Yesterday evening, the kiddos, most likely in a desperate attempt to get some attention from me, and having a vague understanding of my weird interests, entered my room and demanded I show them a computer restoration video.
Yes, demanded. Little foot stomping, little fist shaking demanded.
It turns out I had just noticed a 3-part Commodore 64C restoration series put out by YouTuber RetroManCave. Each episode was on the order or 20 minutes long, and much to my amazement, the kiddos not only stuck it out, but were genuinely interested.
You should have heard the excitement in their voices after the first video ended and I mentioned there were four more episodes.
And their annoyance when I later had to confess I was wrong and there were only three episodes.
I was tickled pink and moderately alarmed at the same time by their interest in such an arcane subject. But since I got to watch some “cool” videos and they were content to watch with me, it seemed prudent to refrain from rocking the boat about such an unlikely and convenient overlap in interests.
After all, it’s only going to be a few more years before the most I can get out of them is, “Whatever, Dad.” [bedroom door slam]
So imagine my shock this morning when they marched into my bedroom at 8:45am and woke me with loud demands that we buy a Commodore 64 to restore.
Yes, 8:45am. Don’t judge me! I like to sleep in on the weekends… I never get to anymore, but I sure would like to.
More specifically, my crack-o’-dawn awakening demon spawn wanted a C64 that we could retrobrite. They really, really want to retrobrite something.
For those of you not in the know, this is a process where you soak yellowed plastics in a mix of water and hydrogen peroxide for hours and hours in order to remove the yellowing. It’s not that far removed from watching paint peel and/or dry. And my kids wanted it. Bad.
I guess there are worse chemicals for them to crave and/or dabble with.
So bleary-eyed and in a mild state of shock, I started going through eBay listings with the kiddos, followed by a check of the types of TVs and monitors we had in the house to see if any had composite inputs (a couple do).
We didn’t bid on anything. The sheer volume of listings demonstrated, I explained to the kiddos, that there were plenty of the machines on the market and we could take our time to do proper research first.
They wilted. Visibly. And audibly.
Yes, when my kids wilt, they are not subtle or quiet about it. They sent the dogs scattering for cover at the furthest points of the house. Mirrors cracked. Wine glasses shattered. A filling shook loose from my tooth.
But I’m a firm, disciplined parent. I did not give in.
Did I waver? Hell, yes.
But did I give in?
No. I already told you that. Pay attention!
Instead, I partially caved and offered to let them help me “restore” my “vintage” Athlon 3200+ tower computer which has been sitting in my own man cave collecting dust.
Don’t think I’m unaware that some of you do view an Athlon 3200+ system as vintage. Screw you, Millennial scum!
Now there was no retrobriting because I don’t normally stock the necessary chemicals for such an undertaking. I have more than enough lye to dissolve a dead body, but peroxide? I love my hair the color it is.
But despite an inability to retrobrite (and admittedly, there was some need for it), there was still plenty of room for improvement when it came to this computer’s appearance, and the kiddos happily threw themselves into the project.
Well, up to a certain point.
First we took the disassembled casing and hosed all the parts off in the backyard. Both kids were up for that.
Then we used GooGone to remove sticker and tape residue. Still had two volunteers on board for that, though at this point my discipline with regards to photo documenting the process lagged considerably.
Then the off-brand Windex spraying and wipe-down commenced. At this point, we were down to one adult and one kiddo.
But give that one kiddo credit – he stuck with it through the Magic Eraser stage (he is now a born again convert to Magic Eraser). I didn’t lose him until the re-assembly stage started.
It was fun, the kids were really engaged with me and the project (for the most part), and when I put everything back together, the computer still worked. So yay!