Refurbishing Old ThinkPads (T43 and T23)

A couple of weeks ago, I managed to win an auction of two ThinkPads, the T43 and T23 for the humble price of £36.

A friend offered to buy the T23 from me so we could restore them and install some lightweight OS such as Haiku or ReactOS.

Part One: Replacing the CMOS batteries

The first thing we did was power on the ThinkPads, to which we were greeted with a screen telling us that the time and date were wrong, on both of them! This could only mean one thing – the CMOS battery was dead.

At the time we did not have any laptop CMOS batteries at hand, so we set off to Waitrose to buy some CR2032 coin cell batteries. The problem is, the coin cells needed to be wrapped in shrink wrap to connect the pins that connect to the connector.

Luckily, my friend had some shrink wrap and a lighter, all we needed to do was heat the wrap to fit around the new battery – couldn’t be too hard, right?

Yeah, no. We accidentally melted the connector on end of the wire just enough to prevent it from fitting in to the motherboard. fuck.

Fortunately for us, eBay has our ass covered and I was able to order new CMOS batteries.

Part Two: Solving Thermal Issue

It is a well known fact that you must replace thermal paste every 2-3 years to prevent overheating. From what I could see from opening the ThinkPads was they had not been replaced once. In over fifteen years. Because of this, turning them on resulted in them attempting to take off on the next unmanned mission in to orbit.

After repasting them and blowing out the T43’s fans (it was VERY dusty and was probably kept in a cupboard for the majority of its previous life, poor thing) the thermal issues were pretty much solved.

Part Three: Installing a Modern OS with a Lightweight Footprint

I have not done this yet as I am waiting for my power supply, but I intend to install Haiku OS 32 bit on my ThinkPad T43, as it seems to run some applications and is still updated.