[NTLK] Off Topic: Macintosh SE/30 - to buy or not to buy?

James Fraser wheresthatistanbul-newtontalk at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 2 15:50:05 EDT 2012


>Looks like the guy is still selling this. I had thought someone else
>already bought it.

>James Fraser, what things should I look for on the inside?


(James Wages' photostream, not mine)

See the upright cylinders in the photo (and noted in the caption)?  The ones that look like miniature oil storage tanks?  Those are the surface mount electrolytic capacitors that commonly leak in compact Macs.

The basic idea is to examine those, assess their condition, and see if any fluids have leaked from them.  The problem is that leaking fluids are not always easy to spot.  On Vintage Macs, Jeff Walther has suggested removing the logic board and examining it at an oblique angle with a good light source in order to make sure the logic board is still in good shape.  

If it looks as though someone has spilled a little bit of soda on the logic board, you do not have a winner. :(

The other thing to look at is the PRAM battery.  You should be able to access that through a small door in the back of the machine.  If the current owner hasn't removed the battery in a long time, it may have leaked.  If the battery shows signs of leaking, forget it.  In fact, you should probably examine the PRAM battery first.  If it has leaked, there is (very likely) little point in your bothering to open up the machine. A leaking PRAM battery is likely to damage a compact Mac even more than leaking caps will.   

I would recommend asking the current owner the last time he booted the machine and how long the machine has been in storage.  If the PRAM battery hasn't been removed in a machine that's been stored for an extended period, there's roughly a 50% chance the battery has leaked.

Do you have a Torx to get into the case?  Have you been inside a compact Mac case before?  More importantly, do you plan to replace the capacitors yourself?

If you don't plan to do it yourself, that's okay, but I would advise getting on either Vintage Macs:


or 68k Macintosh Liberation Army:


...and asking the board (after checking the FAQ, of course) if there is someone near you who is willing to undertake the capacitor replacement at a price you're willing to pay.  Shipping compact Macs around can not only get expensive, but there's also the possibility it will get damaged in transit.  For that reason, you are better off trying to find someone you can deal with locally.

The bottom line is that the capacitors will need to be replaced and there will be additional time and expense involved in doing so whether you buy the caps and do it yourself or hire/beg someone else to do it for you.  Without replacing the caps, you will be the owner of an Apple paperweight.

The floppy drive will probably need to be cleaned and lubricated as well, seeing as how it's a 20-plus year old machine.  If you have the recapping done by someone else, be sure to ask if they can take care of that for you as well.  If you want to do it yourself, either Vintage Macs or 68kMLA should be able to offer guidance (assuming a walk-through can't be found in the FAQs).


James Fraser

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