I've been dabbling in old video for some time now, but I just bought a collection of Beta VCRs (11) and a Sony audio processor for Beta VCRs (none that I have). Hopefully somebody around here is well-versed in the Sony mechanism. I've got one (Sony SL-HF400) that will load and thread the tape. Within a second or two it will unthread the tape and eject. It did load a play a couple of times, but that was it. I've been a technician for 35 years, but have very little VCR experience and no manuals.
As for my other VCRs, I've got a Sony VO-9800 u-matic and have a VO-5800 on the way. I've also got some VHS stuff, 8mm, and mini-DV.
I'm looking for access to a 1" reel to reel machine for 27 tapes that I need to digitize. I was on the local news here a few weeks ago due to some tapes that I have in my possession.