back to article When everyone else is on vacation, it's time to whip out the tiny screwdrivers

Having a screw on the kitchen table is an everyday thing in our household. The problem is not having a dedicated workbench for those small hardware repair jobs. My office desk is already swamped with gear and I have enough difficulty finding space for a coffee mug, let alone a fully dismantled laptop. OK, that's a slight …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Haynes Manuals

    "Refitting is the reverse of removal." Six short words. Four bloody hours in the garage.

    1. My-Handle

      Re: Haynes Manuals

      True, but when working with cars you're only one tiny issue away from losing your entire weekend.

      An example: "Undo bolts 1, 2 and 3 and remove the wheel hub assembly".

      Except bolt 1 has a head that's one size, a nut that's another, and both are pretty inaccessible. And they're stiff with age. Much swearing, WD20 and a couple of dodgy extensions on a spanner / socket wrench later, bolt 1 concedes defeat. Half an hour down.

      Bolt 2 lulls you into a false sense of superiority. It takes 2 minutes and a manly amount of effort to remove.

      Bolt 3 is stuck. Seized. Welded by time, corrosion and dirt to it's nut. It sneers at WD40, ignores several (dozen) stiff whacks with a hammer and it's set into a rubber bushing so I can't take a blowtorch anywhere near it. I've got one spanner on the nut and wedged against the suspension and the other sitting against a jack. The car is lifting before the spanner even budges.

      Two days of throwing hour after hour at trying to defeat one sodding bolt.

      Eventually, I measure the bushing and bolt. I order a new one of each, then take an angle grinder to the bolt. The (now half-melted) bushing gets fully melted / burned with the blowtorch, then hammered out with a bit of dowel and a hammer. The new bushing and bolt are then fitted.

      "Undo bolts 1, 2 and 3", my arse.

      Yes, I might be slightly bitter about promising to fix the SO's 4x4 and end up spending days of effort just to look (possibly rightly) incompetent.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        Or they show a photo of a bolt head, but no clue where it is located.....

        1. Graham Newton

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          My favourite is "The manifold is held on by three bolts, one which is inaccessible."

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Haynes Manuals

            Inaccesible parts.

            I had this with last car.

            I had to remove a cylinder head to do the thermostat. It should have come out but was stuck so head off.

            Someone with same engine but transverse joked about it as it was an easy job for him.

            Two words shut him up.

            Cam Belt, on mine is was intake gumpf off, cover off cam belt accessable, his was done via a small hole in the wing.

            Then 3 cam belt changes and only 1 thermostat.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        Might be worth using Plus Gas rather than Water Dispersant.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          Plus-Gas - There's a name I've not seen in many a year.

        2. fidodogbreath

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          Penetrating oil (hehe) is the correct product for loosening rusted nuts | bolts | screws.

          1. Stoneshop

            Re: Haynes Manuals

            And after that, the blowtorch.

            1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Haynes Manuals

              A trigger action blow torch that takes "MAPP" gas cylinders is both convenient and has a higher flame temperature than butane or propane

            2. Montreal Sean

              Re: Haynes Manuals

              Nah, impact wrench before blowtorch. :)

      3. FBee

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        Protip - WD is up to version WD-40

        1. My-Handle

          Re: Haynes Manuals


          WD-40 is what the new-fangled kids use. Back in my day, we used WD-20 and we were grateful for it.

          Also, at least I didn't make the same typo later on in my comment :D

          1. Kevin Johnston

            Re: Haynes Manuals

            I was given a can of GT-85 which must be at least twice as good as WD-40

            1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

              Re: Haynes Manuals

              And faster than WD-40. There's a red stripe on the can

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        "It sneers at WD40"

        I tend to go with WD42 these days. It's the answer to everything.

        1. The First Dave

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          42 is rubbish - never go with even numbers - you want WD43.1.035 minimum

      5. David Hicklin Bronze badge

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        I guess we could fill a book or 2 with then tales of woe or miraculous escapes from the days of old and Haynes Manuals.

        Mine is replacing the slipping clutch disk on a Vauxhall Viva in the mid 1980's between Christmas and the New year. Needed some space to work under it , had ramps and axle stands, of course slipping clutch says no the the ramps, so jacked/axle stands used to raise the front high enough then slot the ramps in, then use the stands on the rear.

        so, sat underneath with a mate, sheets draped down the sides of the car to create a slightly warmer place in mid-winter - prop shaft dropped, gearbox dropped and there is the clutch pressure place in front with I think 6 bolts to remove, first 5 were easy, but number way.

        After ending up with a round head decided to drill it out, started drilling then the bolt head started spinning round and the plate came away free , leaving the rest of the bolt in place with just a tiny bit sticking up.

        someone must have decided to give me a late Christmas present, it was finger loose and came out very easily.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          And at the end of it all, you reassembled everything, carefully tidied up your tools, and with a deep sigh of satisfaction looked at your handiwork and realized…

          …that you still had a Vauxhall Viva.

          What soul-crushing disillusionment must have then set in.

      6. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        Skip the WD-40.

        My new favourite is PB Blaster

    2. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Silver badge

      Re: Haynes Manuals


      and gravity, which was a helpful assistant during removal, has now become a surly hindrance.

      Similarly, springs have retained their desire to jump out of position whenever you touch their cover plate. Handy during removal but not quite as funny during re-assembly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        Someone asked me to have a look at their Timex digital watch once, which was playing up, and I thought it probably needed a new battery. Timex were renowned for their 'black box' stuff anyway, so I wasn't expecting it to be easy.

        I prized off the back plate only to discover there were - for reasons I'll never understand - four tiny (and I mean tiny) black springs, which leapt out everywhere on to a dark patterned carpet.

        I only ever found three of them.

        1. keith_w

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          Ah, so they weren't Lego springs. There would have been no problem fing the last is they had been.

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          This is what you keep strong magnets around for.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Haynes Manuals

            When this happened, 'strong' magnets were few and far between.

            You were worshipped as a god if you possessed a strong(ish) ferrite magnet - which was always shaped like it had come out of a motor casing somewhere.

            I did have one, and I tried that, but it didn't pick it up.

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Haynes Manuals

      Oh but Haynes (and Chiltons) fucking KNEW nested function calls!!

