- Inspect the tape to ensure it is not flipped and watch for gummy black roller tar anywhere on the case. A flipped tape will not have the shiny side on the outside. These tapes need to be spun out with a reel to reel player to be reversed or first played backwards to the tape splice and then spun out on a reel to reel player. These procedures do not cover flipped tape repairs at this time.
- Pop the tape open slighty at front opening at 2 or 3 places where the cart comes together with a thin screwdriver.
- Pull up on top case slightly while holding the bottom through the tape opening and insert 2 clothes pin ends after the small studs near the middle of the bottom casing on both sides. Keep them in place.
- Slide in 2 other clothes pin ends slightly (one on each side) and move them towards tape end label. There is another set of studs (one on each side near the tape bottom) that will need to be cleared so the pins may need to be moved back and forth several times from the center to tape label end. Work one side at a time. A poping sound will be heard when the bottom studs are loosened or break (mostly). Pry up with clothes pins near the end label ends and middle if working the sides alone does not pop it open. A few tries of working the sides and end with the front popped open may be required to open the case. A little patience is needed beacuse the tape case may be very tight due to its thick plastic quality construction.
- Remove the top of the cart slowly so the reel does not pop out of the cart bottom.
- Take pictures of the cart inside if necessary to aid in putting it back together.
- Remove the top plastic reel wafer while noting its orientation in its 3 tab holders and how its split on the roller side. Note also how the tape goes over the wafer top on the non-roller side and under the wafer tab on the roller side. This tab is to the right of the wafer split.
- Lift out the old roller using a tweezers if its gummy.
- Lift tape reel out of the case bottom while noting the orientation of the clear plastic retainer ring on top of it. It has a small slot that fits over a tab on the non-roller side.
- Remove the plastic "half moon" guide near the roller and note its orientation for replacement. It may be stuck to the roller. The tape goes around it when the tape is replaced.
- Remove the spring felt pad.
- Remove the clear plastic stop near the front opening opposite the roller side if one is on the stud.
- Remove the thin plastic or metal washer that was under the reel and is now exposed on the center hub. It may also be stuck to the reel bottom.
- Inspect the exposed tape and remove any tar reminants from its front or back with dry cotton swabs first and then with isopropyl alcohol and swabs. If roller tar has seeped all over the tape its pretty much destroyed and the repair can not be completed.
- Iron out any crinkles on the exposed tape using an iron on the tape back.
- Place tape reel in a test Lear Jet Flat Pak cartridge that has no tape in it now but has all the other parts. Break the test cart studs so that it opens and closes easily. Note also how the clear plastic retainer notches in case bottom side near on non-roller side. Place the tape in front of the pads and around all stops. Tape placement in relation to all the parts is detailed in later steps when the tape is returned to its original cartridge.
- Rotate tape reel manually to ensure it spins freely without being too tight. A tight tape that is a hard mass would need to be spun out with a reel to reel player. That may not even work for extremely tight tapes. These procedures do not cover "tight tape syndrome" repairs at this time.
- Replace the plastic top wafer and be sure tape is under the tab on its roller side.
- Rotate the tape reel manually again to ensure it rotates freely with the wafer in place.
- Replace test cartridge top without pinching the tape in the front opening.
- Move tape with your finger a little to ensure it rotates freely and was not pinched when the top was replaced.
- Play tape on program 1 to splice to ensure plays good and not copied over. Some 8-tracks were copied over and the repair can not be completed. Placing a matchbook or clothes pin half under the tape and pushing the tape slightly to the right while it is engaged in the player may be required if its slightly tight and is playing slow. Also, if you noticed a small gap in the tape on the reel, that is most likely a tape crinkle in the splice area and the tape should be removed from the player before the crinkled area and the end of program one. The tape should then be manually spun to the crinkled area or splice. The crinkle should be ironed out.
- Remove reel from the test cart as discussed above.
- Cut out old sensing foil splice and back splice with scissors. The tape back splice if it exists will be an inch or two from the foil splice. Vertical cuts are fine as they do not need to be angled for the new splices to adhere properly.
- Iron out any noticeable crinkles on the exposed tape.
- Butt the tape ends in a tape splicer with fold down arms. A magnifying glass can be used to ensure the ends are next to each other with no space or overlap.
- Apply a new front sensing foil piece that is similar or smaller in size than the original. Press down firmly on the splice with the flat end of a tweezers to ensure it is secure.
- Flip tape over and apply a small piece of splicing tape to the tape back where it butts together. It should be cut so that its height is a little smaller than that of the tape. That ensures it does not stick out above or below the tape. Press down firmly on back splice with flat end of tweezers. The back splice will help in the future if the front sensing foil separates from the tape. The tape would not break and new sensing foil would just need to be added to the tape front.
- Reinstall the tape in the test Lear Jet Flat Pak case as discussed above and play again to the end of program 1.
