View Full Version : Refurbishing and repairing older macbooks advice?

16th April 2013, 10:19 AM
I recently acquired 5 older model macbooks (After checking out their serial numbers online it appears that 2 of them are early 2009 models, one is a 2007model and 2 appear to be 2006 models) and am wondering whether you guys have any advice or websites I should check out as I embark on this endeavour.

They were collected from a recycling point and only 3 of them have batteries, So I plan to try and get at least 1 working on from the parts that I have. Are there an specific things I should watch out for? I know ifixit.com is a good website for repair manuals on macs but are there any other resources?

What I eventually hope to do with them is to get the presentable enough for use and I either use one of them myself or give them to friends, or possibly donate them if I don't find a good use for them.

First step though is I need to source a mac charger to see if any of them work without any work needing to be done on the. Though I'm thinking the batteries and hardrive will need to be replaced for it become reliable.

I will probably try to recover the two 2009 models. One of them has a pretty banged up case. Is it possible to transplant the hardware of a 2009 model macbook in a case of a previous years, are they all built around the exact same body with different specs or does apple make small revisions to the cases every time?

16th April 2013, 12:57 PM

iFixit is the best place for step by step guides - I print these out and stick the screws on the pictures while disassembling. Macbooks are resonably easy to take apart, but logic board switches will take the most time and might seem a bit daunting at first. But take your time, note what goes where with the guides and it's not too bad.

2006/2007 parts will be interchangable (the only major difference being CoreDuo in 2006 model and Core2Duo CPUs in 2007) but definately not the 2009 model parts. Everything will be different. The plastic on these Macbooks is very prone to cracking and chipping off (notably the "top case", ie the keyboard + surrounds), a couple of years ago you might have been able to get Apple to replace the plastics free of charge. It's very unlikely this is still taking place, however, if keen I'd visit a non-Apple authorised reseller (a place that does lots of repairs), chances are they have stacks of replacement top cases they could spare.

I wouldn't bother with replacing the hard disks provided they check out OK with no errors. Having spent some time recently doing the same thing (about 4 crappy Macbooks into two good ones for family members), you'll also want to replace thermal paste and clean/relubricate the fans. The internals also seem to collect a lot of crud.


17th April 2013, 12:56 AM
The 2009 models I have aren't the Unibody polycarbonate models but rather the same case as the 2006/2007 models. I've booted them up and the ones with ram and hardrives (the two 2009 and the 2007) all seem to be running fine and surprisingly two of the batteries have only 25 and 65 cycles on them. the battery in the 2007 model has 600 cycles which is to be expected. I think there isn't any work that needs to be done to the one of the 2009 model one as it is good nick and cleaned up nice with some isopropyl alcohol, though I might open it up and change the thermal paste (I've got some arctic silver from when I opened up my laptop a few months ago to clean out the dust from my heat sink) as you say. What oil do you recommend for the fan bearings? I've got some Singer all purpose oil from IGA?

The other 2009 is alright and if it is aesthetically pleasing I might swap some of the case parts with the other ones for less scratched parts

The 2007 one screen is yellowed for some reason and I will probably need to swap the screen with one of the 2006 screens (but I don't know what the quality of the screens are like because I haven't booted them up yet, as they were stripped of their ram and harddrives before I got to them)

But that is probably for a laterish project right now I'm just trying to reformat to get them to factory conditions (I know a bit about computers, but mainly just the workflow with Windows PCs and am looking up guides on to how to do it to macs)

17th April 2013, 11:51 AM
They might look the same, but internally the logic boards and placement of components will be completely different - check iFixit guides for comparisons between the models. I found a "magic eraser" worked a treat on bringing discoloured, dirty white plastic back to new.

Regarding thermal paste, when you remove the heatsink you'll probably find a huge pile of goop all over the place, it's always an excessive amount. Clean it all up with something like an alcohol wipe and just apply a very thin layer to the CPU (and GPU? I forget). Arctic Silver is conductive so don't smear it anywhere else. Sewing machine oil or WD40 (excuse the smell) will re-lubricate the fan well.

When installing OS X, you can just power it down after the initial install phase. When next turned on, it'll begin with the setup routine like a new machine with welcome video etc.


17th April 2013, 12:13 PM
ah OK. thanks for the advice.

Do you think it is possible to just swap out the track pads, as I've got an unbroken top case but with a worn tacks, and a cracked top case but the track pad is considerably less worn out. On the ifixit guides it seems like the track pads are stick to the cases.

17th April 2013, 12:47 PM
Buggers are stuck on sadly, only way to remove is with brute force/damage.

18th April 2013, 05:12 PM
I will probably try to recover the two 2009 models.http://awto.cclbeauty.com/17.jpghttp://awto.cclbeauty.com/18.jpghttp://awto.cclbeauty.com/19.jpghttp://awto.cclbeauty.com/20.jpg

20th April 2013, 12:46 AM
I've got 3 of them working :D, the two 2009 and the 2007, had to swap one of the 2006 screen with the 2007 as it had a really yellow screen. Hopefully the 11 iMacs my friend collect will be easy as this.

20th April 2013, 07:14 AM
That's great, good stuff. iMac G5s? Get ready for cap replacements in both the motherboard and PSU ... not a fun job and not really worth the effort if G5. The early Intel iMacs 17" had screen problems.

20th April 2013, 01:21 PM
Nah, even better they are the polycarbonate intel iMac, possibly even some aluminium ones. Our uni went on a field day and decided to throw out all it's old hardware. I currently have one of the 24 inch iMac at my house that just needs a hard drive and memory to work. Hopefully they're all like that or better, as I haven't seen the ones my friend has taken.

20th April 2013, 05:16 PM
nice score. I've been watching my unis computer scrap head. been a lot og G4/G5 hardware. Been waiting for a few intel machines to come through. They usually take the HHD/RAM out which is annoying

did any of these come with working batteries?

21st April 2013, 12:33 PM
Sounds awesome, nothing like a stack of Macs to repair during Winter!