(Topic ID: 236922)

Bally 1963 3-In-Line Restoration

By Ballypin

1 year ago

Topic Stats

  • 22 posts
  • 8 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by Ballypin
  • Topic is favorited by 4 Pinsiders


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    #1 1 year ago

    Here is the latest addition to my collection, a 1963 Bally 3-In-Line. This project machine came up for sale locally a few months ago for $ 175 but another buyer called just before me and grabbed it. The buyer soon realized it was too much work, so he relisted it. This time, I was first to respond but due to a family emergency, I had to pass. After agonizing for 5 days that I had lost it a second time, I inquired and found the game was still available and was able to purchase it for a little more than the original sale amount.

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    This example of 3-In-Line survived well for 55 years despite an ugly, dark wood grain contact paper redecoration at some point in its life. The contact paper peeled off with very little paint loss and left no sticky residue. Fortunately, the cabinet paint on Bally games up through mid 1966 is very stable and durable. Bally used a black webbing on top of the base cabinet color and then added the colored accents with stencils. Later in 1966, Bally eliminated the webbing and switched to a texture-like paint for the cabinet to hide imperfections in the wood. This paint tends to swell and flake and fall off if you look at it cross-eyed. Mean Grean and Krud Kutter did a good job removing the grime and 0000 steel wool shined up the side rails.

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    The playfield glass is actually a sheet of plexi-glass and the legs were painted. New chrome legs have been installed and I will purchase a proper tempered glass. The back door is missing and all the steppers, reels and relays will need a thorough cleaning. The backglass is in very good condition with some typical flaking and fading in the reds and bubbling at the corners of the score reel windows. The backglass is accessed from inside the backbox and Bally would later change to the front lift-out style. The bell, ball trough, shooter rod and ball lift have all been cleaned and polished. The coin door and trim will be repainted in a nickel or silver hammered finish.

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    #2 1 year ago

    I pieced together this backstory about the game.

    3-In-Line had a run of 1,000 units and with Bally producing roughly 50 games per day, it was on the line for 4 weeks. Although this is a typical run for Bally at the time, the game is somewhat rare and does not generate much interest with collectors. 3-In-Line is the 3rd flipper game released by Bally since they re-entered the pinball market in 1963. Bally had not produced a flipper pinball since 1957 but began again because new anti-gambling legislation aimed at Bingo machines in late 1962 caused Bally to suspend production. Ted Zale was hired by Bally to lead this revived pinball effort and the first game released was Moon Shot in February 1963. The layout was a direct copy of Gottlieb's 1962 Tropic Isle and clearly was retaliation because Gottlieb had led the effort to enact the new Bingo gambling law. The title “Moon Shot” may also be a sly reference of Bally wanting to kick Gottlieb in the backside. It would take Bally 12 more years to de-throne Gottlieb and become the industry leader.

    Zales' first original design was the asymmetrical layout Cross Country released in March 1963. Meanwhile, loopholes were found in the new law that allowed Bally to re-start bingo production with the August 1963 release of Bounty. Bally was now firmly back in both the pinball and bingo machine markets.

    This brings us to 3-In-Line. Released in July 1963, Bally was not sure what to make of the new pinball market and labeled their games as a “novelty”. Bally was sure that the appeal of Bingo was still strong and showcased the “light-a-line” feature with 3-In-Line. The central element is a 3 x 3 "mini" bingo card on the playfield and backglass with lighted insert numbers 1 through 9 that correspond to 5 standup targets, 2 roll through lanes and 2 rollover buttons on the playfield. Extra points are collected at the end of each ball if a vertical, horizontal or diagonal line is lit. A special is awarded if all 9 spots are completed. The card resets at the end of each ball. 3-In-Line was a 4 player model and Bally reused this layout but with different artwork for the 2 player Bongo released in March 1964. The artwork is a tropical theme, and again, was a direct shot at Gottlieb’s Tropic Isle. Bongo is a clever word play on ”Bingo” and has a better ring than Bango, Bengo or Bungo, not to speak of the golf game Bingo, Bango, Bongo.

    #3 1 year ago

    Some more progress pictures of the restoration progress.


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    Since I am not planning to repaint the cabinet, i will unfortunately leave the front cabinet as-is, warts and all. I would have a tough time trying to match the aged white color of the cabinet and re-create a matching webbing effect.

