We've started the year by trying to tidy up the house a little; seeing if there are any books or films we want to get rid of, or old magazines that can be waste papered etc. While we have a lot of DVDs we also have quite a few old VHS tapes kicking around, and I've been slowly checking each one to see exactly what is on them. Unfortunately I've been having lots of problems with the tapes not playing properly.
The problem seems to be that the springs in the cassettes that are responsible for pushing the spools downwards onto the pins in the machine have, over time, lost some of their springiness. This isn't a problem for the full spool, but when the spool is empty it isn't heavy enough to fully engage. The result is that the machine pulls tape off the left spool but doesn't wind it onto the right spool. Fortunately there is a solution -- extra weight.
As you can see the weight of another tape suitably applied via a Pritt Stick (I needed something that would go through the slot and transfer the weight) pushes the tape down hard enough to ensure the spindle engages properly. Problem solved in a very low tech fashion!