(Topic ID: 131388)

Bringing a Haunted House Back to Life!!!

By davebart5

6 years ago

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  • 180 posts
  • 24 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 years ago by d0n
  • Topic is favorited by 29 Pinsiders


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#1 6 years ago

Hello Pinsiders,

Here is a thread documenting my process of bringing a Gottlieb Haunted House to life. This is my very first pin and I am extremely excited to learn the ropes and become an experienced pin tech through the resources available online and through the support of my fellow pinsiders. HERE WE GO!

I'm a newbie with zero experience fixing a pin, and know I have a huge task in front of me. I've had some soldering electronics experience in High School but nothing serious. I just know that I can probably due a decent job soldering but might have issues reading schematics or diagnosing parts. I've always had a great deal of respect for pinball and feel it's a dying art that needs to be preserved. I can't wait to build my collection.
Growing up, I had a friend who lived up the street from me and his dad was into restoring hot rods, juke boxes and pins. He had an HH in the basement and I remember that Haunting theme and music kind of scared me as a youngster. Time passed and eventually his dad sold the game in the late 90's. About 4 months ago, I happened to randomly remember the game and just became obsessed with researching it and finding one for myself. I spent the last 4 months researching the HH market, fielding inquiries, and reading and watching anything I could on the web about the game. I even bought This Old Pinball on DVD before even finding a game to get in the mood and pump me up to dive in. Despite the Sys-80 reputation, I was dead set on getting the HH as my first game. I've thoroughly enjoyed my time thus far interacting with the pin community and NOW I'M HOOKED! My dream line-up is an HH, Black Hole and Spirit. Fingers crossed.

I had an ad up on Pinside that I was looking for the game. Several sellers reached out and it just never worked out. Either they were too far away, or wanted too much money for what I was able to spend. Finally, a seller reached out saying she has no experience with pins, but did do a little research on the HH she owns and is willing to sell for $1,000 firm. She temporarily joined pinside just to sell the game. Her father bought the game in the late 80's for the family and it got little use after that. It eventually broke down and then basically sat wrapped in blankets in their basement for the better part of 25+ years, and now they are trying to clear out old "junk" from their elderly parents home. The father doesn't remember where he got it back in the 80's and thats all we know. I was sent a bunch of pictures of the game and I shared those with fellow pinsiders. Everyone who reviewed the pics said it was a good buy and they would do it in a heartbeat. That made me feel good and I drove 2.5 hours to grab the game despite being a site unseen game and very little information to go off of due to the seller not being a collector or player. Overall, I felt confident in the support I got from the pinsiders.

The game is what I call a "time capsule". It's literally all original from the 80's with very little work done to it. I can see the original operator did a rubber replacement but thats about it. No grounds mods and the orange cap is still there. Overall, for it sitting this long it is actually in decent condition. The game is extremely dirty inside and out, and some rust has set in on a few metal parts. But it's nothing too serious and Evapo-rust will handle that. Another downside is that the score displays do not work.

- All original game allowing me to decide what to keep original and what to replace

- Cabinet has just a few dings and scrapes, but nothing to bare wood and overall looks good.

- Backglass is original with only a few cracking paint areas. I'm usually picky but feel good about it.

- PF's are good overall with the main PF having a few small scrapes and the upper PF only has a spot where the ball drops up there

- The data sentry battery does not appear to have any damage surrounding it.

- Plastic sets are all in tact with only the upper PF plastic with the skulls and grandfather clock piece broken apart.

- VUK works every time so far and seems nice and strong

- All sounds work and are accurate

- All lights work despite having some burnt bulbs

- Game boots up and plays

- Rusted legs and interior cabinet metal parts need to be restored

- Extremely dirty and needs a ton of elbow grease inside and out

- Several wires have come off their posts and I need to figure out where they go

- Score displays do not work

- Bottom flippers in the lower PF do not work

- 2 of the 4 pop bumpers do not work and some of the caps are really dirty and need replacements

- Coin door and frame seem to have been forced entry at one point, and is a little banged up