    #4 1 year ago

    Work has begun on the coin door by removing all the trim, bolts, nails and stripping them to clean metal. The trim and door have been primed and I am still unsure what would paint color look better...nickel or silver hammered. I polished the trim bolts and nails to a mirror finish rather than paint them.

    The top metal arch and apron were painted antique white at some point as these usually are a brighter white and have the black webbing. I can see the outline of the blue and red graphics on the apron under this paint but I have been unable to remove it. My plan is to strip the top arch and repaint it but maybe in the antique white since it would better match the cabinet.IMG_0882 (resized).jpg

    The custom instruction cards that came with the game are funny but will be replaced with correct versions.
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    #5 1 year ago

    Work continues on cleaning the targets and replacing the target faces. Here are some side-by-side before and after pictures.

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    #6 1 year ago


    #7 1 year ago

    Me too! That's a nice looking game, very colourful. Very few Ballys this side of the pond, sadly.

    #8 1 year ago

    More progress and now all 5 targets and 8 bumper cushion switches have been tediously taken apart, cleaned and re-assembled. Still have 4 more switches at the slingshots to clean.
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    Began to remove the slingshots and center target plastic and posts. None are broken but after a quick clean with Mean Green, Novus 2 and Novus 1, they are looking pretty good. The slingshot on the left has been cleaned and the one on the right has not.IMG_0973 (resized).JPGIMG_0974 (resized).JPG
    I use a tumbler for hardware but don't get good results on screw heads so I do a quick clean up with a wire wheel on the bench grinder and then follow up the buffing wheel and green compound.IMG_0976 (resized).JPG

    #9 1 year ago

    The apron and top arch present a few problems. Both were painted antique white over their original bright white and black webbing finish. The apron graphics are visible under this top coat but a latex paint remover and 0000 steel wool did not remove the top coat. IMG_0969 (resized).JPGIMG_0970 (resized).JPG

    I think any more aggressive removal of the top coat will burn right through the graphics. I have a spare apron from a 1964 game with good graphics but 3-In-Line has a ball lift and the apron is different. IMG_0971 (resized).JPGIMG_0972 (resized).JPG

    I could strip them and repaint them bright white but I don't have the equipment or experience to do the webbing or the graphics. And, the bright white will be a stark contrast to the aged white cabinet. My best option is to find a donor apron and arch with the correct webbing and graphics. Until that happens, i will either leave them as-is or freshen them up with new coat of antique white.

    #10 1 year ago

    Playfield is stripped topside and ready for cleaning. IMG_0983 (resized).JPG

    It is amazing how much the original hot pink color under the posts has faded to a purple.IMG_0985 (resized).JPG

    #11 1 year ago

    Loving this restore thread!

    I really like the artwork on the PF of this game, by that mystery artist who worked for both Bally and WMS in early mid 60s. Big Daddy , Touchdown , Star Jet and CampusQueen come to mind.

    #12 1 year ago

    Paging ryanclaytor. I was just listening to him on Nic Baldridge's For Amusement Only podcast from last summer and they discussed the "mystery" artist that did numerous Bally games like Hay-Ride / Harvest, Magic Circle and the games you listed. They also talked about games that used "metallic" inks on the backglass and 3-In-Line has this same feature. The light blue in the plastics and the backglass has a metallic or pearlized finish.IMG_1014 (resized).JPG

    Tasks for today include sanding the wood siderails to remove ball tracks and bumpy old finish. The sanded rails are now lighter and I am hoping that the clear polyurethane coating I apply will darken them so it matches the aged playfield. Before and after.IMG_1011 (resized).JPGIMG_1018 (resized).JPG

    Also started on the pop bumpers. I ordered 3 correct new bodies from PBR but I was surprised to see that one has the newer body style. Cleaned and polished the metal skirts. Love those metal skirts !IMG_1008 (resized).JPGIMG_1015 (resized).JPG

    Tumbled the sling shot kicker brackets for 36 hours then buffed the kicker arm.IMG_1017 (resized).JPG

    Next up are the posts and lane guides. Since these types have not been reproduced, you have to bite the bullet and clean and whiten them the best as possible. Mean Green will remove the crud but I have had so-so luck getting the stains out by soaking them in Salon Care 40IMG_1013 (resized).JPG

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    #13 1 year ago

    Amazing work, I've always wanted to play one! Thanks for listening. Those metallic inks are so beautiful in person, and provide a great transition from backglass to playfield.

