7 Replies Latest reply: Mar 6, 2012 2:52 AM by noondaywitch
mkroc Level 1 (0 points)

I am new to Mac repair but a pretty skilled PC repair guy (hobby, not job).  I have a college student friend with an A-1278 13" late 2008 Macbook that would not boot.  He could't remember what happed that made it stop but I said I would look at it for him.  When I got it I   determined the power button worked and the hard drive spun bbut it would not boot - no chiem, no video.  If I helddown the power button it would shut down. I did some research on the net and was pretty well convinced there had to have been some liquid contact.  I disaaembled it completely (thanks ifixit!) and cleaned the logic board. I dired it with a blow drier on cool but let it air dry for nearly a week afterward due in part to caution and part to my schedule.  When I reassembled and tried the power but I got nothing, period.  Dissapointed, I looked up how to start without the power button (I had read about during me research).  I tried it (shorting contacts on logic board) and to my suprise it chimed and started up.  Everything seemed to work OK except the keyboard.  I moved around a bit and realized it was running a Parrallels virtual machine (which I've heard about but know nothing about).  I assumed I had simply not connected the keyboard cable completely.  I navigated with the mouse to shut down the virtual machine and then navigated to shut down completely so I could check and reseat the keyboard connector.  While it was shutting down I left the room for about 30minutes to do a chore for my loively bride.   When I returned, I reseated the cable (which was indeed not in completely) and check all of the other ribbon connectors.  Satisfied I turned it over and pressed the power button and, again to my surprise, it chimed and started.  This time however I got the rgey "Apple"  screen and the spinning wheel but it never fully booted.  I held down the power button to shut down.  I did some research again and it indicated there might be a problem with teh hard drive.  Strange but ... I checked the hard drive connector and it was fine so I tried starting again and let it go for a while.  Eventually the screen turns blue but the whell just keeps on spinning.  I shut down with the power button and did some more research.  Unfortunately I don't have the OS disk available so I tried single user boot and ran fcsd.  It reports an "invalid key" and quits afer three tries.  I am trying to get a hold of a disk but thought I'd throw this out to the experts to chew on ( or laugh at, as the case may be).

Can anybody offer a suggestion for a path forward?





  • noondaywitch Level 6 (8,135 points)

    "I tried single user boot and ran fcsd.  It reports an "invalid key" and quits afer three tries."


    The command is     fsck -fy


    when you're after a disc, it will need to be either the original grey disc (which will be Leopard, OS X 10.5.5 or 10.5.6), or a retail Snow Leopard disc (still available on the Apple Online store).


    Good luck with it. Hopefully there'll be a few more suggestions from the disassembled hoarde.

  • mkroc Level 1 (0 points)

    Thats the command I used. I mistyped in my message.

    Do I need to use the original disk or will any OS X 10.5 disk allow me to run DIsk utility?  If I don't have the original what are my options?

  • noondaywitch Level 6 (8,135 points)

    No, not any 10.5 disc will do. It needs the drivers for that specific model, which means the original disc or one from a MB of the exact same specification.


    Or. as I said, a retail SL disc. Retail discs aren't model-specific (but of course, need to be bought).

    A Leopard retail disc might also work, but only if the original OS was 10.5.5 and the installer is the last one issued, which was 10.5.6.

    However, Leopard retail discs cost 3-4 times the price of a retail SL disc, so unless someone just happens to have one it would hardly be worth the bother.


    FWIW, the original build nos for that model were 10.5.5 builds 9F2088 or 9F2533 (depends when they shipped) or 10.5.6 build 9G2133. (source http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1159?viewlocale=en_US)

  • mkroc Level 1 (0 points)

    This one appears to be 10.5.4. I have a friend that has a grey installation disc set that is 10.4.9.  I have no problem buying SL for $30 if it will fix the problem.  Will I lose all the existing applications and data doing this?  I was hoping Disk utility might be all it needs. How about third party utilities like Disk Warrior?

    I appreciate the help!

  • noondaywitch Level 6 (8,135 points)

    Firstly, 10.4.9 won't work - Macs won't boot from an OS version earlier than the one they shipped with (hence my caveat on the Leopard versions).


    Disk Warrior may well help, at least for checking the file structure; check their website for the correct version - off the top of my head 4.6 rings a faint bell, but check.

    TechTool Pro 5, likewise, and that will do hardware checks too.

    Either or both of those is worth having if you intend looking at more Macs.


    As for booting from the SL disc, Disk Utility is accessed from the first screen after the language choice. Ignore the installer and go to Utilities in the menu bar.

    Running Repair Disk won't hurt anything that isn't already broken. Just don't touch the Apply or Erase buttons


    As an aside, if it came to installing from the SL disc, SL's normal installation only replaces the system files - applications, data and preference settings aren't touched, unless you erase the disc from DU first.


    I wouldn't do that without the owner's informed consent though - SL needs printer driver updates that may not be available for the equipment they have, and some applications need paid upgrades (Adobe for one).

  • mkroc Level 1 (0 points)

    I ordered SL and will have to wait for it to arrive Friday.  We'll see what happens.

    I have found another working Macbook available.  Do you think there is any value connecting the problem child in terminal mode?  I ran some more commands in single user mode and the problems seem to be more severe now.

    I get a chime and the apple screen and now it just shuts itself off after about 10sec.  I don't understand how the HD got corrupted in the first place since I simply shut down from the menu but I've been working on them long enough that there isn't always a "smoking gun".  My client was ready to throw it away so at least now there is hope. Thanks for all the good advice. 

  • noondaywitch Level 6 (8,135 points)

    It may be possible to boot the problem Mac in Target Disc Mode and use DU from the host to check it out. TDM requires a FireWire connection, though, and some models of MB didn't have FW.


    If both do, the HD from the problem child can be mounted on the host as an external HD.


    target disk mode:

    Start with the target machine shut down.

    Connect the two computers with a FireWire cable.

    start up the target while holding down the T key.


    When the computer has started up, a disk icon appears on the desktop of the other computer.

    That will also appear in the DU array, and you can do everything from there that you can booted from a disc.


    When finished, eject the disc from the host as you would any external disc before shutting down the target and disconnecting.


    As for the possible damage; you said you suspected liquid spill, so all the usual suspects - surface corrosion on contacts, possible tracking (especially if sugary liquid is involved). But also liquid penetrating the casing could affect either the disk drive or the movement of the heads, or even leave dried residue on the plattens, so if it's rescued, it's definitely a bonus.