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Re: [ARSCLIST] wire recordings - archival storage

I always thought all the wire made by W-C was stainless as well, but apparently there were at least couple of different grades (which I've seen reference to in some literature from the 1940s. Would have to dig for the source). I have seen some wire which has exhibited a crystalline type of oxidation (usually easily cleaned). I have also seen rust on some Pierce wires. Again, I think there were a couple of different grades which were manufactured over the years.

The mold I have seen would appear to be primarily caused storage of the wires in cardboard boxes in very damp conditions. I don't think that mold would grow on the wire itself (but I wouldn't completely discount it). The cardboard _will_ transfer mold spores to the spool however, so it's best to keep the wires in a dry environment, and eliminate any wicking of moisture by getting rid of the cardboard containers. On the other hand, _if_ the cardboard containers are in good shape, you could opt to keep them, and store them within a sealed plastic container. The only question would be whether the acid from the cardboard would have any long-term negative effects on the wire.

I've never really experienced any issues with print-through on wires. Rather interesting, given how tightly packed they are. Probably has something to do with the coercitivity and retentivity of the wire itself. Could be an interesting topic for research some day...


Quoting Steven Smolian <smolians@xxxxxxxxx>:

Actually, the Webster-Chicago wire is stainless steel and won't oxidize.

I've done hundreds of wires and have yet to see mold, though I expect it's

The Websters have to be heads out as the take-up reel is much larger and
part of the playback device.

Since wind is the fatal flaw- I won't do mare's nests- and the balance of
tensions within the device and the free movement of the bobbin are what
usually go out of whack to cause the tangle issue, I'd leave it alone until
transfer time.  Winding for storage rather than related to transfer is
asking for trouble.

Kinks in the wire often develop in storage and will jerk the wire during
playback, sometimes breaking it.  For music especially, I usually make two
passes, recording both but inevitably using the second as it then unwinds
more smoothly.

The Peirce-GE machine uses the same style feed and take-up reel.  It may be
feasible to wind these tails out.  You could do the same on the Websters if
you wanted, dubbing them with the signal backwards and reversing tit
digitally.  I don't know of any studies which investigate when print-thru
occurs on wire, though there may be a document covering this topic somewhere
in Marvin Camras' papers, possibly at IIT.

And though the wire supplied with the Peirce was also stainless steel, I've
worked on some where someone would his own and which rusted through in

Steve Smolian

-----Original Message----- From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Scott D. Smith Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 8:51 PM To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxx Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] wire recordings - archival storage


This is an area where not a lot of research has been done (at least that
I've ever seen). However, based on my experience, I would at least
recommend the following:

1. Do not store them in the original cardboard containers, as it invites
issues with mold and moisture.

2. As much as possible, make sure there there is a _consistent_ wind on
the pack, with no loose strands. (This is probably _the_ most important
part for long-term storage).

3. A threaded leader should be attached, if there is none present. The
end should be taped to the top of the spool with an archival, non-bleed
tape (the 3M "zebra" tape is perfect for this).

4. As oxidation of the wire is always an issue, (especially with lower
grade wire stock), it would be best to keep the spools in an airtight
plastic container (a small 16mm plastic film canister might be an
option). A desiccant pack would probably be a good idea as well, but
would have to be changed periodically.

I don't really have an opinion one way or the other regarding tails out
or heads out for storage. More than anything else, I think it is
important to have a well functioning machine which can properly wind the
spools at a constant tension.

Scott D. Smith
Chicago Audio Works, Inc.

Tracy Popp wrote:
Dear ARSC list members:

I have been doing research on archiving wire recordings for a project we
working on here at Univ. of Illinois. I have yet to find any  information
about preferred archival storage of these types of recordings - storage
orientation, preferred archival containers, etc. I have seen
regarding storage environment temperature but nothing definitive on
container or orientation.

  I'd like to hear about how you and your institution approach archival
storage of wire recordings and if you have any particular resource you've
used to guide your decisions. Thank you in advance and I look forward to
your responses!

Tracy Popp
Graduate Student
Univ. of Illinois

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