Updated: September 06, 2003
Sometimes they just can't be utilized for the IBM designed function no matter how much wrenching you do to them. But as we all know the IBM Rochester engineers are loath to build anything that can't take a little physical abuse. In this case an IBM 5340 (S/34) that has been given a completely new life as a workbench and as usual it has a story.
Back in 1986 I took a job with a small consulting firm. This machine was THE system that we programmed on in the office (it pretty much occupied an entire closet.) A few years later they went bankrupt and the bank sold their assets. I happened to know that this machine had gone "casters up" a while back so I bid $10 for it. The bank laughed at me but I got the last laugh when they took my bid. It was attached to a 5211 line printer by those huge Bus and Tag cables so the banker assumed I would want both. Nope, I dropped those cables, pointed to the detail of my bid and rolled the S/34 to the dock.
Hmmm, a pickup truck doesn't quite make dock height, what to do, what to do. Well the truck had a slab of genuine Goodyear 1 1/4" conveyor belt for a bedliner so we decided to lock the trucks emergency brake and just launch the 5340 off the dock! The banker who was standing there said to us,
"You can't do that! That's an IBM Computer!!"
I replied calmly "No sir, that's exactly why we CAN do this. Yee HAH!" Well that 1/2 ton Chevy bounced big time but the machine stayed upright so we strapped it down and took it home. Probably 40 hours of work with a welder and 'heat wrench' (acetylene torch for those not in the know) went into the conversion to a workbench.
The sole remaining operational component is the front panel. When you turn on the power enable switch the yellow load button lights. When you press it a big relay is closed lighting the green ON light and enabling power to the outlets and air compressor mounted inside. All but one of the door latches has been removed as the grounding clips hold them closed well enough and you can now open them without a crochet hook. The big tool chest on the right side lifts off the drawer slides. The CPU cage is now filled with old fishing tackle box trays of nuts bolts and all that other stuff that collects over the years. I would estimate it's weight at close to 1/2 ton as currently loaded.
It has worked well to keep the tools out of the kids view for 10 years now and I've yet to put anything on top of it that so much as scrapes off the paint!.