I have a real passion for electronics. I’m a Mac technician during the week, a circuit board repairer on the weekends and in between, I look for other projects to take on. Sometimes I can’t help myself. Back in March I accepted an offer to acquire an old worn out machine from TAFE. This IBM PC-XT model 5160 was manufactured in 1986 in Wangaratta, Victoria, back when IBM was manufacturing computers in Australia.
It had seen better days, covered in Limestone dust from its time used in an Adelaide Hills quarry and with all the various tool marks and abuse that comes with being used in a trade school in later life.
I decided early on to restore this machine. IBM machines of this era are becoming harder to find and this machine has a lot of history and cultural significance associated with it, as a remnant of Australia’s computer and technology manufacturing and as an icon of the personal computer revolution in its own right, as much as the Apple II and Macintosh.
The machine was stripped to a bare metal chassis in preparation for sandblasting and repainting in the stock colour. Because my equipment and skills when it comes to painting are not that fantastic, the painting was done by an Adelaide based professional painter and powder coater. I was rather impressed with the result.
The inside of the power supply, which also serves as the main exhaust vent for the machine, was covered in 30 years of dust. So it needed to come apart for cleaning.
I thought this would be a simple process, but it ended up taking almost four hours from start to finish. The supply was dismantled back to the bare enclosure. All boards, switches and power connectors were removed and blasted with compressed air, with a stiff brush to remove any dust that had baked on the surface of boards and components. Every corner of the board and under every component was cleaned, nothing overlooked. The supply was then reassembled, bench tested and closed up. But it looked too good to not take at least one picture while it was still open.
The motherboard, component cards and cables were all cleaned using the same compressed air and brushing process as the power supply. The components were then reinstalled in the freshly painted chassis and checked for alignment and card position to match the factory configuration. The machine powered up, so we’re off to a promising start.
There is still a lot of work to be completed. Some of the cabling on the hard drive needs to be repaired, many of the screws need to be replaced, the cork feet on the underside of the case need to be replaced, the outer shell needs to be cleaned and I still need to find a replacement 5.25" full-height floppy disk drive for it. There will be other issues that need to be addressed along the way that I haven’t even thought of yet, I’m sure.
Would anyone be interested in seeing updates to this build as it continues? I’d be happy to share some photos and information with the forums from time to time if so.
I’m also throwing together an album on Imgur with more detailed photos and descriptions as well if anyone wants to check it out.