Have you ever noticed that some of those white/light plastics products you own have yellowed over time? Or perhaps, like me, you recently bought a used device from yesteryear, like a Kodak Pakon F-135 scanner. Most of these products are made of ABS plastic (known for its properties in resistance and toughness), and luckily the color of the plastic is in fact salvageable. A coworker of mine informed me about this process and his experiences with Retr0brite-ing older Mac computers. I was intrigued, curious, and figured that I had nothing to lose so as long as the scanner still functioned properly after I was done.
Admittedly, I didn’t follow all of the rules or completely follow one of the many tutorials on Youtube. We decided that we would sort of take the shortest, most efficient, but maybe not the most comprehensive route, so if you’re into a quick fix, this tutorial is for you. Besides, the discoloration, wasn’t that bad compared to some before/after shots I have seen from others. If you are all about doing things the right way, you may want to leave now before you cringe to death or want to tell me how terrible my process was. Trust me, I already know.
**Disclaimer, photos are a tad grainy. Time for a new batch of chemicals to be made.**
To start, this is what the Pakon looked like prior to the process with all of my materials besides the screwdrivers. The bottle of peroxide provides a good distinction of colors:
As for materials to conduct the process, all you need is the following:
- Screwdriver set (Phillips & Torx)
- 40 Volume Peroxide
- Direct sunlight
- A surface to work on
- Some sort of liner to protect the surface (i.e. a garbage bag)
- About 2 hours of your time
To get started, you have to flip the Pakon over and remove the top case by removing a handful of screws, I think there were 6 or 8. The nice thing about taking the Pakon apart is that it was designed to be easily fixed by the photolabs that owned them. No disconnecting wires, no fragile parts directly in your way, nothing. I have had to take my Pakon apart quite a few times because of inconsistent Polling errors in the TLX software due to dust on the tiny film sensors. It’s a pain to do this every time it happens, but I’m looking into purchasing a dust cover in the near future. Anyhow, here is what the unit looks like after the top is off:
Again, super easy. Time to take all the materials outside. Be sure to keep the screws in safekeeping in the meantime.
Once we got outside and all situated, the rest of the process was just as easy with a bit more periodic involvement. Basically all we did was pour a generous amount of peroxide on the case every 15-20 minutes or so. After pouring it on, we lathered it around for about 2-3 minutes, making sure to apply it evenly throughout the piece and turned it 90 degrees on the table each time. We let it sit for the remainder of the 15 minute increment. This was done not only produce a balanced color in the end, but to also prevent color scarring (see top image) since the peroxide was so highly concentrated. We did get a little bit of scarring in the final product, so we may try this process again with a less concentrated solution, perhaps 20 volume or so. I think I’m okay with the improvements I got from this single process. Minor note, I also tried to be careful around the film entries, but I didn’t bother covering them.
After an hour or so of doing this (we may have did an hour and a half), we cleaned up, rinsed off the top case in the sink with tap water and let it dry. We screwed it back on top of the base, and I couldn’t really complain about the result:
It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely an improvement. I get a little sense of pride every time I see the scanner on the shelf when I walk in the room. The change is slightly better seen in person, or maybe I am just color-biased every time I look at it.
Again, my process is in no way the “right way” of doing things, but if you get a result that you are happy with, I guess it doesn’t matter much. This blog was created with the goal of focusing on the process and not the result anyway.
If you have done something similar, I would love to hear about your experience. If you try out this process, I would also like to see how well yours turned out.