- Lower PF has three bare wood spots

- Right side main PF kickout hole does not work

- No mods done whatsoever

- Green window to lower PF is scratched up and needs to be replaced

- Lots of mold and mildew on the PF's and inside the cabinet

- The original owners must have lost the original leg bolts and used large self tapping screws on the back legs shredding the tees and shredding the original threads leading into the cabinet

Because this is my childhood favorite, I definitely want this to be collector quality one day. I don't think I'll ever sell it since it's my first pin and due to the nostalgic factor. I wanted to immediately take this to TNT Amusements which is fairly close to me, and have them overhaul the game top to bottom for $1500+, making my total investment $2500+. I don't think I can afford that right now, and I am too anxious to get playing the game rather than waiting to raise the funds. The other option, which is what I'm already embarking on is to fix it up myself. I know that I will learn so much more about this game and become a better pin tech by getting MY hands dirty, making my future pin investments more fruitful if I know what to do with them myself. Already since going through the initial inspection and cleaning phase, I already know where all mechanisms are and how this game was put together. More importantly, it's going to be more rewarding to say I restored the game myself. Right now, I'm going to replace most clear posts, all lights from #44 to #47's, replace all flippers, pop bumper parts, stand up targets, rubbers, old screws, de-rust metal parts, seal backglass cracks, and do the orange cap and ground mods then clean and wax to get this thing going.

Here are the phases in which I am going about restoring the game:

PHASE 1 - initial inspection of everything and understanding general layout (COMPLETED)

PHASE 2 - remove most PF parts such as posts, plastics, etc. and perform a deep cleaning of everything starting with the cabinet, then the PF's and finally de-rust exterior metal parts (UNDERWAY)

PHASE 3 - replace all old and stained parts (NEXT)

PHASE 4 - fix up all interior circuitry and do all recommended mods

PHASE 5 - enjoy the hell out of this game

Here are pics of the game once it's brought home...

IMG_2307 (1).jpg






IMG_2330 (1).jpg


#2 6 years ago

I do have the lockdown bar and main glass of when taking those pictures...

Here are more photos of the game itself.




#3 6 years ago

More photos of the game itself...


#4 6 years ago


#5 6 years ago


#6 6 years ago


#7 6 years ago

Here is my setup of cleaners and some new screws I'll be using to spruce up the game. IMG_2425.jpgI'm ready to dive in!


#8 6 years ago

Improved & beefier leg bolt plate for heavy or widebody cabinets:


Leg bolts:


#9 6 years ago

Thanks Ken! I'll definitely be grabbing these better leg bolt plates.

#10 6 years ago

I'm really going to follow this. I have a bh and a volcano I just grabbed, but I REALLY want hh. This will be interesting to watch the progress.

#11 6 years ago

I'll be sure to keep things updated on here Kong. I'll be posting more pics later of my process of removing the lower PF and I just wiped down and vacuumed out the entire cabinet. I also got most of the brown mold spots off of the lightbox front panel. Looking good so far.

Honestly, the most intimidating part to me, and the process i'm holding my breathe on doing, is repairing and sealing the backglass paint cracking. Its like the one piece besides playfields you literally can't just buy and start fresh. I might need to hire someone locally for that. Probably going to be my last step.

#12 6 years ago

Here's a brief guide on sealing the backglass to prevent further deterioration: http://pinwiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=Pinball_Restoration#Sealing_the_Backglass

#13 6 years ago

Thanks Forceflow. I'm definitely going to study that guide before doing it. Makes me so nervous to even clean it. Once its ruined, the game is not the same until I find a new one. Also, I don't even want a repro plexiglass. I want an all original full glass if I ever have to replace it, making my task even harder.

I'm kicking myself, because a few months ago, I watched one of the TNT videos and Todd said he has NOS backglasses available for around $350 - $400. I didn't even own the game then so I thought nothing of it, and then one day I said the hell with it, I'm gonna buy one and have it on reserve for when I do get the game cause chances are the glass will have flaws, and I can just pop in the new and sell the old for a little cheaper. Well, I called todd a month or two ago and he literally just shipped out the last one the day prior. Ugh!!!!!!!

I feel the BG is the most important aspect here. It really makes the game pop.

