Friday, June 12, 2009

How to plumb an IBM...

Granted, this isn't a StarDrive with a water-cooled Klystron tube in the final output stage, but converting a multi-CPU IBM workstation to liquid cooling does require some planning and attention to details in assembly.

I had to remove the huge copper and stainless steel IBM heatsinks, then remove the metal heatsink mounting brackets from the motherboard. This allowed me to install the new metal waterblock mounting brackets for the conversion. Here's one mounting bracket and waterblock installed, with the remaining processor waiting for bracket replacement and waterblock installation:

Here are both waterblocks mounted sitting on an ultra-thin layer of Arctic Silver 5 with thermocouple probes attached via black wires, ready for plumbing:

The tubing attaches to the external cooling unit and waterblocks by means of well-designed compression fittings. That means no leaks, and no fiddling with hose clamps. I installed a drain valve in the radiator return line, and by cracking it in conjunction with the reservoir's fill plug, I was able to add the blue coolant with less air blocking the lines. Here it is, coolant running through the system for 12 hours as a leak test, using an external power supply to run the pumps:

My external power supply is a Gateway Core2Duo system running Windows Vista that I had sitting around. I knew it would come in useful for something eventually!

So far, so good. No leaks, although when I spilled a wee bit of the blue stuff while filling the reservoir, I could swear it was Prestone or Zerex thanks to the smell. So now I know that Koolance uses ethylene or propylene glycol in their coolant mix...

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