I would never chance blowing a customer's laptop with such an old battery. If you want to, search dell or ask dell for a service document to see what this broken wire does.
I would appreciate the help of anyone who knows how I can test whether charging power is making it to the battery of a Dell Inspiron 1501.
My son's laptop threw craps after about two years of service at college. He brought it home and explained that it would not run nor charge the battery when the adapter was plugged in. I tried an adapter that I knew was working and we saw the same problem. I talked to a repair shop and the guy there said it sounded like a problem with the power jack on the mobo and quoted me a price of about $400 to fix it. I thanked him for his time and we bought a replacement netbook.
Now about 2 years later I've gotten ambitious and decided to disassemble the laptop to see how difficult it would be to replace the jack. Some research on the net indicated I would probably see bad solder joints but the soldering looked fine. However, there was a small piece of what looks like a twist tie wire that was adhered to one of the legs of the jack and a mounting screw hole in the mobo. I'm pretty sure this is not a good thing. A very light tug caused the wire to pull away from both end points.
I put everything together and plugged the adapter in and I'm able to boot to the BIOS Setup. I can't attempt to start Windows since we repurposed the 2.5 inch disk as an external USB drive.
So it looks like the power problem may be solved but the battery is not charging. I know from searching the various CNET forums that the problem is either the battery or the charging circuit. I don't want to buy a new battery if the problem is with the charging circuit so I'm looking for a way to measure the current from the pins in the battery compartment.