HP tape drive novel repair

Jay West jwest at classiccmp.org
Tue Jan 20 07:30:11 CST 2015

Marc wrote...
"Nice rack", as they say. I have an HP 7970E and was wondering what to put
it into. That is the right solution... I've seen in pictures that HP also
had some special desk-like looking furniture to put the early 7970's in,
with a slanted panel in which the tape drive would go. Never seen one of
these in the flesh.
Slanted model - me neither. Note that the 7970 (for vertical mount, not the
slanted horizontal mount you refer to) came with a special bracket to mount
in the "rather unique" post design of HP racks of the period. The 3 mounting
holes on the right side of the drive should be able to bolt in to most any
rack. However, the mounting holes on the left of the drive are on the INSIDE
of the back metal chassis, not on the front like the ones on the right are.
It may be non-trivial to try to mount one if you don't have the HP mounting

For this installation, I have 2 of the 3 special shims that go on the right
behind the bolt flanges. I'm going to have to be creative with something to
work similarly, maybe a couple washers glued on the back will suffice, but
that offends my sensibilities. I might try to fabricate a replacement.

The special mounting bracket mounts on the left and bolts in from the front.
It provides a lip to set the tape drive on while you bolt the right side. It
also provides the 4 nuts embedded into the bracket on the left, further back
inside the rack, that 4 bolts from the inside of the chassis can mate with.
At 130#, it's probably not a one-man job. As best as I can tell, you have to
set the tape drive in the rack with the front hinged section fully open.
That's asking for damage ;) What I may do if I can't schedule a helper, is
use those angle iron brackets to set the tape in place and hold it steady,
then remove them afterwards. To do that, you'd have to mount the angle
brackets with the flat surface up, not down, or you couldn't remove the

So if you don't have the HP 7970 mounting bracket, the only thing I can
think of is using "angle iron" brackets that HP often supplied for test
equipment and later cpu models so that the drive can sit on those, and then
at least be able to bolt in the right side. That said, it might move
slightly whenever you tilt open the front.

I got rid of several empty HP racks back around 7 or so years ago and now I
find myself wishing I hadn't :) I had yet another 7970E, but it has
disappeared from the basement. I *KNEW* there was a miniature black hole
down there somewhere.


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