Currently I am working on putting the other stories and pictures together so that you can see what else I'm talking about throughout this story, but give me a little time on those... For now we will focus on the BoP that this story is all about and I hope that you will enjoy it as much as we did working on it and bringing this thing back up to where it should be.
We had held onto a Stern PoTC for about a year and it was great. The machine was purchased new by the previous owners straight from the factory so when we received the game it was literally as new as you could expect a pinball to be. It played like new, looked new and had zero mods whatsoever. We immediately went to all Comet LED's, put fun decals and stickers around the PF in a tasteful manner, learned all of the tips and tricks about the game we could and enjoyed the absolute F out of the machine. But, it quickly turned into old news and I was itching to get a project table back in the house. The Pirates table sold quick and the night before the new owners were coming to pick it up I was doing some basic online searching for pinballs in the places you can find real projects and boat anchors; Craigslist!
Enter the BoP that I was able to find about 5 miles from my own house! This guy had the machine since roughly 2000 where he bought it from a game refurb company on the West Coast. They moved it with them to Texas when his company moved him out here, it had been sitting upstairs (thank God it wasn't in the garage) for about 15 years and untouched most of the time it was there. When we got there and fired it up we first saw the battery damage on the boards, the amount of standing dirt in the corners and under the ramps and worst of all the DEEP and GROSS scratches and whatnot that people had dug into the cabinet over the years. This was clearly not the HUO that we previously owned in the PoTC but was in better shape than the '79 Gottlieb that I restored prior meaning I knew we were not in the hardest or the easiest project which was good news.
First things first, I completely tore the table apart and started cataloging what I could so as to make it easier to put back together when that time came. During this time I started digging around online to see what my options were for each and every piece of the game as we were doing the restore. There was a particular post on Pinside for "Non 2.0 Bride Owners" where I got to see some really neat ideas and takes on the original Bride tables. It was obvious that we were going to take this Bride to the dark side as I was able to find black decals first. Then I reached out to a close friend that does powder coating and had him powder coat the side rails, lockdown bar and legs with a satin black and he coated the habitrails gloss black. This was a shocker for a few of my friends that swear by the classics but I think they'll change their tune when they get to play it.
Next was the bigger issue in my mind, the terrible PF and how to bring it back to life. We have done 2 restores at this point and both of them were done with the existing PF. The Gottlieb was fun because we took a super old PF, stripped it down of all hardware and put a real-deal lacquer on it to give it a glass like cover. The final look on this approach is a classic/beat-up/weathered look but with a feel and playability that rivals new machines because it is so smooth and perfectly flat. Similar approach here except we went with an automotive grade spary on clear coat to the existing PF that was a little bruised and beaten.
To start this process I was more concerned with the decals and how to get them back to par. Online you can find plenty of people selling a sticker/decal pack for BoP but I will warn you to be very careful in which one you select. Maybe ask if you can get a sample or a picture of that sticker OFF of the sheet with nothing behind it. Reason being is this; the decals/stickers that I used were less than spectacular with the printing quality and the black text is not true or dark enough in my opinion. The main areas were the Billion, decals in the center area and the 5K stand-ups. To keep it consistent I cut out the decals INSIDE of the formal outline so that only the text in the center would be on the PF. Get yourself a cutting pad and a nice "Exact Zero" knife (shoutout to the Lego fans there) and you can master this after a few decals for sure. The part that I was not careful enough with was giving them a few days to off-gas and whatnot so that they didn't mess with the spray clear coat that we put on it.
Which brings me to the next step; the clear coat. We are lucky to have a good friend who is a master painter and does a lot of custom painting on motorcycles and cars. He came over to help us get this thing coated and we found the first major issue the next day. One of the decals that I put on the PF (the 50K sticker in the center to be specific) started raising under the clear coat and it turned into my nightmare... To correct this I had to cut that sticker out and just roll with the original text that was left on that particular insert. After cutting it out I sanded that area down and got it compeltely clean and ready for the touch up work to start. This was bascially just taking a clear coat from your local auto parts store and spraying that area, then letting it dry, then sanding it down to smooth, then spraying it again and over and over until I got it filled back in to match the height/level of the rest of the PF.