      *Replace starter motor

      See "Remove throttle bodies"

      * Remove throttle bodies

      See "Remove airbox"

      * Remove airbox

      See "Remove left fairing"

      See "Remove right fairing"

      See "Remove air horn"

      * Remove air horn

      See "Remove engine"

      1. Persona

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        A mate of mine had a similar Haynes manual sequence for his rusty Fiat 40. He was trying to replace something minor but after following the links he found he had to take off most of the car and engine.

        After expanding the full sequence out he found it started with undoing four bolts to remove the bumper. Being a rusty Fiat they wouldn't come off so he gave up.

      2. ABehrens

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        * Remove engine

        See "Replace starter motor"

    4. Chris G

      Re: Haynes Manuals

      One of the commonest results of people purchasing a Haynes manual, is the sucking of teeth done by a professional mechanic as he surveys your even less functional machine since you bought the manual.

      Then he/she will utter something like "I dunno where you went wrong but that's gonna take a bit o' fixing"

      This week my mate's wife dropped off her sewing machine for me to look at as she thought the motor had seized.

      I had to take all the covers off in a weird sequence and finally found a square sectioned coil spring clutch that had slipped one end, fixed that and it went back together in five minutes, couldn't find a left over screw either.

      Now I am convinced when she tries it out, it's going to go critical and take out the entire village.

      1. Franco

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        Haynes manuals also leave out step 0.

        Pray to/sacrifice to {deity} that some lazy arse mechanic didn't overtighten every single nut and bolt by using a pneumatic impact wrench the last time any work was done in it.

        1. My-Handle

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          One of the prior mechanics to work on the beast I ranted about upthread decided to solve a leak with lead flashing more commonly used for roofing and expanding foam. Oh, and it didn't fix the leak.

          I am now never going to find out what's under the wing of that car.

        2. Giles C Silver badge

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          You hope that but make sure when you put it back together ensure you use copper grease, correct torque settings etc. It might not be you pulling it apart again but the person doing it will be grateful.

          Speaking from experience after resorting once to an angle grinder to remove a rusted on brake disc (the neighbours loved me using it at 9pm on a Saturday night as the car was needed sunday morning!)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          "Pray to/sacrifice to {deity} that some lazy arse mechanic didn't overtighten every single nut and bolt by using a pneumatic impact wrench the last time any work was done in it."

          Yeah, been there, done that.

          Once there was no way to remove the oil filter. Then I remember last time it was changed by a mech, the guy used a one meter lever for it !! I still don't understand how the thing wasn't completely crushed ...

          I'v always bolted mine with bare hands only, after that. Never a leak.

          1. Franco

            Re: Haynes Manuals

            It's more commonly been the sump plug for me than the filter, always buy a spare plug as well as the washer the first time I do an oil change on a car just in case.

            Wheel nuts are obviously the main culprits here though, I ended up buying myself a cheapie electric impact wrench from eBay for helping getting them back off if I'm doing any brake work or anything like that.

      2. Montreal Sean

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        I stopped buying Haynes manuals once the internet came along and I could find the shop manuals for my cars.

        When you couldn't find them for free they were usually about the same price as the Haynes manual.

        1. DiViDeD

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          I stopped buying Haynes when I discovered this truly amazing universal tool that seems to fix all problems with almost any car.

          It doesn't look much, just an embossed plastic card about 9 x 5.5 cm, but it's amazing.

          You hand both it and the car over to your mechanic, and he returns them to you when the car starts working.

          Or when the card stops working.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Haynes Manuals

            Small card vs a tool box and code reader? Pay people to work on them?

            Only if I HAVE to and only with a specialist.

            I did use a garage for the starter motor as with a pit a 10 minute job.

            But servicing I would rather do it.

            Failed a pre MOT on brakes (disc wear and partially seized caliper), just spent a sunny afternoon replacing rear calipers, all 4 discs and all pads.

            Took me three hours, how much in a garage?

      3. DiViDeD

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        ... the sucking of teeth done by a professional mechanic as he surveys your even less functional machine since you bought the manual

        Not always the case though. My brother, many many years ago now, completely stripped and replaced the rear transaxle (is that what they're called? My lack of knowledge of the more ... mechanical ... world is surpassed only by my brother's) of his ancient Triumph Herald using just a Haynes Manual and his mechanic mate's tools and workshop

        People who understood the difficulty of such a job, even for experienced mechanics, were horrified - in fact, several of them refused to ride in that car for the next 5 years he owned and drove it.

        His mate professed a belief (and may still do so to this day) he'd just bought another Herald and spent the weekend scuffing it up to look like the old one!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Haynes Manuals

