the taming of the screws

Joy Freeman joyslists at
Sat Oct 11 10:19:31 PDT 2003

I've been meaning to report on my repair of my dual-USB iBook hinge 
assembly, about which I requested advice from the list some months ago. 
The current discussion of keeping track of screws finally prompted me to 
do so, as I was very pleased with my solution to keeping track of the 
screws and other parts. Maybe, if somebody else has a repair that is 
more extensive than a 7-day pill organizer (a great idea!) will cover, 
they might be able to use it.

My husband's iBook slid off  the table while it was open (my fault; how 
embarrassing!). The hinge was broken in the fall, and the screen bezel 
cracked, but the iBook could be opened and closed (with care), and my 
husband didn't want to be without it for the time it was in the shop, so 
he kept putting off getting it fixed. Then one day, the screen flickered 
when he opened it, and the next day it stopped working entirely. Of 
course the timing was terrible, as he needed to have a laptop for a 
conference he was attending, so he simply bought a second iBook. The 
broken one, we agreed, would be mine once we'd gotten it fixed.

Well, it was out of warranty, so I decided I wanted to at least try to 
make the repairs myself. I knew I'd need to replace the hinge and bezel, 
but I wasn't sure what other repairs I would have to make or what parts 
I would need. I suspected the screen had died because one or more wires 
had been cut by a ragged end of the broken hinge, or maybe by being 
pinched between parts that no longer lined up correctly. It was 
impossible to know without taking it apart.

I knew I would have to disassemble the iBook, test the wires and 
otherwise size up the situation, then leave it apart while awaiting 
whatever parts I ordered. The alternative was to put it back together 
and take it apart again. But taking it apart involved removing the 
battery, bottom case, keyboard, airport card, top case, top shield, 
display module, LCD panel, display clutch cover, inverter board, antenna 
board, reed switch board, microphone cable, bezel brace, and clutch 
assembly. Nah, I'd just leave it all apart until I was ready to put in 
the replacement parts.

At first I started putting the screws and other parts into an ice cube 
tray, in the order in which I removed them, but by the time I finished 
removing just the bottom case, not only did I worry about the tray 
getting turned over, I also could see that after a week or more--however 
long it took me to get replacement parts--I might not remember exactly 
the order of the steps of internal disassembly.

I had printed out the service manual for my "Late 2001" iBook, but it 
only showed how to replace the entire display module, not how to 
disassemble it. So I printed the "take-apart instructions" for the 
display half of the iBook from the "Opaque 16 VRAM" manual, which looked 
to be close enough for my purposes. (My heartfelt thanks to members of 
this list for helping me find the manuals, by the way.)

As I removed the screws and parts, I  started taping them next to the 
appropriate instructions and/or photos on the printed manual pages. I 
used tiny plastic bags* to hold most of the small parts; other parts 
were taped directly to the paper. I also noted any discrepancies from 
the manual (i.e. where my wire colors were different from the ones in a 
photo, or where my screw sizes or locations didn't match the diagram 

I was lucky. I found that the screen had stopped working because the LCD 
connector on the back of the screen had become disconnected, probably 
gradually loosened due to increased stress on the wires running through 
the hinge cover. Some wire casings had been scratched up by a sharp 
hinge end, but they didn't look like they'd been cut through, and sure 
enough, they tested fine for continuity. So I only had to replace the 
hinge assembly and screen bezel, both of which I found on eBay at a 
reasonable price (along with an outer case). Considering the cost of 
those parts, and some others I thought I might need, even at the lowest 
priced parts source I found, we got off easy. And I've still got that 
extra case; maybe someday I'll customize it.

It was a month or more before I had a chance to put it all together. I 
was very glad I had taped the screws and other parts to the manual 
pages, because I did indeed have trouble remembering the exact order of 
the disassembly steps. It didn't matter, though, as I could easily see 
exactly which parts went where, and I got it back together with no parts 
left over and everything working just fine.

Sorry for the long post, but I mentioned to my husband that I was 
writing this post to the list, and he asked me to copy it to him to put 
on his website with the photos of the in-progress repair, so I may have 
gone into more detail than you folks needed.

Take care,

*I quickly ran out of tiny bags and just used corners cut out of 
sandwich baggies, getting two per baggie.

On Saturday, October 11, 2003, at 01:30 AM, e.mkeene wrote:
>>  Later I looked where I had put the screws (right where the
>> CD slot is), and there were three identical screws. I ejected the CD
>> tray and couldn't see any missing screws, although one of the tray
>> slides is just a little loose now.
>> Any idea where this extra screw came from?
> Repeat after me 50 times, "Putting screws anywhere in the ibook ( or 
> other computers) is a VERY BAD IDEA. As one person reported, losing a 
> screw in an ibook can cost as much as $350 to remove it so it doesn't 
> damage or short out any components. ALWAYS have a sazfe place outside 
> the computer where you can place the screws in the order in which they 
> were removed and where they won't get spilled if someone knocks the 
> container over. Empty pill bottle or boxes are ideal for this. Get a 
> seven day pill box the next time you are at a Dollar store and use it 
> to isolate each type of screw and label where it came from. Much 
> cheaper and less nerve-racking when things go wrong.

Joy Freeman
~ from manuscript to bound book ~
Editorial, Design, and Production Services
joy at

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