IBM 3279 Beamspring Restoration

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Aer Fixus

25 Mar 2018, 06:31

Look at this Beamspring
Wow. I mean just look at it.
Not sure how to feel.
Here it is. The paint slathered, half melted, IBM monstrosity that recently sold on eBay for maybe more money than it's worth. But here it is, in my hands. And it's going to live. That much I know.

And now, time for photos. Lots of photos. As of the time of this post, I have not made that much progress, but I'll update as more is made.

I've also got video. No sound, though. So I'll likely just time lapse it when the project is done and upload it as one take. I'll also write some more details on the actual process later. Lots of sticky goo. Everywhere...
Spoiler:
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Note that all the photos taken by me in this thread are CC BY 3.0
(you may use them however you like as long as you give credit)
They can be found in the following imgur album: https://imgur.com/a/6WxNd
Last edited by Aer Fixus on 27 Mar 2018, 20:51, edited 4 times in total.

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Aer Fixus

25 Mar 2018, 06:31

Reserved?

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JP!

25 Mar 2018, 07:14

Thanks for sharing. Glad to hear it will live again. There is a lot of work ahead though. Good luck!

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DustGod
Yet another IBM snob

25 Mar 2018, 10:51

I'll closely follow this restoration. Good luck!

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wobbled

25 Mar 2018, 10:59

This is going to be an interesting one, I'll be following this too

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hypkx
Chasing the Dream

25 Mar 2018, 11:21

Me to, I hope you manage it to restore it to its old glory.

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Brett MacK

25 Mar 2018, 14:21

I am so happy to see this old girl get a proper Resurrection. For how bad this looks, I was expecting much worse. Make sure to keep us posted, really looking forward to seeing it return to its former glory. If you need help finding replacement parts just let us know, I think anyone would like to see this beast back at it.

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mike52787
Alps Aficionado

25 Mar 2018, 19:54

oh my lord, cant wait to see what happens with this baby. good luck!

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Dingster

25 Mar 2018, 20:32

Best of luck to you man, thanks for doing this :D

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Aer Fixus

25 Mar 2018, 20:41

The keyboard sustained quite a bit of prolonged heat. The most damaged part of this board, aside from the keycaps, are definitely the module housings. But to start, I’m going to explain the four kinds of sticky substance I have found in this keyboard:

The first is obvious. It is all the adhesive used for adhering stuff originally in the board. It’s really really sticky, although it’s quite soft, it holds what it was intended to hold together quite well.

The second is the paint that was spilled inside. It’s not sticky until I dissolve it with something and even then, it doesn’t pose much of a fight to isopropyl.

The third and fourth are similar, but almost certainly slightly different. They appear to be the plasticizer from the plastics and foam. The keys feel oddly sticky where they’ve leaked this material (or maybe had it externally dropped on them. These are all theories, and not certain fact) and attempting to wash them results in a dull finish where the plastic actually rubbed off because it is no longer solid enough. It does appear to just be surface deep, although who knows how brittle they’ve become after losing the plasticizer. This now-brown sticky substance also made its way down the key stems and is depicted in a photo above, but also covers the insides of the plastic stems. Some of this leaked into the mechanisms and that appears to be the main cause of stuck keys from the original listing. It does not appear to effect the plastic that it leaks onto, however.

The fourth is the plasticizer (or similar compound) from the foam. The foam had melted and dropped right onto the PCB in a wonderfully sticky mess. I’ve got no photos of this because I didn’t want to get my camera sticky (and it’s really hard to get of shy of an alcohol bath). But wherever the foam melted onto, it softened the plastic it touched. The outer parts of the module housings are quite sticky on the top where the foam wasn’t able to fall onto the PCB, but the sides still got exposure to the plasticizer. Unlike the substance that leaked from the keycaps, this DID effect the plastic of the modules. the outsides are now vulnerable to isopropyl and practically melt like they would with acetone. Now we get to the lucky part, the internals of each module appear completely intact! Some of the modules had tabs break off and some have visible charting and simply flake apart when scraped, even completely dry (photos below). On the worst ones, the smooth portions needed for sliding have become rough and will likely need to be replaced.

