Your Betamax is a precision instrument that demands care and respect to operate correctly. Proper installation, operation and maintenance are paramount to getting the most out your Beta VCR. Every Beta manufacturer included in their owners manual precautions and set up procedures. These would help a new owner to receive optimum performance and trouble free operation from their equipment and to prevent costly failures. In this section I have reproduced most of these hints and recommendations in a special pop out panel. To open it up and look them over click here. (Separate window will open.)
The last Betamax rolled off of Sony's assembly line in August of 2002. That means that every Beta VCR surviving today is over ten years old. That's a long time to expect any electro-mechanical device as sophisticated as a Betamax to continue operating at peak performance without regular maintenance. It is only natural that over time and usage parts will get dirty, show wear and electrical components will begin to fail. How best does one combat the ravages of time and keep their precious equipment in top condition? Sony (and the other Betamakers) decided after extensive testing that after every 500 hours of use your Beta should be serviced. This would ensure that the important areas of operation would receive the regular attention they required. But what does 500 hours mean in todays terms when every machine is over ten years old? Life expectancy measured in multiple years is something none of the Beta guys contemplated. They expected that their new improved models would keep coming along to replace the old ones. So let's examine what you can do to offset the impact of the hours and years on your Beta and how to best go about turning back the hands of time, back to when it was new.
One of the easiest and more prudent ways to help keep your Beta operating smoothly is to regularly use my cleaning and lubrication cassettes. They will NOT take the place of regular maintenance but they will help carry away graphite, oxide and dirt from the spinning video heads and will help condition the tape path. Where does this waste come from? All video tapes leave behind some residue. It is the nature of the beast. No matter how good the tape some of the back coating of graphite for lubrication, loose recording oxide and dust will find its way onto your Betas contact areas. This stuff will eventually build up to the point where proper operation is not possible. My cleaning cassette can help slow down this nuisance. The right kind of cleaning tape is VERY important. The dry surface type like mine is the only one that manufacturers recommend. Depending on how much you use your Beta, you might want to use it every week or every month. Sony also sells this type of cleaner (and they were once sold by Scotch, Fuji, Maxell, Memorex and TDK but it is unlikely that you can find any of these brands anymore). Avoid the wet type because they can leave lint and solvent behind inside your machine. This can cause problems and the cloth ribbon they use can damage your delicate heads. When using my cleaning and lubricating cassette if the picture doesn't clear after four tries then professional service might be required or the heads could need replacement. For tips on evaluating the performance of your video heads click here. Another option is to send it to me for reconditioning and, if needed, repair. If a cleaning tape doesn't help clear things up then this is your best option. What follows next is the email information that I send to all my inquiries about getting a Beta reconditioned and/or repaired.
My reconditioning service is available for $89.00 and it includes a repair estimate (should any be needed). As stated in the Sony service manuals maintenance is recommended after every 500 hours of use or every year, which ever comes first. This mean that according to the manufacturers specifications every Beta should now require servicing. My reconditioning service includes cleaning, lubrication of all the rotating components and verification of the main tape functions. The upper drum is also resurfaced to restore it's frictional characteristics and to insure proper tape travel. The guides, tension arm and reels are also renewed. The pinch roller is restored or replaced and the tape path is verified. If alignment is required, it is included in the base price (in most cases). If repair is needed you would receive an email with an estimate including return shipping. All services require your approval and usually take about two weeks to complete (time interval depending on work flow and parts requirements). All repairs receive my 90 day warranty. If you decide to declined the repairs then no reconditioning is performed and only $49.00 is charged for the estimate. The balance is used to offset return shipping and any excess is refunded.
If you are interested in reconditioning or repair use the "Repairing Your Beta" form available by clicking its blue button on the right or click here. (Please note: this center section will be replaced by a "REPAIRING YOUR BETA" form.)