BBC Micro Computer – RetroBrite.

Here’s a close up of my  rather latest BBC Micro model B and as you can see, next to the shiny white of my compressed air cap, it’s rather yellowed with age 😦

I’ve got this latest computer from a car boot sale a few week ago where I spotted it lurking under one of the table amongst boxes of household junk. It  looked like it had been stored for a long time in the loft judging by it’s condition and the owner said that it hadn’t been tested for years. For £5 I thought it would be worth the gamble even if it’s just for spare parts.

Back home, swapped the plug and had a quick look  inside for obvious damage. Satisfied but still weary, I instinctively flinching when  I switched it on and bracied myself for a pop. The pop didn’t come, just the  familiar BBC start up beep!   What a pleasant surprised to find it working just fine and all of the keys appear to be responsive too.

So after a bit of a soak test I packed it up and placed it in my cupboard  until I had some free time to give the case a little attention.

Well, with the weatherman being spot on with his prediction for  an uncharacteristic scorcher of a weekend, yesterday I decided to get it out again and treat it to a bucket of RetroBrite…well, a small bowl.

First things first was to give it a nice clean inside and out to remove the worst of the grime. I used Mr Muscle Mildrew remover on the outer case to get rid of the dirt and  black scuffs and an air duster, Q-Tips and PCB cleaner inside on the main board inside.

I think this was home to something at sometime –  There’s so much crud inside!

You can see in the above picture that the keys are very dirty and have a large build up of grime underneath. It’s a shame the clear plastic trim with the Acorn owl logo is worn. Replacements can usually been found on eBay and various BBC enthusiast websites so I’ll be replacing this as soon as I can.

The keys simply pop off when prised gently allowing you to get to all the gunk underneath. Certainly a lot easy than with Commodores was there’s usually an explosion of springs flying everywhere 🙂

With the sun really shining now, time to tackle that gawd awful case.

The stuff I use isn’t actually ‘official’ RetroBrite, but this alternative is easily available off the shelf, cheap  and doesn’t require the mixing of nasty chemicals. I guess the results might differ in comparison to the official stuff but I’ve had some great results with this before so am happy to recommend it. Huge thanks to Mike (1200xl) for posting about this stuff on the RCM forums.

I’ve blogged about this alternative  before, so if you’re interested, please see  my previous posts for more details and pictures –

RetroBrite coated (thanks for picking it up for me hon xxx) and shrink wrapped to stop the solution from drying out too quickly in the sunshine. The BBC’s computer case has a raised texture therefore I put plenty on to ensure a good coverage.

Note – Being Peroxide, it’s best not to get it on your skin, clothes or table cloth so ensure you lay down plenty of newspaper… just  like m……oops!

Time to place the case halves out in the sunshine  and remembering to turn them around every hour  so that the sun shines on each side. I usually leave mine for about 4-5 hours on gas mark 7 🙂 You’ll need longer if the sunshine is broken with cloud cover though.

After a while (maybe an hour) you should see the yellowing starting to fade a little bit and the original colour (in this case – beige) starting to return.  Once it’s done, remove the shrink wrap and give the case halves a good hosing down and place somewhere to dry out.

All in all I’m quite happy with the results so far.  It might need another session at some stage though, especially around the corners but it’s certainly looking much better than before.

Here’s a Photoshop cut n paste of two images I’d taken before and afterwards so you can see the difference.




2 responses to “BBC Micro Computer – RetroBrite.

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