Now, as for replacement parts, I will be replacing the white keys with navy blue Selectric keys (the white keycaps are already spoken for at the moment). They appear almost black in warm lighting, but in other lighting or when compared to the dark grey Beamspring (or matching Selectric II caps), you can make out the blue color and looks quite nice (Also photos later). I will, however, need to find a way to replace the spacebar. The current options are: 1) get a new one 2) 3D print stabilizer mounts for the matching Selectric spacebar 3) Possibly my favorite in the moment if it remains solid and in tact, is to keep the old spacebar as it is not the cause of the binding keys and would show the history of this board and potentially look visually interesting once The rest of the board has been restored (and being an improper typist, I use my left thumb most of the time so I won’t even hit the hole).

For any replacement switches, I will almost certainly be buying from Orihalcon as he seems to be the one stop shop for Beamspring restoration. I’m hoping I don’t need to many replacement modules, but we’ll see. I have a feeling a lot of them are not going to clip back in place. I don’t know if the PCB pinching them against the foam will be enough.

One thing I’d love help on is making a 3D model of the clip that holds the manual door in place. I’ve got all the bits of mine but they are snapped and melted to the case. While not impossible, it might be difficult for me to replicate in its current state.

Finally, I think I’ll be painting the case black. Should go well with the dark blue caps I’ll be puttting on.
Last edited by Aer Fixus on 26 Mar 2018, 19:17, edited 1 time in total.

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Dingster

25 Mar 2018, 20:52

I like the idea of keeping the burnt spacebar :)

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green-squid

25 Mar 2018, 22:52

I'm shocked that this sold for that much on eBay, but atleast it's in good hands. I hope it turns out good!

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PlacaFromHell

25 Mar 2018, 23:13

I'll give you some tips that were really usefull at least for me during my restoration:
-The paint isn't in bad condition, use a bleach soaked cloth and put it on the case, then leave it in the sun for at least 30 minutes. Isn't necessary remove the paint, only remove te places with bubbles or loose paint. Rust-oleum ultra matt is really great and cheap paint!
-To remove melted abs from your plates, springs and almost every thing that isn't plastic, nail polish remover with acetone may work perfectly.
-If you want to paint the plates remember that if you put so much paint your modules will fith more tight.
-When you are mounting all together be sure the sandwith is in the correct position before screw it, because if you put it too under the case may scratch bottom keys.
-Don't touch with your finger the parts were the PCB is scratched, it will rust more easily. Clean it very well after touch it.
-Metal polish paste is great for remove small scratches from your keycaps, but don't use it for the texturized faces.
-Repair sideprints is really easy, I used liquid paper (you can put some colorant for your colors) and then the metal polish paste with a sock.

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Aer Fixus

25 Mar 2018, 23:32

PlacaFromHell wrote: I'll give you some tips that were really usefull at least for me during my restoration:
-The paint isn't in bad condition, use a bleach soaked cloth and put it on the case, then leave it in the sun for at least 30 minutes. Isn't necessary remove the paint, only remove te places with bubbles or loose paint. Rust-oleum ultra matt is really great and cheap paint!
-To remove melted abs from your plates, springs and almost every thing that isn't plastic, nail polish remover with acetone may work perfectly.
-If you want to paint the plates remember that if you put so much paint your modules will fith more tight.
-When you are mounting all together be sure the sandwith is in the correct position before screw it, because if you put it too under the case may scratch bottom keys.
-Don't touch with your finger the parts were the PCB is scratched, it will rust more easily. Clean it very well after touch it.
-Metal polish paste is great for remove small scratches from your keycaps, but don't use it for the texturized faces.
-Repair sideprints is really easy, I used liquid paper (you can put some colorant for your colors) and then the metal polish paste with a sock.
-I know that the paint isn't in bad shape. My Kishsaver has the same kind of paint job and I was surprised at how well it cleaned up way back when I first cleaned it.
-There wasn't much for melted ABS anywhere except for the spring underneath the "B" key and some of the key stems. and I did use acetone to remove any ABS or bits from the contamination shield adhered to the metal parts. I'm physically removing the crud on the metal pieces so far with a razor blade. I find it much less daunting than trying to soak them in chemicals. More time on my part, though.
-My PCB doesn't appear scratched, actually. It's in quite decent shape compared to the rest of the board. I used some isopropyl and a plastic spoon to get all of the melted foam off of it.
-Good tip on the metal polish. I've used other polishing kits before and I'll see what I've got left sitting around.
-For the side printing, when you say repair, do you mean actually reprinting them, brightening them back up to full luster or just protecting them? I'd like to see the results of that since, as of now, I had considered the side printing already lost since many had been worn quite significantly and I would have to quite thoroughly clean them.

