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The long drive to rescue Commodore equipment - part 1

Though I had mentioned it to the Pacific Northwest Commodore clubs, nobody took up Mike Powell's offer to pick up his C= equipment in Maple Falls, Washington, just south of the Canadian border. His initial e-mails just mentioned a flat C128, a C128DCR, and a couple of Amiga 500's. After several months, Mike was ready to throw the equipment in the trash. I offered to rescue the equipment, even though Maple Falls was over 1,000 miles away from me.

I had returned to California on August 4, after being a week and a half in Las Vegas for the Commodore Vegas Expo and the Creation Star Trek Convention. I departed for the Pacific NW on August 6, my objectives being to get that equipment in Maple Falls, to visit Stephen Jones at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle, to deliver broken equipment and pick up repaired C= hardware from technician Ray Carlsen in southern Washington, and to meet with officers of the Portland Commodore User Group (and to go to a Quarterflash concert in Portland, too). An ambitious schedule, especially since I was to be back in Stockton, California on August 10 for the Filipino Barrio Fiesta celebration!

I actually arrived in Portland, Oregon at about 1:30 a.m. on August 7, but I didn't have much restful sleep at the Motel 6, due to the traffic noise from the nearby freeway. By 10 that morning, I was back on the road and heading north. So, the 10+ hours of driving the previous night was added to another 6 hours of driving to get to uppermost Washington. Traffic through Olympia-Tacoma-Seattle was less troublesome than I thought it would be, i.e., no traffic jams and just a few slow-downs. I entered the city of Bellingham and then turned east toward Maple Falls. No freeway now... it was a rural highway winding through the hilly Washington countryside with mountains in the distance. After an hour and a half driving through the hills and trees, I found Mike's modest house in a small housing development.

I pulled into the gravel driveway and shut off the car's ignition. From within the house, I heard the bark of a big dog. Uh-oh, would I have to contend with a dog?!

(to be continued)

Part 1, haha.  And it ends

Part 1, haha.  And it ends with a little cliff-hanger.  Nice.  Glad you were able to rescue the equipment... or where you ?  Waiting with anticipation for the exciting conclusion :)


I'm kupo for Kupo nuts!

Nice cliffhanger

Nice cliffhanger indeed, "would those old machines be rescued from the dumpster, will Robert leave without injuries, tune in next time for more..."
But seriously, I was amazed when I read about the long distance you were willing to travel to rescue these machines, it shows the passion for the computers. I hope this story has a happy ending.

The Long Drive Home

BUMP!
 
Can't speak for others, but personally, I would love to hear the conclsion to this tale!!


I'm kupo for Kupo nuts!

Re: The Long Drive Home

Real life has interrupted my writing. What with long school days and long periods of grading papers and inputting those grades, I have little free time.

My newsletter editor knows this,
Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group
http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

Part 2

Do tell.  I appreciate that real life ofen inteferes with most everything Commodore, but we (well, at least I) would love to hear the conclusion.  We/I presume you made it past the barking of the dogs, but the story would be nice to hear... when you find a few minutes of course! :)


I'm kupo for Kupo nuts!

Well you actually read papers

Well you actually read papers before you grade them. It seems that a lot of my professors skim them and then assign an arbitrary grade to our work. I would rather have some real feedback so I can improve. Too bad you cannot school some of my professors on the proper way to grade assignments :)

The Long Drive to Rescue Commodore Equipment - part 2

Mike’s wife walked out of the front door… without a dog. She smiled and said that the dog was in the house and would not bother me. She also told me that Mike was out in the back and that I should drive car around the side of the house to the backyard.

I drove over the grass and parked under the trees. The late afternoon sun was bright, but there was a breeze, and it was neither hot nor cold. I got out of the car, and Mike walked up. We shook hands, and he showed me what he had taken out of the storage shed – Commodore and Amiga computers, drives, cables, software, and documentation. There was still more in the shed. However, he warned me; the large, wooden shed had had a leaky roof.

