Wednesday - 5/25/2016 - 10 am -12 pm
Today is the first day of spool inspection, which I have no idea how to do. When inspecting film it is exceedingly easy to simply roll through the film, find areas that will more than likely break and repair those areas. Well, that does not really work for the wire spools. One thing to note is the sheer length of the wire. Assuming that most of these are one hour spools -- which may or may not be the case -- and assuming that they play at the standard speed of 24 inches a second then these wires can be up to 7,200 feet long or 1.36 MILES! Obviously hand inspection goes out the window at this point so as an alternative I went through the spools to find any obvious problem spools.
In doing this I took a few pictures that go through was is normal and good and also what is obviously a very broken spool that likely will not be playable.
This is what a typical spool will look like right out of the canister. Often the labels are very faded on the outside. Fortunately, when they were first processed at the archives the labels were copied down on the finding aids. Note the condition of the wire on the spool. It is unrusted and tightly wound, there are no obvious broken areas. I suspect this spool will be easy to work will and run through the machine when the time comes.
There is no real consensus that I can find about how to hold the wire when stored. Many of these were just loose and this did not work very well, the wire would unspool when taken out of the canister. My solution is simply to affix the loose end of the wire to the bottom of the spool with some archival tape meant for film.
This gives some idea of the small gauge of wire being dealt with. I am not sure exactly what gauge it is -- or if it even corresponds to modern gauge measurements -- but it is very thin. Working with these wires means that there are going to be many little fingertip stabs much like when working with lower gauge guitar string.
This is a spool that has seen better days, in fact this is the second worse one that I have come across. Below the paper that is surrounding the spool are an absolute rat's nest of tangled and broken wires. I did not remove the paper for the picture because it would just go everywhere. I will probably try to attempt to at least salvage the last bit that is still spooled, but the areas that have broken off will likely be lost as I have no idea what order they would be in to splice it back together.