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PlacaFromHell

26 Mar 2018, 00:17

Aer Fixus wrote: -For the side printing, when you say repair, do you mean actually reprinting them, brightening them back up to full luster or just protecting them? I'd like to see the results of that since, as of now, I had considered the side printing already lost since many had been worn quite significantly and I would have to quite thoroughly clean them.
Yeah, I repainted them and they look pretty well, just remove the old paint, put the liquid paper and when it dried then you polish the keycaps to remove the excedent. If you have problems removing the old paint just use some copper wire and be really careful.
This one is a bit dirty, also sorry for the potato camera but you can make an idea about the final result.
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The upper legend is repainted too.

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Aer Fixus

26 Mar 2018, 00:35

PlacaFromHell wrote: Yeah, I repainted them and they look pretty well, just remove the old paint, put the liquid paper and when it dried then you polish the keycaps to remove the excedent. If you have problems removing the old paint just use some copper wire and be really careful.
Are they recessed a little? I think mine are just on the surface. e.g. if I wipe them off, there would be no indication they were ever there in the first place. I'll double check when I get home tonight, but I'm fairly certain mine aren't recessed at all.

Also, is the top legend also recessed? All mine are doubleshot. And keys with just front printing are also double shot IIRC. Only the ones with something on both the front and top have printed sides. (Nope. The blanks are technically doubleshot, but the side printed legends are still printed. Seems like a waste to me, but I guess it was cheaper than making a new mold for single shot keys)

[Edit: is that a phi key? That's pretty cool if it is]
Last edited by Aer Fixus on 26 Mar 2018, 02:58, edited 1 time in total.

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PlacaFromHell

26 Mar 2018, 00:54

Aer Fixus wrote: Are they recessed a little? I think mine are just on the surface. e.g. if I wipe them off, there would be no indication they were ever there in the first place. I'll double check when I get home tonight, but I'm fairly certain mine aren't recessed at all.

Also, is the top legend also recessed? All mine are doubleshot. And keys with just front printing are also double shot IIRC. Only the ones with something on both the front and top have printed sides.

[Edit: is that a phi key? That's pretty cool if it is]
Aren't all beamspring front printed keycaps recessed? Mine are doubleshot, recessed and printed in the two faces (front and top). They aren't so common but I think all front printed keycaps are recessed. The only one besides mine with top recessed prints is the kanji monster, but you have no problem with the top because you have normal keycaps.
If they aren't recessed, is a little bit more hard. You would need to pay for some sticky painting stencils.

Isn't, is a Psi, but I have one anyway. I'll post a picture of the complete set if you want.

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depletedvespene

26 Mar 2018, 02:40

Woah. If you do restore this unit and put it back on service, you will have my vote on the DTA 2018 (or 2019) awards.

