Macintosh Classic Restoration: Chapter One


A few years back, a coworker kept a Macintosh Classic on his desk as an adornment. I was unfamiliar with the machine or what it was like to use one, but I loved the look of the machine. The first Apple computer I used was the Apple II, which we used in elementary school. We mostly used these machines for academic games and word processing. Between that time and my first Apple computer (the first generation MacBook Pro), I did not even touch another Apple computer. Although I was not given the chance to own or use one, I became enamored with Apple computers when the iMac G3 was launched. I wanted an iMac, but it was, sadly, out of our budget.

As we were preparing to move office spaces, we were asked to cull our personal items. We would have less personal space in the new office, which meant space was at a premium. My coworker was preparing to part with his Macintosh Classic. I learned that it was not functional and he did not care to take it home. To spare it from the e-waste bin, I took the machine home.

I had planned on keeping it as a desk adornment in my home office. For over two years, that is what I did. However, over the past year I started reading more about 68k Macintoshes. I found communities of people who have great affection for these machines. Some will lovingly restore the machines to working order. The bug bit me and towards the end of 2020 I decided I wanted to do the same.

For Christmas, I received an iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit. With this kit, I proceeded to pop open the Macintosh Classic to assess the state of the machine. The case was incredibly difficult to remove. In the walkthroughs I had watched on Youtube, the case slide off easily. This was my first clue that something was amiss. After thirty minutes or so, I finally had the case off. I was horrified to find rust. The metal chassis had quite a bit of rust, especially the part of the chassis that the cased mounted to with screws. That explained the difficulty in removing the case. Before removing the case, I had noted a knocking noise when moving the computer around. I soon found the culprits: the remnants of the PRAM battery and a capacitor were rolling around freely in the case. My guess is the PRAM battery acid corroded the metal chassis. I had heard and read stunning stories on the amount of damage these batteries can do.

I started inspecting the boards. The logic board looked pretty clean. I still need to remove the PRAM battery cradle, but I was relieved to see the logic board to be in good shape. Somehow the acid from the battery had avoided damaging the board. The analog board looked clean as well. I found a missing capacitor there, which explained the loose capacitor in the case. Now that I could see the boards looked clean, I decided to move forward. I would need all new capacitors (these are the most common failure points) and the tools to replace the capacitors (hello soldering iron). Over the past month, I acquired these items. Now I was ready to get down to business.

Pictures taken of the case removal