In 2001 I made the transition from a desktop home PC to a laptop. I bought a Toshiba Satellite Pro, and despite it’s hard life, it’s still running as well as the day I got it. It’s a great little machine.
However, after about two years, the hinge cracked, meaning the LCD screen would no longer stay upright by itself reducing the computer’s functionality as a laptop somewhat.
This seems to be a common problem in laptops. I’ve spotted the hinge-crack and lid floppiness in Compaqs, Dells, and even on a Macbook.
There is a tremendous amount of pressure on the hinges to hold up the screen. But the hardware that performs this function is typically a tiny metal clasp woefully inadequate for the job.
Hinge repair is usually not possible, and when the floppiness appears, trusty laptops are carelessly cast aside for the next latest and greatest model.
And so, after nearly six years of frustrating home browsing, flipping, flopping, and cussing, the time had finally come for an autopsy. My laptop was completely disassembled in the Kumeu Repair Shop, and with a resident Macgyver on hand, replacement hinges were engineered.
How to: Repair Toshiba Satellite Pro Hinge
- Plastic baggie (for screws)
- Terminal strip/block (chocolate block, the electronic variety)
- Thin sheet of brass
- Box cutter
- Disassemble the laptop. Keep a screw record, required for reassembly later.
- Identify and remove the cracked hinge. The key hinge component is a tiny piece of metal about the size of a thumbnail, and hopelessly inadequate for the repeated strain of holding up a laptop screen.
- Design replacement hinges. The replacement component needs to be strong, without taking up too much space in the already densely packed computer.
- Create replacement hinges. The design above called for specialized machining tools. However with only hand-tools available some macgyverisms were required. And in a shed bigger than our house and section combined, a solution was found. It just so happens that the brass components of a terminal block are the same size as the hinge.
The casing was constructed by bending a sheet of brass, and the two pieces were then soldered together.
Compared with the original piece, the new joinery looked more encouraging:
- Reassemble hinge.
- Reassemble laptop base and screen.
- Hack speakers until they fit. The Toshiba’s speakers are located over top of the hinges between the base and the screen. However, because the new brass hinges are slightly larger, the original laptop speakers no longer fitted. The only solution was to attack them with box-cutters until they snapped over top of the new hinges.
- Install remaining screws. Mysteriously, there will be a few left over.
My laptop is back! For the first time in a number of years I can open the lid and it stays open. Morning pre-work browsing is a whole new exciting world!
I owe a big thank you to Clyde for his ingenuity and dedication to the task of engineering the replacement hinges.
Imagine how many more laptops suffering the same fate, could be saved from a cruel and premature death?