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Sager 56X0 Hinge Crack Solution

Some owners of the Sager (AKA Clevo AKA Midern AKA Alienware) Models 5660, 5670, 5680, 5690 & Area-51m laptops have experienced small cracks forming in the LCD case/lid at the hinge points. I happen to be one of these cases with a Sager 5660. The problem first showed up about 6 months after purchasing the laptop. A repair would have been covered under warranty, but I would have needed to pay shipping and there would be no guarantee that the same problem wouldn't develop again. I decided to take the wait and see approach until August of 2004 when the crack became so bad that I could no longer close the lid. My I wanted to find a solution that would permanently solve the problem, so that ruled out buying the replacement parts from the manufacture and gave birth to this tutorial. Please note that by following the steps below you will most likely be voiding your warranty, and that you should only proceed if you feel comfortable after reading through the entire process. I can take no responsibility if you break or damage anything in the process. Also remember proper safety and eye protection when working with tools, as well as adult supervision if you are under 18.

The Problem:

There are multiple factors that contribute to the problem the two most prominent that I encountered were:

  1. Hinges are set too tight at the factory
  2. Though the hinges are metal, and mounted with metal screws, they are anchored into the plastic housing of the LCD which can't take the stress of normal use.

The Solution:

To fix this problem I simply wanted to find a way to loosen the hinges or reinforce the material onto which they were mounted. I was able to find the nut that determines the tension on the hinges, but it is located in such an awkard place that I gave up on trying to access it. For reference it is inside the plastic barrel that covers the hinge unit attached to the keyboard side of the laptop. I didn't have a tool that was small enough to get all the way to it and still have room to make adjustments, so my answer was to strengthen the LCD side.

Supplies:

Here is a list of tools and parts required for this repair.

Tools
Drill
Hack Saw
Small phillips and flat head screwdriver
Pen or Pencil
Metric Socket set
Drill bits - 1/8", 3/16", 3/32", 1/16"
Utility Knife

Parts
One 36"x1"x1/16" flat plated steel
Eight M3 x .5mm x 20mm sized machine screws
Four M2 x 20mm sized machine screws
Eight M3 sized nuts
Four M2 sized nuts

Of all the places I checked (Lowe's, Home Depot, Radio Shack, and Ace Hardware) Ace Hardware was to only place that carried all the parts required, and the only place that carried M2 sized nuts and machine screws in stock.

How To:

Step 1: Remove the Plastic LCD frame by first removing the 6 sticky rubber covers from the 4 corners 2 between the hinges, then remove the screws they were covering. Next use a small flathead screwdriver to pry apart the front piece from the back LCD casing. There are tabs located around the perimeter that need to be un-snapped. This takes some pressure, but not so much that I ever feared I would break the plastic. Once it's open enough work your finger in and around all 4 sides until the front part is completely off.

If the plastic part of your hinge has all ready fallen off, or if it is very close to falling off follow steps 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. If you only have minor cracks but want to solve the problem before it gets out of hand skip to step 7

Step 2: Next you should find 2 additional screws at each hinge point that are holding the LCD onto the base of the laptop. Remove both of these keeping one hand on the LCD to keep it from falling. Once removed, gently lean the LCD back being careful not the stress the wires going to the base.

 

 

Step 3: Place the flat plated steel up against the hinge and trace around it including the two holes. (Repeat for other side).

In this photo I'm using 1/8" aluminum, because I happened to have it sitting around the house, since the project all ready required steel it makes more sense for you to use that at this step (There should be about 12" left over as scrap anyway) rather than also buying aluminum.

 

Step 4: Drill out the two holes using an 1/8" bit. This should be enough room for the M3 screws to pass through. (Repeat for other side)

 

 

 

 

Step 5: Counter sink all 4 holes you have drilled using the 3/16" bit (you should drill about half way through the material).

Next use a hack saw to cut out along the lines drawn for each side.

Finally remove the original anchors that are located on the back LCD panel that the original hinge screws mounted into. I needed a utility knife to free them a little, then I put in one of the screws, and grabbed it with pliers to remove the screw and anchor together.

The anchor should fit nicely into the countersunk hole, but not pass all the way through the smaller 1/8" hole.

Step 6: If the plastic hinge pieces on the back panel are still attached you can remove them with the utility knife. Next tip the LCD panel back into place and insert the new replacement metal brackets behind it. Put both anchors into the bracket and pass 4 of the new M3 screws through the hinge, LCD, and thread them into the anchors. Now skip to step 8, seven is only if you did not do 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6.

 

 

Step 7: If you did not follow steps 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6, and you still have the original plastic hinges on the LCD panel you can remove the screws that attach the panel to the hinge (one at a time) and drill all the way through the back plastic lid with a 3/32" bit (the idea here is to make a whole that will go all the way through without damaging the threads that the original screws went into, if the 3/32" bit doesn't easily go into the hole all the way to back plastic, use a smaller 5/64" bit. Once one hole is drilled you can put the old screw back into place.

Step 8: Remove, one at a time, the 4 screws located directly above the hinge and drill all the way through the back of the case with a 3/32" or 5/64" bit, which ever fits loosely inside the hole. Once complete put the old screw back into place.

Step 9: Next drill through the top corner holes with a 1/16" bit, then remove the screws next to those and drill through them as well. Replace screws when done to hold the LCD in place at the top.

Step 10: Hold the flat plated steel strip up to the back of the laptop LCD panel running from the bottom hinge area up to the top. Draw a line, and cut with a hack saw. Repeat this for the other side.

Step 11: Hold the cut steel strip in place again, and remove screws one at a time (4 in each of the lower corners, and 2 in each of the top corners). For each location drill through with a 1/16" bit just enough to mark on the steel strip where the holes should be.

Step 12: Drill through the steel at each mark. For the 4 lower marks usa a 3/16" bit and a 3/32" for the two upper ones. Repeat this for the other side.

 

 

 

Step 13: Using the new M3 screws thread them through all the bottom holes and slide the steel strip over the top of them. Fasten them with M3 nuts.

 

 

 

Step 14: Repeat step 13 for the top 4 screws using the M2 screws and nuts

 

 

 

 

Step 15: Test to make sure everything is opening and closing properly and make any adjustments necessary. If everything works well you can remove the 4 screws in each corner, replace the front plastic LCD frame and re-insert the 4 corner screws through the proper holes. Next replace the rubber sticky screw covers, and saw off the ends of the screws that are now sticking out of the back of the LCD case.

 

Congratulations you have now have a solid-as-steel hinge on your Sager/Clevo/ Midern/Alienware 56x0 laptop.