Can't format external hard drive?



I've bought a 160gig firewire external hard drive for my g3 laptop and after following all instructions from the support guys I've bought it from I keep coming to the same problem.
It shows up in disk utility as an external drive which is great but I've been told I need to format the disk before it will show up on my desktop. I've been trying to do this but it keeps stalling when it starts to set up the partition map, no progress is made past here. I've also been told to partition the drive (although I don't split it, just setting up the partition) but it stalls in the same way.
Is there any way around this?
just RE-format the whole thing. don't try and partition, just start from scratch and reformat the whole thing. THEN you can start partitioning.