That ubiquitous black foam

Ian King IanK at
Fri Sep 26 13:57:44 CDT 2008

I haven't seen anyone discuss this (nor is Google showing anything), so for all of you doing DEC restorations out there, I thought I'd pass along something I learned.

DEC loved that black filter foam that falls apart after fifteen or so years.  I'm restoring a couple of VAX-11/785s and they were liberally dusted with black foam detritus.  So I took a piece that wasn't beyond recognition to a local shop here in Seattle called Friendly Foam (  They identified it as "40ppi (pores per [square] inch) reticulated foam."  They were also kind enough to sell me several square feet of it.  They warned me that yes, it will still fall apart after a couple of decades, but for now it looks sooo nice.  The machines I'm restoring have good paint, so with the new foam in place they look like they just left Maynard.  It's funny how the little touches make such a difference.

BTW, they also found adhesive-backed foam that is an exact match for the stuff DEC used on the cardcage cover panels.

I hope this helps everyone who's trying to keep their Olde Beastes healthy and happy.  - Ian

UNIX is user friendly.  It's just selective about who its friends are.
Ian S. King, Vintage Systems Engineer
Vulcan, Inc.

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