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RetroBrighted SE/30 System


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Folks, I did all the work this past Spring, but it took me until now to upload the photos to my Flickr account. Simply put, I used both liquid and gel versions of RetroBright on my entire SE/30 setup, including HD20, mouse, and IIgs keyboard. I have prepared 14 photos with detailed commentary under each photo for you here:

 

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=RetroBright&w=66071596%40N00

 

If the name wasn't so great, I'd rather call it LumpyBright, for it was our own LumpyDog who got me interested in doing this job. Lumpy answered all my questions on this forum many months ago, and he truly laid the groundwork for my to achieve success in my deyellowing mission. The folks behind "RetroBright" are all good people, but they use concentrations of H202 that are just beyond reason. As my photos show (and the photos of LumpyDog), you only need cheap, drug store 3% peroxide to do the job, in conjunction with some OxiClean. Indeed, using a tad more OxiClean seems to work better and safer and cheaper than highly concentrated H202 mixes.

 

Also, I have not found anyone who had tried corn starch in their gel version of RetroBright, so perhaps I've charted new waters here. The fact is, corn starch works great. And it doesn't seem to have the problems that others on the RetroBright Wiki mentioned having with their gelling ingredients. I simply needed to reapply my mix throughout the day. But the good news is that it only took 1 day (9am to sundown) to accomplish what you see in the photos.

 

Enjoy. And if you have any questions or desire clarifications, I will be happy to add new info under my Flickr photos for everyone.

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The folks behind "RetroBright" are all good people, but they use concentrations of H202 that are just beyond reason. ... you only need cheap, drug store 3% peroxide to do the job, in conjunction with some OxiClean. Indeed, using a tad more OxiClean seems to work better and safer and cheaper than highly concentrated H202 mixes.

 

The irony is that the OxiClean actually increases the percentage of H202 in the mix as it breaks down, so the more you add the higher the concentration of H202. So, more is obviously better, but clearly there is a tipping point of negative returns.

 

By the way, where did the corn starch come from? Was that your own substitute for whatever they use on RetroBright? I don't recall as the idea of the gel never interested me much due to the poor and streaky results they were getting with it (of course some of that could be attributed to the high H202 content).

 

Also, where did you finally get your pure H202 without stabilizers and antiseptics (and which was not obscenely expensive)? LOL That seemed to be the single major obstacle you faced. Do they now think you are making bombs in Japan? LOL

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Mac128, I went with the 3% Oxydol over-the-counter stuff with "basic stabilizers." I determined that those stabilizers were pretty much the same as what are found in the US grade 3% bottles of peroxide which LumpyDog successfully used, so what did I really have to fear? But it is confusing over here in Japan because there are various grades of Oxydol, some with expensive pain killers that we clearly do not need when deyellowing plastics.

 

To answer your other question, my use of corn starch came from the mention of it on the RetroBright Wiki itself:

http://retr0bright.wikispaces.com/Retr0Bright+Gel

 

They simply state that no one has tried corn starch as a gelling agent before. But I did see from that same web page that someone used Arrow Root, which isn't much different from corn starch when it comes to thickening liquids, so I gave the corn starch a try. Heck, I had a bag of it right in my home, so I didn't need to trouble myself with purchasing any other ingredients, above and beyond the hydrogen peroxide.

 

Lastly, I did not experience any streaking whatsoever. But here are my two keys to success in avoiding that:

 

1) Clean the plastics with a strong dishwashing liquid and allow them to dry.

2) Use 3% (i.e., low concentrations) of H202.

3) When using the gel form of RetroBright, reapply it at least once an hour during the entire time you have the plastic under UV light. And brush the plastic surface good when you do the reapplication because the previous application will have solidified a bit and you want to brush that away and apply the fresh gel to the plastic surface.

