This isn't what I'd technically call retro, but we're talking about hardware from 2007 and WinXP, so it's at least long in the tooth from a tech perspective. I mean, the stuff I'm about to talk about hasn't been supported by Lenovo or Microsoft for a while now.
A couple of weeks ago my single solitary PC died. It’s a 2007 Lenovo Thinkpad running WinXP called the T60.
I use the machine entirely for Zoom Floppy and/or Amiga Explorer. That’s it. But I depend on it on a weekly basis. It's a vital bridge for me to create C64 disks or easily and conveniently move data and create disks for my Amigas.
In my desperation, I put Parallels on my Macbook Pro, which can run Windows 10. But Amiga Explorer and Parallels really don't place nice together when it comes to the com ports for some reason. I gave up on that approach.
Anyway, the 2007 Lenovo Thinkpad is the Chinese-owned and made version. Lenovo bought the IBM laptop business in 2005. It’s good laptop, but the build quality is suspect here and there. (e.g. the wrist rest to the right of the trackpad easily flexes, removing the trackpad very often cracks it somewhere, etc.) But overall it has been a very solid machine.
Well, one of the things this laptop model is notorious for is the fan. It was never lubricated at the factory (!) and that fact has been well-documented. Thus, years later they simply start to create unbelievable screeching noises (mine did) and eventually fail (mine did).
If and when the fan fails the machine simply will not boot. You get a fan failure message in white text in the upper left corner of your screen and it all abruptly shuts down.
I ordered a “new” fan off Amazon from a 3rd party provider for only $15. I figured $15 was a cheap enough gamble to give it a try.
The fan is an enormous contraption.
I watched a video on YouTube on how to remove the old one (left) and install the new one (right). Didn't look impossible.
It was some pretty crazy surgery, though, but I've seen much worse.
In order to do this you have to remove around 20 screws from the bottom of the case, many of varying lengths with no obvious rhyme or reason. You next disconnect a few wires, remove the trackpad, keyboard, RAM, and some brackets.
Then the fan pretty much just pops out and you slide in the replacement.
Putting it all back together was a bit of a brain teaser with all of the weirdly sized screws.
I fired it up. The machine sat there with a black screen, and offered me beep codes (1, 4, 1 and 1).
I couldn’t believe it. I mentally walked through what I’d done. I went to stupid websites researching the codes, most offering lots of janky ads and not much else.
On one, though, I saw a data table that suggested it could be the RAM. But I just installed the RAM! In hindsight, the directions that had me remove the RAM in the first place made no sense to me. Another said it could be the motherboard. (Did I install a screw incorrectly and ground out the motherboard?). I was totally baffled.
Before completely calling it quits and ordering a replacement - likely with yet another bad fan - I took the whole thing apart again. I removed the RAM one more time and then simply reinserted it.
I put everything back together again.
Wincing, I pressed the power button.
I can say with sincerity I’ve never been so happy to see a Windows PC slowly boot before!