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

William Maloney william.maloney.09 at cnu.edu
Sun Nov 25 22:56:42 EST 2012

 What a lovely Thanksgiving. Hope everyone on here had a nice week too!
Update and answering a few questions:

Just ordered an extra long T-15 torx screwdriver. This thing is a total
overkill at 19 inches long so no worries about reaching the back of these
EVER again! I was so disappointed by how far back those screws were. Why
Apple?? Not much I can do until then. Washing the boards will come first
(and yes, before removing the RAM and ROM pieces from the main board)
followed by a caps replacement.

The keyboard that came with computer is the standard Mid-90s ADB. It feels
very different from my vintage alpine WinTel keyboard across the room due
to rubber dome switches. An Apple Extended would be ideal - how I love
things that are overengineered! If this goes well, maybe there will be a
chance to type my next Senior Seminar Paper on one of these Macs. The
usefulness of a SuperDrive cannot be understated here.

Glad to know $17 is a good deal on one of these, even not working. I talked
him down considering that they did not start up properly and argued that
work would be needed to get them running. Can anyone give me a ballpark
estimate on the price of replacing the caps for just one? Would they be
available at a place like RadioShack or is this more of an online order

Thankfully, I do have a friend here at the university who can help me out
in the science department with any soldering needs. A few days ago, I
brought one of these over to test out a torx screwdriver he had. He laughed
when I showed him the Mac Classic, opening a cabinet beneath the sink.
Behold, about five FatFacs sitting inside. One was a Macintosh Plus which
proudly booted up to the Floppy logo. (So quiet too!) Sadly, none of them
booted to the system and we did not have floppies to test them. They
probably could with some work. Also present was a Macintosh II, a low
profile PowerMacintosh, an Apple IIe, and twp ancient portable PCs. The
word "laptop" would be too generous for these things. Too bad there were no

What kind of got me was when I asked him slyly what would happen if one of
the FatMacs were to disappear, since they are technically STILL registered
under inventory. "Oh, probably nothing" he grinned. If only I had known a
few weeks back...

Alas, more to come in the next few weeks. Many thanks for the
encouragement, guys et Viva Les Newtons!

On Wed, Nov 21, 2012 at 2:21 AM, Forrest <newtonphoenix at mindspring.com>wrote:

> William:
> James' email (below) is very helpful and informative, especially the link
> about the checkerboard problem. I've has some experiences with the Mac
> Classic and Classic II that, as a new owner, you might find to be of some
> value.
> I've got a Mac Classic that worked great at first...I got it at a
> second-hand store in Tucson for under $50...that was in 2006 I think. It
> came with this huge black canvas backpack kind of thing, with Velcro-fitted
> handles, a shoulder strap, and all kinds of zippered pockets outside for
> the power and serial cords, keyboard, mouse, etc. It was nicely padded
> inside for the Mac.
> One day I got it out to kind of check on it and when I tried to boot it
> up, I got a series of perfectly-spaced vertical lines. Sometimes it would
> start up after a few minutes, most times not.
> I went to a local electronics supply house and carefully replaced each of
> the can capacitors one by one. It didn't help.
> Finally, after weeks of waiting, a Classic II logic board showed up on
> eBay. I pounced on it--I didn't want to spend a lot for something I wasn't
> 100% certain wasn't the problem, especially after the replaced caps. (The
> basic differences between the Classic and Classic II are: faster processor,
> more memory AND--from a form factor standpoint--the Classic II has an audio
> input plug, the Classic does not.)
> Powered it up and...the same thing happened--well, almost. After about 1
> minute, the Classic/II booted up normally, everything worked fine.
> BUT...before the startup, there are still the same lines as before.
> Research shows this is likely a component that isn't soldered correctly
> (for example), and the connection has to "warm up" a bit before it can
> complete.
> "OKAY," I think, "I've got this figured out." So, I replace all the can
> caps on the just-received Classic II board. "AHA!" I think.
> The same thing. Over. And. Again.
> The next thing I would think would be a new video board--but according to
> my research, that's rarely the source of the problem.
> I'm funny about my old computer collection--I want it all to work
> properly, and look and run as close to its original state as is financially
> practical. What I've done for now with the Mac Classic/II is put it away
> again, and eventually I'll get after troubleshooting and fixing it again.
> Thanks,
> --Forrest
> "The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to
> lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the
> fact that it was he who, by peddling second-rate technology, led them into
> it in the first place." --Douglas Adams
> •www.broodcoffeetalk.wordpress.com--Thoughts, observations, ideas…stuff to
> brood over
> •Have iPad questions? I'm the Mesa (AZ) iPad Examiner...see what I write
> about at http://exm.nr/HYeN8K+
> •Twitter: @FBuffenmyer
> On Nov 19, 2012, at 8:52 PM, James Fraser <
> wheresthatistanbul-newtontalk at yahoo.com> wrote:
> > Hello,
> >
> >> I checked all the others. Only two lit up the screen, both with
> >> checkerboard problems. While these had supposedly worked before, it
> >turned out he had last powered these up during the summer. Thinking hard,
> >I recalled seeing a YouTube video of a guy who acquired a
> >> vintage PC but was unable to boot the machine. After letting
> >> the machine warm up to room temperature, the hard disk
> >> expanded and became readable in the warmer environment.
> >
> > If the problem was limited to a bad hard drive, chances are good you
> would have gotten a floppy icon with a flashing question mark in the middle
> of the screen as the Mac sought a floppy disk/HD with a viable system
> folder.
> >
> > Unfortunately, as this thread indicates:
> >
> > http://68kmla.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=19346
> >
> > ...hooking up, say, an external HD to a Mac Classic isn't likely to
> yield any positive results as far as the checkerboard screen problem is
> concerned.
> >
> > The problem -might- be resolved by reseating the ROM and/or cleaning the
> ROM connectors: that's Step #1.  Step #1/2, however, is to get the cases
> open.  I say this because the odds are that the problem you're seeing is
> caused by the leaking capacitors mentioned earlier in the thread.
> >
> > Meaning: getting the cases open sooner rather than later would probably
> be a good idea.  If the capacitors are indeed leaking, the logic board is
> peacefully rotting away as you read this and will continue to do so until
> the board is cleaned up.  Cleaning up the board being, of course, a
> temporary fix: the long-term solution is to replace the leaking capacitors.
> >
> > At any rate, the thread I linked to above discusses the Classic.  This
> one talks about the checkerboard problem as seen in a Classic II:
> >
> > http://tinyurl.com/c3x28wk
> >
> >> Keeping in mind the comments in here about caps and such, I
> >> took the plunge and acquired a Macintosh Classic, a Classic
> >> II, two mice, and a single keyboard for $17.
> >
> > You can't get much fairer than that, at least. :)
> >
> > Is the keyboard one of these:
> >
> > http://tinyurl.com/8mmz8vo
> >
> > (Stephen Edmonds' picture, not mine, of an Apple Extended Keyboard II.)
> >
> > ...by any chance?
> >
> >> If this does not pan out, at least they will become the greatest hipster
> >> doorstops of all time.
> >
> > Looked at another way: you've got two chances to walk away with a viable
> compact Mac.
> >
> >> Thanks for your help guys. Will keep the updates coming on here as
> these >guys warm up and I find a torx screw set.
> >
> > Since you are now a compact Mac owner (as opposed to a prospective
> purchaser), you might want to check out 68kmla:
> >
> > http://68kmla.org
> >
> > It seems to be the go-to place for compact Mac owners with wayward
> machines.  With any luck, the two threads I've linked to will be enough to
> get you started, at least, but once you have the machines open and have
> looked around inside, your best bet is to start a new thread on 68kmla to
> get the expert advice you'll need to carry you through.
> >
> > While I think of it: if you are really low on dough, and can only manage
> to borrow a T15 Torx bit (or, slightly better, a Torx bit set) from someone
> (as opposed to borrowing/buying the appropriate long-shaft Torx screwdriver
> to get the case open), you might want to give the following
> better-than-nothing method a try:
> >
> > (After this caveat, of course: the following is NOT the way you want to
> open the case if you have any alternative whatsoever available.  However,
> sometimes there is a pressing need to do things without the proper tools
> being available [for whatever reason].  You decide if this is one of those
> times and whether you want to assume the risks inherent in getting into the
> case this way.  In other words: you can potentially ruin your Mac by doing
> this, so please treat this only as the last resort it is intended to be.)
> >
> > And with that out of the way...
> >
> > [Begin quote]
> >
> > You need:
> >
> > 1 Torx bit, size T-15. This can be the short kind, about 3/4 inch long
> with the standard hexagonal body used for interchangeable-bit screwdrivers.
> >
> > 1 other bit with the same hexagonal body. The type of tip doesn't make
> any difference. If you can find the kind that is about 1 1/4 inches long
> that will work better but it's not necessary.
> >
> > 2 Bic Round Stic ballpoint pens. These are the kind with round (usually
> white) semi-flexible barrels. The barrels are the same diameter for their
> entire length with no taper. These used to be called Bic Biro, but now they
> seem to be called the Round Stic. The Round Stic Grip will also probably
> work if that's all you can find.
> >
> > Dissasemble the pens till you are left with the barrels.
> >
> > Push or hammer the T-15 Torx bit into the end of one of the pen barrels.
> Try to keep it as straight as possible.
> >
> > Push the other bit about half way into the other end of the barrel and
> then push the second barrel onto the back of that bit.
> >
> > You should end up with two pen barrels connected by a bit, with the Torx
> bit sticking out the end.
> >
> > You can now use this to reach the two recessed screws. You will probably
> need a pair of pliers (or vise grips) to turn it. Be careful because the
> screws may be tight. In my experience, they are not tight enough to
> overcome the force holding the bits in, but it may be close.
> >
> > When you put the screws back in, put them in the holes and turn them
> backwards until you feel the threads drop into their original grooves. The
> tighten them normally. This will keep them from cutting new threads, which
> will tend to chew up the plastic.
> >
> > [End quote]
> >
> > Alternately, you can try substituting a standard wooden pencil for the
> torx bit linking the two Bic pen bodies if all you have available is the
> T15 Torx bit itself.
> >
> > (NB: the above hack is not mine.  There are many variations on the same
> basic theme, but the specific hack above was, I believe, created by Jamie
> Stotz.)
> >
> > With any luck, however, you will have access to the proper T15 torx
> screwdriver to get the case open and needn't resort to the above.  The only
> reason I bring it up at all is because the cases need to be open sooner
> rather than later if your goal is to try to get two working compact Macs
> out of this deal as opposed to a couple of doorstops.
> >
> >
> > Best,
> >
> > James Fraser
> >
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