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Thread: When buying used carts...

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    Key (Level 9) wiggyx's Avatar
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    Default When buying used carts...

    How OCD are you about cleaning them up? Personally, I can't stand all the stickers, BBQ sauce, Pepsi, etc that ends up on these carts, but I'm not one to pass up a decent deal. So, I've found that I spend entirely too long cleaning the damned things in order to keep them from tarnishing my collection.

    I bought 10 carts today. Spent about 2 hours disassembling and cleaning them. My arsenal of cleaners and tools just seems to keep growing as I've started to add to my cart collection for the 1st time in about 10 years, which of course means that I just spend all that much more time fiddling with them. Here's what I'm talking about.





    Luckily they all cleaned up pretty well with minimal amounts of torn labels and whatnot.


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    I know what you mean. i frequently get cartridges at thrift stores and they are often dirty. I find that alchohol wipes work great for cleaning the outsides. I normally dont bother to open them up inside.
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    If it's not brand-new, in the box, I immediately clean the game BEFORE letting it anywhere NEAR my console.

    Good thing, too -- got my "clean" Donkey Kong Land cart last Friday, and the pins were FILTHY. Took 15 minutes of scrubbing at them with a Q-Tip soaked in 70% alcohol, and there was STILL corrosion on a few pins. Finally remembered the pencil-eraser trick.

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    I understand, It always sucks when I stumble across a good find and its all sticky from God knows what. I've always asked the age long question..."what on earth do people do with their video games that gets them with food and other stuff encrusted to the cart.." I spend quite a bit of time cleaning them. I can't pass up a good find due to a dirty cart!
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    ^^^ people always think it sounds crazy, but 000/00 steel wool is about the perfect thing for cleaning contacts. You don't need to use any solvent or detergent, it removes the corrosion with almost zero effort, and it's doesn't scar the contacts like sandpaper or scotch brite pads do.

    Seriously, give it a try. It's like the miracle cure for crusty cartridge contacts

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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggyx View Post
    ^^^ people always think it sounds crazy, but 000/00 steel wool is about the perfect thing for cleaning contacts. You don't need to use any solvent or detergent, it removes the corrosion with almost zero effort, and it's doesn't scar the contacts like sandpaper or scotch brite pads do.

    Seriously, give it a try. It's like the miracle cure for crusty cartridge contacts
    Going to buy some right after work today lol - thanks for the heads up!
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    Strawberry (Level 2) sloan's Avatar
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    Everything I buy gets the screws removed and cleaned inside and out before it gets near one of my consoles. When I am done, all rental stickers, "void" decals, magnetic strips, dung, spittle, vomit, etc. is gone. Permanent marker and nail polish names and initials are gone as well. Pins are sanded and cleaned with 91% isopropyl, and any peeling labels are glued back in their proper place.

    Because I am adept at refurbing filthy sticker clad game cartridges, I often buy the "acceptable" games off ebay that have "Bobby" in large nail polish letters across them. I get some nice deals that way, and the carts look good in my collection after my cleaning process.

    I think of it as performing a service to the gaming community by saving many games that might not see the light of day otherwise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Genesaturn View Post
    Going to buy some right after work today lol - thanks for the heads up!
    No prob! Let us know what you think when you try it out.

    Here's a Phalanx cart that I cleaned up about a month ago. Took about 15 seconds with a bit of steel wool and nothing else.




    Quote Originally Posted by sloan View Post
    Everything I buy gets the screws removed and cleaned inside and out before it gets near one of my consoles. When I am done, all rental stickers, "void" decals, magnetic strips, dung, spittle, vomit, etc. is gone. Permanent marker and nail polish names and initials are gone as well. Pins are sanded and cleaned with 91% isopropyl, and any peeling labels are glued back in their proper place.

    Because I am adept at refurbing filthy sticker clad game cartridges, I often buy the "acceptable" games off ebay that have "Bobby" in large nail polish letters across them. I get some nice deals that way, and the carts look good in my collection after my cleaning process.

    I think of it as performing a service to the gaming community by saving many games that might not see the light of day otherwise.
    @ vomit! That Ballz cart was a "Jimmy", no joke.

    A couple of these carts look like they took a dip in a pool of Dr. Pepper. That shit just blows my mind. My mother made absolutely sure that I understood how hard money is to earn, and as a result, I treated my carts/consoles as if they took all the work in the world to afford. In the world of a 12 year old, 50 bucks is about ALL the money in the world, at least it was for me in the 80's.


