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offensive_Jerk
May 6th, 2014, 09:35 PM
So I had an issue a while back with my PCJr I got off someone. Was working fine, then certain disks would stop working. Looking at the disk, there would be a ring carved into it. I bought a new drive out of fear it would ruin more disks.

I haven't touched any of those disks since. Recently after getting my AT, I started imaging some more of those early IBM era disks (thanks to mbrutman's excellent program) like the PCJR demo disk, etc. Now after trying to read those, my AT no longer reads disks in the 1.2MB Drive or the 360K drive.

And I determined that the 1.2MB drive is wrecking disks now. I tried formatting a disk a few times, and the ring carved in the disk got bigger and bigger.

Is there something with those disks that is doing this, or how they were stored or something? The AT seemed to read disks pretty decently until this. The 360k drive would be a little sketchy at first.

I ran a cleaner disk in both AT drives and still getting a gouge. I ruined a couple blank 1.2MB disks and a few commercial game disks.

What should I do, rub the disk heads with a qtip and alcohol?

Chuck(G)
May 6th, 2014, 10:01 PM
No, as floppies age, the binder degrades. Some brands are worse than others (Wabash is legend in this respect). Storage conditions matter--extreme humidity or heat can decrease the life of the binder. An accumulation of the coating from such a disk on the drive heads will exacerbate the situation--called the "sticky shed" syndrome. Audio tape enthusiasts run into this quite frequently.

First, clean the heads--forget the cleaning disk. Use a cotton swab with isopropanol or perchloroethylene or Freon TF if you can find it.

There is a way to temporarily rejuvenate a floppy much of the time (i.e. it's not sure-fire)--remove the cookie from the jacket and bake it for several hours between 130-140F, but no hotter. Re-insert the cookie into the jacket and read immediately. You may get the disk to last a day or so. I have a custom-made "oven" that I do this in with a PID temperature controller, so the temperature control is very good. Sometimes, coating the cookie with a bit of cocamide DEA can help lubricate things a bit.

Well, you did ask... :)

offensive_Jerk
May 6th, 2014, 10:21 PM
That baking method is interesting. I don't have any data I NEED to get off, it's just annoying to ruin commercial software diskettes. Some of the other ones that are more valuable like the first King's Quest I am too afraid to even insert as I don't want them wrecked.

So is isopropanol the same as Isopropyl alcohol? That would seem like the easiest of those chemicals to obtain.

modem7
May 6th, 2014, 11:37 PM
So is isopropanol the same as Isopropyl alcohol?
Yes, it is.

SomeGuy
May 7th, 2014, 07:14 AM
Since you are having that many problems with it, yes, I would suggest removing the drive, inspecting it, manually cleaning the heads with a q-tip and alcohol, and cleaning any other dust or grime if needed.

Then thoroughly test the drive with a known good sacrificial floppy disk. Run it through a few formats and disk tests, make sure there are no errors and no significant damage appears on the disk surface.

Of course, a perfectly working drive won't mean you won't lose more disks. As chuck mentioned, binder material degrades after so much time. Also disks that were poorly stored are very likely to have dirt, dust, mildew, etc inside the disk jacket or on the disk surface.

If you can find copies elsewhere, DON'T run off of originals.

And go figure, right after shooting off my mouth the other day about never having a disk just randomly fall apart, I finally encountered a disk that totally ate itself up as I was reading it. When I visually checked the disk, the surface looked in OK condition, and the "cookie" seemed to turn in the jacket with no resistance, so everything seemed good. Probably should have at least blown some compressed air inside the jacket, it didn't look in bad enough condition to give it a full bath. But there must have been some dirt inside the jacket, combined with degrading binder. After the first pass there were grooves dug in to the surface, and additional passes just made things worse. The good news is that the first pass successfully read all the data off of it!

Stone
May 7th, 2014, 07:37 AM
Anyone who regularly uses twenty to twenty five year old floppy disks, especially 5", needs a floppy drive cleaning kit, i.e., a disk with cleaning solution. If you fall into this category and don't have one you'll just be spinning your wheels with what can appear to be bad floppy drive(s) when in actuality it's the disks themselves. I've had floppy drive cleaning kits, in both sizes, since the early 1990s and I've never looked back. If you don't have this equipment it's almost as bad as having a computer without a monitor. :-)

offensive_Jerk
May 7th, 2014, 09:26 AM
Yeah I used the cleaning disk a bunch of times but it wasn't cutting the mustard this time.