      Four hours? Is that all? You. Lucky. Bastard! My father decides he wants to do some work on our car because of some odd noise he believes he hears every time he shifts gears. So he grabs my then twelve year old self to be his helper & we begin disassembling the engine. He's got it torn apart so far that there is no way to put it back together in anything resembling a reasonable amount of time, so what does he decide to do? Pester the neighbor to borrow their car so he can go to the auto parts store for a list of stuff he needs. Somehow our neighbor's car that has worked flawlessly for the past decade "mysteriously up's & dies" on him on the way to said store. He has to call a tow truck to have it hauled to a mechanic to get fixed because the neighbor (quite wisely) refuses to let my dad touch it with a barge pole. The car gets towed, the mechanic hired, the owner notified that my dad will pick up the tab (no shit? You did just break it you shithead!), and my dad walks the mile & a half back to the auto parts store to finally buy the parts. He finally comes home, drops the bag of parts on the workbench & says he needs a smoke. He falls asleep with a lit cig in his mouth & sets his shirt on fire. Mom throws a bucket of water on him to both put out the fire & to get his fat ass to get back to work putting HER car back together. Dad wakes spluttering & shouting, demanding to know WTF. Mom points to the cig burn holes in his shirt, points out the scent of burnt chest hair in the air, & tells him to get back to fixing the damned car. He mumbles & grumbles but gets his butt in gear. That was on a Friday. We didn't finish putting it back together again until late Sunday night/very early Monday morning. As in ~4AM kind of early. As in barely before mom is due to leave to go to work bloody Monday morning. Test drive to make sure it's done right? You wish. The test will be mom driving to work. (What ever could possibly go wrong?) So that's what happens because mom has no other choice. And the car shits itself en route such that she winds up having to call a cab to finish the commute. She calls dad from work & tears him a new ass, lets him know where the car can be found, & says that if it's not *actually* fixed by the time she's due to come home, she'll be filing divorce papers when she arrives home. Dad goes & gets the car by calling the tow company & telling them that he needs a ride to the car, so they need to come get him first. (You can believe they added that charge to the bill, yes siree Bob.) Car back home & dad starts tearing it apart to figure out WTF went wrong. Turns out that at least one of the "extra" screws was definitely NOT. Regreased, reseated, & made triple sure to install every last bit. Car starts & runs reasonably well. Dad says he'll take it for a test drive & pick up mom on the way home. Fine by me, I'm sick & fucking tired of messing with it, sick of his face, & if I hear "Hey, hand me that..." one more time I may start slaughtering folks with a tire iron. While dad's out on the test drive the house gets a call. It's the mechanic letting us know that the car is ready. I thank him & go let the neighbor know he can go get his car. He's pulling up in his fixed car when my mom arrives *walking* from the bus stop at the end of the lane. To say she is not happy is an epic understatement. Where's dad & the car? He's with the tow truck driver hauling it to a mechanic. Meanwhile mom is in no mood to cook & I offer to buy us something from the grocery store deli. That brings a smile to her face & she gives me a peck on the cheek. I haul ass to the store to buy food before she decides to use me as a practice dummy for what she intends to do to dad. I return with the food & the two of us eat in relative silence. Mom has gone to bed when dad drives home in the car. The mechanic found serveral issues, fixed them, & charged my dad a premium for the rush job status. "Fix it or my wife will kill me!" is obviously the code for "jack up the price by an order of magnitude". Anyway, had dad bothered to take it to the mechanic in the first place he would have found out that it was just in need of transmission fluid, not a complete tear down, rebuild, second tear down, rebuild, & a third session with the professional to fix the fuckups introduced the first two times through. And my reward for helping the fat fucker do all of this against my will during Summer vacation? He blames it all on me to mom as if throwing me under the bus will save his ass. Mom didn't buy a word of it. I'll never understand why she didn't divorce him as she'd threatened. She did get even though, she gave him her car & forced him to buy her a newer one to replace it. She never let him so much as look at it sideways, nevermind "fixing" anything on it. And folks wonder why I refuse to fix any car? Fuck that noise, take it to the mechanics & let THEM enjoy the headache of that fucking manual!

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        After all that I'm almost ashamed to admit that there is a car repair manual out there with my name on the cover...

        My car-engineering education was sitting on the cold ground by the car, waiting for my father to utter the immortal words 'give me the three-eighths... no, not that one, that's a seven-sixteenths, you idiot' without removing his head from under the car to look at it. How could he tell?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          I saw something funny about this a few weeks ago.

          It was aimed at 'millennials', and went something along the lines of "You think you're smarter than previous generations? Well, for previous generations, the vehicle handbook told you how to adjust your valves and carburettor. Nowadays, it warns you not to drink the battery acid".

          1. Giles C Silver badge

            Re: Haynes Manuals

            Yep, have two manuals fo4 the Ford Sierra (comes of having a Sierra based kit car) youngsters go an look the car up.

            One the grey/pink version covers everything including rebuilding the gearbox.

            The other a blue cover just says check the oil and then take it to a mechanic.

            For modern cars it is even worse, there is virtually no technical information and I think they have stopped producing any new ones as the cars are too complex for the home mechanic to do anything with these days.

            1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Haynes Manuals

              Upvote for the kit car

              Ever since The Prisoner, I've wanted a Lotus Seven...

          2. Snorlax Silver badge

            Re: Haynes Manuals

            Auto Auction Rebuilds on YouTube. Saw this one during the week :D

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        Great story.

        It reminded me of the very first time I decided to replace my brake fluid as a spotty 17-year old (using a Haynes Workshop Manual, naturally).

        None of the nuts came loose anything like the manual suggested, but I eventually got it done.

        I thought I'd bled it properly and went for a quick drive around the block. When I came to the first junction, I braked... and nothing happened! I shit myself.

        Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to pump the brake pedal (or maybe it was panic, as in I pumped the pedal frantically - I don't remember now), and that built up pressure and got them working.

        When I got back home, I must have used two more cans of brake fluid to make sure I'd got all the air out this time.

      3. MCPicoli

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        You brought many, many old memories back!

        I remember the part of being my dad's assistant, long neverending hours of him working fixing the old clunkers of my family. I enjoyed every bit, to the tune of my mom saying I couldn't "assist" anymore until I had all homework and chores done. Lots of trouble, lots of "extra" bits and bobs, but in the end my dad always managed to put everything back together, and miraculously it even worked.

        Except for the two times he tried a full body paint job. Something got wrong both times and the cars ended with a not-so-desirable-for-the-time "matte" finish. Not fixed, he and mom used the cars for several years after.

    6. Herring`

      Re: Haynes Manuals

      Oh god. Brings back memories of owning a British car that was built in the 1970s.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        In my case it brings back memories of my Subarus. Two in succession, allegedly same model as the manual but not quite.

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        1959 VW Beetle, here. More rust than metal. I learned about brakes, and rust.

    7. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Haynes Manuals

      Or one I particularly liked from many years ago in the Mini Metro edition:

      'In order to gap the distributor points, first remove the radiator as described in section...'

      I found it best just to locate someone with small hands :)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        The MGB has quite a long bonnet. Why, then, is the radiator so close to the block that it has to be removed in order to change the water pump?

        1. AndrueC Silver badge

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          That does seem rather harsh.

      2. Fred Dibnah

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        In the Mini manual, pretty much every procedure seemed to begin with 'Remove engine' or 'Remove rear subframe'

    8. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Haynes Manuals

      It also isn't true. It's never true. For any step-by-step repair. (Haven't done car stuff since I was a kid so my experience is largely computer stuff a la Dabsy).

      There's always;

      1.) some section where the dismantling wasn't covered in the guide, but was obvious and maybe even easy to figure out. But when putting it all back together nothing works. There is, at that juncture, three bits that all can only be fitted before the other two. And

      2.) some section that is obscured in the diagram ( or just not shown), but is the one where fitting it back the right way is really tricky.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Haynes Manuals

        I remember one thing Haynes never mentioned, and that was Ford's annoying cheapo method of fixing non-metal parts to the metal chassis and framework inside (door panels and the dashboard plastic, for example).

