View Full Version : The good oil

March 20th, 2008, 08:37 PM
When I bought my BBC(b), the guy threw in some disk drives. These drives (both mounted vertically in one cabinet) weren't included in the original advert and there was no cable but he thought I may as well have them anyway. About 6 weeks later, he contacted me out of the blue and says he has found the cable for those disk drives, and posts it to me. Yay!

Booting it up I found only one drive worked. Oh well, they were free anyway, so I settled for just one drive. I inspected the non-working drive and couldn't find anything obviously wrong, so I let it be.

Anyway, today I dragged this drive out again for a closer look. The light turned on and the motor spun, it just couldn't seem to read disks. Looking at the naked drive while it was seeking, I noticed that disk head assembly seemed to have a bit of trouble moving up the guide rod it was attached to. Hmm...? The rod had some black grease on it. I switched off and manually moved it back and forth. It didn't SEEM too stiff. However, the working drive had no black grease, and it just seemed a little freer.

I removed the grease and oiled the rod.

It now works perfectly! When I first inspected the drive I assumed the grease was a good thing. Seems it was just a bit sticky though.

It's amazing how some things can be fixed so simply!

Anyway, I now have two working BBC(B) disk drives. Time to look for way (other than my RS-432) to get software onto disks.

BTW, for those that have read other BBC related posts of mine, the RS-432 problem has taken an interesting twist. More on that when I've done a bit more digging.

March 21st, 2008, 03:47 AM
I had exactly the same problem with the drive in my IBM 5155!

nige the hippy
March 21st, 2008, 05:13 AM
I used to get plagued by printer guide rails being lubricated with the wrong oil, drying out & getting stiff. Not really had that problem with floppies yet, although I tend to give them a bit of a clean before I start.

Tezza- tell us about the BBC new developments, I was going to pop a 9 way D onto mine today.

March 21st, 2008, 11:24 AM
Tezza- tell us about the BBC new developments, I was going to pop a 9 way D onto mine today.

Nige, the issue is potentially a little sensitive and I'm not yet sure about all the facts, so I'll PM you about this.


March 29th, 2008, 06:19 PM
I had exactly the same problem with the drive in my IBM 5155!

You are not alone.

The A: drive in my 5150 started to misbehave yesterday. It wouldn't boot most of the time, and sometimes it didn't even think there was a disk present when there was. To narrow down the problem I made my B drive my A drive for a while and everything was fine. So it wasn't the controller. The drive was the problem.

I then thought about my own experience with the BBC drives and dongfeng's comment above. Hmmm....

A visit to Eric's Vintage IBM website revealed a very useful document written by Ryan Harvey on re-lubing old 5155 full-height drives. Armed with this, I proceeded to disassemble and have a look. Sure enough, as with the BBC drive, moving the head on the guide rods seemed a little stiff and there were some oil residues there that were black and sticky.

After a clean with some cotton bugs and a re-lube, the mechanism seemed freer. I reassembled, rebooted and every thing now works perfectly. I even put it through the Diagnostic diskette just to make sure. It passed with flying colours. Yesterday I couldn't even LOAD the Diagnostic diskette!

A little bit of oil works wonders! Given it's positive influence on my vintage gear, should try it on other vintage complaints such as arthritis, haemorroides and lumbago! :grin:


March 29th, 2008, 06:29 PM
Glad I could help! The guide unfortunately didn't fix the drive I did it on. I did EVERYTHING the diagnostic book on Eric's site(vintageIBM.net) that it had told me to do and test on a floppy drive, and it didn't fix it. Now I know I had a bad drive, but a good controller board, so at least I got to keep some parts, and thus all was not lost. I like how the Hardware, Service, and Repair guide was done for the IBM. It is VERY detailed, and has info on how to do electrical repairs as well. I can't say my AT&T book is THAT detailed. I guess you win some, you loose some. Looks like we both one in a way! You got your working drive, and I get to have that good feeling knowing I contributed to keeping more electronic "waste" out of the dump!


March 29th, 2008, 07:39 PM
Ah, I thought it might have been your document Ryan, but I wasn't sure. Anyway, it was good to have the guide. Thanks.

I've certainly learnt a lot in the last six months while doing this hobby. I was hoping I wouldn't need to repair stuff when I started as my knowledge of electronics is superficial to say the least. However, I've found you can't really avoid maintaining or fixing items in your collection and, unexpectedly, I've actually enjoyed the challenge.

I've repaired a few things now. Everytime you do that, you learn something.

Didn't someone once say "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing"? I'm probably at about that stage. :)