Ambra (IBM) 486SLC slimline desktop "restoration"

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Ambra (IBM) 486SLC slimline desktop "restoration"

Postby retrofanatic » 2019-3-07 @ 23:17

Just picked this up a few months ago from a local recycler and wanted to post my progress on what I did to "restore" it.

It is an IBM Ambra 486 SLC system with WDC video chip onboard.

It's a nice little retro pc game box, but when I got it, I felt it was in need of some cleaning up as the front panel was chewed up somewhat and worn out.

I wanted to strip down the front panel to be more simple and decided to sand it down and give it a flat clearcoat treatment. This was by no means a proper restoration hence why I put restoration in quotes in the topic title. I just wanted to simplify it so it looked a bit more to my liking.

Surprisingly, my sanding and clearcoat job turned out really good and the finish does not scratch easy and feels (almost) factory fresh.

I added a CF to IDE adpater that worked after some tyweaking the manual IDE drive sttings in the BIOS and formatting the CF card properly. I installed DOS 6.22 on it and it runs like a dream.

I drilled a couple holes to the metal plate below what used to be the HDD caddy holder (this did not have the original HDD caddy that fit in the top back of the case) and screwed in the CF to IDE device using two motherboard standoffs.

I also had to install a new FDD as the old one did not work...I had to find just the right model so that the eject button fit through the front eject button hole.

This was a fun build. It's still a work in progress, but I tested an old 8 bit Adlib compatible soundcard in it and it worked well. I am not sure what I will use in the future, but I suspect that I may use a SB Pro 2.0 card that I tested on it as well.

Here are some photos of my progress.


Ambra-Before_1.jpg

Ambra-Before_2.jpg

Ambra-Before_3.jpg

Ambra-Before_4.jpg

Ambra-After_7.jpg
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Re: Ambra (IBM) 486SLC slimline desktop "restoration"

Postby retrofanatic » 2019-3-07 @ 23:18

More photos

Ambra-Before_After.jpg

Ambra-painting.jpg

Ambra-sanding-rough.jpg

Ambra-sanding-rough 2.jpg

Ambra-Before_5.jpg
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Re: Ambra (IBM) 486SLC slimline desktop "restoration"

Postby retrofanatic » 2019-3-07 @ 23:20

The results...

Ambra-After_2.jpg

Ambra-After_3.jpg

Ambra-After_4.jpg

Ambra-After_6.jpg

Ambra-After_1.jpg
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Re: Ambra (IBM) 486SLC slimline desktop "restoration"

Postby henryVK » 2019-3-08 @ 07:20

Nice job on the front plate! That Rust-oleum paint sure makes it look like new.

You didn't want to go for the two-tone thing it had going on originally?
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Re: Ambra (IBM) 486SLC slimline desktop "restoration"

Postby retrofanatic » 2019-3-08 @ 17:22

Thank you.

I thought about that but I decided to go as plain white as possible. I really like the ‘plain’ simple look. That said I want to change the cd rom to another one I have that matches the white color better.

One of the issues I came across was that I couldn’t find paint that had the right tone to match the power button and I didn’t want to paint the button as well. Also, I really didn’t want to paint anything. Using the flat clearcoat was enough and it works well because it hides minor imperfections and I’ve never had that kind of success with paint no matter how well I prepped the surfaces.

I used 1000 grit sandpaper and then 2000 to smooth everything out. It really did turn out nice and I may use the same process on another case I have that has yellowed twice even after retrobright treatment. It’s nice to just sand and then clear coat without painting and messing things up. Again, I was very surprised how smooth and durable this clear coat turned out to be.

The hardest part was sanding the small nooks and crannies but once I got that figured out the rest was smooth sailing.
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