Jump to content

Macintosh SE Restoration

Recommended Posts

Back in April of this year (2019), I picked up three compact Macs on Craigslist. Originally, I was doing a restoration thread with all three of them, but that was awhile ago, and it was a bit chaotic to write about all three. There's one Macintosh SE left to finish restoring, so I've decided to break it out into it's own thread. I also need to get this one done pretty quickly, as I've traded it for a 3D printer and need to deliver to my friend in a couple of weeks, when I'll be driving through the city he lives in. So much of what I do with these machines is based on my travel patterns!


Here's a photo back from April when I got it. The one in question is in the center with the "Mac 4" sticker.




When I first received it, it was exhibiting a "sad mac" on boot. It came with a couple of 1mb 8-chip sticks of RAM, so I swapped them out with the four 256kb sticks that I pulled out of my SE FDHD, and that fixed the problem! No more sad Mac. Now, I have the standard list of things to do to get the machine fully restored:


  • Recap the analog board to promote general health and long-life
  • Clean analog and logic boards
  • Install battery tray and battery
  • Clean and retrobrite case
  • Clean and lubricate floppy drive


As of yesterday, I've received new caps for the analog board, so I'll tackle that straight-away. I've also ordered a new PRAM battery and tray (I don't remember if it needs a tray or not).


The real challenge, given the timeframe that I have to work with, is going to be getting the retrobrite done. In the past, I've done hydrogen peroxide cream in sunlight, but I've found that the cream is pretty risky as it can produce streaking. Cream under a UV lamp indoors is slower and safer (you can refresh the cream every 6 hours or so), but still not completely safe. The safest method I've found is full submersion in liquid hydrogen peroxide, but this works best outdoors on hot days. Right now... it's about 50 degrees outside. So here's what I'm going to try: I've ordered a fish aquarium heater that is supposed to hit 97 degrees. I doubt it can maintain that temperature outdoors, but I might test that with plain-ol' water in the driveway. If that doesn't work, I'll bring it indoors and see how hot it gets for potential use with a UV lamp. If THAT doesn't seem to work, I'll probably revert to using a UV lamp and hydrogen peroxide cream.


This will also serve as a bit of an experiment, as I have an SE/30 (HACK HECK'N YES ZOMG!!!!!) that needs retrobrite this winter as well.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have seen in other recent threads that using oxyclean, water, and heat will

work and that the UV exposure is not necessary...this could work for you.


im going to try the submersion method in front of my wood stove...that will be a good 120 degrees right there.

Edited by LaPorta

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The bottom of the EKII is "normal." The mouse got way too bright and chalky

Also, not easily translatable, but the button got boogered, too. Somehow there was pressure "down" and it stuck in perma-click position. I kinda fixed it with a hot air gun and some experiments.


Also, the awkward corner that got missed part way through...

Edited by jessenator

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, I'm back! And I have some good news: the restoration went flawlessly, and I successfully delivered it to my friend. Want to hear the whole story? Okay, here we go!




Here's where we were last time I updated the thread.




The machine was pretty dirty and had some stickers and old tape residue, but overall was in pretty great shape.






The first step was to pop the back off and discharge the CRT. I've done a lot of these black-and-white compacts now (Plus, SE, Classic II, and SE/30), and I always let the machine sit with the power off for at least 4 hours before following the discharge procedure. I've never heard even a tiny snap - the bleeder resistors that the SE, Classic II, and SE/30 have apparently make quick work of that residual current. I don't use an in-line resistor either; just a wire with alligator clips and a long screwdriver.




In about 5 minutes after the discharge procedure, the Mac looked like this. I'm getting REALLY quick at tearing these down!




Now that it's all torn down, I want to get started on retrobrite right away, since I literally had less than 48 hours to complete this restoration. The speaker on the front needs to come out, but it's literally melted into place in two corners.




My $5 Hakko flush-cutters make quick and clean work of that. I'll hot-glue the speaker back into place later on.




The next step to prep for retrobrite is to pop out the Apple logo. I ruined one of these on a keyboard once... the red bleached to white during the retrobrite process. I think it was the heat and sunlight that got it.


I remove them with my special wireless router reset tool, e.g. a paperclip. I gently push from the back to remove the badge. I've only damaged one like this when I used something too sharp, and it threatened to poke through the color. The paperclip is blunt so it works fine.




Let's have one last look before we start cleaning.




I've seen much worse!




Beneath the sticker is a nice sneak peek at what the plastic originally looked like. I do know that this machine came from Albertson College here in Idaho. I believe the school has changed names now.




This picture isn't great... but it does technically meet the "post-cleaning" photo requirement. I cleaned these the usual way: dishwasher soap, a toothbrush, and a bunch of elbow grease. For stubborn sticker and tape residue, I used isopropyl alcohol on a paper towel. This is probably one of the cleanest Macs I've restored, it just didn't take much work!





I wanted to get retrobrite started as quickly as possible due to my time constraints. If you've seen my restorations before, you know that I break retrobrite up into a few main methods:

  1. Full submersion in liquid in sunlight (fast, safe)
  2. Cream covered with plastic wrap in sunlight (fast, very risky)
  3. Cream covered with plastic wrap under a UV lamp (slow, slightly risky)

Since winter is definitely here in Idaho, #1 is basically out. When the liquid is diluted with some water in a big plastic bin, heat seems to be very important for making stuff happen. #2 would work, but I find this method to be very risky; anything that dries out under the plastic wrap bleaches too bright, and can't be removed. As a result, I avoid this method at all costs. #3 works well, but takes at least 24 hours and can cause minor but correctible marbling if your peroxide cream isn't even. This happened on my SE FDHD, which had some brown "blotchy" stuff on the side that I was able to almost completely correct with more hydrogen peroxide cream and time under the UV lamp.


