software by alksoft PowerBook 5300 stuff contact alksoft about alksoft donate to alksoft   Andrew's Projects Andrew's Resume Andrew's Personal Homepage


RedBook 5300

I've been a PowerBook 5300 user since the summer of 2000. Despite the 5300's "road Apple" reputation (see Low End Mac [] for a definition of what a road Apple is), I fell in love with my 5300cs almost immediately upon turning it on. Over the years, I've learned more about the 5300 than I ever thought possible. I've written a FAQ about the 5300 series. I've even overclocked my 5300cs to 117MHz. The only thing I hadn't done yet was paint it! Occasionally a discussion of paints suitable for PowerBook mods comes up on a mailing list to which I subscribe. Having painted my Performa 460, PowerMac 6100, Apple AudioVision 14, and 16" ColorSync display, I was no novice. But I also had never tried Krylon Fusion paint...

The discussion of painting PowerBooks clinched it. I had to try out this paint, and what better to use it on than my much loved (and fairly useless these days) 5300cs! The RedBook 5300 was born...

The first thing I did was completely tear down my 5300cs. And by completely, I mean completely. I removed the motherboard, frame stiffener, infrared board, the expansion bay ejection mechanism, and even the PC Card doors and rubber band. I also removed the LCD cover from the top of the 'book. I then masked off the serial number and model name labels on the bottom of the case with 3M blue masking tape and removed the two rubber feet. I also pried up the Apple logo on the lid (the logo is a small piece of metal secured to the plastic with a sticky glue-like substance) to make sure that I didn't mar it with a bad masking job. Then, armed with a fresh can of the only color of Krylon Fusion that the local Wal-Mart had in stock (besides black and cream), I trotted off to the garage...

The Evidence

Besides the bottom case and lid plastics, I also decided to paint the little strip of plastic that sits under the display hinge and the two clutch covers. I set them up on plastic cups so that they wouldn't stick to the news paper. I applied three coats of paint to each part for a solid and opaque paint job. You'll want to do the spray-painting outside, though. The paint produces a very fine (nearly invisible) mist that remains suspended in the air for a long time. It wasn't until the paint had dried and I was cleaning up that I noticed the pink tone all of the garage floor had taken on. Looking more closely, the walls had a pink gradient, too - the top of the walls were uncolored and gradually changed to pink near the floor! Passing through the garage into my apartment, I noticed that the paint had even gotten into the kitchen and coated the stovetop! Yeah, the apartment managers aren't going to be happy about that...

Anyway, I applied the first coat and waited an hour for the paint to dry a bit before I applied another. I repeated this three times (or so) for each piece of plastic, then let all of it dry for a few more hours before handling the plastics. When I felt that the plastics were dry enough, I reassembled the 5300cs. Unfortunately, I didn't wait quite long enough. The clutch covers hadn't firmed up yet, and the paint scraped off in some places when I tried to assemble the PowerBook. The clutch covers were ruined (well, they need sanding and repainting at least). Fortunately, I had another set lying around that I hadn't painted. Additionally, I left a few fingerprint marks in the lid where the paint was still tacky...


The 5300cs looks quite clean, actually. It does have a nice gloss to it that turned out much more attractive than I thought it would. Sanding isn't required before using Krylon Fusion paint, so the underlying texture of the plastic still comes through (especially if you don't apply too heavy a coat of paint). Of course, sanding will eliminate that texture and produce a smoother finish, if that's what you are going for.

Right Side

The 5300's bottom case plastics include the area around the stiletto feet (the right one can just barely be seen here) and the locking port. The result is actually fairly pleasing to the eye - the red around the locking port is a nice accent. I'm thinking about disassembling the floppy drive (fairly easily done, actually) and painting it to match the 5300. I don't know, though - I'm a little afraid the paint might eventual scratch off during insertion/ejection of the expansion bay module.


When open, the only visible paint from the user's perspective is the small strip under the display. I wanted to avoid touching the paint with my fingers on the finished product (something about painted plastic doesn't agree with my tactile senses), so I didn't color the palm rest or display housing - both of those areas come into contact with the user's hands pretty frequently. One of these days I'll get around to changing the LED under the caps lock key to a red color.

Left Side

The left side of the case came out quite well. When the lid is closed, there's a nice black racing stripe right down the center of PowerBook. The PC Card eject buttons got painted (they weren't removable), but the doors are still black.


The port cover didn't get painted, but I'm considering painting it. The black looks a little out of place here. The rest of the plastic around the ports did get painted nicely, though.


All-in-all, I'm very happy with the results. It was simple (the hard part was reassembling the PowerBook - make sure you keep track of all those screws!) and fun, although the euphoria enjoyed while spray painting in an enclosed garage was probably a bad thing... ;-) If you can handle the tear-down of any Mac, this is an easy and enjoyable way of giving it a new, custom look. I definitely recommend the Krylon Fusion line of paint, too. The stuff works exactly as advertised and requires almost nothing in the way of prep (no sanding or priming is needed).

Now I just have to figure out what the heck I'm going to do with my 5300cs...


Apple Macintosh - The web designer's choice!
© alksoft, 2003.

AlkSoft Home