Commodore 64c Cleanup

The other week I was given a Commodore c64 model C that was, quite frankly in right disgusting state having been stored in a box buried in the pits of his garage for many years. It was unknown if it was working but I gladly took it with a view to using it as spare parts.

After scraping away most of the gunk from the outer case and removing the blackened screws. Yuck!


Things are not looking good are they!


After removing the main board, cardboard shielding, keyboard and casing I gave every thing a good blast outside with a can of compressed air.

Next, the cardboard shield was given a wipe with a damp cloth and then another clean with cloth sprayed with Detol mildew remover. This restored the silver sheen back to the cardboard.

Next was main board. For this I carefully sprayed on small amounts of PCB cleaner and cleaned each area with a dry cloth and Q-tips for the awkward bits. At this point I had no idea if the board was working therefore this part of the cleanup this might have been a waste of time.

Wow, you can actually see the components now that the dust and grease has been removed.


Time to see if it’ll work….my friend said it had been about 10 years since the last power on. The fuse wire seemed o.k and all capacitors hadn’t domed and there was no sign of damage on the board.

Using a working PSU here goes –

Hmm, not great but at least there was no puff of smoke šŸ™‚


After adjustments to the potts tuning screw on the video modulator our familiar boot screen returns!


Next, I treated the cassette, serial and cartridge ports to good clean using contact cleaner. I then powered it back up with my EasyFlash cartridge installed and ran one of the diagnostic utilities I’d previously copied to the cart. All tests were o.k so I disconnected and gave the whole main board another clean.

Back in the kitchen, I gave both halves of the outer casing a soak and cleaned with regular dish detergent and removed the stubborn scuffs with kitchen surface spray….lemon flavoured šŸ™‚

Like the case, the keys were all yellowed with age so the first thing to do was carefully remove then all from the keyboard board. I find a large flat headed screwdriver with the end covered with electrical tape works the best. Take your time and start from the top row and work carefully down. Any keys that don’t appear to come off easily it best to leave them, continue to remove the surrounding keys and return to the stuck key from a different angle.

With the keys removed and the key springs secured away in a bag, I gave them all a good bath.


Now that the keys have been removed I can get at all of that dust and grime left on the keyboard board.


Leaving all of the bits to air dry….and as you can see, although it’s clean again, the case is very yellowed. Time for a spot of RetroBrite. (see my previous blog post for specific details on what I use –

Here’s the top half of the case, with the RetroBrite painted on, covered with cling film and set out in the Autumn sunshine. Sunny days are few and far between at this time of year so I thought I’d give a my other Gameboy case the RetroBrite treatment too.


For the keys, I shrink wrapped and old breadboard first, covered each key with RetroBrite and then shrink wrap the whole lot making sure that air cannot penetrate and dry out the RetroBrite before it’s done it’s magic.


I left each part out in the sunshine for about 6 hours, turning them every hour or so to ensure that the sides can soak up the rays. Also, it’s best to check that the RetroBrite isn’t drying out and reapply if required.

Once complete, each part gets another wash, dried and put to one side ready for reassemble.

Starting to put the keyboard back together using a reference photo I’d taken earlier so I know which key goes where.


Everything reassembled and tested. Considering how it looked before I’m quite happy with it and another Commodore 64 is rescued.



8 responses to “Commodore 64c Cleanup

  1. Hey Jon, have a nice holiday? (or are you still there soaking up the rays)…and that, my friend is the secret, plenty of rays and keep turning your subject every half hour.

    P.s my C64c Kernal isn’t socketed, so will be desoldering to fit a new IC for the JiffyDOS rom hopefully this weekend. Should be fun!

  2. My friends and fellow colleagues at the Retro Computer Museum are simply outstanding at resurrecting completely dead retro kit. Jon in particular has rescued soooo many original arcade machine pcb’s.

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