    #14 1 year ago
    Quoted from Ballypin:

    I was just listening to him on Nic Baldridge's For Amusement Only podcast from last summer and they discussed the "mystery" artist that did numerous Bally games like Hay-Ride / Harvest, Magic Circle and the games you listed.

    Can you tell me exactly which FAO episode# that was?

    #16 1 year ago

    Great work! The pf will clean up nicely. The posts. Did they have that white crud on them that's almost impossible to remove?

    #17 1 year ago

    The posts did not have any white wax or cleaner buildup. Some stuck rotten rubber and dirt was easy to remove but most have areas of discolor from the bromine in the plastic. The posts went into a peroxide developer bath today and we'll see what they look like after a couple of days.

    #18 1 year ago

    Rather than pick walnut shells out of screws that were tumbled, I decided to start on the playfield tonight. The colors are really popping on this after cleaning the top section and polishing. I removed the major funk with 91% alcohol on paper towels with a good shot of elbow grease. Used a magic eraser and alcohol on the ball trail and very sparingly on the painted areas. Removed the ME residue with Naptha then cleaned again with Novus 2 and hand buffed to a shine.IMG_1023 (resized).JPGIMG_1025 (resized).JPGIMG_1028 (resized).JPG

    3 months later
    #19 1 year ago

    any progress? How are you planning to level/clear the pf?

    #20 1 year ago

    Nice project, looking forward to following you along the process!


    #21 1 year ago
    Quoted from mark532011:

    any progress? How are you planning to level/clear the pf?

    Sorry for the lack of updates. I was making steady progress in Feb and early March until I found a Bally Skyrocket, and in typical fashion, I started tearing into it and left 3-In-Line in the dust. Hoping to finish Skyrocket in the next few weeks then get back to it.

    I had no intention of trying to level the inserts or clear the field. I did complete the cleaning and the Novus 2 polish step gives a nice luster. IMG_1700 (resized).JPG

    I used a tiny brush and touched up the black keylines on the top rollover inserts and will touch up the rest.
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    Quoted from bek1966:

    Nice project, looking forward to following you along the process!

    Me to! Thanks for following.

    1 month later
    #22 1 year ago

    When Bally restarted pinball production with Moon Shot (Feb 1963), the lockdown bar was a 4 piece assembly that included the main top section in stainless steel, an inner plate with the locking tabs or bolts and a pair of 3-sided corner pieces that were chrome plated, pot metal castings. The top surface is always heavily worn from hand oil and palm wear. This type of corner was last used on Gold Rush (Apr 1966). The metal cabinet side rails also included metal flipper buttons that suffered the same wear.IMG_2019 (resized).JPGIMG_1992 (resized).JPGIMG_2022 (resized).JPG

    Starting with Campus Queen (Aug 1966), Bally switched to a single piece lockdown bar and used it through Capersville (Dec 1966). These games still had the fixed side rails and used the metal flipper buttons.

    Starting with Rocket III (Apr 1967), Bally totally abandoned the fixed metal side rails and incorporated the playfield glass, side rails and lockdown bar into an assembly they called the E-Z-Up Top Glass Frame. The flipper buttons were changed to plastic and the coin door sported a new design with light up coin drop inserts.

    To restore the corners and buttons, I contacted a local metal plating company but was told that their acid process would totally dissolve the pot metal parts.
    I then went to a chrome shop that could do the work but at $ 50 for EACH CORNER !! I have 5 games with this style corner and 8 games with metal flipper buttons and there was no way I was going to spend the equivalence of another project game on just these corner parts.

    Bummed, I though a real cheap compromise would be trying a chrome finish spray paint. I figured it wouldn't hurt to sand the parts first to get a better paint finish. To my surprise, the chrome plating on the corners and buttons was still there below the wear. I carefully held the parts against 220 grit sandpaper on a palm sander. Heavy sanding can burn right through the chrome layer to the underlying copper so removing all imperfections is not always possible. After a buffing on the bench grinder, the parts have a very nice shine.IMG_2020 (resized).JPGIMG_2023 (resized).JPG

    The results are not 100% but they are so much better than the original condition.

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