Restoring a 1990 IBM Model M2 Keyboard

One of the first projects I did when I got back into playing with retro computers was to clean up this old IBM model M2 keyboard.  This keyboard is one of the few items that survived my ten year break in retro computing.  I’m not sure where this one came from,  and they weren’t especially common even back then, so I was reluctant to let it go when I cleaned out my original vintage computer collection.  I had always planned all those years ago to fix up this keyboard, so I figured this would be a fun project to undertake.  At the time I didn’t have a ton of other vintage computer projects yet.  I don’t think I had ever used this keyboard, simply acquired the thing.  As I remember, I had another that worked fine that I used frequently.  I’ll mention that specifically since I would have never let it get this dirty…

IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 Pre Cleaning IMAG2420_rotate

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The first step was to remove all of the keys.  Of course this makes cleaning easier and it has to be done to reinstall the back cover anyway.  I used a small hex wrench to pop each key off.

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IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 Pre Soak IMAG2428_crop

I used some dish cleaning liquid in some warm water in a disposable container.  I had a second container nearby with some plain water to rinse the cleaned keys.  I had to change the water in the bowls once because they both became filthy.

IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 Soaking Keys IMAG2432

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Although it looked bad to start, the keys all cleaned up very well and relatively easily.  I let them dry for a few hours on some paper towels.

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IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 "dusted" IMAG2427

In the mean time I cleaned out the main body of the keyboard with a small dust broom (outdoors of course).  Then I used some running water and dish soap on some paper towels to clean the crevices.  Once that dried I started to reinstall the spring assemblies.  I thought that perhaps some had gotten lost over the years.  This keyboard had been dropped and one corner had come open many years ago.  Though I stored it in a box by itself those type of things have a habit of getting lost.  Fortunately it turns out they were all there!  I used two small glass blocks at either end of the keyboard body to keep it raised.  To verify the spring assemblies positions I laid out the long keys on the keyboard to see if I had filled in all of the correct spring assembly holes.

IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 Spring Assemblies Installed IMAG2451_crop

IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 IMAG2450_crop

Once all of the spring assemblies were in place I installed the back cover of the keyboard.  Now all that is left is to install all of the keys.  The long keys all have a bar that slides into a slot to help them glide smoothly, so I just use a little extra care installing those.  On the regular keys I am careful not to smash or bend the springs.  I test each key out by depressing in numerous times.  A properly installed key has just the right feel, and sometimes the keys don’t seat the spring properly.  In a case like that, I just pop the key off again and give it another try at installation.  Some of this may be due to the fact that some of the keys had slightly mangled springs.

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Once everything was put back together the keyboard looked great.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t tested the keyboard before hand, and when I did, I found it did not work…  I figured its a model M, I’m sure it works.  At the very least it is clean, and mechanically and cosmetically decent.  At some point I will probably find another that could donate any needed parts for this one.  For now though, back to the shelf you go.

IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 Before & After IMAG2420_rotate_combine