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Cleaning and maintenance of our consoles and computers


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Hi all,

 

Started to lineup my collection for some cleaning up, and I got to thinking that every time I go about doing something like this, it always ends up being a half-assed job...

 

Sure I open it up and blow some compressed air in it, but mostly out of ignorance I don't touch much anything else from fear of braking something... :(

 

So question time then. When/If you need to give your console/computer a nice thorough clean up, how do you go about doing it? Assuming the full thing where you open it up, maybe take it completely apart, etc:

 

- How do you fully clean your case and what do you use for it? (Include products, brands and where you buy it)

- What do you use for fully cleaning the insides? Air? Contact cleaners? Others? (Include products, brands and where you buy it)

- Do you / did you ever retrobright them? ( Include favourite formula, products and where you buy them)

- Anything else you do when giving them the makeover?

 

Thanks for your input!!

Edited by walterg74
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Any console with a fan can suck in dust, the minimal would be to clean out the fan vent ever so often. For a proper clean, pop the cover and dust out all components with a soft brush and a can of air. Some consoles are tricky to take apart and really is not needed, especially if there is no cooling fan. The Wii for example is a tricky disassemble, I replaced a dead Laser Eye, the insides were sparkling clean.

Wii Disassemble Laser Eye Replacement Guide - http://www.racketboy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=30455&p=621948#p621948

Edited by CRTGAMER
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When I restored a nasty Apple //e I removed each chip, and cleaned the pins with Deoxit that can be purchased at electronics shops. I put the mainboard in dishwasher with some Dawn soap. And rinsed with deionized/distilled water afterwards - the stuff old men put in their CPAP machines. And I used an air compressor with filter and dryer to blow away water. Sometimes I pre-wash spot areas with Coke soft-drink and or lemon/vinegar and baking soda after, for its acidic properties and its ability to shine dull metal.

 

I'll inspect all the solder joints and clean the connectors and reseat them

 

I use my own propriety mix of retrobright.

 

I also wash the housings and case, too, just on a short 5 or 10 minute cycle. Or just use a paintbrush in the bathtub with silkience shampoo.

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Still applies. If it's cartridge-based, you should NEVER need to open it so long as it's working. The NES, obviously, needs connector voodoo now and then, but Atari, Sega, SNES, N64... I've never opened one and see no need to ever do so. If anything, I'll take a vacuum hose and suck out any dust inside, possibly use some canned air to shake it up, then vacuum again, but even then, I only do that if I've had a problem.

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So question time then. When/If you need to give your console/computer a nice thorough clean up, how do you go about doing it? Assuming the full thing where you open it up, maybe take it completely apart, etc:

 

- How do you fully clean your case and what do you use for it? (Include products, brands and where you buy it)

- What do you use for fully cleaning the insides? Air? Contact cleaners? Others? (Include products, brands and where you buy it)

- Do you / did you ever retrobright them? ( Include favourite formula, products and where you buy them)

- Anything else you do when giving them the makeover?

 

Thanks for your input!!

 

On my personal systems I usually just give them a good wipe down with window cleaner and blow them out with compressed air, course I keep them clean in the first place

 

I buy "for parts not working" systems off ebay, get them working tidy them up and slap them right back on ebay as "very clean and working" , but they require a bit more work as there's usually a gallon of snot gluing a inch of filth onto the system

 

I usually take them apart and remove the electronics, then they go to the sink mixed with warm water, dish soap and AL's totally awesome degreaser (dollar tree) let them soak then scrub , rinse, and let air dry on a wire shelf out in the garage ... plastic coated stickers are usually unaffected, paper ones will of course disolve so be mindful if your into labels, I would not soak a cart case, they usually only need a good wipedown anyway.

