Restoring old Apple Macs

As a Mac tech, I am often given old Apple Macs for “Recycling” or “Parts”. (I am very careful to make sure that all the customer data has been removed) Recently I have been given a few old Apple Macs that would be great to have in a museum.

  • G4 Macbook
  • 2 White MacBooks
  • Old Apple Macintosh Plus (On its way)

So I have decided it was time to restore these old Mac Computers to working order. I am totally aware that I’m not going to be able to get them to have any real useable function. However, this is my equivalent of restoring a classic car.

Starting with the White Macbooks.

Two Vintage MacBooks I got from some friends in Katoomba -old Apple Macs
Two Old MacBooks in my workshop in Lithgow

I’m going to start with the MacBooks first. I have some of my best friends who were cleaning out their storage found these two MacBooks sitting around doing nothing. I’m told they are barely functional. (Not even sure they will boot up)

Being that I have no budget at this point to acquire parts my hopes is that between the two devices I can create a fully functional laptop.

Restoring them will require the same troubleshooting skills that I use to repair a current apple laptop model. .. just with older parts and VERY old software.

Macbooks Condtion

So when restoring Old Apple Macs the condition of the outer case is almost as important and the computer hardware itself. Both of these units are in ok condition. You can tell the previous owners used them every day and did a good job of taking care of the units.

The tan colours on the keyboard and on the side of the top case are typical for this model. One of the reasons why Apple moved away from the white case is because everything shows up on them. The Plastic is easily stained, giving the impression that even the most germaphobic hand-washer is a slob. Ever wonder why HP never made a white laptop? Well, here you go. Makes me wonder what hand sanitiser would do to them if they were a current model today?

Cleaning the white top case is really not easy without risking damaging the logic board below the keyboard. However being that I’m going to take everything out of the laptops I will not worry about this.

I did note there are very little scratches on the laptops at all. (The white plastic is netorious for being easily scratched. This is going to make things easier to clean.

The bottom case cover are missing their rubber bottoms but that is also typical for the model

Acquiring the old Apple Macs Serial Number

I have learned the hard way to never assume the model number of an Apple product. Even us seasoned Mac Repair Technicians can barely tell them apart. So just because they both came from the same household and look like they are the same model does not mean that is the case. Though I do not remember much of a variation on these laptops when I worked on them 10 years ago, I’m not going to leave anything to chance.

Apple loves to hide the model numbers and Serial numbers. More like they do not want them to alter the visual by the emblazoned model number that nobody really cares about unless it breaks down. Or in my case, you want to restore it.

Normally Apple will engrave the model number and the bottom case cover. However this model had a bit of a problem. Unlike the MacBooks with a metal botom case. This range had a rubber bottom to prevent slipping. This made total sense till the system starts to heat up degrading the adhesive. The rubber bottom of the case would just peel off taking the model number and the serial number along with it.

My hopes are that the computer had been repaired where it is common practice to write the model number and the serial number on the inside of the bottom case with a permeant marker.

The next step is to get into the OSX and check the model number under the “About this Mac” This is where I need to get it to boot … ONCE.

They BOOT! One of them anyway.

Vintage MacBook Booting -old Apple Macs

I broke my rule of “Always go the simplest path”. Normally if I was working with a customer I would have attempted to get them to boot right off the bat. However, because these MacBooks have been sitting in storage for a few years I just assumed they did not work at all. I should always follow the same advice that I teach new techs.

After connecting them to a charger for a bit both of the vintage MacBooks booted! Or at least got past POST. One Macbook seems to have HD issues.

White Macbook LCD Issues

The One MacBook that is booting has some kind of issue with the screen where the right-hand side of the screen has a white stripe that goes down the entire LCD.

I have seen this sort of thing before. I could be that it is a bad LCD it can also be that the connector from the LCD to the Logic Board (The main Board on a MacBook) has been either damaged or not properly seated.

There is also the worry about liquid damage in that area. But at this point, I am only guessing. My hope is that the display just needs to be reseated.

Animated Gif showing theA Macbook 13-Inch, Late 2009 having isues with the LCD
Vintage Apple Mac with LCD issues

A Macbook 13-Inch, Late 2009

MacBook Hardware config -old Apple Macs
Getting more information of the old Apple Macs

So the MacBook with the screen issue I was able to access the Apple Menu and show its Specifications

  • MacBook 13-inch, Late 2009.
  • 2.26.GHz Intel Core Duo
  • 2 Gigs of DDR3
  • Nvidia GeForce 9400M 256
  • Running 10.9.4 (Mavericks-2013)

I was actually working for Apple in the California Call Center when this unit came out. I must have fixed 50-100 of them at the Bondi Apple store when I worked there.

I do not have a copy Of Mavericks so I may take this chance to get a copy for future old Apple Mac restoration projects.

Next Time I am going to attempt to get a copy of Mavericks by creating a disk image then removing the user profile.

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