Washington has always had significantly more rain than California. For many years California has gone through drought conditions. On the other hand, Washington has so much rain that it has the only rain forest in the lower 48 states.

What did Mike’s leaky roof mean to me? It meant that I would be entering a very wet storage shed. I wasn’t wrong. I walked into the humid, dank environment of the shed. I was immediately hit by the smell, the smell of mold and mildew. Much of the leftover hardware in the shed was covered with moldy dust. Some bits looked like they were covered with slimy mold. And I could have sworn that fungus was growing in some areas of the shed. I looked at the shed’s ceiling and noticed where it had collapsed and had let the rain in.

I thought for a moment… was I breathing in moldy air? Was I contaminating my hands anytime I touched anything in that shed? Was I endangering my health? No, I had to carry on.

I started carrying keyboards and disk drives out into the sunshine to let them dry off. I pulled out interesting software packages with their mold-blackened, pages-stuck-together documentation. I dug around masses of dirty, tangled cables.

Then Mike showed me a room in the back of the shed. He had it lit dimly. In that back room, Mike had stored thousands and thousands of 5 1/4“ and 3 1/2” floppy disks in cardboard and wooden boxes – all those floppies full of programs. Those floppies looked like they were covered with a layer of mold. Heck, I didn’t want to transport that contaminated stuff in my car. I told Mike that I didn’t have room in my car for all those floppies… which was the truth. I had expected just a few Commodore and Amiga hardware items, but Mike was giving away much more than that. O.K., I would grab as much hardware as I could and a little bit of the software. Well, some of the hardware would have to stay, like the unreliable, black brick, C64 power supplies, and the Amiga 2000 which had a missing top cover and which had been fully exposed to rain pouring into it from the leaky shed roof. Mike said that he would dispose of the software.

As I let the goods dry off in the sunshine, Mike and I talked. Why was he ridding himself of his Commodore and Amiga items? More or less, he said it was time for them to go. Had he bought all of these items? No, as a member of the University Place Commodore Home Users Group (UPCHUG), he had received them from other users. Mike was retired; what had he done in the past? To my surprise, he said that he had worked on building Saturn V boosters for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Wow, a person who actually worked on the rockets that sent man to the moon! So, we talked about his work on those rockets of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Mike had to go in for dinner, and I had to go back to Bellingham and find the Motel 6 where I would spend the night. I packed the hardware into car; along with other monitors and C64’s I had brought from California for Ray Carlsen to repair, it filled all the back seat and the front passenger seat. After the car was I packed, Mike and I talked a bit more, and I assured him that the Commodore hardware would be checked out by Ray Carlsen the next day and that the moldy documentation would be photocopied onto fresh paper. I thanked him for the goods, and I left for the motel.

That night I booked into the motel and found a local Thai restaurant where I had a fine dinner.

The next day I drove south to Seattle, arriving at the Living Computer Museum just after 1 p.m.. I asked Stephen Jones and was led upstairs to the exhibits. While I waited, I looked at the mint-looking C64 and Amiga 500 on display, among other classic computers. Finally, Stephen showed up, and we were both glad to see each other. The last time we met up was back in 2009. He showed me around, including the room with the mainframe computer and the museum storage room which had many more Commodores and Amigas waiting to be restored for future exhibit.

It was too brief of a visit, and I left by 3, hoping to beat the Seattle rush-hour traffic. Seattle traffic was fine; it was the Tacoma-Olympia traffic farther south which was the killer. For an hour or so, my car moved at 25 miles per hour or less. Finally, I got past the traffic and was back to normal freeway speeds.

I got to Ray Carlsen’s house at about 6:30 p.m., and I apologized for my wrong estimated time of arrival. Ray was gracious and told me that there was no problem. After telling Ray about my adventures in Maple Falls, I started unloading Mike’s Commodore hardware out of my car. “Look, Ray. Another RAMLink for you to test!”

In return, Ray handed back the VIC-20 and Commodore monitors he had repaired and which I had to bring back to California. Since Ray didn’t work on Amiga 500’s, I left those in the car. If necessary, I could bring those to the repair technician of The Other Group of Amigoids in San Jose, California.

