Thanks Ksarul for your assistance. I checked all the things you mentioned but it all seems fine. The head makes good contact with the tape, the tape itself is brand new but I looked it over anyway and its fine. I opened the machine back up and cleaned the switch on the circuit board that is engaged when it is recording but it didn't help. I could check some voltages on the board, but without a schematic I'm pretty much lost. So, I went ahead and bought another recorder off of e-pay. Here's hoping this one isn't a dud too.
Thanks everyone for the replies.