I have probably ~200 DC600A quarter-inch cartridge backup tapes from the late 80s and early-mid 90s. I have 2 drives that are capable of reading DC600A tapes, but the drives were destroying tapes. At first, I thought it was a problem with both drives, but after many tens of hours of investigation, I am now certain that the rubber tension band in each of the DC600A cartridges is so weak from aging that they are snapping (which then often ruins the magnetic tape) when the drive motor turns the cartridge capstan.
A couple of things:
1) I've taken apart several cartridges and realized that, while time-consuming, it isn't that difficult to deal with the bands. Does anybody know if I can purchase replacement bands for these and just fix them all?
2) If I manually move the cartridge capstan very slowly, the band won't break and it will still advance the tape -- the necessary motion for reading the data. What are my chances for modifying the source code for tar, "st" (linux scsi tape driver), or some other piece of the software stack that grabs the data to slow down the scsi tape drive, either implicitly or explicitly, so that I can read the data without the tension bands breaking? I'm guessing that the torque created by the motor may well be outside of software control and that I can't, without electrical or mechanical intervention, keep it from tearing apart the rubber bands.