Archive cartridge tape drives, controllers; rollers


This Web page created Jan 1 2019, updated Sept 7 2023. Content copyrighted (C) Herb Johnson 2023.

These Archive brand cartridge tape drives and associated controllers, were gathered to support an Intel System 320 I acquired and restored to operation. That system has an Archive tape drive and controller card which works. I had a second nonfunctioning System 320 with a second Archive drive and controller, which I extracted. Over time from about 2009 forward, I acquired other Archive drives and controllers. These are described and photographed on this Web page, for reference and referral.

An allied subject, is how to deal with capstan rubber rollers that turn to goo from age. There's other problems of age, inside the cartridges. These are issues for all cartridge tape drives. I've added discussion in Sept 2023. - Herb Johnson

Rollers turn to goo, now what?

This is an old problem, with any cartridge tape-driver "pressure roller". The rubber roller presses against the tape capstan. The capstan is the metal roller that rotates at constant speed. Rubber wheel and capstan, pull the magnetic tape past the heads at constant tape speed for recording/playback. The problem is when the rubber (actually silicone) roller turns to goo, from age.

It's also a problem for most any magnetic tape drive. Digital tapes drives are out of favor, but there's always someone producing one. There's always a need to read old tapes, especially audio tapes. So there's regular discussion of this problem.

The roller repair solutions are: 1) buy a capstan of correct size and bearing from a company that sells them for your brand/model of tape drive. or 2) send your roller to a company, that molds new silicone around your old roller's bearing; milled to the correct diameter. Web-search for "cartridge tape drive rollers". Pinch rollers, drive wheels.

These companies are mostly supported by audio tape enthusiasts, but also by customers operating old digital cartridge-tape drives. There's other applications.

In principle, one could mold 2-part silicon to reproduce a roller. Possibly, find some other roller and transfer the rubber part. Few know how to do such work, err, successfully. Another solution: find another old part. In practice, old parts fail too.

Other problems, in the cartridges

The tape cartridges themselves, also have little rollers in them. Most are hard plastic. The carts may have internal rubber belts to manage tension on the tapes. Often, those belts dry out and break. Replacing them is a double problem: exact dimensions AND installing them. Making rubber belts is a manual art and it's hard to find people who (still) do make them. No, you can't cut a belt and glue the ends together, it makes a bump.

- Herb Johnson, Sept 2023

various Archive drives, controllers



Drive is 5945C s/n M797595 in frame with "self-contained controller" or SCC.
I likely removed this from another Intel System 320 in 2009. 
Capstan roller is sticky, mushy, falling apart.
Tape chassis has lable 20724-013 rev J
I labled it "3/09 Emulex". date stamp 10 DEC 1987

SAC has ROM lable A08J, IC labled MT0210203-03G and MT02/ J SAC has silkscreened ASSY MT0210403 REV J. An IC is NCR5345E (SCSI?) This controller does not look like my System 320 controller however.



Drive is 5945C s/n M98704B, no frame or SCC.
Capstan roller seems intact.
Date stamp is 12 SEP 19??.
Paper label says "move to p/n TP1081 etc." and "ok (not reliable)".



Drive is 5945C s/n in frame with SCC. Boxed as purchased at hamfest.
Drive is 5945C s/n AC105371 p/n 20266-008 rev M, LR56637.
Capstan roller appears intact.
SAC is silkscreened "ASSY MT0210403 REV K"
SAC has ROM lable G77B, long IC labled MT0210203-03 Rev K". An IC is NCR5385E (SCSI?).
This looks like the other Archive controller above. 

three drives + IBM-XT class board, no SAC's.

These were acquired at a hamfest in 2009. They are not model 5945C drives but they look mechanically compatible in a number of ways.



Drive is 2150L LR56637 R60340. White front panel.
Capstan roller seems intact.
Drive is s/n AA409532 p/n 22200-036 rev A 
black stamp inside tape chamber says "150MB".
PC board says "Viper QIC02 by Archive Corp" "80656-051J"



Drive is 2150L LR56637 Black front panel
Capstan roller seems intact.
Drive has label 21511-004 rev Y
PC board says 80592-205,  "Viper Q 02 by Archive Corp" "805134 F"



Drive is 2525S LR56637 R60340 white front panel.
Capstan roller mushy, sticky.
Drive  is s/n AE169604 P/n 22503-019 rev D
black stamp inside tape chamber says "525MB".
PC board says "archive Corp viper 220". 81025-101K
Drive end connector is male pins not edge connector.
lable on drive says CH4JXVF R22503-019 9515 SPA AE169604



XT bus board "Archive Corp 1989 SC402 controller"
"80567-102 rev H" DB-25 female connector + 50-pin male
IC is Archive 20940-001 datecode n9007
labled "150 meg tape c"

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Herb Johnson
New Jersey, USA
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This page and edited content is copyright Herb Johnson (c) 2023 .Copyright of other contents beyond brief quotes, is held by those authors. Contact Herb at, an email address is available on that page..