Fix Your Delco Tape Player
Lyle Simons
It seems that the DELCO cassette players do not handle the passage of time very well. I personally have experienced two problems that seem to be common ailments of this particular player.

Probably the most common is the breakage or general wear of the belts. The symptom associated with this is the tape will refuse to play and eject immediately (sometimes after doing an auto-reverse or two).

The other problem that seems to plague these players is the constant auto-reversing. Mine would actually play *some* tapes *some* of the time. This was caused by a gear with reflective markers on it which spins just above an LED/phototransistor pair. The markers appear to be composed of some sort of metal paint, or perhaps something similar to the chrome plated plastic used in our GN interiors. And we all know how good that stuff is. *much sarcasm* At any rate, the markers can corrode and flake off the gear. Then the player gets false readings.

(For those of you that are more into engines than electronics, think of it as losing one of the sensor rings that pass through the crank sensor. How would that make the car run?)

Of course, there are other possible causes such as a dead cassette motor, tapes being too old and sticky, fried electronic part, etc. The belts and that gear seem to be the most common causes however.

For those of you daring enough to attempt to fix the player yourself, here is a step-by-step of how I did it. There may be better ways of doing this, so use your own discretion where applicable.

As far as locating parts. Call your favorite GM dealer and ask them where they send their DELCO units for servicing. If you just want to get your player fixed by someone else, they would be your best choice for that too. If your GM guy won't give you a service shop, ask me, I know of one in Ft. Lauderdale.

Oh, if you notice that your deck doesn't light up at night very well anymore, get some replacement bulbs. I think it takes three but, I can't remember for sure. Rule of thumb, better to have more, than not enough.

Tools Needed
Very important! Have the right tools ready!

You'll need:

  1. 7mm socket, 10mm socket, 1/4" socket, 3/16" socket (all for 1/8" ratchet or better yet, 1/8" socket driver).
  2. 3/16" combination box-end/open-end wrench.
  3. Small jewelers screwdriver.
  4. Needle nose pliers.
1. Remove the player from the car:
a) remove cig. lighter
b) pull radio/climate control cover off (try not to lose any clips)
c) Use the 7mm socket to unbolt the stereo.
d) pull stereo out and remove wiring harness and antenna connectors.
2. Use the 10mm socket to remove the brackets from the player.
3. Use the 1/4" socket to remove the bottom cover.
4. You will see now that the cassette player is a self-contained subsystem within the stereo. Remove all of the bolts that secure the cassette subsystem to the stereo. (Combination of 1/4" and 3/16" bolts).
5. If you're this far, you know that one of those bolts was a pain! But you did good, that was the hardest part! (Actually, reinstalling that bolt might be a bit tougher.)
6. Remove the cassette deck from the stereo. The cassette component conveniently unplugs from the main unit. If you inspect the cassette you'll see that it is a Blaupunkt. A german friend of mine tells me that Blaupunkt is considered top-of-the-line in Europe.
7. Remove the cover from the cassette deck. (3/16" bolts).
8. Now you see the belts and gears, right? If either of you're belts are broken, you will know by now. If they both seem OK and have a small amount of tension, the belts are OK. (They should feel approx. like a new rubberband, if they feel hard and brittle replace them!)
9. If the belts are still routed like they should be. Draw yourself a picture of the routing. Don't count on memorizing it. Since mine was broken, I didn't have this luxury. I tried several combinations before I got it right.
10. The gear with the reflective surfaces is the black one sitting in the center towards one end of the player. To remove it you must CAREFULLY pry the tiny plastic ring off of the spindle. Use the jewelers screw- driver for this. Don't lose this ring, I'm not sure if it's available as a replacement part. Once the ring is off, the gear comes right off.
11. Inspect the underside of the gear (for the markers). You'll know if they are damaged or not. Replace the gear if it is suspect.
12. Now you've really got a pile of parts. Some are small! Time to put it all back together. (Did you remember to replace any burned out lightbulbs?)
13. No gotchas on the reassembly, just reverse the disassembly process.
I didn't mention the needle nose pliers, but you used 'em anyway, didn't you. :)

You probably spent less than $10 on this repair. (Unless you had to buy tools). Ask any service center how much they want for a fix of this nature. Then sit in your car, pop in a tape, and take pride in your work.

* * * EXTRA * * *

When going to a DELCO CD player, you will need to fabricate a harness. The CD player harness is available from any GM authorized service center (about $30). The other end you can get at Radio Shack for less than $10.

I put a CD (from a Typhoon) in my GN and used my stock GN knobs. It looks right at home!

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