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iMac (Summer 2001) optical drive replacement

Alex

Well-known member
Hello

I have an iMac G3 Snow White and the optical drive is rather tenacious about making ejection difficult necessitating a manual ejection which is cumbersome and not easily succeeded but only after several attempts. I will open the machine up and investigate a permanent fix but failing that I would like to know from forum members if there are current alternatives that will fit this machine.

I pasted the relevant portion of "Apple's Optical - Zip Matrix PDF" but I doubt any of these drives are still available as new but it might serve as a reference.

Any help would be appreciated.

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iMac (Summer 2001) CD:DVD in carrier.jpg 




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Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
I'd be curious to hear other thoughts on this but largely it seems like the most viable option might be firewire external drive enclosures. They weren't entirely unpopular back in the day as upgrades to owners of basic iMac models for burning CDs and DVDs, or as secondary drives for copying operations, and these Macs will boot over firewire.

Another option might be to put the files you need for recovery and reinstallation on a firewire-based iPod or firewire external hard drive. I've also used my PowerBook G4 (and it occurs to me: my iBook G4 could be used the same way) to target disk boot to an optical drive.

I have three of these systems now, in various states of repair, and the other benefit is that as a hot-plug device, a firewire ipod/hdd/odd can be shared among a number of different Macs. (Even, in fact, my iBook/PowerBook.)

One other thought: It's not entirely clear that the problem with ejecting is with the drive itself. I'd be interested in whether this is an alignment problem caused by settling and/or the breakdown of some of the material inside the machine, or if the ejection mechanism itself is getting weak.

If it's just the mechanism getting weak, then of course replacing the mechanism with a newer one should help, although how much newer is possible given that laptops did eventually switch to SATA (although in many cases that was later than hard disks did) and how long-term that solution will be, is tough to tell.

 

Alex

Well-known member
One other thought: It's not entirely clear that the problem with ejecting is with the drive itself. I'd be interested in whether this is an alignment problem caused by settling and/or the breakdown of some of the material inside the machine, or if the ejection mechanism itself is getting weak.
You raise a good point on the firewire/iPod/Firewire target disk mode but I would prefer a replacement drive but in any event … as per the comment you made which I quoted.

I can tell you that the optical drive appears to have a lot of strength when it attempts to eject, it sounds pretty strong.

I have to investigate the drive on its own to see how it is dealing with discs and from there consider if it is the iMac's own external slot insert which allows for disc insertion might actually be out of alignment.

Thanks for your thoughts, I appreciate it!

 

CC_333

Well-known member
I am all too familiar with this conundrum, as I have at least four or five iMacs G3 and a G4 Cube, *all* with the same problem!

The drive is otherwise functional, so a replacement shouldn't be necessary. The problem is that the eject mechanisms on these drives are prone to failure because they are driven by a rubber belt which stretches, hardens and cracks with age, thus causing the slippage which prevents the mechanism from working properly. You could try rejuvenating the belt with some kind of conditioner product, but I think the only permanent fix would be to find a new belt.

If you can remove the drive and open it up, the belt is easily accessible on one side, and is relatively straightforward to replace.

Finding a replacement, however, will probably not be quite so simple. You could start by typing the manufacturer+model number+belt into Google, I suppose.

c

 
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Alex

Well-known member
Finding a replacement, however, will probably not be quite so simple. You could start by typing the manufacturer+model number+belt into Google, I suppose.
well, that at least explains the issue and it does make sense that a belt would be slipping from the corresponding gears.

First I would need to find steps on how to open up this drive. I have yet to remove it from the iMac itself.

Thanks a million for narrowing down any isolation steps down to specific component.

 

Alex

Well-known member
Short update:

It turns out that the issue with my drive is the drive belt. I am pretty sure because the belt has gotten deformed, assuming two hard corners, losing its original circular shape that is characteristic of a new drive belt.

Left good, bad right.jpg

*

NOTE:

If you have old optical drives in your old computers, from time to time exercise them. These old belts can deform as a result of sitting idle under tension. They will lose their shape over time if they are not exercised.

*

I also took the time to remove any old lubrication on gears, replacing it with fresh lubricant.

I cleaned the roller which is near the slot, the rollers are in very good condition from what I can tell and have a strong tactile feel.

I will purchase a new drive belt because I suspect it the most. The motor sounds very strong and is not a point of suspicion. All other mechanics in the drive move smoothly without issue.

Relevant link:

Although I searched high and low while working on the drive I did eventually come across this page which shows the exact drive that came out of the iMac Snow. It appears he went as far as I have with my own drive. Having known about this link would have saved me a little bit of time but it's always fun to figure out how to open and fix stuff.

http://www.ncitymacs.com/G4Cube.html

Also saved to http://web.archive.org/web/20190704223506/http://ncitymacs.com/G4Cube.html

 
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Alex

Well-known member
One more quick note

The rubber roller is loose, turning independent of the shaft so I will have to fix this as well.

loose rubber rollers.png

I know that there is a youtube video out there showing how to fix this in a CD slot loading car audio system but failed to find it. The CD player being worked on in the video is surprisingly similar to the Panasonic/Matshita/Matsushita SR-8186-B found in the Cube and Snow iMac.





 
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LaPorta

Well-known member
When you order, give us a

link to which belts to order. I have a DV SE that will need one eventually, no doubt.

 

Alex

Well-known member
For moment try, https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?catId=0&initiative_id=SB_20200118062545&SearchText=cd+drive+belt

I measured mine and it's 10cm when folded and a 1mm across cross section, these are not round belts but 1mm x 1mm square.

This item is likely a good target because it is 100mm (10cm) folded and 1mm just like the original. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32789852837.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.5f005f77qXKDwj&algo_pvid=b459d88e-277c-41da-a996-955b6af9b253&algo_expid=b459d88e-277c-41da-a996-955b6af9b253-5&btsid=c2c0d30f-f820-47e2-bab9-0f3e01d9db8f&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_3,searchweb201603_55

Here is the description:

Features:
Brand new unused
Generic Tape Drives belt
Steady with no vibrato
Widely used in Recorders, CD-ROM video machines, Walkman, DVD drive.

Specifications:
Color: Black
Square cross-section: about 1mm
Fold long: 40-130MM
Belt Shape: Square
 

Quantity: 30 pcs

Package Included:
30 pcs Tape Machine Belt

CD Drive Belt.jpg

 
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Alex

Well-known member
When you order, give us a

link to which belts to order. I have a DV SE that will need one eventually, no doubt.
I don't know if the DV SE uses the same drive. As a precaution, you should confirm which optical drive is in your particular iMac just incase. Please refer to the table I pasted at the top. As you can see there are a few different optical drives in use, whether they are all interchangeable is not something I've studied.

 
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LaPorta

Well-known member
DVD, Summer 2000...should be about the same as your Snow White, they came out at the same time.

 

CC_333

Well-known member
If you find that this belt works for you, I think I better get some myself!

I have several iMac Slot Loaders and a Cube, and all have this problem to varying degrees.

c

 
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Alex

Well-known member
I will absolutely update this post but it may be 60 days from this writing before I receive the package. 

 

Alex

Well-known member
DVD, Summer 2000...should be about the same as your Snow White, they came out at the same time.
Should be if the model of drive in your machine is part 661-2342. In my case I have verified that the drive in my system is SR-8186.
System profiler will provide the information you need to confirm the part in your particular iMac.

For cases where part substitution(s) are a consideration one must reach a solid conclusion before considering parts.

 
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