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Storage of vintage equpiment

Thx1138

Experienced Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2010
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51
Location
South East England
I have up until now kept all of my vintage gear in my office which for the vast majority of the time at a comfortable room temperature.

Unfortunately I can now hardly get in and out of my office and need some overflow space. The only space I have is an unheated area that can get down to freezing temperatures in the depths of winter. Despite this the area is not damp as I have paper products stored there which are fine.

My question is would it be OK to store vintage electronic equipment in these conditions? Temperature changes are not sudden and I would obviously take all necessary precautions when bringing equipment into the warm to use.

The equipment will be in plastic storage crates.

Charlie
 

Maverick1978

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Mar 29, 2010
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Florida, USA
Depends - what exactly are the storage conditions? Is each computer wrapped in plastic, then put into styrofoam and stored in a sealed cardboard box? (this can help lessen the effect of exterior temperature changes)

I've done this - stored things in an exterior block building that has some airflow, but it's hit and miss. Some of the equipment I stored in ther developed surface rust no matter how well I attempted to protect them (I figured it was probably condensation causing it). I haven't had anything die on me, but I don't kid myself that I'm lessening the life of the machines by storing them in this manner. I do find, however, that the ones that seem to weather it best are the ones that are packaged as described above.
 

Thx1138

Experienced Member
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Jul 20, 2010
Messages
51
Location
South East England
At the moment they're just loose inside the plastic storage containers. I'll give it some more thought, I don't want to cause any unnecessary damage.

Charlie
 

Stone

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Nov 3, 2009
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South Jersey, USA
Some of the equipment I stored in ther developed surface rust no matter how well I attempted to protect them (I figured it was probably condensation causing it).
Ya', but look where you live? I bet you have to buy stamps one month at a time or they stick together and you can't use them. I'm talking the old stamps that came on a roll and you had to lick them. You're not too young to remember that, are you? :) I used to live in Hawaii and even buying a weeks' worth of stamps was risky! The only safe bet was to take the letter to the P.O. and buy the stamps there -- on the spot! But not everybody lives inside a can of soup. :)
 

barythrin

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Texas
I think the most damage ends up being the Capacitors from the dry/cold expansion and decompression. Other than that though you can still try to run them on a regular schedule and they'll probably survive. A die hard collector, or really responsible collector probably wouldn't recommend it but those of us with families and garages likely migrate gear that direction as needed ;-) The only cautionary tales I've heard though are from folks who put stuff in bags. With the heat and cold fluctuation it's often able to create moisture that will gather on your metal computer case and you can actually get water in the bottom of the bags or system and cause rust. If you search for previous posts on this forum you may find where those folks lived and if that was a factor. Down here I don't have to worry about cold but do have to be concerned about heat but it's hard to get away from that no matter what.
 

Stone

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Heat is not a problem. The components get hotter during normal operation than any weather can create. And, where you live it's normally dry heat which is a plus. Your collection should last forever, even in the garage. :)
 

Chuck(G)

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Jan 11, 2007
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Pacific Northwest, USA
Well, you'd better seal those containers. Some of the more heartbreaking damage I've seen has been done by moisture that has condensed from the air onto cold surfaces. Rust on steel surfaces, exposed copper gone green, etc. And watch out for rodents. Mice seem to love to make nests in old gear, leaving their urine and droppings behind, along with nest material.
 

paul

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New Zealand
If you do seal them in containers you should include a desiccant of some sort if the temp drops below the dew point of the air trapped inside. Silica gel is fine as long as you replace it or dry it out now and again. If you leave the machines in the open, just be sure you have air flow around them and that the humidity in the house is under control, meaning no un-flued heaters or drying clothes indoors.
I keep mine in living room shelves and cupboards but only have 10 to worry about. Spare parts are in cardboard boxes in an unheated but well-ventilated closet, so far so problems.
 

glitch

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Central VA
Silica gel can help with moisture too.

Yep, big can of silica gel if you plan on leaving it for extended periods of time. You can get them from companies that sell safes. They're even reusable, you bake the water out in the oven and it's good for another go.

Personally, the only thing I worry about with storage is media. Keeping it in a cool, dry, dust and sunlight free area is important, especially if it's old. I try to keep it out of the attic or basement and inside a protective box, usually then inside a plastic bin or one of my filing cabinet drawers. One of my goals in setting up a room for my modern computer equipment is to provide humidity and temperature regulation for media storage.
 

SpidersWeb

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New Zealand
And watch out for rodents. Mice seem to love to make nests in old gear, leaving their urine and droppings behind, along with nest material.
I had a 286 laptop turn up recently that smells of pee whenever it's warm. I hope it 'burns off' eventually :(
 

barythrin

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Texas
I had a 286 laptop turn up recently that smells of pee whenever it's warm. I hope it 'burns off' eventually :(

Good news and bad news lol.. I'll hope with you but I've also smelled a system like that before and it wasn't from animal issues.. not as gross as you're thinking but I think the room or sweat of the user just had that smell.
 

woodchips

Experienced Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
422
Location
UK
In the UK I have stored all sorts in sheds. Better type are the all timber summerhouses with interlocking planks. Put some air vents in to stop moisture buildup. Never store in plastic boxes or bags, it sweats, which is where the problems arise. Use cardboard boxes or just leave the items on shelves. Do not use a container, I had a disasterous experience with one of those. Strangely I have had no problems with the steel Yardmaster type sheds, glued a layer of polystyrene inside but must be the considerable ventilation in them that helps. Most of my stuff is test equipment, computer bits, mechanical computers and similar.
 

Caluser2000

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Jan 3, 2010
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New Zealand
I just store my long term storage stuff in fairly solid cardboard boxes in a concrete floored metal shed that has plenty of ventilation. Don't seem to have much of a problem firing things up after around sitting in it for a decade or so.
 
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