Stone
May 7th, 2014, 09:38 AM
Yeah I used the cleaning disk a bunch of times but it wasn't cutting the mustard this time.Using a cleaning disk on the drive's fouled heads will *not* enable you to use a *bad* disk in that or any drive. It will clean the heads so that the drive will now be able to read a good disk. ONLY GOOD DISKS CAN BE READ FROM OR WRITTEN TO!!! A bad disk can and will foul a good drive's heads in one second of use and must be discarded. So you must always have a known good disk on hand to determine if the drive's heads are working properly.

SpidersWeb
May 7th, 2014, 12:03 PM
Yeah I used the cleaning disk a bunch of times but it wasn't cutting the mustard this time.

Just wanted to check - are you running the cleaning disk dry or wet with isopropyl?
I've never had any success with dry cleaning disks or normal cleaning disks being run dry.

offensive_Jerk
May 7th, 2014, 08:06 PM
Stone, after reading the questionable disks is when I had the problem with the new disks. I put a brand new disk in just to test the drive and that's when it was getting carved into. I even tried again with another new disk knowing that one would likely be destroyed too. So, now I can't read anything with those two drives.

And spidersweb, yes, the cleaning disks were wet

offensive_Jerk
May 7th, 2014, 09:19 PM
Just to clarify, I was imaging disks, then noticed it seemed they were getting harder to read, so I stupidly put another known working disk in to image that and the drive started ruining it, along with not being able to read it.

That's when I knew the drive needed cleaning (at the very least) and ran the disk cleaner with fluid in. I ran that a bunch of times, and then put a brand new disk in to test. Those were still being ruined. I wasn't trying to clean the drive and read the same disk again.

Stone
May 8th, 2014, 03:07 AM
When you say 'brand new' disk exactly what do you mean? A disk can be 'new' and still be bad. :-) You need to use a known good disk -- one that has just worked in another machine/drive. If the disk is not known to be currently working/good it might have the same problem as the others and it could also be a culprit that will foul the drive's heads again. Remember, one second is more than enough time for a bad disk to do it's dirty-work. The only valid test is to 1) clean the drive's heads and 2) try a known good disk in that drive. Anything short of that is not a reliable test of the drive's true condition.

offensive_Jerk
May 8th, 2014, 03:15 AM
The disk was new, and working. I had formatted it about a week ago. Two of them actually. I put another known working disk in after the first one died and the exact same result.
And also the known working commercial game disk before those.

offensive_Jerk
May 8th, 2014, 03:18 AM
I'm hesitant to try any of those other disks that came with my PCjr, I hate when this happens.
Looks like I'll have to take the drives out again and clean them, even though I just had the whole system apart to clean the 30ish years of swill out of the case.

Stone
May 8th, 2014, 04:12 AM
No need to take anything apart. Just use a cleaning disk. I have fouled drives' heads hundreds, if not thousands of times with the mountain of 25 - 30 year old disks that I have and the cleaning disk, when used correctly, has revived the floppy drive(s) every time. I have never had to disassemble a drive or a computer to clean a floppy drive.

offensive_Jerk
May 8th, 2014, 04:19 AM
I wrote earlier that the cleaning disk didn't work. Maybe I'll try a different one before I tear it apart.

Stone
May 8th, 2014, 04:36 AM
You can't just put the cleaning disk in the drive. That won't do anything at all! :-) :-) :-) It's got to SPIN for a while, maybe 10 - 15 seconds, or even more. Don't forget the fluid. What I do is from a C:\> prompt type DIR A: and press enter. Then I press 'R' two or three times when the Abort, Retry, Fail message appears. That gives the heads a good cleaning (which is what it sounds like they really need).

KC9UDX
May 8th, 2014, 06:41 AM
Get a flashlight and look into the drive. It's sometimes possible to get a long "Q-tip" in there to clean the heads without tearing the drive apart. In my experience, "Q-tip"s with alcohol are much more effective than cleaning disks: Cleaning disks are great if you use them regularly. However, if your drive is to the point where it's not working because the head is dirty, the "Q-tip" is the way to go, IMHO.

Chuck(G)
May 8th, 2014, 07:17 AM
No need to take anything apart. Just use a cleaning disk. I have fouled drives' heads hundreds, if not thousands of times with the mountain of 25 - 30 year old disks that I have and the cleaning disk, when used correctly, has revived the floppy drive(s) every time. I have never had to disassemble a drive or a computer to clean a floppy drive.