Well, not to be a downer, my game has a 7/10 or even an 8/10 backglass and I should be happy for that.

#14 6 years ago

What I'm really confused about is that my game's serial number is 08044, and I know they only made 6,385 units. I'm curious as to when my game was made and why they went with these random numbers well above the 6385...

Any thoughts?

#15 6 years ago
Quoted from davebart5:

What I'm really confused about is that my game's serial number is 08044, and I know they only made 6,385 units. I'm curious as to when my game was made and why they went with these random numbers well above the 6385...
Any thoughts?

Runs of machines don't always have sequential numbers, and aren't always in line with the actual number of machines produced. Also, for a time, manufacturers were trying to mask actual production numbers from each other.

#16 6 years ago

Interesting... I can see them doing the old hide the production number from competition trick.

#17 6 years ago

You should be very proud of this one. All your plastics look to be in better than average shape, the playfields are dirty but i bet it will be a diamond in the rough. Nice you have all the original green display filters also, they can be hard to find. I always find it to be a much more rewarding process when you take a game from that condition back to shiny and new. Cant wait to see how it polishes up.

#18 6 years ago

Thanks Petey. I'm very excited about it all and will update the thread later with my most recent developments.

This weekend, I ended up taking an impromptu road trip with my girlfriend through the wilds of Maine and as soon I'm home I'm back on the restoration grind.

#19 6 years ago

Quick question for anyone who might know... I am looking to replace my green window looking down into the lower PF, and have come across two sources who have the replacement available, CPR and Macro Specialties. Does anyone know the difference between the two options and if one is more "official" than the other? Do you think they come from the same manufacturer? Macro shipping is $7 cheaper but they both list the window for $45.

Here are the links for both options.



#20 6 years ago

I have the marco one and the fit and color seem perfect but i would think the cpr would be just as good

#21 6 years ago

Hi Dave, the 1st thing I'd do is get that darn old battery off the CPU board, you don't need it to work on the game. It could start leaking from the move and you don't want to have to deal with that too. I'll be watching this thread too (for the fun factor ), and probably post when you need tech help.

System 80, not just a job, it's an adventure

#22 6 years ago

Thanks Petey, I think I'm going to go with the Macro one since it saves me a few bucks shipping wise... I also have to setup my account with PBR next week and begin ordering all of the other replacement parts I need.

Thanks Steve, I'll make sure I do that ASAP. Honestly, I might just spring for the Pascal all-in-one board to ensure I'm starting fresh with something I will never have to worry about. I like the thought of having all original parts in my game, even original boards, to make it feel more authentic to it's time, but I just don't know enough to repair, clean or diagnose them right now. I'm soaking up so much information about the Sys-80 and HH in general that learning board operations/repairs seems to be the next big step for me for my future games after I get this HH alive and well. Is there any other reason I can't think of or know about where repairing original boards is a better option to a new Pascal PI-80?

As always, your insights and recommendations are always appreciated. Thanks again for helping a rookie out!

#23 6 years ago

I think you mentioned before that you had basic solder skills. Board repair on the older gottlieb stuff is not that bad as the older components tend to be larger and the connectors not so dense. Get yourself a decent solder sucker and some solder wick and you will be fine. I dont plan to let my hh go so i did not really consider the original board verses replacement as far as collector value goes. I honestly dont know what it would do to value, if it were me buying i would pay more for a game with new boards, but maybe somebody else can offer more insight.

#24 6 years ago

Yeah that would be a good topic to dig into, whether the original boards or quality replacements are preferred to the market and how the value is affected. If I were to opt for the Pascal, I would leave the old boards in as a trophy of it's original guts.

I am going to leave the original Pop Bumper Boards and perform the mod, as well as the sound board since it seems to be working fine.

#25 6 years ago


I picked up some additions to my cleaning tools. I'm going to use Gojo "original formula" without the pumice to clean the PF's. Then use Carnauba wax following that to get the PF's completed and ready for play.

The first steps I took after my inspection and picture taking phase was to immediately get rid of the mildew stains on the lightbox panel. I used Krud Kutter spray on a magic eraser and lightly scrubbed those stains following a light wipe down with a lightly damp rag. You can see it worked and the stains pretty much faded away. I relisted some before pictures of the lightbox with the stains and then shots of the results. I might go back through the inside panel one more time to get it a little whiter.

