How do I get a tape out of my dad's tape deck?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

My name is James and I'm nine years old. My father has a 1987 Jaguar XJ6
Vanden Plas. He got a tape stuck in the tape player and he can't get it
out. It is a Philips tape player. I am ready for any answer. I need
help! The tape was from my school library!

RAY: I'm familiar with this problem, James. The "Oops, I forgot it again"
excuse is wearing a little thin with the librarian about now, isn't it?

TOM: Actually, you can do this, James. The best tool for this procedure
is a dental pick; one of those curved, pointy instruments that the dentist
uses to scrape the aging brocolli out from between your teeth. You can
probably get one at a local drug store, or get an old one from your

RAY: With the ignition off (i.e. no power to the tape deck), you should be
able to get the pointy end of the dental pick under the cassette, and pry
it up a quarter of an inch or so. Then, once you get the tape up to where
you can see the whole thing, use the pick to hook it and slowly drag it out
of the tape player.

TOM: If you're lucky, the tape that WAS inside the cassette will slowly
follow! Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, the reason cassettes get
stuck in tape players is because the recording tape itself gets wrapped
around the capstan, and it just keeps wrapping, and wrapping, and

RAY: If you're lucky enough to get the rest of the tape out without
breaking it, you can then take a pencil and carefully wind the tape back
into the cassette

TOM: Then throw it into the "Returns" slot, and hope nobody signs it out
until after you graduate.

RAY: Don't listen to him, James. The next person who plays the tape is
going to hear something that sounds like a list of Bosnian cities:
"Grbksk, Prtnstky, Fbrbwbl."

TOM: My brother's right. If the tape is actually ruined, a better idea
would be to fess up and ask the librarian how much the tape costs to
replace. Then hit your dad up for the money. First of all, it was his
lousy Jaguar that ate the tape. And second, if he can afford a Jaguar,
replacing a library tape shouldn't be that tough on him.

RAY: Plus it's the right thing to do.

TOM: He's just going to throw the tape in the "Returns" box, isn't he?

RAY: I think so. Good luck, James.

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