Projects

Thinkpad Restoration Part II

Here we go part 2 of my thinkpad restoration project (some images in this piece were taken in a darker location due to being too bright elsewhere.

The Laptop

the laptop arrived by courier along with my package from scan computers within about 40 mins of each other quite surreal because not once in the past I have I had 2 deliveries from different couriers arrive quite close to each other. and the laptop condition was just superb and came in so much bubble wrap it took me 5 mintutes to unwrap it.

Getting things to boot

Oh no… its not booting …. actually nope it was fine no pc or laptop will boot without memory its just the way it behaves some systems wont even turn on some like the thinkpad will power up but not show anything on the screen so I put the 8GB of memory into it and it booted right up

Early Problems

(Due to some of the issues I had to grab some images from google for this section but most are from my thinkpad)

When I got this laptop up and running I checked the setup and as expected I hit the password wall just as it was described when I bought it so it was time for a strip down to get access to bios. So I stripped the laptop down

and thanks to Lenovos support in terms of service manuals and videos this is not a daunting task and after 20 mintutes the bios was reset this was evident as the clock was wrong but that was not my biggest problem.

I did not realise at first there was a second password hidden on this machine the supervisor password (the master of all bios passwords – this locks everything) and its likely the recycling/computer company I bought this from would not have know that because of the main bios password lock. i will go over removing it later its going to go into my advanced surgery section as I had to go in for the kill it seemed to get worse now because I now had no way of booting a flash drive or anything because in a previous life it was locked down tighter than Fort Knox everything was locked out even the system clock! and I borrowed the below screenshots both are pretty much identical to how mine was set.

not great I started to think I was….

But with the BIOS battery seemingly ok I put the laptop back together and tried to figure out how the heck I was going to get windows on it as I had installed the hdd already (that was a pain in the neck! thanks Lenovo for only making it hard to fit anything above 7.5mm high!) so it had a 250GB HDD installed but I May put a Msata HDD in at some point in the future. and one final problem was also hitting me in the face everytime I tried to do anything with the laptop configuration

Computrace now this has a long history behind it and some say its not exactly as clean as it claims as it sort of acts like a spyware rootkit which is not actually suprising considering Computrace is a anti theft system but its never been deactivated on this system but the support team at Absolute Software are pretty helpful and just asked me to send a request to the global support email account with the serial number and system number and I got a automated email back saying a case had been raised for this.

I Dont Believe It Moment

with all that this project was throwing up in terms of problems I started to wonder if was actually going to get it finished well then I got a bit of heaven really I was able to temporarily get a hard drive with a older windows install to boot and I was able to see that everything was working albeit slowly and sluggishly.

and well that was it a attempt to reset windows then failed and the harddrive was done with no way to boot the laptop into setup for windows it was litterally a paperweight nothing more.

Advanced surgery

Now I needed to get the supervisor password dealt with and after a bit of reading the only solution I could find was to short a specific eeprom.

this eeprom has 1 job and it does it well to keep the supervisor password safe as to put a finer point on it would be really stupid to put it in bios memory because it can be wiped out with removing the battery so most manufacturers now put them on a specific eeprom chip and as they are read only its pretty hard to wipe them as they write and erase via a electrical pulse.

how did I wipe it out without being able to generate the electrical pulse needed well this is where it gets tricky and I am pretty sure Lenovo wont approve of it you need to short 3 pins the SDL Ground and SCL (seen the shot above) and when I hit the think advantage button the first time while doing this it did not work and I got the same issue as orignally and as it was getting late when I made the first attempt I realised I had made one error my screw driver slipped and missed the ground pin meaning it did not short anything. On my second attempt I redid the procedure and this time I carefully checked the screwdrivers location and then hit the power button and then the think vantage button and the bios crashed so to speak in a good way the eeprom had shorted out and the memory wiped clean.

Now I could move on and get the boot system working properly.

Windows install finally

With the Supervisor Password gone and the laptop back together and the boot order sorted in bios and my memory stick now working as a boot device i was able to start the windows 10 install *NOTE this laptop never orignally came with windows 10 but neither did the dell Inspiron 1545 I have been using for the last few months*

and i thought if my now defunct hp 1.8GHZ could run windows 10 badly (yes it really was bad) then surely the thinkpad could run it so i let it do the install and it worked but was there any software issues well i will get into those in a min and the install was quick only taking around 20min thats not bad it takes around 15 to install on my 200GB SSD in my main rig.

Software problems

I knew a clean fully working install of windows 10 on my thinkpad was going to be a bit of a tall order and well I was not wrong there was problems with the display driver the biometrics pad worked but not properly and I could not get the WiFi to work even though it had drivers so I booted a good software friend sys tweaks advanced driver updater and after scaning the laptop it tracked down all the drivers the laptop needed and then installed them and then after a restart all was good.

(the screenshot is from my main rig as I was not able to get one on the laptop when but the way it works is the same and it has been updated now 🙂 )

And getting the troublesome wifi operating again was not too difficult I ran the network troubleshooter through the network adapters and windows told me the wifi was turned off which I already knew but despite my attempts to turn it on it did not work but windows did manage to turn it on and then it was plain sailing.

In Conclusion

Its been a fun little project if not a bit of a challenge at times but its a super light little machine and despite the battery not being great after it does last around an hour will I do another thinkpad to sell on? Possibly I am going to look into it and the cost of doing it and whether i can make any profit from it.

and sadly despite early sights I did spot a small crack on the side next to the harddrive cover its not a massive issue its still really strong so no need to worry about it and 2 keys will need replacing as they fell apart when the keyboard was removed.

Until next time

Tim

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