"The 2.5G drive is the master and the 1.7G drive is the slave on the first IDE interface. Here is what I am thinkg about doing. Any comments or suggestions?"
Linux will run faster if you are able to run the two drives in parallel. To run in parallel they must be on separate cables. So you should move one of the drives to the second IDE interface.
Once the drives are on separate cables then you should split the partitions between the two drives so that the I/O load on the two drives is about the same.
In order to minimize disk arm movement on each drive you should place the busiest partition in the middle of the drive and place the least used partitions at the ends of the drive. Also if you have gobs of unused disk space place the excess at the end of the drive, don't pass it out to every partition and make all of the partitions unreasonably large. The disk arm will run faster if it does not have to continually move across large amounts of unused space.
Swap can be either very busy or not used at all depending on the amount of RAM that you have. In your case I expect that swap might be busy. You can check swap usage with the free command.
Be prepared. Create a LifeBoat CD.