I was about two dozen disks into my archiving efforts when my 5.25” floppy drives stopped reading disks. Both of them. At almost the same time. I was afraid that I may have broken something permanently, because I had made the mistake of hot-plugging them one time. But a little bit of Googling suggested that the solution might be far simpler – the timing was a coincidence, and they might just need a bit of cleaning.
Neither of the drives had been cleaned since they have come into my possession, and I was doing some fairly heavy use on questionable media, so I figured that it was worth a shot. A little further Googling showed that while there were plenty of guides on doing this on an older disk ][ unit, there was nothing for the Platinum 5.25” floppy drive (A9M0107). So, I figured that I would write one up myself.
Very first, the usual disclaimer for these sorts of things applies. You follow this guide at your own risk. I cannot guarantee anything about any of the procedures depicted here. Anything that you do to your hardware is your own responsibility. With that out of the way, lets get started!
Tools: Not much, just a standard #2 Phillips, a little flathead for prying off a metal plate that we’ll find inside, and some rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip for cleaning the drive head.
Step 3: Remove the screw holding the top plate and grounding wire to the chassis.Step 4: Using the little flathead screwdriver, carefully pry off the top cover. Note that it hooks over the front of the frame, so will need to be lifted at an angle.
Step 8: Lift up the top part of the read-write mechanism (it’s spring-loaded) and use a Q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol to clean the read-write head (the white square in the center). Note that since these drives are single-sided, there is only one head, as opposed to the two that you’d find on a double-sided or high-density floppy drive.Step 9: Follow the instructions in reverse, and put the drive back together.
I wound up clearing a bunch of gunk out of my floppy drives. After putting them back together and hooking them up again (with the power turned off this time), they were happily back to copying disks.