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Aer Fixus

26 Mar 2018, 02:54

In order left to right. An in-tact module housing, a melted housing with in-tact sliding rails and slider hole, and a too damaged to be used housing.
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Springs de-rusted and covered in lanolin
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Deep blue Selectric spacebar next to melted beamspring spacebar
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A beamspring cap next to a deep blue Selectric key. Note the side printing is on the surface and not recessed. If worn down completely, there would be nothing indicating that it was even there in the first place. I'll likely try to preserve the side printing as much as possible, but I don't think I will go through the effort to reprint them if they rub off. This board's chances of staying stock faded during the incident.
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Note how the deep blue keys almost appear black, however I have seen multiple sellers on eBay describe them as navy blue and they are definitely blue in the correct lighting.
Last edited by Aer Fixus on 26 Mar 2018, 19:07, edited 1 time in total.

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PlacaFromHell

26 Mar 2018, 03:02

Oh, so my trick can't be done :(. Anyway you have very nice keycaps, and doubleshots means you can sandblast them! Good luck in your project! You have already 2 votes :D

xueyao

26 Mar 2018, 08:47

Are the keycaps really blue? I know that actual light blue selectric caps exist but they are rarer than unicorn hair. I've added some black selectric caps and I'm now itching for some actual blue caps for my beamer.

Sent from my SM-G965F using Tapatalk

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Aer Fixus

26 Mar 2018, 15:15

xueyao wrote: Are the keycaps really blue? I know that actual light blue selectric caps exist but they are rarer than unicorn hair. I've added some black selectric caps and I'm now itching for some actual blue caps for my beamer.
So, I don't know what IBM intended. I found my first set on a black Selectric. The second was on a blue Selectric off eBay but the chips in the paint suggest is was painted over a darker color, probably black. Their intention may have been to make them black, but they just added a lot of blue dye, kind of like a Playstation 1 disc. So, they have a blue tint in direct lighting. To my eyes, they are quite noticeably blue, but I did mistake them as black initially. It's quite a lot easier to see in real life than in photos, but here's some examples:
Spoiler:
An eBay listing with bright lighting catching the blue tint
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A little bit subtler blue tint, but still there
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No blue tint because of dark lighting.
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So, maybe I should be calling them black keycaps. Maybe that's what IBM wanted them to be. I only changed that after I browsed eBay to find two sellers (the only ones with Selectric caps of this type in recent selling history) describe them as navy blue. Now, what confuses me is that if IBM wanted to make them a pure black, they could have. They have pure black plastic parts on the rest of the typewriter without the blue tint to them (although I no longer have access to that Selectric and those parts may have not been ABS). And adding carbon to plastic is much cheaper than other dyes, no?
Maybe IBM intended for them to be black, but the plastic they chose is really a dark blue.

What I like is that it's darker than their other "black" caps which I have previously described as dark grey. If one were to place them on a vinyl record, for instance, it would become clear that both colors are not true black. One could feasibly put a black legend on the dark grey color of cap and have the legend be readable like some companies are doing (with PBT, but the argument is about the color of plastic, not the material).
Spoiler:
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Anyway, I personally like both how dark they are and the fact that in the right lighting, they are clearly blue but in others they appear black (it was quite clear in person, much less so in photos on a screen).

As to what color we should call them by on the forums, I'm up for whatever others decide, but my vote is for "deep blue."

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FXT
XT

26 Mar 2018, 17:43

I really like the blue as well.

__red__

26 Mar 2018, 18:15

Aer Fixus wrote: In order left to right. An in-tact module housing, a melted housing with in-tact sliding rails and slider hole, and a too damaged to be used housing.
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How many module-housings do you need?

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digital_matthew

26 Mar 2018, 18:47

PlacaFromHell wrote: Oh, so my trick can't be done :(. Anyway you have very nice keycaps, and doubleshots means you can sandblast them! Good luck in your project! You have already 2 votes :D
Count me as vote number 3. For the epic challenge of this restoration and the detailed thread that documents it. :)

__red__

26 Mar 2018, 21:56

__red__ wrote:
Aer Fixus wrote: In order left to right. An in-tact module housing, a melted housing with in-tact sliding rails and slider hole, and a too damaged to be used housing.
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How many module-housings do you need?
Might be asking for a reason...ImageImage

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk

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FXT
XT

26 Mar 2018, 22:00

__red__ wrote:
How many module-housings do you need? Might be asking for a reason..
Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
More pics please. Also what program are you using to model the housing? Just asking out of curiosity. 3D modeling has always interested me as a comp sci student but I'm focused more on IT.