        They used what appeared to be self-tapping screws that screwed into a black steel butterfly clip on the inner side. To this day I do not know how they assembled those in the first place, because as soon as you tried to undo any of them the clip would fall inside somewhere. It was a sod putting it back together again.

        My second car was a Ford Cortina Mk IV, and when you went round a corner there was an annoying rattle as something was obviously moving around inside the dashboard, and by the sound it was moving from one side of the car to other. I eventually found it by removing the ash tray, and when I cornered one time a large bolt fell out. God knows what it had fallen out of, but it was at least 1/4", so fairly substantial.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Haynes Manuals

          God knows what it had fallen out of, but it was at least 1/4",

          Probably the steering wheel nut :-)

          1. ShadowSystems

            At John Brown, re: a screw loose.

            There may be a screw loose behind the wheel, but we're not talking about the driver now are we? =-)P

            1. The First Dave

              Re: At John Brown, re: a screw loose.

              On the other hand, putting some things back together is much easier than taking apart, as then you can see exactly which direction that stupid, weak plastic clip is supposed to move - the one that you broke when taking it apart because you couldn't see what you were doing.

    9. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Haynes Manuals

      Just wait till you factor in reglazing.

      (RIP sean lock)

      (who, were he alive, would insist that he abdicates responsibility for anyof this silliness. just as soon as he turned on the electric)

    10. Aussie Doc

      Re: Haynes Manuals

      At least the ubiquitous "Simply" is missing.

      I shudder seeing that word in an instruction manual of any sort.

      "Simply do <this thing> and everything will be honky-dory unless you're an idiot."

      Manual's in my pocket with the spanner.

    11. DiViDeD

      Re: Haynes Manuals

      My dad always said that refitting is the reverse of removal, but with additional swearing.

  2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    "Swamped" sounds an awful lot like the closing credits of 'The Fifth Element' to me. It was driving me nuts until I could place it.

    1. John 110

      Kudos for Lacuna Coil, I've never met anyone else who's heard of them. (I hadn't till I appropriated the CD from my youngest son)

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    only one screw leftover!

    Nice work Dabsy! I begin to scratch my head when there are 4 leftovers...

    Love the ankle bracelet bit too! I wasn't aware France employed that technology, good to know as my address may change to a French local too...

    1. Howard Sway Silver badge

      Re: only one screw leftover!

      Having leftovers is fine, you just haven't worked out where to put them back yet.

      Being 2 screws too short is far worse - a recent laptop hard drive replacement found me in that situation, and I'd crawled around the floor for ages using hands as well as eyes to search for them, before I eventually found that they'd sneaked away and somehow hidden themselves under the tiny folds at the edge of the small cardboard box I'd put them in for the minute it took to swap the drives....

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: only one screw leftover!

        Acer are evil: although the HDD and the mounting plate both had four holes to put screws in, only two screws were tightening the original HDD... it took me quite some time to figure it out

  4. Franco

    Been seeing far too much of that UI twattery on LinkedIn this week. Makes a change from the virtue signalling twattery I suppose.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Why would they need to even put it to a vote, every platform has its own thoroughly-researched UI style guidelines book that leaves no room for doubt, right? Just like it did 20-30 years ago.

      P.S. Those who entertain the thought of not labelling the colour buttons should be forced to fix Windows 11 bugs for the next two years.

  5. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Two observations:

    1) Get some magnetic parts trays to hold and arrange those screws as you remove them. Or just a couple of small neodymium magnets. These are also handy if your screwdriver is not magnetic, when trying to reinsert a tiny screw into a tiny gap without dropping it. Just stick a magnet to the side of the screwdriver's shaft. Probably best to keep them away from your hard disk though...

    2) Robert Rankin explained where those small screws come from in his 1993 Book of Ultimate Truths. The Small Screw Phenomenon is explained thusly.

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: Two observations:

      The Magnetic trays are good, but take it one step further;

      Take pictures of the area you're working on, and print those and place over a magnetic sheet.

      Draw with a red marker around every screw you replace for that step. And place the removed screw on top of the picture of it.

      Also, check out a Wowstick on whatever's your favorite/least hated Chinese shopping site. The 1F+ model has a built-in rechargeable battery, LEDs around the tip, and comes with a magnetiser/demagnetiser thingie.

      I bought my first Wowstick after I had to open HP Elitebook 840 G3s... They have literally a DOZEN screws holding the bottom in place.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Two observations:

        That actually looks like a pretty useful gadget.

        I might invest in one, and put it in the drawer with the digital calliper, multimeter and soldering iron...

        1. Trygve Henriksen

          Re: Two observations:

          Trust me, it's a lifesaver. Or at least a hand-saver.

          but as said, get the rechargeable with lights.

          The one with 2x AAA batteries is slightly weaker, and the battery terminal design is just hopeless.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Two observations:

        Or use an ice tray - just number the compartments.

        Like the idea of the print outs

        1. Trygve Henriksen

          Re: Two observations:

          The print outs is because sometimes they use sodding different length and diameter all over the place.

          Sure, the bottom may be fastened with M3 screws, but one is 4mm and the rest is 6mm long, and if you install a 6mm in the place of a 4mm, you break something expensive. And I suspect they've designed it like that on purpose.

          1. Stoneshop

            Re: Two observations:

            and if you install a 6mm in the place of a 4mm, you break something expensive.

            There are laptops that have hardware maintenance manuals that clearly show which length of screw goes where.

            And if you tighten a screw by feel first instead of using a powered tool like a wowstick you'll notice a screw being too long or too short.

            Also, M3 screws are rarely found in laptops.

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge

              Re: Two observations:

              I've seen more than one that uses a mix 3mm of and 3.5mm lengths.

              Presumably because they were contractually required to publish a disassembly manual but wanted to ensure nobody would ever actually use it.

          2. VerySlowData

            Re: Two observations:

            ThinkPads suffer from this particularly: however it is alleviated somewhat by the good diagrams in the HMM's still available from lenovo (an IBM tradition?) which give the size and length of each screw..