 

I usually leave the circuit boards alone unless its something real nasty, its very hard to remove flux and even if you have a 5 gallon jug of high octane iso alchol to act as a bath and rinse like a shower you almost always make things worse (and yes I tried with a 5 gallon jug of 99.9% stuff when my company moved and didnt want to move a opened container in the middle of summer lol)

 

Yes I have retro brite-ed a few machines, I use a very weak mixture I call "the dollar tree mix" basically whatever power hydrogen peroxide they sell a quart for a dollar and their dollar tub of oxy clean

 

ill take hot tap water and add oxy clean until it stops dissolving, let that cool back down to not that hot and lay everything in a clear (as you can get its usually milky) disposable food container (dollar tree lol) you will want some heavy clear items to help weigh your parts down as the bubbles generated will float the parts out of the solution, dont use anything that could act as a lens, small flat glass items work well and guess what, its a dollar each at .... dollar tree lol

 

anyway I have a couple disposable 3 maybe 4 quart containers I fill them up with a couple quarts of the H2O2 and top off with the cooled oxy solution, leave in direct sunlight for the entire day (works best in summer months)

 

I like the liquid solutions better than the paste ones cause the water bath keeps the parts from baking and warping and since its in liquid its easier to mix up so you dont end up with spotting, course the dollar tree mix takes all day, hell sometimes 2 (its not going to hurt leaving it out in the back yard overnight lol) but its cheap, easy to find unlike high strength H2O2 and does the job .. eventually

Edited by Osgeld
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When I restored a nasty Apple //e I removed each chip, and cleaned the pins with Deoxit that can be purchased at electronics shops. I put the mainboard in dishwasher with some Dawn soap. And rinsed with deionized/distilled water afterwards - the stuff old men put in their CPAP machines. And I used an air compressor with filter and dryer to blow away water. Sometimes I pre-wash spot areas with Coke soft-drink and or lemon/vinegar and baking soda after, for its acidic properties and its ability to shine dull metal.

 

I'll inspect all the solder joints and clean the connectors and reseat them

 

I use my own propriety mix of retrobright.

 

I also wash the housings and case, too, just on a short 5 or 10 minute cycle. Or just use a paintbrush in the bathtub with silkience shampoo.

I was going to say about the exact same thing as Keatah here. Our brands vary slightly but I use nearly the same method.

 

Ill add a couple things. Protect labels and serial numbers. I cut pieces of thin plastic and tape it over the label before washing it. Make sure the tape doesn't stick to the the label. Sometimes there is no good way of doing this so you just have to take the time to do a good cleaning with q tips and tooth brushes.

 

Finaly I always finish it off with a wipe down of armor all. It makes the plastic glow, protects it, and replels dust.

 

My most used products are...

 

Rubbing alcohol

Goo gone

Armor all

Magic eraser

And I have used various products for removing scratches from auto's

 

Fun fact this scratch remover will remove light scratches from screens and if you use a toothbrush it will even remove permanent marker from textured surfaces without hurting the texture.

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There have been times I used a piece of Saran plastic food wrap plastic cut to just a little bigger than what I want to protect. Then I seal the edges with GE Silicone II. That rubbery stuff. It creates a band-aid like cover. After work is completed I just rub and peel it off. I always test on an inconspicuous spot if the material is new to me to be sure it doesn't mar or stain the finish.

 

To protect labels that were laser-printed and prevent the melted toner from being lifted. You can use tape, still, just apply it sticky-side up. And then a bigger piece around everything. This stops the sticky glue from touching the important printing.

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I don't trust myself to actually open anything up for cleaning (someone really needs to offer some sort of retro electronics 101 class- I'd go), so I only do basic contacts & casing maintenance. All new consoles get a thorough wipedown & possibly a spongebath with mild soap & water (depending on how bad they are.) After that it's just dusting- I got this bunny shaped dusting mitt from Daiso that I use now- it's a lot easier to get around the various curves and bumps with it. For contacts I do the usual isopropyl alcohol thing. I have vintage cart/system cart slot cleaners for NES, SNES, Genesis & Game Boy that I'll use on occasion. Otherwise, I wrap dry CD wipes around a plastic card, spritz a little iso, & use that to clean contacts.

