TK50 Cleaning

Before you decide that old TK50 tape drive you have is dead, because it gives you countless read errors and you think it will never be usable again, consider this:

How to clean a TK50 drive in 16 easy steps

Caution: No guarantee whatsoever is given for the procedure described below! If you void your warranty, ruin your tape drive or electrocute yourself, it’s YOUR PROBLEM!

What you’ll need:

1. A TK50 tape drive

2. Some isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol) and a cotton ball

3. A Philips screwdriver

Step By Step Procedure

Step 1: Pull off the chassis cover


Step 2: Press the metal lever outwards to release the drive and simultaneously pull the drive until it is unlocked from the lever

Step 3: Pull out the drive

Step 4: Disconnect the two cables

Step 5: Check that the drive is indeed a TK50 drive to avoid embarrassment during the next steps

Step 6: Place the drive on an even surface

Step 7: Unscrew the three screws marked in the photo below

Step 8: Take off the metal cover

Step 9: Locate the read/write head

Step 10: Reaching from behind the head, push it up using your finger and place something below the head to prevent the springs from pulling it back down (a piece of anti-static foam will do)

Step 11: Observe the head surface; it should look something like this:

Step 12: Moisten the cotton ball with a little bit of isopropyl alcohol and rub clean the ceramic surface of the head

Step 13: Admire your work

Step 14: Carefully remove the foam, release the head back into position and close the metal cover using the three screws

Step 15: Re-connect the drive cables and push it back into place until the metal lever snaps

Step 16: All done !

If you find a specific TK50 tape is still unreadable, you can try cleaning the head tachometer, or give up on it and re-format it using the procedure described in the Formatting Howto.

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