Spare Parts

Frankensteining your Amiga (or "rebuilding computers the Win95 way")

By Kyle Webb, Assistant Editor, See staff list for e-mail address

I was making supper the other day, and was fondly (?) reminded of days gone by where we came up with really inventive methods of patching our beloved computers together. 'Twas the rubber band around the broccoli that recalled these events: I remember a user group meeting where we all brought our ailing machinery for the monthly Amiga Clinic, and someone had used the same kind of rubber band to shore up the mount for a chip, or something. To paraphrase the musical artist Frank Zappa, "Where can I go to get my Amiga fixed?" Truth is, around these parts, there is no "Amiga Shoppe," and if and when something actually broke down in our vintage Commodore products, we were, and are, "on our own." 'Course, that's when they were built; oh, the trials and tribulations with the crappy workmanship in our (manufacturer name deleted, YOU guess) A4000 Tower.

I suspect (not entirely seriously) that (manufacturer) may have studied the workmanship of the Amigas of old, but what may have happened is, the vintage models were around so long, it was becoming rarer and rarer to find one that wasn't "kludged" together in one way or another. As a result (snicker) the Tower (at least, the one we have, and those belonging to other folks who have "waxed eloquent" about the shoddy manufacture) was based (oh, you don't believe this, do you? I hope myself it isn't true) on the myriad "patchwork" examples of existing Amigas.

You would not believe the non-specific weird parts that have ended up in the works. An advantage, perhaps, of having (or knowing) kids is the collection of Legos, Construx, and other such "build cool stuff" sets, is we have access to some high-quality assorted plastics etc. with which to repair failing mechanisms and structures. Oh, and it helps to have a Dremel variable-speed tool, too, in addition to the standard soldering iron, clippers, strippers, needle-nose pliers, every size screwdriver known to mankind, etc. etc. (you have all this stuff, don't you? You DON'T??? Where do YOU go to get your Amiga fixed??? :)

I can see it now: the parts orders for this imagined manufacturing division: "Quantity 100,000 Broccoli-grade rubber bands / quantity 100,000 Radio Shack "101 Electronics Projects" kits / quantity 100 cases Lego "Space Series" (the aforementioned variety having the best assortment of smallish, unusual parts, for use as mounting pegs, shafts, spacers, etc.,...but what to do with the little Lego People? :) I think you get the point.

In conclusion, I'd like to invite the readers to send in their stories relating "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" fixing an Amiga with "stuff" never intended for such use. If I receive enough, I will ask the publisher to print (with appropriate disclaimers as to viability of "recommended" fix, etc.) the collection (which has the potential for some very amusing did WHAT with a Popsicle stick? You used WHAT to dampen vibrations coming from the drive?)

As an addendum, I (and I'd bet, you) have created "custom tools" out of such novelties as paper clips (an indispensable item in the toolbox); there is, in fact, one mounted (with tape) inside the computer where it waits for its next and very specific-to-the-architecture use. Why not? In its present incarnation, it is utterly useless for any other application.

I'd love to hear from you, and your experience may help someone else.

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