When I finally corrected this mistake, about a week or so later, then we got back to clear coating the entire PF as intended. This was done with a real deal 2-part clear coat but one that is sold in a can that does not require special machines or tools to use. Killer stuff (Spraymax 2K Clear Coat) that has a little red button in the lid, this button goes into the bottom of the can and releases the 2nd part internally so that you have a hardener built in. Much better than anything you'll buy for clear coating, very close to what you would expect from an actual painter putting clear on a vehicle and very worthy of being on a PF and never having to worry about it messing up so long as you build it up properly. Have some experience with clear coats and auto painting? Go nuts! If not; then consider having someone help because one tiny little oversight like not letting stickers set before painting can derail your entire project.
The final results were having a used PF that was in pretty OK shape now being more playable than a NOS PF and looking like it belongs on this classic machine. The total buildup here with the clear was slightly less than an eighth of an inch which was enough to level it out entirely and take the old depressions and cups int he PF out. This also corrected the drops over the flipper lanes so where they are still there (you can see them still) but they are out of play as they are buried under the clear coat. This is a look that we have come to love and one that I am interested to get other's opinions and thoughts on when we take the Gottlieb and this BoP to the TPF in March, assuming we actually get to have TPF in 2021...
While we waited on me to get the decals and PF worked out we started working on the cabinet itself. The black decals that I had seen online looked awesome but I was unable to find a lot of people selling them. There was another Pinsider that had a set for their own rebuild but they decided to go with the original purple and thus were selling the black decals. We snagged them up and got to work. The first thing was to remove the old decals from the cabinet. To do this we went with a heat gun and a basic scraper tool, yes it takes a while and no there aren't any shortcuts that are worth taking! The images should show that the original decals, that had been in place for over 30 years, had actually left indentions and lines where the art had been originally. Rather than spend however many more hours to scrape and completely flatten this, I decided to get the decals out entirely and just paint the cab to correct it. This was a shortcut for sure, which I just warned against, but because we were going back with the same art in a different color so it wasn't a concern.
We simply laid the new decals over almost the exact same area so that the raised areas on the cabinet lined up with the new art and it is essentialyl unnoticable so I think it is a win. Another step we took to help the overall look was to paint the entirety of the cabinet the same color as the decals we had slated for it, black in this case. Sounds like an obvious move but you would be surprised how many people don't paint the cabinet ahead of laying new decals and it makes a big difference.
While this was going on we had a few more days of downtime so my brother in law asked "you going to paint the interior? you might as well..." and that quote "you might as well" has turned into the quote that got this machine to where it is. Removing the harnesses and hardware inside of the cabinet is pretty simple once you have the PF out of it. So I took everything out and went into the cabinet with a gorgeous glossy purple because that made the most sense to me. Knowing that I was transforming a colorful machine into a black beauty, I wanted to show some color where I could and the purple was kind of an homage to the OG in my mind. Turns out it was a great choice because the top shows through into the actual game which matches well, the inside is clean as can be and the purple helps you find things you might have dropped while working inside the machine.
Now onto getting this Bride back together, the fun part if you will. When you clear coat a PF there is a ton of prep work that goes into getting it done properly and make it last long term. This included taping up any/all holes and entrances/exits through the PF ahead of clearing. But you cannot tape and cover tiny little screw holes, lane divider holes and whatnot so you need to spend some more time boaring those out ahead of putting this thing back together. That took plenty of time to make sure that we had everything ready for reinstallation of the PF parts but in the end made a big difference, spend the time prepping!