- Inspect the tape sensing foil splice to ensure it is still in good shape and has not crinkled. If problem replace the two splices again.
- Remove reel from cart as discussed above.
- File down any broken studs that extend over the top of their prongs on the cart bottom. Hold the prongs while filing slowly so they do not snap off and have to be re-glued with plastic model cement to the cart bottom. Filing helps the cart top close tighter without a gap for better appearance once the repair is done.
- Clean the cartridge top and bottom front openings with isopropyl alcohol and swabs to remove all the old roller tar and carbon dirt.
- Clean the insides and outsides of the cart top and bottom with glass cleaner, swabs and paper towels. Be cautious not to remove the recording company ink stamp at top cart bottom or get any water or tar on the front or end labels. The correct ink stamp brings value to the cart if it exists. Sometimes repairers break the cart bottom and replace with a non-original. The ole "numbers do not match routine".
- Clean the sides of the top and bottom of the cart to remove player roller guide "skid marks" with glass cleaner, swabs and paper towels. Use isoprpyl alcohol or Soft Scrub and a small "scrubby" sponge as necessary to remove stubborn skids. Do not rub too hard or the case will not look as white as it should in those areas.
- Repair loosened front or end labels with wallpaper glue applied with a toothpick. Remove excess glue with a paper towel. Let it dry.
- Apply a small amount of white lithium grease with a cotton swab to bottom cart center hub.
- Replace center hub plastic or metal washer and apply a small amout of white lithium grease to its top.
- Clean the small clear plastic stop with isopropyl alcohol and a swab.
- Replace the clear plastic stop on the stud opposite the roller and be sure it is fully seated by pushing a flat screwdriver head down on it. This ensures the cart top fits tightly when closed.
- Inspect the spring felt pads and if necessary replace them by removing the old ones and gluing new ones on with wallpaper glue. Its quicker to use a spring felt pad from your 8-track salvage yard that is in good shape. Note that felt pads were made in two sizes and the larger sized ones are recommended. They provide more support to the back of the tape when it is engaged in the 8-track player.
- Fit spring felt pad in bottom of case tightly. A flat head screwdriver may be necessary to seat it properly in its groove. When fitted correctly its pads will just touch the tape back without causing a tape bulge. The felt spring may need to be slightly bent back or front to allow it to touch the tape back once the tape is inserted into the case bottom later.
- Dry clean the replacement roller of similar style, size and dimensions as the old one by rubbing it on a paper towel. This removes the carbon residue.
- Grease the inside of the roller sparingly with white lithium grease applied to a swab.
- Replace the roller in the cart bottom.
- Clean the white plastic half moon stop with isopropyl alcohol and a swab.
- Replace the half moon in the tab near the roller. Be sure its seated correctly with its rounded side towards the roller.
- Spin roller by hand to ensure it spins freely with moon in place and is not too tight or loose on the stud. Use another roller if it does not spin correctly.
- Replace tape reel on center bottom cart hub.
- Place tape reel top clear plastic retainer notch into tab on case bottom.
- Place tape into position in front of the felt pads; around the front clear plastic stop; and around the plastic half moon on the roller side.
- Check that the spring felt pads just touch the back of the tape without bulging it. Bend spring as necessary.
- Spin tape reel manually 3 full turns to ensure it rotates freely.
- Clean the top plastic wafer with isopropyl alcohol and paper towels.
- Replace the top plastic wafer over the tape top by first placing the tape on the non-roller side through the opening of the wafer. The tape will be over the top of the wafer on the non-roller side and under its tab on the roller side. Also, be sure that the wafer is installed correctly with its opening to the front roller side and that it is sitting firmly in the 3 tabs.
- Spin tape reel manually three full turns to ensure it rotates freely with the top plastic wafer in place.
- Replace the tape cartride top. A popping sound will be heard when the studs (or those that remain) are engaged. Be careful not to pinch the front of the tape while closing. Push down on the cart top to ensure it is closed.
- Move tape with your finger a little to ensure it rotates freely and was not pinched when the case top was closed.
- Inspect cart to ensure no obvious gaps exist between the top and bottom. If the gap is too wide and does not give the clean visual appearance required, either the broken studs need to be filed down more or it needs to be glued shut by applying a small amount of plastic model cement on some of the inside edges. Remove any excess glue. The Auto 8-Track Shack usually does not apply glue in order to make it easier to open the cart for future repairs. Repairers choice here, but just don't put a piece of tape on the two cart sides. That looks bad.
- Play tape to the end of program 1.
- Inspect the tape foil splice to ensure it is still in good shape and has not crinkled. If problem replace the two splices again.
- Play tape on all 4 programs to ensure its not copied over on programs 2 - 4; that it flips automatically between all programs; and that it sounds good. Don't be surprised if you can redline the left and right audio output meters with that 1966 8-track tape on the 8-track player now.