IMG_2460.jpgIMG_2383.jpgIMG_2381 (1).jpgIMG_2384.jpgIMG_2382.jpg


#26 6 years ago

UPDATE: Prop bars, Lower PF Removal, and cabinet interior cleaned

Pictured here you'll see my makeshift prop bars to give the PF's some support when lifting and servicing underneath. The first is a 38" shoulder therapy bar you use to lift above your head after surgery. The other bars are 38" inch wooden boards or stakes used to lift the lower PF if I need to service underneath. I feel it does a good job not bending and tweaking the PF's.

I unplugged and removed the lower PF, as well as unplugged the main PF to wipe down the wires and connectors. I then took a shop vac and vacuumed the entire inside cabinet. While I had the shop vac out, and before I did the vacuuming, I used the blowing feature and blew air through every corner of the machine to knock away any dust balls. It wasn't hard enough to chip paint or hurt wiring and dirt particles were certainly flying out.

After that, I wiped down the entire interior with a damp rag with a little palmolive to get the dirt layer off. It worked really well and the rag turned black. After another wipe down or two of the interior and parts, I let that dry and did one more air blast. You'll see that the cabinet is really clean and free of loose fragments and dirt. This gave me a good chance to review all parts in the cabinet and how it all works.

I posted some before and after shots of the cabinet.


#27 6 years ago

UPDATE: Removal of all plastics, posts and some metals that were rusted. Evapo-rust bath and final prep before PF cleaning.

Here you'll see how I labeled what I removed and where it goes.

I removed all plastics for them to eventually be cleaned, and I'll probably use the Gojo hand cleaner on the top sides only. I don't want to mess with the painted underside too much since none are really that dirty or show any mold. The only piece that had any damage whatsoever is the skulls and clock piece. Luckily, TNT Amusements was selling an original plastic of the same piece for sale on Ebay for around $25, and coming off a machine they were restoring and replaced with all new plastics. That piece already arrived and ready for installation.

Before removing all posts, I took a lot of pictures of the PF's up close so I know which post type goes where. One thing I am worried about, is not documenting or remembering which post screw length goes where. Some of the post screws that take the Acorn speed nuts have a flattened/rounded thread end, and a few others have the pointed wood screw like thread end (if that makes sense). I don't think it will matter too much as long as they don't stick out weird or not tighten properly. Honestly, I think it's fine because PBR sells replacements post screws and only have the one kind so I think it's just a variance Gottlieb randomly used. If I'm wrong please let me know and I'll be more critical when I re-install.

Here are the metals I threw in a 12 hour evapo-rust bath and I will send pictures of the results of that. They did come out really nice and now need a polishing. I might look into a local metal shop to handle the polish since I don't have good buffing tools and a lot of parts to do.

Once all of the posts and metals were removed from the PF's, I took a swiffer hand duster and lightly wiped the initial layer of grime off the PF's. The duster is gentle enough it didn't put too much strain on the paint. I think it did a great job and you can see how dirty the duster is from it. Now one more layer of dirt is removed for when I go wipe it all down with the Gojo cleaner.


#28 6 years ago

Gojo? That's a new one.

Remember evapo-rust is awesome, but parts will re-rust unless the exposed area is protected in some way. I smooth out pitting, make shiny, and do a light coat of clear.

#29 6 years ago

All the best with the resto i'll be following for sure!

#30 6 years ago

As far as the post screws go it is important which go where. The machine screw trype go in the holes that have t-nuts in the under side and ths wood screws go in the ones that are jus wood. Also your secret passage plastic is broken. I dont mean that in a critical way just so you know it should be one peice and a bit bigger on the right side where some is missing. Looking great so far!!

#31 6 years ago

"Haunted House" was my first machine and is basically the reason I learned electronics -- in order to fix the machine.

I cut my teeth on this bastard. After doing all of the ground mods, and upgrading to a full line of Ni-Wumpf boards, "Haunted House" is now the most reliable machine in my small collection.

