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ThinkPad x301 Restoration Project: Preamble

I had an unfortunate accident, well 3 to be precise, I bought 3 used ThinkPads x301 in working condition. Someone might say “jeez good for you” because those things are beautiful, old, and somewhat rare.

PHOTO HERE all three af them

Well not so fast because, as I learned the hard way, the Lenovo ThinkPad x301 has a particular quirk: It has what I think is the shittiest rubber coating among all ThinkPads. Three out of three of the laptops I bought had some issues with the coating, on the lid AND the palm rest which, in this particular model, is treated with the same coating as the lid. The problem is that this coating is now over 11-13 years old (the x301 was in production from 2008 to 2010) and it shows. The problems I encountered are two:

  1. Stickiness of the rubber
  2. Almost impossible to clean

I tried several methods of cleaning and surface restoration, I will briefly list them now.

  1. For the lid: Magic eraser and cream dubbin as suggested here, here and in many more places
  2. Soapy water
  3. Just water on a tissue
  4. Denatured alcohol
  5. Wet and Dry sand paper

All of the above either yielded no results or made things worse. The first method with the magic eraser and cream worked to some extent but the rubber coating on the x301 is so thin that I would have completely removed it before getting rid of the stickiness. The thinness of the coatings apparently was intentional as the main focus for the x300 and x301 was lightweight, so some corners were cut in terms of the number of coatings (I am not a reliable source).

PHOTO HERE zoom in on the lid

As for the palm rest I think it is a lost cause, the coating is thin, old and has been subject to years of palm grease and sweat. Before cleaning it looked grimy at best and after it got sticky like old rubber (it is). Furthermore in two of them it actually started peeling (lie one I got in very bad condition and it was already somewhat peeled).

PHOTO HERE the palm rest

So what will you do?

Easy, I will take them apart, one by one, mix and match parts to make two decent x301s and completely restore them! One is going straight to Ebay and the other stays with me.

In the next entries of this blog series I will show in detail the whole process, from thought to result, I will use this blog as a notepad for ideas and for mocking myself over stupid mistakes along the line.