Retr0brite Experiment: Final Results

I have the Retr0brite experiment final results.  I woke up this morning and went into the Apple II Lab to see what was cooking.  What I found was the body of my joystick control covered in a crusty Retr0Brite shell.  I gathered a bowl of water and began deglazing the components and giving them a final clean.  I have to say I have found the process to be a worth while venture and am eager to begin the next project.  What do you need to know?  The process is easy, you can get all the information you need to know from Merlin at the Retr0brite Wiki, there is no stink, no nasty chemicals, and now I am positive that the weaker 3% solution is just as effective.  I think that for me the hardest supply to find was a uv light source. I snagged it at Wal*Mart for $10.00.

Image demonstrating Retr0brite Experiment Before and After

This image dramatically displays the transformation from abused to beauty.

Having worked out all the hitches in my Retr0brite experiment and confident that the next process will be very smooth, I am looking forward to what fate may have in store for me by the means of my poll.  In addition to documenting the process with pictures, I am also interested in making a time lapse series of the days I spend refurbishing the next machine.  And I am very eager to see the results I am imagining right now.  You can see more of the results on my Retr0brite Flickr set.  If you are interested you can also help decide what the next thing I Retr0brite will be:

Retr0brite Experiment: The Practice Session

As the results of my polls trickle in, I have been experimenting with Retr0Brite.  My idea is to have a dry run that allows me to work the bugs out of my process before making a formal post.  I am glad that I did, because I am focusing on the process and finding little hitches and solutions to those problems.  I have been taking photos, finding ways into nooks and crannies, and the value of a good art eraser.

I am having a time putting my time lapse films together.  It’s a another process that I have to master and as I continue with trial and error, hopefully I can put together something suitable for viewing.

Picure of Retr0brite mixture.

Preparing a guesstimated mix of Retr0brite.

The Retr0brite recipe that I am using is Merlin’s original formula.  I have some ClaireOxide Volume 40 coming  (soon hopefully) that is going to act as a fairly concentrated source of H2O2 but until then I am using an off the shelf 3% solution.

The first batch I mixed was all guesstimation because I used few instruments to measure.  I took photos, made a film, and cleaned the hell out of a classic Apple II joystick body.  Looking on it this morning, there was improvement, but my forulation was all wrong and I implemented a postage scale to help me get a better ratio.  This second batch was like meringue and was thick, thanks in part to the right amount of xanthan gum and oxy clean.

I’ve posted some pictures of my practice on my Flickr Apple II picture collection.

The second time around I also employed a mirror to help reduce lost photons.  Hopefully this practice session will help be do a quality job on the hardware.

Again, I invite you to participate in the poll that decides the machine that gets the treatment. Vote Early. Vote Often.

Apple II Restoration

I am writing this post from my office, an office that has functioned as some sort of unorganized, dystopian war room for the better part of a year.  I realized what I needed was a APple II restoration project.  My home office environment has been completely Apple II free for the majority of this past time, as I occupied myself with other facets of my life as were necessary, and completely not as interesting as Apple II’s are to me, and, probably you, since you are taking the time to read this post.  You might be thinking, “Why such a big delay in getting on with the Apple II stuff, Dan?” although, you might be thinking, “At some point in history, one brain named itself ‘the brain‘ and all the other brains agreed.”  I don’t know why you would think something like that, though.

You’re weird.

The big log jam was the China trip I made last September.  I have spent a fair amount of time overseas, and typically don’t sweat travel too much.   Although I played Cool Hand Luke about the trip, I was kind of stressed because I never had traveled Asia before, nor a Communist country.  Everything worked out despite the demonstrations in the city I was in, and now I feel like I could go anywhere and not worry too much about it.

So now that the months of work related travel stress have subsided, it’s time for the Apple II restoration to begin.  I have been considering this for a couple of weeks now, and like many things I will probably make this more complicated than it has to be.  For some people, this would be a matter of collecting the Apple II parts, plugging them in and “Shazam!” you’re all set.   Well, let me correct that:  For some people, it would me a matter of collecting the Apple II parts, putting them into deep storage until you thought about them at some later date and then try to part them out on eBay for $350.00 per component because they are a) RARE!!, b) STEVE JOBS, and c) MINT.

I want to do a complete Apple II Restoration of my fleet.  These are my criteria of putting a machine back into service in my area:

CLEAN.  When I first got my hands on one of these beauties, often I was so excited, I half-assed the cleaning of the machine.  I did an OK job, but it could be better.  I want to test the boundaries of how much better it could be.  I want to do a complete tear down, create a discrepancy list of items I notice, and clean all parts thoroughly. Cleaning is the first step in Apple II restoration, my friends.

REPAIR.  I know there are a few solder joints that need attention and I want to be on the look out for problems I might not have seen.  I want the connections to be solid.  I have to admit that although I do have a background in manufacturing, some repairs I face in this Apple II restoration project are going to take some research.  Which I actually enjoy, and it gives mme a nother excuse the growing online archives for information and the realization that some information may be lost forever.

Retr0Brite.  I have been planning on making a batch of Retr0Brite for a while.  I look forward to using this effective but gentle solution.  I have gathered in most of the ingredients I need for a full on Apple II restoration.  In fact, the only component of the recipe I plan to use that I am missing is Xanthan Gum.  I should be able to get that in the next couple of days.  I have to admit, I do like asking the cashiers at the local grocery, “Where the hell you keep the Xanthan Gum at?” in combination with an ignorant look.  Pro tip:  The Xanthan Gum is not next to the Trident and Dentyne.

I want to spend time on a single unit, and picking the machine to start with is the toughest.  My choices are Apple II Plus, Apple IIe, Apple IIc+, Apple II GS, and Apple IIe Platinum.  As far as the usage of this fine line up, the Apple IIe Platinum is my daily driver, followed closely by the Apple II GS.  As far as the effects of what this process may be able to do for these tools the Apple IIe is by far the worst for discoloration.  This is my original machine, used daily for years and even made it’s way to a college campus with my brother in 1991 where papers were written on it.  It still shows the signs of being in a heavy smoker’s environment and could benefit the most dramatically from this cleaning process.  My first inclination is to do the Apple IIe Platinum as I use it the most and it has a serial number engraved in it’s side that I refer to as its Prison Tat.

I would like to document the process and have several ideas on showing the result of the effort, all of which I would like to post here.  I think rebuilding my Apple II is going to be way fun and I’m looking forward to sharing a bit about that with you.  As always, I welcome any suggestions of tips you may have about the process as I go through it.  I know that a blog can be a seriously one-sided conversation, but I try to avoid discussions as much as possible and try to spend as much time as possible in the dialog range, so feel free to share what you like and I will respond appropriately.