Quadra 950 Restoration Part 1

Jun 23, 2020Computer Improvements0 comments

So it’s a normal day at work and I’m browsing.  A post from r/VintageApple comes up in my feed like it does on any other day.  But today, I end up getting something I’ve wanted since ’94.  The post is titled, “I bought a van load of vintage Apple system”.  I read and look at the photos.  He’s got CRT monitors, display and portrait!  He’s got Mac IIs, LC IIs and LC IIIs.  He’s got Perfomas, PowerMacs and Mac Pluses.  Disk drives, keyboards, and the list goes on and on.  Even a NeXT system with monitor was in there.

Then I see it.  A line that says ‘Not Pictured: Power Mac 9600/200 MP & Quadra 950’.  I hit reply with out even thinking.  “What kinda condition is the Quadra 950 in?” I write.  He replies, “I mean, all the parts are inside of it. I have it in my van right now. Haven’t really looked it over , but motherboard looked clean. Didnt see any corrosion.”  I explain to him how badly I’ve wanted a Quadra 950 and even linked him to a previous post I had made about them.  I pasted that in to my previous post about my restoration project.  So I go back and forth with the guy a bit and he agrees to sell and ship it to me in sight unseen, untested condition.  I take a chance and it works out.  I send him the FedEx label and wait.

As you can see from these photos, the thing appears pretty rough.  I’m taking a chance and not getting my hopes up too much. I expect it will arrive and be DOA.  A good sign is that the battery hadn’t yet exploded and as he descibed and showed in the photo, the board looks really clean.

I noticed that the machine has an asset tag for “Metrowerks” Had a look at wikipedia: Metrowerks was a company that developed software development tools for various desktop, handheld, embedded, and gaming platforms Including like Sega Saturn and other game systems at the time. Wow. 

Anyway, I know it’s gonna be a bundle to ship it, and the time/effort you have to put in to it, and all. Just, whatever you think is fair, I would be happy with.

I’d be pleased as punch to get this into the hands of someone who appreciates it fully.

Now I’m really getting excited.  Could there be some cool stuff left on the hard drive?  Even some old text files of code.  Not that I could read it but it would be sure cool to see some code or notes or other assets from this long gone golden age of computing.

The delivery gets here and I get it unboxed and hooked to a monitor.  Here comes the moment of truth.  (I really wish I had videoed or at least photoed the unboxing, setup and attempted startup for archival purposes, but I didn’t.)  I hit the power key and the PSU clicks, the fans start up and the system CHIMES!!  

Followed by several flashes from what looked like coming from the power supply.  I smell that oh so familiar smell of electrical fire.  I yanked the power cord from the back and fall in to a deep dark depression.

A tantalum capacitor on the motherboard exploded. After some preliminary research and asking questions on r/VintageApple and 68kmla.org I learned this is not too uncommon. These tantalum caps can explode when they are very old but hey, at least they don’t leak all over the board and corrode the traces to make the entire thing unusable.

I watched several videos on how to remove and replace these caps.  I got some ordered and on the way.  We are going to get this thing working again.  I must have a working 68k Mac with FPU in my collection and what could be better than this machine that I loved so much as a kid.

In my next post I will disassemble the Quadra 950 and retr0bright the case, followed by replacing the blown capacitor and then ultimately reassembling and powering on this piece of 90s American silicone muscle.


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