__red__

26 Mar 2018, 22:04

FXT wrote: More pics please.
It's a 12 hour print. I'll probably abort it about 3 hours in so I can verify that the slider will in fact go and down the guide before committing the printer overnight. However, once I get one working, a whole plate of them takes the same 12 hours.
Also what program are you using to model the housing? Just asking out of curiosity. 3D modeling has always interested me as a comp sci student but I'm focused more on IT.
OpenSCAD.

If you want to download it, here's the code that I'm currently printing!

Code: Select all

ExternalBox = 18.4;
ExternalBoxHeight = 23.6;
InternalBox = 17.2;


module box() {
  difference() {
    translate([ExternalBox/-2,ExternalBox/-2,0]) cube([ExternalBox,ExternalBox,ExternalBoxHeight]);
    translate([InternalBox/-2,InternalBox/-2,0]) cube([InternalBox, InternalBox, 19]);
  }
}

module guides() {
  translate([-2.5, ExternalBox/-2, 0]) cube([5,2,ExternalBoxHeight]);
  translate([-2.5, (ExternalBox/2)-2, 0]) cube([5,2,ExternalBoxHeight]);
  difference() {
    union() {
      translate([(InternalBox/2)-3,-4,0]) cube([3,8,19]);
      translate([(InternalBox/-2),-4,0]) cube([3,8,19]);
    }
    translate([(InternalBox/-2),-1.3,0]) cube([InternalBox,2.6,19]);
  }
}

module topcyl() {
  union() {
    difference() {
      translate([0,0,23]) cylinder(h=4,r=7.5);
      translate([0,0,23]) cylinder(h=4,r=(13.4/2));    
    }
  }

  translate([0,0,23]) cylinder(h=4,r=(10/2));

}
difference() {
  union() {
    box();
    guides();
    topcyl();
  }
  cylinder(h=30,r=4.4);
}

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JP!

26 Mar 2018, 22:12

Neat idea __red__. I'd be concerned that the guides would be a bit rough textured and would negatively impact the smooth key feel.

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Aer Fixus

26 Mar 2018, 22:13

__red__ wrote: Might be asking for a reason...
Not sure exactly right now. I haven't finished cleaning and inspecting them all yet. It's looking to be around 5, but I can get an exact number once I'm done cleaning them all tonight (hopefully. I'm only about 15 switches in trying to learn the best way to clean them given their... odd... state).

Also, I'm thinking about clear coating the outsides of the housings (being sure to mask off the internals) so that if there is any plastisizer left over, it won't leech back into the new foam and ruin it prematurely. Can anyone think of a reason why this might be a bad idea (potentially bad chemical reaction with spray laquer/paint and the soft damaged plastic?) or of a better solution (do they make a plastic stabilizer?).

I tried scraping/cutting off the gooey bits around the top of the housing and it's incredibly soft right into the plastic. It cuts like butter and I can dent it with my finger nails until I cut away until the solid stuff beneath. I figure it's better to cover that up and protect it from future damage (and maintain the original shape as much as possible. It's solid, just deformable) instead of trying to remove it. The isopropyl dries it out so that it's not so sticky and makes it a bit more brittle, but not so much so that I'd be worried.
JP! wrote: Neat idea __red__. I'd be concerned that the guides would be a bit rough textured and would negatively impact the smooth key feel.
On that, I'm going to be lubing these switches. I my damaged switches will be too rough since the insides appear intact and smooth, but I'd like to prevent as much friction as possible for these structurally compromised switches. Some of them are a bit chalky at the bottom where the plasticizer did leak in to the very bottom of the module housing. I'll have to see how they actually hold up over time once I'm done.

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