Retrobirite-ing the SNES

It’s my first time trying to restore a dingy console. After some quick research, I decided to go with Retrobrite. I got a 16 oz. spray bottle for $20. The directions state to coat the plastic for 4 hours and expose to sunlight. It’s March in the Midwest, so… good luck with that. As an alternative, the directions say to use a UV lamp or regular lamp if nothing else is available.

TLDR; The Retrobrite did a great job, but took a loooong time.

Above is the before pic of the SNES. Notice the severe contrast between the cartridge slot & controller ports vs. the outer shell.

I followed this video for disassembly:

You’ll need a 4.5 Gamebit security screwdriver bit to remove the screws on the bottom of the console. I stopped short of disassembling the controller ports, since they were in good shape. I applied electrical tape to the stickers in an effort to preserve them.

Day 1 – Applied the Retrobrite as directed, put under UV light, and returned 4 hours later. Seeing no noticeable change, I applied more Retrobrite and let it sit in the UV light overnight.

Day 2 – There was a slight brightening of the plastic, but nothing like I would have expected. I rinsed the plastic clean, dried, and applied fresh Retrobrite. I checked on them every few hours and rotated them to get even UV light distribution.

Day 3 – Still not as much brightening as expected. I decided to switch the light to UV + infrared. This is going to take a while…

Day 4 – Applied more Retrobrite. Still using UV + infrared.

Day 5 – Rinsed clean and compared to cartridge port. Definitely seeing some progress now:

Applied fresh Retrobrite after drying and returned to the UV light.

Day 6 & 7 – Let it cook in UV for a couple days whilst rotating a few times.

Day 8 – Rinsed and took a look. Maybe a slight improvement over Day 5. Applied Retrobrite and switched to UV + infrared.

Day 9 & 10 – Rinsed, fresh Retrobrite, back into UV + infrared.

Day 11 – Rinsed and compared to cartridge port again:

I see improvement! And finally, we have a sunny day! Applied fresh Retrobrite and placed them outside for 6 hours. The parts felt warm as I rotated them to face the sun throughout the day. Rinsed again at the end of the day:

I let everything dry for a day, then reassembled:

And the original pic again for comparison:

Final Thoughts

For the price, Retrobrite was a relatively easy process. If you use the above video, reverse the disassembly process. The electrical tape was a failure. The back sticker lost most of its color. The ‘metallic’ stickers became covered with gooey black spots from the tape not being completely sealed and mixing with the Retrobrite. The ‘QC’ sticker graphics peeled off.

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