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Sony TC-252

Four Track Stereo Reel to Reel Tape Recorder (1971)

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Sony TC-252


The Sony Model TC-252 is a four-track stereophonic/monophonic tape recorder for accurate recording and playback, featuring built-in amplifiers and lid-integrated stereo speakers.

Special features include a vibration-free motor, all-silicon transistor for exceptional low noise and distortion, scrape flutter filter which eliminates undesirable tape modulation distortion, automatic sentinel shut-off and retractable pinch roller.

The sound-on-sound facility of the TC-252 permits composite recording from left channel to right channel and vice versa with its selector switch. Sound-with-sound and public address are also featured.


Track system: 4-track, 2-channel, stereo/monaural system

Heads: 1 x record/playback, 1 x erase

Reel size: up to 7 inch reel

Tape speeds: 1 78  3 34  7 12 ips

Wow and flutter: 0.12% (7 12 ips)

Frequency response: 30Hz to 18kHz (7 12 ips)

Signal to Noise Ratio: 50dB

Input: 60mV (line), 0.19mV (mic)

Output: 0.39V (line)

Output power: 4 watts

Speakers: 2 x 130mm dynamic speakers

Semiconductors: 20 x transistors, 3 x diodes

Dimensions: 408 x 256 x 380mm

Weight: 13.5kg


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Reviewed May 11th, 2018 by Mortimersnerd

I bought this reel to reel at a rummage sale and after some proper lubing I am playing and recording. It sounds great!

Reviewed Dec 16th, 2016 by creuz

I have had one of these for a few years now and slowly refurbishing it. The amp in this things kicks ass! You can really run a high line out signal. I have used it for social club meetings where we have music, then you can use the pa function if someone wants to make a speach. Only shortcoming is vu meters only operate in record mode, and the speakers are pretty lame. Here's a tip, if you need a rewind belt, a size 2-233 (or 2-232) Buna N O-Ring is the correct size.

Reviewed Feb 20th, 2013 by Chappers431

This was a great first reel to reel recorder that I bought in 1970. After many years the whole mechanism wore out. That was because it was well used. No one builds great machines like this anymore.



re: TC-252

A machine with total balls. I had this one new and used it for two years daily use in a radio station setting..Not what it was designed for at all.. It got the crap beat out of it every single day by studio jocks who are not exactly known for being nice to the equipment and yet it kept cranking. The heads finally went flat and the drive motor finally slowed down a bit. It looked like hell at the end but what a machine! Had to give it a decent burial.

re: TC-252

Capstan wheel doesn't turn on my unit so it won't function in Play. Everything else seems fine. I've been looking at the manual but still can't figure out what turns the capstan. I can feel the difference in drag on the wheel when Play is engaged. Can I fix this or am I out of luck?

re: TC-252

Look at the Youtube videos posted for the 252-d and see if that will help you out.

re: TC-252

Based on how other reel to reels work, I would guess you are missing a belt. If that's the problem, you can probably replace it yourself if you can find a replacement belt. Just a guess!

re: TC-252

I am just starting to look at this machine but I used to service similar Sony reel to reels. The capstan wheel, or pinch roller, is driven by the idler shaft, which is driven by the flywheel. If the pinch roller is not turning and the idler from the flywheel is turning then the pinch roller is not engaged.

This recorder uses a dash pot arrangement to load the pinch roller and on mine the mechanism is stuck, keeping the pinch roller from making contact with the idler wheel, which is turning. A dash pot is a device that provides resistance to apply a load gradually rather than all at once. The pinch roller and the rest of the mechanism that applies pressure to the back of the tape, holding it firmly against the heads, is stuck and not moving forward as it should.

There is a lever to the left of the head deck that can be moved forward by hand and on mine that allows me to move the pinch roller assembly forward, against stiff resistance.

I'll have to remove the chassis to see if I can spot where it is binding. Since the machine has been in storage for years it is likely that the grease and oil has changed consistency and causing friction rather than lubrication.

re: TC-252

Just want to amend what I wrote before I got right into this machine. There is no dash pot, it seemed like there was one due to how slowly the pinch roller loaded.

I finally got the head deck off and everything was very sticky under there with dried lube. The pinch roller is loaded by a ramp on a lever, pushing it up and into position. The pinch roller shaft slides on the ramp. After I re-lubed everything the pinch roller loaded quickly and moved freely.

Running under the head deck is a long, thin lever that loads the idler wheel that drives the flywheel from the motor hub. If the lube dries and gets sticky, that lever jams and the idler wheel wont contact the flywheel. The lever runs right next to the chassis and any old lube between there and the chassis causes it to stick.

This recorder is so old that the sponges used to absorb and hold oil on the pinch roller and on the motor bearings had deteriorated. They literally came apart in my hand. I had to make some out of felt. You have to be careful when overhauling the motor since it is shock-loaded. It's hard to re-align the motor shaft when re-assembling, but if you keep tapping both ends of the motor shaft gently with the dull end of a screwdriver (before tightening the motor bolts completely), while turning the shaft by hand, it will eventually align itself and run freely. Then you can tighten the bolts before making sure it still runs freely.

I did not apply power until I had it running freely by hand.

I did not look for parts, I just want to get it running to transfer music to my computer to digitize it. The tape is already deteriorating. There were old splices on the tape that were sticky and they jammed on the guide posts on the head deck.

I am using a rubber restorer on the idlers and pinch roller, but I have been advised not to use it on belts. It's a highly toxic substance called Rubber Renuer, by MG Chemicals. I have used it years ago and it does work, but for how long is debatable.

The rubber on the idlers and pinch roller is noticeably cracked and glazed. This stuff cleans off the glaze and refurbishes the outer layer of the rubber. The MSDS sheet advises against breathing it in directly and to use it in a well-ventilated area.

re: TC-252

I also have a TC-252 that doesn't work. I am assuming the idler wheel is supposed to contact the motor wheel and the flywheel at the same time. For some reason the idler contacts the motor wheel but not the flywheel. It moves within 1/8" of the flywheel. The machine works in every mode but the play mode. The pinch roller is working right but whatever is supposed to turn the flywheel doesn't work.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

re: TC-252

Jim, don't know if you are still needing help.....the idler wheel is attached to the base plate with a spring that will get weak....I just repaired the problem by bending the tab out away from the IW which will give a little more tension.

re: TC-252

Do you have any videos or images of this? Mine speeds forwards when int he play position and I think it might be because of the pinch roller etc....


re: TC-252

Did you check the tape sensor switch (next to the erase head). If that is not engaged or does not connect, the motor will not run.


is the same deck (the 'D'), without speakers, amps or SOS features. Can use this manual on that model.


Yes it is the same amnual...Sony added the "D" to idenitfy the deck from the full recorder.


Need Schematic for the Sony TC352

rsnwtrs's picture

Thanks a lot for

Thanks a lot for uploading!


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