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Macintosh LCII Restoration

PotatoFi

Well-known member
Time to restore my Macintosh LCII! This one came from Craigslist. According to the previous owner, he'd never tried to power it on.

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The case seemed okay, but there was a lot of tape and stuff on it.

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You can tell where the monitor used to sit. I'd love to find a 12" RGB monitor for this, but I haven't had much luck. There are a couple of broken ones on eBay... maybe I should buy one and experiment with body filler?

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This seems to be an "Apple" computer. But seriously, it's missing the expansion slot cover here. I would like to find an Ethernet card for it. Last time I checked, they were pretty inexpensive compared to a card for an SE or SE/30.

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Someone wrote "no video" on the floppy drive. My guess is that the PRAM battery was flat. I can't remember whether it was missing the battery, or if I had already removed it. That's always the first thing I do when I receive a new machine. Because of the "no video" indication, I argued way down on price.

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Someone stuffed some paper in the floppy drive to keep the dust out. Not a bad idea, but I'll be completely cleaning the drive, like I always do.

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I started removing things. The board looks pretty good! Some light corrosion around the caps of course. I'll be replacing these for sure. I am happy to report that I managed to remove everything without breaking any of the plastic on the case!

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To retrobrite the case, I need to remove the metal shielding. When I restored my Performa 476, I didn't do this, and it started to rust all over the place. I won't make that mistake again. To get the shield off, I need to cut away all of these little melted posts.

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Cheap flush cutters make quick work of this.

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Next, I snuck the shield up and out of the case. Lifting from the back if a good place to start, but there are a few posts and clips to watch out for. I doubt I'll have to do much to re-install the case.

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Before retrobrite, I popped the logo out with a papercl- er... Apple Logo Removal Tool. While I have gotten away with retrobrite with the logo installed, I've had retrobrite that involved any kind of heat (like from the sun) bleach out certain colors. No need to take a chance.

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There was a bit of a weird adhesive on the front of the Mac. I thought it was going to be a huge pain, but it just scraped away with my thumbnail. Note the color of the plastic underneath.

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Next, it's outside for a scrub with dishwasher detergent and a toothbrush!

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I did use a wet paper towel and baking soda on a few spots to remove back marks, but other than a bunch of scrubbing, there isn't much to talk about here. Here's the results, ready for retrobrite!

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LaPorta

Well-known member
Nice! I saw this one on eBay a while ago with the no video. How much did you snag it for?

 

PotatoFi

Well-known member
Nice! I saw this one on eBay a while ago with the no video. How much did you snag it for?
This one actually came from Craigslist. I paid $100 for it along with a Performa 476 and empty external floppy enclosure.

Since it was a nice, sunny day, I immediately put the top in the bin to retrobrite. We'll come back to that in a bit, let's deal with the shield on the bottom half of the case.

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More of the same, except I was surprised to find that the back part of the shield is actually two parts. I'm not sure how I'll hold this back in... probably some dabs of hot glue? We'll see when we get there.

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The bottom cleaned up pretty nicely. I used a bit more baking soda on a wet paper towel to clean up the scuffs. The rubber feet are a bit gummy... not sure what to do about that.

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Now, on to the retrobrite! 

At this point, the timeline goes a little bit convoluted, as the retrobrite process took about a week to complete. These days, I've almost completely abandoned the plastic wrap and hydrogen peroxide cream method in favor of full submersion in liquid hydrogen peroxide, as the cream risks causing a "streaking" or "marbling" effect.

Full submersion can be done in the sun, or indoors under a UV lamp. In either case, I use a cheap aquarium heater to warm the water. Outdoors, it just helps bring the liquid up to temperature faster. Indoors, it's essential for keeping the liquid warm enough to act on the plastic.

Here's a photo of part of the indoor setup. The box is lined with tin foil to reflect the UV light around, and it probably contains a bit of heat too. I always install the lid before suspending my CFL UV "lizard" lamp. It's pretty slow, but when the weather isn't cooperating, it works. I checked it with the thermometer, and it easily maintained 95°F.

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The danger of this method is floating parts. If the parts float and dry out, they bleach, and I haven't discovered a way to fix this once it happens. Here's an example of this on a Sony PlayStation; note the forward third of the CD tray, which is brighter than the rest of the console. Fortunately I learned this lesson several years ago, on a relatively worthless piece of hardware.

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To keep the parts from floating, I finally figured out that I could set a jar or pitcher of water on top of the part. I couldn't see any unevenness on the part when this was done, but I think more experimentation is needed to say for sure.

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For whatever reason, it took about a week to get everything done. I used 64 oz of 40-proof hydrogen peroxide in water. I set it out on sunny days, and did a few hours plus a complete night in the garage under the UV lamp. Here are the results!

