Recapping Service

For those out there who are collectors of vintage Macintosh computers, you are probably aware of the issues relating to aging electrolytic capacitors. As electrolytic capacitors get old, they can start leaking corrosive liquid onto the circuit boards. If left untreated, the corrosion can eat through traces, pads and pins of other components, gradually destroying the computer from within.

In order to keep these vintage computers going, it is necessary to replace these old, leaky capacitors with new ones.

Removal and replacement

Damage caused by a leaky capacitor

If you’re reasonably handy with a soldering iron, this might be a job you’re happy to take on yourself, but it can be a little risky. Sometimes the damage from the old capacitors can be pretty bad, and may require a more expert hand.

I can remove your old capacitors, replace them with new ones, and then give your Mac’s logic board a thorough ultrasonic clean to remove any old residue or dust. And all this for $99 AUD*. Amiga recapping services available too for $130 AUD**.

Unfortunately I can no longer accept repairs and recapping from countries other than Australia and New Zealand.

I am no longer providing recapping services unless by prior arrangement, as it is not financially viable.

Terms of service

*$99 AUD includes basic recapping and clean of Macintosh logic board. Price includes new capacitors. Price includes GST. Does not include postage costs. Does not include diagnostics or repair of any additional faults. Some models of computer may have a significantly larger amount of capacitors to be replaced, and therefore the charge will be greater. If this is the case, the customer will be advised prior to any work being commenced.

Non-functioning or faulty boards may benefit from recapping, but this cannot be guaranteed, as the fault may lie elsewhere. If recapping does not fix pre-existing faults, the recapping fee will still be charged. If further diagnostic or repair work is required, this will be charged separately. Additional work will be quoted and will not proceed unless approved by the customer.

While incredible care is always taken, some vintage computers have very brittle plastics, and simple disassembly can sometimes cause cracks and breaks, and no responsibility can be accepted if this occurs. It is preferred that customers supply just the circuit boards for recapping, but the whole computers can be accepted with prior arrangement.

Ultrasonic cleaning is very gentle, but can result in the accidental removal or discolouration of stickers or labels (such as barcodes). It can also occasionally result in the removal of screen printing on some components. This is purely aesthetic and doesn’t affect the computer’s functionality.

Replacement of capacitors involves the use of a hot air station and soldering iron. While all care is taken, the positioning of some capacitors very close to plastic components on the board can occasionally result in minor melting of some plastic during the repair process. This is extremely rare, is purely aesthetic and won’t affect the computer’s functionality.

**Due to the higher cost of replacement capacitors, Amiga recapping service is $130 AUD.

Frequently asked questions

$99 seems a bit steep. Why so much?
When you pay me to recap a computer, you’re not just paying for the capacitors. I use high quality, specialised equipment, I keep a large range of capacitors in stock, plus I have years of experience, recapping literally hundreds of computers. If you still think it’s too expensive, I’d highly recommend having a go at recapping yourself. I have lots of tutorial videos to help you get started.

I own/bought a vintage Mac that doesn’t work. Will recapping fix it?
Maybe. If the computer has leaky capacitors, it is essential to replace them if you want to restore it to working order. But it’s not always the only problem the computer has. A high percentage of failed vintage computers can be restored with recapping and a good clean, but some do require additional repairs.

Can you repair battery damage?
Sometimes. Leaky batteries can cause extensive damage, and in some cases the cost to repair can be more than the original computer is worth. I am happy to make an assessment and provide a quote, but if the damage is severe, prepare yourself for bad news.

I’ve tried recapping this myself, and failed. Can you fix it for me?
Absolutely. Don’t be discouraged if you failed your first recap, you should see what my first looked like! If your recap hasn’t worked, or you’ve done some damage, I’m more than happy to try and fix it for you.

Do you repair anything else other than Macs?
I do, but not everything. In order for me to effectively repair a particular computer, I need to have testing rigs, spare parts and components, and it’s impossible for me to do this for every device out there, so I focus primarily on Macs. Feel free to ask though.

Do you repair CRT monitors?
No. This is definitely not my specialty area, and it’s very hard for me to store the bulky CRTs, especially if I’m having to wait for parts from overseas. Unfortunately I’ve recently had to start declining all requests to repair CRT monitors.

Are there any Macs you don’t work on?
Any of the old G3 iMacs or G4 eMacs. I just don’t have anywhere to store these gigantic, bulky units while I work on them.

What sort of replacement capacitors do you use?
Unless otherwise requested, surface mount electrolytic capacitors are replaced with tantalum capacitors. For through-hole radial electrolytic capacitors (found in power supplies) we always use high quality, low ESR, brand name replacements (usually Panasonic).

Why do you use tantalum capacitors as replacements?
Tantalum capacitors will never leak, and as long as they are used within their specification, they are incredibly reliable. Apple actually used tantalum capacitors instead of surface mount electrolytics for some of their vintage Macs (such as the Quadra 700 and Quadra 900) and these models are still going strong with their original tantalum caps.

Can you use polymer capacitors?
Polymer capacitors look like surface mount electrolytic capacitors, but use a powder rather than a liquid electrolyte. As a result, they don’t leak and can be a good replacement for old leaky caps. If you would like your computer to be recapped with polymers, just ask, but be aware that polymer caps aren’t available in all of the required sizes for vintage Macs, and they are more expensive, so the recapping will cost a little more.