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Head Cleaning Instructions


The Nagra-D, like every other tape recorder, requires the tape path and heads to be cleaned periodically to ensure top performance and reliable operation. The frequency of cleaning depends on many non-specific factors such as cleanliness of the operating environment, the tape type and manufacturing batch, the time of year when the tape was manufactured (?!?!), and even whether or not the operator smokes.

It is therefore nearly impossible to define a recommended cleaning schedule. However, we can very simply state a fact: 
Visible Dirt is Potentially Dangerous Dirt.

As a guide, we suggest tape path and head cleaning once a day if the machine is heavily used. If the cleaning cloth or chamois shows little debris and no problems have occurred since the previous cleaning, the schedule may be relaxed a bit.
If the scanner has been accidentally touched or if it shows visible finger prints, it should be cleaned immediately. Abnormally high or fatal ECC numbers in the display indicate a need for head cleaning. Tracking difficulties may be caused by a dirty tape path on either the record or playback machine.


Cleaning Solutions

ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL, 99%, also referred to as 2-Propanol Anhydrous, is the only recommended cleaning solution. It is available at chemical supply houses and at some pharmacies.

There are many other audio and video head cleaners which should not be used. Avoid freon based products. Do not use Rubbing alcohol - it usually contains glycerin. Unless Isopropyl alcohol 99% is the agent, pre-moistened cleaning tools should be avoided. Any alcohol that is not anhydrous (meaning no water) may cause tape to stick to the scanner.


Cleaning Aids

Chemtronics® markets cleaning swabs called Chamois Tips™ which are ideal for cleaning or polishing scanners or fixed heads. These are available at electronics parts supply houses. A lint-free cloth, a dental inspection mirror and a magnifier are also recommended. Do not use Q-tips or cotton buds.



Remove the tape. Manually position the scanner to permit access to the first scanner head and hold the scanner stationary. Using a moistened chamois tool, gently rub the first head horizontally back and forth until all contaminates are removed. Repeat for the remaining three heads.

Caution: Never move the cloth or cleaning tool vertically up and down on the scanner. Vertical motion can snag, crack, break or even snap off the hardened glass-metal scanner heads.

Clean the scanner ramp.  The ramp is part of the scanner, held in place by five slotted screws, which guides the tape by the lower edge as it travels across the scanner. The ramp has a tendency to collect tape edge debris in the areas where the tape enters and leaves the scanner. Usually the ramp can be adequately cleaned with the tip of the chamois tool, but sometimes stubborn debris is hard to remove. Use a splintered point from a broken wooden toothpick that has been soaked in isopropyl alcohol to help dislodge debris which is stuck along the ramp. Any deposits on the ramp may cause the tape path to be altered which affects both record and playback tracking.

Clean all other elements in the tape path including tension rollers, guide post, fixed guide, erase and fixed analog heads, and the scanner entry and exit guides which move in and out with the pinch roller. A dental mirror is especially useful for inspecting the tape contact areas of scanner entry and exit guides. Debris on these scanner guides can also cause tracking problems.

After the above steps have been completed, load a tape and press the RDY button to start the scanner. Very gently place the flat surface of a lightly moistened chamois tool against the spinning scanner surface to remove any remaining finger prints.

Caution: Be certain all the remaining isopropyl alcohol has completely evaporated before engaging the tape. Anhydrous isopropyl alcohol evaporates rather quickly from the scanner surface.


NAGRA USA                                                                                                     August 1996.


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