Help - unusual Powerbook fault!


I have a Powerbook 1400 with a 750MB internal hard drive which seems to have a rather unusual fault.  

Recently when I try to start it up, the "can't find start up disk" appears and the Powerbook can't get any further.  My wife has come up with an ingenious solution to the problem - she simply wiggles the machine about as it is trying to start up and invariably the "happy Mac" icon appears.  

Otherwise the drive appears to be okay according to Disk First Aid and Norton Utilities.

I'm just afraid that one day it will not be possible to shake the Powerbook awake anymore.  Does anyone know if this sounds like a major hardware problem - do we need to open the Powerbook up or get a new hard drive?  Or is it hopeless??

Many thanks for any suggestions

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TheHubConnect With a Mentor Commented:
The remedy you are applying is a quick fix for a problem known as sticktion. It will continually get worse until, one day, your solution will not work and you will have to replace the HD.

The read/write heads rest on a roughed up landing zone on the platters of the HD. If this landing zone becomes smooth for any reason, the highly polished surfaces on the read/write heads and platters will stick together. When power is applied and the HD encounters too much resistance because of this, the HD stops itself, preventing the drive from burning out its spindle motor. Since the platters are not spinning, the Mac cannot find a valid Startup Disk/System Folder, which causes the Flashing Question Mark.

The reason that shaking the powerbook works is that there is a delay before the HD shuts itself down, making it possible to break the bond between the r/w heads and the platters with a gentle twist of the powerbook (axis).

If you do not replace the HD soon enough, you WILL lose all of your data.

-good luck
jandpAuthor Commented:
This is a great answer!  The Apple-approved service guys I took it to were very impressed and agreed with your analysis of the problem.
Now I have to decide whether to replace the drive or just buy a new G3 Powerbook ... it's tempting!

Thanks again!  I think Experts' Exchange is great!
Thank you. Most of the happy campers forget to show some sort of appreciation for the effort involved in posting an answer. It would be nice if all the customers here followed your excellent example.

Thanx Again,
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