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Macintosh SE Clean-up


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I was recently given a machine by a friend that needs a bit of clean-up, so I thought I'd document it here for the fun of it. Apparently, my friend had a family member who purchased this machine along with an Apple Extended Keyboard II and an ImageWriter II. In this thread, I'll be looking at the machine itself, a regular Apple Keyboard II, and mouse.

 

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I have another friend who has been looking for a Mac like this, so it's going to get passed on to him. Before shipping it out, I decided to take some time on a Saturday afternoon to clean it up a bit.

The Macintosh SE is one of my favorites. They typically don't see capacitor failures on the logic board, and I have yet to see completely failed caps on an SE analog board. The batteries do blow up sometimes, but they don't seem to explode as often or as violently as they do on later machines like the Classic, Classic II, and SE/30. And of course, there's the unreliable SCSI hard drives that plague all Macs of this era... but other than the hard drive and PRAM battery, these SE's are bulletproof. I've even restored one that sat partially submerged for a significant amount of time. There's also a PDS slot, which can be populated with all kinds of stuff, including Ethernet cards.

The downsides: first, the standard Macintosh SE is stuck with an 800 kb floppy drive, which modern USB floppy drives cannot read or write too. You can plug a 1.44mb "SuperDrive" in (internal or external), but it will only work as a double-density drive - without the ROM of an SE FDHD or SE SuperDrive, it won't be able to read or write 1.44mb disks. You're also stuck with 4 MB of RAM, which realistically limits you to System 6.0.8.

Time for a quick test on the bench. Although it has a spinning SCSI hard disk, it powers right up! It also has 4 MB of RAM and a System 6 install.

 

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Let's look closer. Although the photos don't show it, the plastic is actually pretty white on this! The keyboard is a bit yellowed, but not bad. I won't do any retrobrite this time around - just a good cleaning. And as you can see, it needs it.

 

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First, I popped the back shell off. I just use a plastic hex handle that I printed ages ago, and a long Torx bit that I got at the hardware store. If you can find one of those, you don't need to buy a special "Mac Cracker". A long Torx bit and extension is plenty.

 

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Dusty!

 

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I hit the whole machine with the air compressor.


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Other than the dust (which is now gone), I found this machine to be very clean inside. You can tell that it was used by one owner in a residential environment.


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For a moment, I'm going to show you photos out-of-order. Instead of showing you what I did, I'm going to show you what you should do when disassembling any compact black-and-white Mac. If you need to do anything with the CRT or analog board (like disconnect the two from each other), you first need to discharge the CRT. This is super easy - all you need is a long screwdriver and a wire with alligator clips. Clip the screwdriver to the chassis, slide the screwdriver under the anode cap and touch the lead inside. This will discharge the CRT. Back in the day, Maximum PC told me that there would be a huge loud SNAP and a blue spark, but I have not found this to be true with these Macs. Starting with the SE, they have a resistor that discharges the CRT. I've never heard as much as a "click" from a spark. Still, we do this procedure to be safe.

 

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Next, before you disconnect any cables from the logic board, or try to remove the hard drive and floppy drive, it's a good idea to unplug the CRT neck board. It's super, SUPER easy to break the CRT neck, destroying the screen permanently. Even though that's not what I did here, I strongly encourage you to unplug the CRT neck board before going any further. This will greatly reduce the risk of you ruining your CRT.

 

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Now, you can pop the power, SCSI, and floppy cables out of the logic board, slide it up slightly, pivot it out, and disconnect the speaker wire. Then, you can access the four screws that hold the floppy and hard drive in place.


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Pivot the top of the hard disk and floppy disk bracket towards the CRT, and it will pop right out. Be very careful around the CRT neck!


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I noticed that the hard drive mounting holes didn't line up with the bracket, which is strange. This appears to be an Apple-branded disk from around 1991. This machine may have received a replacement or upgraded drive early in its life.


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Now we're back in chronological order. I removed the two screws near the top of the analog board, the screw for the ground lug, and the two screws near the bottom (or front) of the board. Then I could sneak the logic board out - but not without an awkward moment where I realized that the ground wire the CRT was still connected!
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With the analog board removed, the machine is pretty much torn down!
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After a handful of Torx screws, I had it completely torn apart. The first time I took one of these apart, it was pretty scary (especially the CRT), but these days, this only takes me about 10 minutes. 5 if I'm in a hurry (just be careful with that CRT neck).
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One last thing to do... before cleaning, I needed to remove the speaker.

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Diagonal cutters made quick work of it.

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Finally, please enjoy these two repeat photos, which our forum software will NOT remove no matter how much I try.

 

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Edited by PotatoFi
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Posted (edited)

Next, it was time to take apart the mouse and keyboard for cleaning.


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Four Phillips screws on the bottom are all it takes to split the mouse enclosure.


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Next, I removed the three Phillips screws inside, so I could pop the PCB out.


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With the mouse taken apart, I turned my attention to the keyboard. There are three Phillips screws along the front to remove.


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Then, I released on the clips along the back of the keyboard. I do this by inserting a small flat head screwdriver or plastic spudger...


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Then I rotate the screwdriver towards the work surface, freeing the clip.


