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Old 23rd April 2012
Q & A guest
Jay Messina's Avatar
Originally Posted by babooino ➡️
Hi Jay, thanks for the Q&A.

Can you tell us a bit about that machine? you used to work with it, right?
I'm curious about the workflow and maintenance since 8 track was new at the time.


The 8 track machine was a bit of a monster, in size. It had all the Ampex - 300(?) electronics stacked above one another (with 4 to 6 inches in between). If there were any 1" reels around, we didn't have any. The tape came of hubs, and were placed on flanges, on the machine. We had a Lang plasic (weighted) top flange for ease of use. The scariest moments came when I would be fast forwarding, without that top flange. Occasionally, the tape would slowly start creeping up, in a telescope fashion (on the take up side). Most of the time I would catch it in time and stop the machine and adjust the tape. There was a couple of times I didn't catch it in time. That meant the outermost winds of tape came off the take up side, and the machine would stop. Before it stopped, there was at least 50 feet of twisted tape to deal with. It's a bit time consuming to untwist all that tape, especially if you're alone.
I made good portion of masters for the 8 track cartridges being produced then. I would lay up the 2 trk masters, delivered to me, on the 8 trk. I had to lay them up in such a way that they were stacked in parallel on all the tracks, and made sure they all started at the same time. They would take that one inch tape and make a loop from it, and from there, they would produce the cartridges.
When there was a maintenance problem with the machine or studio, Tom Hidley (the studio designer) would be our man.