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Old 17th Aug 2021, 6:02 pm   #1
DMcMahon
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Default Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Reading through a service sheet for my Murphy TR1 tape recorder it recommends using Carbontetrachloride or Thawpit to clean the heads.

I well remember Carbontetrachloride as I used it a lot at work for general cleaning when an apprentice (a long time ago) but not sure if I remember Thawpit, its name maybe does ring a bell.

Googling it I see that Thawpit did a number of home cleaning products.

Does anybody remember Thawpit ?

David
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Old 17th Aug 2021, 7:03 pm   #2
paulsherwin
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

It sounds like a brand name. I've never heard of it.

The Beeb generally used bog standard meths to clean tape heads. If it was good enough for them...
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Old 17th Aug 2021, 7:37 pm   #3
dazzlevision
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

I certainly remember the name and that it was related to cleaning products. If you search for Thawpit, you will find an old Thawpit bottle on an auction site...and plenty of images of old Thawpit adverts, etc.

Quote from one site: "Thawpit and Dabitoff were carbon tetrachloride based, the same as dry cleaners use. Its nasty stuff and no longer sold to the public."

From The Lancet website: "FATAL POISONING BY INHALATION OF CARBON TETRACHLORIDE (THAWPIT)" (in 1951).
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Old 17th Aug 2021, 7:40 pm   #4
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Ah, it's a brand of carbon tet. I'd stick to meths.
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Old 17th Aug 2021, 7:42 pm   #5
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Hi David,

Yes, I remember Thawpit well, - it was indeed carbon tet.
I think last time I saw it was in the 70's

It certainly did a great job as a degreasant, but I also remember
it didn't do your health much good if you inhaled it.

Kind regards

Dave
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Old 17th Aug 2021, 7:54 pm   #6
Hartley118
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

I recall Thawpit as a very common cleaning solvent. AFAIK it was simply a proprietary version of carbon tetrachloride, probably the most commonly available cleaning solvent back in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Carbon tetrachloride is still available, but its use is very much discouraged. It’s particularly hazardous to smokers: drawing on a cigarette in the presence of carbon tet. vapour tends to generate the poison gas phosgene.

I remember using ‘carbon tet’ as a very effective solvent for cleaning tape heads. It needs great care because it dissolves the polystyrene so often used for trim components in tape recorders of 1960s vintage. It’s too easy to disfigure that nice gloss finish with a careless splash of the stuff.

I’ve used it as a switch cleaner, but in removing dirt and grease, it also cleans off any lubrication. Servisol is much more satisfactory.

Martin
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Old 17th Aug 2021, 8:33 pm   #7
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Radiospares did a tin of carbon tet that had a conical shaped top and a screw on spout. Used to be the common workshop cleaning aid. Had to be careful on plastic as it could cause a lot of damage. Meths would be the normal choice for tape heads.
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Old 17th Aug 2021, 8:42 pm   #8
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

I remember the Radiospares stuff, in a Yellowish can when I used to use it, for tape heads I always used meths.

Lawrence.
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Old 17th Aug 2021, 8:55 pm   #9
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Thawpit used to come in a bottle with a felt pad attached to the bottle under the cap. When the cap was removed and the bottle was inverted the liquid soaked the pad and the pad was rubbed over the offending stain, on skirt or trousers etc, until the stain was gone. I've not seen it for many years and it did smell of carbon tet and as already mentioned it was very bad on plastics. Peter.
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Old 17th Aug 2021, 9:47 pm   #10
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Dabitoff I think
Neat idea

Martin
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Old 17th Aug 2021, 10:57 pm   #11
emeritus
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

The mention of Thawpit just recalled for me an image of our old kitchen cabinet as it was in the 1950's, as we always used to keep a bottle in it.
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Old 18th Aug 2021, 6:53 am   #12
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Many years ago I was sent to Saudi Arabia to train service engineers on our foetal monitors. After a component replacementon a pcb I requested some IPA to clean the flux off and was offered Carbon Tet. I protested about how unsafe this was and was told that any form of alchohol is banned in Saudi, even non comestible types like IPA so they were forced to use Carbon Tet as a solvent.
Not sure if this is still the case.

Peter
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Old 18th Aug 2021, 8:54 am   #13
DMcMahon
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartley118 View Post
Dabitoff I think
Neat idea

Martin
I well remember the old Dabitoff.

David
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Old 18th Aug 2021, 1:09 pm   #14
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

I used carbon tet for tape head cleaning from about the age of 12. Used to get it from the local chemist, no questions asked in those days. Very distinctive smell. No longer of course, IPA instead now.

Peter
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Old 18th Aug 2021, 1:52 pm   #15
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Although a moot point as they're all discouraged these days, what's the relative merits of carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethane, and trichloroethylene - all of which are powerful grease solvents used in the plating and painting industries for example?

(FWIW, I generally use isopropyl alcohol, no halogens in its chemical formula, and relatively mild. I do recall tech columnist Barry Fox suggesting IPA, or surgical spirit, or at a pinch, vodka).
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Old 18th Aug 2021, 2:09 pm   #16
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

The instruction booklet that came with my Russian 35mm camera recommended using eau-de-cologne to clean the lens if alcohol was unavailable. So when I was a student and had no meths to hand, I did resort to using my aftershave to clean my tape heads. It did work ok.
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Old 18th Aug 2021, 6:54 pm   #17
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Mods - somewhat off topic - please delete if necessary - my apologies.

Aftershave does indeed contain mostly alcohol, and is very inflammable. I remember seeing the Dunhill aftershave store go up in flames in Brentford years ago. It burned extremely well.
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Old 18th Aug 2021, 7:31 pm   #18
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

I remember my nan using Thawpit to clean granddads trousers.
For tape heads, I recommend your favourite brand of either Vodka or Gin. Use a clean cotton swab, cleam off the offending head and drink the rest of the tot with some Tonic and ice as your reward for doing the job correctly. (Hic!)
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Old 19th Aug 2021, 11:15 am   #19
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Carbon-tet, 'Trike', 'Perk' and other halogenated solvents are really not nice to have around - apart from the phosgene issue mentioned upthread they are also now well known as neurotoxins and carcinogens as well as damaging liver/kidney function, which led to them being withdrawn from general availability some decades ago.

[Sidenote: I'm sure I remember an episode of the TV series 'Ironside' from the 1960s where someone was slowly poisoned by their cleaner who was using Carbon Tet to clean almost everything].

Last edited by G6Tanuki; 19th Aug 2021 at 11:26 am.
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Old 19th Aug 2021, 3:04 pm   #20
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Default Re: Cleaning of tape heads using Thawpit

Years ago in the delta region of Nigeria we used to use ki-ki, the locally produced spirit, as cleaner for our seismic multi-track data recorder heads. Never did them any harm and cleaned the crud off nicely.
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