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The only thing that isn't perfect is that spot where there was adhesive on the front. It's possible that THAT is the original color, but I doubt I could have ever got there with retrobrite.

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Time to reattach the shields. I cleaned them up a bit with some Windex.

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Next, I popped them back into place, which was pretty painless. I didn't mess around with bending tabs in and stuff... they stay put pretty well on their own. The bottom shield especially.

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I decided that the top could use a bit of reinforcement, so I dabbed some hot glue in a few places towards the very back of the computer.

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And of course, I reinstalled the Apple logo. This might be the most satisfactory part of the whole process, other than flipping the power switch and hearing a chime. I wish I could get a few spares of these... some of mine are pretty bleached out. This one looks good.

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PotatoFi

Well-known member
During the week, the logic board happened to be sitting near the dishwasher while it was running. Here's what it looked like at the time:

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I decided to pop it in with the dishes, just for fun. I've never done this, but I do subject my logic boards to water all of the time, so why not.

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Fast forward to today, just after putting the Apple logo on the case: the logic board looked fine coming out of the dishwasher, but no cleaner if i'd just used soap, water, and a toothbrush. But it was fun to toss it in there for a bit. I think the soap had already run so it was really more of a very hot rinse. I did take it out to the garage and blast all of the water out of everything with the air compressor. I don't want mineral deposits causing shorts!

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Time to get rid of these awful, leaky caps! Every time I remove PRAM batteries and electrolytic caps, I feel like I am doing the world a small service by preserving another old Mac. Here's the main group of caps on the LCII:

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And then there are three more over by the expansion connector:

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I used to cringe at using the "twist and push" method, but then I lifted several pads on an SE/30 logic board, and someone here said, "Seriously, try it." It's worked flawlessly ever since. I do NOT "twist and pull", the idea is to twist and push down gently on the board, which breaks the cap from the legs and exerts minimal force on the pads. It's nice that the cap deforms a bit when you squeeze it with the pliers, which makes it easier to grab.

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Sometimes, the plastic base of the capacitor gets left behind. When that happens, I use my trusty $5 Hakko flush cutters to snip off the remaining legs and lift away the plastic part.

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Here's all of the caps removed.

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Next, we need to remove all of these old legs and clean up the pads.

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I use a toothpick or small screwdriver to apply flux paste to everything. I've used liquid flux too... but it doesn't seem to pack as much of a punch as solder paste. I use liquid for soldering fine-pitch stuff down, and paste for cleaning work.

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At this point, it's just a matter of running around with the iron, burning through the corrosion, and nudging the old legs off of each pad. It sure does make a mess!

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Flux. Flux everywhere.

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Next, I took a trip down to the kitchen sink. Isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush, and then some good ol' dish soap and a toothbrush cleaned it all up.

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In the next post, we'll recap the board!

 
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johnklos

Well-known member
Neat! I love how well the plastics have come out. I think I'm going to try that on one of my machines soon :)

Does your m68030 case have a crack in the casing? It's hard to see, but it appears to have some kind of jagged line on it.

 

PotatoFi

Well-known member
As a final prep step, I ran around with some desoldering braid and sucked up any remaining solder from the pads. This always leaves them nice and clean!

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Next, I applied a tiny bit of solder to one pad for each capacitor. I always hold my soldering iron in my dominant hand, and I tin the pad on whatever side will be the easiest to heat while I place the part. Iron in dominant hand, tweezers in non-dominant hand.

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Current me is SO happy that past me labeled this bag of parts! I ordered all of my capacitors off of Digikey. I always use tantalum capacitors, because as far as I know, they'll never wear out of fail like electrolytic capacitors will. I want this board to last!

Additional factors are brand, length, and appearance. I want them to look as "factory" as possible, and I want them to fit properly on the pads. I also want decent quality, so for tantalum caps, I usually go for Vishay. They seem to be the best in the tantalum capacitor market, as far as I can tell. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

If you'd like to buy the same caps as I did from Digi-key, you can add a complete LCII logic board kit to your cart with this link. It looks like it's about $10.30 + shipping. I always use their First Class Mail option, and things usually show up in 2-3 days. Digi-key does a great job!

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Here's a few caps installed. My process is pretty simple! Remember that earlier, I tinned one of the pads. With my dominant hand, I heat the tinned pad with my iron. Then with my non-dominant hand, I use tweezers to "slide" the part into place. Once I have it where I want it, I remove heat, then remove tweezers. After double-checking that the placement and polarity is correct, I heat the pad and part on the other side and add a dab of solder.

Also, remember that stripe = positive terminal on tantalum caps!

