(Topic ID: 256907)

A Pecos Diary: Tips, Tricks and Tweaks for Restoring and Fixing EM and SS Pins

By Pecos

5 months ago

Topic Stats

  • 10 posts
  • 4 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 months ago by Pecos
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders


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    #1 5 months ago

    I will be posting tips and tricks here that I have learned over the years, and some that I discover as I continue to restore and fix these marvelous mechanical wonders.

    Feel free to post your tips and tricks for restoring and fixing EM and SS pinball machines. Please post anything that you have learned that is different, experimental, time-saving, money-saving, avoids frustration or will make restoring these old classic pins easier.

    #2 5 months ago

    Fun with rubber cement - part one.

    There are two types of Mylar Pop Bumper Playfield Protectors that you can buy to reduce playfield wear around a pop bumper. Each has it's issues.

    Non-Sticky - These 'float' above the playfield. Dirt and grit can get under the Mylar, causing wear. Not the best solution.

    Sticky - These are attached to the playfield with sticky glue. This solves the problem of gunk getting under the Mylar, but can be problematic if you ever have to remove them. Removing the Mylar protectors can often remove some of the playfield ink.

    I have experimented with non-sticky Mylar playfield protectors and rubber cement. So far, the results have been good, but I don't have enough play on them to determine if this is a better solution. Also, I don't know if rubber cement will get hard over time or stay soft.

    With this in mind and, here is how I do it.

    I have tested Elmer's CraftBond Rubber Cement and found that it hasn't damaged the playfield clear coating on a Bally Double-Up and a Bally Wizard!, but you may want to test the rubber cement is an inconspicuous spot before you proceed.

    I thoroughly cleaned the playfield under and next to the pop bumper(s). I put a thick coat of the rubber cement on both the underside of the Mylar and the playfield. I put the Mylar on the playfield. With my thumb and fingers, I press down on the middle of the Mylar and move them to the edge of the Mylar to squeeze out any bubbles and excess rubber cement.

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    Of course, you will want to touch-up the area under the pop bumper before you put the Mylar on, if you want! The good news is that you can put paint and waterslide decals under the Mylar and they will not be damaged during play.

    Wizard! before:

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    And after:

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    #3 5 months ago

    Fun with rubber cement - part two.

    Did you ever roll rubber cement into little rubber balls in Elementary School. I did. Still do.

    I got a Laser Cue with the backglass clear-coated with Triple Thick. This is normally a good thing, but whoever did it didn't mask off the windows. It took me more than an hour to remove the Triple Thick with Q-Tips and 91% Isopropyl Alcohol. This is not how one should clear coat a backglass.

    I masked my backglass windows with cardstock, cut to size. I used masking tape to hold the paper mask in place. But overspray would always sneak under the paper and I was back to removing the Triple Thick with Q-Tips and Isopropyl Alcohol. There had to be a better way.

    Just this week I had a Gorgar backglass that needed a lot of attention. I used a different technique that works well and save me time - no Triple Thick removal required.

    Here is how I did it.

    I already had the paper masks that I needed. I thoroughly cleaned the backglass windows. On each of the windows I added a thick coat of Elmer's CraftBond Rubber Cement.

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    While it was still wet, I put the paper mask over the window and pressed down until it was firmly in place. I find it best to do one window at a time so the rubber cement is still wet when placing the mask. After all windows have been covered, it is time to put on the Triple Thick. I like to do two coats.

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    Set the backglass aside for 24 hours to dry. Then, remove the paper masks and with your fingers, roll up the rubber cement into little rubber balls, just like you did when you were a kid. Bet you never thought that art class would come in handy one day when restoring pinball machines! Give your art teacher some love.

    #4 5 months ago

    Fun with rubber cement - part three.

    I got this idea from vid1900. I make labels for all of the fuses in the backbox, but I have taken it one step further. I document, with labels, all of the modifications I make to the original board.

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    Here is how I do it - no magic here.

    I make a Word document of the labels I want. Then, I print them on my laser printer. I cut them out and put on a thick coat of rubber cement. Dollops are good here, too thin and the labels will fall off! Guess how I figured that one out?

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    Anyone working on the boards in the future will now know the modifications that I made.

    #5 5 months ago

    Labeling stuff is a good idea. Taking nothing away from your labeling method...you might want to consider just buying an inexpensive labelmaker.

    #6 5 months ago

    In pic 4/4 it looks like the 4a/fb is actually a slow-blo fuse?

    #7 5 months ago
    Quoted from BrianBannon:

    Taking nothing away from your labeling method...you might want to consider just buying an inexpensive labelmaker.

    Thanks, but not for me.

    Quoted from DNO:

    In pic 4/4 it looks like the 4a/fb is actually a slow-blo fuse?

