I think there are different "flavors" of the PQSERVICE partition. That is, they are probably tuned to the model of laptop you have.
I have a TM8104, so everything I've done may or may not only work on the TM8100 series.
First thing I discovered is that Ghost 2003 will happily backup the PQSERVICE partition to a partition image file. Ghost 2003 will then refuse to restore the PQSERVICE partition because I think it knows it's a diagnostic partition (type 12) and it doesn't allow restoring it. There might be a ghost command line switch to force the restore, though. I have not tested a full drive image backup and restore operation, so I don't know if that works.
What I did was use PTEDIT (Partition Magic's DOS boot sector editor) to change the PQSERVICE partition from type 12 to type 0B. Then ghost not only backs it up, but will restore it.
So, test #1. I installed a new BLANK harddrive, then I created 2 FAT32 primary partitions, and 1 FAT32 logical partition (using the same general scheme as the factory drive). I then used the bootable ghost CD to restore the PQSERVICE partition (modified type 0B) from an external USB HD to my first partition. I made sure that the first partition (PQSERVICE) was bootable. My disk looked like this:
---Part 1 = Primary Fat32 Type 0B PQSERVICE restored from ghost image
---Part 2 = Primary Fat32 Type 0C "ACER" partition (formatted empty)
---Part 3 = Extended partition
----------- Logical Fat32 Type 0C "ACERDATA" partition (formatted empty)
---Part 4 = n/a
Now I rebooted the HD, and it boots the PQSERVICE partition, and it does it's magic. One more reboot, and I was running factory WinXP. The PQSERVICE recovery software installed WinXP in partition 2 (as expected), then when complete it set partition 1 back to hidden (type 12).
Test #2. I wiped the HD completely (wrote zeros to everything). Leaving the new drive completely empty, I now boot the Acer System CD. It starts it's restore process, asks for Recovery disc 1, then disc 2. When it's done, it prints an error that it can't read drive A: (abort, retry, ignore). It's expecting the System CD again, but Recovery disc 2 is still in the drive. It's important here to re-insert the System CD, and reboot the System CD again. This will start phase 2 of the recovery process, which copies all the Acer-specific drivers to the WinXP partition. Once done, I remove the System CD, and boot the HD. Factory WinXP up and running.
So, if you have recovery CDs, I'd suggest making ISO backups of them (just in case), and use them if you want to nuke the PQSERVICE partition. The PQSERVICE partition is really just a D2D (disk to disk) recovery process that doesn't require the Recovery CDs. Copying the PQSERVICE partition to another HD is somewhat complicated, but the Recovery CDs work just fine on a virgin HD. Also, even if you copy the PQSERVICE partition to a new drive, it won't work 100% with Alt-F10 because the D2D support also requires Acer-specific boot code in the MBR, which will not be present on a new HD. Also, you will lose the Acer MBR code if you re-install WinXP on your factory HD.
I haven't tried to image backup the factory HD then doing an image restore to a new HD yet. I don't know if Ghost 2003 will retain the Acer-specific MBR code or if it the PQSERVICE partition will get restored with the image restore.