Dixieland (Bally, 1968) - A Restoration Journey


By xTheBlackKnightx

1 month ago


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#1 51 days ago

This thread documents the full restoration of another one of my Ted Zale "zipper flipper" machines in my collection, Dixieland (Bally, 1968).

This example of this title has a very special story as it was a documented home use only machine for 49+ years before it arrived to my hands, and lives up to the meaning. Small amounts of various technical, restorative, and historical footnotes are included in the documentation. Restoration is presented chronologically.

I continue to specialize in these direct EM titles and expertise in technical aspects, and have a pinball book that will be published regarding the 19 (17 not counting exports) games developed and the designer, "A Master of Pinball Innovation", Ted Zale, in the next year+. I am always interested in acquiring more of his designs, and only SIX games short of the ENTIRE Ted Zale "zipper flippers" catalog (three are incredibly hard to find, ie Joker, Alligator (German), and Cosmint (Switzerland)) needed to complete my collection. I appreciate all assistance.

I will upload additional details and original historical photos with the game in the two homes it resided in the front of this thread.

#2 51 days ago

1 AUG 17

Another Ted Zale "zipper flipper" road trip upcoming!

"Sometimes you find pinball games in the most unlikely of places."
- TBK

Read the detailed photo descriptions to embark and understand how I conduct game evaluations and the excitement and discovery of pinball adventures! The past is as equally exciting to the present when it comes to pinball.

1 Dixieland Cashbox Article.jpg
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3 Dixieland Color Flyer.jpg

#3 51 days ago

8 AUG 17

Here is a bit of a teaser for an upcoming restoration.

I recently was successful at acquiring a documented non-routed Dixieland (Bally, 1968) to add to my already established Ted Zale "zipper flipper" collection. It had been owned by a total of two people, one for 29 years, and the other 20 years. This was one of Ted Zale designs I did not have. It has an incredible story to share in its lineage. One of the few times in my history that the game flyer looks nearly identical to the game itself. I will take more detailed close up photos after I gear up to start work on the game. The cabinet simply needs a soft cloth diluted simple green wash, very carefully to remove the dust and grime and bring out those bright colors.

The game was original purchased by the Bowers Estate in Washoe, NV (Between Reno and Carson City, NV), the third owners of the mansion.
The home itself was part of the original miners fortune from the Comstock Silver Lode in the 1800s.
Dixieland was bought new in 1968 direct from a local Bally Distributor and placed in the billiards room where it sat for 29 years.

Photo of the original home where this Dixieland (Bally, 1968) resided for the first 29+ years of its life, Bowers Mansion:
Bowers mansion Richard Massey.jpg

In the late 1990s, the estate was sold and designated as a national historical landmark.
The game was not considered original to the house, and placed up for sale.
The game was then bought by a private family in 1997, and provided as a personal Christmas gift to the father's daughter as part of her "College Fund", after he put a special brass plaque on the game. The game was owned for another 20+ years before being acquired through networked sources.

The photos shown were at the time of pickup.
There was significant nostalgia by the family.

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#4 51 days ago

17 AUG 17

A few more photos of Dixieland (Bally, 1968) as the game was found before I start taking it apart for restoration. Pretty much exemplifies the high quality condition of the game, which essentially has a fine layer of dust from age and no significant repairs. There was a little bit of water discoloration on the bottom back of the cabinet, but no rot or delamination. One photo of note is the ball shooter plunger. This is what happens when you do not replace the rubber plunger cap. The rod was mushroomed so badly, I had to cut it off with a hacksaw to get it out of the game. Filing it down would not have saved this plunger, due to overall loss of overall length. Fortunately, I have a Bally spare plunger of the exact type and lineage (flat edge not pointed) as the tip is too short to be used again, unless I weld part of a metal rod back onto the end. Never throw away good used parts!!!

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#5 51 days ago

18 AUG 17

Dixieland (Bally, 1968) cabinet cleaning with only diluted Simple Green and a soft scouring sponge (soft side). Just look at those vibrant 49 year old colors. The red speckling in the tan areas is intentional and normal from the factory.

TECH TIP: DO NOT use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on EM cabinets! It removes original paint if scrubbed.

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#6 51 days ago

21 AUG 18

A fine collection of 1959-2001 coinage totalling $3.99 wedged in the three coin mechs and in the cabinet of Dixieland (Bally, 1968). Money never collected for the original owner's "College Fund".

11x quarters, 1x Canadian quarter, 5x dimes, 8x nickels, and 9x pennies. The game came with a "bonus" of two Namco and one Boomtown tokens.