It's gorgeous and will never leave my collection. Never. Never. Never.

#32 6 years ago

Radium - I got that gojo tip from a local pin tech I had a random convo with and he swears by it. It makes sense that it would cut away dirt but be smooth enough to not hurt any paint since its pumice free. I'll be testing it on an unseen area first.

Petey - yes! Thank you. I was hoping to find some clarification on those two post screw types. I'll be sure to follow that instruction when re-installing. I had a gut feeling it wasn't just random that there were two types but I didn't notice it until I had a few out and in a pile waiting to be cleaned. Good to know about the secret passage plastic. I'll have to keep my eye out for a replacement. What sucks is I had only one or two pieces broken and I don't feel that warrants paying for a full repro set just yet. I'd rather spend the money on other parts and a new board, and hope to find a replacement pop up on eBay or pinside.

Bklossner- thanks man. I'm looking forward to the knowledge I'll gain from this project.

#33 6 years ago

Does anyone happen to know the dimensions of the Secret Passage plastic piece? Until I find a real replacement I'm either going to print a label version to use with the clear plastic protector, or I might have someone who can produce this for me.

Thank you!

2_zpssds5avg1 (1).jpg

#34 6 years ago

Width: 7 1/16"
Height: 3 3/16"

Tolerance: 1/16"

#35 6 years ago

Awesome! Thank you so much man.

RESTORATION UPDATE: I'm gonna see what options come around with replacing or fixing this final broken piece, the secret passage, while I'm handling other tasks, but once the restore is done and I've saved up a few bucks I might just buy a new plastic set from PBR. We'll see... I wanted the game to feature as many original parts as possible but want it to look great even more. I'll get over that fast and will be happy to have a pristine looking game in the end. Next priorities are to buy new lamps, a bunch of small parts from PBR and more than likely the Pascal PI-80.

I just received in the mail my replacement green window from macro, secret passage plastic protector and a set of retro style LEDs from Silverball to test them out.

I've been away from the machine for the past week or so and I am DYING to get back to it. My girl and I decided against one big expensive vacation and opted for a bunch of small road trips this summer. We are in the middle of some of these adventures and having fun, but I'm itching to get on my next moves in the restore process. I'll update again soon.

#36 6 years ago

UPDATE: VISIT TO PINBALL RESOURCE, Upper and lower PF's removed for cleaning. Plastics cleaned.

My girlfriend and I were on a road trip the past week or so through the Northeast, and this is primarily what has been keeping me from getting this restore done. We happened to be in upstate NY and I realized PBR is located in Poughkeepsie, NY. I've been meaning to establish my account there. I called Steve Young and explained to him I'm a new customer, I happened to be nearby and wondered if I could swing by to say hello and pick up parts. He was cool with that and I got to meet the man and he showed me a little around. We chatted and talked pinball for a little while before getting on my way. I picked up new legs, some lamps and a couple other parts which saved me on shipping. Also, I mentioned to Steve I'm using Gojo Original for my PF cleaning and he said thats all he uses on his games. That made me feel confident in my selection.

I am finished cleaning all plastics and now beginning to clean the actual PF's and then give them a good waxing. Following this, I will take my dirty/rusty metal pieces I removed from inside the cabinet and the PF's to get them buffed and cleaned as well. Once the cleaning process is done, I will then put everything back together and start working on the electronics.

As stated before, I am using GoJo original, and I used this on the plastics. They came out looking better than I ever thought. Like, I could see myself in the reflection. I posted before and after pics of the plastics, as well as the backsides. I also show below the towel used to clean them and you can see the immense amount of dirt that came off of them. I wasn't going to touch the backsides to not smear the paint, but I tested it on a little spot and nothing happened. As you can see, the backs are now spotless. Gojo works wonders on plastics.

I've applied Gojo to the main PF last night and gave it a good yet soft rub down. It definitely wiped away any loose dirt and stains with no damage to the PF's, but it won't budge the deep dark stains shown below. That kind of surprised me. I thought for sure those stains would wipe away and I'm afraid to put anything else on them or put more elbow grease into it so I don't hurt the paint. Pictures of these stains on the main PF before I cleaned it, and a close up of the stains after. You can see a difference, but they're not totally removed. Does anyone have any insight on what can be used to get rid of these black marks?