    I worked in new and used cd/game retail for about 7 years, and I can't even begin to compile a list of the cockroach-ridden Genesis consoles I saw, or Gameboy carts with absolutely NO label left, or Playstation games in a paper sleeve, beat to absolute shit. Like someone taped it to the underside of their skateboard for a month beat. I honestly don't even understand how to beat a game up so badly without doing so intentionally with power tools


    I'm happy to hear others are doing their part to keep these carts alive!

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    Looks exactly like my setup. I go one step further and store the games in 2ml zip bags with silca gel packs because my collection is in the basement. I look at it his way. I will eventually hand everything to my children in about 20-30 years who will more than likely sell it off so why not spend the time cleaning them up the best you can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rocky412 View Post
    Looks exactly like my setup. I go one step further and store the games in 2ml zip bags with silca gel packs because my collection is in the basement. I look at it his way. I will eventually hand everything to my children in about 20-30 years who will more than likely sell it off so why not spend the time cleaning them up the best you can.
    I go the extra mile too, but I use a slightly more rigid plastic bag


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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggyx View Post
    ^^^ people always think it sounds crazy, but 000/00 steel wool is about the perfect thing for cleaning contacts. You don't need to use any solvent or detergent, it removes the corrosion with almost zero effort, and it's doesn't scar the contacts like sandpaper or scotch brite pads do.

    Seriously, give it a try. It's like the miracle cure for crusty cartridge contacts
    The Phalanx cart looks great. Looking at the before picture, a pencil eraser would achieve the same results. Steel Wool is certainly tougher material then the gold alloy contacts so likely some of the contact metal was removed. A very slight amount since you used fine steel wool, but something to think about. There is also a risk if any steel wool fine threads might get trapped in the chip legs and missed. Maybe use the steel wool and Contact Cleaner ONLY when there is bad corrosion, most contacts can be cleaned with just alcohol or an eraser.
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    Strawberry (Level 2) sloan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggyx View Post
    I go the extra mile too, but I use a slightly more rigid plastic bag

    Where do you get those SNES cases and liner sleeves?

    Quote Originally Posted by CRTGAMER View Post
    The Phalanx cart looks great. Looking at the before picture, a pencil eraser would achieve the same results. Steel Wool is certainly tougher material then the gold alloy contacts so likely some of the contact metal was removed. A very slight amount since you used fine steel wool, but something to think about. There is also a risk if any steel wool fine threads might get trapped in the chip legs and missed. Maybe use the steel wool and Contact Cleaner ONLY when there is bad corrosion, most contacts can be cleaned with just alcohol or an eraser.
    I only use 400 grit sandpaper, and lightly at that, plus 91% isopropyl. Sure, the sandpaper takes off a little metal from the contacts, but I only do that treatment when I first get the games. Later cleaning only involves alcohol unless that by itself won't get the games working. I had slot car tracks and electric trains as a child, and the best way to get the rails clean was sandpaper and alcohol. Old habits die hard, I guess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggyx View Post
    ^^^ people always think it sounds crazy, but 000/00 steel wool is about the perfect thing for cleaning contacts. You don't need to use any solvent or detergent, it removes the corrosion with almost zero effort, and it's doesn't scar the contacts like sandpaper or scotch brite pads do.

    Seriously, give it a try. It's like the miracle cure for crusty cartridge contacts
    Bronze wool might be better than steel wool. There's always the chance that you could leave behind microscopic traces of the steel wool embedded in the contacts and those bits of steel will eventually rust.

    I learned this from sites dealing with antique bicycle restoration, they would recommend using bronze wool when cleaning chrome parts instead of steel wool for that reason.


    I come across dirty games all the time, usually I won't bother buying them unless they're something rare or something I need but I do clean them properly if I get them. I know I mentioned it before but when I bought another local collector's personal NES collection all of the games were dirty in some way, with some being completely filthy. I spent 3-4 months cleaning all of the games as it was a large collection, and most of the games were extras that I was just going to sell off. I don't feel right selling games in poor condition, I have to clean them first.

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    I've got a pretty similar set up for cleaning games. For me, the whole sticker removal and cleaning process is a nice thing to multitask while watching TV or watch my wife play games for awhile. It's easy to do, and I'm always so pleased with how they look when their done.

