SSK rivet repair advice


03 Mar 2021, 04:11

Hi All,

Last year I got a new in box IBM SSK off of ebay (original tape was in tact until I opened it). I haven't really used it other than to verify it worked, and typing on it felt great. I took it out of it's box/styrofoam today to check something and hear a small bit of rattle. Figuring a rivet or two may have popped (not unusual) I thought about it and decided to open it up with my driver and remove the bad rivet bits so they couldn't get caught anywhere.

This was a bad idea.

Upon opening the SSK I found that a bunch of rivets had failed, leaving their heads behind in the lower case. And while checking the steel plate for any issues a few more fell off, some likely already bad and stuck in place, but I think at least two I managed to break despite my attempts to be gentle while handling the assembly. Unfortunately now that I put it back together the key feel has definately suffered, the ping sound is now rather inconsistent, especially on the escape key and arrow cluster as those corners are basically rivet less at this point.

I don't have the tools/experience to feel comfortable doing a screw mod (or bolt mod) right now, especially since this was NOS and I'm it's first user I don't want to do any further harm by adding a bad repair attempt on top. So as I see it I have three options to pursue:

1) Leave it be and don't really use the keyboard :(
2) Find someone else to repair it for me
3) Check if and how Unicomp might be able to repair the board

Any thoughts on these or other options? I'm leaning towards at least shooting Unicomp an email on what they would do to repair it. If they would keep and bolt/screw mod the original barrel plate it seems a no brainer. I'm in the puget sound area of Washington but I don't know anyone locally who would be able to do a mod/repair yet

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Elder Messenger

03 Mar 2021, 04:50

I am not volunteering to work on it, but I bought a NOS in sealed box SSK from Cindy a few years ago and nearly half of its rivets were broken. Plastic is not known for aging well, and since I have done many bolt-mods on Model Ms I was not bothered and would probably have done it anyway.

Sit tight for a while and an opportunity may present itself. Or you may summon the courage to do it yourself. Although I always do full bolt mods myself, since it is obviously clean inside a screw mod would surely be acceptable, and vastly easier.


03 Mar 2021, 05:03

Thanks for the kind words. Yes you're absolutely right that I don't have any reason to rush things. I suspected that most of them were just broken from age (and any jolts the box got on it's near 30 year journey). I'm just bummed that I gave in to the temptation to open it and ended up making it worse, especially on the key feel. The board typed perfect/amazing before I opened it, but now much less so thanks to the additional rivets that came off while I was handling it.

I honestly should have learned my lesson by now about not opening vintage items unless absolutely necessary to do so, especially if plastic is involved. I finally learned that about vintage telephones I collect but then my neurotic desire to get the what I thought would be a teeny tiny rattling bit of plastic out just made things worse :\

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03 Mar 2021, 10:45

I bolt-modded several regular model Ms and one or two SSKs. There's absolutely no difference in the process, if anything, SSK is less work because there are less rivets that need replacing :D You do need a certain level of precision but you don't need 100% precision when drilling holes. However, a drill stand (press) is a must, if you ask me. I certainly wouldn't do it without one.

I would offer to do the mod for you but seeing that you're in the US, it wouldn't be financially viable.


03 Mar 2021, 14:18

yeah I got a NIB SSK off of eBay last year for 60 and it was missing literally 1/2 the rivets and that god screw modded together

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Elder Messenger

03 Mar 2021, 15:10

Half-Saint wrote:
03 Mar 2021, 10:45

However, a drill stand (press) is a must, if you ask me. I certainly wouldn't do it without one.
I have done at least a dozen of them and I did not have a drill press (I have one now but got it after I stopped using and modding Model Ms), but that would be easier. Put on your reading glasses and get in there close. Hold your Dremel with both hands and set it on its slowest speed. It is a big help to shave the tops of the "mesas" flat and put a dimple in the middle to prevent "walking" by the drill tip. In my opinion the smallest spherical burr tip is best for that.


04 Mar 2021, 22:58

Thanks for the input/advice everyone. The only tool I have right now is a screwdriver/drill combo. If I was going to do it myself it seems a dremel or better precision drill is the way to go. I wouldn't be able to do that anytime soon as I currently have no space to use as a workshop.

I'm still considering reaching out to Unicomp to ask how they would do a repair for this. As the Mini M is a new thing the 84 key frames listed in the parts category are NOS from back in the day (since Unicomp never had molds for them). Does anyone have experience with those frames and how they affect key feel? If they are old stock IBM/Lexmark parts with good key feel I would feel a lot less bad then if they would replace the vintage barrel frame with one that's newer and would degrade the key feel

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05 Mar 2021, 00:09

Why do you think you need to replace the original 84-key frame/whole barrel assembly?

If there are no pre-existing lateral cracks in the plastic frame, it sounds like your IBM model M SSK just needs to have the plastic rivets carefully removed, drilled out, and replaced with M2 metal screws.

On February 27, we just did an SSK for another model M fan last week and we photographed the work and he was happy with the new feel after the repairs.
ClickyKeyboards SSK repair-1
ClickyKeyboards SSK repair-1
154965446_10158973827941203_5801874184781535200_o.jpg (509.29 KiB) Viewed 365 times
ClickyKeyboards SSK repair-2
ClickyKeyboards SSK repair-2
154339762_10158973828286203_2756098395509739154_o.jpg (446.57 KiB) Viewed 365 times
(For multiphoto library of our SSK rebuild). ... 3832306203


05 Mar 2021, 01:08

Ah, to be clear I don't think I need a new barrel frame. Rather my assumption was that if I were to send it to Unicomp to repair that they would replace the barrel frame to do so rather than do a bolt/screw mod on it. That's just one option I'm considering and I was curious if anyone had experience with Unicomp SSK repairs/barrel frame replacements.

Of course if I go the bolt/screw mod route, either myself or sending it to someone to do, the original barrel frame is essentially brand new other than the failed and failing rivets and would be perfect once modded. I had forgotten you offer repairs on clickykeboards so that's certainly another option :)


15 Mar 2021, 21:56

Just an update for anyone finding this thread in the future looking for SSK repair advice. I reached out to Unicomp support and they said that they are unable to repair SSKs as they don't have any parts available. Based on this response they would have replaced the barrel frame if that was an option rather than do a screw mod (I believe this is what they do for full size boards so I'm not surprised)

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