        2. TomPhan

          Re: Two observations:

          One of those pill sorters with compartments for the different days works well, and they usually have closable lids.

          1. Colonel Mad

            Re: Two observations:

            The lid of your box of iFixit tools has moulded compartments, what the cheapo version doesn't have is a T3 bit, so you can't really do anything with it, and they got really shirty when I pointed out this oversight to them.

        3. herman Silver badge

          Re: Two observations:

          Ice tray? Then after a while the ice will be melted, the screws will be wet and your next martini will have little screws in it…

      3. keith_w

        Re: Two observations:

        When infixed laptops for a living (amongst other things) my teammates and I joked that the IBM T40 was named for the number of sizes of screws it used. A couple of years ago I was on a deployment job that had 273 Dell 54xxs and 20 XPS13s delivered with French rather than English keyboards, so I got the job of replacing them. The 54xxs weren't bad. 8 screws on the bottom, 5 to hold the keyboard in place. The XPSs were a different story. 8 for the bottom, 5 for the battery, 4 for the speakers, 10 for the system board and 20+ for the keyboard itself. Even more if you actually followed the manual and removed the parts that were attached only to the system board instead of gently easing it out of the way. Elapsed time for the 54xxs - 15 minutes. XPSs - 1 hour.

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Two observations:


        From Amazon: "Cordless Lithium-ion Charge"

        There's the problem right there. At some point you're going to have to take it apart and then once more you're in the odd parts problem. I tell you, it's missing/extra small parts all the way down.

        BTW on the subject of magnetic and LED lit gadgets there's loose screw picking up gadget. The LED shies through a little window which is built into the magnet. It picks up iron filings which cover the window and block the light. Nice idea in principle but once the it gets blocked it stays block. No way is the magnet going to release those filings.

      5. Stoneshop

        Re: Two observations:

        I bought my first Wowstick after I had to open HP Elitebook 840 G3s...

        HP laptpos are best opened using an axe. Or a chainsaw.

        Of course you then not get to "reverse these steps to reassemble", but the disaassembly is extremely satisfying.

    2. Hugo Rune

      Re: 2nd observation

      Thanks for the link. That's my afternoon reading sorted. Working from home, who would have thought it could be so productive.

    3. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Two observations:

      Can the be sorted in space by ants?

    4. DanceMan

      Re: Holding those small screws

      I always had difficulties fitting the screws correctly into the back cover of older Thinkpads because there were always at least one missing originally and one hole stripped. I eventually hit on white foam trays from my breakfast sausages. Turn upside down, use a Sharpie to mark features of the cover and then push the screws into the foam in the same place as on the cover. Screws don't get lost and you know where they go.

  6. newspuppy

    Love your satire... but.. just like instagrammed picts that show perfection in all its unachievable glory... there are some great guides for dissassembli9ng and then reassembling kit...

    Of course they make it look easy.. like the diet plans showing how someone can loose 100lbs in a week and look like a hot model afterward....

    It is a nice illusion one can hope to aspire to ...

    1. Martin-R

      I read the instructions on for doing exactly this surgery and it was something like step 39 before you even got near the battery... luckily I found a local shop that would do it, and for not a lot more than I could buy the battery!

      1. Stork

        I have done it several times. First time I applied too much acetone and the keyboard died. Later dis- and reassemblies went better, I use one daily.

        And ifixit does use the “assembly is the same in reverse “, but at least there are usually notes of what to be aware of.

    2. PerlyKing
      Thumb Up

      Re: iFixit

      I heartily second the recommendation for iFixit. But I guess there's a bit of the Haynes spirit lurking in every author of a HOWTO guide. Funnily enough, just yesterday my printer decided to leak ink all over the place and I turned to iFixit to find out how to open it up to clean out the gunk. One of the very first steps is to "gently unhook" the retaining arm from the hinged top. After the traditional ten minutes of following the instructions I ended up "gently unhooking" it with the aid of a large flat-bladed screwdriver and some bad language.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: iFixit

        After the traditional ten minutes of following the instructions I ended up "gently unhooking" it with the aid of a large flat-bladed screwdriver and some bad language.

        To be fair a lot of things can be fixed with bad language. Although Visual Studio is still a work in progress for me.

      2. herman Silver badge

        Re: iFixit

        My favorite gentle persuasion tools are a medium sledge hammer and a crow bar - especially effective when used together.

    3. Alistair Dabbs


      Please share with me the link to ifixit’s reassembling guide after changing the battery in a 2012 (Retina) MacBook Pro.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: ifixit

        After following a couple of iFixit's guides I've come to the conclusion you're supposed to video everything you did and play it back backwards to see how to put it back together again, and you'll also hear a message from Satan Himself.

    4. Flightmode

      I replaced the screen on my old iPhone 3Gs using a guide on, and step 36 was literally "Complete the previous steps in reverse order to reassemble". Taught me to read the instructions from start to finish before attempting a repair the next time, that's for sure.

      I never did find the little plastic bracket that held down the flexi-flat-cable connecting the fingerprint reader to the system board after it flew off behind my desk. TWICE. The first time I disassembled my whole PC setup and removed all the cables before I found the little clip again. The second time I thought something along the lines of "you know, it will probably work without it" (only with a lot more swears).

      I moved from that apartment two months ago; almost assumed I'd find the bracket wedged in a corner somewhere when the room was emptied, but alas no.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back In The Day...

    This made me smile.

    Way back before computers and IT, when I was still a nipper, my dad was famous throughout the world for having bits left over from assembling flat packs and other kit.

    He was the only person in the whole world who would decide he also needed a drill and a saw (and some extra screws, and possibly nails) in order to put the obviously incorrectly manufactured product together.

    I remember one time, he'd decided to convert us back to coal because it would be cheaper than gas, and after clearing out the fireplace he spent the better part of a morning trying to assemble the cast iron grate assembly. After exhausting the entire dictionary of naughty words several times over, my mum came in, looked at the instructions, turned over the base plate, and it slotted together perfectly.

    The next morning we were all lucky to still be alive, because it turned out part of the flue behind the water tank was blocked with mortar, so there was no updraft, and downstairs was filled with smoke (and probably a lot of carbon monoxide).