I've been the victim of a seriously fouled disk twice--no cleaning disk would get the crud off the head. I had to go in with a throat swab (long wooden-shafted version of a Q-tip) and perc before the stuff would come off. Be careful with the program used with the cleaning disk--the aggressive cleaning program with ImageDisk is too much for some drives. Usually, just a "DIR" getting a "not ready" a few times is sufficient in most cases.

offensive_Jerk
May 8th, 2014, 09:33 AM
Stone, I know you need to have the disk drive spin when you have the cleaning disk in, I just figured it was so obvious I didn't mention that. I did try again, and hit the r key 3 times the. Moistened the disk again and hit r 3 more times. The drive is still having issues. Looks like it's qtip time.

SpidersWeb
May 8th, 2014, 12:49 PM
Let us know how you get on.

My "hail mary" is wet cleaning disks still, but I press down on the head slightly (no seek, disk spinning), I don't usually mention this because it's a bit rough.

SomeGuy
May 8th, 2014, 04:33 PM
At least a PCjr 5.25" half height drive should be easy to remove and inspect. Unlike some crazy Japanese 3.5" laptop drives :P .

I've worked on some drives before that had piles of brown oxide gunk like chuck described. No cleaner disk would make a dent. Also drives with chipped and mangled heads. No cleaner disk can fix that.

barythrin
May 9th, 2014, 09:18 AM
I've always wondered this but with the cleaning kits they come with some solution that isn't always mentioned what it contains (probably just isopropyl or denatured alcohol) but does that stuff expire? Do you all use the same solution or just toss that and refill it with something else?

Also I recall an older coworker at my last job (we fixed everything we could ourselves being a tight budget state agency) regarding cleaning printers at least he swore by only using denatured alcohol and not isopropyl because he said isopropyl would dry out the rubber on the rollers (laser printers). Is that a true concern? Given if you're not cleaning something with rubber you'll be fine but I always wondered about that cleaning around anything with a rubber drive belt.

Stone
May 9th, 2014, 10:14 AM
I've always wondered this but with the cleaning kits they come with some solution that isn't always mentioned what it contains (probably just isopropyl or denatured alcohol) but does that stuff expire? Do you all use the same solution or just toss that and refill it with something else?I don't know what the kit(s) came with originally -- that was over 20 years ago. :-) But when the applicator bottle is empy I refill it with iso and have been doing this for over 20 years with great success. Denatured alcohol by definition, contains additives, e.g., methanol, isopropyl alcohol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, and denatonium.

Chuck(G)
May 9th, 2014, 11:09 AM
My big bottle of Xerox CX-85 cleaning solution says "Fluorocarbons, Isopropyl Alcohol" in big letters on the label.

I assume that they mean TF with isopropanol, which would be very logical.

Malc
May 9th, 2014, 11:17 AM
I've still got an old RS Floppy Disc Cleaning Kit from many years ago, It came with 2 cleaning solvent aerosols not to mention the Jacket and pads. To quote from the can it contains " Proprietary blend ( azeotropic ) of iso-propyl alcohol and trichlorotrifluoroethane. " must of had it 20 + years.

Stone
May 9th, 2014, 12:09 PM
I just found another little, unopened bottle with another cleaning kit that lists the ingredients as: isopropylalcohol, alkalai, acetone, carbide, free acid and water.

modem7
May 9th, 2014, 04:13 PM
Also I recall an older coworker at my last job (we fixed everything we could ourselves being a tight budget state agency) regarding cleaning printers at least he swore by only using denatured alcohol and not isopropyl because he said isopropyl would dry out the rubber on the rollers (laser printers). Is that a true concern?
It is a concern. Where I worked, we used a dedicated platen cleaning solution, which I think also claimed to partially rejuvenate the rubber.
From memory, the platen took a while to fully 'dry'.

Chuck(G)
May 9th, 2014, 05:25 PM
Yup, you can refurb dry hard platens with a mixture of xylol and oil of wintergreen. It's called "Rubber Renu" and it does the job--and smells nice too.

There's a word you don't hear much "azeotropic"--why you can't distill a mixture of ethanol and water and wind up with 100% ethanol. The weird part is that I knew what "azeotropic" means--and I have no idea why--or why I can never find my glasses... :)

offensive_Jerk
May 18th, 2014, 06:09 AM
So I took the machine apart and pulled the drives. Walgreens doesn't sell throat swabs or 99% isopropyl Alcohol.

