I think I finally got it. After all those painstaking weeks of messing with these two stupid computers, I think I may have actually solved the initial issue: a broken power adapter port. The intermediate solution of having her use an old 12-inch PowerBook didn’t work out exactly, since that little guy had power-on issues of its own. And it had a noticeably smaller screen. One $10 ribbon cable and one $80 DC power board later, I think my mission is complete.
I’m glad it’s over. It seemed like every time I was about to make some progress, there would be some sort of roadblock hindering me in some way. First, I didn’t even want to do it at all. Then I started on it, but I didn’t have a small enough Phillip’s head screwdriver. Then I didn’t have a Torx screwdriver, which I didn’t realize until I was right in the middle of dismantling it. Then I chipped off some tiny piece of something or other while removing the keyboard. Then I needed an ever-so-slightly-larger Torx screwdriver. Seriously, why were there 289 different types of screws in these things? Then I needed to buy a different hard drive ribbon cable because the 12-inch PowerBook doesn’t have the same one as the 15-inch. After moving the hard drive to the 12-inch, I eventually had to move it back to the 15-inch. More dismantling occurred. Then I needed thermal paste to reapply to the heat sink. Then I needed to buy some isopropyl alcohol because the old paste wasn’t coming off. Then I didn’t have time to finish it all before my sister left for college again. Did I mention that I dismantled and reassembled the computers every time this happened? That was stupid and unnecessary.
“Why didn’t you just read all the directions first?”
“Um, I did. But the steps for taking it apart are different than putting it back together. And things like thermal paste and alcohol weren’t mentioned as being required at the beginning of the instructions. So there.”
But now I’m done. I’m pretty sure. The brand new power board is working great, although I did have one small scare when I was trying to plug in an older power adapter (that already didn’t work). When I realized I was using the old flakey plug, I plugged in the newer one and it clicked in so satisfyingly and lit up that oh-so-familiar green ring of light. Too bad the battery is so old and worn out that it won’t hold a charge anymore. But whatever, the computer is in better condition than when it got to me, so I feel accomplished.