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Bell and Howell (Apple II+) Restoration


Hello and welcome back to another 8-Bit restoration
project! So, what we have this time is the Bell & Howell. For those who don’t know, this is actually
an Apple II plus, and it was actually made by Apple and was rebranded under the name
Bell and Howell mostly to sell under the education market, there’s a long story about that,
kind of interesting. The Apple II community lovingly refers to
this as the Darth Vader machine. Now, this particular one was donated to me
13 months ago by Ken Hargy, and I’m just now getting around to messing with it. And, unfortunately, somebody, long ago in
the past, has done this hideous modification where they cut a giant hole in the case and
put this ugly fan here. And not only is this modification particularly
ugly, but it also makes it impossible to sit a monitor on top of the computer. The Bell and Howell units are actually pretty
rare these days. So it’s probably worth while to get this
thing restored back to as new as possible. So, let’s dig in. So, the first thing I need to do I guess is
try powering this thing on and see if it works. I’m a little concerned because some of these
Apple II units have filter caps in the power supply that will explode after years of sitting. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. But I still didn’t get any video. However, I realized that if I wiggled the
composite video connection it would try to show something. Eventually I managed to get a stable picture,
but we’ll need to come back and fix that later. In the mean time, I’m more concerned about
the fact that all I see is garbage on the screen when I turn it on. Let’s pop the cover off and see what we
can find here. I’ll start by removing some of these things
that we just don’t need. Or, at least things we don’t need just to
see it boot to BASIC. This card, for example, is some sort of printer
card. Definitely don’t need that just to boot. This is some sort of RAM expansion card. It appears to have possibly 256K on board
and room for a lot more, but again, this is not something we need just to boot. So, let’s fire it up again. Still no luck. I also noticed there is what appears to be
an RF modulator shoved down in here. This was for connecting to a television, which
would essentially make the computer broadcast on Channel 33 so that you could tune your
TV into that. And it appears this little 4 pin connector
is designed to connect right there by the video jack. Well, I’ll come back to the motherboard
later. For the moment let’s look at this ugly fan
and see what we can do about that. I’m not sure why they put this rubber band
here, which has now become old and crusty. I guess I’ll start by unscrewing these bolts
that are holding it on. That dried up rubber band was holding the
fan on almost like glue. OK, next I’ll unscrew these bolts holding
the power cord on. And there we go. I have no use for this stuff, so in the garbage
it goes. OK, well, that’s an improvement already. There’s a lot of adhesive gunk on this lid,
so I’ll get out the alcohol and see what I can do with that. And that worked really well. OK, so it’s all cleaned up. And other than these scratches, it looks pretty
good. But I wonder what I can do about that big
hole. Well, it just so happens I was invited to
attend Maker Faire in Orlando. This place was really awesome with all kinds
of cool contraptions there. I got to sit in a replica of the DeLorean
from Back to the Future. This was a really impressive piece of work
both inside and out. Here’s the time circuits, and the flux capacitor,
and even has the right license plate, except it is for Florida. And there were plenty of other cool things
to be seen! And I brought the lid to the Bell and Howell
machine along with me on the plane. I met up with a very talented guy named Stefan
who works for Disney building props. He was going to take a shot at repairing my
lid for me with some resin. The first thing he did was just cut up some
pieces of foam board and made a little rectangular wall out of it. He used hot glue to stick it to the case temporarily. Now, the idea here is that he wanted to make
a mold of the texture of the case, which hopefully will all make sense here shortly. So, once he had the little wall made, he tried
to get it as level as possible. He used some sort of silicone but it came
in a two-part solution that required being mixed together. I kept being reminded of playing with Nickelodian
Gak. I think he was letting it spread out from
the center like this so it wouldn’t have any air bubbles in it. After this was poured, it needed to cure for
several hours. So, skipping ahead a few hours, the silicone
had finished curing, so it was time to remove it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my camera
to focus on the texture of this, but you can take my word for it, it did capture the texture
of the Bell and Howell plastic. The hot glue was less cooperative than we
