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My vintage ThinkPad's rear corners where the hinges are attached, are broken and the hinges can hardly be moved.

Why are the hinges so hard to move? Is there any chance to get it repaired since spare parts are not available anymore?


After several years of usage the grease inside the hinge gets resinous. Additionally, abrasion of metal accumulates in between the movable parts of the hinge. This makes the hinges difficult to move. As a result, the corners on the base are likely to break, and thread sockets get torn off. Refer to images below.




Many base covers and lids can be repaired despite used spare parts are nearly unavailable anymore.


You will need materials below to start the repair project. 



  • triangular file (5mm wall height)
  • screwdriver-kit
  • for some ThinkPads: T1, T3 and/or T5 Torx screwdriver
  • "Dremel" rotary tool with various grinding and cutting attachments
  • vice
  • six to seven fitting iron (for relining when clamped in a vise) - see picture below
  • small hacksaw
  • metal drill 3mm
  • 250g hammer
  • thin "Edding" permanent marker (for marking the drillhole, and transmitting the template contours to the aluminum sheet)



  • aluminum flat sheet blank 250x500x0.8mm or smaller - but it must be 0.8mm thick
  • 2-component adhesive "fast" suitable for ABS and metal
  • 150 grit sandpaper (black - is more durable than beige / yellow)
  • WD-40
  • 20ml isopropanol
  • kitchen towels
  • a pair of latex gloves
  • insulating tape


Note: The aluminium sheet should not be thicker or thinner than 0.8mm. 0.6mm aluminium is not torsion-resistant enough; 1.2mm is too dufficult to handle and does not always fit between boards and basecover walls.



Project example: How to repair ThinkPad 720C


Detach the ThinkPad as described in the Handware Maintenance Manual (HMM).
Take care to keep and store all broken parts, they will be needed for the rennovation.

For some ThinkPads and displays a T5 Torx screwdriver will be needed (for ThinkPad 701 additional a Torx T1 will be needed)

After seperating display bezel and display cover the hinges have to be removed.




  • Not all HMMs mention how to diassemble the lid, so it must be done by trial and error
  • The display panel is attached at the display bezel in some notebook models (700/720, L40SX), so the rear cover has to be removed

After all components are removed (including the keyboard), check the full extent of the damage.









The leftover broken strips have to be removed and stored.


Grind down sticking out parts (red arrows point to parts after ground down by 1mm ) with the "Dremel" rotary tool and a grind attachment, to ensure the proper fit of parts used during the repair.





First we'll make a paper template that fits the housing. Due to the lever effect on opening and closing of the lid it will be a good idea to provide resistance to some fixed points.


Try to fix the repair piece by additional catch to the top and bottom of the trough bottom hooked on holding pin of the thread socket. We'll stick it to the outer wall and  the chipped parts will have to be attached to the repaired corner later.


Do bear in mind that the repair material could be clamped with other case parts.


Description of the paper-template:

  • The small vertical "cut" right of the middle is the space for the hinge-foot.
  • The round gap on the right side is for a thread socket under the powerboard.
  • The flap at the top will be bend with an angle of 90° to stick it with the side wall of the basecover
  • The flap on the left will be clamped between rear side of the basecover and the bottom cover.
  • The gap at the bottom is for the DC-connector



By using the paper template, cut out a corresponding piece of a 0.8 mm thick aluminium plate and handle it with a file and hacksaw until it all become together. With the fitting iron (put about 6 pieces togther) clamped in the vice the aluminium can be bend carefully with a hammer.


After bending, use the "Dremel" rotary tool with a cutting attachment to cut the aluminium for the hinge-foot.



If a Kensigton-Lock is not needed, the aluminium doesn't  need to be cut additionally for the lock-hole. Put the workpiece to its dedicated place, attach the hinge, mark the drill holes for the hinge-screws with a permanent marker and drill the holes.



Put on the latex gloves.

After sanding the future splices in the tub the aluminum workpiece with 150 grain sandpaper has to be roughened and finally everything degreased with isopropanol.


Please make sure that no lacquer has been left in the splice area, and this area should be roughened and degreased.

The next step will be a final fitting test with all components used in the corner (covers, boards, hinge, basecover, cables and so on).





The tab on the bottom cover (upper blue arrow) has to fit in the gap (lower blue arrow) between workpiece and corner, while the other tab (upper red arrow) from the inner side has to push against the aluminum sheet (lower red arrow) towards the rear side, so it is not loosened by the leverage of the hinge)

Now the workpiece can be stuck with 2-component adhesive.




After a break of 24 hours, the work can be continued again.


A few of the broken parts have to be ground down before attaching with glue to the aluminium workpiece.
Then, the broken parts can be glued together and to the aluminium plate. They will be compeletely glued after 24 hours.




To ensure the smooth movement of the hinges, use of hammer might be required on some models.
Position the hinge in the clamp (or vice) so that the second - movable - ring from the bottom sits on top of vice jaws while the lower one rests between the jaws but remains movable.



Drop (do not hit with the hammer) a 250g hammer several dozen times from about 5-7cm height onto the protruding upward cones. Be mindful of the force that you're letting the hammer down with, so the above spring mounted steel cones do not jump off.


Then spray with WD-40 and test the function. Repeat spraying with WD-40 several times during the next hours and test the function of the hinges as described below.

For this purpose, both hinges fixed to the lid, assemble the display, fix a hinge-foot with the vise clamp, hold the other hinge-foot in your hand and move the cover (open and close). Then turn lid and clamp the other hinge-foot.
The display should be easily moved without causing pressure to the hand of holding the hinge.

Be cautious that the lid is heavy (up to 750 grams on ThinkPads 700/720) -  the hinges and the base cover corners have to fix the hinges with a lot of power.

If the cover is moving too tight, repeat the "hammer-method".


Other hinges (i.e. A20-22, 390 and more) the hinge-pin is pressed into the hinge-foot. While moving the hinge from "open" to "close" and back, pull the hinge-arm out of the hinge foot.


After cleaning all parts and spraying with WD-40 the parts can be put together and tested with the lid as described above.


Assemble the display, the workpiece fixing boards, covers and carefully test the hinges and the stick together.


If a board (systemboard, powerboard or similar) has to be attached on top of parts of the aluminium workpiece, stick insulating tape on the aluminium.



Note: If the aluminium piece tears off, it can cause short circuit, thus insulate it well towards the board.


Attach the thread sockets in the lid (demonstrated with a ThinkPad 365X display-cover):

Collect all plastic parts of the thread sockets. Stick them together with the metal socket itself using the 2-component glue. Once the glue hardens, attach the socket into the lid. Make sure that the socket holes fit to the hinge's drill holes.


Leave some places for the hinge and the cables.



Do not forget to sand the area before attaching the screw socket with the glue. Otherwise, the socket could get torn off:


The red arrows in the above image show the old adhesive from a previous repair attempt. In this example (see picture above) the lacquer hadn't been removed with sandpaper. So the top layer of the lacquer (dark-grey)  got torn off (but a lot of power was needed to tear the thread socket off)


 Assemble the ThinkPad and test it.

Finally, a view of the almost finished 720C



 Thanks to for his assistance.

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