slide switch to the left of the head block under the faceplate. Push in and release the play head while looking and you’ll see it moving in and out along with the head. Clean the contacts on the track selector switch too, they’re notorious for causing problems on these machines.
     
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  3. Analogovic

    Analogovic New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Poland
    Thank you! I cleaned the sensor poles, it didn't help. But each time I 'm loading the tape with aluminum end (Agfa) , it plays correctly, so this might be the tape issue indeed! The question is why those other (OR-WO) were playable with no bigger issues until yesterday, now I need to repeat many times F.fwd/Rew /start /stop, until the direction is correct. After that, everything is OK, until I change the reel- if not Agfa loaded, the problem reoccurs. Later I will translate your instructions about the right channel low quality, and I will try to do the operation ... I've ordered other higher quality unsealed tapes, and I will experiment with them. Replacing of grounded wire or changing of the transistor sounds complicated, but I'm not giving up hopes. Thanks once again!
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  4. audiojones

    audiojones Jonesin' for audio Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Central NJ
    You’re welcome. If you need to use the tapes that are triggering the auto-reverse you can try threading them over the left tension arm (which is the forward play auto-reverse sensor) instead of under it and see if they will play. When threaded this way the auto-reverse won’t work with the foil but maybe the tape will play without randomly switching sides. If the front facing side of the tape has the same problem then the second sensor under the head block will trigger the reverse cycle. In my case the tapes that gave me trouble were the “back coated” type and I think they had too much graphite in them (but it was only the back side that caused trouble).

    Oh, and the reason it doesn’t misbehave when recording is because the auto-reverse circuit is disabled when the machine is in the record mode. As soon as you switch out of record auto-reverse will become active again when the lever is in Play mode.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  5. Analogovic

    Analogovic New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Poland
    So, graphite seems to be bad not only as a coolant in nuclear power plant. Now I am not by the machine, tomorrow I will try once again the trick with the left tension arm, I think, I've already tried it before with no result unfortunately. If nothing will help, maybe there is a way to disable the auto-reverse completely (this function is not that important for me, I like to switch the reels side manually)... some simple cutting of a wire, or some easy unscrewing of an element :naughty:
     
  6. audiojones

    audiojones Jonesin' for audio Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Central NJ
    The head switch that needs cleaning is behind the bottom head cover to the left of the erase head (attached behind the bracket with the two screws). You can squirt a little contact cleaner in the contacts and then push the playback head in and out a bunch of times to clean the switch contacts then follow it up with some compressed air. It's hard to see in the picture but the end of the switch is open so you can contact get cleaner in there. Take the top head cover off too so you can push the playback head in and out to operate the switch.

    Akai M10 head switch.JPG

    If you wanted to disable the reverse you could cut and insulate the wires leading to both sensor poles I suppose, then you'd be able to reverse it manually with the buttons but not with foil. You'd have to take the faceplate off to get to the wires for the tension arm sensor though. You could also remove the machine from it's cabinet and disable the reversing relay inside but then you wouldn't be able to reverse it at all.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  7. Analogovic

    Analogovic New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Poland
    Very interesting, I appreciate your hints and the photo, tomorrow the tapes should be delivered, I'll try the cleaning, and maybe even that radical thing too.
     

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