Akai GX-260D

Unfortunately, I haven't documented all of my acquisitions very well and this gem of a machine is no different. Here, restating what I wrote on the main page, a friend of my dad's, another navy guy, was asking me if I still did reel-to-reels and I said I did. He told me that his no longer worked and wanted to know if I could transfer a bunch of his reels to cassettes. I said I could and he said that I could keep the reel tapes and he'd also give me the deck, the Akai GX-260D. I readily took on the project and before diving into the deck and its problem, I transferred the contents of the reels to cassettes, about 15-20 reels worth, using my Akai 202D-SS. It was an ecletic collection of copies of comedy albums from vinyl, some family recordings, and a few factory pre-recorded titles including Bobby Darin, Martin Denny, Jackie Gleason, the 3-reel "Victory at Sea" soundtrack, and others.

Along with the deck he gave me folder that contained some paperwork and parts, a belt and some fuses. Interstingly there was a customs tag for when the deck was shipped in. I am guessing that he ordered the deck out of, possibly, a Pacex catalog while he was station in Bremerton, WA. There was also a repair ticket, dated March 1991 where he'd taken it to a shop. The ticket inidcates that the probablem was a switch assembly that was no longr available. There was no charge so he probably figured that the unit was now a paperweight or boat anchor.

Once I had finished copying his tape, I decided to figure out what the problem was that kept the deck from playing. I plugged it in and verified that it was non-operational. I then pulled the front panel and found a microswitch had charred. Hmmmm..... It did have a bit of a smell and I wondered what could have caused something like this to happen. It appeared that the switch had become the fuse in the system. Since this was long before the Internet when one could find a suitable replacement before doing the surgery, I removed the switch from the unit figuring I'd take it to an electronics store and try to find something similar. Being curious, I had nothing to lose by making a closer examination and decided to look at the contacts inside. I drilled out the rivets that held it together and saw that the contacts looked corroded but were in otherwise good condition. I went ahead and cleaned them, taped the switch back together, and remounted it in the deck. I mean, why not? I powered it up and it went into play mode without an error. I half expected to see smoke coming out from somewhere in that deck but it functioned fine and it has, some 30-years later, continued to do so. Sometimes you get lucky.

This deck became my primary player when I had my Akai 202D-SS in for repairs and it remained so even after the other deck returned. It has solenoid controlled operation, auto-reverse, output level control, 2-speeds,and heads that promise to last forever so what is not to like?

Somewhere around 2002 I picked up 200 reels of tape from a pre-estate sale, tapes that eventually became the The Paper Tape Archive and I used the GX-260D in transferring all those tapes to digital. Later, when I picked up almost 600 reels of tape at another pre-estate sale, I used it again when transerring those tapes to digital, creating the The 600 Reels Project. The deck has held up very well through years of use and I still have not taken it apart except for effecting that switch repair years ago. The only problem it has is that it occassionally balks at playing a very thin tape, such as the ones that have 3600' on a 7" reel. Other than that it still works as well as it did 30 years ago.

Fall 2020 Update. For some reason it is stuck in play mode. I checked the easy things like the little wire that rides on the tape to activate the auto-stop function and a few other things but it is no go. It sits in my workshop awaiting some exploratory surgery.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Updated December 2020.