Full Version: Looking for affordable head cleaning tips/recommendations
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In another thread, Jim pointed out:

That "unknown" dump has massive amounts of smeared flux, which usually means that the head is dirty. Keep in mind that you should be cleaning the heads just about every single time you dump a disk!

I was able to buy a new-old-stock disk head cleaner for about $20 on eBay. Its instructions say I should only use it a maximum of 15 times. So I've been using it a lot more sparingly than between every disk since they seem hard to find and keeping the price+shipping under $20 even was a bit of a haggle.

How are people keeping their drive heads clean while imaging hundreds of floppies? Is it okay in practice to keep using the head cleaner disk until it is visibly filthy, or at least more like 50 times rather than 15? Or can I glue some felt to a popsicle stick or something instead of relying on a supply of these Rare Antique Vintage cleaner kits?
I use the same cleaning disks until they are physically dirty and can't bes used anymore, which for me has been hundreds of times before discarding it.
I'm in the process of imaging hundreds of disks. I cleaned the heads once by gently using a soft absorbent lint-free swabs with 99.9% IPA.

I'm probably a hundred disks in, and have only a tiny set of disk-imaging related problems. Cleaning the disks themselves by using a custom 3D-printed disk holder, "rotation tool", and that same swab and IPA has resolved most of the issues.

I haven't needed to reclean the heads. KNOCK ON WOOD, everything just seems to be working.

I will say that I've been very careful about storing my disks. I have nice disk cases (Babbages!) which are almost air-tight, with desiccant packs in each, very little dust anywhere near the disks, and they've been kept in air-conditioned/heated space for 25+ years.

I did buy a 3M cleaning kit for $25 on ebay brand new sealed in box. The alcohol is surprisingly still liquid, although I'm going to use newer IPA, when it becomes a problem.

I can't imagine having to need cleaning the heads after every disk.....or the state of the disks being so bad that you're getting that much debris on the disk heads!
You really need to clean the heads constantly.  The quality of the flux (and the recoverability of the data) is based on the heads.  I have dumped more than 30,000 disks now and I clean the heads just about every single new disk I dump.  I can’t stress this point enough, you need to clean the heads frequently!  The state of the oxide over decades has degraded severely and those particles stick to (and become fused due to the constant friction of the disk rotating) the heads and typically you must use a fiber type disk cleaner.  I would not recommend just a cotton swab because that is not aggressive enough to really clean the surface of hard debris.