Replacing broken keys on an Apple IIe Platinum


Here is an easy repair, told mostly in pictures.

About a year ago a few abandoned 1980s Apple computers came under my care. There were several Apple IIe Platinums in the acquisition, one of which was missing a couple of keys (Figure 1).

Apple IIe Platinum missing key

Figure 1. Missing keycap in an Apple IIe Platinum

Yes, I did say a COUPLE of keys. One is obviously missing but that Option key you see above is just glued on. Sometime in the past the Option and the Caps Lock key had been sheared off! The Caps Lock key was nowhere to be seen but I found the Options key in the flotsam and jetsam beside the computer when I collected it. The cross-shaped stem at the top of the key mechanism had been snapped off and was jammed in the keycap. I tried gluing this keycap directly on the broken stem but it wasn't stable. Sideways pressure would easily break the bond and the keycap would fall off.

This being the case I decided both keycap mechanisms needed to be replaced. It was a repair I hadn't tackled before. Also there was the issue of replacement parts to consider. Fortunately, a generous fellow computer collector furnished me with new keycaps and key mechanisms (thanks Gavin!). I'd had these for a few months but over this Xmas break I snatched a few hours to fix this issue permanently.


I found keyboard removal was easy in these machines. It required removing some screws at the bottom of the computer, unplugging the keyboard cable then removing a few more screws to free the keyboard from the case. Once this was done I could see how the key mechanism was held in place. They were just clipped in hence it appeared to be a simple matter of desoldering the key pins on the circuit board then pulling the key mechanism out. Easy as!

Figure 2. Key mechanism clipped in with two pins soldered into the circuit board

Pins were desoldered with some solder wick, then small pliers were used to press the locking tabs in and pull the key mechanisms straight out (Figures 3 and 5).

Pulling a keyswitch mechanism

Figure 3. Pulling a key mechanism to remove it after pins were desoldered

Key mechanism removed

Figure 4. Key mechanism removed

Replacement key mechanisms (these ones with their stems intact!) (Figure 5) were dropped in and soldered onto the circuit-board.

Replaced key mechanisms

Figure 5. New key mechanisms in place

Keycaps were then fitted and keys tested to prove they were A.O.K. (Figures 6 and 7).

Figure 6. Keycaps fitted

Figure 7. Keys tested. Perfect!

Last word

The design of the keyboard makes it remarkably easy to fix this problem PROVIDING you have the parts. Another Apple IIe Platinum 100% OK and ready for possible sale.

Feeling satisfied!

27th December, 2015

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