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Restoring vintage plastics to remove yellowing on old equipment (Does it work?) — Parallax Forums

Restoring vintage plastics to remove yellowing on old equipment (Does it work?)

RobotWorkshopRobotWorkshop Posts: 2,307
edited 2012-11-10 07:39 in General Discussion
I've always thought that the yellowing on the plastics for vintage computer equipment was a lost cause to try to restore and that the yellowing is there forever. I recently came across this site that claims to have some methods to reverse the process and restore the plastic to its original glory.

Has anyone here tried this method of know if there really are methods to remove the yellowing from plastic panels to restore them?? If this process does work I have a few vintage robots that could be restored.



  • mindrobotsmindrobots Posts: 6,506
    edited 2012-11-09 11:53
    The results on the website are impressive!
  • ercoerco Posts: 20,235
    edited 2012-11-09 11:54
    Nice find, Robert! My Hero 2000 could use some de-yellowing if this stuff works.

    That's a 25-year old robot, where I expect some discoloration. Much more disapppointing is my white RoboSapien V2 (big boy, less than 10 years old) that has a mixture of yellowed panels and white panels. Different plastics or coatings. DOH!
  • RobotWorkshopRobotWorkshop Posts: 2,307
    edited 2012-11-09 12:00
    mindrobots wrote: »
    The results on the website are impressive!

    We know everything posted on the Internet must be true, Right?

    I am asking here to see if anyone here has actually tried it to see if perhaps this really is true. If it works even half as good as the claims and pictures on the website that would be awesome!! Luckily I do have some extra plastic panels with severe yellowing which could be used to test the process. Just like to get a sanity check and see if perhaps anyone here may have already seen this and tried it.

  • RobotWorkshopRobotWorkshop Posts: 2,307
    edited 2012-11-09 12:04
    erco wrote: »
    Nice find, Robert! My Hero 2000 could use some de-yellowing if this stuff works.

    Exactly! I have a spare HERO 2000 that could look just like new again if the process works. This would also help for the Omnibot 2000 robots since those too are also prone to yellowing. I may try this first on some yellowed parts from an Omnibot and if it works may try something similar on a panel for the HERO 2000 to see how that turns out.

    I'm sure that many others on the forum who collect vintage computers may find it useful too. If it works...

  • ercoerco Posts: 20,235
    edited 2012-11-09 12:11
    Of course it works as advertised! Here's a pool full of retr0brite fluid in action:
  • mindrobotsmindrobots Posts: 6,506
    edited 2012-11-09 12:18
    All those secrets to modern living lost forever behind the Iron Curtain!!
  • Mark_TMark_T Posts: 1,981
    edited 2012-11-09 13:19
    The worry is the peroxide will lead to the plastic degrading even faster in the future... But by then a 3D scanner and printer will be be
    in every home so easy to replace the parts!
  • Peter JakackiPeter Jakacki Posts: 10,193
    edited 2012-11-09 14:03
    I just use eucalyptus oil to restore plastics and it's also good for getting all that sticky stuff off surfaces. As long as you wipe off the residue the plastic stays fine.
  • Martin HodgeMartin Hodge Posts: 1,246
    edited 2012-11-09 19:42
    I have used the retro bright on many old Atari computers an accessories. It works very well. I don't bother with xanthan gum in the recipe. Instead I submerge the item in a clear container with the solution. Don't let the stuff dry on the plastic, rinse it immediately.
  • frank freedmanfrank freedman Posts: 1,960
    edited 2012-11-09 19:51
    Just be careful if it is a collectible. To many times on antique road show or pawn stars, the experts hammered the value of something that was cleaned or restored that should not have been or lost some desirable quality when improperly done. If the value is more than sentimental, check with someone who knows about what you have.

  • LoopyBytelooseLoopyByteloose Posts: 12,537
    edited 2012-11-10 07:39
    Restoring plastics can be a bit tricky as one often doesn't know which plastic it is. I have used solvents - alcohol, benzene, toluene, acetone with varying results. In some cases, the wrong solvent will just turn the plastic into a goo. So if I am doing something like this I start out with a small spot and a q-tip.

    Another method is to remove the surface layer with automotive polishing and rubbing compound. These work well, if you want to restore a shine, but dull surfaces will become shiny.

    Often, the surface of the plastic just acquires a film of crud. Ammonia household cleaners often work to remove such.

    The one product I dislike is "Armor-all" as it just covers everying with a layer of shiny polymer that can easily become a problem at a later date when it yellows and cracks. The polymer is nearly impossible to remove once in place. It is great to put a shine on tires, but that is about all.

    Serious museum quality restoration is serious business and requires a lot of thought and planning. I can also be rather tedious to disassemble and reassemble the parts (this is getting harder every year). I'd say 'thumbs down' to anything that is trying to make a 'brand-name' for itself. Generic items are more reliable and well-understood.
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