#37 6 years ago

QUESTION: I showed a picture of this Carnauba Wax before and no one halted me from using it, but I just want to be sure I'm using the right stuff. Here is a picture of the wax. This is the only Carnauba Wax Pep Boys had. I've seen people on here say they use a Carnauba Wax that is a paste and looks like butter. Does the wax shown here work for waxing PF's? There is no ingredient list on the container and I don't think it is water based. I've already started applying this to the main PF with no immediate damage, but I stopped halfway through to check with you guys to give me peace of mind.

Any insight into what wax I should be using?



#38 6 years ago

Unfortunately i dont have any advice on the wax. I use a different wax. For PF dirt i use rubbing alchohol on a magic eraser. Now you need to use extreme caution with this not to rub too hard or for too long but it can also really help with levelling some of the planking you have just above the plexy window.

#39 6 years ago

Keep in mind that using a magic eraser removes the original clear coat. That's why the planking and dirt goes away. Basically, you're removing the tiny cracks in the clear that are holding the grime by making the cracks in the clear wider. By removing clear, you're also removing the silk screen protection.

System 80, not just a job, it's an adventure

#40 6 years ago

Again, thank you guys for the insight. Should I just leave it be? Is it better to let it go and not ruin the clear? I don't mind the dirty look since it could remind me of a true haunted house. But I ultimately want what's best for the game's longevity.

Also, is the wax I'm using good or bad?

#41 6 years ago

Gonna post a link for you...

#43 6 years ago

If you're not restoring the playfield there's little point in magic eraser. I wouldn't abrade it with Novus products either. And avoid water-based products since they are, well, water. Wax seals in dirt but at least gives some protection.

#44 6 years ago

Yes, if the wax is water base, unless you have cleared the playfield with auto clear, avoid it. Anything water base will separate/lift the screen ink/paint from the wood.

System 80, not just a job, it's an adventure

#45 6 years ago

ok, so I'm better off avoiding using wax at all so I don't seal in the dirt? I'll keep this thing clean from here on out with occasional wipe downs with the Gojo if thats what it takes. Knowing what I know about this machine, it's never been restored and resealed with a clear coat.

If a waxing is recommended, what wax do you guys use on a PF like this? If were not sure on the wax I chose, I'll gladly discontinue it and go with your recommendation.

Ultimately, is it ok if I choose to leave the planking dirt marks? Was this a bad buy or does it come with the territory on these 30 year old SS games? Again, the game was $1k as is.

#46 6 years ago

In my opimion 1k was a decent price. My HH PF's were in a touch better condition but very similar. Magic eraser and alchohol got out all my dirt and planking but i went into it knowing i would need to re seal it. In my case i also had heavy wear and i was not sure what route to go down for that part of the repair but i didnt have much to lose if anything went wrong with the magic eraser. I have opted to go with an overlay and then seal it but most people frown on that approach. I think the important part is to do what ever you will be happy with. I wont recommend a wax as i am not really sure what i have liked best, but defenitely avoid anything water based as others have said.

#47 6 years ago

Use a non-silicone PASTE wax, like Blitz.

Whatever you do, make sure it does not say "cleaner wax".

Make sure it is not a liquid.

#48 6 years ago

Ok, I applied a small coating of this Turtle Wax Carnauba "cleaner wax" on about 1/4 of the main PF but stopped there because I wanted to check with you guys to be sure it was the right thing. Did I just ruin the PF? Is there anything I can do to help reverse any negative effects?

I'll discontinue it and use it on my car moving forward.

Here's the stuff I was using...


#49 6 years ago

Vid - do you recommend not using a cleaner wax Carnauba because it is water based? Or because it's harder to control and gets in places you don't like when applying? I certainly don't want to do more harm than good. I couldn't find any solid information on what ingredients are in this Turtle Wax "cleaner wax" Carnauba.

I'll be buying the Blitz paste for sure.

#50 6 years ago

Cleaner Wax has abrasives that wear down the playfield.

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