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nb Tanya Louise Heating System – Oxide Sludge

I wrote a few weeks ago about replacing the hot water circulating pump on the boat with a new one, and mentioned that we’d been through several pumps over the years. After every replacement, autopsy of the pump has revealed the failure mode: the first pump failed due to old age & limited life of carbon brushes. The second failed due to thermal shock from an airlock in the system causing the boiler to go a bit nuts through lack of water flow. The ceramic rotor in this one just cracked.
The last pump though, was mechanically worn, the pump bearings nicely polished down just enough to cause the rotor to stick. This is caused by sediment in the system, which comes from corrosion in the various components of the system. Radiators & skin tanks are steel, engine block cast iron, back boiler stainless steel, Webasto heat exchanger aluminium, along with various bits of copper pipe & hose tying the system together.
The use of dissimilar metals in a system is not particularly advisable, but in the case of the boat, it’s unavoidable. The antifreeze in the water does have anti-corrosive additives, but we were still left with the problem of all the various oxides of iron floating around the system acting like an abrasive. To solve this problem without having to go to the trouble of doing a full system flush, we fitted a magnetic filter:

Mag Filter
Mag Filter

This is just an empty container, with a powerful NdFeB magnet inserted into the centre. As the water flows in a spiral around the magnetic core, aided by the offset pipe connections, the magnet pulls all the magnetic oxides out of the water. it’s fitted into the circuit at the last radiator, where it’s accessible for the mandatory maintenance.


Now the filter has been in about a month, I decided it would be a good time to see how much muck had been pulled out of the circuit. I was rather surprised to see a 1/2″ thick layer of sludge coating the magnetic core! The disgusting water in the bowl below was what drained out of the filter before the top was pulled. (The general colour of the water in the circuit isn’t this colour, I knocked some loose from the core of the filter while isolating it).

If all goes well, the level of sludge in the system will over time be reduced to a very low level, with the corrosion inhibitor helping things along. This should result in much fewer expensive pump replacements!

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Western Digital 160GB 2.5″ HDD

Top Of Drive With Label

This is a Western Digital drive recently removed from my laptop when it died of a severe head crash.
Top of drive can be seen here.

Top Removed From Drive
Top Removed

Here the cover has been removed from the drive, showing the platter, head arm & magnet. Yellow piece top left is head parking ramp.

Head Arm of Drive
Head Arm

The head assembly of the drive is shown here. The head itself is on the left hand end of the arm in the plastic parking ramp. The other end of the arm holds the voice coil part of the head motor, surrounded by the magnet.

Bottom Of Drive with PCB
Bottom Of Drive with PCB

Bottom of drive, with controller PCB. SATA interface socket at bottom.

PCB removed from bottom of drive. Spindle motor connections & connections to the head unit can be seen on the bottom of the drive unit.

Controller PCB. Supports the cache, interface & motor controller ICs.

Closeup of the motor driver IC, this controls the speed of the spindle motor precisely to 5,400RPM. Also controls the voice coil motor controlling the position of the head arm on the platters.

Interface IC closeup. This IC receives signals from the head assembly & processes them for transmission to the SATA bus. Also holds drive firmware, controls the Motor driver IC & all other functions of the drive.

Cache Memory IC.