[ltp] x61: Fan error

Helen Borrie linux-thinkpad@linux-thinkpad.org
Thu, 02 Apr 2015 14:14:43 +1300

At 08:14 a.m. 2/04/2015, Paul Bolle wrote:
>[This question is not Linux specific, but I like this list's signal to
>noise ratio.]
>A six years old ThinkPad X61 (that is now used by a member of my family)
>today suddenly refused to boot. It only emitted some scary beeps before
>shutting itself down. After a few attempts I notice an equally scary
>    Fan error
>message before it shut down.

Snap!  I've just dealt with exactly the same thing with my T60 and I fixed it, without having to replace the fan.  It looks daunting to do but in reality it is a piece of cake.

The problem with these fan assemblies is the spongy self-adhesive tape that's used to buffer vibration.  In time it disintegrates and bits of the sticky, spongy stuff get stuck on and around the fan.  If you do the periodic squirt through the vents with compressed air, eventually it makes it worse and the fan just jams up.

Here's what you need:

1. The hardware manual.  I have a copy for the T61 if you can't get hold of one.
2. A can of compressed air.
3. Isopropyl alcohol.  I just bought a small bottle from a local pharmacy.
4. Arctic sliver or other good thermal paste.
5. A piece of foam draught strip (DIY store).
6. Sharp scissors for cutting the draught strip.
7. A thin plastic spoon or a used credit card.
8.  A piece of clean microfibre towelling cloth (also a DIY store item if you don't have any.)  Don't use cotton as it makes lint.
9. Long-nose tweezers are useful for handling the sticky tape.  An artist's pig-bristle paintbrush (flat end) is useful for cleaning the gunk out of the fan.

OK, strip the machine down, following the instructions in the h/w manual in the right order, until you have completed the step that exposes the whole of the fan assembly.  Make sure you lay out the screws at each step and label where they came from.

Use the credit card or plastic spoon to gently ease up the 3 heatsinks.  Do this gradually and gently as the paste on all three will probably be quite *crisp* by now.

Once the heatsinks are free, pull the whole assembly forward gently so that everything is free.  Unplug the power cable for the assembly, at the left.  (It's a jumper-style plug.)  Lift the heat assembly out, gently jogging it to free up the sticky foam stuff from  the top and LH edges.  

Now, scrape the old paste off the CPU and the CPU heatsink, using the credit card or the plastic spoon.  The other two heatsinks might be OK, as they have pads of paste. 

Similarly clean the CPU and also the GPU chips if necessary.   

Take the fan assembly somewhere to work on it without contaminating your Thinkpad.  Use fingernails and/or credit card or spoon to release and remove the adhesive tape.  This is the most tedious part of the exercise.  You may not need to remove the buffer from the heatpipe - on mine it was intact.

Now use the compressed air, the paintbrush and the m/f cloth to give the fan a thoroughly good clean.

Once the damaged tape is all gone, give the areas a good cleanup with the alcohol.  (I did each area one at a time so I could see where to stick the new tape.)

Cut pieces of the draught strip to fit the areas.  You will probably need to cut the sides of the tape to fit around the heatpipes at top and side.  Keep the small offcuts for covering the ends and corners.  Remove the backing strips and apply the foam strips firmly.

That's it.  Now, just work back in reverse, reassembling the machine.  Before you proceed, though, get the Lenovo Product number and the FRU from the bottom of the fan assembly, in case your fan is damaged beyond repair.

Fingers crossed this works as well for you as it did for me. ;-)