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Thread: IBM XT HDD noise

  1. #1

    Default IBM XT HDD noise

    I have an IBM XT with a International Memories Inc. 5021H 10 Mb MFM Hdd, and I have always considered it quite noisy. I'm not sure how loud these drives are supposed to be, but it just strikes me as unusually loud. Is there a way to lubricate the bearings in the unit? I'm sure after 25 years, whatever lubrication it had has since dried out.

  2. #2
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    It may not be lubrication--some old drives have a grounding contact on the bottom of the spindle shaft, sometimes with a graphite button serving as a bearing surface. Eventually, this wears and begins to vibrate.

    And then, some old drives are just extraordinarily loud.

    If you suspect a lubrication problem, run the drive upside-down for a few days to allow the lubricant to redistribute itself.

    We get spoiled, though. My SA-4004 makes the floor shake.

  3. #3

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    No balance problems there then Chuck!

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    There's a lot of mass just in the positioner. Big difference between a 14" drive and a 5.25" one.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    If you suspect a lubrication problem, run the drive upside-down for a few days to allow the lubricant to redistribute itself.
    Installation instructions for drives of that era often allow right-side up and sideways orientations, but not upside-down. I have a cautionary tale as to why that may be:

    I had a Seagate ST-412 10mb drive with bearings that were getting louder. Ran it upside-down for a little while, until one time it refused to spin up to speed any more, ever again. After all troubleshooting failed to reveal a fault, I gave up and opened the can to have a look inside. And I found the problem.

    Apparently, the lubricant in the bearing had separated into something oily and something thicker. Upside-down, the oily lubricant had run out of the bearing, down the spindle shaft to (what is normally) the bottom surface of the first platter. On the next start-up, the oil was flung out along the surface causing head 0 to crash. The head sticking to the gooey lubricant is what was causing the failure to spin up.

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    That's a new one on me, but I can see how that could happen!

    Perhaps running the drive on its side will be sufficient.

  7. #7

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    I might try running it on its side for a while. I have checked the grounding tab, and it is not the source of the noise. I also do realize that the drives are often loud, but this is so loud I can't even imagine it running in an office environment without disturbing everyone. It doesn't even sound grindy or anything, just... loud. Does anyone else have one of these International Memories drives? I can't seem to find much info on the web except that it's a Seagate ST-412 clone.

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    You'll have a lot more luck if you search on IMI (what everyone called them). For example, here's a brochure on the IMI 7710--a shoebox-sized drive with a voice-coil positioner. If you raised the front about 3/4 of an inch, the drive would go nuts making a lot of servo noise trying to hold its position.

    IMI merged with Onyx and then was bought by Corvus, who then went bankrupt. I do remember the Onyx+IMI building on North First Street in San Jose.

  9. #9

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    Its very individual. I have one ST-412, very quiet, without any problems, also have other 2-3 which are totally loud, with sound like circular saw. With my friend we tried to lubricate one and results was terrible, lubricant permeate to hard drive plates and totally destroyed it, we had to transplant it from another drive. Very unhappy operation
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by romanon View Post
    ...lubricant permeate to hard drive plates and totally destroyed it ...
    So apparently my experience was not unique. Probably best to avoid running/storing old HDD's upside down.

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