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Radio Cassette Player Belt Turning, Only 1 Spool Turning in Play Mode

'80s Magnavox Cassette Radio Boombox: I went to verify the cassette player worked and the tape got stuck, play button was stuck and eject wouldn't work. I opened unit and eventually got buttons unstuck. Now have determined rewind and fast-forward work, the belt turns. In play mode I can see the belt turning but only the left spool is turning, counterclockwise. Thanks in advance for any help.

I'm sorry, I'm just a total novice. The right side spool is not turning and from online research, I think it is called the take-up spool. Initially when trying to play a tape, it seemed so much unraveled tape piled up on the take-up side until it jammed and seized. I've looked and can't see that there is a missing belt and haven't tried to get inside where gears are.

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2 Answers

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The tape jam you get is because the tape is pulled through the mechanism by the capstan and the pinch roller (marked red) but since the take-up reel (marked yellow) doesn't turn the tape spills out. The supply reel (marked blue) is not actively driven in play mode, it should be slightly braked to maintain tape tension across the heads.

When driven, the take-up reel can only ever turn counterclockwise (in Play and FF mode) and the supply reel can only turn clockwise (in REW mode). In Play mode, the take-up reel is driven through a slip clutch so it can't pull too hard on the tape.

Most likely, the deck is either missing the belt that drives the slip clutch, or the servo mechanism that controls the various tape transport functions has a problem.

If you enjoy tinkering, it's a nice job to cut your teeth on ;)

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Many thanks! I've had this since '84 and ready to let it go to someone else who will appreciate as much as I did! I'm just a busy mom with no background in this "stuff." When I am able, I do want to get it in proper order of course. To access the "belt that drives the slip clutch, or the servo mechanism that controls the various tape transport functions," can you tell me if it is the screws you see in the pictures that I would remove? I don't see a way other than the spool side to get into the guts.

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@wilder I'd strongly advice not to disassemble the mechanism unless absolutely necessary: chances are that it goes SPLOING!!! and you'll be left with a heap of cams, levers and cogs that will be very difficult to reassemble. Instead, I'd figure out how the mechanism is supposed to work by observing it closely while cycling it through its operating modes.

A few hints: the take up reel spindle usually sits right on top of the slip clutch - which is just a pair of plastic discs with a felt pad in between or something like that. When it is in FF mode, it is driven directly, maybe through the white cog that's visible in the pic. When in Play mode, it is driven via the slip clutch's lower disc, and the drive may be through a cog wheel or an idler wheel rather than a belt.

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SPLOING! is NOT what I need to deal with right now during a move. I have carefully put it back together and packed it up. I have a mechanical engineering son who can hopefully fiddle with it one day, because all that above, is beyond me! :)

Thanks so much again for the information - it will be a starting point one day....

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As Flying Dutchman says, the take up spool is connected to a pulley by a slip clutch. In many cases the felt is worn and doesn't grip enough to drive the take up. The problem is replacing it! The assembly seems to be impossible to disassemble.

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Hi there,

I don't know your unit but afaik, in play mode, only one spool needs to be actively spun. The other is passively spun by the ribbon being pulled.

But if you're here, I assume it's not working... So, is it the good one that is spinning? in the good direction?

Have you tried to play a tape since you unjammed it?

The left side pulley seems to be the take up pulley, it winds the pool. The other one is the supply pulley, and I don't think it needs to spin in play mode, only in rewind mode, but I might be wrong.

Can you spin it with your fingers, does it feel stuck or does it spin with a bit of resistance? Don't force though :)

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Yes, I have inserted a tape. The tape will fast forward and rewind with no problems. When I press play, the spool with the belt spins, pushing the tape towards the other spool which doesn't spin, causing the tape to either build up or be forced out the holes in the bottom of the cassette. I make sure to stop the play mode within a few seconds so it won't jam again.

In the pictures above, the player is now upside down so it is the spool on the right with the belt, that turns.

Yes, the spool on the left without a belt in the pictures, spins freely with my fingers.

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rdifilippo will be eternally grateful.
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