This is from Del re: 3M 111. He's not a list member and his posting was rejected, so I'm
forwarding it to the group.
I've never seen vinegar syndrome on any acetate based audio tape, #111
or others. It's been our opinion that unsealed storage, typical of
audio tape storage, would keep this deterioration from developing. If
these rolls "smell" as they describe, then the tapes must be
experiencing some problelm, but I'd expect them to still be playable
and thus transferable. I also don't believe that there's any need to
panic and condemn ALL of the #111 tape in their archive. A good
examination of condition and playabliity
of the rolls in question is definitely called for. A sampling of the
other #111 in their archive might be a good idea, if they find some
"real" problems with the questionable rolls. The lipnus paper test for
acidity isn't very accurate as described and may not correlate to any
real problem. when one starts "smelling" things, it becomes extremely
difficult to be objective and consistent, also.
These are my first thought off the top of my head. I hope they are
From: Steven Smolian <smolians@xxxxxxxxx>
To: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx>
Cc: Eilers Del <daeilers@xxxxxxx>
Sent: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 12:11:00 -0500
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Vinegar syndrome audio tapes
The tapes you mention are Scotch 111. From some boxes I've seen
(I've some Israeli 111 in house at the moment), they may have also
manufactured tape outside the U.S. for European and, perhaps, African
distribution. Another possibility is that the bout it from another
manufacturer an sold them in their own boxes.
I'm forwarding this to Del Eilers, the former tape product manager at
3M. He may know more.
----- Original Message ----- From: "Casey, Michael T"
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 11:13 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Vinegar syndrome audio tapes
We have just found a collection of Scotch 111 tapes with vinegar
syndrome. The tapes test between the 1 to 1.5 levels using the IPI A-D
strips (the color reference provided with the strips does not seem
accurate and it is difficult to be precise). This is below the
autocatalytic point and below the critically endangered level, but the
tapes clearly have the problem nonetheless. The collection consists of
76 tapes recorded by ethnomusicologist Alan Merriam in 1951 in the
and accessioned here in 1966. The tapes have been stored in Scotch 111
cardboard boxes, no plastic bags, in the ATM vault which maintains
temperatures around 68F with 45% RH. These levels have become more
consistent over the past few years--for the previous 30 years I can't
say, but I think storage conditions were close to this although less
consistent. Before the 1985 move into our present space conditions
probably not very good. We have tested 8 reels and they all show
the same level of VS. We have transferred around 35 reels so far--all
smell like vinegar, but all are playing back fine with a little edge
curling on a few of them. We are taking a few precautions--the
machine (Studer 810) is situated by itself away from other things in
studio, we are wiping down the entire machine periodically, and we are
careful about putting our MRL tape up on the machine even though it is
polyester. ATM staff are meeting today to talk about how to store the
We have over 2,300 reels of 111 at the ATM and don't know how many of
those are a problem, but I'll probably put together a survey. We've
transferred many tapes on 111 over the past few years and haven't
noticed VS until now. We have considered it stable and it has not
us many problems.
The Music Library at IU has collections of Sarkes Tarzian tape
exhibiting vinegar syndrome as well, with some tapes testing around 1
but others testing at about 1.5. We also have this tape brand and
suspect that it has VS.
I would appreciate hearing from anyone else who has encountered
syndrome problems with audio tape.
Associate Director for Recording Services
Archives of Traditional Music
Co-chair, ARSC Technical Committee
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