Author Topic: Question about cleaning IBM Model M (1391401) (re: keycaps?)  (Read 428 times)

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Offline sofakng

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Question about cleaning IBM Model M (1391401) (re: keycaps?)
« on: Fri, 04 June 2021, 14:09:01 »
Hey guys ... I just purchased an IBM Model M (1391401) and I'd like to take it apart for a deep cleaning.

I've removed all of the keys but I didn't realize each "keycap" had a separate blank "key" (not sure the correct term) underneath them.

Are the blank keys interchangeable across the keyboard? I'd like to separate them from the keys and give everything a good wash.

Also, should I use regular dish soap or is there anything better?

Offline E TwentyNine

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Re: Question about cleaning IBM Model M (1391401) (re: keycaps?)
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 04 June 2021, 14:58:43 »
They're called stems, they're interchangeable.  Regular dish soap is fine.  Let everything soak.
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Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Question about cleaning IBM Model M (1391401) (re: keycaps?)
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 04 June 2021, 15:06:56 »
I prefer powdered laundry detergent. Sometimes you will have a few light stems in with the dark ones, they are set in specific places at the factory but I use them where they appeal to me aesthetically.
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Offline sofakng

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Re: Question about cleaning IBM Model M (1391401) (re: keycaps?)
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 04 June 2021, 15:22:20 »
Thanks for the help!

I might stop at the grocery store to pickup some powdered laundry detergent.  (I've seen that recommended elsewhere but everybody seems to have their own suggestions too!)

Do you suggest just regular powered tide?

Is soaking for an hour good or do you let it soak overnight?  (in warm, but not hot water?)

Offline E TwentyNine

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Re: Question about cleaning IBM Model M (1391401) (re: keycaps?)
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 04 June 2021, 15:47:27 »
There's no need to go get something new if you have something around.  Realistically, anything that will get human grime off things will work.   Hell, you could probably let it soak in water with hand soap and it'll work.

The hotness of the water is no big deal.  It's PBT.  It can stand boiling water just fine.  I've put keys in the dishwasher (in a little plastic cage meant for small pieces) and washed them that way.  With the non-heat dry setting.

Letting them soak for a long time is no big deal.  Put them in, go do something else, come back a few hours later.
Daily driver: SSK or Tenkeyless IBM AT
1984 Model M Industrial Prototype ⌨ 1992 Black Oval Industrial SSK ⌨ 1982 5251 Beam Spring ⌨ 89 Key "SSK" ⌨ M13 triplets

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Question about cleaning IBM Model M (1391401) (re: keycaps?)
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 04 June 2021, 18:27:32 »
E29 is right, these tough plastics clean easily. Years ago, when my kids were small, I got into using "Charlie's Soap" because it is clean and pure with nothing extraneous in it, and I have never quit. It cleans well and leaves no scent, my go-to laundry mix is 4 parts Charlie's and 1 part Biz (or other oxi-product) and I use it for key caps because it rinses well.

I do think hot water is a good idea because a lot of the dirt is the direct or indirect result of skin or food oils, and oils always soften under heat. And I have found that 10-20 minutes is as good as 10-20 hours.

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Offline rowdy

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Re: Question about cleaning IBM Model M (1391401) (re: keycaps?)
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 04 June 2021, 20:52:23 »
I've had good results with denture tabs and warm water.  Some of my old keycaps were almost black with grime - it all soaked off nicely, plus they come out smelling very slightly minty (the odour does not linger, by the way).

I also have a bag of stems ranging from black to white, although most are grey.  They are hidden under the keycaps so the colour doesn't really matter.  I do separate the caps from the stems, where possible, when cleaning them.
"Because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But that’s incorrect. It’s in HHKB’s slogan, but when America’s cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces." - Eiiti Wada

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