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Retrobrite question--how do you keep small items underwater that want to float?


RH
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I got an NES Advantage this weekend from a local game shop for $10.  I asked the guy what that specific one was cheaper than his other ones (they were $15) and he said it was just due to the discoloration.  I can live with that and enjoy a good restoration project.  Other than being dirty and needing a tad bit of plastic polish on the ball, it was in great shape on the outside.

Anyway, it's soaking now but one of the problems I'm having is that I can't get out all of the air bubbles in the fine holes of the buttons, so they float.  buttons that float can have thin layers dry, and that can cause warping on the plastic.  Plus, if the top isn't submersed, it's not being fixed.

So, how do you guys submerse these buttons?  I've actually tried taking a glass cup, filling it with water, putting the buttons in it and when I turn it up, the buttons stay submersed but float to the top.  This is the best I can come up with, but I can't position them.  I have a lot in there, so many are upside down and will need a second attempt.  Anyone else solved this annoying problem?

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An idea that comes immediately to my mind might be to clip some sort of little clamp onto the bottom/underside of anything that floats and use that to anchor it down under the surface.  It would mean that you wouldn't get the "natural" effect of potentially having both sides get brightened if you occasionally bumped their container to get them to shift positions, turn over, etc., but it would at least guarantee that the part that's always going to be visible would be brightened up like it's supposed to be.

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56 minutes ago, darkchylde28 said:

An idea that comes immediately to my mind might be to clip some sort of little clamp onto the bottom/underside of anything that floats and use that to anchor it down under the surface.  It would mean that you wouldn't get the "natural" effect of potentially having both sides get brightened if you occasionally bumped their container to get them to shift positions, turn over, etc., but it would at least guarantee that the part that's always going to be visible would be brightened up like it's supposed to be.

That might work.  I had half an idea to try and stick silly putty on the bottom of them, but I was afraid that with the peroxide and water, it might react with the putty and cause problems.  I"ll see if I can find any clips.

 

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20 minutes ago, RH said:

That might work.  I had half an idea to try and stick silly putty on the bottom of them, but I was afraid that with the peroxide and water, it might react with the putty and cause problems.  I"ll see if I can find any clips.

I had the same thought.  I didn't think about it maybe reacting and causing an issue with the process but did think about the distinct possibility that it would "let go" during the process, most likely when you wouldn't be around to catch it (as these things always seem to occur).  Good luck!

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28 minutes ago, Code Monkey said:

Option 1: change the salinity of the solution.

Option 2: change the composition of the plastic.

I'm guessing for you option 1 would be more feasible but my question is why are they in water? Drop them into hydrogen peroxide for a day and you're done.

Hydrogen Peroxide is practically water, by weight and I won't get into the chemical composition.  Regardless, my solution is water + a LOT of peroxide for hair bleaching.  The kind I have was in a cream-like suspension but it works well.  I shine on it with an industrial-strength black light (seriously, it will blind you if you look at it) and the translucence helps defuse the UV light through the solution, so weird angles aren't to bad. Still, a button floating upside-down doesn't get as much of the light as the rest of the items, so I'd prefer to keep them submersed and facing toward the light.

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19 minutes ago, Wandering Tellurian said:

Can you stick them under an inverted strainer  and then fill the sink - they won't be able to float above the water level once it is over the top of the colander.

That might have some success, but a big part of the whole retrobrite process is also getting uv light onto the item being brightened, so placing some sort of cage over/around the item you're working on will severely limit that bit.

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21 minutes ago, Wandering Tellurian said:

Can you stick them under an inverted strainer  and then fill the sink - they won't be able to float above the water level once it is over the top of the colander.

 

1 minute ago, darkchylde28 said:

That might have some success, but a big part of the whole retrobrite process is also getting uv light onto the item being brightened, so placing some sort of cage over/around the item you're working on will severely limit that bit.

Glass? 

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Just now, skinnygrinny said:

Glass? 

That might work, but thinking about some of the stuff I've seen the 8-Bit Guy doing with his, I'd have concerns with anything touching the top/visible surface of what's being brightened, as it's been shown that with other methods (using the cream and wrapped in plastic wrap to try to keep it from drying out) can, and frequently will, cause streaking.

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Just now, darkchylde28 said:

That might work, but thinking about some of the stuff I've seen the 8-Bit Guy doing with his, I'd have concerns with anything touching the top/visible surface of what's being brightened, as it's been shown that with other methods (using the cream and wrapped in plastic wrap to try to keep it from drying out) can, and frequently will, cause streaking.

Ya if it’s touching it might mess it up. I have used the Saran Wrap three times w/no issue not saying it won’t cause streaking.

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Yeah, I tried putting my buttons in a glass cup and just being sure there were no air bubbles in it.  Supposedly, if the peroxide dries out on the item, it can cause it to warp.  I've actually seen bubble-style warping once before and though I had no clue why it happened at the time, in hindsight, I think it might have dried a little on one side.

Anyway, the cup method might work but I still have to shake it periodically to "refresh" the solution, but it's not great. I would be tempted with the colander, but I'd be afraid it'd cause a checkerboard pattern. :S That would be even worse!

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