With new ramps and helmet (Starship Fantasy), new LED's (Comet), new posts and rubbers (Titan) new lighted flipper buttons (Coin Taker) and a few new components and reubild kits (Marco's) it went back together in about a day or two. The nice thing about documenting the tear down and having new parts to put back in play is that you get to see where things were and where they should be. HA! We were able to adjust the helmet to make it sit perfectly level, we used pop bumper lights in the caps (Comet) so that the area under the mini PF can actually be seen and I was able to scrub up all of the metal guides (this game has a ton of them) so that they have a "like new" shine and all of the lines are gone. The only areas that are really tough to get in and out of are areas under the ramps. The left and right ramps are a slight pain to get off and on so working on anything underneath them is also kind of a pain in the behind.
Now I will finish the rebuild post with how she finished out, what we did to get it to this point and what the future plans are for this monster...
- Bride of Pinbot - Restore
- All lighting came from Comet save for the flipper buttons
- Pop bumper cap lights are truly awesome!
- These are cool white on top and bottom, the alternative is a color combo of white or anything else in the top and bottom of your pops. Your call here on color and make your decision wisely as getting back to them is ALWAYS tough!
- Post lights are a game changer!
- This table was put back together with all clear star posts (Titan) which meant that we needed to add colors with lights.
- So we went with all blue post lights for the lower posts (slingshots and whatnot) then with cool white post lights on the upper slingshots to help light up that top right side of the game as it is normally a really dark space.
- Standard lighting was done with all Comet as mentioned but a lot more was added via Comet's Matrix lighting system
- If you haven't done so yet, you need to check out the Matrix system. I'm a lighting guy by profession and the Matrix system from Comet lets me use similar techniques and ideas in pinball that I already use in multi-million dollar homes!
- Quick connects allowed us to use 2/3/4-way splitters under plastics and attached to existing lighting to get more light on the board overall and to get new colors placed around where it made sense.
- A few of these additional loads are;
- Blue post lights nearly everywhere (there are no lights under the slingshot plastics now and they shine brighter than ever)
- Blue strips lights on the side and back of the "head" to light up thse deadzone areas
- Red light added to the existing flasher under the left ramp, now the shuttle decal is lit with red and white and it looks like it's taking off when you hit it
- Red light added (but hidden) shining into the scoop under the left ramp
- Two spots at the lower slingshots to light up the center
- Two foot strip was installed inside of the cabinet and is a nice touch if you want to the inside to show as well as the rest of the machine
- All rubbers are from Titan along with the star posts and actual pinballs
- The clear was my favorite as the game itself didn't feel like it really needed extra color in the hardware as I intended to "paint with light"
- With the post lights shining through the posts, it gives the rubbers a soft glow of that color (blue in this case) and worked as expected
- The mini PF was a bit of a challenge as the manual doesn't cover exactly what's involved up there when it comes to rubbers/posts... I determined that we needed an extra mini post up there and I think you'll see if you look closely at the pictures. This has helped out the play of that mini PF and is something I would recommend if you're interested in having your game play a little better.
- All rubbers are from Titan along with the star posts and actual pinballs
- Starship Fantasy
- While I wasn't thrilled about having to do this, it was totally worth it in the end I think. We purchased new ramps and helmet from the Starship team and it is truly nice stuff.
- The plastic is considerably thicker and should last another 30+ years with this game.
- However; if you are willing to invest in a set of Cliffy's for your table then you may be able to work with your existing ramps and whatnot.
- And my two cents on the helmet is this
- Removing the helmet is easy enough even when the game is fully back together.
- This is also a piece that doesn't have any effect on gameplay so consider this...
- Consider painting your existing helmet to get the look you want on your game.
- This could be the comment that gets me tons of hate mail but I'm OK to deffend it so bring it on!
- The helmet was originally chrome, as was the rest of game really, but does it have to be chrome? Hopefully you have seen the photos and can appreciate that removing the chrome is not a terrible thing to do, and even if you're not going to oust the entirety of chrome from the table there is still no reason you have to live with a chrome helmet if you don't want to!
