Beamspring from Hell Restoration Log

User avatar
Erderm_

21 Mar 2020, 23:17

Hello everyone, this is my first post of any actual significance here!

This post will be a dump mostly of images following my *attempt* at restoring a IBM 3101 beamspring keyboard I rescued from an abandoned building set for demolition.

It was laying face down on a pile of computers in the basement of this building when I found it, I snapped a picture of some of the surroundings to give you an idea of the scale of the damage to what wouldve been a LOT of vintage machines.
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The building hasn't seen use in over 40 years. Unfortunately it being the basement meant extensive water damage, the room was filled with tons of definitely not salvageable late 80s IBM, Telex, and Zenith computers. The beamspring being near a wall was probably the worst spot it could've been besides the floor, as water seemed to be leaking from the ceiling. Below is the beamspring as I got it: Image

ALL of the paint had been stripped off by the moisture / corrosion of the zinc frame.
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Some of the switches depressed a little, but none of them actually clicked at all, initially. When I found the keyboard it was very much wet. After opening it up and removing the keycaps I let it sit for a day and about 80% of the switches clicked again! I am assuming this is because the flippers were stuck down from the moisture. Seeing this has given me a lot of hope for this.

Just openening this large brick up took about a hour if not more. Although it was only 4 screws, they were set very far into the case, and in my case were filled entirely with corrosion that was hard as a rock.
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To even reach the screw I used a diamond studded dremel bit and dug away at it for a while. I honestly couldnt tell where the hole i was supposed to be clearing out and the case was because it was so bad. After what felt like forever I was able to find the screw heads only to discover they were so rusted they had become little nubs, and I would have to drill them out anyways.
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I was greeted with this monstrosity when I did finally manage to get it open.
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Huge clump of dirt from the decomposed spill mat + whatever else that is, yummy.
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Some of the springs were rusted together because this keyboard was stored face down. Hopefully evaporust will be able to fix them.
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Just removing the caps almost broke my keypuller. I had to use pliers like a lever.

Caps removed:
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I did a combination of soaking in evaporust and a wire brush connected to a drill to remove the rust on the steel parts (backplate, barrel plate.) The extent that evaporust helped was very surprising!




Even preserved some of the original stamp here.
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after a day:
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The rags on the plate is because I did not have enough solution to fully submerge the parts in the container I had, and the bottle recommended for difficult areas you can soak a rag in the solution and lay it on the area. I tried this with moderate success in one area, but it also left a black stain where there was a crease in the rag. :I

You might be wondering why there is a single keycap sitting in the de-rusting solution. All the keycaps’ white insides had rust stains from the stems. Evaporust claims to be plastic safe, so I sacrificed one keycap for science. It actually worked to an extent! The keycap was unharmed and the rust stain was considerably reduced. I ran out of de rusting solutions, but I fully intend to try to repair rust stains on plastic in this way in the future. Just remember to test it on a control piece first!

The plate as is, about 90% done, just waiting on more de rusting stuff for the last bits of rust along the edges.
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The spacebar stab is very damaged even after de rusting. Probably gonna need to find a replacement :/
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The case is made of cast Zinc, so instead of rust it has heavily oxidized. When I found it almost all the paint had simply flaked off.

Since zinc is a relatively soft metal, an assortment of wire brushes connected to a power drill made removing the corrosion relatively easier. Still time consuming and a bit strenuous on your wrists, but much easier than removing rust from steel in the same way.

The metal case is pitted everywhere, some of the pits are so deep they won't be able to be sanded away. I spent more time on the top of the case than the bottom, the complex portions of the bottom case were hard to get to the same level as the top case.

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Here is where the beamspring is at currently. It looks pretty menacing as is.
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Imgur album with many many more pictures: https://imgur.com/a/e5293mo

My question to everyone: what should I do now? I could leave the case as is, or even polish it more for almost a patina / battle-scarred look. I kinda think I might use bondo to fill the pits and then paint it some kind of interesting color. Trying to restore to the original look will just highlight how damaged this was at one point, in my opinion. I also secretly have wanted to make a custom painted beamspring since getting my stock 3278. I have the keycap set from a IBM 029 punch card reader at my disposal for this too.

Thanks for reading!
Last edited by Erderm_ on 03 Jun 2020, 03:19, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

21 Mar 2020, 23:20

Hi,

In terms of your aesthetics question. The best aesthetic you can do, is your own. Whatever your heart tells you. That is the correct decision.

Otherwise. Impressive. Wow. A lot of work. I think you are up to it. If you need any help, anyone here is happy to help. above all you should make the keyboard that works for you

User avatar
PlacaFromHell

22 Mar 2020, 01:33

Here in the Hell Republic we are pretty concerned with your disrespect and violation to the right to property. Give our keyboard back and pay a 100 USD fee or face the consequences at a federal court.
Just jocking, such an adventure you have embarked on :D. Beamsprings are really tough, I will not be surpriced if this thing can still be repaired.

User avatar
JP!

22 Mar 2020, 03:39

Wow :shock: This reminds me of the abandoned beam springs left in a textile factory in Italy. The key to this will be the condition of the springs and I'd imagine a number of them might be too far gone. I would definitely use some filler primer on the case and the plate to eliminate the appearance of any pitting.

User avatar
Invisius

22 Mar 2020, 04:21

JP! wrote:
22 Mar 2020, 03:39
Wow :shock: This reminds me of the abandoned beam springs left in a textile factory in Italy.
That was the first thing I thought of when I saw that pic, so many great machines just wasted. Glad at least one piece could get rescued.

Nice work on the cleaning it up so far, this one made the Rustmaster boards look pristine in comparison! I too think you'll have to fill in the pits for an even paint adhesion, unless you wanted to keep polishing away for some kind of natural metal look.

