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Can my old Wallstreet be raised from the Dead (and is it worth it)?

853 Views 11 Replies Latest reply: Jun 21, 2012 3:51 PM by David White RSS
David White Level 4 Level 4 (1,070 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Apr 10, 2012 2:52 PM

I have a mid 1998 Wallstreet that has sat unused for 5 years.  When it was put away it was working fine and the batteries held some charge but the charging was tempramental.  When I brought it out yesterday to access some very old data, the green charge light on the body of the computer came on for a few seconds and then went out accompanied with a quiet click.  There was not sign of life in the battery (not really suprising!).   Following a power on, it booted after a delay into system 9.  (It also has a partition with OSX that I used with Xpostfacto).  With the battery monitor, it only sees the AC adapter and the battery bay is reported empty.


Whilst it would boot, it is clear that the PRAM battery is well and truely dead (the date goes when you power off).  However, I was not able to switch to OSX.  I connected up an external drive to take the data off but the Finder crashed.


My questions:

- Could the bad PRAM be associated with my inability to boot to OSX and the problems copying with the Finder?

- Is there a chance the batteries might try to charge with a new PRAM in place

- If I get a replacement battery, might this charge?


I really loved this old compture and marvelled at the keyboard feel and solid design.  I have seen PRAM batters on line for GBP20 and batteries for GBP35 and wondered if it was worth a try.  I have carried this Powerbook all around the world and I'd hate to junk it.


Any thoughts and experiences would be appreciated.

  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,005 points)

    PowerBooks don't have a PRAM battery, like desktop Macs.  There is a rechargable backup battery (like a small version of the main battery).  It is used to hold the state of the PowerBook, when you sleep it to swap out the main battery (if you have two batteries).  It also holds the sleep state for a reasonable (but limited) time, if you completely use up the charge in the main battery and need to get home to recharge.  And it, plus the main battery, serves the function of maintaining the PRAM settings.


    If both the backup battery and the main battery are dead (and NOT holding any charge), that would be a problem. It would be like a desktop Mac with a dead PRAM battery. However, if the main battery is good, it would probably work fine, even if the backup battery is completely dead.  So, I would get a new main battery.


    My Pismo PowerBook has a dead backup battery, but it works fine.

  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (29,580 points)

    Hi David,


    I maintain three Wallstreets for a friend who refuses to let them go. It seems a dead backup battery (I'm typing PRAM" from here out!) can have odd effects on the WS not seen in the Lombards and Pismos. These can happen with a good main battery/


    • In one of my friend's Wallstreets, it would not boot OSX from either the hard drive or a valid OSX system disk until I installed a new PRAM battery.
    • In another, a new battery would not charge until I changed out the PRAM battery. Not the "normal" symptoms but a new PRAM batt fixed both.


    Neither of these fit the "typical" dead PRAM batt issues for other Macs. Note this is an "Old World ROM" Mac and, as such, tends to stick a lot more data in PRAM instead of the disk as in "New World ROM" Macs.


    New PRAM batteries are stil available, This is the one I ordered and installed for my friend's Wallstreets:



    Instructions for changing it out that I used are here:



    It's mostly keeping track of a lot of different screws. The battery hangs in a bracket under tcover surrounding the keyboard, so you don't have to dig all that deeply.


    My friend bought two new main batteries from this firm; both are providing excellent service:



    I have carried this Powerbook all around the world and I'd hate to junk it.

    Sounds like investing a little time and money is the perfect retirement gift this good and faithful servant.



  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,005 points)

    Allan Jones's info is probably more relevant, since he has personal experience with that model. 


    In my case, with my Pismo, it works perfectly fine with a dead "PRAM" battery.  I just do not remove the main battery or let it go completely empty.  The PRAM settings are maintained by the main battery.

  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (29,580 points)

    You are welcome, Dave!.


    I found that if you draw diagrams of where the screws come from and stick them to the paper you can re-assembe it fairly easily.


    That is a good plan. I've also used a plastic ice cube tray with Post-It notes or, when the tray was in use, an old cardboard egg carton, to keep the screws sorted.


    I've not delved inside any Mac notebook newer that the Wallstreet. However, from viewing the iFIixit gueds, It looks like the newer ones are more complicated, so the WS should be easy enough if you've done MacBooks.


    The only cautionary note I can add is to carefully examine the old battery in its housing before removing it. In one I repaired, the battery's wire had been caught under part of the metal bracket during factory assembly and was hard to remove. The upper deck had a weak spot due to a cigarette burn my friend had inflicted during a lapse of attention (he has been properly chided). I noted the weakened area was trying to separate as I started to tug on the stuck wire.


    I reinforced the damages area with a thin bit of plastic and glue, and repositioned my grip to reduce the stress. Was dicey but worked.

  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,005 points)

    Did you try using the reset PMU (not PRAM) procedure after installing the new backup battery?



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