- Inspect the tape sensing foil splice one last time to ensure it is still in good shape and has not crinkled. If problem, replace the two splices again. The sensing foil splice is critical to the 8-track repair and your listening enjoyment.
- Cover the tape end opening with a plastic protective end cap. Black ones look sharp on the white case.
- Place the tape back in its original clean felt-lined plastic tub with clear slide or snap-on top, or in its protective cardboard sleeve.
- Place a freezer or sandwich bag around the tub or sleeve.
- Create a mailing label to stick on the bag that includes the repair date and tape number; that the roller and splice were replaced; and that it plays great on all 4 programs.
- Store 8-track tape in a temperature controlled climate - not the attic or garage.
- Enjoy the Lear Jet Flat Pak tape for many years in your classic car, plane, boat, at the beach, or on your home Lear Jet 8-track stereo player!
The supplies needed for Lear Jet Flat Pak 8-track repairs are listed below. Their usage is discussed in the procedures section and they may not all be needed for every repair. Some parts may also need to be pulled from your U-Pull It salvage yard of 8-track tapes.
Roll of sensing foil tape
Roll of splicing tape
Spring pressure pads
Felt for spring pads
Cardboard sleeves or original plastic tubs
Plastic end dust covers
Tape splicer with 2 fold down arms
Test Lear Jet Flat Pak design cartridge
Various sized flat head screwdrivers
Small hobby scissors
White lithium grease/Teflon bearing lube or PTFE oil
Mini “scrubby” sponge
Re-sealable sandwich and freezer bags
Plastic model cement
Pencil and pen erasers
Half clothes pins (springs removed)
Reel to reel player
Clean large towel
RCA Victor Lear Jet Flat Pak 8-track tapes were the first 8-track tapes developed in 1965. These tapes can be identified by the 1 inch by 3 inch thumb-pull slightly curved indentation on the lower front of the white cartridge; the words Lear Jet Pak 8 stamped into the back case top; and an end label that is 1/2 by 3 3/4 inches long. Early tapes also have the RCA lightning bolt emblem embossed in a circle in the center of the lower case back. This emblem was removed in mid 1966. This tape design was made until mid to late 1967.
Lear Jet Flat Paks were known to have bad rollers that melted in the heat. The roller tar may have even seeped into the tape area and possibly out of the case near the end label. They also tend to have tight tape tension issues with some reels being a hardened mass. Even with these setbacks, they are a perfect compliment for any classic car, especially those from the 1966 and 1967 model years.
The detailed procedures below apply to all Lear Jet Flat Pak tapes and are critical for the repair of early RCA auto demonstration 8-tracks like those from Ford, Chevrolet and Oldsmobile. Over time you can modify the steps to meet your specific 8-track repair goals and experience level. Allow enough time for a quality repair. When first starting out, set aside 3 to 4 hours for the repair. With experience you may be able to repair them in half that time. However, keep in mind that these tapes are nearly 50 years old. You will never know what to expect until the tape is opened. Occasionally the tapes just can not be repaired or will not have quality audio output. 8-track tapes were not designed to last forever and need to be repaired before being played.
If you are new to 8-track tape repairs, start with easier carts like Columbia TC8 8-tracks with 3-tabbed fronts. Then move to repairing a Lear Jet Flat Pak cart that does not matter to you. This will help you gain experience and not ruin the Lear Jet Flat Pak tape you eventually want to fix. Gone in less than 5 minutes could be your large 8-track tape investment if not repaired properly. Another mistake is repairing tapes that can not be listened to in their entirety. Don't waste your time on these. Wax the car instead.
A reliable 8-track player with its top removed is required for repairing 8-tracks. The Pioneer RH-65 8-track player is great for repairs as it has an easily removable top and an auto stop feature after playing one program. It may need to be cleaned several times during the repair to remove tape residue. Various problems can also occur during playback like a tape that wraps around the player capstan and that requires quick access to the tape.
Lear Jet Flat Paks are the Auto 8-Track Shack's favorite 8-track case design. If you can repair these tapes, you can repair any 8-track tape ever made. Please review all steps before attempting a repair. Steps highlighted in cadet blue color include some important points and tips. The repair procedures and tips were developed based on years of experience and are provided as an aid for car enthusiasts and 8-track hobbyists. However, the Auto 8-Track Shack assumes no liability for repair problems encountered by using these procedures.
Lear Jet Flat Pak 8-track tapes that can not be repaired can still be used as car show props by removing most of the tape and just splicing a piece of it together. Another option is to replace the bad tape reel with a good one of similar dimensions that has music you enjoy.
Let us know ways to improve these detailed 8-track tape repair shop manual procedures or of questions while doing a repair. In time you will be able to repair 8-track tapes without "the manual". Feel free to contact the Auto 8-Track Shack related to how that repaired special tape sounded awesome in your classic car at our Contact Page.
RCA Victor 8 Lear Jet Flat Pak 8-Track tape images are below. Note their unique cartridge design.