Where great old Macs live again!

Here is the "after shot" which shows the cleaned system. I cleaned all the plastics on the SE/30, on the HD20 drive underneath and the IIgs keyboard. The Apple speakers you see were never yellowed. I bought these new in the box on EBAY -- they were never used by the owner and always stored in the box so they never yellowed. The speakers show just how perfect the RetroBright method is. It doesn't turn the plastics white. Instead it restores the plastics to their original platinum appears.

Yes, yes, if you look closely you can see that the front bezel of the SE/30 is not 100% deyellow as the back. But after staring at white cardboard all day outside, my eyes were shot. Another dose of RetroBright and a few hours in the sun would make the front and back sides match perfectly. But that will be for another day. Breaking apart my SE/30 was a chore I don't wish to repeat often!

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Comment by Lars (WhyOSX) on August 16, 2009 at 6:52am
Did you apply it with a cloth or put the parts in a bath ?
Great results anyway.
Comment by James Wages on August 16, 2009 at 4:12pm
Large plastics were deyellowed with my "corn starch" gel version of RetroBright, while small parts such as the keyboard keys were submerged in the liquid version. I used regular 3% hydrogen peroxide to clean everything, and as you can see from the photos, you really do not need any stronger concentration of peroxide to deyellow vintage plastics.
Comment by Ken on August 16, 2009 at 4:13pm
Congrats. The results are spectacular!
Comment by Lars (WhyOSX) on August 16, 2009 at 4:56pm
A 3% H₂O₂ solution is available at every pharmacy - 'RetroBright' may be a product sold only in the U.S..
Comment by James Wages on August 16, 2009 at 5:58pm
You are correct that the 3% peroxide I used is available at most any drug store (although I purchased mine online here in Japan). But RetroBright is not a "product" at all. It is a "method of deyellowing plastics" as described on its Wiki here:

My implementation of that "RetroBright method" differs from what is on that Wiki insofar as I used lower concentrations of H202 (only 3% in my case) and I charted new waters with my use of household corn starch as a thickener. The corn starch makes it possible to convert the RetroBright liquid into a gel. The benefit of the gel is that you can deyellow larger sections of plastic without having to purchase an enormous amount of H202 for submerging.

In my photos, you can see the result of both forms of RetroBright: gel (for larger parts) and liquid (for smaller parts).
Comment by Adam Rosen on November 14, 2009 at 8:14pm
Looks great James! Debating whether to do this to some of my old Macs. I'd rather take apart an SE/30 than a Mac Mini anyday, though! :)
Comment by James Wages on November 15, 2009 at 5:05am
Adam, the most troublesome part is the disassembly required for the front panel. You have to remove the CRT and speaker too. I also removed the color logo, of course, as that is metal and would be adversely affected by the H202 deyellowing. But as you can see, it's worth it.
Comment by Alex Santos on August 6, 2015 at 4:18pm

Did you have to discharge the CRT? I mean how careful did you have to be when removing the CRT to not zap yourself. Results are incredible, how is it holding up 6 years later, as I write this?

Comment by James Wages on August 6, 2015 at 7:01pm

Thanks for your comment, Alex.

SE/30's have a bleeder resistor that makes the flyback and CRT safe.  If you switch off the computer and immediately start working, it wouldn't have enough time to bleed off the charge.  But if you switch off the machine and wait 15 minutes or so, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.  If you switch off the Mac and can't wait, however, then yes, I would recommend you discharge the CRT with a special discharge tool.  But honestly, if you are careful and don't short anything, you probably wouldn't be harmed unless you shorted something by accident.  I say this from experience.  I've been working on these old Macs for YEARS.  When I was a senior in high school back in 1989 I worked for the now defunct MicroAge Computers, which was an authorized Apple reseller, and I worked on these old Macs even back then.  You need to be careful, of course, but the threat of shock is a bit over-hyper in my opinion.  In any case, just be patient and  let the bleeder do its job.  Then disconnect the power cable so you accidentally don't switch on the Mac while working in it.

Yes, it's been a few years since my de-yellowing job.  The interesting thing, at least in my experience, is that it slowly starts to yellow again.  Even now it's not nearly as bad as it once was, but it is a tad more yellow than the pristine "just de-yellowed" condition you see in my photo.  But I still definitely feel it was worth the effort.

Best Wishes.

Comment by Alex Santos on August 7, 2015 at 12:22pm

Hi James

Thank you for the insightful answers and the precautions on CRT discharge. I use to work for AppleCare, for nearly  5 years and as part of the process of becoming a Tier 2 AppleCare support advisor we must go through the AASP hardware training and part of that training involved CRT safety. I was aware of the bleeder resistor but from what I was told during the training, if that component fails, then there is a risk of injury.

During the training, we did not go through testing individual components to test for a damaged or non-functioning bleeder resistor, we were simply instructed, as best practice is to discharge the CRT as a precaution to avoid scenarios where the resistor bleeder might not function due to a failure of the same.

Do you have any further thoughts?

Thanks again for the reply and for the steps and photos with retrobright. It would be interesting if you could take calibrated photos of the machine as it currently looks for comparison purposes. Anyway, I hope to perform the same one day but as I live in Poland, I might be challenged to find some of those same materials used.




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