I started this thread to try and find a solution to the seemingly unrepairable dead drive... it's turned into more of a whine and cheese convention!
I suspect few of us have your knowledge and skills, yet apparently many of us are experiencing similar HD failures. Therefore, I think it would be useful to look for the commonality, if any, in order to understand how to remedy the fundamental problem.
I have noted that some of these posts reference an 80GB drive. Mine was a Hitachi. I spoke to a friend today whose Dell laptop had just experienced the same failure (clicking noise then no HD) and it too had an 80GB Hitachi HD. Other brands and sizes were mentioned here too but perhaps there are common internal components.
I assume (being an engineer) that something inside the drive comes loose and eventually prevents the arm from moving and/or destroys parts of the disk surface. Perhaps it was a specific batch of drives with defective construction? Or the design of the 80GB drive? Or ...?
If Apple really does analyze broken drives, they should be in a position to respond to this supposition. Apple, Are you there???
"A UK data recovery organisation has warned Apple Macbook users that they risk potential data loss due to a design flaw on certain hard drives.
UK firm Retrodata has come across “many dozens” of failures affecting Seagate 2.5 inch SATA drives, commonly found in laptops such as the MacBook or MacBook Pro. Apple desktops that use laptop-oriented components, like the Mac Mini, are also potentially at risk.