View Full Version : IBM 5160 Floppy Disk Repair/Replacement

May 13th, 2016, 09:43 AM
I've recently gotten into the hobby of collecting and experimenting with old PCs, but have almost no experience with anything this old. I'm pretty familiar with stuff from the 90s and later, but the inside of the PC XT is completely foreign to me. I got one a month ago from someone looking to make space in their home, and everything works but the floppy disk drive. Because of this, I have no way of transferring files to or from the system. I have no idea if it's the drive itself, or something on the motherboard. As I said, I'm completely new to systems this old. For all I know, something could just be loose inside the case, but I have no idea where to start due to the completely different interior compared to modern systems. What should I do first?

May 13th, 2016, 10:19 AM
Welcome! Get ready for the ride of your life. I suggest you familiarize yourself with minuszerodegrees.net, this website has just about anything you want to know about that series of computers; 5150 through 5170. Some amazing stuff and I bow down before the master of that website, whose name is escaping right now.

As for your immediate issue, right off it is either dirty disk drive or bad disk. I'm sure one of us can mail you a disk for price of shipping if you want to send me a PM with your details.

May 13th, 2016, 11:56 AM
Dan is right the first thing is clean the heads on the drive, after that clean the heads on the drive and lastly clean the heads on the drive.

I would then try and format a diskette with the drive. If it formats I would try and copy a few files to the diskette and read then back.

May 17th, 2016, 06:50 AM
Any symptoms to share? Does it fail to recognize the drive on boot up (a 601 code on boot at least in the 5150) or do you get a fault when trying to read a disk?

Cleaning can often solve a lot of issues esp as they have accumulated dust over the years :)

May 17th, 2016, 07:22 AM
what you are observing and hearing would help a lot. if the drive seems to be moving the head without problems then i would look towards the head or disk. if the drive cannot zero or is making more noise than it should then it may be the rails. In addition to cleaning the heads, the rails can probably use a good wipe with alcohol. i have seen many drives that after sitting for extended period tend to get sticky right where they were sitting. but you can usually hear the drive chatter if that is the problem. the rails are not oiled or lubricated but after a good cleaning i think a dry silicone lubricant doesn't hurt. when cleaning it is OK to gently move the head carriage along the rails and i usually leave it at the end of the rails nearest the center. When the drive is first powered up it should pull the head all the way towards the back end of the rail to hit the zero switch and re-index itself. if the drive gets to a point and then chatters bit trying to go further, then there is a sticky spot on the rails. do not run the head back and forth quickly along the rails by hand and do not use wd-40 or something else that will attract dust.

for isolating problems quickly, nothing beats having known good components to swap out so you can isolate the problem. Once you know where the problem is then you can dig out the logic probe, scope, etc., and chip away at the issue little by little.

May 17th, 2016, 07:52 AM
First, make sure all cables are connected firmly. The flat ribbon cable should be connected to the back of the drive and the end of the floppy controller card (a 2/3 length card plugged into an expansion slot on the motherboard). Also, make sure the 4 pin power connector is firmly plugged in.