Refurbishing my C128


I've started refurbishing my C128, it suffered a few years up in my attic, however all in all not in bad condition. I've watched a number of youtube videos showing how various enthusiasts disassemble and clean their cases, replace capacitors etc.. I've removed the mainboard with the rf shield intact and have started on cleaning my case with the intent to retrobrite the keys and case and am toying with the idea of replacing the capacitors as long as I have it apart. So far I've used dish soap and warm water to remove any loose dirt from the case itself, however I've found that some particles and scuffs seem to be a bit harder to remove. Some of the particles are very fine roof tile tar that got on the case when I had my house re-roofed and a stubborn black scuff on the bottom side of the case that doesn't seem to want to come off. I might try one of those Mr. Clean magic erasers. I'd also like to preserve the stickers when retrobrighting (the C128 label as well as the manufacturing label located on the bottom on the bottom of the case) and need to see if can find any advice on protecting these items from damage. The other item I was curious about was the blob of solder that they used to (I assume) secure or/and ground the rf shield to the mainboard just to the top of the keyboard connector. I was wondering if this actually served the aforementioned purposes or if it had additional purposes. Also I'm toying with adding more video ram if I can still find the upgrade process and maybe some other modifications as long as I have it open. I'm still researching my options.

Link to nasty before picture... 


Alright, I cleaned it up some, still terribly yellow and still have some marks to get off the main case. 

After Soap and Water..

I'm a bit concerned about the faded color on the keyboard keys, I don't remember them being that faded and am hoping when I do retrobright the keys they don't get worse or disappear altogether (* Edit, after watching a few more videos, I realize this was the natural color of the secondary function labels, so I think I'll be fine)

Faded secondary function label..

I read that using a hair dryer with hot air will help remove the labels on the machine without damaging them. I'll try that next, also I need to deal with this nastiness.

Keyboard (gack)

I'm thinking that maybe I'll just soak the main case once I get the logo and manufacturing stickers off and see if that will remove the more stubborn particles still stuck to the main case, it seemed to work well with the keyboard keys.


Cleaned the keyboard (not perfect but much better then what it was) Just some windex on a terry cloth and a tooth brush.

I'm waiting for some sun to retrobrite the case and key's, today's overcast .sad In the meantime I removed the RF shield and besides being a bit dusty, everything looks good. I think I'll take Bil's advice and leave the caps alone for now. 


Quick update ... Due to the overcast weather on the east coast, my Retro Briting of the case and keys has been put off till the weekend, currently shows partly sunny on Sat and Sunny on  Sunday. Fingers crossed.

In the mean time I ordered a Commodore 128 64k VDC plugin board off of ebay, but it won't show up till next week and got some thermal paste to replace the old stuff that was pretty dried up for the heat contacts on the RF shield to the chips on the motherboard. Still looking to find an eprom burner and some eproms to put Basic 8 in that spare socket. If any body knows of a decent yet reasonably priced eprom burner for this prurpose let me know. I doubt if I'll be burning alot of eproms, but they seem to vary quite a bit in price and I don't have any personal expierience with the process myself. 


Still overcast so no retrobrite (again), however my 64k video expansion board showed up early! So I was able to put that in


The sun finally decided to come out, I ended up using a 40 volume creme developer applying with a paint brush coating my case top and bottom then wrapping them in plastic refrigerator wrap, I did the same with my keys, however I lined them up on a cookie sheet. I let them sit for 3 hours, turning 1/4 turn every half hour. I'm pretty happy with the results, there is still some yellow tint but it looks alot better then it did. A couple of things the led for power has a fiddliy bracket that I still need to mess with to get the led to sit right. Also I lost 1 spring for the keyboard that I'm hoping will turn up.sad  


Next I need to test it, so I did some more digging in the attic and found my 1541 disk drive, 1084 monitor (Still need to look for the video connectors), and a 1530 Datasette Unit. Both the 1541 and the 1084 need a good clean, the Datasette is pretty clean as it was stored in it's box but still could use a wipe. I thought I had a 1571 disk drive, but didn't see it. My memory may be playing tricks on me.smiley


I opened up the 1541 drive and it is in serious need of cleaning. One thing I noticed it looks like is someone replaced the kernel rom chip with an eprom. However I'm not sure if it just a newer version of kernel or some jiffydos variant. I'm leaning towards it just being a newer kernel version. I googled the numbers on the eprom but it didn't turn up anything. I'll give it a blast of air, take it apart, use some denatured alcohol and bought some white lithium grease to use on the rails. I don't think I ever used this drive, I tested it when I got it, but I remember my daily driver when I had my original C128 was a 1571 and a 1581.  The 1541 I had was one with the latch that you turned down (Pic courtesy of Google).  


I ended up buying the video cables I'm sure I have them but got tired of looking through an undulating pile of cables stored in big ole plastic bins. They came today so I hooked everything up in the spare room to test. The computer works great, C64 mode, 128 mode 40 and 80 column. I do get an annoying hum from the monitor audio when I turn on the computer. The 1541 Drive needs some looking at. It could be alignment, or head cleaning or both. I tried formating a disk and got a blinking red light at the end. Also it doesn't seem to want to load a directory it comes back with file not found. The floppy mechanism seems a bit fiddly as well, the latch some times doesn't seem to take all the time so I don't think floppy is sitting correctly.  Looks like it's time to open up the drive.

 As an aside, it's going to take a while to get used the keyboard's shift key placement, can't tell you many times I hit the return key by mistake :)

(update) After opening up the drive and watching it in operation, it was pretty easy to spot the issue, I'm pretty sure I need new rubber bands for the motors. Off to E-Bay!


I'm a moron... First, the latch on the Vic 1541 wasn't closing all the way. Looks like the spring that pushes the latch out has sat compressed in an open position so long, that it doesn't force the latch out to lock the disk into place. This was why I couldn't load or succesfully format disks. Once I figuered this out and pulled the latch out once the disks were in, I had 0 zero issues. Second I'll never succesfully format a high density disk on a double density drive. Yes, a while back I got 2 free boxes of high density 5 1/4 disks, luckily I stiil have a few Double Density disk and these work fine. I'm still going to order the spindle belt as it would probably be good to replace it anyway's. I'm also missing the top RF shield which I hadn't realized till I saw a couple of Youtube videos. So I'll be ordering some heat sinks for the chips on the 1541. I only have 2 Comercial programs on disk for the C64 but both loaded fine. Epyx Basic Programmers Toolkit and Project Space Station.

Regarding replacing caps: I
Re: Regarding replacing caps


Log in or register to post comments