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AppleToTheCore.me

I'm a total Apple addict, as you might tell.

LC III Restoration - Peroxide & Oxy Booster

I took the LC III to work to fill some dead space in my cube. It’s starting to look an Apple museum. That’s OK by me. My coworkers think I’m nuts.

I thought it would look really cool to have a vintage, old-school, historical Mac at my side. After setting the LC III up in my cube and seeing it under some pretty decent lighting, I have to conclude that it looks like crap because of the yellowing that happens to old plastic. It doesn’t look like a vintage piece of historical computing. It looks like an old junker. I need to fix that.

I have been researching the possibility of reversing the signs of aging; and I’m not talking about Oil of Olay. I’m taking about removing the ugly yellowing of plastic computer cases that happens over time. As it turns out, there is a logical scientific explanation for why this happens. It has a lot to due with chemistry, flame retardants, and UV lighting. I’m not going to go into all the specifics, as it’s covered elsewhere. I don’t want to sand it, and I don’t want to paint it. Basically I don’t want to do anything destructive to the finish.

After much research, I have found that I’m not the only one that wants to remove the yellowing from old plastic. Many vintage computer collectors have been hard at work figuring this out.

As it turns out, a simple mixture of hydrogen peroxide, “oxy” cleaner, and exposure to UV light reverses this yellowing. Brilliant! I think I’ll start with a few keyboard keys as a test. I don’t have any 20-30% peroxide in the house, so for now, I’m trying out some “Oxy” carpet cleaner that has peroxide in it. I popped off a few keys from the keyboard and have them soaking in a cup of carpet cleaner. I’ll see what they look like in 8 hours.

Here’s a few keys soaking in some carpet cleaner. I have them sitting in the sun to speed things up. We’ll see what they look like in 8 hours.

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In the meantime, I’ll take this opportunity to clean the keyboard. There’s enough gunk under the keys to be considered a health violation. Nasty.

nasty

Half an hour later, and it’s all clean. I wouldn’t eat my lunch off it, but it’s pretty clean.

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I’ll soak these later once I have tried out the carpet cleaner trick. If that doesn’t work, then I’m going to have to look for stronger peroxide.

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As far as the keyboard casing goes, it does show some serious signs of aging. You can see that the case is not as yellow in the spots where the keys cast a shadow on the case.

yuck 2

The mouse is very dirty too. This is what it looked like after I cleaned it with Windex. Nasty.

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DAY 2 - I let those keys soak overnight in 3% peroxide and “Oxy” carpet cleaner with peroxide (top) and and I don’t see any change compared to the keys I didn’t soak (bottom). They are a little cleaner, but I don’t think they are any less yellow than they were.

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I took a ride down to the local salon supply store and picked up a jug of Vol 40 peroxide (12%). It’s too bad they didn’t have anything stronger. I also swung by the grocery store and picked up a bottle of “Oxy Clean” liquid spray. I can’t find power anywhere. The Oxy Clean doesn’t say it has TAED in it, but I hope it’s OK since they advertise the fact that you can “see” it clean. (Some reference to the oxygen-bubble-cleaning action I guess.)

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I let the keyboard and mouse plastics soak in the sun all day. It’s been a good 10 hours and I don’t see much of a difference, if any. Maybe since the peroxide is only 12% and the Oxy stuff isn’t any good it’ll take a lot longer than I though. I’ll let it soak another day and have another look.

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Well, it's been 3 days that the LC III keyboard and mouse having been soaking in the 12% H2O2 soup. I didn't think it had done anything since I didn't use the proper Oxy booster and I didn't have a proper UV bulb. To my surprise I actually got some decent results. You really can see a difference!

Look how clean that mouse is compared to the "before" image! You can totally see how much lighter the keyboard is. Sure, it's still a little yellow, but nowhere near the yellow it used to be. Look at the contrast between the case and the keyboard. It's very noticeable.

Another 3 days in some fresh peroxide and this thing would probably look awesome. I imagine with the proper booster and a UV light and I would have had better results in 8 hours or less. But this definitely proves that with just H2O2, sunlight and nothing else but time, you can get nice results!

Time to try the case. You can see how yellow it is compared to the white piece of paper.

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I picked up some 100 vol peroxide (30%) at the salon supply store. I also found some Oxy powder. I hope this is the right stuff. And some corn starch to thicken it up.

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I also picked up some nice UV black lights at the Halloween store for $15 each. I'll let this sit for a few hours and see how it goes. The first attempt at the mix didn't come out as thick as I had hoped, but it is foaming up under the black lights. I'll see how this stuff works and I'll try a thicker batch later.

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Nice, no need to try a thicker batch. This stuff is as thick as hair gel now. It's been about three hours and it is so hot that it's warping the bottom of the container. I took off the lights for a half and hour and stuck the bucket in 1" of cold water in the bath just to cool it down. I now have the lights back on.

It's amazing. What was a soapy white liquid is now a hot, clear gel. Very easy to work with. Just don't touch the stuff. I cant imagine what it would do to my skin. I just keep flipping the computer around being sure to dip all the sides in the gel. I'll give it another 3 hours and then I'll rinse it off and check the results. That will put me at about midnight. I'll do another dip tomorrow if it needs it.

Nice, no need to try a thicker batch. This stuff is as thick as hair gel now. It's been about three hours and it is so hot that it's warping the bottom of the container. I took off the lights for a half and hour and stuck the bucket in 1" of cold water in the bath just to cool it down. I now have the lights back on.

Start

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~ 3 hours

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~ 8 hours

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It's amazing. What was a soapy white liquid is now a hot, clear gel. Very easy to work with. Just don't touch the stuff. I can’t imagine what it would do to my skin. I just keep flipping the computer around being sure to dip all the sides in the gel. I'll give it another 3 hours and then I'll rinse it off and check the results. That will put me at about midnight. I'll do another dip tomorrow if it needs it.

Well, it's the next morning and this stuff is now as thick as it can get. I didn’t bother taking it off last night. It let the whole thing sit overnight.

I washed it off with the garden hose this morning. It was almost like the frosting you'd get on a donut. Anyway, it's drying outside right now. One thing I did notice is that the solution ate away the paint on the Apple logo. So I am kind of bummed about that. Maybe I can repaint it.

Judging by the before and after pictures, you can conclude that this works. Peroxide and Oxy indeed do one hell of a job of removing the yellowing from old plastic. But it also has the potential to bleach plastic, almost making it brittle and ashy looking.

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I should have washed this stuff off at midnight last night. I think the extra 8 hours cooked this thing. Its looks way too white, almost bleached.

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I didn’t have any plans to have this machine out on display or anything. So this serves as a proof of concept, a trial run. I’d hate to ruin something like a Mac Plus or Mac SE without at least trying this stuff out on something else first.

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I also now know that I have to take steps to preserve the Apple logo too.

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