- I'm toying with the old helmet at this point and working on a black textured paint with spackles of purple to see how that looks with this layout, stay tuned and I should put updated pics up when I finish that project.
- Coin Taker
- The lighted flipper buttons that you get from CT are the best ones that I've seen out there. They are a circle, imagine that, and fit snuggly into the cavity already carved into the back side of the hole. They also come with these cute little solid black plastic washers that help to stop light leak coming from the inside of the machine/button.
- They're gorgeous and I hope that you will all try them at some point!
- Nearly anything that belongs on a pinball machine can be found at Marco's, I just wish that they had a brick and mortar in larger markets so that we didn't have to spend so much money and time on shipments!
- We went back with a black shooter housing, black springs and hardware where we could.
- New flipper rebuild kits
- New pop bumper rebuild kits (all new components there minus the coils themselves)
- You guys, yes some of you actually having read this far into this long-winded post, are who helped me turn this vision into a reality.
- The biggest things you guys gave me was hope, inspiration and new ideas to get things done the way I wanted them done!
- The Pinball Professor
- Helped me with the Pinduino components and lighting to setup the ramp and face lighting mods.
- I've got it built and installed but am still trouble shooting what I've done wrong here...
- Helped me with the Pinduino components and lighting to setup the ramp and face lighting mods.
- The Devil's Muse
- The "lock when lit" housing is ugly at best but I was able to pretty it up with the custom "space crate" decal that Devil's Muse makes and cuts to size.
- He sent two of them and thank goodness he did, I butchered the first one and had to use the "wet method" for installing the second.
- Worked out great and he helped a ton by answering questions and giving suggestions along the way
- Kevin Moore
- Local legend in the DFW area and someone that I have to give a shoutout to for helping me via text throughout the entire rebuild
- He helped me identify super hidden issues (bad circuits INSIDE of computer chips) and plenty of other things that could have taken FOREVER to find
- Dude is a straight genius, thank you, Kevin!!!
- Pinball Mania
- Provided a fully rebuilt MPU board that ended up being the key component to getting this baby turned back on
- Robert was also able to respond and answer questions along the way as well.
- You may have noticed the custom decal on the apron of this table, I am not at liberty to share the maker of this amazing decal but I will be sure to pass on any compliments that you would like to share.
- This was made custom based on a picture I found while digging deep on the interwebs and getting lost in ways to customize this game. But I did tell the maker that I would keep it secret as it could infringe on copyrights and whatnot.
- There are so many Pinsiders out there that simply posted a picture, placed a link, made a comment or suggestion, answered a question in a previous post or even called out something they'd seen elsewhere and all of that insight and knowledge helped me get through this one.
- The Pinball Professor
- Final Thoughts
- My goal is to get the Pinduino fully functional and then put try not to put it online with a price tag because I really do want to keep and play this one until TPF at least.
- I've already changed the post lights from cool white to blue and adjusted plenty of other mods so there's no telling if I'm actually done with this one yet but I will update this post if anyhting else changes.
- The change from chrome to black gives me a smile, and when I get the helmet and spotlight covers changed to black I think it will all make a little more sense visually.
- The new ramps, new rubbers, flipper rebuilds and polished metals really do make this game play better than new and that is what has me holding onto it for now. But I do love project tables and think it's only a matter of time before I find another one ;)
- If you have questions about my rebuild or how to attack your own, please don't hesitate to let me know as I would love to see another boat anchor get turned into a shining example of what it is supposed to be!
Thank you for the time in reading this nonsense, to those who got me into this silly hobby, more so to those that manage this hobby so well and finally to everyone that will one day adore pinball the way that the rest of us do because the next generation is always the one that has to carry the torch into the future. It's been a blast on this one and I hope to have another story for my previous Gottlieb transformation and even a future story for whatever my next project turns out to be!
Dustin Lowery (DLO - Falcon Phronesis)