expected, but we managed to get it all off eventually. The next thing he did was bevel out all of
the holes just a little bit. The idea being the holes would be slightly
cone shaped instead of straight through, this adding additional mechanical stability. That way if you sat something heavy on top
of this, it wouldn’t be as likely to pop out. And then it was time for the resin. Now, beyond just mixing the two parts together,
he also added some dye. We talked about this for a while and he warned
me that an exact color match would not be likely given the time constraints we had and
the equipment that was on hand at the faire. Most likely the only way to get it perfect
would have been to make possibly dozens of test pieces with different combinations of
dye and let them all cure and pick the best one. We just did a single test piece and the color
seemed pretty close. So we went with it. The next challenge was to clamp this silicone
down on the computer. Now there’s a perfect amount of pressure
that you need. If you have too much, the silicone will push
through the hole slightly, thus preventing the resin from being flush. But if not enough pressure, it could spill
out on the other side too. Unfortunately, there was no way to really
get a good clamp on one side of this mould. Anyway, here comes the resin. I was expecting it to be thicker than this,
but this poured out almost like water. And time was also of the essence because this
stuff was fast curing resin, taking only a few minutes to solidify. Most of the stuff I’ve messed with takes
hours, if not days to fully cure. After about 10 minutes, it was time for the
moment of truth. What was it going to look like on the other
side? Would the texture match? And would the color match? Well, the good news is, the texture matched
perfectly. The bad news is, the color isn’t as close
as we were hoping. So, when I got back home, I went to the local
hardware store and decided to get some spray paint. I noticed they even had this little display
for “test spray paint here.” I brought the lid with me and tried to compare
it to all of the colors available. I even tried a test spray, but it was hard
to do while holding the camera and the reality is, it’s never going to look right when
sprayed on paper. I ended up getting two different colors that
I felt were close, and then what I did was spray the edge of these two floppy disks to
see how it looks on plastic. I wrote on the back of the disks which color
I used. So here we go, let’s see how these compare
with the plastic. Irritatingly, one is too light and the other
is too dark, but there were no in-between colors available. I’m also not thrilled with the metallic
flakes in there. I’ll have to think about this for a bit. In the meantime, I wanted to tackle the motherboard
problem. I took the computer over to Raymond’s place
because he had a spare Apple II Plus motherboard we could use for testing. But first he wanted to use his fancy RAM tester
and see if any of the RAM chips were bad. And they all tested good. He also has a little CPU tester that is compatible
with the 6502, so we tested that, and it tested good as well. So, then we took the spare Apple II board
and started swapping chips around starting with the ROMs to see if any were bad. We put chips from my board into his and tested
each one. Eventually we found the culprit and it ended
up being this 74LS257 chip. When I got back home, I figured it was time
to turn it over and take it apart. Fortunately, Apple II systems are pretty easy
to take apart. There are just a few screws on the bottom. And then the case will come right off. I do need to unplug the keyboard, though. This thing is a little bit dusty inside, but
not too bad. I’ve seen way worse. Still, I’ll remove this trash out of here. And then I want to take a look at this video
jack. This is a common issue that affects almost
every apple product from the era due to the type of RCA connector they used. As you can see, what happens is that the jack
becomes loose from the base and no longer makes a good grounding contact. My friend Raymond actually has some new old-stock
jacks and he gave me one. But the trouble is, the same problem will
eventually happen to this one as well. So I think it’s better to fix it. What I’ve always done in the past is to
just heat this area up and solder it together. This will solve the problem once and for all. I’ll give it a test now, and yep, it is
nice an firm. I’ll just power it up to verify it is still
working. And yes, it is. I think I’ll also give the board a good
spray with some compressed air and then I’ll use a brush to get any dust that was too stubborn
to come off that way. Also there is this crud on one of the ROM
chips. I’m not sure what it is, but it sort of
looks like white-out. I tried some alcohol on it to no avail. So next I’ll try some WD-40. I’ll just spray some on a paper towel because
I don’t want to risk getting it all over the board. I’ll just apply little on there and let
it sit for 10 minutes or so. Even after 10 minutes it didn’t want to
