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Retrobright Time! - HP Vectra VL5/166 - ...

Retrobright Time! - HP Vectra VL5/166 - Part 2 - 2021/10/18

Oct 19, 2021

Over the weekend I was deciding which retro computing restoring project to continue to relax a bit and after doing a printer teardown (will post that later), decided to return to my HP Vectra, since it was presenting almost no problem regarding functionality but was needing some TLC in the aesthetic department, as you can see in here were the original color can be seen.

How to proceed? Well, when choosing what retrobright method was about to use the first problem was that panel show above. The power button base is part of the case, and you can remove the switch if you want to submerge the piece in a solution, but I really recommend to NOT remove this types of switches and only do it when they are already broken because those type of buttons has spring and little plastic tabs that are VERY easy to break. So I decided to go with the H2O2 paste to avoid taking that apart and do my best to avoid marbling.

I started first with the panel where the power button is since it needed the most work of all the different plastics. While that was starting and pulled apart the rest of the front of the case. Luckily the part of the case were the model is and was presenting so yellowing was removable, also the badge itself which save me some headaches since that piece didn´t need retrobrighting.

The grey parts around the floppy and CD-ROM units were also very easy to remove, this machine was mostly focused on easy servicing (how times have change!) and were presenting also some yellowing.

So by day two I went to town with all these plastics pieces, and while that was baking in the sun, I turned my attention to the floppy drive, A MPF920F manufactured by Sony for HP. Also to my luck the piece inside that prevented its use was only a small cardboard piece, probably from some child puzzle of board game.

I forget to take a couple of additional pictures since I was so focused on the process, but after that I went to remove the front of the floppy drive since was quite yellowed compared with the original color and the grey pieces that were already retrobrighted. The panel with the power button was needing a second pass of retrobright anyway.

While that was in the “oven”, I went to check the rest of the case that is not yellowed but rather tarnished. The plastic has that “soft rough” texture that is very nice but in the end a trap for anything lingering the air like pollution or smoke. The problem there is that if you use something abrasive, like the Magic Eraser sponge, you can remove also the texture and end with a smooth and shiny plastic and we don´t want that! 

So I went with that Michelin product first, after a suggestion of somebody else in a FB retro computing group did about using a specialized degreaser and it did quite the difference! Thanks MAC Lubricantes for having these products near my home! Tested it also in a metal case and works even better!

But thanks to the texture of the plastic that product cannot go all the way, so I also tested… baking soda, water and a toothbrush! I didn´t have much to test in that moment but did a test in the frontal edge were the tarnish was more noticeable and wow! That did the trick! As seen in the pic!

I have to revisit the rest of the case with more baking soda to complete to job but the HP Vectra is looking almost like a new computer! Regarding the OS; that Windows 98 installation is working rather nice, so I think that until I build something else, this one is going to be my Win98 machine.

Here a few comparative shots of the before and after!

See you all in the next post! Remember to leave a "like" and any and all coffee are most than welcome!

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