Since I only have normal sized Qtips, I pulled the PCB back on the floppy drives so I could access the heads and cleaned them with a Qtip with the floppy cleaning solution that comes in the disk cleaning kits. The 1.2 drive seems to have been fixed as it reads and writes fine so far, but the 360K drive is still wrecking disks.

When formatting a diskette, it only formats to 179,712K, even though it says "formatting 360K" when it starts. And, its still carving rings in the disks. I made sure these rings weren't there when I started.

What's going on with this thing? I took the same disk, wrote an image to it with dskimage on the 1.2mb drive and it was fine. Then did the same procedure on the 360k drive and it spits out tons of errors (on a 360k diskette both times.)

I'm going to put a qtip to it again, but in the meantime, what can I do??

https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2908/14210644642_84f80cf19e_b.jpg



Using dskimage
https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2910/14026479367_9c7648a07e_b.jpg

https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2923/14026489289_4cbecbc0e2_b.jpg

SomeGuy
May 18th, 2014, 06:23 AM
The second head (the top one) on your 360k drive is physically damaged. You will need to replace the drive.

The 180k format is a result of DOS thinking it is now a single sided drive.

offensive_Jerk
May 18th, 2014, 06:26 AM
The second head (the top one) on your 360k drive is physically damaged. You will need to replace the drive.

The 180k format is a result of DOS thinking it is now a single sided drive.

I was afraid of that. I was hoping it wouldn't need to be replaced since I wanted the AT original style drives in it. No easy fix for it, huh?

SomeGuy
May 18th, 2014, 06:58 AM
As a last ditch resort you could go in there with your finger and see if you can scrape anything off of the top head with your fingernail. But the top head is probably chipped or scratched. Either way, if that were my drive I wouldn't trust it again.

Chuckster_in_Jax
May 18th, 2014, 08:04 AM
Years ago I remember hearing that some R\W heads had a glass coating on them. Warnings were made about shipping these drives without a cardboard insert or floppy disk to protect the heads. If the heads contacted each other in shipping it would crack or chip the glass coating. If that is the case, then no amount of cleaning would cure your problem.

BTW: Wal-Mart sells the 99% Isopropyl alcohol. Other pharmacies should too.

Stone
May 18th, 2014, 08:37 AM
The regular drug store variety, 70%, works just fine. I've been using it for 25 years with excellent results. :-)

Chuck(G)
May 18th, 2014, 10:20 AM
I'm a bit careful with isopropanol, because it almost always contains water.

Drugstore isopropyl tends to be the water azeortope--no more than 87.9 percent alcohol. Methanol, on the other hand will be nearly 100% alcohol--it doesn't have a water azeotrope. Paint-store ethanol (used for shellac thinner) is usually about 95% ethanol--water in a shellac mixture can lead to a cloudy finish if it's excessive.

Tetrachloroethylene, which can also be used to clean heads, has no water in it.

Chuckster_in_Jax
May 18th, 2014, 02:12 PM
Looks like I was wrong on buying 99% Isopropanol at Wat-mart(It's only 91%).
I do have some 99% at home and it is used at the company I work for now. I generally like using Methanol over Isopropyl because it dries faster.
I would avoid any chlorinated solvents like Tetrachloroethylene since they are known carcinogens and damaging to the environment. The EPA hates them.

It amazes me the nasty solvents you can get at a paint store, including Methyl Ethyl Ketone and Toluene.

Chuck(G)
May 18th, 2014, 03:00 PM
Be sure not to have anything dry-cleaned! Perc is still the solvent of choice for that.

By far, the best solvent for head cleaning was Freon TF (R-113)--now banned since the 90s for ozone depletion potential. HCFC-141 was offered for a time as an alternative (I still have bottles of KyRead where it's used as the vehicle) but that's been banned as well. HCFC-225 (AK225) is scheduled to be banned on January 1, 2015, so stock up--not that it's inexpensive to start with.

Interestingly, a suggested substitute for HCFC-225 is Trichloroethylene, which is really nasty stuff, particularly when encountered as a soil and water contaminant. I expect that the EPA will get around to banning that one also.

As far as tetrachloroethylene (perc) goes, the jury is still very much out on its property as a carcinogen.

Would that the EPA take the same attitude on CO2 as it does on fluorocarbons.

I've cleaned stubborn heads with acetone--but be careful--it can murder plastic.