Burly Maintenance

by Rick Stephens

12-1-09


  Like all mechanical devices the Burly can use a little tender loving care. Open her up, blow out the dust and power up to check out the fans. Unless you care to plant some seeds and farm the inside, all your computer gear has need of this on a regular basis. Regular being defined by the conditions of the locale your equipment resides in.

  Burly enclosures are made to be opened up and worked on. Usually there are 3 to 5 screws on the back panel holding the cover on. That cover lifts up and rearward to gain access. I advise removing all drive trays and setting them aside while working inside. Having the trays out opens things up considerably and allows cleaning and inspection of internal fans from both sides.


Cleaning
with cover off you can see the individual drive fans on the left side of bays



  Personally I like to use a high pressure air hose off of an air compressor to quickly plow through the built up layers of fertile soil. However, care must be taken when using high pressure as you can spin the fans up far higher speeds than the fan motor bearings can handle, and even break delicate parts. Use a pencil eraser or similar tool to keep the blades from spinning up and use care how close you come to lightweight parts and components. Or best, just use canned air which comes out at manageable airflow and won't damage anything.

  After getting the dust bunnies out, or prehistoric dinosaurs as the case may be, it is time to check out fan operation. Plug the enclosure in and power it up - with the cover still off. All fans should spin right up and those of similar size should run at similar appearing speeds.

 

Noisy Fan?


  If you have one or more fans making a racket, now is the time to deal with them. Know that bushing fans make noise when they are cold. It is normal for that type of fan to rattle a bit for the first few minutes after cold startup until they warm up and tighten up - especially when dust is stuck to the blades unbalancing them. If they don't settle down quickly enough, now is the time to figure out exactly which is the one(s) making the noise so you can do something about it. Use your pencil eraser and stop each fan in turn, for just a second, while listening for the noise to go away.

  Once you identify a noisy fan, try blowing that one out again - paying particular attention to the bearing area. If this doesn't help then a teensy squirt of pure silicon lubricant spray on the bearing can also aid in both silencing the fans and increasing longevity. I get my silicon lube from NAPA, most auto parts stores carry CRC or other branded silicon spray. WD40 is unacceptable. WD40 is not a lubricant, it is a solvent, and is also, unlike silicon, a partial conductor. Do not use any lubricant except a silicon spray around your electronics.

  If all else fails, replace the noisy or inoperative fan. Most fans are easy to get to, easy to replace. In some cases it is far easier to replace the entire component part that the fan is attached to - in particular this is true of the individual internal drive bay fans. These are best replaced by swapping out the bay component itself. Removal/Replacement is easy. Pull the 4 screws, 2 per side, disconnect the power and data wires from the back and slide the bay out the front. Slide the replacement bay with its new fan in and reattach screws and wires. The large case fan in the rear is held in with 4 screws. Most of these have a connector you can easily pull to disconnect the wiring.

  In the 2 bay enclosure the large case fan's wiring connector is on the power supply printed circuit board requiring you to disassemble further to access it. (remove both bays and then remove the cover from the power supply at the bottom of the enclosure) This is a half hours job with a philips screwdriver and not complicated at all. Still, care must be taken not to damage any components by getting in a hurry.

  In 4 bay and larger Burly enclosures the power supply fan is actually inside the power supply case itself - good news is these seldom have a problem. The bad news is the power supply case has to be removed from the Burly to gain access to its innards.

Note of Caution: Power supply's have capacitors which store up a charge. Be very careful when working inside to not touch electrical connections on the printed circuit board. You can be shocked.

  First question you should ask before jumping inside the power supply of 4 bay and larger Burlys is if it is still in warranty. If in warranty we will want to replace the entire power supply and not break the seal on it. Contact us and we will set you up. If out of warranty then power supply removal to get to the fan is next. To do that, disconnect all wiring harness connectors from fans, drives, and lights. The front panel of the enclosure also has to be released to get to the screws holding the front panel mounted power switch in. That switch is hardwired to the harness and has to come out with it. Sounds much harder than it really is to accomplish, and it goes back in very easily in reverse order. Again, the only tools you should need are a phillips screwdriver and some patience. Our staff of support techs are here to assist you with answers should you have need.

  Reinstall the cover on your Burly. Use a little 409 applied to a soft cloth to wipe off external fingerprints, smudges and the odd dusty nook or cranny. 409 won't leave streaks like other cleaners. Do not spray ANY cleaner directly on your computer gear. The smallest drop inside can damage, corrode or short things out.

  With a little care your Burly will last indefinitely. The availability of relatively inexpensive individual replacement parts means there is no reason a Burly cannot serve tough duty for a decade or more. A little care to keep the insides clean will extend the life of wear parts like fans, and keeping the dust off electronic components allows them to run cooler - extending their life spans as well. Don't be afraid to roll your sleeves up and get inside. That's what they are made for.

Rick

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