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Classic Cleaning Adventure--or, My Recent Folly



#19

I recently acquired a very nice HP80 from one of our members. Works beautifully, and thought I would give it a lite cleaning with isopropyl, which I have used on other Classics with apparent impunity.

The calculator wasn't that dirty and has existed nicely without me for thirty years, but in the process I have managed to remove one gold label completely and considerably fade three others. There is also a whitish tinge on some parts of the the keypad which appeared after the alcohol evaporated, but that seems to be fading now.

In 15 seconds of eagerness and impetuosity I have diminished the appearance and collectibility of this great unit. If I didn't get it for such a low price (for some reason the eBay public just didn't seem to want an HP80 at the moment) I would be darn insane with remorse. I have cleaned other Classics the same way and this didn't happen. Guess I won't be doing that again.

I know there is no solution to be had but I am pretty chagrined and thought I would share my woe in a place where I know people would appreciate why this would upset me so much. My wife just thinks I am being silly :(

Les


#20

I had the same experience with an HP25 (imported from Germany, yet). I described my misadventure elsewhere in this forum, but now I have a crusty white HP25 with some of the gold labels (and some of the blue labels on the keys) wiped out.

The white gunk is insoluble in water... (I ran the keyboard through the dishwasher to make sure) It can be scraped off, but of course the damage to the labels is permanent.

I cleaned 10 Classics and 4 Woodstocks in this way before I ran into this trouble. Either there's some manufacturing peculiarity or a previous owner used something weird to clean the machine.

I'm sure there are some chemical engineering types on this forum who can suggest what combination of chemicals would cause this residue to form.


#21

Randy of FixThatCalc suggested the white stuff is a reaction of skin oils with the alcohol. In my case, it improves with soap and water, but those labels are gone, and that upsets me more than the white stuff. He also suggested Armor All, carefully used, to shine it up a bit, but frankly there aren't many gold labels on the HP80 and I want to retain the ones that remain.

I am not going to munkey with it further. I am going to make up a little legend and put it on the battery pack cover to remind me of the functions of the obscured labels.

In some ways, I am glad I learned my lesson on this one. In the fall I paid over twice as much for a single owner HP45 (it is very nice, and came with the original manuals), and if I had done the same number on it I would have been wailing and carrying on.

If anyone has ever heard of restoring faded or lost labels by painting, silk screening, whatever, I would love to hear from you. Alan and I can't be the only ones who have gone thru this.

Les


#22

P.S. even with the label issue, if anyone still thinks this may still be a worthwile collectable, let me know. Despite a few recent acquisitions, other demands on my life led me to question really whether I have the time to fully enjoy the calculator hobby, and I see myself accumulating articles that may not get the use and enjoyment they deserve. So I am thinking of "flipping" some of my acquisitions, most likely at a loss (I am no bargain hunter) in the hopes that someone else may know the pleasure.

So, if my cosmetically impaired HP80--or barely used 14B, 28S, and 33C, for starters--have any appeal for anyone, let me know and I will think about formulating a proper listing for our Classifieds. I have no interest in the hassles of selling on TeS.

Thanks for the support! I can feel the love already ;)

Les

#23

Quote:
If anyone has ever heard of restoring faded or lost labels by painting, silk screening, whatever, I would love to hear from you

This article describes having rub-on labels made. Scroll down to "Restoration of Pad Printing." Note that this article is quite old, so don't count on contacting the author to get his extra sets.
#24

Les:

Before computers and printers became so ubiquitous, the way lettering in artwork was done was with "dry transfer lettering". There was a very large selection of letter sizes, fonts and colors. The companies that were big in this were Letraset and Chartpak.

Dry transfer transfer letters are wax letters on a slippery carrier sheet. You position the desired letter over the surface and then rub it with a styluss to press the letter onto the surface. Peeling the carrier away from the surface leaves the wax letter in place. The letter is very fragile and normally a clear coating is applied to protect it.

I don't know if there are dry transfer letters still available that would look right on an HP calculator but it may be worth some research.

A very quick Google search found this:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000BRBZGK/ref=dp_image_0/102-5117613-2439333?ie=UTF8&m=A1KQ8Q5LL5HU6M&n=130581011&s=toys-and-games

This very long link seems to be to a hobby shop. It appears that model train enthusists still use transfer lettering.

-- Richard


#25

Quote:
I don't know if there are dry transfer letters still available that would look right on an HP calculator but it may be worth some research.

I saw some dry-transfer lettering in various sizes in OfficeMax a few years ago, but I don't know if they still carry that sort of thing. As I recall, they were in the section of the store where drafting tools and supplies were kept. (I was looking for the dry-transfer letters as a possible way of putting labels on blank HP-41 keyboard overlays, but didn't find any that were small enough for my purposes.)

This discussion has brought back memories of a newsletter I and a few friends put out for a while as teenagers in the early '70s. We'd type up the copy on an electric typewriter, then cut and paste it (literally, using scissors and rubber cement) onto heavy paper stock, lining it up in columns drawn with non-photographic-blue pencils. Then we'd add headlines and other "special text" with dry-transfer lettering, and take the whole thing to a print shop. They'd photograph it and transfer the image to a metal plate which was used for printing a bunch of copies. The quality was surprisingly good and relatively inexpensive; the result looked quite professional. Of course, it took us a couple of days to get each issue ready to go to the printer, but it was a lot of fun -- and we didn't have to compete with a bunch of other kids with access to a PC and an inkjet printer!

