Tips to get a mint-as-possible original model F?

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AJM

09 Jun 2021, 12:45

I know, you're primarily looking for an AT, but I just wanted to mention, that I have on NOS/NIB Model F XT, that I bought some time ago from "orihalcon" (imported from the US). I haven't done much with it, apart from checking it and hitting a few keys. (If you have too much money, I would be willing to let it go. ;) )

But as others have said - that doesn't guarantee necessarily the best key feel. I have one or two other used XTs (build in the UK), that feel better in my opinion. One problem - I think - is that IBM didn't design the styrofoam parts of their boxes very wisely. That means, when someone stored the box on its "head", the weight of the keyboard was pressing on all the keys for god knows how many years.

BTW: I also find the space bar too stiff in general. On one other keyboard I tried (successfully) to modify it. It didn't just involve bending the wire, but mainly modifying the plastic part in which the wire is running. Because that plastic part is bending the wire - and increases that bend, when you press the space bar.

Mips

09 Jun 2021, 13:22

Hi, thanks for that @AJM. Definitely interested, I’ll send a pm in a mo.

I see you’re in Germany. I was looking at a board in Poland last night and it turns out that the combination of VAT & custom charges for importing to the UK can result in as much as £99 charges for a £250 item!

Absolutely crazy, another unfortunate fallout from Brexit. It depends on various things and the whole charge structure seems quite convoluted so not sure how it’d apply in this circumstance.

Has anyone else had a keyboard sent to the UK from Europe?

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

09 Jun 2021, 15:31

In my opinion, the AT is infinitely more desirable than the XT, as well as being an order of magnitude more rare. Until a decade ago ATs sold for maybe twice the price of XTs, then jumped in price as Model Fs in general got more positive chatter. I consider the value of an AT to be at least triple that of an XT.

In the last 3-5 years even XTs have been commanding silly money, and the reason is probably because it is generally agreed that they are the *best feeling* Model F. But, until Hagstrom, and later Soarer, came along they were not realistically usable on a modern PC and hard to sell even for $30-$35

However, in my opinion, the differential is minuscule, and the goofball layout makes the keyboard all but unusable to me (besides looking strange and ugly). Be patient and wait for an AT. It took me several months about 8 years ago.

My opinion, of course.

User avatar
Tritian

09 Jun 2021, 16:09

i prefer the key feel of the F AT also. it is heavier than an F XT though, and in my experience a lot of people in this hobby prefer light clickies.

i also prefer the sound of the F AT.

no alt keys in their proper place can be annoying but people get used to the AT layout. There is always the alt-mod, but not for the faint of heart.

Mips

10 Jun 2021, 20:00

Tritian wrote:
09 Jun 2021, 16:09
i prefer the key feel of the F AT also. it is heavier than an F XT though, and in my experience a lot of people in this hobby prefer light clickies.

i also prefer the sound of the F AT.

no alt keys in their proper place can be annoying but people get used to the AT layout. There is always the alt-mod, but not for the faint of heart.
Interesting, is the AT key feel still significantly lighter than the model M?

I think your point re. layout is crucial for me though - do you find the AT to be significantly more usable than the XT? There are people who say they've got used to the XT and I've nearly caved to a couple of XT opportunities, but I can't help thinking that the AT would be something I could more easily live with in the longer term.

Wazrach

10 Jun 2021, 20:20

Mips wrote:
10 Jun 2021, 20:00
Tritian wrote:
09 Jun 2021, 16:09
i prefer the key feel of the F AT also. it is heavier than an F XT though, and in my experience a lot of people in this hobby prefer light clickies.

i also prefer the sound of the F AT.

no alt keys in their proper place can be annoying but people get used to the AT layout. There is always the alt-mod, but not for the faint of heart.
Interesting, is the AT key feel still significantly lighter than the model M?

I think your point re. layout is crucial for me though - do you find the AT to be significantly more usable than the XT? There are people who say they've got used to the XT and I've nearly caved to a couple of XT opportunities, but I can't help thinking that the AT would be something I could more easily live with in the longer term.
Capacitive buckling springs switches are lighter in feel than membrane buckling springs, it's definitely more comfortable and less tiring. There is no key feel difference between each specific model, rather slight differences in materials and varying degrees of wear between each unit. Every single Model F feels and sounds different. That said, the chassis does impact the sound a lot, which in turn may change the perceived feel. The XT's tight chassis means the switches don't sound as loud or as "heavy" as the AT, with its louder all-plastic chassis. I used to have a few ATs and they definitely felt heavier than the XT because of the louder and more substantial sound, even though they'd probably feel the same if you couldn't hear them and were to try them side-by-side.

