Fixing a Thinkpad T41

Posted by james on Dec. 3, 2007

7 pictures.

Melissa's laptop broke recently, it wouldn't charge at all. With power problems, it's usually the power adapter wire failing (due to metal fatigue), or the power connector on the laptop failing, or the battery causing trouble. She said that the same thing happened with a friend's power adapter, so I guessed it was #2 the power connector on the laptop.

So in I go to open it up, and after a whole lot of disassembling and unscrewing (the power connector was under the motherboard... why??) I found it. The screw holding the power connector in place had loosened, and the slight wiggling had caused one of the wires to break connection, and then the laptop couldn't charge. I simply soldered the wire back on, taped it up, screwed it back in tight, and everything worked.

It's funny; screws seem like such inconsequential little items, but they do cause a lot of problems when they're missing or loose. The IBM service repair handbook actually says that their field techs are not to reuse any screws since they are specially nylon-coated, and only good for one insertion. The nylon coating acts as a sort of soft thread-locker, preventing the screws from coming loose. After they're removed, they must be replaced with new coated screws.

Of course, I don't have spares so I reused the existing ones. But it is interesting that the manual states that loose screws are the cause of much failure and service problems. For want of a nail...