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The problem may be on the slanted control board on the rear of the deck. First locate and check all soldering on that J37 -P37 connector. This connector you are concerned with pins 5 and 6 only. It is on the edge near the 5 pin round connector. Then if no problems there are found inspect both transistors Q65 which gives voltage to the solenoid and then Q58 which provided the ground to the solenoid. The solenoid can also be not working due to mechanical reason or even if the solenoid does work and the switching does not take place there are fingers that go into the nylon actuator of the switches that get dislodged due to shipping on a rare occasion. These need to be reinserted into the nylon actuators of the switch. If the solenoid does not work then I also check for friction in the slide plate and apply grease where needed and correct and mechanical reason for friction. I am an Ex-Teac Lead Technician so if you need more help just look up Skywave Tape Deck Repair in Chicagoland. I give advice to those that ask for it by E mail. Sam,
The unit need some work by a technician. The bad thing about the drawer type decks is that it makes it hard or impossible to clean the tape path. I have not seen one of these but I could probably fix it. Some of your description sound like a loose capstan belt and then other times the Pinch roller is not engaging- they may be related if the mechanism is tied to the capstan motor system.
The Capstan motor is just for the play speed regulation so it has nothing to do with the reel motors. You can have an open safety microswitch or maybe a bad relay. It is really hard to say without looking at the unit but I am sure it is repairable. Is the right dummy plug put in the back? This can stop all transport functions if it is out.
It goes from the left reel over the tension arm under the stationary guide in the head stack under the lifters between the Pinch Roller and Capstan shaft and then under the rigfht tension arm and threaded onto the reel. This is from memory but I am sure I have threaded 1000 or more decks in 40 years of service.
I don't have any quick answers as this is a newer deck than when I worked for the company- I would have to see the deck to determine the fault. Do you have the continuous reverse switch on -maybe that is it.