After a couple of hours with Ray, I left for Portland, Oregon and my hotel there. I stuck to my schedule for the rest of the weekend -- meeting with PDXCUG officers, going to the Quarterflash concert at the Bite of Portland, and making it to the last hours of the Filipino Barrio Fiesta.

Epilog – Here are the hardware results of the journey to rescue the equipment:

two Amiga 500s and one Amiga 500 power supply – not working

one Amiga 500 and one Amiga 500 power supply – working

one boxed Commodore 1351 mouse and one Amiga mouse – working

And Ray Carlsen’s findings --

RAMLink SN#000343 1990 version 16 M of RAM installed, 1581 p.s. used for power. A bit of corrosion here and there but no damage obvious. Checked o.k..

C128DCR SN# CA1001250 has OEM JiffyDOS and DS switch on front panel, extra hole nearby. Cleaned and lubed drive (head clog) and resoldered open wire on top head, cleaned ports, secured latch pin.

C128DCR SN 041054 – Secured loose latch pin, cleaned & lubed drive, replaced broken drive door knob. Computer works, but drive doesn’t format and disk ID errors. I found and fixed that problem already.

1581 with JiffyDOS installed. Given a minor cleaning.

1581 with JiffyDOS installed, drive select switch on front. Given a minor cleaning.

1581 with OEM DOS. Some rust & corrosion. Reads o.k. but no write due to a combination of a partially clogged head and a bad disk. Now fixed.

1541-II, 1571, Excelerator Plus drives. Severe water damage. Recommend no fix.

A C128 with p.s. and cables in a very torn up box. It had a bad IC (repaired) and works fine now. There were also several power supplies in a box with the RAMLink, and they checked out fine.

Re: The Long Drive to Rescue Commodore Equipment - part 2

It was stated:

> Epilog – Here are the hardware results of the journey to rescue the equipment:

(snip)

> And Ray Carlsen’s findings --

> RAMLink SN#000343 1990 version 16 M of RAM installed, 1581 p.s. used for power. A bit of corrosion here and there but no damage obvious. Checked o.k..

> C128DCR SN# CA1001250 has OEM JiffyDOS and DS switch on front panel, extra hole nearby. Cleaned and lubed drive (head clog) and resoldered open wire on top head,
> cleaned ports, secured latch pin.

> C128DCR SN 041054 – Secured loose latch pin, cleaned & lubed drive, replaced broken drive door knob. Computer works, but drive doesn’t format and disk ID errors. I found
> and fixed that problem already.

> 1581 with JiffyDOS installed. Given a minor cleaning.

> 1581 with JiffyDOS installed, drive select switch on front. Given a minor cleaning.

> 1581 with OEM DOS. Some rust & corrosion. Reads o.k. but no write due to a combination of a partially clogged head and a bad disk. Now fixed.

(snip)

> A C128 with p.s. and cables in a very torn up box. It had a bad IC (repaired) and works fine now. There were also several power supplies in a box with the RAMLink, and they
> checked out fine.

Today I picked up the hardware from Ray, which included two monitors I had brought from California -- one an ordinary Magnavox RGB-80 monitor and the other a rarer Sony GVM-1311Q monitor. That latter monitor can handle NTSC/PAL video in composite or S-video and the C128's 80-column digital RGB and the Amiga's analog RGB. Nearly a jack-of-all-trades! Ray built a S-video to Commodore DIN cable for me, and I can hardly wait to try it out when I get back to California.

Writing from Portland, Oregon,
Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group
http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

Re: The Long Drive to Rescue Commodore Equipment - part 2

I wrote:

> ...the other a rarer Sony GVM-1311Q monitor.

Here are Ray's notes on the monitor's repair --

Sony multi-sync monitor Model GVM-1311Q SN2002707

Repaired cracked neck board (abuse damage). Purchased schematic online to repair "no video" problem, a bad -9V regulator IC (had to order that part, no stock), resoldered bad connections on sweep board for off-center image. Reset service adjustments and checked overall. Supplied two cables: 1. 9 pin male D-sub to 9 pin male D-sub for C128 80-column connection to monitor and 2. fabricated S-video to 6 pin DIN for C64/128 to monitor

Truly,
Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group
http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

Thanks for your sacrifice!

