Projects

Thinkpad Restoration Part II

Here we go part 2 of my Thinkpad restoration project.

The Laptop

The laptop arrived by courier along with my package from scan computers within about 40 mins of each other quite surreal. It’s not that often 2 deliveries from different couriers arrive close to each other.

the laptop packaging was superb and came in so much bubble wrap it took me 5 minutes 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 as there is no way to start up Bios some laptops won’t even turn on. However others like the Thinkpad will power up the screen but not show anything on the screen so I put the 8GB of memory into it and it booted right up

Early Problems

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 acquired it. So time for a strip down to get access to bios battery. A 5 minute job thanks to great service manuals.

HIDDEN PASSWORDS

I did not realise at first there was a second password hidden on this machine the supervisor password. It’s likely the recycling/computer company I bought this from would not have known.

I will go over removing it. It’s advanced surgery as I had to go in for the kill.

NO WAY TO BOOT UP

Because I now had no way of booting a flash drive or anything. In its previous life it was locked down tighter than Fort Knox. 

not great I started to think I was….

I put the laptop back together and tried to figure out how 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!)

Future Plans

So with the drive fitted and now ready to be reformatted and setup. A problem was hitting me in the face. 

Computrace now this has a long history behind it and some say its not exactly as clean as it claims.

Great Support

Its never been deactivated on this system, but the support team at Absolute Software are pretty helpful. After sending an email to the support team and system number.

I got an automated email back saying a case had been raised for this. A day later I was told it was now no longer activated.

I Don’t Believe It Moment

With all that this project was throwing up in terms of the problems. I started to wonder if was actually going to get it finished.

Heaven… Almost

Well then I got a bit of heaven really. I was able to temporarily get a hard drive with an older windows install to boot. I was able to see that everything was working, albeit slowly and sluggishly.

And well that was it a attempt to reset windows. It failed & with no way to boot the laptop into setup for windows it was literally a paperweight and nothing more.

Advanced surgery

Now I needed to get the supervisor password dealt with. After a bit of reading the only solution was to short out a dedicated password EEProm chip.

Password Dedicated

This EEProm has 1 job and it does it well to keep the supervisor password safe. To put a finer point on it would be really stupid to put it in bios memory. Bios can be wiped out by removing the battery.

as the chip is also read only its pretty hard to wipe them by traditional means. They can only be erased via a electrical pulse. You need to take the laptop to bits in order to expose this chip! to even do it.

It could be anywhere on the motherboard. Thankfully I knew where it was on this thinkpad as below.

Lenovo wont approve of it you need to short 3 pins the SDL, Ground and SCL. (see the shot above) while hitting the big blue advantage button while holding a paper clip or something magnetic.

No Go Abort

And when I hit the think advantage button the first time while doing this it did not work. I got the same issue as originally this attempt had taken a long time and it was getting late.

I realised I had made one error my screwdriver slipped. And failed to short out the chip

2nd Time Successful

On my second attempt the next morning. I redid the procedure and this time I carefully checked the screwdrivers location. And following the same procedure as before and the bios crashed.

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. My memory stick now working as a boot device I was able to start the windows 10 install

*NOTE this laptop never originally came with windows 10*

And I thought if my now defunct HP 1.8GHZ could run windows 10 badly. Surely the Thinkpad could run it so I let it do the install. It worked but was there any software issues?.

I will answer that in a minute and the install was quick only taking around 20min. That’s not bad it takes around 15 to install on my 200GB SSD in my main rig.

Software, WiFi & Driver problems

I knew a clean, fully working install of windows 10 on my Thinkpad was going to be tough. I was not wrong there was problems with the display driver and various others.

Like the biometric pad not liking windows 10 and I could not get the Wi-Fi to work. Even though drivers were installed losing nothing I booted a software my friend recommended to me. It quickly found the drivers I was missing and installed them

(the screenshot is from my main rig as I was not able to get one on the laptop. 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. The WiFi was off according to the diagnostic.

I already knew that but despite my attempts to turn it on it did not work. Thankfully Windows managed to turn it on and then it was plain sailing.

In Conclusion

It’s 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 in the future?

Possibly I am going to look into the costs of doing it.

here is the link to lenovo’s site to look at new thinkpad models they are selling.

https://www.lenovo.com/gb/

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