Thinkpad T43 Key Removal, Assembly

Sunday, February 18, 2007.

Within a few days of the destruction of my T40, I got a T43 from a guy on craigslist. The left control key promptly broke so I swapped it for the right one. There's relatively little info out there about how to assemble and disassemble keys, so here's some info on the process. Before we begin, get out your jeweler's eyepiece...

You can pry off the key face gently as described here, just push away from you and up with a flat object. The face snaps into a cage mechanism consisting of three parts: a top plate and two wickets which anchor it to from the north and south respectively. Each wicket has a bar that wraps over the top plate, and two legs with pegs that secure it to the keyboard bevel. Viewed from the east or west sides, the wickets cross over each other, making an X. There is enough play in the cage's anchoring that you can squish the whole thing down flat. The only thing that impedes you is a little rubber spring glued to the keyboard bevel. This spring is primarily responsible for that distinctive Thinkpad key feel.

By squishing the cage flat, you can hook or unhook the wickets. To reassemble and replace a key, I found it easiest to build the cage first. Start by crossing the wickets--they are fitted to each other. While pressing the X sides of the cage in, you can slip in the face plate. Don't put on the key face yet. Attach the cage to the keyboard bevel by putting it in place and hooking in the south wicket's legs first. Getting the north wicket in is a bit of a stretch. Flatten the cage by pressing down on it until the north legs slip in. Now you can attach the key face by setting it on top of the cage and applying gentle downward force. You should hear it snap.

Posted by Alan on Sunday, February 18, 2007.