    I also use super fine steel wool on my contacts but only for extreme cases. Normally I use rubbing alcohol (91%) first and try to rub it off, if that doesn't work I'll wet the contacts with alcohol and go over them with an art eraser, that normally takes off everything and it boots fine.

    I almost always go the full mile and clean stickers/gum/soda whatever off the cart to make it look the best. I do sometimes have problems with getting permanent marker off items with a textured surface (for example, NES carts). I've got some N64 carts with writing on the top that I can't really get off without practically rubbing the texture off the top. I use rubbing alcohol to do it, does anyone else have suggestions?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CRTGAMER View Post
    The Phalanx cart looks great. Looking at the before picture, a pencil eraser would achieve the same results. Steel Wool is certainly tougher material then the gold alloy contacts so likely some of the contact metal was removed. A very slight amount since you used fine steel wool, but something to think about. There is also a risk if any steel wool fine threads might get trapped in the chip legs and missed. Maybe use the steel wool and Contact Cleaner ONLY when there is bad corrosion, most contacts can be cleaned with just alcohol or an eraser.
    Thanks!

    Possibly, it was pretty corroded. The contacts on the carts are brass, not gold, so they can take a lot more than you'd think.

    I should have mentioned that I always hit the boards with canned air and a toothbrush afterward for that very reason. That is the only real downside that I've found over the last 10 or so years using steel wool for this. I've never run into a problem, so I tend not to worry about it.

    As far as removing non-corroded metals goes, I'm not seeing it. If it were, then abrasion marks (scuffs/scratches) would be present, and they're not. The contacts end up nice and shiny.

    Quote Originally Posted by sloan View Post
    Where do you get those SNES cases and liner sleeves?

    I only use 400 grit sandpaper, and lightly at that, plus 91% isopropyl. Sure, the sandpaper takes off a little metal from the contacts, but I only do that treatment when I first get the games. Later cleaning only involves alcohol unless that by itself won't get the games working. I had slot car tracks and electric trains as a child, and the best way to get the rails clean was sandpaper and alcohol. Old habits die hard, I guess.
    I remember using 600 grit on my Dad's old slot car kit that he gave me. I've used steel wool for that too, but it just ends up EVERYWHERE on an item of that scale. No fun.

    The cases are Universal Game Cases (UGC) purchase from a place called Media Shelving. If you hop on over to www.thecoverproject.net you'll see plenty of examples. As far as the inserts go, you can use the covers that have been made up by members over there, or just make your own (which is what I've done). It's a shit ton of work, but it really unifies a collection of cart games PLUS it keeps them away from the elements

    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    Bronze wool might be better than steel wool. There's always the chance that you could leave behind microscopic traces of the steel wool embedded in the contacts and those bits of steel will eventually rust.

    I learned this from sites dealing with antique bicycle restoration, they would recommend using bronze wool when cleaning chrome parts instead of steel wool for that reason.


    I come across dirty games all the time, usually I won't bother buying them unless they're something rare or something I need but I do clean them properly if I get them. I know I mentioned it before but when I bought another local collector's personal NES collection all of the games were dirty in some way, with some being completely filthy. I spent 3-4 months cleaning all of the games as it was a large collection, and most of the games were extras that I was just going to sell off. I don't feel right selling games in poor condition, I have to clean them first.
    Again, I shoulda mentioned...

    I'd be more worried about shorts than rust, since the rust doesn't really have any ability to affect the brass contacts. But it wouldn't be a pleasant thing to have in there, that's for sure.

    Sounds like you're a good re-seller. Always nice to hear that there are folks out there who aren't in it just to make a buck at someone else's expense

    Quote Originally Posted by xelement5x View Post
    I've got a pretty similar set up for cleaning games. For me, the whole sticker removal and cleaning process is a nice thing to multitask while watching TV or watch my wife play games for awhile. It's easy to do, and I'm always so pleased with how they look when their done.

    I also use super fine steel wool on my contacts but only for extreme cases. Normally I use rubbing alcohol (91%) first and try to rub it off, if that doesn't work I'll wet the contacts with alcohol and go over them with an art eraser, that normally takes off everything and it boots fine.

