Clevo - Sanyo 5600 LCD Display SagaI've completely disassembled the laptop. I'd like to give credit to previous posters who have helped me to figure out what is wrong with the laptop and what needed to be fixed.
This unit was a used one, maybe 4 years old (the 3ghz hyper-threading P4 model). While I bought it almost three weeks ago, and almost immediately disassembled it, I was sick for several weeks and so needed to get some of my strength back to look into it again.
To clarify: The specific display with the hinge cracking problem, in this Clevo - Sager D500P is the Sanyo LCD, labeled "Clevo 5600 LCD" inside, on the back with the plastic surrounding the back of the LCD removed. I understand the exact LCD can vary, so perhaps maybe the support brackets do also. Thesbrackets are the metal pieces connecting the LCD display panel to the hinge. The [silver] back plastic is the same cosmetic piece mentioned in earlier posts, made out of a [cheap] polystyrene and cracks at the base, after the LCD Supports have annealed [weakened] or broken.
What I know so far: forget about contacting Clevo in Germany. Unless you speak Chinese Mandarin. Although it's in Germany, the one person I've managed to speak to on the phone (only) repeatedly said to email. This, I believe, is Clevo's only Mainland European office.
- [email: which I had already done, and then forwarded again, the letter to a specific email address given by said Mandarin speaker, with no reply after 1+ weeks]
- It didn't matter if we had a native German speaking person or native English speaking person talking with the rep. The rep was actually easier to understand in English, although repeated the email mantra.
Clevo: Put staff who can understand, read and write the local language in your offices overseas.
I remembered a previous poster had mentioned loosening the hinge support bolts. Important: Whether fitting a single replacement bracket (or both, L&R), with or without a new silver polystyrene plastic surround, or repairing the existing bracket, a number of disassembly steps must be taken to re-adjust the hinges. I'll get into those later.
The hinges are removed on the laptop. Now, how to get the torque to be about right. I don't have many tools. One of the handiest tools to have, is a pair of #10 curved-jaw 'Vice Grip'-brand locking pliers (U.S.), or if you live in Europe, E-TOP makes an almost identical #10, stamped 10" Grip on the jaw. The Matador brand from Bauhaus, a kind of Home Depot, cost about 5 or 6 Euro, so I can't recommend them, and don't know what they weigh. Why is this important?
Each hinge does not use any spring-loaded mechanism. It is simply the tightness of the nut against a stack of washers which keeps the LCD in any position, without being too hard to move (except in the cases of cracking laptops), or conversely, being too loose and slipping. The hinges are small and so all the torque is concentrated in a tiny area. I am sure the problem for the people who have had breaking LCD brackets are due to a factory manufacturing defect, coupled with the obvious engineering defect. Reading previous posters, the hinge and bracket was under-designed, and assemblers at the factory overtightened the hinge.
Using a kitchen scale, the "10 Grip locking pliers weigh a little over 500 grams. The LCD Display, without the back plastic and support brackets, weighs about 1060 grams. The pliers are balanced from front to back, meaning the jaw and the handle weigh about the same. Hold the hinge in one hand, held in it's installed orientation, and lock the pliers to the plate where the LCD bracket mounts - being careful not to overtighten the locking pliers and marr the contact area - loosen the nut a little at a time [you have switch between holding hinge and pliers, to holding pliers and a nut wrench], until the hinge is too loose to support the pliers. Then hold the hinge level, with the pliers at a reasonably steep angle simulating the position of the LCD Screen. Tighten up the nut, until just past the point where the locking pliers, are supported at any angle, including during moving the hinge around casually (holding a tiny hinge with a 500 gram plier attached is hard to do, requiring another set of pliers or a strong grip). Edit: I found after assembly and having the screen slip, the nut must be tightened 1/8 more.
# I've had very strange responses from various Clevo offices: From no response from the German office - to the UK office who said they were sure I could only get the bracket from them (false), and charge 15 sterling for the bracket. The price is similar to the U.S.: 30USD, although shipping is another matter: a cool 37 pounds for shipping from the UK to mainland Europe. It's cheaper for me to get them from the U.S.! ... who also has the bracket. Hmm.
# The laptop is reassembled and working fine. There is a 'spare part', if you're reading this post and want to help me to identify it, PM me. It doesn't seem to be much more than a cable retainer; although I could be wrong. I did not take any disassembly photos.
# To repair a bracket, instead of waiting for the part or paying the (overpriced, especially for a defect) money, use
+ a common torch for plumbing, plumbing solder/no soft metal i.e. not electrical solder with Pb/lead,
+ a piece of medium-grit sandpaper, i.e. something to clean off the area of the bracket to be soldered without removing too much of the bracket itself,
+ some non-corrosive flux, i.e. plumbing flux. This helps to remove the naturally-occurring oxygen layer and get the solder to bind with the bracket
+ optional: some industrial epoxy. This is much better than store epoxy, and can be used to assemble things like aeroplanes. The absolute crap from UHU is junk (as is almost anything UHU sells). This is generally good to have around anyway, and will make bonds stronger than the original.
It is very difficult to get the two pieces to meet by hand, while also heating (third hand), and applying solder (fourth hand). A vice or something else which can hold the cleaned bracket parts together while soldering is a must-have. They must be absolutely steady.
Apply flux to the junction. Heat the parts at the junction. Reapply flux if necessary. Apply solder. There might be excess which drips off. It's most important the excess solder pools on the inside of the join. The LCD screen sits several millimetres above the join; only empty space here. Perfect spot for filling with solder. You should be able to judge how much space you have from the disassembly.
Afterwards, I used an industrial two-part epoxy, just to be on the safe side. Epoxy by itself might not bond to the smooth metal, or be appropriate. The solder lump gives the surface texture for the epoxy.
Last note: if you only replace or repair the brackets, this is not right, the replacements will certainly break again. I would not apply lubricant to the hinge as a quick way to resolve the problem (avoiding disassembly) - but you might have access to more mechanical experience than me and deem this a better solution. I'd be interested! Feel free to post follow-ups with your experiences.