Hey guys, thanks for the replies (and the caring concern!). I've had some success since my last post; perhaps fortuitously (or not?) I hadn't read your warnings until now, and now it's too late seeing as I've already plowed in all guns blazing. I'll explain everything in the hope that this might be of some use to anyone attempting the same thing.
It seems I entirely misunderstood the construction of this monitor. The legs connect to an acrylic base plate (via the disc-tilty thing); to this base plate is screwed a metal 'tray' on which sits the circuit board, on which sit all the components and all wired into the tube and heavy glass screen at the front. Around the outside of the screen is the plastic frame I mentioned earlier - and the whole thing sits in a one piece acrylic shell.
When I first looked at it I thought everything had been 'inserted' through the square hole at the front of the case, naturally being finished with the plastic frame with the apple logo. This now appears to be incorrect. My natural first plan of attack was to remove the plastic frame but it stuck fast and I didn't want to snap it.
The more I inspected the case the more I thought it could be removed entirely as one piece without affecting the rest of the structure (i.e. leaving the base plate and all components attached and intact. Using a flat head screwdriver and inserting it into the slots I mentioned in my previous post, the case sort of 'popped' now giving me a 3-5mm gap into which I could jam things to keep it from snugging closed again. At least, this strategy worked on the left of the screen and the top. The closer I got to the right edge the less it wanted to budge.
After further investigation, I saw that this HAD to be something to do with the double USB slots that sit in a recess on the right of the case. This little structure is difficult to describe without photos. The recess is approx 1 inch deep and I was fairly sure that this was a separate piece of plastic, inserted into a hole in the case. When I poked around inside the case (through the pre-built hole in the top for ventilation which comes covered with a perforated cover which 'pops' out), I managed to jam a screwdriver in between the USB sockets themselves and the end of the tubular recess. This, so I thought, would allow the case to detach from the socket and then the right hand side would release itself just like the left.
This didn't work, because there was a small metal tab extending upwards from the circuit board, and fastened VERY securely (perhaps screwed, I'm not sure) to the end of the plastic recess.
On the pictures above from the guys who've already achieved this mod it seems they've managed to retain the recess and detach it cleanly from the circuit board. Lord knows how they managed this because I couldn't. I settled on using a small multi tool, with a cutting head to slice through the plastic recess (not damaging the case itself). Once I'd done this, the recess itself popped out neatly through the hole, and the right side now had as much flexibility as the left. With a little force I managed to pop the entire case off the base, backwards.
My strategy from now on focused on getting everything I could off the base plate. I followed Apple's own instructions on how to remove the legs (for replacing with a new pair). Then I realised the base was screwed from the INSIDE, i.e. screws passing from the circuit board into a metal tray, and then from the metal tray down into the baseplate. I had to unscrew the circuit board as much as possible, avoiding touching all the components due to cold fear then get a tiny screw driver in there to unscrew the metal tray screws. After removing all the screws, the base plate was still held in place by the monitor cable, which passed through a little hole in the plate. So I sliced through that with my cutting tool and unthreaded the cable. FINALLY the base plate came away, and I reattached the legs, screwed the base back on the frame, and was proud of myself.
The plastic frame around the monitor was still firmly attached. It is a more complex structure than I thought, consisting of a dark grey plastic bit that slotted in around the screen (which I thought was 'clipped'..), a lighter grey backing plate that sat beneath the translucent front layer where the apple logo was. There was gaps between each bit and I was jamming screwdrivers everywhere to explore and probe, but in doing so a cracked the darker grey bit (luckily the least visible and the big that is most easily glued). I took a step back and felt incredibly stupid when I saw some screw slots on the metal structure to the rear of the screen, two on the right and two on the left ::) . I undid the screws, and voila, the entire front frame came off, all three layers firmly attached to each other. This frame can now slot into the empty case, making a nice front fascia. Obviously before hamsters can move in it needs a sheet of plastic across the hole.
During the entire process I avoided all contact with the CRT, components and wires, except when I simply HAD to cut something to gain access to a screw. Still, I wouldn't recommend this process to someone unprepared or heaven forbid, kids. I wore thick protective rubber gloves and used insulated tools just incase.
Anyway, all that remains is to install some sort of floor, plug any holes and make it more homely. It also needs a good clean. Perhaps I'll put photos up when I'm done. Sorry for not remembering to take any during the deconstruction. Any questions, fire away! Cheers guys!
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