Retr0Bright – De-yellow your Sony?

After the question posed by A.R. on this post, and my request for a “magical chemical solution” he did some amazing detective work and found a possible solution to the yellowing problem that many Sony PS-F5s and PS-F9s exhibit in their old age. This is mainly brought on by exposure to Ultra Violet radiation which reacts with chemicals in the ABS plastic of the case.

Some vintage gadget enthusiasts have come up with a home-brew chemical gel that can be applied to yellowed plastic which restores it to its original colour. This wonderful sounding product’s called Retr0bright.

“We have now proved on several forums that plastics yellowing can be completely reversed in hours without damage using our mixture.”

There are a number of recipes on their Wiki. Thankfully all of the chemicals involved are easily obtainable (at least here in the UK) and all are safe apart from Hydrogen Peroxide, which is the main ingredient in hair bleach and is to be treated with respect. Be sure to wear gloves and goggles and work in a well ventilated room.

I was initially concerned about any chemical solution affecting the printing on the case, but then I saw this Lego piece in the Retr0Bright gallery, which is painted. The paint appears unaffected by the process:

Although the Problems and Pitfalls page on the site does show some examples of label fade, the printing on the PS-F5 is generally of good quality with a heavy black ink, so hopefully this won’t be too much of an issue, especially if the Sony’s not too yellowed, and therefore doesn’t require many applications.

There are other examples in the gallery with stickers and paint too, all of which suggest that it should be safe. Something I’m not sure about is whether the smoked transparent plastic on the front of the case would need to be removed prior to applying the gel. Maybe masking would be safest, attempting to remove the glued in smoked panel may cause breakage.

I’d like to give this a try, but would really appreciate it if anyone out there has a spare case (or piece of case, ideally one with some printing) for their PS-F5 that they’re willing to experiment on and report back to the site so I can let everyone know for sure that this works on our Sonys and is safe.

“There were an incredible number of people at first that said this was impossible – that was until they saw the pictures, then tried it and proved it for themselves. The usual reaction was ‘No way!’ then ‘WOW!!’.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 at 10:49 pm and is filed under Retro, Sony PS-F5, Sony PS-F9, Weird & Wonderful. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Retr0Bright – De-yellow your Sony?”

  1. April 26th, 2015 at 3:45 am

    RolandJuno Says:

    Did you get to try Retr0bright on the PS-F5? How did it turn out?

  2. May 7th, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    marcus Says:

    Not yet, but I’m getting closer- I now have a damaged PS-F5 that I’m less precious about damaging and happier to experiment with. 1 or 2 of the ingredients to get and it’s on! Maybe I’ll get there by the end of the year!

  3. June 30th, 2015 at 4:06 am

    RolandJuno Says:

    It turns out all you need is 40 volume creme developer which is used for lightening hair. It’s already thick and is a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide. I tried it on a Amiga 4000 faceplate that was badly yellowed and the results were excellent.

    My only concern with the PS-F5 is dismantling it enough to remove the non plastic bits as I don’t know what the developer will do do those parts.

    Keep us posted on your progress!

  4. July 1st, 2015 at 11:32 am

    marcus Says:

    Thanks for the info- that sounds like a good option, but I’m reluctant to try without knowing that it’s stable and no more likely to harm the plastic than the Retr0Bright mix. Do you have a link to any tests done with it or further info? Any example products that can be purchased in the UK? Let me know and I’ll give it a go!

    The PS-F5 is pretty much a metal chassis wrapped with the plastic shell. I’ve had the white parts separated at different times on different machines and now know that the clear plastic window in the front panel is only held on by double sided tape, so it should be a fairly quick job to separate out the affected pieces. I think there are 4 in total: main front cover, main back cover, battery cover & lower controls/connections cover.

  5. August 10th, 2015 at 1:37 am

    RolandJuno Says:

    I think any “40 volume creme developer” will work. I bought mine on Amazon for about $8. The more generic, possibly the better since it won’t have extra additives that aren’t needed.

    Here’s a link to the faceplate that I did.

    Thanks for the tip on the front window being held in place by tape– I didn’t know that.

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