User avatar
Tritian

10 Jun 2021, 21:06

I really think the F AT is heavier than the other F's

Both of my F ATs feel almost as heavy as a model m, but have a significantly crisper tactile event than an M.
My F XT and F 122s feel significantly lighter than my F ATs but are also quite crisp.
My F 77 is the lightest feeling of the bunch, but is pretty close to the F XT. The delta is much less then the delta between the F XT and the F AT.

Mips

11 Jun 2021, 20:20

I must admit, I'm curious about the lighter feel of the XT, especially as many in the enthusiast community seem to favour that key feel.

What do you guys think of this one? Pricey but it's in the UK so I wouldn't be paying ridiculous custom charges & vat:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/324417388957?ul_noapp=true

Looks pretty clean.

User avatar
Tritian

11 Jun 2021, 20:55

Couldn't you get a US one for $100-$130 with not too much searching and import it for a lot cheaper?

also that badge is scratched up.

Mips

11 Jun 2021, 22:11

Tritian wrote:
11 Jun 2021, 20:55
Couldn't you get a US one for $100-$130 with not too much searching and import it for a lot cheaper?

also that badge is scratched up.
'm with you, although it's rare to find a decent one sold for less than $150. A nice one went for $125 in mid April & another for $163 in mid march.

But yes, you're spot on, it's perhaps best to wait - and that one above has a scratched badge as you say.

From the US I think I could expect £125-£150 at the least for a really clean one. $40 postage and say $50 for import tax. Perhaps $230-$240 total or around £175 so a good deal cheaper - and with a decent clean badge hopefully.

Cheers for the advice - as always, patience is the key :)

User avatar
Tritian

12 Jun 2021, 01:28

over here, model f xt's sell for $100-$130 all the time. I did a quick sold listing search for "ibm (xt,83) keyboard"

Image

I circled a relevant bit that you might be interested in. :D

User avatar
an_achronism

12 Jun 2021, 02:38

Tritian wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 01:28
I circled a relevant bit that you might be interested in. :D
That one was a fixer-upper, so not exactly the pristine one Mips is after:
oktalist wrote: Has been refurbished to the best of my ability after having been left outside in the rain for some time.
Mechanical parts in good working order, every key produces the appropriately satisfying "click" when pressed.
I don't have a computer to test it with, so no idea if it still works electronically.
A couple of buckling spring mechanisms had to be replaced with new parts.
The F7 keycap was missing so had to be replaced with one from a Model M keyboard.
I seriously considered it but decided not to, although I half wish I had now because I could've even just nicked the case off it. I need a case for an XT module (ideally I'd rather stick it in a Bigfoot/5291 chassis but those are much less likely to come up I think).

User avatar
Tritian

12 Jun 2021, 03:02

Ahh, I see. My bad.

Looks like that barrel plate probably has a lot of rust on it. The rest looks pretty good. It's hard to kill these things, and they are pretty easy to open up if you have some pliers.

Getting them back together is also pretty easy if you use the floss method on the spacebar or just stick something long and thin like a butter knife to hold down the spacebar flipper while you line up the back... sand off the rust, repaint the barrel plate.... if it's electrically dead, get an aftermarket controller.

Foam might also have been buggered. :D

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

12 Jun 2021, 03:04

an_achronism wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 02:38

just nicked the case off it
Sometimes a bit of this and a bit of that yields the best outcome at the best price.

User avatar
an_achronism

12 Jun 2021, 03:10

fohat wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 03:04
Sometimes a bit of this and a bit of that yields the best outcome at the best price.
Frankly I regret not buying that one and using it for my NOS module. However, ideally, I'd prefer to put it inside a Bigfoot case, just because it's dumb as hell therefore I love it.

thefarside

12 Jun 2021, 04:35

I may have missed it, but would a new F77 not meet your requirements?

Mips

12 Jun 2021, 13:16

Tritian wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 01:28
over here, model f xt's sell for $100-$130 all the time. I did a quick sold listing search for "ibm (xt,83) keyboard"

I circled a relevant bit that you might be interested in. :D
Nicely circled :D

I did see those but the first two were one that a guy listed twice for some reason and looked a bit rough to me & the other had been left out in the rain for some time. Both had scratched badges. But I'm learning from you guys that even rougher ones can be restored very nicely, but also that there seems to be an undetermined factor that inherently makes the key feel nicer on some boards. And therefore even a very well preserved one might not necessarily feel quite as nice as a more well used one.

So I'm wondering if maybe the best option might be to buy a few that aren't necessarily pristine for around the $100 mark, determine which has the best key feel after a foam mod & swap in the best case, badge etc of the three. Does that sound right?
fohat wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 03:04
Sometimes a bit of this and a bit of that yields the best outcome at the best price.
That's what I'm thinking.
thefarside wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 04:35
I may have missed it, but would a new F77 not meet your requirements?
I love that these are being made and they look awesome, but using an authentic old classic is part of the equation for me. It’s also odd that a few of the youtube reviews say the space bar feels a touch off. I think I heard they used a model M style sb but those reviewers say it feels a little out of step with the rest of the board.

