Miracle Feats of Engineering

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So, I’ve been having some trouble with some cracking around one of the hinges of my laptop (if you’re not going to follow the link, it’s a Dell Inspiron 1150, which I bought because it was the second-cheapest laptop Dell offered when I started law school). Well, some more plastic cracked, I tried a cheap-and-easy solution that didn’t work, and it turned out that I was going to have to get into the guts of the machine get at the hinge.

These are the steps you have to take to get to the hinge:

  1. Take out the battery.
  2. Take out the hard drive.
  3. Take out the CD drive. (I skipped this part, as it wasn’t entirely necessary)
  4. Remove the hinge cover.
  5. Take out the keyboard.
  6. Take out the “EMI Shield” (a thin piece of metal under the keyboard)
  7. Physically remove the display from the main part of the computer
  8. Remove the display bezel (the plastic around the display)
  9. Remove the display panel proper
  10. Remove the metal frame from the back of the top cover.

And then I get to do my repair (which involved a frantic search for a screw I thought I dropped).

The hinge on my laptop attaches to the display by the way of two screws that connect to a plate. The nuts on that tighten the screws are actually embedded in the plastic of the top cover, and it’s that plastic that had cracked and eventually failed, in large part because the screws had come undone. By some stroke of luck, while the plastic had failed, the nuts were still rattling around in there. So I re-attached the hinge, and then performed the above ten nine steps in reverse order (of course, the whole process did take all morning).

The miracle feat of engineering alluded to in the title is the fact that I managed to re-assemble it without

  1. losing any screws, or
  2. having any screws left over.

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