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Crashed MacBook Gets New Lease of Life

I previously reported on the unfortunate encounter of my first MacBook Pro with stone floor. Those alu guys are sturdy little bastards I can now say from experience because it continued to work flawlessly.

Then came my birthday and a new unibody MacBook Pro to replace it. This is two unibody generations newer. This one has an SD-Card slot, dual GPU, 2.8 GHz and 500 GB Harddisk. No SSD yet because for me 128 GB turned out to be too small and larger quantities are not yet financially viable.

Almost as long as I had the old MBP I also had provided a MacMini to my partner Christian whose been learning to code Cocoa on it. Turns out besides of being a Photoshop guru Christian also is well equipped with all screw drivers there are and with the patience and precision necessary to refurbish devices which are usually considered to be “beyond repair”.

Having moved my development tools from the old MBP to the new one by means of Timemachine and Migration Assistant I gave the old MBP plus a $30 used bottom case which I had purchased on ebay to Christian to see what he can achieve with it. Going via the regular channels would have cost $200 just for the bottom case spare part and $200 more to get it repaired. And that was before I had dropped it a second time… so I figured, nothing to lose but much to gain.

On these “Before” shots you can clearly see that Christian has thousands of hours in experience on how to photograph stuff for ebay.


One of the tools that Christian used was the repair guide on but being the perfectionist that he is he even found some mistakes in it. Screws had been mislabled and such.It also turned out that the spare part probably had a short circuit in the latch sensor. Obviously sellers on ebay has no way to detect such a problem but you are definitely screwed if you think you can save money on such a repair if you don’t have an expert at hand who can fix short circuits.

Christian invented an ingenious screw harmonica to organize the myriads of screws you have to remove when exploding a MBP. This technique did not only work once, but twice because Christian decided to take it apart a second time when he was not satisfied. And I don’t assume that this was because he had leftover screws.


The second time around he also took apart the display unit flying totally blind because for this there are no iFixit guides. A little bit of hammering was involved to get parts back into straight shapes. In several places cables had been squeezed by the crash and a couple of spots required extra-strong glue.

The final result is nothing short of astonishing for my layman’s eyes.


The whole project took Christian the better part of two days and it’s clear that under normal circumstances the device would have been beyond repair if you consider the total cost for the refurbishment to be around $1000. It was a labor of love for him, the reward is that he now has a mobile Mac to work on. “Work” in this context meaning using keyboard and trackpad as opposed to screwdrivers.

Being as sturdy as MacBook Pros are, at least there WAS something left to save. Macs bend, they don’t break.

Categories: Administrative

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