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All done! Seeing all of these tantalum caps just makes me feel good for some reason.

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After cleaning up the capacitor terminals with a cotton swab and some alcohol, it is finally reassembly time. After a week of parts floating around the house, it's nice to see it going back together!

Remember how I was concerned about that separate, smaller metal shield? The ports on the logic board hold it in perfectly. Nothing to worry about there.

Note that I did not recap the power supply yet. Soon...

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PotatoFi

Well-known member
Neat! I love how well the plastics have come out. I think I'm going to try that on one of my machines soon :)

Does your m68030 case have a crack in the casing? It's hard to see, but it appears to have some kind of jagged line on it.
Thanks! I would definitely consider using the "full submersion" method. Remove all metal parts, and make sure the parts don't float! That is key!

As for the 68030... if there's a crack, this machine will never run, as it would likely be full of water. In-person, I don't remember seeing any cracks, so hopefully just an image artifact.

Okay, time to tackle this "no video" problem.

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Ah, much better! So isopropyl alcohol fixed the "no video" problem right away. Between this and adding a fresh PRAM battery, I expect the video to work fine when I attempt to power it on for the first time.

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Next, it was time to clean up and lubricate the floppy drive. I always clean these up before using them. I don't want to snap the ejection motor gears, especially on the SuperDrive like this one!

The screws on the side were being REALLY stubborn, so I broke out the impact driver to break them loose. I don't like exerting shocks on drives like this, but I had to get the screws out somehow. This $99 Ryobi drill/impact driver set is the best $99 I've ever spent a Home Depot. The Li-Ion batteries are about 3 years old now, and are showing no signs of slowing down! Not bad for "homeowner grade" tools.

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To get the drive out of the bracket, I needed to get the "eject" button to pop out. So I grabbed one of my "bad floppy disk coasters" off my desk. Then, I could work the drive out of the bracket.

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There was a blank piece of paper in the drive.

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Next, I used tweezers to pull the springs off the bottom half of the drive. I'm always REALLY gentle with these... I would not want to plastically deform them.

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Next, I removed this little black plastic thingie that causes the upper r/w head to move up when a disk is ejected. I just carefully flexed the center tab up, and moved the plastic thing off the metal part.

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Now we need to remove the upper part of the drive. It's the part that snaps up or down depending on whether a disk is inserted or not. See the spring on the right-hand side of the r/w heads? There's a mechanical part on each end of that spring. We need to move them away from each other.

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Hard to show on camera, but moving those two parts away from each other (and thus extending the spring) causes the whole drive to "snap down". 

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Now, I could lift the mechanical assembly up on the left side, and remove it.

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With the upper assembly out of the way, we can now remove the lower sliding component. I use my tweezers to pull these retainer rings up, but you could easily use pliers.

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Oops! Before I can remove the lower sliding component, I need to remove the eject motor and gears.

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The screws were being SUPER stubborn. On my Classic II, I managed to completely round off one of the heads, and I didn't want to do that again, so I broke out the impact driver again.

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The screws came right out with that!

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The upper mechanical assembly and loser sliding part got a scrub in some soap and water with a toothbrush to remove all of the old lubricant.

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The gears got a couple of drops of Teflon Silicone Lubricant from Dupont. I bought a bottle of this about 7 years ago... still use it all of the time.

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I lubricated anything metal-on-metal with a bit of stuff that came with my Prusa 3D printer. It's lighter than lithium grease, which I think is way too heavy for this application. But it's not a liquid either, it's more of a cream. Everything is super-smooth now, which is want I want to help the eject motor and gears last!

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And finally, I reinstalled everything back into the case!

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I decided to not install the PRAM battery or attempt power-on tonight. Since the board was rinsed under water today, I decided that a full night of drying out would be a good idea. What's left?
 

- Power-on test.

- Install a SCSI2SD if the hard drive doesn't work

- Upgrade RAM to max.

- Find an ethernet card for it.

- Find a 12" RGB display for it, but that is proving difficult. I have my eye on one on eBay right now... but it needs some serious work and the seller's feedback is not good. We'll see.

 
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LaPorta

Well-known member
Incredible documentation, and great photos! To add in: the actual replacement for the real grease is EM-30L. DuPont sells it and recommends it to replace the discontinued EM-10L that was originally used. Do you not disassemble the gearing and motor? It still works well even without cleaning them out?

 

Papichulo

Well-known member
Very nice. Wish i read this earlier when i opened a mac ii floppy drive and torn one of the ribbon cables on accident. 

 

PotatoFi

Well-known member
Incredible documentation, and great photos! To add in: the actual replacement for the real grease is EM-30L. DuPont sells it and recommends it to replace the discontinued EM-10L that was originally used. Do you not disassemble the gearing and motor? It still works well even without cleaning them out?
Good to know!