wipe off, but I found that I could use a screwdriver and gently scrape it off. And that ended up working out pretty well. At least you can read the numbers on there
now. Looking at this case now, I knew the keyboard
needed some help on the outside, but I also noticed it is bent on the inside. This is most likely due to a hard impact or
something heavy being sat down on top of the keyboard. Fortunately, there are just 4 screws to remove
and the keyboard will come right out. And there we go. I also found this ugly left-over double-sided
tape inside the case. I suspect this was holding the RF modulator
on at some point. But that’s got to go. The way I deal with this is to use a screwdriver
to scrape away the left over foam. And then, I can use some WD-40 on the adhesive
layer and let that sit for a bit. Then I can scrape away the adhesive with a
screwdriver. By the way, I always use a little bit of a
dull screwdriver for this. If it is really sharp it will scratch the
plastic. With a dull screw driver you’re sort of
pushing the stuff away rather than scraping it. Anyway, that worked out really well. I followed up with some alcohol to clear up
any remaining residue. That looks great now! So, now it is time to paint. I’ve masked off just the center area there,
so I won’t be painting the whole lid. And I decided to mask off and paint part of
the main case, so I’m just going to paint these two side pieces as well, so that hopefully
it will match all the way across in that recessed area. I decided not to use either of those metallic
paints I bought, and instead I’m going to use this flat black. Well, here goes nothing. Hey, I think that might actually work out. So far so good. And now I’ll get these areas too. Well, I’m going to need to let that sit
for a while and I’ll give it a second coat. While waiting on that to dry, I’m going
to take a look at this keyboard. So you can clearly see where it is bent. I think I’ll need to remove this little
daughterboard. It’s held in place by these little nylon
snaps. And here we go. I’m a little perplexed by the design decision
here. Anyway, I tried to bend this back with my
hands but didn’t have much luck. So I tried using a fulcrum point. Like most of life’s problems, this one can
be solved with bending. And now to move on to removing the keys. Some I could remove with my fingers, but others
required the key puller. And I’ll use some compressed air to blow
the crud out of here. One thing I noticed is that the keyboard wasn’t
made by Apple, which does explain the need for that daughterboard. As usual, I used a wet paper towel to clean
the keys. One bright side of the Apple II is that it
has a small keyboard so this took about half as much time as usual. Also, as usual, some keys did have extra gunk
on them that required some extra work. However, none were more irritating than these
F and J keys. Somebody had added these bumps so they could
find the right touch typing positions without looking at the keyboard. But, I thought it looked terrible and wanted
to remove these. I thought maybe I could pop them off with
a screwdriver, but I came to the realization that these weren’t just bumps with adhesive
on them. This was, in fact, some sort of epoxy that
had been dropped on here and allowed to cure. And then there was this stuff! I thought I’d give WD-40 a try. I let it sit for a while. And while it had no effect on the epoxy, which
I was not surprised about, it did make this tape or whatever it is loosen quite a bit. I continued to work on this epoxy for several
minutes and eventually was able to scrape most of it off. Unfortunately, it did end up scratching the
keys some. But at least you can actually see the letter
now. It might be possible to polish this down,
but I’m not going to worry about it for now. So, it’s time to re-assemble the keys. And, of course, I took a photo of it before
hand. And there we go! So, it was time to re-assemble the computer. I’ll put this language card back in there. And I think I’ll try out this floppy drive
emulator I acquired a while back. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet. And now to put my painted top back on. That doesn’t look half bad. And this little TV I always use looks almost
like it was made for this computer, even though it’s about 19 years newer than the computer
itself. Well, let’s try out some games. And, so this is another computer that I am
happy to be able to move from the repair pile to the display of properly working computers
in my home. The Bell and Howell unit, if you haven’t
figured it out, is basically just an Apple II Plus with a black case. And, I could in fact use the standard Apple
II floppy drives even though the color doesn’t match, although they did actually make floppy
drives that match this, but they look exactly like these except they have black. I could probably paint one of these and you
wouldn’t know the difference. Anyway, so that is it for the moment, so I
have a lot of neat stuff coming up soon, so stick around for that and thanks for watching!

