While the digital craze has completely revamped the music industry for most of the world at large, a few loyal enthusiasts still listen to music in some of its prior incarnations: vinyl; 8-track tapes, cassettes, etc. (My dad even has a contraption he calls a 16-track tape player.) While none of these devices can be expected to make a comeback any time in the foreseeable future, the music they contain is still worth preserving.
In a previous article, I discussed how to go about repairing a cassette should the recording tape snap or break. However, that article presumed that the broken ends of the recording tape were accessible via the open end of the cassette. This article discusses what to do when one or both broken ends are not accessible (i.e., they have been wound around the spool within the body of the cassette itself.) Items you will need to make this repair include: scotch tape; scissors, tweezers, and a phillips screwdriver (small head).
First of all, a quick examination of the cassette will reveal that the cassette case itself is actually comprised of two halves held together by four screws in the corners of the cassette. Lay the cassette down flat with the four screws facing up. (I recommend working on a flat, sturdy surface, like a table.) Carefully remove the screws, making particular note of where you place them. (The screws are small, and sometimes if you even blink you will find that one or more of them has pulled a vanishing act.) Sometimes just the act of removing the screws will cause the two halves of the cassette to begin separating; if not, you may have to apply a little muscle. Regardless, take care in separating the two pieces. Place the top half of the cassette to the side; you should now be looking at the inside of the cassette.
The only part of the interior that you will be concerned with are the two spools in the middle of the cassette (which should have some amount of recording tape around them) and the two rollers that sit in the corners towards the open end of the cassette (one is near each spool). Carefully examine the recording tape on the two spools and find the broken ends. This should be relatively easy, as the broken ends are usually sticking out away from the spool. Now comes the trickiest part, and all of the care you taken up until this moment was to prevent one thing from happening:
You absolutely do not, under any circumstances, want the recording tape on either spool to start unraveling. If it does, it’s practically guaranteed that you will never get it wrapped perfectly back around the spool again. It’s just not possible. (That’s not to say you can’t get it wrapped back around in some form, or that it won’t ever play again. It’s just a huge hassle, and again, you won’t get it back around the spool perfectly.)
Using the tweezers if you have to, take the broken ends of the recording tape and guide them around their respective rollers and towards the center of what will be the open end of the cassette when the two halves are put back together. Give yourself about half an inch of recording tape on each side of the break to work with, making sure this amount is accessible through the center opening. Carefully put the top half of the cassette case back in place and screw the two halves together again.
From this point, you can essentially follow the instructions in the previous article: Bring the two ends together and, using a small piece of scotch tape, tape them together. This is probably best accomplished by bringing the two broken ends of the recording tape together and simply folding the piece of scotch tape over them. (Symbolically, think of the scotch tape as a piece of bread being folded over into a half-sandwich, with the recording tape being the meat.) In terms of width, it’s fine if the scotch tape is actually wider than the recording tape; just take the scissors and clip of the excess scotch tape on either side so that the scotch tape and recording tape are now the same width. Regarding length, you want to keep the scotch tape as short as possible, because no music will be heard on any area that it covers. Finally, turn either of the spoked wheels on the cassette so that the recording tape is pulled back into its normal playing position. Voila! You have now fixed the tape and can enjoy it, with the only caveat being that there will be a small "dead" area of sound when the portion with the scotch tape is fed through a cassette player. As previously noted, it’s not a perfect solution, but it will allow you to keep enjoying your cassettes for some time to come. This same type of fix can also be used for 8-track tapes.