Replacing backlight/inverter on thinkpad r51

By gberliner
Jul 3, 2009
  1. A while back, user "raybay" posted some guidance on replacing the backlight and/or inverter on an ibm thinkpad r51 notebook. Here is a quote:

    That is a very high price for an inverter for an R51, but the R51 is a very rare computer... so you may have to pay it.
    you need a very good quality #1 hard steel philips screw driver, great care in removing and replacing the screw covers, and the time it takes to remove and replace 18 screws. But the inverter just plugs in. Mark all your screws as you remove them as they are not all the same length or diameter. But the most important function is removing the screw hole covers so you can use them again. You will benefit from a very, very thin flat blade screw driver or other tool to lift the screw covers out and off. You will need a nice adhesive that remains soft when you replace them.
    It is very rare for an inverter to go out in that model.​

    What I'm wondering is, this sounds like instructions for replacing just the inverter, but what if my problem is with my backlight as well (or instead)? Apparently they can also be replaced, but I've read suggestions that this may involve soldering. If you are lurking, raybay, do you know specifically what is required to replace the backlight on this model?
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    You can get the inverter, new, on eBay for $9.95 on up to $20... DO NOT BUY A USED ONE, and DO NOT BUY ONE FOR A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT MODEL. It is the screen that determines the model number... and that inverter/backlight is part of that particular model number.
    Your inverter and your backlight are basically the same thing the failure of one affects the other... or they are in the same device depending on the laptop.
    None of the IBM Lenovo units need soldering... but you have to remove about 20 screws, and remove the rubberized screw covers... so making it pretty again when you are done is the hard part... as you have to learn how to reapply the screw covers and the rubberized stickum.
    USE VERY GOOD, VERY TOUGH TOOLS. DO NOT USE TOOLS that wear easily. Cheap toosl will mar the screws and ruin stuff.
    First you buy the backlight.
    Second, remove the keyboard.
    Third, you remove the screw covers with a very thin device like a 1/2 or #1 flat screw driver, only with thinner metal... and some tweezers to lift off and store the screw covers which are mostly very thin, round flat rubber disks.
    You need some soft of bowl or series of cups where you can put the different size screws. You need to keep a chart of which size screws come from where... Unless you have a good mind for those sorts of things and nobody does.
    You may find it easier to remove the back of the computer where the screen is kept... and CAREFULLY remove the ribbon cable for the screen that plugs in beneath the keyboard.
    Keep in mind that after a laptop has aged a year or two, the plastics become very brittle and easily shatter.
    Take your time. Force nothing.
    When you have all the screws out, the screen will come apart from the case.
    Then at the bottom of the screen you will find a device about the size of a ball point pen or maybe even thinner.
    You remove that device by unplugging, it, then insert the new one.
    Be sure it is stable. We use a bit of masking tape or electrical tape to hold it in place.
    Then put everything back together using the longest screws first.
    You can leave it ugly at first, then put your screw covers on last. You may have to order new ones if you screwed things up.
    When you are done, you will wish you had taken more time and done a better job, but it is too late now.
    It wills work fine, but if it belongs to your girlfriend or ex wife, you may want to hide out..
  3. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    i have a question. when the lcd goes really dim (you can barely see things), is it the inverter or is it the lcd?
  4. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Most of the time it is the inverter or backlight... and is fixable
    If the LCD goes dim on half or 1/3 of the screen all at once, or in stages, then it is often the LCD or electronics in the base of the LCD... cheaper to replace than to fix.
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