I have a Teac FD-55BV 5.25″ 360K floppy drive for my Tandy 1000EX. Teac drives tend to be very reliable, but this one had one problem. The spindle clamp would stick when I opened the lever and tried to remove the disk. Here’s how I fix a sticky floppy drive, and you can too.
Cleaning the spindle clamp
The Teac spindle clamp has several pivot points toward the back of the drive. The oil applied at the factory gummed up after 36 years and became more sticky than slippery. Teac’s own literature said stated the drives had a life expectancy of five years, so I’d say the oil overachieved.
While I’m not sure you can get another 36 years out of these drives, I’m pretty sure you can get more than five more.
To clean out the old oil, dab a cotton swab or, better yet, a small paint brush in some mineral spirits, then work the mineral spirits into the eyelets to loosen up the gummy old oil. Just dab some around the edge, and capillary action will usually take care of the rest. Move the drive lever back and forth a few times to let the mineral spirits work into the parts.
Teac floppy drive lubrication points
Just clearing out the old oil may be enough to free up the spindle clamp, but you’ll want to add a bit of fresh oil to keep it working well. Any light machine oil will do. I used some Labelle #107 oil intended for model trains, because I’ve seen it last 20 years without gumming up, and I had it on hand. I squeezed out one drop from the bottle, then applied it with a toothpick. You really do want to apply a minuscule amount. Too much oil means excess can wind up on your disks, or attract dust.
I applied a bit of Labelle #106 grease, another model train product, to the rails where the head runs. Silicone grease is also appropriate, but I had the Labelle on hand. It won’t harm plastic, stays greasy a very long time, and it quieted the drive down. I also applied a bit of the grease to the lever, anywhere metal comes in contact with metal to reduce wear.
And while you’re in there, you might as well do some other basic 5.25″ floppy drive maintenance, like cleaning the heads and lubricating the rails.
I go back and forth between having the original 5.25-inch drive in my Tandy and a Gotek. Having the 3-in-1 expansion means I don’t need to use the floppy all that often, so having a 5.25 inch drive in a PC from 1986 feels authentic.
Fixing a sticky floppy drive of another brand will be very similar, but the precise lubrication points will differ. Find the points where the spindle moves, then clean off the old lubricant and replace it with fresh, modern lubricant. And hopefully you can get another decade or more out of your vintage 5.25″ floppy drive too.