 

The only other thing I should add is that I made small amounts of the gel throughout the day, as opposed to making a single large batch. I don't know if this helped or not, I am just stating it for the record. Perhaps heating the H202 causes it to break down faster? And so by making small batches as I needed it, I always had the strongest form of the gel possible? Again, I don't know, but I wish to mention exactly what I did so anyone following in my footsteps can get the same results as you see in my photos.

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I am still worried about whether this method will make the plastics brittle, or has some other long-term consequence which no one knows about yet. When it's been 2-3 years with no problems reported, then maybe I'll try it. This is kind of like the board-washing thing which I was skeptical about, but I've board washed 3 or 4 machines by now and they still work. :p

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For the skeptics and hold-outs...

 

CAN RETROBRIGHT REALLY MAKE PLASTICS BRITTLE?

Let's think about it logically. How can cleaning the surface (0.1mm worth?) of a piece of plastic penetrate through it completely such that it becomes noticeably brittle? All the plastics I cleaned are quite thick (1mm or thicker). And I found that cleaning one side of the plastic does not cause the opposite side to become clean. In other words, if you dip the plastic in the liquid form of RetroBright and aim only one side of that plastic to UV light, only the UV light side gets cleaned/deyellowed. Alternatively, if you use the gel version of RetroBright only on one side of yellowed plastic and then expose all sides of that same plastic to UV light, only the RetroBright side gets deyellowed. In addition, I found that any black marks on the plastic or very dirty areas that I did not thoroughly wash off before RetroBright deyellowing remained on the plastic after deyellowing, proving that the deyellowing process is so weak that it cannot even penetrate most felt tip pen marks (at least, not with the 3% peroxide solutions that I used). And if you think that the sheer act of "submerging plastics" into a liquid solution could make plastics brittle, consider that I used the gel form of RetroBright on all large pieces of plastic (i.e., most plastics I deyellowed) which means I used it only on the surface of one side of the plastic -- how then could the plastic become brittle?! So my contention is that RetroBright (with low concentrations of peroxide) doesn't penetrate 100% through the plastic, hence it cannot make the plastic "brittle like glass" as you must be thinking.

 

Now let's think about it practically. Has anyone noticed that I have a RetroBrighted HD20 sitting under my very heavy SE/30? If the plastic had become dangerously brittle due to RetroBright deyellowing, you would expect that the sheer weight of my SE/30 sitting atop it (especially with my 6 and 3 year old children beat on the top of the SE/30) would cause at least one hairline crack somewhere on the HD20, right? Wrong. It's as strong as ever. Please also consider that I did some significant flexing of plastics when I put my SE/30 case back together, expecially the back side of the SE/30 case and that HD20. I've pulled off and put on the back side of my SE/30 housing a number of times since deyellowing with no ill effects. I own a lot of vintage stuff, and there is one thing that I have found that makes plastics brittle -- TIME. So if you are worried about brittle plastics, start work on that time machine. The clock is your enemy, not RetoBright.

 

Conclusion. Simply put, if you are putting off deyellowing for fear of making your plastics brittle, you are missing out on one of the best reasons to own a piece of vintage computing equipment -- to make it look new again! Don't be the slothful man who worries about lions roaming the streets. Make some time on a holiday and give RetroBright a try. If you follow in my footsteps, you won't be disappointed. For I myself followed in the footsteps of our very own LumpyDog, and I certainly am pleased I made the time to do it.

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2 things have kept me from using retro bright

 

1) the specialty H202

2) the splotchy outcome on some projects

 

#2 can be dealt with by keeping on top of things and using a less strong mix, and you just solved #1

 

Im looking at my old school clicky style pc keyboard that I use, and before summer is up it will be de-yellowed, so thanks for the advice

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  • 1 month later...
it is confusing over here in Japan because there are various grades of Oxydol

I think I may finally have a grasp as to why the Japanese require a license to get large quantities of H202 or would otherwise look at you funny if you tried to buy large sums of it ... thanks torecent news stories, evidently common over-the-counter H202 is a standard ingredient along with acetone, common in nail polish remover, to make a fairly potent bomb. I can certainly see countries more exposed to such acts would be more restrictive with such common chemicals, in much the same way chemical fertilizers are closely monitored in the US (and most likely elsewhere).

