I photographed every step I made when I first took apart my Compaq Contura. It took me one evening to remove everything except the LCD screen from the case. The computer survived without a scratch (except for one small part of the top cover that broke off, but that was easy to repair).
If you intend to take your laptop apart, first take a look at the tools I used (you will need some special screwdrivers). There are some notes under the pictures, mostly about things to watch out. Above all be very careful when dealing with the LCD screen. You can break or damage it easily and there is probably nothing interesting in there anyway. Another point to watch out are the flat cables, which can sometimes be tricky to disconnect (Compaq Contura has four of them).
This is how the laptop looked before I took it apart.
First I removed the top plastic cover. It is held down by five screws and a number of plastic parts. Old plastic gets brittle, so be careful. The best way is to lift it up at the base of the display and then rotate it to the front until it snaps out. It takes some practice to place it back. Removing the smaller metal cover above the motherboard is pretty straightforward. Keyboard is connected to the motherboard by two flat cables.
Then I removed the memory expansion board and the modem upgrade. Nothing special about them.
Same as above, but turned up side down. Chips on the modem are made mostly by AT&T.
Next two things to come out were the power supply and the LED board. Notice a small transformer in the center. I guess the laptop is powered by a miniature switched power supply that is providing 3.3V and 5V from 12V battery. Although the transistors have a big cooling element, I have never noticed it getting warm.
The yellow label on the left says that only certified Compaq people should open this cover.
Hard disk was easiest to remove. It is held in place only by the LED board and the connector, plugged directly to the motherboard. Notice the space provided for auxiliary battery (top black area).
Electronics on the other side of the hard disk. Nothing interesting.
Floppy is connected with a thin flat cable. The cable itself has no connector and is simply stuck into a special female connector on the motherboard. This was very tricky to remove without breaking the cable, replacing it was even harder.
The LCD screen is connected to the motherboard with a special connector. I didn't find any straightforward way of unplugging it so I decided it was best to leave it alone. I only removed the screws that were still holding the motherboard (most of them at the back - you will need the socket tool for them) and bent the cable to see the other side.
This is the best part. The whole motherboard has only four big chips: Intel 80486SL/82360SL superset takes care of memory, I/O and APM, everything else is done by a custom Compaq chip (lower left) and a S9330AP National Semiconductor (upper left). There is also a separate AT&T LCD display driver.
This is the result. I did not attempt to open the LCD screen as I have seen too many laptops with broken displays. Because the case is empty the laptop has to be supported by a piece of foam, stuck under the screen.
Everything that is missing from the case in the previous picture.
All tools I used for taking the Contura apart (notice the three special screwdrivers):