How to fix a Mac Laptop with a Toothbrush and Metho. and another Cannon Bit.

by John

After a session on the model cannon yesterday, I sat down at home with a glass of red and my laptop.

I was awakened by a phone call, but my bum was wet, and the laptop screen was black. And the laptop keyboard, and presumably my bum, was red with spilt wine.

Dealt quickly with the call. Dried myself off. Wiped the keyboard dry, but it was stained red.

Turned the Macbook on.

DUMB!!! Turn it OFF you idiot!!! I didn’t find that out until later.

Screen remained black. Charge cable light not registering.

Turned the laptop onto its edge and some wine dribbled out.

Still would not turn on. (See previous “DUMB” comment .)

Opened up another computer. Looked up “MacBook Pro Wine Spill” on YouTube. Lots of videos. Obviously I am not the only person to kill a laptop with red wine. Quickly viewed a couple of them.

“TURN OFF THE POWER”. “DO NOT TURN ON THE POWER”. Ok. Didn’t know that. Oh Dear.

“Use a 1.2mm Penta Lobe screwdriver and remove the back as soon as possible. The longer the delay, the worse the problems due to corrosion”

I have a few sets of tiny screwdrivers. None of them had a penta-lobe.

Rang around my computer savvy acquaintances, but none there either.


Oh, I get it. They don’t want end users to fix their own computers. In a pandemic there is not much help from repairers either.

So, next morning I visited JayCar, and bought another set of tiny screwdrivers. They had a few sets with “penta-lobe” screwdrivers. This was the most comprehensive set. $AUD50. Really nicely made, bits held in multi layer case with magnets. Feels quality.

Very happy with this purchase.

Removed the 10 tiny screws under a magnifying light.

This is the laptop innards after I had wiped off most of the red wine.

Didn’t photograph the clean up steps. I was feeling very pessimistic about a successful outcome. Wiped off the red wine. But there was a sticky, syrupy, residue. A great glob of it under the big T shaped label, and a lot more around the vent holes on the right. I guess that the wine got access through those vent holes, and the keyboard.

One YT video showed a repairer scrubbing the electronics with alcohol and a toothbrush.

Oh well, here goes. So that it what I did, using methylated spirits. It felt risky, but the congealed mess did seem to clean off. Then I patted the cleaned areas dry.

Next question. Do I remove more components, to hunt for more areas of spill?

No. I think that I will try it first, just in case my cleanup so far has worked.

So I reassembled the bits which I had removed. Plugged in the power supply. … and the little power supply plug light came on! Hope!

Turned on the computer. Took a while to boot up. But boot up it did. Wonderful.

Next step. Make a complete backup of all of those files which I thought that I had lost.

Next step. Brag about my success on using the aforesaid MacBook Pro.

Meanwhile back to the scale model Armstrong cannon. The next photo shows yesterday’s result. Can’t see any change? Look carefully under the protractor. See that tiny bit?

That little piece represents several hours of cutting, silver soldering, filing, and fixing to the cross bar with TINY 10BA screws and nuts. Later it will have a mark to line up with the protractor marks.

So, life seems good again. And more Covid restrictions are being lifted tonight. Yippee. But still cannot see my Melbourne family for another 2 weeks.

BTW. I found some more videos to delete. So I have some more space for posts. But sad about the videos .