    It sure looks like a slow blow fuse to me too. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Fun with rubber cement - part four.

    This is another experimental tip that I have yet to decide how helpful it will be. I will post it here and you can decide if you want to try this technique.

    I haven't done any backglass touch-ups. I have done a lot of playfield touch-ups, quite successfully. But when I saw the Gorgar backglass and all of the ink that was missing from the central figure of the lady, I just had to do something. I started with the right color I had in some acrylic paints from a set I got from Michaels. Ideally, the paint would be air-brushed on, but I do not own and air brush gun and this kind of paint can't be used in an air brush gun.

    I put on several layers of the paint with a brush and found that it looked awesome from the front, but horrible when backlit. It was blotchy, bad, bad blotchy. I thought I could put on a few more layers and the uneven paint would be leveled enough to allow the right amount of light to shine evenly through. Wrong! It stayed blotchy and just got darker.

    I decided to experiment with putting the paint on a piece of paper. I was able to get an even coat of paint on the paper using a brush. I could see the areas with more paint and by brushing those more could get an even coat of paint. But the paper let too much light through when backlit. I tried the same experiment with 62 pound paper stock and got the results I was looking for.

    Here is how I did it:

    • I painted some 8x11 cardstock with the color I needed until the paint was evenly spread. Using a retarder seemed to help thin the thick paint and allowed for a more even covering of paint.
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      Cardstock on left and paper on the right.
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    • I cut the painted cardstock roughly to size, making sure the painted area was face down!
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    • I used a piece of Duralar transparency film to put over the reclining lady and, using a Sharpie, outlined the area to be covered.
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    • I cut out the shapes from the Duralar transparency film I would need for the reclining lady.
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    • I put the Duralar pattern on the cardstock and cut the cardstock to match the Duralar pattern.
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    • I thoroughly cleaned the area to be covered.
    • I put a good thick coat of rubber cement on both the colored side of the cardstock and the area to be covered.
    • I pushed down on the cardstock and, starting at the middle, pressed down and out toward the edges to remove any bubbles and excess rubber cement.
    • This was a lengthy process, but much shorter than the time I spent trying to brush on, unsuccessfully, the paint with a brush.

      In the future, I would like to try this process again with colored paper that you can buy online. There are packs of multiple colors that should match some of the missing ink. The rest I will have to color-match with acrylic paint.

      I won't know how happy I am with the end results until I get Gorgar set up and I can see what the backglass looks like when backlit. I can tell you now that it is heaps better than having that big hole in the artwork!


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      When backlit, it is still a bit blotchy. That is because I left some of the original ink on. Maybe I should have removed some of that original ink? Still, a good result, I think.

    #8 5 months ago

    Here is a trick for you if your chimes unit has a broken chime bar retaining tab:

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    Note that I used the existing screw to hold the modified curtain rod hanger in place. The hanger rotated off the chime bar several times. I could have used a second screw but I didn't want put a screw into the cabinet if I didn't have to. After putting it back in place, it has worked like a champ for four or five months now. This was done to a Grand Prix on route so this chime has gotten a lot of banging.

    No welding required and you have saved the chime unit from an early demise.

    A similar 'fix' could be done to the other chime bars if their tab(s) are broken.

    2 weeks later
    #9 5 months ago

    I've been using rubber cement to help remove dirt from playfield cracks; IPA on a towel first, then a layer of rubber cement allowed to dry. Then I roll it up with a fingertip and scrub around the area and a little of the durable dirt comes off. It doesn't remove all the dirt, but then it doesn't remove almost all the paint, as Magic Eraser does.

    On another tack, I had to fill a crater worn away where the ball arrives in the trough above the plunger. Many thousands of plays in a college arcade left a bare wood hole about 1/8" deep. I filled it with plastic wood, carefully sanded it back to match the surrounding surface, then painted many layers of acrylic clear with just a little "old varnish" pigment in it. Followed that with more acrylic medium mixed to match dark scuffs and restored those. This is the ball trough afterward:

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    #10 4 months ago

    Security tip for operators or anyone who don't want their pins walking away.

    What you will need:

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    Here is how I did it:

    • Using the two extra long bolts, slip a washer on each of the bolts.
    • Slip the chain on the bolts behind the washers.
    • Insert the bolt into the back, top leg bracket hole on one pinball machine and tighten down the leg bolt.
    • With the two pinball machines side by side, do the same for the second pinball machine, stretching the chain in between the games.
    • Put the nuts on each of the bolts inside the cabinets. Do not snug the nut up to the leg brackets - leave a small gap. The bolt cannot be removed using this method. Be sure to remove the nut before trying to remove the leg bolt in the future!

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