 

The main thing I use that I never see anyone else with is lemon furniture polish. Doesn't have to be pledge, as long as it's lemon & foams. Good for dust (of course), gives an appearance boost to shelf-worn cases (not paper ones!), and acts as a mild adhesive remover. We've all had some dingus put price tags over labels on carts. This is what I use. Get the upper, plastic-coated layer peeled away (if it's got one), then spray over the remaining sticker, let it soak a bit, then rub with a soft cloth. You'll need to repeat it several times on labels because you can only soak a few seconds, but it'll work. If the sticker's just on plastic, you can let it sit as long as you want and get the gunk off in 1-2 runs.

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I build my own computers so I'm not afraid to open stuff up, but I don't think I've ever opened a console or computer just to clean it. Retro consoles especially should not get very dusty inside if they've been taken care of. They don't have fans and their cases are sealed, so whenever I *have* had to open something up for some other reason, I've found the insides basically 100% clean - or at least clean enough that I'm more likely to do damage than to make things any cleaner by attempting to clean it.

 

As for the externals, I actually just picked up a C64 today that was filthy, and I went through basically my standard cleaning regimen:

 

1) Disinfecting wipes all around (today I had to use Lysol cleaner and paper towels, but the idea is the same - kill any germs!)

 

2) Goof Off (or Goo Gone) to remove any tape or sticker residue; also works on *some* magic marker and other marks, but don't rub it hard because it can damage finishes

 

3) Windex or Lysol cleaner for a general cleaning and to remove the Goof Off/Goo Gone residue (it leaves an oily film otherwise)

 

4) Magic Eraser for any stubborn marks, like pen, marker or even light scratches that have filled with dirt

 

5) A toothpick wrapped in a paper towel and doused in Lysol cleaner to clean out any very thin ridges (a Q-tip works better if the ridges are wide enough, e.g. the Atari 2600 front case)

 

I wish I took before and after photos of the C64 I just bought, but it went from looking totally trashed to brand new with this process.

 

When using the Magic Eraser, it's important to just keep at it. These things can work miracles, but it's not always instant. It doesn't take a lot of pressure or elbow grease either - just patience. (In fact, elbow grease will just get the thing you're cleaning really wet.) I sat there lightly rubbing each mark on my C64 in different directions for about 10 minutes before they disappeared, then I moved on to the next one. But eventually, they were all gone.

 

I personally don't usually buy stuff that's in *really* bad shape; if you do then I guess you might need to clean the insides. I usually only buy stuff that I can see is externally dirty but that would clean up to like-new condition. That stuff is usually ok inside.

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I have not purchased a used console in about 10 years, but back when I was actively collecting 2600 systems from garage sales, etc., I would remove the circuit board from the case and wash the latter in the sink with dish soap. Some of them were quite grungy and dusty inside.

 

I never saw the need to clean the circuit board, other than perhaps a light dusting.

 

I sometimes buy framed art from thrift shops, and the glass and frame always gets a through wipe-down with paper towel soaked with glass cleaner before it gets hung on my wall.

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For the console, I usually just clean the outside, unless it's a system with a fan or if I hear something ratling inside. Or it it look so dirty outside that I feel like checking inside.

 

Depending on the system, texture and color, and general dirtyness, I use water and soap, (for black smooth plastic like the Megadrive) or bleach based cleaning agents for white grainy plastic systems.

 

On the other hand, I dissaemble the pads, always.

No matter how careful the previous owner was, you'll always find dirt between the two halves of the pad, maybe a bit (or sometime a lot :woozy: ) in the pad, under the D-pad and buttons.

In this case I usually go with crystal vinegar, that I also use to rub the rubber pad conductive parts and the pad's PCB.

As some other people mentionned, it's a good way to disinfect the pads. If you have it at hand, use chlorine based cleaning product. If bleaching have been used by hospitals for 200 years, it's good enough for you, too :grin:.

It can help to rince and clean again with soap to remove the stringent chlorine smell.

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