Reattach DLT Drive Leader

This accounts for 99% of the problems I have had with my 35/70 & 40/80 DLT drives (DLT2000; DLT3000XT; DLT4000; DLT7000; DLT8000).  I come in and all the lights are flashing (Write Protected, Tape in Use, Use Cleaning Tape, Operate Handle - among others) they then turn off the drive makes a series of loud noises (the head moving) and the process repeats.  Frequently this happens with a tape in the drive so you may need to read my DLT tape removal instructions.  

The leader is the piece of plastic that attaches to the DLT tape and pulls it through the apparatus.  The problem occurs when the leader is not attached to the hook to enable it to grab the tape - overall not the best design I've ever seen.

Leaders do get old and break - though it hasn't happened to me yet.  A replacement leader can be purchased on the 'Net for about $25.00.  Also, it is recommended that you use Nylon gloves to protect the leader (other drive components) from skin oils.  Now raise your hand if you have a Nylon glove - yeah that's what I thought!  ;-)  You should probably also clean the leader with Isopropyl Alcohol (no other solvents) - on the other hand this probably further serves to dry out and crack the leader but that is just my $.02.

(While these focus on an external drive it would be the same for an internal drive. You will just need to remove the drive from the server and remove the necessary screws from the DLT drive case - after that the instructions should be identical)
  1. Don't be an idiot - remove the power to the drive
  2. Remove the outside case.  For my Compaq/HP DLT drives this is just four screws on the bottom (Of course I think these are just re-branded Quantum drives)
  3. Example Pictures Showing the Leader is not attached:
    Picture showing where leader should be coming out
  4. Remove the plastic cover off of the drive assembly.  Use a screw driver in the holes to move the latches back to pop the lid off.  This is a Compaq 40/80 drive.  The holes are on the opposite side for the Compaq 35/70 drive (at least as I recall!)
    Picture on how to remove plastic cover
  5. With the case off turn the reel clockwise until the mushroom tip of the leader is exposed where you can grab it.
    Reel with case off - diagram showing the part to move
    Reel with the mushroom tip of the leader now out
  6. Wind the leader through the path.  By wind I mean pull it over the path and then slide it over the rollers.  It must be completely on the rollers with nothing hanging over.  Leave plenty of leader at the end so it can be attached to thehook (buckling arm)
    The leaders path over the rollers
  7. Attach the leader (the small hole near the end of the leader) to the hook (buckling arm).  Be careful to not get the mushroom tip caught in the arm because the drive will not work until it is removed - and that is just a pain in the butt!
    Attaching the leader to the hook (buckling arm)
    Hole in leader that needs to be attached to the hook (buckling arm)
  8. At this point I would plug the drive in and load a tape (cleaning tape?) to see if it is working OK.  Better to test now then after you've assembled it in case there are problems.  If there are problems it is generally due to the leader not being fully over the rollers or the mushroom tip being caught on the hook (buckling arm)
  9. If all is well put the plastic lid and case back on and resume your backups.
© Erik Smith 2005
Licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License