  8. Pennsyjohn

    Tech tip

    Jeez, for an old hand tech you have missed the easy out. Buy a plastic weekly pill case. Seven places to put small screws, a snap cover to keep them in, and an easy to move (if you have to) single piece.

    As an old (and I mean from Apple II days), I found that that screw probably belongs somewhere near the edge of the battery. Just forget it, and add it to your collections of small screws, in case you ever need one. (In 15 years of Macs, every so often one goes AWOL. Reach for your extra screws and odds are you'll find one in there.

    1. Numen

      Re: Tech tip

      Great idea! I use paper muffin baking cups for this. Holds all different size parts, and very easy to label. You can even use their different colors to color-code if you're obsessive enough!

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Tech tip

      Keeping the screws is easy. Knowing where to put them back, that's the trick.

  9. FensMan

    ' And when I say "tiny", some of these screws can only be seen with the aid of an electron microscope.'

    Yeah, well, perhaps if you didn't have an electron microscope in your kitchen, you'd have more room to work in. Daft.

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Having a screw on the kitchen table is an everyday thing in our household"

    You lucky dog you.

  11. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Working in bad conditions is a good way to disaster. Building a nice and sweet place to work is worth the effort in the long run.

    I was hoping a tribute to Charlie Watts....Cristina Scabbia has a beautiful voice anyway, reminds me the one of Amy Lee

  12. Glenn Hunt

    I always figure that if it goes together and works without the missing screw, it was redundant anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Tell that to my Citroen Xantia I used to have.

      One time I took it for a service, and being a diesel model it had one of those thick damping blankets under the engine for noise suppression.

      They left one of the bolts out when they put it back together. And it worked - as per your suggestion.

      Until you drove through any water, at which point it pulled down and left the engine exposed to everything.

      They got an earful over that. And they fixed it for nothing.

  13. Mage Silver badge

    Why does Dune dress women?

    Both UI's are poor. Also why is the model plugged into the mains?

    Use one of those big trays vans have loaves of bread on, or else a smaller traditional 1960s style tray with walls. And marge tubs or small jars with lids. Not an open compartmentalised tray, which invariably gets a knock from the apparatus and sprays the room.

    A store UI designer needing opinions from random strangers is inept. But almost all Web, mobile app & OS, desktop OS & programs and physical UI are now terrible. Both arrow buttons and a rotary encoder are bad choices for volume controls, except on tablet and phone edges. Touch buttons and buttons without clear labels are fail on TVs and monitors as is having to access an onscreen menu to select channel, volume, bright or input. Car radios are now terrible.

    Voice control is good if you have no limbs, but not suitable in a noisy enviromment or with multiple people.

    1. tonique

      Re: Why does Dune dress women?

      "Both UI's are poor. Also why is the model plugged into the mains?"

      I'm trying to make a clever comment but perhaps she's just illustrating the question "Are 'Friends' Electric?"

  14. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Silver badge

    Scrap yards - the good old days

    When you were allowed in with a toolbox to get the parts you needed. And you could use the opportunity to practice removal (and reassembly if it looked tricky).

    A bit like a surgeon practising on a cadaver before being let loose on somebody's gran.

    With the extra bonus of being able to explain away the leftover bolt as "probably one I picked up in the scrapyard". Mechanics, that is - not surgeons.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Scrap yards - the good old days

      I got so many bits from scrap yards, so many my car went from bottom to top of range.

      Ohh a rev counter dash!

      I like those door pockets!

      A rear washwipe!

      First mod was engine, found out the second biggest engine had a different gearbox to the smallest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Scrap yards - the good old days

        My very first electric screenwash was salvaged from an abandoned car next to an MoD Ordnance site (outside the Ordnance site, I should add).

        My car back then - my first - was a 1974 Ford Escort MkII Estate, and prior to fitting the pump you had to press that rubber bulb on the floor with your foot with the ring switch around it.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Scrap yards - the good old days

          In an abandoned car next to an MoD depot? You were lucky it was an electric screwdriver, not something that just looked like one.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Scrap yards - the good old days

            Screenwash - not screwdriver. It wasn't a typo ;-)

            As in, a small 12V electric fluid pump as used in aquariums and such like.

  15. disgruntled yank


    Long ago, I heard of a fellow who had preceded my boss on a government contract. My employer was in charge of software support, another contractor dealt with hardware. This particular manager decided that he would show his hardware prowess by taking apart and reassembling one of the Data General minicomputer--probably an MV/10000 or MV/8000. All went well enough until he had it put back together, and found that there was one piece left over.

    The other contractor met with the government side and demanded the fellow's removal. The government agreed, and the fellow was gone.

  16. oiseau

    Thank you

    So the kitchen table it is – my go-to workbench for spending quality time with my lockdown besties ...

    Thank you Mr. Dabbs.

    I now feel fuly vindicated/justified.

    What little space my kitchen counter has has also been my workbench for years now.

    Now that I think of it, seems it's been as many as have passed since my last split-up.

    Have a good week-end.

    And one on me. --->


  17. Dr_N

    Tiny Screwdrivers

    Who doesn't GO on holiday with a set of tiny screwdrivers?!

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Tiny Screwdrivers

      The guy who ends up needing one, and has to buy another small set of small screwdrivers.

      1. Dr_N

        Re: Tiny Screwdrivers

        Foolish not to have one in your bag ...

        1. Franco

          Re: Tiny Screwdrivers

          I used to get mocked a lot for carrying a Leatherman Wave with a bit kit in my laptop bag. Almost always the most vocal of the people mocking who needs to borrow it IME.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

            Re: Tiny Screwdrivers

            I used to pick up small screwdriver sets in Radio Shack on holidays in US\Canada before I moved to the latter.

            The main reason being, the tips were interchangeable (& usually lost after returning to the UK), allowed for a decent grip with the fingers & a flexible shaft.

            1. Dr_N

              Re: Tiny Screwdrivers

              Fry's used to be rammed with all sorts of great useful travel tools/knives/gadgets/torches. Not so much these last years.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Tiny Screwdrivers

      I used to go on holiday with full tool kit.

      Proved invaluable when I burst a LPG vapouriser hose at the back of the engine.

      Intakes off. sit on scuttle, plenum off, pipes out, spare fitted, plenum and intakes on, a kind person brought me few litres of water.

