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Old 05-21-2008, 08:42 PM
Des-Lab Des-Lab is offline
5/12/2008 - 12/27/2014
Join Date: May 2008
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How To Load A Pancake On A Reel

One often mentioned method of using tape in light of todays sky high tape prices is using them in 'pancake' form. Realizing that many of our fellow tapeheads here have no experience using pancakes (known as 'traypacks' in the official jargon), I feel it my duty to explain, step by step...complete with pictures on how to perform this procedure.

It is not difficult nor time consuming. Although first timers may feel a little apprehension, I'm here to tell you to relax. If you follow my instructions, you will find it quite fast and easy to do. The whole process can be done in five minutes or less. Ready? Here we go.

First is shown a pancake of tape. For this demonstration, I used a Quantegy #457 3600' quarter inch 'cake. Also shown is an empty metal reel. It is not quite matching (it is stamped for a #407 tape), but it *IS* the reel I use for these projects and for this tutorial (and for that matter, all transfers), it will suffice just fine. The only tools you will need will be two screwdrivers. One is a standard size Phillips head. The other is a small flathead. Although a standard size flathead could work, the small size and lack of a real workable area means that the smaller head will grip the screws and hold better.

The first step will be to separate the flanges from the reel. There are three screws holding the flanges to a single hub. If you are using an un-tampered reel (or one that has been properly assembled), the Phillips screws should all be on one side and the flat heads on the opposite side. Begin by using the Phillips to loosen those screws. Once they are loose, using your other hand, seat the flathead screwdriver on the other side and HOLD it while removing the Phillips head. They should remove fairly easily. Should you try and remove the screws using only one screwdriver, you will find yourself spinning...and spinning...and spinning...as the two screws spin but not unscrew, as the flathead is not a screw per se, but rather, a socket that the Phillipps head bolts down into. This is why you need the two screwdrivers.

Once you have all three screws and sockets out, remove the top flange and set it along with the hub aside. At this point you can dispose of, or place the hub in a safe place. It will not be needed for re-assembly.

Now comes the critical part. This is the single most important step...this is where you actually put the pancake onto the reel.

On as level of a surface as you can muster, lift the pancake with one hand and slide it out of the bag and grasping it with your other hand. Whatever you do, DO NOT REMOVE THE HOLD DOWN TAG THAT IS HOLDING THE END OF THE TAPE TO THE PANCAKE!!! Doing so WILL result in tape getting spilled all over the floor and result in the ruination of the pancake.

The best way to handle one is exactly as you would a vinyl record: by the center and edges. Do not worry about "spilling" it. The tape pack is wound very tight. As long as you don't drop it on the floor or grip it so tight that your thumb slides off the tape pack dislodging it, you will be fine. Hold it with just enough grip to keep it from dropping. You don't need to apply a "vice of death" grip. I should also mention: don't touch any more of the tape than you absolutely have to. If you grip it right, your thumb will be making contact with nothing more than the very top layer of tape. Although as with cooking, it's best to wash your hands with soap and dry thoroughly before performing this procedure.
Next is to actually set the tape onto the flange. It's absolutely crucial that you line it up properly, or else you won't be able to re-assemble the reel. The "new" hub (which is what the tape is loaded on and why you no longer need the one that was in the reel before) will have a total of six cutouts: Three for the reel tables (seen as sort of upside down "U" shaped in the outer diameter of the hub ring) and three screw holes in the surface of the hub itself. As gently as you can (don't drop it), set the pancake on the flange, making sure all of the cutouts are flush with each other.

I should also point out there is no wrong way to do this. The dimensions of "up", "down", "left", "right", "top" or "bottom" do not apply here. Once on the reel, the tape WILL work. If the tape ends up facing the "wrong" way" when you are done here, you can either load it on the deck and "rewind" it or else flip the reel 180 degrees and voíla! Ready to go.

At this point, the "hard" part is over. All you need to do is re-assemble the reel. Basically, it's simply performing the above disassembly in reverse order.

Begin by setting the other flange back over the tape and lining up all of the cutouts and screw holes. Then drop one of the Phillips screws back in one of the screw holes and locking it in on the other side with a flathead socket and screw back together for each of the three holes. Only this time, HOLD the Phillips head and turn with the flathead. Set the three screws first and then once they are on, go back and torque them down. Get them snug and tight. Enough to where they won't work their way loose. But not so tight that you strip...or worse...shear them off.

Congratulations! You have now successfully loaded a pancake and are ready to begin recording. NOW you can remove the hold down tag. At this point, you can either splice leaders on (strongly recommened) or else load the reel and tape directly onto your deck and begin using it. Either way, it would be good advice to trim and dispose of the first layer of tape as this is the surface that you handled and might be contaminated with thumb prints. It is recommended but not required to complete at least a one-way high speed (fast forward or fast rewind) of the tape prior to actual recording. This will loosen up the pack and even out any possible surface irregularities that could compromise your recording.

