So far the cosmetic restoration has been cleaning and making a new side panel. The power supply restoration and backplane restoration has some more specific information on the cleaning of those components.
For cleaning I start with the gentlest cleaner and work my way up if needed to remove the residue. For general cleaning I start with standard water and household cleaners such as Windex and Fantastic. I then try Goof off 2 (water based) if something stronger is needed. Next is De-Solv-it contractors solvent. This one will damage some inks/paints and plastics so check first. The last is the solvent based Goof Off. It is the most likely to remove stuff you don't want removed. I also sometimes use Soft Scrub, a cleaner with a mild abrasive. The 90% Isopropyl Alcohol is also useful for cleaning parts like heads and some marks/stains can also be removed with it.
When moving on to the stronger cleaners on paint/labels I will test a small area and in a less obvious spot if practical. I try to limit the time it's on the surface. I will also decide if the residue I'm trying to remove looks worse than possibly damaging what it's on. For paint if you use a contrasting color cloth you can normally see if it starts to remove paint before it becomes noticeable on the item.
For the plastic covers I also used Novus plastic scratch remover to polish out some scratches and residue from where something had scraped across them. This product is a couple grades of fine abrasive and a polish.
My computer was missing the side panels that go on the power supply. So far I have made one replacement. The side panels are laminate on plywood with aluminum trim. It's unclear what wood the laminate was imitating. From information online I thought it might be rosewood so I used Formica elegant rosewood. It wasn't a great match to the MARCH machine. Mine is the top panel in the first picture. Click on pictures for a larger version. Pictures of straight 8's at National Museum of Computing/Bletchley Park and Computer History Museum show side panels that look a little closer to mine at least in grain pattern.
The original side panel used aluminum channel around 7/8" wide. That isn't a standard stock size so I used 1/8"x3/4"x3/4" 6063-T52 aluminum angle, 1/2" plywood and 1/16" laminate. The DEC aluminum trim finish is a little different from what I used. I think my side looks pretty good even if it isn't quite right. You can see the side on the computer in my VCF East 2012 pictures.
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Next initial inspection
Up to straight 8 restoration
Deteriorating foam in air filter (1.9M) Air filter (2.7M)
Feel free to contact me, David Gesswein firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, comments on the web site, or if you have related equipment, documentation, software etc. you are willing to part with. I am interested in anything PDP-8 related, computers, peripherals used with them, DEC or third party, or documentation.
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The following picture links also have descriptions of what is shown in the pictures.
Thumbnail Picture Selector
Next initial inspection Up to straight 8 restoration