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Seagate ST4038, horrible rattling noise

snq

Experienced Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2009
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164
Location
Sweden, way up north
I have an ST4038 drive in my AT and while it works fine, the sound it produces is absolutely deafening. It's tightened properly into the case and everything so I'm pretty sure it's something inside the drive that's causing the noise. Sometimes it will all of a sudden go relatively quiet, but most of the time it rattles like there is no tomorrow. While I appreciate that old hardware is usually noisier than modern hardware, this is just too much. It's so bad that I only have the machine powered on for a couple of minutes at a time because I just can't stand the noise any longer than that.

So I have 2 options.. The easiest would be to replace it with a different drive. I have several MFM drives that will work but this is the only 30 MB that I have and the others are all smaller, so it'd be a bit of a downgrade. Not that I really need the 30 MB right now though..
The 2nd option would be to try and get it to stop rattling. I assume this would mean opening it up and lubricating bearings or something. Advantages of this are that I get to keep the 30 MB and that it's a bit more challenging than just replacing it. Disadvantage is that I might ruin it.

I would prefer option 2 but I'm not sure if I'm capable of doing it, I have no idea how hard this would be.
So my question is, has anyone succesfully done this (and if so, how hard is it?) or should I just forget about repairing it?
 

MikeS

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Dec 23, 2005
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Toronto ON Canada
Before you do anything drastic, check the anti-static strap (assuming it has one), a little metal strap that contacts the end of the drive spindle; it can be pretty noisy if it vibrates. Some 4000 series drives had a hole in the PCB to allow access, but unfortunately AFAIK the 4038 does not and you may have to lift the PCB to get at it.

The bearings are sealed; some people claim success lubricating them, YMMV. If you must, try from outside the HDA first.
 

Chuck(G)

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Jan 11, 2007
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A lot of old Seagate drives (and the 4038 certainly qualifies) were exceptionally noisy but worked fine. If you want to use it, try isolating it acoustically from the drive case (use some silicone washers around the mounting bolts. At least that way, your case won't amplify the sound. It could also be that the rubber bumpers used as stops have disappeared. But then, you'd have to get into the HDA to check--and you don't want to do that unless you absolutely have to.

Now you understand why many folks would put their PCs on the floor, under or beside their desk. I've got a few drives that were really noisy new right out of the box.
 

snq

Experienced Member
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Mar 29, 2009
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Location
Sweden, way up north
I have it on the floor too now, don't have space on the desk for something that huge ;) We'll see what happens with the harddrive but for now I'll probably just replace it with a 20 MB drive. The strap seems to be fine from what I can see without removing the PCB.
Maybe I'll have a go at trying to see what exactly is causing it later on. If I do end up ruining it that would be a shame, but it's not exactly usable as it is either.
 

channelmaniac

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2008
Messages
776
Location
Dallas, TX Metromess
Before you do anything drastic, check the anti-static strap (assuming it has one), a little metal strap that contacts the end of the drive spindle; it can be pretty noisy if it vibrates. Some 4000 series drives had a hole in the PCB to allow access, but unfortunately AFAIK the 4038 does not and you may have to lift the PCB to get at it.

The bearings are sealed; some people claim success lubricating them, YMMV. If you must, try from outside the HDA first.

Some of those straps that contact the spindle make some awful chirping noises or squealing.
 

glitch

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Feb 1, 2010
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5,026
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Central VA
Some of those straps that contact the spindle make some awful chirping noises or squealing.

The strap on my XT's Wren II made such a horrible squeal as soon as it warmed up that I often disconnected the hard drive and ran from floppies. Eventually, I cleaned it and it stopped. I believe the contact pad is made of graphite, which I sanded lightly, then added some lithium grease to. If the sound is high-pitched (doesn't sound like the case on this one), it's definitely worth looking in to.
 

Chuck(G)

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Jan 11, 2007
Messages
40,853
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
I know a fellow who used to just put a glob of RTV on the strap to change the resonant frequency. Alternatively, you could replace the beryllium copper spring with a carbon or stainless antistatic brush, which would be nearly silent.
 
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