(Topic ID: 244741)

Cleaning up an old Williams Grand Prix

By Pablito350

12 days ago

Topic Stats

  • 18 posts
  • 7 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 6 days ago by Pablito350
  • Topic is favorited by 5 Pinsiders


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#1 12 days ago

Being relatively new to collecting machines we never had any experience with EM's until a few months ago when we fixed up an old River Boat. It was quite a challenge, and was incredibly rewarding bring this back to life. You can read about it here:

One machine we lusted after was a Grand Prix. Feeling confident that I could actually make my way through fixing an EM I was ready for one.... if we could only find one.

About a month ago I got home after a long day of work when Chrissi (my wife) shouted out from the other room that someone was selling a Grand Prix for a hundred bucks, and he was only 80 miles away. She found an ad on facebook marketplace that simply said "Coin operated racing game $100", and included a picture of a Grand Prix.

I immediately thought it was a scam, and suggested she message the seller that we'll be there in an hour with cash (not expecting a reply). Sure enough the seller said it was his Dad's machine, just wanted it out of his barn/shed, and gave us an address to come and get it.

She continued pressing for details as I was getting our pin-hauler, hand truck and tools ready for what might be the deal of the century. Within minutes we were gassed up, and headed to pick it up now convinced that it was not a scam at all.

When we got there an older gentleman opened up the door to his shed, and right there in the middle of the room was a filthy, but mostly complete Grand Prix! We got to talking about why he was selling it, and he simply said that he's had it for 30 years, and it was just too expensive to have someone come out to fix it. He just couldn't justify keeping it anymore especially with his kids all grown up and out of the house. He powered it up, but could not get it to reset as the score reels were all gummed up, and I just shut it off. I simply gave it a quick look over, mostly to see if there were any rodents of termites we'd be loading into our car, and to see what parts were missing. While there was some animal that spent some time in the cabinet none of the wiring was chewed up, and there really wasn't any damage inside. the only indication that something was inside it at one point was a chewed up instruction placard, and a few acorns by the coin door.

I gave him the cash, and said I'd handle everything from here on out. I took the head and legs off while talking to him about his time with the machine, and I could tell that he was really sad to see it go. When I told him that I'd clean it all up, get it working again, and send him pictures of it all done he smiled and said that he'd love to see it returned to it's former glory.

So anyway on the ride home Chrissi and I just sat there saying that this was just stupid. Stupid in that deals like this don't really happen to us, and we just giggled all the way home. Grand prix was a game we really like, and were looking for for quite some time.

We got home around 10pm and reassembled the machine in the garage so the next day I could spend some time with it forming a plan for what it needs.

Here are a few pics from that night.

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As you can see it's mostly all there, but filthy.

More to come...


#2 12 days ago

The next day I was able to spend an hour or two looking things over to assess what has to be done. Here are a few pics to show you just how dirty it was.

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I think that ball was new.... in 1990.

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Note the missing spinner..... that's what this game is all about!
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And here you can see the bite marks on the placard.
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So overall while filthy there's a little wear on the playfield, and I think it'll clean up nicely.


#3 12 days ago

So the next day I wanted to get a start on cleaning this thing up before I bring it in the house so I removed the bottom board..
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Set it aside for cleaning later,
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and gave it a good cleaning.
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and removed some nuts.
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With the cabinet cleaned out I brought it into the game room, and started cleaning up the playfield.
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After a few hours of deep cleaning..
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I popped out a couple of inserts that were already falling out to be glued back in later.
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There are a few places I'll need to touch up with an airbrush, but overall I'm pleased at its condition. I'm not looking to make a show piece with this machine, but I'm going to try to make it look and play as nice as I can.

I'm even considering clearcoating it after the touchups to lock everything in. I don't know yet.

What are your thoughts?


#4 12 days ago

With the playfield relatively clean I decided to repaint the cabinet. While it was pretty clean I couldn't get the head to come out as white as the cabinet. The more I cleaned the head, the more of the graphics I was removing yet it was still yellowed.

Having made the decision to repaint, an order for stencils from Pinball Pimp was made.

While prepping the cabinet I found the bottom - rear falling apart. The back of the cabinet is MDF and was just flaking off so I had to repair it.

I cut out the damaged wood and glued in a piece that will be blended in later.
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There was also a section of the ply that was missing along the bottom edge of one of the sides I filled in with a paint mixing stick.
To prevent further cracking I coated all the exposed edges of the plywood with glue.
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You can also see that the bottom panel is in great shape and will sand out nicely.

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With all the glue drying I primed and filled in all the imperfections to get it ready for paint.


#5 12 days ago

More filling and sanding....
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While that was all drying I took advantage of the great sunny day and cleaned up everything on the bottom panel.
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You can see how much dirt came off!

I used a soft paintbrush with some diluted super clean to dislodge all the dirt.
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Then followed it up with a little hot water to wash it all away.
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Then after blowing out as much water as I could with a blow gun I set it in the sun all afternoon to dry.
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#6 12 days ago

More filling, sanding and priming...

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We're getting there. We're laying down some paint!
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I decided to paint the area inside the coin door white.. It just looks nicer.
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With everything painted white it'll set for about a week before I can start stenciling all the graphics.


