resurrected my tascam porta 05

(Update: 9/9/2020 – higher resolution images)

Tascam Porta 05

Tascam Porta 05

Decided to dig out my old Tascam Porta 05 ministudio in order to digitise some old 4-track recordings. But, found that the play heads seemed to be stuck in the forward position. Full symptoms and notes:

  • Power on ok
  • Impossible to insert a cassette due to the position of the heads
  • Can hear the motor (which turns all the time power is on – this is normal)
  • Motor responds correctly to the pitch control
  • Fast forward button works – spins the central right capstan
  • Rewind button works – spins the central left capstan
  • Tape heads in forwards position, but the rubber wheel in front of the stop button is not forward enough to press against the metal capstan
  • The metal capstan, which should normally be spinning all the time the machine is powered is not actually spinning
  • Pressing play or record buttons does nothing – the central capstans that would fit into the tape spindles do not turn

I did google around trying to find a solution. I did find a couple of people with the same problem, but no solution posted. I googled for the service manual with no result other than someone in the states selling on ebay for around $22. I wish companies like this would get their service manuals PDF’d and onto the web – shouldn’t be an issue for what is essentially obsolete equipment?

Anyway, with no solution available from the outside, I decided to take a quick look inside to see if there was anything obviously out of place. Getting inside is easy:

  1. Remove the 5 screws from the back panel
  2. Carefully part the two sides noting that:
    • The power on/off slider will likely drop out as it detaches from the internal control
    • all the other sliders remain with the top of the case – but some detach in the process from the underlying control which remains in the base.
    • In my case the forward position of the tape heads was preventing the sides from separating. Pressing them back by pressing the plastic between the erase and write heads made enough space.

Inside the Tascam Porta 05

Close-up showing heads fixed forward

With the sides parted, I then powered up and observed the mechanics when pressing the various control buttons. I couldn’t see anything obvious, but then noticed that underneath the controls is a flywheel attached to that capstan in-front of the stop button. The flywheel is belt-driven and was not spinning.

Nudging the fly-wheel with a cotton-bud.

Using a cotton bud, I gave it a few nudges, attempting to pushing it round in either direction. I was quite surprised  after a few attempts when the belt picked up and the flywheel turned under the power of the motor. At the same time the heads snapped back into the retracted position, and the play and record buttons now worked.

All that remained was to give it a good clean-out and reassemble. Taking care to align the Record function sliders with their underlying controls, and get the 5 screws back in, and I am back in action with kit that I thought was pretty cutting edge back in 1987.

Posted by creacog

Product Owner/Manager; Digital Project Manager, ex-Developer Available for Product Owner roles


I had the same problem, rewind and fast forward worked fine. Play and Recird would snap back when engaged. The problem was the plastic armature that moves upward when the pause button is depressed. It was very stiff and slow to return after disengaging the pause button. The machine would still think it was in pause mode. I removed the armature and cleaned underneath it. All is fine now. I hope this helps. … Bobby


i just wanted to thank you because you helped me with my tascam issue. the solution was as you stated, nudging at the flywheel. i had jammed it pressing too hard on the keys. i called tascam shortly after the incident had occurred and they told me it would take several weeks and several hundered dollars for them to atempt to fix. you made my day.

That link didn’t quite work, but a simplified starting point would be:

This is a good thread for us old Tascam users. I have a Porta One that won’t play, though it will FF and RR. The plate with the heads and roller doesn’t slide toward the tape. Therefore, play mode clicks off after about two seconds. In the case of the Porta One, I’m told that a cracked plastic piece located under the recording heads is the culprit but I’m nervous about dismantling the transport mechanisms. I, too have a ton of material that needs to be digitized and preserved, so it’s frustrating. Thanks for starting the thread; it may give me the nerve to dive in.

@creacog, I cannot say thanks enough. My Porta O5 HS (which is really hard to find) has been stuck like this for years, and I gave up on it, I then found one on Ebay and paid a fortune to buy it, when it arrived it had the same problem even though the seller proved it worked before it shipped. I had nothing to lose so I tried your technique on both and it repaired them both!!!!!! I now have two HS units and I am recovering 10 years of lost music thanks to you! You rock!

sounds like a victory – well done

Thanks a lot!
Another Tascam Porta 05 back to life after 20 years! And, most important, I recovered all my original recordings.
Thanks for sharing.


What plastic armature are you talking about? I think I have the same issue as you and I have take off and cleaned a number of parts related to the pause button but I can’t get any results. My machine is working a lot smoother now but still no playback or recording with the tape


just resurrected my Tascam porta 05 that I bought in the late 80s. It took me several attempts and hoping I haven’t scratched the heads in the process. Recorded four albums at home on this thing! Thank you.

I had a similar problem with my Porta 05 years ago and managed to release it without quite knowing how. Now I’ve got it out again but the tape heads won’t lift to engage ( I think a spring must’ve gone) but I only want to use it as a mixer anyway. Thing is, can I disconnect the power to the tape mechanism without messing up the rest of the circuitry? It’d be nice to get rid of the sound of the flywheel whirring away. I see a couple of likely looking connectors inside but I’m pretty ignorant of this stuff, so any guidance would be very gratefully received!

Hey Gavin,
I’m glad you found the article. I am afraid I am also pretty ignorant of this stuff and I don’t think I can help. Your comment is published, and might be found by someone who can.

I decided to get my TASCAM HS Porta05 out yesterday after a very long time. My issue was pressing PLAY did not make the head go down. I opened it and moved the head down with my finger while PLAY was pressed. I did this a few times. As soon as I released it, it would disengage. I had decided to open up de cassette unit to see what was wrong, but before going into this, I tried a few more times to just press PLAY and then to my relief, the head moved on its own. I suspect the unit had some dirt and wasn’t responding properly to PLAY.
I’m surprised that after so many years the unit is working like a champ!
I am currently looking for the user manual. I hope its still around.

You’ve helped repair another tascam Porta 05! Legend!

wow!! u are a genius, I’ve just resolved the same problem in my Tascam, thanks a lot from Argentina!!

Hello from the FUTURE! (-URE! -URe -Ure -ure)
I dug mine out and had this same issue. This blog post helped me fix it! Thanks. Glad things like this stay up on the internet.

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