Yellowed plastics can be a nightmare for people who like their electronics to remain in an immaculate condition as much as possible. Some might disagree and argue that yellowed plastic adds charm to a vintage piece of electronic but for most of us, the more we love the device and especially when it ticks the box as a rare device, the frustration can grow to high levels.
For many years we were avoiding to place our devices under direct sunlight, as we were blaming the sun for all the yellowed plastics during the years. Well it seems that the sun is partially responsible, as yellowing develops only in combination with some other conditions like certain lighting, humidity and warm temperature.
Christian Simpson aka Perifractic, posted on his youtube channel a few days ago his successful result of his “complicated method” to de-yellow your beloved devices. After all these years we were just doing it wrong or kinda wrong, we were using chemicals, gasses, bleaching creams in combination with sun…
But who would have thought that the solution was just exposure to the sun without using anything else! Christian’s complicated method of de-yellowing plastics, is to just place your yellowed Amiga 500 or your favorite Commorodore 64, under the sun for some hours per day until you get the desired result.
Yeah you read that right… Just place them under the sun! You can find more about his theory first hand on his video explaining why this might be happening, on https://youtu.be/8P1OVj0IcqY
I have tried applying on my Cumana 3,5 inch Amiga disk drive the bleaching method, with the peroxide cream inside a plastic bag under the sunlight, but the results were a bit disappointing, as you can see on the photo below that the whitening is not uniform on the surface (now it seems that on these areas the cream was thicker and the sun rays couldn’t pass through). To be honest I was discouraged and was waiting for another method but not as time consuming as filling tanks of water, building UV lighting chambers etc. Anyway even if I was about to try them, my wife was going to throw me out of the house, it was a no-go option for me, something like “Don’t try this at home”.
I was intrigued by the simplicity of just putting my gear under the sun, without unscrewing a screw and doing other stuff while waiting. I went ahead and placed my most yellowed computer under the direct sunlight, my C64c. I live in Cyprus where the heat and sun is not an issue for around 300+ days per year.
I started around 10:30 in the morning when the sun got hotter, the temperature was about 23 degree Celsius or 73 degrees Fahrenheit. After a couple of hours I went out to check the progress and monitor the temperature of the C64, after all I didn’t want to end up with a white but fried C64! There was a small whitening on the case and keyboard already.
When the sun started to fade I decided that it was enough for the day. Total time, around 6 hours. I’ll be honest due to my anticipation I was going every now and then to check the progress and I couldn’t realize the degree of improvement immediately. I took a photo just before taking the C64c inside and compared the photos next to each other, it was like I forgot how yellow it was in the morning. I was so amazed seeing the before and after photos next to each other and most of all by doing something so simple.
Since this is sort of new, I would suggest that you will not over do it until the retro community will be certain that there is no harm in the long run (which I doubt it but just to be on the safe side). I will continue the “treatment for some days until I get to the point that the case and keyboards colour is uniform and as bright as possible. I will keep you posted with more photos after some more C64c sunbathing :).
P.s. Thank you Christian Simpson (https://twitter.com/chrisimpsonline) for sharing your findings.
P.s. 2 You can follow on twitter the #lightbrigthing hashtag to see some really interesting de-yellowing projects.