      45m from breakdown to moving.

      And still set a best time from holiday destination to home while towing a caravan. Who cares about low teens on autogas?

      BTW was silver not red

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: Tiny Screwdrivers

        Busman's....errrr carpenters holiday.

        Father went on holiday\family visit with his toolbox.

        Spent a week rebuilding two large wooden barn doors, as the attached barn had been repurposed into a garage some years before my aunt & uncle moved in.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tiny Screwdrivers

        Remember a time, when a teenager, we were heading off for a caravan holiday and found the car had a broken rear spring. Was sent to local parts supplier to get a replacement. By the time I got home with it, Dad had the old one off and ready to fit the new one. Just two hours after the original hitch up we were heading off on holiday. Of course, Dad was a motor mechanic and able to fix almost anything mechanical. He’s now 91 and jokes that he doesn’t even know where the spark plugs are on his current car!

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. DJO Silver badge

    Screws left over‽

    Probably because you are not using a proper work surface.

    Work benches always have a small time-warp in a variable position, the consequence of this is you can put a small but vital part down in clear view and then it completely disappears and is impervious even to the most assiduous searching.

    Then between 1 and 2 weeks later the part will reappear somewhere you have already searched at least 3 times. A time warp* is the only logical explanation for the observed facts.

    * It's just a jump to the left, And then a step to the right...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Screws left over‽

      Professional workbenches have a small tame black hole to deal with surplus screws

  20. Daedalus

    Practice makes Almost Perfect

    For me, several dress rehearsals starting with what we, in our artless northern way, called a "push-bike", and continuing with an increasingly geriatric BSA Bantam, ultimately stripping the engine for a gearshaft replacement, were what allowed me to change a cylinder head on a very non-wizarding Ford Anglia, on a bitter cold day under the Chem labs. We'll skip over the part where I destroyed the union on the carburetor.

    So I was well prepared in the diligence department for the care and feeding of beige box PC's, even making it to assembling my son's latest gamer with him.

    Sadly the moment of defeat came when I replaced a battery in my wife's watch, said watch being not much bigger than one of those batteries that have had to be fished out of hungry toddlers. After much cursing and fiddling, I closed up and put my barely small enough screwdriver back with its mates. Never again: I'm leaving that one to the pros. At least I would, but they're getting thin on the ground. They're retiring in droves, not to be replaced. Even a jewelry business seems insufficient to keep them at the store. If watches themselves weren't on the way out I'd be really worried.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Practice makes Almost Perfect

      "an increasingly geriatric BSA Bantam, ultimately stripping the engine for a gearshaft replacement"

      Ours (dad's and eventually mine) were stripped and rebuilt more or less annually. We even had a small paint tin, carefully preserved, which was exactly the right size for compressing the clutch to get the cir-clip out. Dad was long-sighted and resisted getting specs for many years so never believed the rest of us could quite easily read the colours noted on the wiring diagram for the switch.

      Years later, taking my MGB's head in to get the valve seats re-cut (the backfire through the carps eventually set the paper air-filter on fire, complicated by the fact my father-in-law was the passenger at the time) I noticed a bike propped up against the workshop wall. It looked familiar - a Banty - but unfamiliar. It took a little time to recognise it as one of the very early ones without a rear suspension.

  21. Dr_N

    Wearing cheap pyjamas, in a kitchen, eating peanuts and drinking beer.

    Is this the Dabbs updated/Covid-era version of Cluedo?

  22. cd

    Good vintage, decant carefully and enjoy

    Posting from a 2009 MBP that has had 4 batteries, 5-6 hard drives, and now has a second hard drive where the DVD used to be.

    Two things about MBP's of that era, which was a golden time for Apple laptop repairability and OS functionality, unlikely to be repeated given the current short-sighted company admin.

    -The battery screws can be removed and installed with a flat-bladed screwdriver that spans two of the lobes, I actually do that over the special tri-lobe tool which came with one of my battery kits because I can reach for it and use it without remembering where I hid the special one from myself.

    -The screws holding the bottom plate on have a bit of threadlock on for a good reason, the short ones will fall out and disappear quickly after that it disturbed. Locktite Blue (US name) works well for keeping them in place, shake the little tube, apply a drop, then put it in wet.

    iFixit will make you a printable disassembly sheet with spots for all the screws to be placed. That is, if your printer is working.

    Would have been a good time to replace the thermal paste as well. Apple tends to use too much and it'll be desiccated crumbles by now. You can test how the current stuff is working by downloading Macs Fan Control, which will display temp readings at all the internal sensors.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Good vintage, decant carefully and enjoy

      They put a load of paste in to compensate for the fact that Apple's EFI is programmed to start up fans about four seconds before total meltdown, as if they believe the noise of fans in a laptop might somehow break the illusion of perfection. Also as Apple laptops are have practically nowhere to vent heat, the fans are pretty useless anyway.

      Thermal management is instead done by CPU throttling which is terrible for performance.

    2. Daedalus

      Re: Good vintage, decant carefully and enjoy

      When you sell to the great unwashed, you sell curb appeal, not function or repairability. It's only the rise of phablets and other joymaker-class devices that has pushed the laptop out of the limelight and back in the direction of people who want good keyboards and displays that don't double as shaving mirrors. As a bonus, the phablet crowd are busy withdrawing from the gene pool by crossing the road with head firmly stuck in cyberspace, where they also learn the kind of pseudo-science that ensures a shorter life.

    3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Good vintage, decant carefully and enjoy

      iFixit will make you a printable disassembly sheet with spots for all the screws to be placed. That is, if your printer is working.

      Now you are telling me, with my printer half way disassembled ;)

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good vintage, decant carefully and enjoy

      For some reason, that first line made me think of that Only Fools and Horses episode with Trigger's broom:

      Del : If you've had that broom for 20 years d'you ever actually sweep the roads with it?

      Trigger : Well of course! But I look after it well. We have an old saying that's been handed down by generations of road sweepers: 'Look after your broom...'

      Rodney : (Finishes saying for him)... And your broom will look after you.

      Trigger : No Dave. It's just: 'Look after your broom'.

      Rodney : Oh, that old saying!

      Trigger Yeah. And that's what I've done. Maintained it for twenty years. This old broom's had seventeen new heads and fourteen new handles in its time.

