Compaq Contura 420C laptop hinge repair

Compaq Contura 420C

I bought a Compaq Contura 420C laptop for a fairly good price at Swedish eBay. The downside? Both hinges were broken. It seems like this is a common problem on these old laptops. In this post I will show how I repaired them. It is by no means a pretty fix, since I lack the tools to weld metal pieces together. But it works. I just used basic tools, including a Dremel, plus chemical metal / super glue and a filler.

Compaq Contura 420C specifications

The Compaq Contura 420C comes with a 486 DX 75 MHz CPU, 350 mb hdd + 1.44 mb floppy, and a 10.4¨ color screen. My unit was supplied with 24 mb ram. The laptop has no sound card or CD-rom. See also, my post on the Compaq CDS 520.

Broken hinges

As displayed in the images below, the hinges of the laptop have broken at exactly the same place: it is a weak spot in the design, where a lot of load seems to cause material exhaustion.

original hinge
Hinge disassembly
broken hinges

Compaq Contura 420C disassembly

So, let’s start disassembling the laptop. It is fairly easy compared to similar laptops. Some of the images below are taken from the excellent repair manual, which can be downloaded here. I added some clarifying text to the images, where needed.

Compaq Contura 420C disassembly1
Turn your laptop upside down, and remove the seven screws.
Compaq Contura 420C disassembly2
Use a plastic tool (similar to those use to disassembly smartphones) on the spaces in the image, and gently separate the keyboard unit from the rest of the laptop.
Compaq Contura 420C disassembly3
Use a torx screwdriver to remove the side brackets.
Compaq Contura 420C disassembly4
Compaq Contura 420C disassembly5
This is the final step, which will separate the screen from the rest of the laptop. Now you can remove the hinges from the screen.

As noted below, the trackball is made by Logitech 🙂

Logitech trackball

So, since I did not have access to any form of welding equipment, and it is difficult to solder stainless steel together, I used a simple mechanical solution: I used an M3 screw, with two spacers, and a bolt, to hold the hinges together. To make the M3 screw fit, I enlarged the hole with a Dremel tool. I covered everything with super glue, followed by chemical metal (similar to “jb weld”?). Essentially that is it! To even out the pressure on the part of the hinges that is in contact with the laptop screen, I used some plastic wood here, but other types of fillers should also do the trick here.

Compaq Contura hinge repair
Chemical metal
Chemical metal
Filler1
filler2
Compaq Contura 420C inside

Now, it might take a bit of adjusting of the case to get everything to fit properly, but no major intrusions. What I did notice was that the plastic has become quite brittle over the years: several plastic parts where the case screws goes in where quite fragile and broke: I had to super glue some of them. This was not due to the repair, but because of general wear and tear I believe. Below is the finished fix. Far from pretty, but fully functional!

Finished repair1
Finished repair2
Compaq Contura 420C

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