Hope this little post helps. Enjoy.
Old 07-02-2008, 10:13 AM
Joseph L Joseph L is offline
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: MI
Posts: 34
To add an option to matt's excellent description of loading a pancake I offer this.

Of course when we are using a pancake it is to RECORD something so frequently the original reel that we load the pancake onto will not be the final resting place of the pancake loaded into it. Most of the time, unless we are recording a 10.5" 4 track, the pancake will end up on a different 10.5" reel or spooled to smaller reels. If you are recording a number of reels or spooling tape to smaller reels here is a quick and simple way to load a new pancake on a reel to record or spool it off and load another one and keep going.

You will need a Teac hub adaptor or one of similar style that has a thin back flange that keeps the adaptor from slipping all the way through the reel flange (AKAI adaptors also work, Otari's do not). Take an aluminum set of reel flanges that you can dedicate to the purpose and take them apart putting the screws and inner hub away (you will not need them) now install one aluminum flange onto the Teac hub adaptor, take the tape out of it's box and bag and set it also over the Teac hub making sure the tape is in the right direction so that when you mount it to the machine it will be on the left. Now take the remaining aluminum flange and set it again over the top, visually align the flanges and tighten down the Teac hub, you now have a temporary assembly ready for recording or spooling. You will see that the flanges do not aligned up as accurately on the Teac hub as they do with screws but if you visually align them up before you tighten down the hub they will be just fine during recording or spooling.

Here are some pictures:
Old 07-08-2015, 03:08 AM
tbllau tbllau is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 438
Joseph L:

This has been a long dead thread but hopefully someone can answer if not you.

Anyway, did you mean that instead of fitting the three screws to the flange to hold the centre hub, one can instead use a hub from Teac R2R player to hold the pancake's hub?

If so, I think one advantage is that if the purpose of buying a pancake is to distribute the tape in different leangths to different but smaller empty reels, it is possible and save the subsequent step of disassenbling the flanges from the hub of the pancake's.

Old 07-08-2015, 04:33 AM
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Skywavebe Skywavebe is offline
Skywave Tape Deck Repair
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Bensenville, IL
Posts: 14,504
Hi Terence,
If one is using the TZ612A with the rear spacer on the NAB adapter the flange and hub and other flange by itself can make a reel with no screws- I have done this many times and have demonstrated it to clients of mine as well as at Teac Factory Service.
Best regards,

Sam Palermo, BSEE , ProSquad Member
Skywave Tape Deck Repair- Chicago area
(630)616-0932 Office/ Email skywavebe@sbcglobal.net
Past Teac/Tascam Lead Service Technician at Chicago Factory Service, Sony too still doing repairs.
Old 11-23-2015, 05:40 PM
Kentd Kentd is offline
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Very interesting. Even if I won't have any use for it, it's good to learn new things!
Old 12-23-2015, 02:06 PM
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Marty Marty is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 566
Is there any source for replacement flange screws. The female part tend to break easily....on the 456 reels that is. They are very fragile and will not hold up under excessive torque.

Teac X-2000R, Otari MX-5050 BII 2 (x2), Tascam 32-2, Pioneer RT-707, Teac X-700R
Old 12-26-2015, 10:27 AM
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ferriteman ferriteman is offline
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 617
I have seen some ebay sellers list these screw sets...some pro audio shows sell them as well. I've bought them from a local pro audio show.

Tape Decks: Otari MX-5050-BIII-P, Nakamichi Dragon, Luxman, Marantz SD4000, Marantz PMD520, Marantz SD3510, Pioneer CT-F950, Sony TC-186SD, Sony TC-K630, Sony TC-KA1ESA
Old 12-26-2015, 11:22 AM
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macman007 macman007 is offline
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Splicit at the bottom of the page..one of our vendors offers the thing you seek...
Old 12-26-2015, 01:56 PM
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Marty Marty is offline
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That reminds, I need to complete my Splicit order. I need add to it now.

Thanks Macman.

Teac X-2000R, Otari MX-5050 BII 2 (x2), Tascam 32-2, Pioneer RT-707, Teac X-700R
Old 12-26-2015, 09:17 PM
Dude111 Dude111 is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,971
A good thread!!!!

Its not easy loading Reel machines!!!!!! (Just getting the tape on the right path can be tricky)
Old 05-02-2016, 03:23 PM
bracurrie bracurrie is offline
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Location: Nashville TN
Posts: 20
http://www.splicit.com/metal_NAB_reels.html Have you seen this yet? Yes you have.

Last edited by bracurrie; 05-02-2016 at 03:26 PM.
Old 08-10-2017, 01:30 PM
siegel siegel is offline
TapeHeads Newbie
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 3
Reelstop loading Pancake reel to a metal reel

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this thread. I have hesitated buying any pancake reels for fear of screwing it up. It seems that it is not a major project at all.
Mike S

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