If you've got a favorite or irreplaceable videocassette that's been broken or damaged, resist the temptation to try splicing it. A poorly spliced videotape could ruin the video-head drum in your player. All is not lost, though, if you want to salvage the tape's contents.
- Take out the five screws with a Phillips screwdriver from the bottom of two videocassettes, one you can sacrifice and the one that's been damaged.
- Gently separate the tops and bottoms of the cassettes. Some tapes have a label down the sides, you will have to remove these labels.
- Study the way the tape threads through the cassette. You'll need to remember this later.
- Discard all of the tape from the sacrificed cassette, but keep all the other parts, including the reels.
- Take the first section of the damaged tape (still on its reel) from the videocassette you want to save and transfer it to the shell of the sacrificed cassette.
- Attach it to the take-up reel with adhesive tape. The take-up reel will be on your right if you have the case facing as if it were going into a VCR.
- Take the empty reel from the sacrificed cassette and transfer it to the shell of the cassette you're saving. Attach the second section of broken tape to this cassette.
- Reassemble the cassette shells, being careful to thread the tape the way you found it. You now have two tapes that contain as much of your material as can be saved, with no midtape splice that could damage your video-head drum.
- Copy the two tapes to a new videocassette and then throw them away.
Practice this videocassette repair technique on a couple of tapes you don't care about before you attempt to repair that irreplaceable tape of your sister's wedding.
If a tape breaks at one end, you can safely reattach it to the reel for the purpose of copying it, but you should still throw it away since it won't have the leader that the VCR's end sensor relies on to tell it to stop rewinding.
For more information on videocassette restoration, visit this blog: http://richardhess.com/notes/.