Either way, the fact that the switches still work is a huge testament to the build quality of these things! They really are tanks.

John Doe

22 Mar 2020, 04:29

Holy shit. This is the worst beamspring I have ever seen, but it could be the best restoration project aswell.

Keep going, can't wait to see the final result!

User avatar
Redmaus
Gotta start somewhere

22 Mar 2020, 04:46

Wow, that's quite the crusty beamer. On the bright side, you have all the keycaps!

As long as the PCB and switch internals are intact I'm confident you can get it to 100% working condition. Aesthetics wise, I would go with the battle scarred finish as it already looks visually intriguing. I am probably going to do the same with my 3101 eventually(minus the scarring).

Also, I like that Piratebay tattoo ;)

Findecanor

22 Mar 2020, 04:48

Wow. It looks like the beam spring had corals growing on it ...

I would use acid-etch primer on the case, and then fill with fillers on top of that. It would be quite an undertaking though, probably requiring several iterations until you'd get a perfect smooth surface. But that's what I would do, because I'm a nutcase who tends to take on such projects. Projects always require more work than you thought initially.

TheBarista

22 Mar 2020, 16:16

First off, dope find and equaly dope tattoo. Second; Hell as in Norway? Might be able to help you with sandblasting if thats the case! Impressive effort! Keep it up!

User avatar
Erderm_

23 Mar 2020, 02:45

Thank you all for the encouragement! This beamer is not from that textile mill although I can totally see why everyone would think that lol. I think I have decided on using the filler for the pits alongside some textured paint, because I dont know If I will have the patience to get this thing as smooth as it wouldve been stock haha.

User avatar
Erderm_

23 Mar 2020, 02:47

Redmaus wrote:
22 Mar 2020, 04:46
Wow, that's quite the crusty beamer. On the bright side, you have all the keycaps!

As long as the PCB and switch internals are intact I'm confident you can get it to 100% working condition. Aesthetics wise, I would go with the battle scarred finish as it already looks visually intriguing. I am probably going to do the same with my 3101 eventually(minus the scarring).

Also, I like that Piratebay tattoo ;)
Soon I will post pics of the pcb, It and the springs are really the only things that might be a bit too damaged to repair. The pcb can be remade but I dont know how I would go about finding springs. Also ty about the tat, its my first one that isnt my own stick-n-poke :lol:

User avatar
abrahamstechnology

23 Mar 2020, 04:06

Do you still have access to that building?
It may seem impossible but I want to try my hand at an extreme PC salvage, some of the other boards there look interesting too.

User avatar
ZedTheMan

23 Mar 2020, 04:24

Oh wow, this is truly the beamspring from hell.

When it comes to this board I've worked on 3101s with two layouts now, If you ever need to make a replacement pcb there are a few people here who can provide resources.

orihalcon

23 Mar 2020, 19:25

Definitely going to take some work! Looks good so far. I'd probably suggest sandblasting everything if you have the resources to do it. The one I had in this condition have rusted out return springs and some stems, everything else on this one looks pretty salvageable though! Not sure what your PCB looks like, but that could need a replacement depending.

DJSwayde

23 Mar 2020, 20:56

lol is this where you found the Leading Edge DC-3014 I bought from you?

User avatar
Touch_It

24 Mar 2020, 15:58

LOVE the idea of a battle scarred looking unit. I'm NO expert on paint, finish, etc, but I'd find a way to show off the case as is.

User avatar
mike52787
Alps Aficionado

27 Mar 2020, 03:32

This is seriously something else. If I were you I would leave it as bare metal, and clearcoat over it. The look of the pitted metal is very cool. Massive props for saving this, it's definitely one of the worst condition keyboards i've ever seen.

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

27 Mar 2020, 14:31

Erderm_ wrote:
23 Mar 2020, 02:47
Redmaus wrote:
22 Mar 2020, 04:46
Wow, that's quite the crusty beamer. On the bright side, you have all the keycaps!

As long as the PCB and switch internals are intact I'm confident you can get it to 100% working condition. Aesthetics wise, I would go with the battle scarred finish as it already looks visually intriguing. I am probably going to do the same with my 3101 eventually(minus the scarring).

Also, I like that Piratebay tattoo ;)
Soon I will post pics of the pcb, It and the springs are really the only things that might be a bit too damaged to repair. The pcb can be remade but I dont know how I would go about finding springs. Also ty about the tat, its my first one that isnt my own stick-n-poke :lol:

Hi,
In my thread user lucar recommended these coil/return springs

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/3296025 ... 4c4d90iFjC

Not sure when they will ship due to current virus situation, but they do work. Heavier and slightly less good, but not bad by any means as a replacement return spring.

kmnov2017

27 Mar 2020, 14:41

SneakyRobb wrote:
27 Mar 2020, 14:31
Erderm_ wrote:
23 Mar 2020, 02:47
Redmaus wrote:
22 Mar 2020, 04:46
Wow, that's quite the crusty beamer. On the bright side, you have all the keycaps!

As long as the PCB and switch internals are intact I'm confident you can get it to 100% working condition. Aesthetics wise, I would go with the battle scarred finish as it already looks visually intriguing. I am probably going to do the same with my 3101 eventually(minus the scarring).

Also, I like that Piratebay tattoo ;)
Soon I will post pics of the pcb, It and the springs are really the only things that might be a bit too damaged to repair. The pcb can be remade but I dont know how I would go about finding springs. Also ty about the tat, its my first one that isnt my own stick-n-poke :lol:

Hi,
In my thread user lucar recommended these coil/return springs

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/3296025 ... 4c4d90iFjC

Not sure when they will ship due to current virus situation, but they do work. Heavier and slightly less good, but not bad by any means as a replacement return spring.
Things are shipping as normal from Aliexpress. I recieved a few products just yesterday.

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