I shipped my failed hard drive to a recovery company, Datacent, who are going to open and evaluate the drive in a clean room. Based on what conditions they see, I can allow them to make whatever repairs are needed and extract as much data as they can from the drive.
If they are successful and I agree, I will pay a steep but prearranged ransom to get the data back but my costs are limited in the worst case to what I spent for shipping. In other words, I haven't decided firmly yet and will make the call later once I have more information.
Meanwhile, I wait for the replacement pre-imaged drive which I will clone over to my SSD for use in the laptop, once it arrives. In the interim, I will try to focus on aspects of the project that don't require a computer - working on the broken wheel inside the 1442 card reader/punch, for example.
CHM VOLUNTEER WORK
I replaced brush blocks on the IBM 729 tape drives which are connected to our twin 1401 systems. While the actual replacement and testing effort takes about three hours per drive, we don't have enough spare blocks so that each set of removed blocks have to be reworked to put in our substitute graphite brushes. This involves some careful dis-assembly, soldering work and reassembly.
Generally I drop at least one screw during the work on a drive, requiring some hunting inside the drive or on the floor, so that adds about 15 minutes to the task time. We have completed five of the seven drives to date and one more will be straightforward. The last drive is a beast because it has the twin brush blocks for the feed reel side installed from a nearly inaccessible spot, instead of along the outside frame like most of the other drives.