A Tuxedo-less Wallstreet
I've often thought the curvy black case on the PowerBook G3 Series
somewhat resembles a tuxedo. Apparently that's not a completely
unique thought, as I've seen other sites refer to it in a similar
manner. Well, this site is about undressing the Wallstreet a bit!
That nice rubber insert on the PowerBook G3 Series looks great
... for about a week. If you're anything like me, during the course
of daily use your PowerBook has gotten several scratches and nicks
in its insert. The PowerBook is especially prone to this sort of
damage if you are a college student, and you cart your 'Book around
in your backpack along with all your other notebooks. Depending
on the depth of the scratch, the damaged area can appear as just
a light smudge, a very ugly and greenish gouge, or a bright silver
gash. Such blemishes are unsightly and detract from the wow factor
of the PowerBook. And to top it off, they can't be fixed. One
way to solve the problem (and help restore some of the wow factor)
is to completely remove the rubber from the aluminum panel.
This project has serious potential for going awry. Seriously,
unless you are going to do it right, you shouldn't do it at all.
Doing this wrong could make your Mac the ugliest beast on the
face of the Earth. In the worst case, you could completely destroy
your precious PowerBook G3. Although the Perplex
G3 looks nice, the author definitely did it wrong. At least
one artifact of that is his ruined Apple logo. So, please, if
you don't want to completely disassemble your PowerBook G3, this
project ISN'T FOR YOU!
Finally (the AlkSoft lawyers made me say this), AlkSoft takes
no responsibility for any damage you cause to your own PowerBook
if you undertake this project. These steps are suggestions only
- if you follow them, you do so at your own risk. And if you really
F it up, here's a link
to current eBay auctions for Wallstreets.
|To do this right, you really need to disassemble the PowerBook.
Get a hold of the PowerBook G3 Service Manual to do it correctly.
However, it's a pretty simple procedure if you apply yourself.
You can disassemble the PowerBook without the service manual.
Still, I wouldn't recommend doing it without some sort of
For legal reasons, I will not
post a link to the service manual. Requests for it via email
will not be answered. That being said, I'm quite sure you
can find it on Carracho or Hotline without difficulty. And
if you know the few places left on the web where you can find
links to the service manuals, then more power to you!
In any case, the goal here
is to completely remove the guts of the PowerBook so that
you are left with just the back of the display housing and
the empty bottom case plastics.... or at least as much of
the bare plastics as you can manage. On my Wallstreet, part
of the lower case heat spreader (is that what it is? It's
gut thermal pads on it...) is not removable. The important
thing is to make sure that you don't have any electronics
still connected to the parts with the rubber panel inserts.
The Tools and Prep
|Get your self a nice hot hair dryer, some mineral spirits,
some nice and thick masking tape, an X-acto knife, and
a steel wool pad (the kind without soap). Not counting the
small Phillips head and torx screw drivers, that's all you
Starting with the bottom, use the masking tape to mask off
the FCC label and serial number/product label. Carefully work
the end of the x-acto knife under the edge of the White Apple
logo (both the Apple itself and the "leaf") and
slowly pry it up. The logo is basically just a sheet of translucent
white plastic with adhesive on the back. While you're at it,
remove the four rubber "feet."
For the top, liberally cover
the Apple logo with masking tape. Use the x-acto knife to
trace out the edges of the Apple logo and leaf, and trim away
the excess. Don't worry about masking off the black plastics
- the mineral spirits won't damage them and the mess left over
can be cleaned up fairly easily. The white and translucent
plastics of the Apple logos, on the other hand, are very light
and are easily stained by the rubber waste/mineral spirits mixture.
If you want to avoid scratching the plastics, on the other
other hand, a wide strip of masking tape around the edges
of the rubber insert won't hurt anything!
Take everything to a well ventilated area with a suitable
workspace that you aren't worried about damaging. A drop cloth
covered garage floor might be a good place, as long as the
door's open... Removing the rubber takes time and effort.
Prepare to invest an hour or more in scrubbing the rubber
off with the steel wool.
|Liberally apply the mineral spirits to form a small pool on the rubber. Don't be sparing with
the mineral spirits - it really helps to soften up the rubber.
You should expect to go through a fairly decently sized bottle
of the stuff. The hair dryer is a useful addition, but not
really a necessity. You can use it throughout to help soften
up the rubber for easier removal. Direct the heat evenly over
the mineral spirit-dampened rubber. With the steel wool, press
down with a fair amount of force and rub in a circular motion
over the warmed, dampened rubber. Even with lots of mineral spirits and heating, it takes some effort to remove the rubber.
The steel wool does most of the work, so don't be afraid to
really scrub with it. As the rubber gets thinner, you can
apply less pressure to try to avoid some of the inevitable
scratching of the underlying aluminum panel. However, some
scratching is unavoidable. If you like the scratched/brushed
metal appearance, then don't bother lightening up, of course.
I, for one, do like that appearance. You can touch up the
metal and apply a more uniform texture when all the rubber
If the rubber is becoming more gummy and solid, apply more
mineral spirits and heat. Make a habbit of doing this anytime
you notice the resistance of the rubber increasing, and you'll
save yourself some energy in scrubbing. Don't expect, however,
that the rubber will just slough right off if you apply the
mineral spirits - even with generous amounts, the rubber requires
substantial rubbing to remove it from the aluminum.
|Getting all the rubber out
of the creases can be difficult. I took extra time and effort
(using much less force on the steel wool) to remove the rubber
around the top case's Apple logo. The x-acto knife can also
be used to help trim back some of the rubber. But don't worry
too much about leaving some rubber in the cracks at the edges
of the insert. The rubber doesn't show against the black background
and border presented by the rest of the case. If you use a
sharp blade to remove the rubber in the grooves, you'll scratch
the metal in a manner inconsistent with the marks left by
the steel wool. IMNSHO, the resulting scratch marks are far
less aesthetically pleasing than simply leaving rubber in
The Final Product
| Here are a couple
pictures of my finished Wallstreet. Notice that my Apple logos
look pristine. If you just take a little care to not damage
them, they come out fine. Also, I was pretty stupid and didn't
disassemble my PowerBook until I noticed that mineral spirits
were spilling into the keyboard area of my Wallstreet. By then,
I had already done damage to the LCD. At some point, I'll
take pictures of my dirty and oil-stained LCD to show you
just what can happen if you get things wrong. Needless to
say, it's ugly enough that I don't like taking my PowerBook
out in public, even though I've got a flashy new exterior
that I want to show off...
Don't be dismayed by the quality
of the finished job here. I did this procedure to my PowerBook
well over two years ago and haven't cleaned the PowerBook
recently. A little Windex and some baby oil helps shine it
Before you reassemble your PowerBook,
there is one more thing you can do to make it a bit more spiffy.
My Wallstreet had a mylar sticker behind the lid's Apple logo.
Removing the sticker and carving a whole in the foam pad between
the logo and the LCD allows the backlight to glow through
the Apple logo, making your PowerBook's logo glow like that
on the Lombard or Pismo G3. It looks very nice in low-light
|If there's any
one message you take away from this page, let it be this:
DISASSEMBLE YOUR POWERBOOK before you start this project.
Leaving your PowerBook assembled while performing this modification
like the Perplex G3's creator did can destroy your PowerBook!