How to restore Alps switches for real (2021)

How to restore Alps switches for real (2021)

Updated video:

In handy video form! Enjoy. Full writeup after the video. This has been tested on Alps SKCM, SKCL, SKCC and SKFL. It really works. Restoration is significant. If the switches are only a bit bad, you will get top tier results. If they're super cooked, they will become very usable.

Word of warning: I wouldn't put bamboo Alps switches (SKCM without the slits/SKBM) on the stove. The housings are made at least partly of ABS and will possibly soften/melt. I have heard of success stories though. This is your word of warning regardless.

The Method

  • Boil top housings and sliders, any amount of time over a minute is fine. Stir occasionally.
  • Scoop some wax out of a tealight into a container, put sliders in, pour boiling water over, stir occasionally
  • Dry everything and put switches back together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is this real?
A: Yes.

Q: Won't boiling melt my switches?
A: No. None of the plastics involved melt or soften at boiling temperatures.

Q: Why does boiling work so well?
A: Boiling scalds the dirt off the switches. In the microscope picture below, you can see the difference between a boiled slider and an ultrasoniced slider. Boiled on the left, you can see the film and piles of crud in the grooves on the ultrasoniced slider on the right.

Q: How do you get wax on sliders by boiling them? Oil and water don't mix!
A: The wax forms a thin layer on top of the water. You should lift the sliders out of the water - don't just pour it out! This means that the wax will apply evenly to the entire slider.

Left: Boiled | Right: Ultrasoniced

Q: I put wax on my switch and now it feels worse! What gives?
A: You likely have a slightly too thick film of wax. You can either fix this by reboiling briefly in water or just mash the key a bunch. If you opt to mash, I'd open the switch back up and blow out any wax shavings that are inside, and brush the shavings off the top.

Q: I put wax on my switch and now it is upstroke clicking! This method is terrible!
A: Rub some wax off the tactile/click leaf side of the slider. This is the flat side. Don't rub wax off the notched side of the slider. Wax on this side helps to remove scratchy sounds. The contact leaves of switchplate-having Alps switches degrade with use. Don't believe me? Look at this.

Left: NOS | Right: Worn

Q: How long will this last?
A: It's hard to say for sure but I'm confident it should last a pretty long time with this application method. I actuated a switch constantly for half an hour and it still felt good afterwards.

Q: Is there any particular candle type I should use?
A: Tealight wax. If you want to be more specific, Sasol 5203 tealight wax.

Q: What about Nyogel/FOTM lube/Dremeling my switches?
A: lol don't bother. In particular, you should be incredibly suspicious of any method that requires actively damaging the switch. As far as various lubricants go, I've tested a lot and none work as well as this.

Q: You will end up with wax shavings everywhere!
A: This switch was pressed upwards of 10,000 times to do an initial longevity test. There is a single fleck of wax in the bottom housing.