      Sid : Well, how the hell can it be the same bloody broom then?

      Trigger : There's a picture of it! What more proof d'you need?

  23. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "there's always a screw left over after reassembly"

    This is not strictly true. The Universe conserves screws but as screws are quantum objects they don't always materialise in the place you expect. Your surplus screw is someone else's "Why are there not enough screws left?".

    It's possible to argue, of course that that it's the holes which are affected - the reason you have a screw going spare is because the hole it should have fitted has reappeared in my laptop case. I'm not persuaded of this because the other consequence of this phenomenon is that the screws available for reassembly can be of correct number but not the same selection of lengths as the depths of holes. This is because the number of screws overall has been conserved but some of them have been exchanged with those from someone else's disassembled laptop.

    1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      "This is not strictly true. The Universe conserves screws but as screws are quantum objects they don't always materialise in the place you expect. Your surplus screw is someone else's "Why are there not enough screws left?"

      It could also be that if you are a screw short, then it could be the one I could not find in my laptop disassembly instructions never mind how much we looked.

      After one busted keyboard later it magically appeared along with its hole.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Our techs use paper cups, each group of screws go into a cup and then they are stacked first to last inside each other. All but the topmost cup of screws is fairly secure, the surface area used is minimized, and it's organized!

    1. Martin

      That is bloody genius! Have an upvote and one of these -->

  25. Muscleguy


    I am typing this on an even older beast, a mid 2010 Macbook Pro. One with the mysterious motherboard requiring the excellent gfxcardstatus app to stop intermittent and regular BSD’s. Apple gave up trying to fix them. Its had new motherboards the lot under warranty.

    When I inherited it from the youngest spawn I gave it a new battery and a new drive. So I know that process, instructions as a .pdf on my phone.

    That battery is now on its last legs and the need for a new one looms. Being here in Brexit Blighty I expect the necessary part can no longer be had here, requiring a nightmare process of getting it from Germany with eye watering shipping costs, customs problems etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ha!

      Back in the mists of time I was tasked with repairing an Apple laptop .... it would randomly lock-up.

      I then discoved, chewed up screw heads, jammed screws and other "open you bastard" marks on what was supposed to be a new-ish in warranty bit off kit.

      The Apple thingy turned out to be one with a known graphics chip/motherboard fault.

      Apple refused the warranty due to a previous repair attempt.

      IT manager throws me under the bus .... except I had photos of the damage found. They had ripped it appart "easy fix, be the display cable" --- errr no....

    2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Ha!

      "I expect the necessary part can no longer be had here, requiring a nightmare process of getting it from Germany with eye watering shipping costs, customs problems etc."

      Deduct shipping costs from your next vacation in Germany.

    3. gannett

      Re: Ha!

      Early 2011 17inch MBP here - it's the original machine just two new motherboards ( one replaced under Apple recall), CDROM swapped for a SSD, doubled up memory and two replacement batteries. First replacement battery only lasted 18 months before blowing out like a cheep sausage on a BBQ. Second one seems to be doing better. Both batteries ordered from Amazon - I suspect they are clones rather than OEM. Just needs to last till the new M1 MBP arrive.

  26. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    I think...

    ...Mr Dabbs needs to buy a defragging tool for his desk.

  27. Persona

    Post-it Note

    Post-it Notes are very good for keeping those tiny screws safe. Don't stick the note to the desk. Put it sticky strip up so the tiny screws don't get lost.

  28. Empty1

    spare nuts

    It used to give me Devilish pleasure to secretively drop a couple of nuts under my mates car when he was working on it.

    1. herman Silver badge

      Re: spare nuts

      And the next day, pour a cup of oil on the ground under his car…

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: spare nuts

        I think I read in one of Scott Adams' Dilbert books about pranking someone with that.

        Apparently, one of the PHBs at some company had got a new Merc, and every day the prankster went down to the parking lot and poured a few drops of oil under the engine.

        The PHB kept taking it back to the dealer to try and get it fixed.

  29. Blackjack Silver badge

    I have a box were I put any loose screws, nuts and bolts, once in a while I find use for them.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM Model M keyboard here, and the top above the F keys is ideal for storing the extra small screws and other bits that are always left over from things (currently 5 screws, 3 small silicone bungs, one plastic pcb standoff, one usb wifi dongle, and a small O-ring)

  31. Andytug

    Beware if your how to video only shows the LHD version of your car......

    Simple pollen filter replacement, Renault Scenic Mk3. One pane out under dash, reach up behind heater, find plastic door, 2 screws, door off, old filter out, new one in, reverse steps.

    ....except if your car is RHD, where changing the pedals to the other side without moving any of the master cylinders etc (as this would cost money) means the entire clutch pedal assembly, hydraulic pipes and all, is in front of the nice little door for the filter. Reaching all this is also hampered by the steering wheel and column, etc.

    I've managed to find one video of an RHD car (a normal Megane, but they're the same) and you could tell by the bloke that filmed it's demeanor that he had defnitely been cursing all things French off camera.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Beware if your how to video only shows the LHD version of your car......

      And in Fords, all the online information about where the fusebox is, is American.

      I exaggerate, but in America, it would appear that if you need to gain access to the fusebox in a Ford, you just open the glove compartment and the fusebox drops into your lap and offers you a coffee and a biscuit/cookie.

      Over here, you have to rip the carpet up.

  32. David Roberts

    Small shout out for Dell

    Because the bottom cover of my laptop has captive screws so that you (allegedly) can't lose them.

  33. Social Ambulator

    Been there, but I loose the damn screws

    This is a boring “me too” answer to annoy the El Reg readers who hate Macs because they put them out of a job.

    I too had a battery problem with a ten-year old MBP which admittedly was in semi-retirement as I had eventually decided to buy a new one. Most spectacular as the battery started swelling and was threatening to distort the housing. I managed to release the pressure by removing screws but, of course, managed to lose one. When my replacement battery finally arrived I had found a YouTube video of how to install it (come on Dabsy, you did too) but the “free” screwdrivers that came with the battery were so pathetic that I had to shell out for a decent one to remove the old battery. Finally put it back together minus a screw, but it’s not quite flush any more and will scratch the table top if I’m not careful.

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