How to clean the head on your old Atari Floppy drive and other maintainence tips

How to clean the head on your old Atari Floppy drive and other maintainence tips

Post by Technoid Mutan » Mon, 23 Dec 2002 14:20:13

If you have an old floppy drive you think needs a little TLC then follow me.
These tips apply to ALL atari disk drives. Some few might have double-sided
drives.  If this is the case, then clean BOTH heads.  Dig?

Open the case on your drive and remove the top cover.  For Atari, Indus, and
Rana, this is accomplised by removing the four screws on the bottom of the
case. For Percom and ATR8000 by removing the screws from both sides of the

Your single-sided Atari disk drive has a read/write head that needs cleaning
every few millennia.  Some folks use a disk to do this, but since cleaning
disks these days are double-sided, putting one in your single-sided Atari
drive is a VERY BAD THING to do. I've adapted some cleaning disks by taping
smooth material over the TOP read-write area, but it is better to do it this

Take a cotton swab (Cuetip or whatever) and some 90% pure rubbing *.
Wet the swab and scrub the head with it.  The head is inderneath a swinging
arm which holds a felt pad.  While you are doing this, take a look at that
felt pad.  It bears down on the disk's upper surface under spring pressure
to make sure the head makes good contact with the disk.  THESE PADS WEAR
OUT. Now you know why those cleaning disks can be a monster.  They'll rip
the darn pad off the drive.

If your pad is worn-out, you can pick it off the arm with a sharp blade and
replace it.  A simple, permanant replacement can be had by destroying an old
cassette tape (Tape, not DRIVE). A cassette tape has the same kind of felt
pad in it's center as your drive does.  For the same purpose even.  The
tape's is rectangular but of similar size.  Just pick it off and superglue
it to your drive's arm.  Bingo! Instant new pad. And you got a clean
read-write head out of it to boot.

Symptoms of a worn pad are: A drive which powers up and appears normal but
won't read/write or will do so unreliably.  Of course these symptoms apply
to a dirty head, broken pad-arm spring, misalignment etc, but a worn pad
and/or dirty head are the culprits 99 times out of 100.

Another trick designed to quiet noisy drives is to take some lubricant,
dampen a swab or paper towel with it, and run the damp material along the
drive rails on which the head's carriage runs.  This will both clean the
rails and lubricate them.  This doesn't really DO much, but it makes the
drive purr which is cool. You have to do this every few months in order to
keep it nice and quiet, but that give you the incentive to clean the head
while you are in there.

Another installment of Tips from your favorite mutant!




1. cleaning drive head/GULAM/PublishingPartner

exclusively.   I'm wondering if I should get one of those cleaning-kit
to 'clean' the head of the floppy drive.  What's the appropriate thing
to do?
   I'm also finally about to purchase a hard-drive. I understand that
the Supra 20Meg comes in two flavors, one which is small (3.5") and another
which is bigger. How are there different?  Which is better? Atari SH204
is out; i don't think my dorm desk likes its size.
   Has anyone been able to create a file with the 'cat file1 >file2'
command in GULAM?  When I do that, file1 just gets printed on my screen, and
file2 is creted with 0 byte.
   Also, does anyone know how to fix the mouse problem
that I encounter if I run Publishing Partner in GULAM. Running it the first
time is fine, but if I run it a second time (or subsequently) from GULAM,
the mouse messes up the PP screen (leaves extraneous arrows on screen and
messes up drawing of the menu).  PP still runs fine except the screen is
quite messed up.  (the kind of thing you get when you did not do mouse_off
when re-drawing a screen where the mouse cursor subsequently leaves a
background block wherever it goes).  I've tried doing a mouse_off before
invoking PP, but with same symptoms. This only happens with second and
subsequent runs of PP. Running the first time in GULAM is always fine.  Also
after running PP a couple of times (with the messing symptoms), I can exit
to the desktop from GULAM, and re-run PP with no problem at all !!
   Am I correct to say that when I exit GULAM, the memory used is not

UUCP: {allegra, hocsd, philabs, ogcvax}!sbcs!lean

2. Shutdown the listener socket temporarily


4. Creative Labs

5. Looking for head-to-head games for the Atari 800 series

6. M Editor

7. Time to clean out the old 8-bit Atari stuff

8. Border Text

9. Floppy Disk Heads: alignment

10. Atari 1050 Disk drive replacement head pads

11. PARKING HARD DRIVE HEADS from within Spectre 128

12. 810 Drive alignment Program for Heads!

13. FA: Atari 800xl, 1050 disc drive and XC12 Datasette (amongst others)