 

So somebody walking out the door with a few cases full of H202 to de-yellow their Macs would very likely be the recipient of some reasonable suspicions, especially if they had the misfortune to be picking up a few bottles of nail-polish remover for their wife ... sad state of things.

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For the skeptics and hold-outs...

 

CAN RETROBRIGHT REALLY MAKE PLASTICS BRITTLE?

If the plastic had become dangerously brittle due to RetroBright deyellowing, you would expect that the sheer weight of my SE/30 sitting atop it (especially with my 6 and 3 year old children beat on the top of the SE/30) would cause at least one hairline crack somewhere on the HD20, right? Wrong.

 

Follow-up in a year or two, and then maybe I'll consider if there's still no reports of brittleness or cracking.

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Follow-up in a year or two, and then maybe I'll consider if there's still no reports of brittleness or cracking.

What's with the continued fears here? To me, this general attitude is not unlike the fellow in this thread who somehow thinks barely touching leaded solder will ruin his life. I am as protective of my old Macs as you could possibly imagine, and I don't want to die sooner than need be, but I don't think "living" is about staying inside the house with the doors and windows perpetually locked either. There are risks to everything in life, but soldering a few things here and there or RetroBrighting your vintage plastics is not the same as skydiving, folks.

 

So if we wish to talk about legitimate deyellowing fears, then "blooming" would be the primary one. But again, my method uses off-the-shelf 3% H202 which won't cause blooming even if you soak plastics in the liquid form for more than 24 hours. Blooming is caused by people who have zero patience. They want to see results in 1 hour, so they blast the plastics with bomb-making-grade 20-30% strength H202. That's just insane. Use the off-the-shelf H202 like I do and you will be fine. If you don't believe me, ask our very own LumpyDog, who is the man I credit for having gotten myself started in deyellowing with ultra-low-strength H202.

 

Deyellowing your vintage Mac's plastic will no more make it brittle or crack it than spraying it down with 409 (which I have been doing on Macs continually since 1984). It's not going to happen on plastics as thick as our Macs use. If you wish to prevent brittleness and cracking of polymers then stop time. Continual exposure to UV light and "the general aging process" are the real enemies here. But thankfully RetroBrighting lets you turn back the clock in terms restoring the surface color of plastics to its original state. Just follow my or Lumpy's recipe and give it a go. It really is worth it.

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All you are doing is taking off the very thin layer of yellowed exposed surface, which after a few years will yellow again anyway. The bad part is you can expose blotchyness and mold marks underneath (from the injection process) that look weird. I don't hear about people spraying their newly whitened machines with UV protectant film to keep the process from starting again.

 

Personally I like new looking machines, but other then a non abrasive scrub with oxy enabled soap I don't bother with a full chemical clean. As long as its not dirty and works I am happy, and I can do a "chemical peal" at some later date if I feal like it.

 

If you plan of cleaning and flipping it on ebay, in the short term it is probably worth the effort on rarer machines people want (like an SE/30). But just like how cleaned rare coins are worth much less then toned untouched ones I think original macs in the long term will be worth left more as is (if you are looking to profit eventually).

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  • 1 month later...

JDW:

 

Nice work! I saw your pictures and your mac/parts/pieces look fantastic! I've been away from these forums for the summer and was glad to return and see you had given it a try. The results are truly worth the effort.

 

Thanks for taking the time to post about your experiences..

 

Lumpy

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  • 68kMLA Supporter

Hmmm. The discussion about H2O2 makes me wonder what effect a solution of KNO3 would have...

 

For that matter, given that the Oxi-whatever produces H2O2 can you just dispense with the H2O2 and use Oxi-whatever in distilled water?

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