Commodore C128 RetroBrite

A quick look on the ‘ol weather widget (I’m rapidly becoming ‘one’ with my iPhone!) shows that we may see plenty of sunshine this weekend and if correct, will be perfect for another little project I want to start.

Before you run off screaming, oh no, I can’t stand anymore Cucumber pictures, what I had in mind was a bit of tinkering with an old computer.

This time around it’s my Commodore C128.

I’ve had this for some years now which has, until recently always been used as a gaming device to play C64 games (in c64 mode of course). However, I’m re-discovered tinkering around with coding and find the extra ram helps and also that the keyboard is much nicer to type on than the C64.

As part of this project, I want to install two things. Firstly a SD2IEC storage device and secondly a JiffyDOS eprom. I’ll talk more about both of these in later post.

Sadly, my C128 isn’t the prettiest example you might have seen and over the years has succumbed to that horrible yellowing that is common with light colored computers of yesteryear.

My C128…yuck! (actually, it’s a little difficult to see here how yellowed the case is).


So…before I install  new toys inside, the outside could do with a bit of a cleanup and restoration. I have great success with an alternative RetroBrite product  (see blog post – ) so I thought I’d try it again.

First thing to do was to disassemble the case by removing the screws on the bottom of the case.

Here I’ve removed the top case and placed to one side. As you can see from the state of our table cloth, there was quite a lot of dust and grime inside…ew!

Next came the keyboard. Again, very easy to remove by simply unscrewing the fixing screws and gently disconnecting the keyboard wiring harness from the motherboard.

Strange how some keys have yellowed more than other!

With the keyboard removed, the motherboard is almost visible. Just need to lift off the metal static shielding.

Be careful here, some of the metal shielding is very sharp!


Apart from a little dust, the mainboard is still in pretty good condition and just needs a good blast with the a can of compressed air from my tool box.

Next it the tricky bit – safely removing all of the keys from the keyboard without damaging any of them.

To be honest, I could RetroBrite the keyboard as is and in one complete unit but I found that when doing this on a yellowed Acorn Electron, any excess RetroBrite which had dried deep in between the keys was a right nightmare to remove afterwards.

Another thing worth mentioning here is when removing keys, take a few photo’s first so when you’re putting everything back together, you’ll know what key go where. I’ve learnt this the hard way 🙂

Here’s one of the many closeup ‘reference’ photo’s I’d taken.

To remove the keys, I used a large flat headed screwdriver, padded with a little bit of kitchen paper towel wrapped around the flat edge and starting with the top row gently lifted each key. Under each key, there’s a spring which I placed in a jar for safe keeping. The Spacebar, Return and Enter keys have multiple springs and also have little metal bars that need to be carefully removed. Tweezers helped here!

If you don’t want to damage any keys, take your time, this can be a long process but patience is rewarded!

With all parts ready, time to give the top/bottom case and all those keys a light scrubing in a bowl of warm soapy water.

With everything cleaned and dried that’s this part finished so I’ve stored them away until the weekend. Hopefully, if my iPhone app is correct we should be in for some sun and I can start the RetroBrite process of restoring the plastic to its former glory. I’ll need approx 4-5 of bright sunshine for this so fingers crossed!


One response to “Commodore C128 RetroBrite

  1. I am just about to start on much the same adventure – cleaning up a C128. I have the case open and keyboard off easy enough, but I’m struggling with getting the metal shielding off – any hints for getting that blighter off and the board out? Or is it just a matter of persevering until it comes off?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s