Repairable Mac's - Which model to start with?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by craig1410, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. craig1410 macrumors 65816

    craig1410

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2007
    Location:
    Scotland
    #1
    Hi,
    I'm an electronics engineer and am looking for a way to make a few pounds while at the same time bring a few dead Mac's back to life. I have plenty of electronics repair experience, especially in the field of LCD display repair and I've been building PC's and laptops for 20+ years. I'm also a recent (9 months ago) Mac switcher and am keen to provide a supply of low cost working machines for other potential switchers who are reluctant to commit any serious cash just yet. My Dad is going to get the first working machine since my Mum won't let him spend any money on "more computer stuff"...and yet he would get so much more out of a Mac!

    My question is - which models of Mac should I aim to repair?

    I need a plentiful supply of broken machines with, ideally some common and easily (although not too easily...) repairable faults. I also need demand for the repaired machine and it needs to be able to run Leopard or at least Tiger.

    My thoughts were on the iBook G4? What do you guys think? I want to stick to one machine type initially and then maybe broaden my scope as I get the hang of it.

    Finally, does anyone know of any websites other than ebay where I can pick up dead or dying machines?

    Thanks for your time,
    Craig.
    :)
     
  2. brand macrumors 601

    brand

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    #2
    I don't see this going as easy as planned. Good luck to you.
     
  3. e.m. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #3
    how do you plan on getting the parts? mac parts aren't the most readily available.
     
  4. craig1410 thread starter macrumors 65816

    craig1410

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2007
    Location:
    Scotland
    #4
    Hi Guys,
    You obviously have your doubts and you may well be correct but nothing ventured nothing gained and all that... :)

    I agree, parts aren't necessarily easy to get hold of but logic boards and displays often come up on ebay and as long as I stay focussed on a limited range of machines I think I can probably make one good Mac out of, say, two or three bad ones. I might be able to sell on the surplus bits to cover costs. There are some Mac parts suppliers but they aren't cheap so I'd only use them as a last resort.

    I don't expect to make a living out of this - I work as an IT Consultant full time - but I hope to make it more of a self-sustaining hobby. I think there is a market for £100 - £200 working machines to introduce PC users to the Mac with a minimum (impulse buy) outlay which may lead to a more substantial purchase once the customer has realised that the Mac is just like a PC except that it works the way you want it to!!

    So what do you think? iBook G4 or maybe iMac G5?

    Thanks for your comments,
    Craig.
    :)
     
  5. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    #5
    PowerMacs tend to be the easiest to work on and people tend to hold on to them the longest since they were the most expensive. Laptops are popular also particularly the 12" PowerBook which really has no current replacement. I would stick to the last few model years since no one wants to spend money on a machine more than 5 or 6 years old.
     
  6. ktbubster macrumors 6502a

    ktbubster

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Location:
    US
    #6
    I've been making a decent amount of extra change here in the US doing minor repairs on iBook g4s and powerbook g4s. Basically screen replacements and upper case replacements. I also have done some case color mods and such as well, but if a screen is broken, a cddrive busted or the top case (keyboard track pad) is busted people tend to part with them relatively cheaply. I have seen some here, ebay, craigslist. Not sure about the UK. But I have had good luck with the ibook g4s especially the 12 inchers... and replacing screens and top cases (and cd drives) is relatively simply once you get the hang of it, but it's not for the feint of heart (the ibooks have so many freakin screws) but the pieces can be found relatively cheap and you can make a few bucks doing the work that no one else wants to do.

    If you find deals on ebay to someone who would ship to the UK etc... you may also get a decent deal as they are shipping you a broken notebook, which is obviously worth less through customs etc, so buying from the US sellers on ebay may actually be worth the extra shipping for you if you can sell them in the UK for a profit as I know stuff is more expensive over there.

    The towers ofcourse would be the easier to fix probably, but I find the ibooks and powerbook g4s still going for good amounts over here.

    GOODLUCK!
     
  7. craig1410 thread starter macrumors 65816

    craig1410

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2007
    Location:
    Scotland
    #7
    Hi,
    That's just the sort of thing I was hoping to hear!! Thanks!

    I'm not worried about loads of screws as I am an engineer at heart and approach everything methodically and take notes and photo's as I go where required. I've repaired many laptops over the years including my wife's Hi-Grade laptop which has a hunger for DC power jack sockets...