    I almost always go the full mile and clean stickers/gum/soda whatever off the cart to make it look the best. I do sometimes have problems with getting permanent marker off items with a textured surface (for example, NES carts). I've got some N64 carts with writing on the top that I can't really get off without practically rubbing the texture off the top. I use rubbing alcohol to do it, does anyone else have suggestions?
    Rubbing alcohol works really well, but you may need to soak it for a period of time.

    I use a product called Bestine for stubborn labels and marker traces. It's safe for plastics, but it's got a lot more kick than alcohol does. It's normally used for removing rubber cement and other art/craft adhesives. You can find it at art supply stores. I imagine you can find it at Home Depot/Lowe's too, but I've never checked.
    Last edited by wiggyx; 05-22-2012 at 11:42 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xelement5x View Post
    I do sometimes have problems with getting permanent marker off items with a textured surface (for example, NES carts). I've got some N64 carts with writing on the top that I can't really get off without practically rubbing the texture off the top. I use rubbing alcohol to do it, does anyone else have suggestions?
    Toothbrush dipped in 91% isopropyl will get permanent marker off even the roughest surface textures. The bristles get down into the crevices of the rough texturing. I usually work the toothbrush in a circular motion and redip it in alcohol a couple times on particularly stubborn ones. Using this technique, I have never had a cartridge that I could not completely remove marker or nail polish from (only difference is dip the toothbrush in nail polish remover for nail polish). Little did Jimmy, Bobby, and Byron know that their names could be removed by thieving gamer friends.

    The worst case I have had of people putting identifying marks on games is a Sega Master System console and some game cartridges I got through a Craigslist deal a few years back. The guy used a soldering iron to brand his social security number into the plastic casing on the bottom of the console and backs of the game cartridges. Seems risky in this age of identity theft. The only way I can think of to get rid of the markings is a power sander and possibly auto body filler. I have not tried it yet though.
    Last edited by sloan; 05-22-2012 at 12:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xelement5x View Post
    I do sometimes have problems with getting permanent marker off items with a textured surface (for example, NES carts). I've got some N64 carts with writing on the top that I can't really get off without practically rubbing the texture off the top. I use rubbing alcohol to do it, does anyone else have suggestions?
    What I've found works really well for that is rubbing alcohol and the slightly scrubby back of most kitchen sponges. It gets down in the textured surface without scratching it up. I've never had this not remove all traces of marker. Then you can flip the sponge over and clean anything else up with the regular part. Most other methods(as I'm sure you know) only fade it and don't remove it completely...though I'd imagine the toothbrush idea would work as well.
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    I'm anti steel-wool for the reason Gameguy mentioned. Instead I've had great results with high quality metal polish. A couple times that hasn't been enough and I've used really fine sandpaper that is used between coats of paint on a car. Really fine. In those cases the corrosion was pretty deep so I just had to stop at some point or I would have rubbed right down to the board. Fortunately it has only been that bad on the top edges of the contacts, so the games still function fine.

    I used to clean everything that came my way, but don't anymore. It is kind of sad that I'm more likely to clean something eBay bound than something that is going in my collection, but I always think to myself that I'll get to it "later". And while that hasn't happened yet, it is largely because accessing them stored in bins in the basement is such a pain. I should have a dedicated room in 5 years when the basement is finished (just have to move some walls upstairs, remove my chimney, build a bathroom and closet and laundry room all upstairs first... no biggie ), so it'll be much easier then.

    For junk games I'm selling locally in a lot w/ a console I don't bother cleaning stickers off unless they are gooey, instead just do the contacts and any dirt or soda, etc (most of that comes off with a damp paper towel). Most people buying my lots are buying to play, so the contacts are most important, plus the price reflects the condition if the games and/or console are really junky looking.

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    People think it sounds crazy, but seriously, give it a try on a junk game that's really nasty. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how effective it is at removing the corrosion whilst not damaging the metal that hasn't yet oxidized.

    Removing the steel burrs/fibers that remain is almost a non-issue. It's doesn't shed like a long-haired tabby or anything like that. If it's a big concern, then step up to some 0 grade wool. It won't shed at all on a job this small, and if it does, it'll be really obvious where the fibers are.

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    If it's a game that I know I'm going to keep, I won't buy it if looks too risky to clean. I'm mostly talking about the stickers the stores stick on the labels. I only clean the contacts if the game doesn't work the first time I insert it. For NES games, I clean those contacts right away because I just know they aren't going to work.

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