User avatar
Tritian

12 Jun 2021, 19:18

fwiw i have no issues with my f77 spacebar

Mips

12 Jun 2021, 20:31

Tritian wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 19:18
fwiw i have no issues with my f77 spacebar
Good to know, not sure why it was mentioned, perhaps it was a particular batch. They do look so good, an F77 would be my choice as well.

User avatar
Tritian

12 Jun 2021, 20:53

do it :) here's mine.

Mips

12 Jun 2021, 21:24

Tritian wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 20:53
do it :) here's mine.
Gorgeous, love that sound! What’s the second board?

User avatar
raoulduke-esq

12 Jun 2021, 21:30

That's an Apple M0110 Thockmaster.

Wazrach

12 Jun 2021, 22:02

Mips wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 20:31
Good to know, not sure why it was mentioned, perhaps it was a particular batch. They do look so good, an F77 would be my choice as well.
I had an issue with my F77 spacebar when I got it, although that isn't surprising - it is not uncommon for keycaps on buckling springs keyboards to dislodge during shipping. Ellipse personally installs the spacebar and tweaks the steel wire-retaining tabs for the best feel and sound, regardless of whether or not you choose to install the keys yourself. If the spacebar is dislodged, it can be difficult to remove and may not function until you reseat it and adjust the tabs. It's just one of those caveats that can't really be helped.

My gripe with the repro Model F spacebars is the Model M compatibility - I just don't think Model M spacebars sound as good as original Model F ones, which have additional plastic posts that make contact with the barrel frame for a more solid "thunk" sound. The wire-retaining clips are also closed off on the F wire, so there's even more surface area for that sound.

Mips

12 Jun 2021, 23:44

raoulduke-esq wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 21:30
That's an Apple M0110 Thockmaster.
Yes I vaguely remember these - I used the first generation Macintosh a lot when I was at school but barely noticed if the keyboard was good or not. I was much more interested in what was happening on screen at that point. It sounds lovely though, thocky but satisfying.
Wazrach wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 22:02
I just don't think Model M spacebars sound as good as original Model F ones, which have additional plastic posts that make contact with the barrel frame for a more solid "thunk" sound.
Interesting - what are the best methods for the original model F's spacebar mod? I've seen it said that some people just bend the bar, but someone else said to do it properly, you have to alter some of the plastic too..

Wazrach

13 Jun 2021, 00:26

Mips wrote:
12 Jun 2021, 23:44
Interesting - what are the best methods for the original model F's spacebar mod? I've seen it said that some people just bend the bar, but someone else said to do it properly, you have to alter some of the plastic too..
I was referring to the F122, Unsaver and 4704 Model F spacebar. It's similar to the M spacebar but a bit different (better).

Mips

13 Jun 2021, 00:35

Wazrach wrote:
13 Jun 2021, 00:26
I was referring to the F122, Unsaver and 4704 Model F spacebar. It's similar to the M spacebar but a bit different (better).
Ahh I couldn’t remember who that was - good to know :)

Mips

13 Jun 2021, 17:32

Sorry, I don't mean to harp on here, just didn't want to make a new thread & clutter the forum:

I've decided on a AT for sure, not interested in XT or new model F now. I know I won't be happy with that stiff space bar though - is it *really* possible to mod the spacebar so it actually feels really nice? Or is the mod in reality just a way of mitigating the stiffness to an an extent where it's acceptable?. i.e. no matter how you mod it, it'll never quite have a perfect weight and feel as if it was built stock?
Last edited by Mips on 13 Jun 2021, 18:03, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

13 Jun 2021, 18:02

How ambitious are you? If you can get the internal assembly apart without too much trauma, simply bending the wire to straighten it a bit can help a lot. Unfortunately XT and AT space bars are almost a mile long and feel as silly as they look.

If you have some confidence with a rotary tool, you can do the "Alt mod" and add Alt keys on either side of the space bar (very useful and comforting) by cutting away 2 half-circles of metal about 1/2" or 1 cm in diameter and shortening the "undercarriage" by a corresponding amount.

Then you can use a conventional Model M space bar (or an F space bar from a 122 or 4704) and stabilize it by one of several different methods. By far the easiest is by using a pair of 5/16" SAE washers dropped over the "V" and ",<" barrels.

Mips

13 Jun 2021, 18:09

Ahh yes I've seen a youtube video where someone's done this, it looks great. But if I'm honest with myself I'm a stickler for authenticity with all my retro stuff so I'd probably end up keeping it looking stock.

So in this case, am I limited to the wire mod? And if so, does the wire-modded F spacebar feel as good as the M's?

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

13 Jun 2021, 18:27

I don't think so, it is merely an attempt to make it lighter. It is still ridiculously long (but well stabilized by the "undercarriage").

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