Macintosh SE restoration continued
Some parts arrived allowing the project to move ahead nicely
With the computer now turning on I needed a boot disk to get it to do anything.
I decided to order a Floppy Emu from Big Mess o’ Wires, which plugs right into the external floppy port and happily emulates any floppy disk or hard drive. I got the Floppy Emu kit which includes a 3D-printed case which easily snaps together, a cable for connecting to the computer, and a memory card full of disk images for Macs, Apple IIs, and Apple Lisa computers.
I’m looking forward to using the Floppy Emu with other computers in my collection including the Macintosh 128K and SE/30, and the Apple IIe, IIc, IIc+, and IIgs — almost all of which need recapping to work again.
Setup was easy, and the little bitty screen on the Emu sprung to life as soon as I switched the Macintosh SE back on. At that point I selected a start-up disk with the buttons on the Emu and the computer happily started loading!
Booted into Mac OS 7.5.3, I saw the computer reported 2Mb of RAM. The disk utility didn’t recognize an internal hard drive despite the drive making spinning noises and flashing the activity light.
Finding this curious, I took everything apart again to get a closer look at the hard drive. Inspired by this article, which describes a malady where the drive head gets stuck on an internal piece of rubber which age has turned to sticky goo, I decided to open up the hard drive. I’d never before opened a hard drive — at least not one that I wanted to see work again!
The sticky goo is exactly what I found too, and after removing it I found some tubing intended for use by a toilet’s internal overflow valve to be exactly the right fit to replace these bumpers. I put the drive’s case back together after carefully blowing dust off the drive’s storage platter.
By the way, I recommend the video by TK from his article about repairing a drive as an entertaining and educational watch.
Yet, all of this didn’t improve the hard drive’s performance. It still makes the same normal spinning noise and the activity light blinks, but the computer neither boots off the hard drive nor will Apple’s SCSI utility recognize the drive as empty or damaged. Before I declare it dead I’d like to rule out that there’s not a problem that can’t be fixed with software.
Booting off one virtual floppy at a time doesn’t give me enough easy access to software that might diagnose a next step, so next I’d like to create a 2Gb virtual hard drive filled with tools that might be able to diagnose or repair the original drive. 2Gb is the maximum a computer of this type will recognize.
Moving the Emu’s SD card to a modern computer is easy enough, and on that newer computer I may benefit from emulating an old SE so that I can validate the drive image works well and load it up with useful software.
Meanwhile, I’ve also put in a new half-height AA battery to retain settings between turning the computer off, and I put the networking card back into the SE. And, I worked with a Magic Eraser to clean up various scuffs and slight discolorations from the case. At this point the computer is looking great.
The fan is still much louder than modern computers so I plan to order a replacement to install next time the computer is opened up. And on that occasion I might also open the hard drive up again to ensure I put it together acceptably. But then again, it also occurs to me that simply disconnecting the original internal hard drive would also make the computer quieter. Removing it entirely might also improve internal cooling. There are some modern internal hard drive replacements that might also be an interesting project.
Personally, I’m happy with the 2Mb of RAM that is installed, at least until I discover some software that would benefit from having 4Mb of RAM.
I’ll plan to report back on how it goes with the virtual hard drive.
For supporters, here are some more behind the scenes photos and commentary.
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