#26

I typed up a little bit of paper with "YTM INTR BOND" and taped it to the top of the calculator as a crib for the faint or missing labels in the top row. The fourth missing label is the CLEAR above CLX, but that is easy enough to remember.

This way, should I ever wish to use the desired functions in the future, I tilt the calc up a little and see what the labels used to say before I so egregiously besmirched them.

Good thing I didn't go into art restoration. Imagine me at the MoMA--"I'm sorry boss, I thought sulphuric acid would be safe on the Warhols...."

I hope this is one of those times I will look back on one day and laugh. So far, I am just cringing....

Les


#27

Quote:
I'm sorry boss, I thought sulphuric acid would be safe on the Warhols....

If you haven't already seen the movie "Bean" (1997), you should rent the DVD.


#28

Quote:
If you haven't already seen the movie "Bean" (1997), you should rent the DVD.

That's exactly what came to my mind when I read Les's post! Really funny :-)

#29

Hi Les,

Quote:
If I didn't get it for such a low price (for some reason the eBay public just didn't seem to want an HP80 at the moment) I would be darn insane with remorse.

For some reason, HP80s do not attract much interest from collectors, even if they appear on eBay only sporadically. I got mine shortly before Christmas from the Netherlands and was practically the only bidder, so the price was very reasonable (at least compared to other calculators of the same age).
So there is some hope that you will be able to replace yours with a better one in the near future without having to sell your house first :-)

Quote:
I know there is no solution ...

As for the trim, with some patience and good fine-motorics in your fingertips you should be able to do something. You certainly know this article here already: http://www.vintagecalculators.com/html/restoration_of_calculators.html

But there is probably no way to repaint the keycaps in any decent way.

Your misfortune happened to me only once: I completely erased the label of a Compucorp power supply; luckily I cleaned this _before_ I started with the calculator itself.
Since then, I really only clean _dirty_ calculators. If they are clean when I get them (as is always the case when you buy from a collector!), I leave them as they are. Otherwise, I start with water only, if it dosen't help, I use a drop of "environment friendly" detergent, and if this dosen't help either, I try alcohol (ethanol). But nothing else.

Good luck, Max


#30

Quote:
For some reason, HP80s do not attract much interest from collectors...

General, run-of-the-mill HP-80's don't generate much interest or high prices. However, what I call the "Version 1" models, those with the metal trim bar below the display and whose bottom label say "HEWLETT*PACKARD" instead of "HEWLETT*PACKARD 80" are quite sought after and seem to always fetch fairly high prices.
#31

Mine was fine before I decided to mess with it!

I think I will keep this one as a reminder to be careful, or pass it on eventually to someone who doesn't mind I have cosmetically flawed it. There could be someone out there who really would prefer an HP80 to do their TVM calculations over the 12c, 17B, 14B, etc.

The original seller has reminded me that this hobby is supposed to be about fun. The HP80 is still nice to have and so far the only one of the 4 Classics I own that is fully usable without further service. On a daily basis it would be most fun for straight arithmetic, and there is nothing wrong with the key lettering.

I need to cheer myself a little by making lemonade.

Les


#32

Quote:
I need to cheer myself a little by making lemonade.

Les


You should have cleaned the keyboard with lemon juice and cheered yourself up with alcohol...

seriously, a good art supply store will sell small do-it-yourself silk screening kits. It's a rather involved process, but it's probably not impossible with todays ink jet printers to turn out a decent home made silk screen. In case you don't know, silk screens use a process similar to chemical film developing to develop the desired image on a tensioned nylon screen. the developed chemical blocks the openings in the screen, and the ink flows through the unblocked design onto the work. You would use the ink jet printer to print a computer-designed mask, develop the screen, and print. You'll probably have to spend a couple of hundred bucks on the equipment, and invest some time climbing the learning curve, but it could be done, and it would probably be a lot of fun.


#33

This looks like a fairly simple system to use:

http://www.ezscreenprint.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=3


#34

I have had the same problem with an HP25. I printed out one of the colour photographs on the CD onto an overhead transparency then cut out the holes and overlaid it on the keyboard. You will need to put a sheet of white paper behind it to get the contrast.

I've done the same on a silver bezel 32SII as I prefer the older lettering.


#35

Charles, could you send me photos of your results? This looks promising, if I am serious about restoring this. It is the only thing wrong with the calculator...

Les


#36

Hi Charles, I have decided to colour laser print the image in the correct size and simply laminate it with the same stuff one uses for ID cards and the like. Right now I am trying to track down a hi-res photo of the HP80--there isn't one on the DVD.

The good news is that this is a very satisfactory "functional" fix for this. The HP80 keypad involves two colours--black background, gold letters--and is not very "busy", so an overlay will produce a very satisfying result. The result may not be so pleasing for the very busy multicolour keypads of the HP65, 67, and several woodstock models.

Using overlays is probably a sensible idea in general. I keep mine on my HP41s all the time for routine use--for me, when I see an HP41 with my minds eye it is always with the grey overlay in place.

Thanks for the idea!

Les


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