    The high residual values on Apple equipment is what might just make this worthwhile - PC stuff is just not worth the effort of repairing in most cases. My aim, as a father of three, is just to cover costs and pay off the debts which seem to go hand in hand with family life these days... I'm also looking into iPhone development as a sideline as I have a lot of experience (professionally) of mobile device development and clearly the iPhone is going to be huge in this area. My employer is a Microsoft Gold Partner so I can do iPhone development in my own time without any conflict of interest.

    Anyway, thanks for the tips. It sounds like I'm not far off the mark starting with iBook G4 and maybe Powerbook G4. I agree that anything older than that is not going to be worth looking at.

    Kind regards,
    Craig.
     
  8. e.m. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #8
    if you can get your hands on quality parts, go for it. the main thing is the logic board, i think. optical, hard drives and such are easy because you can get them anywhere. heatsinks, frames, and other parts are harder to come by, but they don't necessary break (frames break but you can easily visually see that). Whereas the board is harder. because visually you can't tell if it's fully functioning or not (so you can't be fully confident through eBay). also, they are very fragile, so unless the shipper knows what s/he's doing, it may very well break during transit. me personally, i couldn't get myself to buy a board on eBay (or Craig's).

    with all that said, 12" iBooks are pretty straight forward. if you have experience taking computers apart/putting them back together, i don't think you'll come across much problems. 14" iBooks aren't as straight forward, but not incredibly hard. G5 iMacs are incredibly easy. MacBooks aren't as straight forward as the iBooks, but i bet you can find take apart videos or pdf's if you search online (although i've never tried; let me know if you find any).

    good luck.
     
  9. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #9
    Lots of iBook G4s suffered from a video issue. One or two pins on a chip get stress fractures and the computer loses video and/or freezes. I fixed two by re-soldering it.
     
  10. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #10
    for the short term and as a starter, sure, go with these......but being PPC based systems, these have a pretty limited future. I think you should also consider the earliest of the intel Macbooks and Mac Mini series.
     
  11. ktbubster macrumors 6502a

    ktbubster

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Location:
    US
    #11
    Macbooks are good if you can find good deals on ones with broken screens or messed up top cases. You'd be surprised how few people want to replace a screen on a macbook. You can find a replacement screen for those for 150 or 160 shipped on ebay, takes bout an hour (or less if you get used to it) to replace a broken one with a good one, and you can find decent macbooks with broken screens for under 500 if you are lucky... that's a good 200+ profit right there, so once you get a little capital to spend on a broken macbook and screen in the first place, it's definitely a good way to go.
     
  12. craig1410 thread starter macrumors 65816

    craig1410

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2007
    Location:
    Scotland
    #12
    Thanks for all the replies guys - I really appreciate your encouragement! :)

    Yes, I know the PPC machines are slowly going to fade away but it's a good way to build up a bit of working capital without too much risk and I hope to introduce a few people to Mac OS X at a low cost along the way. I actually enjoy rebuilding laptops too which is a bonus. I could probably make more money taking them apart and selling "tested" parts on ebay but that just seems wrong somehow...



    e.m. if you are looking for a site which shows you how to repair Mac's then try ifixit.com - you won't be disappointed!! :D Oh, and I was tempted to buy a "spares or repair" G5 iMac today (2 of them in fact) but they both went for over 150 GBP which was more than I was planning to invest for my first outing. I agree though, these will feature on a future project I'm sure!

    Almost forgot - I bought my first iBook part on ebay today. I got a complete upper half from an iBook G4 with display and all plastics in good condition and WiFi antenna etc. I might have paid a little over the odds at 39 GBP but it's not bad I think. I'm watching a few other auctions too and hope to bag a lower half very soon (otherwise I have no way to test my new display...)

    Thanks again to everyone for your help - much appreciated.
    Craig.
    :)
     
  13. ktbubster macrumors 6502a

    ktbubster

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Location:
    US
    #13
    If you need any ibook g3, g4 cases (12 or 14 inch) or some faulty logic boards, screws or random parts for ibooks let me know. I have tons of case pieces in varying states of condition as well as some frames and faulty logic boards and some other random pieces sitting around.

    I'm in the US, but if you find you need anything in the case/frame department I could basically send some of the stuff over for just over the cost of shipping.
     
  14. craig1410 thread starter macrumors 65816

    craig1410

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2007
    Location:
    Scotland
    #14
    Thanks! That's a very kind offer and much appreciated. I'll certainly let you know how I get on.

    I think the first thing I'll need to do is update my small tools kit with a few bits and pieces. The ifixit.com website describes which tools are required for each job so that should be easy enough.

    Thanks again - take care,
    Craig.
     

Share This Page