YouTube - MiniDisc Maintenance - Cleaning/Lubing a Sony MZ-N920

Maintenance isn't the most fun task, is it? Oil changes? Not fun, but certainly necessary for combustion engines.

The same goes true for tiny, precision devices like MiniDisc player/recorders! Many of these are 20-30 years old and any lubrication they may have had when leaving the factory is dry/crusted/gone. Not to mention that some of these have been in dusty/linty/pet hair environments that could have gotten inside the device.

Some quick inspection through the open door could allow you reach some simple dust with an alcohol-prepped cotton swab, but to actually clean and lubricate the gears and rail that the laser slide uses to slide back and forth to play your precious music will require taking the back cover off, at minimum.

In this video, we'll look at the Sony MZ-N920, a 2004 model NetMD recorder from Sony that's fairly easy to get in and out of. 

We'll get in, remove some ribbon cables, clean off anything old using isopropyl alcohol, and use small dabs of white lithium grease to work into the gears. I like to spread a very thin layer on the top rail (opposite the gearshaft) as well.

Some devices are harder than others to get into, but this wasn't too bad.

Optionally, I could have removed one screw and small metal plate to get more lubrication onto the gearshaft/collar (some models have this) but in the video, I think there was another culprit involved...

There are differences between the major manufacturers (Sharp, Sony, Panasonic, etc.) but also differences between the models depending on when they were released, their size/compactness, and if they were player-only or recording devices.

It's impossible to cover all of them but just remember you want to do a few standard maintenance tasks:

Clean lens with a quick twirl of a cotton swab moistened with isopropyl alcohol.

Clean dust/lint/hair out of the "disc area" that's visible when you have the disc door open.

If you can get inside the device, clean and lube the following:

  • Laser sled rail
  • Worm gear/gearshaft
  • "collar" where gearshaft is held down
  • "collar" where the sled moves on the gearshaft

I've heard of some people adding a small drop of oil or lube to the motor itself (after gaining access to it), but that is an even more delicate and sensitive procedure that I personally haven't had to do.

I know maintenance isn't the most exciting task, but it will keep your 20-30 year old device running for a few more years to come, hopefully!