Glenn Chapman

100 Comments

  1. Bell and Howell edition? So it breaks down daily and requires a technician to come in for specialized repairs?

  2. I got my start in coding in 1980 on a machine just like this. Iโ€™m still what we call a โ€œdeveloperโ€ today! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  3. You should have left the hole as it would have been a great cup holder. I'm kidding of course! Great restoration and video!

  4. You cover up the biggest part of the repair way too fast! I know the match isn't perfect, but it still deserves to be shown off!

  5. Lode Runner gets you sub'd. ChopLifter would have been better ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. How about, Goo gone. That's much more efficient and cheaper at the Dollar tree

  7. fan mod proving once again, Apple does not, and didnt ever know how to properly cool their machines

  8. I think I have some new old stock RAM and CPU chips. Do they worth anything?

  9. That was an amazing repair. I am a model maker, so I thought about the resin as soon as I saw the hole, you did an outstanding work. You should paint the inside of the cover also. Congrats!!

  10. Its a BEAUTIFUL fix! That said,ย that IIe isย so old-school, what could it be used for, other than a few games, in THIS day and age??? (Too badย its not compatible with web surfing; that would KICK!)

  11. After seeing protective epoxy "blobs" on a couple of the piano keyboards you've restored, I'm wondering if that or a blob of hot glue could be used to help prevent the video connector from popping loose.

  12. But.. Why waste time on this?

    Like all Apple products, they deserve to be haphazardly tossed to the side and endlessly ridiculed for their failings.

  13. "Somebody donated this UGLY BROKEN PIECE OF SHIT to me. So let's get to it!"

  14. One word : respect ! Keep going on. We need people who restore and manage to build museum.

  15. Bell & Howell used to own DeVry Schools, (as well as Merrill Publishing) and sold those Apple IIs to the students and set them up in their labs as well.

  16. If you didn't own an Apple ][+ and have the thing overheat on you after 6+ hours of work on a research paper, the notion of the fan would be horrible. I had a nice external sucker fan hanging off the side of mine (made by Kensington?) but even with it the chips would heatsoak eventually and anything not saved to disk would get lost. This one looks like the owner had the same frustration and thought a blower aimed at the power supply would save him trouble. Doubt it worked as well as he hoped.

  17. My very first computer was an Apple II+, I bought it new in 1980 for about $1000. It had no hard drive, no floppy drive, no monitor, no Internet access. Pretty basic machine. I think it had 64K ram (or maybe 48K). You couldn't do much with it, but I wish I still had it.

  18. OMFG, WOW. Awesome restoration bring back old Apple life ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ ๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ

  19. Wait, so all the keys on the keyboard just worked? Those old Datanetics keyboards ALWAYS have bad keys that either produce double-characters or no characters.

  20. In the garbage? what a waste. That was a good quality vintage rubber band. lol

  21. thank you for making these type of videos.. i recently got into collecting old computers and consoles and your videos really inspire me to keep doing so ๐Ÿ˜€

  22. You can get plastic razor blades for scrapers so that it wonโ€™t risk damaging the cases instead of the screwdriver.

  23. @10:00 Maybe too perfectionist? I don't think I would risk scraping a ROM with a screwdriver if I didn't have to.

  24. Man. you scrapping plastic with a metal tool @13:10 gave me a heart attack. Dude, use a plastic scrapper or guitar pick. and grease the surface first.

  25. Paul's calling my mom a whore on my phone Paul's moms a whore she's married.

  26. The red stuff on the keys looks like wax to me. If so heat would be all that was needed to remove it.

  27. i use to play loadrunner on apple 2e back in my early teens, it reminded me of Pitfall on Atari

  28. Maker Faire….. arseholes rub arseholes backs and if youโ€™re no one then you might as well fuck off …. but yeah great ……

  29. the reason these are like super rare is because they were used for schools, and schools usually throw them out

  30. I was impressed with your work. So awesome~ ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  31. You can radically improve load times by replacing the RWTS routine with code that pages the memory in and then copies it into the post-nybble buffer. All version of Apple DOS have an entry vector for the RWTS so it's easy to replace it across all version of DOS, even ProDOS.

  32. bruh … for scraping glues and paints and what not: get a plastic scraper and use SOLVENT

  33. Any idea what the resin was? I might be getting an Adam computer in the future which needs some missing pieces replaced.

  34. i love this channel! the repairs and stuff are so cool! im planning on using old computers and repairing them. this is a very inspiring channel!

  35. Why didn't you get some custom color-matched paint mixed up? Lots of hardware, autoparts, and paint stores can do that.

  36. Screwdriver scratches plastics. You have to use plastic tongue (like credit card or guitar pick) to remove glue from plastics.

  37. Just a tip a good way to remove glue residue without scratching is with a plastic razor(not one used for shaving. One used for the removal of stickers).

  38. Why would you throw away that ac fan? It could be reused in old power supply units and etc.

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