RobertB, I don't know what class(es) you teach, but you do have a flare for the English language!  I really appreciate your visual and verbal descriptions (err, I wanted to quote you here, but somehow Copy and Paste is not working... computers are stoopid).  Anyway, yeah, your description of sight, sound, and SMELL is very good... makes me think you teach English (or communications, etc.)
 
Thanks for putting aside you fear of mold and meldew for this update!  It is a shame you didn't have the room to save all that software... and, yeah, I don't think I would want to touch it myself!  BTW, I have seen horrendous looking items sell for a fair price on eBay... some people will buy it in ANY condition if it is authentic (and they want it).
 
Just so I'm clear, it is Mike (and not Steven Jones) who worked on the Saturn V rockets?  Either way, meeting somebody that worked on the Appolo program is pretty cool... I'm envious!
 
And it seems like you salvaged a lot from Ray... awesome... I hope it all goes to a good home!
 


I'm kupo for Kupo nuts!

Re: Thanks for your sacrifice!

Hydrophilic wrote:

> ...your description of sight, sound, and SMELL is very good... makes me think you teach English...

You're correct! :) It took me a little over 4 hours to write the second part of the article, and in the end, I still was not satisfied with the final product. My descriptions could have been better. I could have been wrapped up the ending in a better way, too.

> It is a shame you didn't have the room to save all that software... and, yeah, I don't think I would want to touch it myself!

If only I had brought a hazmat suit with me, I would have been able to stay in that environment longer. :) (Quick search - level B hazmat suit priced at $279.)

> ...it is Mike (and not Steven Jones) who worked on the Saturn V rockets?

Right. Mike P. worked on the Saturn V; Stephen Jones may not have born when those Saturn V's first launched. ;)

And Mike tells me he has found more stuff,
Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group
http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

Re:The Long Drive to Rescue Commodore Equipment
Great story, thanks for sharing! Kind regards, Jan D. PS: In my mind, the environment you describe, visualizes into a small horror story. One with a happy end fortunately where you rescue the equipment from their otherwise doomed destiny.
Re: The Long Drive to Rescue Commodore Equipment

Jan D wrote:

> ...the environment you describe, visualizes into a small horror story.

Oh, I never thought about using my camcorder to film the interior of the shed as a horror movie. What a movie that would have been! ;)

> One with a happy end fortunately where you rescue the equipment from their otherwise doomed destiny.

Yes, the equipment would have been thrown into a garbage bin.

Truly,
Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group
http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

Video your road trips (please?)

I do appreciate all the videos you have posted in the past... so it might be a good idea to bring a camcorder on all your road trips in the future... you never know what will happen, and interesting stories like this would be great to see.

Your writing is quite descriptive so I *should* be satisfied with that, but (call me selfish) I would really like to see it! (Umm, obviously others would like to see it too.)

I understand if you don't have the time for all that (I'm still amazed how you manage to hold a job and yet be everywhere in the Commodore scene)... but because you seem to enjoy making and posting videos, I thought it was constructive feedback.


I'm kupo for Kupo nuts!

Re: Video your road trips (please?)

Hydrophilic wrote:

> ...it might be a good idea to bring a camcorder on all your road trips in the future... you never know what will happen, and interesting stories like this would be great to see.

Well, on my trip to the Pacific NW, I did bring my camcorder but only to transfer past video into my editing set-up.

> I understand if you don't have the time for all that...

Heh, I still have to post more Amiwest Show videos, edit a Warp 11 video, get a video over to Bil, and re-edit a student video. Perhaps I can some done during Christmas vacation.

> (I'm still amazed how you manage to hold a job and yet be everywhere in the Commodore scene)...

Nah, if I were everywhere, I would make it to those winter, spring, and autumn European and Australian C= events. :)

Truly,
Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group
http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

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