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Cleaning heads on DuoDisk

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I have an Apple IIe with a DuoDisk 5 1/4" floppy drive, and I would like to clean the heads on the drive.

 

I bought a vintage, unopened box of Verbatim cleaning disks on eBay, and I used one to clean the drive. However, I have a few questions:

 

Should I be able to see the dirt on the cleaning disk when I remove it? (Because in my case, it looked the same as when I put it in.) How can I tell that the cleaning worked? The disks are supposedly presaturated, but should I add alcohol to make up for the fact these were manufactured a long time ago? How can I tell if I have the right amount of alcohol on the pads?

 

Alternatively, I know that the other way to clean a drive is to open it up and clean it manually. I found a YouTube video for cleaning a Disk II, but unfortunately the DuoDisk is quite a bit different. Can anyone explain how to open up a DuoDisk and clean it? (There are a lot of different screws, and I didn't want to just start removing screws at random.)

 

Thanks!

 

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It's not likely you'll see dirt the first few cleanings, no matter how dirty. It all gets spread out. I wouldn't rely on "pre-saturated" disks this old, they're gonna be dried up. Just add a few drops of alcohol or head-cleaner. In some nasty cases I used water+alcohol. But go with alcohol at first, 91%.

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If you still have trouble, the secret weapon for heads when I worked at a video-transfer place was MEK. It's especially nasty stuff and illegal in many states now, but possible to find (paint shops, or talk to a house-painter that's been in the business for awhile, they used to use it to cut certain types of oil-based paint and stains).

 

If your drive still has seek issues and you suspect the heads, try this stuff. Either on your cleaning disks or direct and careful with a q-tip. It cleans heads better then anything else, just try not to breath it.

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I've never ever had to resort to anything harsher than water and alcohol + whatever abrasives the head cleaning disks are made of.

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I've never ever had to resort to anything harsher than water and alcohol + whatever abrasives the head cleaning disks are made of.

 

That's good to know. I haven't actually used MEK on floppy drives, truth be told.

 

I've had to use MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) professionally on U-matic decks, betamax and mostly video related stuff, but then these things are exposed to literally miles of tape and all the crazy fungicides and polymers that are on that stuff. I know it's a bit of a different world with disk drives. Still, I've encountered VCR heads that totally would not clean up even with 90% alcohol and a lot of rubbing, but would run good as new with a wipedown of MEK. Works noticeably better then acetone too.

 

I've let go of a few flaky Disc II units and at least one AE 5.25 unit in the past before I knew about MEK. I would have tried it if I knew then what I know now... so I just threw this out there.

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If you clean the heads with a Q-tip with the drive opened up and it comes up clean after numerous cleanings, and a known good disk still doesn't read, it's probably not a dirty head that is the problem. Continued problems reading may be an IC or other component. Personally I would try swapping out the analog board before moving to toxics or trashing the drive. Assuming there isn't an obvious problem with the drive movement. Supposedly you should never grease the rails on a Disk ][, but I'm not sure about the DuoDisk mechs.

 

If you have continued problems, I would consider posting about it on the Apple II Enthusiasts group on Facebook. People there can be quite helpful.

 

I find that with troubleshooting and repair, you need two of everything. With a DuoDisk, you may be able to swap out the drives, so that D2 is D1, but it's probably a project. And then if that works, you're left with a MonoDisk, and then you might as well use a UniDisk.

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