Need a drive for your empty external case?
I'm all set, thanks! I bought a SuperDrive from someone here on the forum. Dual floppy drives is super handy.

This morning, I powered on the LCII! Sadly, I got a chime of death, which I've never actually heard before. I had a feeling it wouldn't boot, as it had one stick of RAM installed. Apparently, the LCII requires pairs of RAM. I popped the stick out, and it booted right up.

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I was pleased to find that this model has 4 MB of RAM soldered to the logic board. I also think it has 512k of VRAM, as the monitor reports a resolution of 640x480.

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It appears to have a fresh installation of System 7.1. It's very clean - it looks like someone just reinstalled the OS, and that was it. After popping in two spare 1 MB sticks of RAM (bringing the total to 6 MB), we grabbed the SimCity floppy disk and installed it. My daughter immediately took over.

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joshc

Well-known member
Lovely to see a job done well, so...well done! :b&w:

Which copy/version of SimCity are you using there? I tried SimCity 1.1 on my SE/30 (from Mac garden) with System 7.1 and it just freezes.

My LC II is in a similar state, recapped and working well, unfortunately it doesn't get used much as I am an SE/30 fanboy at the moment, I find the LC II too sluggish for most tasks.

 

LaPorta

Well-known member
I love getting my kids in on the act. They are great testers :).

I have always wondered what varies between the SimCity versions. I've got 1.1, 1.4, 1.4c. No idea...

That's a pretty nice setup. Glad another one is up and running again.

 

dzog

Well-known member
Great documentation, thank you for sharing! 

I've done the full clean up and relube on maybe half a dozen floppy drives now. Never hit a screw so stuck - have been lucky I suppose. I've been using lithium grease which seems to work fine, at least in the shorter term (drives are very smooth), no indications to stop using it. But I am liking @LaPorta's EM-30L tip. 

 

PotatoFi

Well-known member
Lovely to see a job done well, so...well done! :b&w:

Which copy/version of SimCity are you using there? I tried SimCity 1.1 on my SE/30 (from Mac garden) with System 7.1 and it just freezes.

My LC II is in a similar state, recapped and working well, unfortunately it doesn't get used much as I am an SE/30 fanboy at the moment, I find the LC II too sluggish for most tasks.
This is "SimCity 1.4g". I think it might be this version? 1.4g has run on my SE FDHD, Classic II, and now the LCII with no trouble. It also runs in Mini vMac emulating a Plus.

I seem to have lost the color tile set for it. I'd also like to see if SimCity 2000 will run on this machine... I'd think that a 680LC40 with 6 mb of RAM would work, we'll see. And maybe I need to find that 68k port of Transport Tycoon? Too bad it's only in Japanese! Having a color machine opens up a lot of possibilities.

As for the performance of the machine, I just wanted a Pizza Box Mac.  :)

I love getting my kids in on the act. They are great testers :).

I have always wondered what varies between the SimCity versions. I've got 1.1, 1.4, 1.4c. No idea...

That's a pretty nice setup. Glad another one is up and running again.
Thanks! Now to find a 12" RGB CRT for it... it just looks wrong with the LCD display. And the display scales 640x480 very badly. I've seen absolutely nothing locally, and getting one off eBay is a scary proposition.

Very nice work, and nicely documented!  I really like these threads.
Thanks! I enjoy making them. I've considered trying to get into the YouTube restoration scene but that takes a lot of time and energy. I think these threads are the next best thing.

Great documentation, thank you for sharing! 

I've done the full clean up and relube on maybe half a dozen floppy drives now. Never hit a screw so stuck - have been lucky I suppose. I've been using lithium grease which seems to work fine, at least in the shorter term (drives are very smooth), no indications to stop using it. But I am liking @LaPorta's EM-30L tip. 
Thanks for checking it out! Thank goodness for impact drivers... completely saved me here. As for the type of lubricant, I might need to pick up some EM-30L and give it a try.

Quick update: I ordered a PDS Ethernet card for it. Should be here in a little over a week and a half.

 

dan.dem

Well-known member
I have always wondered what varies between the SimCity versions. I've got 1.1, 1.4, 1.4c. No idea...
I think the main difference between 1.x versions is compatibility with (what was then) newer Macs and later Mac System versions. Probably there are releases for unification of the code base, since SimCity was available on so many platforms. I don't remeber big differences, however cannot say when 3D-view and higher color depth were introduced (guess: not before SimCity 2000).

 

MrFahrenheit

Well-known member
I just want to chime in here and say that is some very detailed and excellent documentation of your restoration project.  Well done!

 
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