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After removing the top cover, there are a few screws to take out on the inside. Three that hold the keyboard to a metal bar, and then a bunch of little Phillips securing the board to the bottom half of the keyboard housing.


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I never bother to disconnect the ribbon cables between the PCB and the keyboard. I just leave them together, and lift everything out of the enclosure.

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And with that, everything is completely taken apart and ready for cleaning! This photo makes everything look fairly yellow... but it's not.

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Edited by PotatoFi
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Next, I got the parts outside to scrub them down.

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As usual, I used Dawn dishwasher detergent and a toothbrush.

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I hit them all with the air compressor, and then let them air dry for a bit.

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I think they came out pretty nice! There were a few very small black scuffs here and there... but since this machine is in such nice shape, and since scrubbing with paper towels and baking soda removes a tiny bit of texture, I decided to just clean it with soap and water.

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The speaker removal reminded me... I'm guessing the reason why they were sealed on like so was probably for vibration control, so it could be a good idea to do an audio frequency response test after reinstalling the speaker.  Well anyways, I should probably just wait and see how you do the reinstall.

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Once everything was dry, it was time to reassemble! First, I dropped the keyboard back into the enclosure and put all of the screws back.

 

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I was SUPER lazy with this keyboard. I didn't even bother to remove most of the keycaps. Instead, I just used paper towels and some q-tips to clean everything. It's not perfect, but it looks pretty good.


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Ewww, the mouse connector is gross. Let's fix that.


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I think these connectors are sealed up pretty well, so I scrubbed it with some soap and water (light on the water). I've used alcohol here too - both work just fine.


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Mouse is done! It looks basically perfect now.

 

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Now, back to the Macintosh SE itself. To answer @quorten's question, I always just secure these with a couple of dabs of hot glue. Today, I decided to use some E6000 adhesive. I've used it for shoe repair in the past, and it stays very flexible. As for the sound profile of these speakers... they basically chime, beep, and quack, so I can't say I worry about this very much. They've always sounded exactly the same when I reassemble them.


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With the chassis installed, it's starting to look like a Mac again.
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Before reinstalling the analog board, I hit the inside of the screen brightness potentiometer with the air compressor while turning it back and forth. I've had trouble with dirt making these unreliable, but so far, I've found that flushing them with Isopropyl Alcohol while turning the knob back and forth works wonders.
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One of the last things to do here is to service the floppy drive. Last time my friend and I used it (which was a couple of years ago, at least), it worked fine, but I like to take them apart and clean them to avoid stressing the ejection gears. I've seen broken gears before, but I've never personally seen one break on a drive that has been cleaned and lubricated, so I always do this as part of my cleaning process.
 

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Not the worst I've seen... but not great.


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After hitting it with the air compressor (while taking care around the read/write heads), I removed this little plastic tab to start taking apart the drive.


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Next, I moved this part, and moved some other part on the drive (I can never remember which), which causes the upper plate to "snap down".

 

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After removing this spring (and the one on the other side), I can carefully lift the upper plate and assembly away from the drive.


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Next, I removed these four little washers that hold the lower sliding plate to the drive. I think I ended up using some needlenose pliers here - the tweezers just weren't grippy enough.


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I also removed the eject gearbox, which I always use my impact driver with a #1 Phillips bit to do. I've rounded out the Phillips head on those screws before, trying to break them loose. The impact driver keeps me from repeating that. I removed the plastic cover to inspect the gears, and they look great. I blasted all of the dust out with an air compressor, and dropped in a few dabs of lubricant. 

 

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Speaking of lubricant, I used this stuff, which @erichelgeson mailed me awhile back along with a floppy drive and a spare 3D-printed eject gear. I like it a LOT better than white lithium grease, and I like that it's a bit sticker than the Teflon Silicon Lubricant that I used to use before.


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Here's the drive all lubricated and reassembled. I don't go crazy with the lubricant, but I always do the read/write head lead screw, r/w head linear rails, the four rollers on the sides, and the slidey bits with the washers. I always test it with a dead floppy disk to make sure it's not going to get lubricant onto them. I look for my disks to eject easily and smoothly.

 

If you look closely, note that the little plastic clip that holes the r/w head up is not installed correctly. I caught that after snapping this photo.

 

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With the floppy drive reinstalled in the bracket, I decided to spend a moment fixing the janky hard drive, which you might remember has misaligned holes for the mounting screws.


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I didn't want to drill new holes... it's likely that this machine will get a BlueSCSI before too long anyway. I decided to 3D print a small block of plastic, and double-side tape it to the hard drive. This will keep it from sitting at an angle and flopping around during shipping.


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Next, I reinstalled the hard drive bracket, reinstalled the logic board, and plugged in the neck board. It's done!


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Well... almost. I decided to use my RaSCSI (in my 3D printed RaSCSI case, shameless self-promotion here) to back up the contents of the hard drive for my friend who gave the machine to me. I LOVE having the RaSCSI in my toolkit for stuff like this.


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And that's where we'll leave it for now! Next, I'll wipe the hard drive and install System 6.0.8. Finally, I'll load it up with software before shipping it out for my friend.
 

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