#7 12 days ago

About a week later the stencils arrived, and it was time to just do it. Now... I have to admit this is the first time I've ever painted anything using stencils. Due to the cost of them I wasn't as eager to jump right in as I've been with everything else, but you learn by doing... so here goes nothing!

As per the directions we start with the red.
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Now... those five pictures above are the result of a near nervous breakdown!

First off I planned on using acrylic paint thinned to spray out of my Badger Anthem 155 that I've used extensively over the last 20 years painting scale models. Unfortunately I decided to use cheap craft store paint that gelled up and made an utter mess no matter what I used to thin it. It was like the paint was actually a latex paint that was mis-bottled at the factory or something. In hindsight this shitty paint would make for some excellent webbing if needed.

After 4 separate, and frustrating attempts I said fuck it, and decided to just get a can of spray paint to salvage the stencils.

While it looks good there's actually 2 different reds on there, and to the casual observer it'd go unnoticed.

Man I hope the blue goes on better.


#8 12 days ago
Quoted from Pablito350:

The next day I was able to spend an hour or two looking things over to assess what has to be done. Here are a few pics to show you just how dirty it was.

Wow there are "sunken inserts" and then there's that one!

Well job already...looking forward to it.

#9 12 days ago

Following this! Keep going, this is going great... can't wait to see this completed, it is going to look amazing. You are doing an awesome job. I think it is funny how every grand prix has a sunken left bonus arrow. Great game... I play the hell out of mine.

#10 12 days ago

Looking really good Paul. This will turn out really nice due to your hard work.

#11 12 days ago

It's been 3 days after the red paint fiasco cured, and it's time to shoot the blue.

One thing I noticed on these stencils is that it doesn't have a provision for the blue scoop on the front of the cabinet. Mine has it, and I wanted it there so I'll have to modify the stencil a bit. It seems fifty-fifty on cabinets that has this blue scoop, and those that don't. In the Williams brochure it doesn't show it, but in pics posted online of these pins, there are many like mine that have it.

I took measurements from the original paint, and just cut out the stencil.
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It's not complicated, and the registration points that Pinball Pimp makes into these stencils take all they guess work out of it. It really is a great system!

Let's get to spraying some blue!
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It's only two thin coats I laid down. I just stopped spraying as soon as I got complete coverage.

5 minutes later it was time to see the result.
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Man the blue artwork really completes the look. With just the red sprayed it just looks.... blah... not impressed.
But now... WOW! I'm happy with this! These stencils ROCK!

With the cabinet baking in the sun I finished the blue on the head.
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After an hour in the sun I shot 4 - 5 coats of matte clear to seal everything in, and to knock down the gloss to make it more period correct. Most of the EM's I see aren't as glossy as newer games so I went with a matte finish.

And this bring us to today 6/7. It's been a few days since the clear was shot, and I'm ready to get it on new legs to bring inside.
Tonight I started on the coin door, and the side rails. They will be polished and installed when I get time to do it.

So far all the work done has taken about a month's time working on it whenever I found time.

More to come.


#12 12 days ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

Wow there are "sunken inserts" and then there's that one!
Well job already...looking forward to it.

Yeah there are quite a few. The large arrows will just be reset and glued. One of them is actually warped so it'll have to go under the heat gun to flatten out before reinstalling.

Most of the other inserts are actually cupped, and will be filled in with clear...... I think...... Haven't decided yet.

Quoted from spinout:

Following this! Keep going, this is going great... can't wait to see this completed, it is going to look amazing. You are doing an awesome job. I think it is funny how every grand prix has a sunken left bonus arrow. Great game... I play the hell out of mine.

Thank you! The previous owner must've played it a lot with the insert falling through judging by the looks of the wear pattern. After it's all done it's going to be a keeper.

Quoted from Dr_Gonzo:

Looking really good Paul. This will turn out really nice due to your hard work.

Thank you sir. I hope you're right!

#13 11 days ago

On a side note does anyone have an extra williams coin slot logo plate for sale?

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#14 11 days ago

Part number 16A-8636 Dummy Williams Logo plate is now "No Longer Available". Not reproduced so you need to make your own out of 1/16" thick aluminum plate cut to size.

#15 11 days ago
Quoted from KenLayton:

Part number 16A-8636 Dummy Williams Logo plate is now "No Longer Available". Not reproduced so you need to make your own out of 1/16" thick aluminum plate cut to size.

Thanks Ken. I'll make up a decal for the one I've got then. It'll clean up.

#16 11 days ago

Great thread, this was the first or second pinball I had ever played when I was 4 or 5 years old.

#17 11 days ago

following, love my GP, think it's the best 4 player EM there is! Congrats on the Barn find!!!

#18 6 days ago

Just a small update.

Work has been a little crazy lately so I haven't spent as much time as I'd like to on the Grand Prix. I did however get a chance to put on new legs and brackets, and brought it into the game room (that is also undergoing a renovation). Also painted the neck black.
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Figured I'd also bolt on the head just to see how it looks.
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Then I put it in the lineup!
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But then the dreaded Pin-Inspector "Bubbs" arrived to check out my work. I don't know if he approves it or not, but being that he didn't shit in the empty cabinet I'll take it as a good thing.
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I'm currently in the process of rebuilding the chime box, and polishing up the side rails, coin door, and all the other cabinet parts.

More coming soon.


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