I experimented with method #1 a bit by purchasing a very cheap $15 aquarium heater that claimed it could get up to 97°F, and putting that in my retrobrite container (just with plain water for the test). Sitting in the driveway, I could only hit about 80°F after a few hours, but I didn't test much more than that. I'm keeping this trick in my back pocket, but for now, I decided to go with the tried and true method #3, which is:

  • A CFL "lizard lamp" from the pet store, which emits UV light
  • A large cardboard box lined with tin foil and a way to suspend the lamp
  • "Salon Care" 40-proof hydrogen peroxide cream from Sally Beauty, evenly and liberally brushed on with a paintbrush
  • Parts covered with plastic wrap, as airtight as feasible

I exposed the parts for 8 hours one day, refreshed the cream before bed, and then let the parts for overnight. So 8 hours, refresh, then 12 hours. I think that refresh in the middle is super important, as it helps you keep things evenly exposed to hydrogen peroxide.




With the retrobrite doing it's thing, it was time to turn my attention to the floppy drive.





After a quick visit to the air compressor in the garage, it looked like this. I always avoid hitting the drive with full air pressure, especially around the read/write heads and delicate flex cables.




I always pop out the eject motor first to make sure there's no old grease in there that could cause it to bind and break a gear. It's just two 2.5mm screws, but I always apply LOTS of downward force on the screws when I break them loose; I've rounded off the phillips heads before.




After carefully releasing a couple of the little black clips, the internals are revealed. I swabbed them out with some alcohol, but overall they looked pretty good. I added a couple of drops of Teflon Silicone Lubricant. I've been using this stuff on my 3d printer linear rails for like... 8 years now. Works great for stuff like this.




After referencing the drive disassembly guide by What's Up TK Here again, I took apart the drive. Sometimes I go crazy with Isopropyl alcohol in here, completely hosing down the drive, scrubbing with a toothbrush, and rising with more alcohol... but this time I just swabbed things out with q-tips. Then, I lubricated stuff with more Dupont Silicone lubricant, reassembled the drive, and checked it for smooth operation with a bad floppy disk.




The next morning, I pulled the case out of the UV box, removed the plastic wrap, and cleaned off the peroxide cream, and...




Beautiful. Retrobrite is done on this machine! I always use the plastic underneath the Apple badge as a control, and the difference here is super duper marginal.




Time for reassembly!




A couple dabs of hot glue hold the speaker in place.



CRT, then the chassis, then the drives... I did hit the CRT with some Windex before installing it.




Next, the analog board!




HEY. What about that analog board recap that I promised?! Well... I'm out of time. Fortunately, my friend who is getting the machine is fully capable of pulling the board and sending it to me for a recap if needed.


Ew, the power switch is gross. Can't have that.




Ah, much better! I may have got a bit overzealous with the alcohol and scrubbing though. Easy to do.




We're getting close... but another thing this machine needs is a new battery and battery tray. I bought both from RetroFixes.com. They have great prices, fast shipping, and great customer service. Here's the new tray, almost ready to go in:




...and here it is soldered from the bottom. It doesn't matter which pads you use on each end, as each respective end is connected. I'm not the best at soldering, but I can get the job done.




I finished reassembly and powered the machine on to do some testing, and was reminded that the CRT was slightly crooked. I decided to risk my life to fix this problem by touching a CRT while it was on.




I didn't get any exact photos, but here's the process that I used.

  1. I powered the machine off and unplugged it.
  2. I loosed the Phillips screw that clamps the yoke onto the tube, and made sure I could carefully rotate the yoke (see photo)
  3. I powered the machine back on.
  4. Touching only the plastic nub thingies, I carefully rotated the tube until the picture was straight (see photo).
  5. I powered the machine back off.
  6. I carefully snugged up the yoke clamp.
  7. Powered the machine back on to verify that it was correct.



At this point, all that was left was to wipe the hard drive, install System 7, get LocalTalk working, and load up a bunch of software!




Sadly, I didn't have time to get a real "post-restore" photo shoot done, but I did have time for this photo. The amount of Macs in my house had peaked, so I wanted to take the opportunity to get a picture of all of them. Sadly, I forgot about a friend's SE SuperDrive that is out in the garage!




Going from left to right:

  1. Plus, originally a 128k. Has a bad analog board or flyback. Retrobrite in early 2019, beige case though.
  2. Plus, completely works. Need to sell it. Retrobrite in early 2019, also beige.
  3. The Macintosh SE in this thread. Gone now, with my friend.
  4. Another Macintosh SE, retrobrite mid-2019. Delivered to another friend. 
  5. My prize SE FDHD. My very first Mac, but I've barely had it for a year. Retrobrite in December 2018. It has re-yellowed just a bit... but I still think the retrobrite was totally worth it!
  6. Classic II. Retrobrite a couple months ago. Was super yellow. Has re-yellowed a little bit, but again, worth doing.
  7. My newest addition: an SE/30! I haven't got this one booting yet. Heck, I haven't even wiped it down. Full restoration coming on that one soon.
  8. My PowerBook 160! It also needs a restore, namely new caps. But it does boot and run!

Okay, that's it for this restoration! Thanks for reading. Looking forward to your comments and questions about the process!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now