The game was never switch shunted for free play, but did have the coin switch shield removed for the quarter mech to use a finger for credits which was bent out of position, but now corrected.

Addendum: Later on, I found even more money in the game! The final cumulative total was $4.85.

Coinage.jpg

#7 51 days ago

22 AUG 17

A good comparative example of the damage that occurred on the original plunger rod from Dixieland (Bally, 1968). Bally NOS (New Old Stock) used flat ended plunger rod on the left used predominantly in the 1960-80s versus the pointy end version used to prevent hand slamming a game. The original complete damaged assembly and rod from the game is on the right. The original rod lost almost 3/4" length due to mushrooming. The NOS rod is shown BEFORE polishing.

Shooter Rod.jpg

#8 51 days ago

25 AUG 17

Dixieland's 1960s coin door inside and out polished to a high factory shine.
Nearly 50 years of dust, light corrosion, rust, and surface discoloration removed from all parts.
The internal lower cabinet is now complete. More photos later.
Onwards to the lower mechanical assemblies!

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#9 51 days ago

28 AUG 17

Dixieland (Bally, 1968) exterior cabinet corrections due to minor scratches and age wear nearly complete. I still need to Bondo two small cabinet areas and final points of flipper button wear and speckle paint to match factory specifications. Plenty of "tricks and techniques" used to hide imperfections. Pinball cabinets do not always need to be re stenciled. Keep games original, if possible.

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#10 51 days ago

It's a fun game and can go from slow to very fast in an instant. Had mine for over 20 years.

Don C.

#11 51 days ago

31 AUG 17

Dixieland (Bally, 1968) shooter lane and groove pen sanded. Recognize this is a multi-stage process. First, you thoroughly clean it, then dry sand it, then wet clean, and repeat sanding until smooth. Stop, once the dirt is removed, and always stay in the groove. It is not going to be "perfect" after nearly 50 years. However, and most importantly you have to RESTORE the playfield lacquer that was removed when the playfield was sanded with spot clear coat to make lines disappear and protect the playfield. Otherwise, the dirt comes back, efforts are wasted, and the game has increased viability of more playfield damage in the long run. Keep the playfield level at all times and vacuum frequently to remove all fiberglass dust.

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#12 51 days ago

2 SEP 17

Dixieland (Bally, 1968) minor playfield touchup and clear coat continues. Teaching as a mentor to a protege how to mix various types of paints, use a multitude of brushes and tools, conduct blending, color washes, sanding, and ultimately get superior results, thereby making damage magically "disappear". Clear coat is the absolute last step, and it will be spotted in this case where required and painting conducted, mostly around pop bumpers to protect the game where the lacquer and/or paint was removed.

Mentor.jpg

#13 51 days ago

5 SEP 17

Dixieland (Bally, 1968) playfield cleaned including bulb sockets, paint touch up, bagatelle nails fixed, one pop bumper body repaired, and minor clear coat applied, among other necessary corrections. I still need to tweak the red pop bumper ring color to consider that part "complete". What might not be perceptible is there is a fine coat of carnauba wax already on the lower half of the playfield while the clear coat cures. This will be buffed eventually after I microsand and clear the red bumper. The playfield will really shine after polishing.

Playfield Clean.jpg

#14 51 days ago

7 SEP 17

This provides a better example of what Dixieland (Bally, 1968) will look like when completed. Top playfield fully rebuilt, repaired, repainted, sealed in minor areas against future lacquer damage, and everything polished/waxed to a high shine. It probably has not looked this clean since it came from the factory. Before cleaning the playfield felt like 180 grit sandpaper. Between the cabinet and top of the playfield I am easily pushing over 300+ hours now. However, I still have to flip the playfield over and do the entire bottom, complete the lower cabinet electromechanical assembly work, and the entire backbox. At this point, this may go on longer than I originally anticipated, maybe 850-1000 hours.

Historical footnote: Less than half of the 19 Bally Ted Zale "zipper flipper" designed games (including exports) from the 1960s and early 1970s used NON pure "straight line" artwork of the period. Other notable designs were Bazaar, Rocket III, Joust, Fireball, Four Million BC, and Nip-It.

Restoring pinball games properly is a lot of effort regardless of the era and design, but that first game after everything is done is a magical moment. Look to the past for the "pinball innovations" used today in modern games, enthusiasts might be surprised they have already been done before...

Finished Topside.jpg

#15 51 days ago

14 SEP 17

A simple coil that stopped Dixieland (Bally, 1968) in its tracks. The windings on the coil are melted, fused, and shorted. In this case the 'ball in play' advance coil in the stepper assembly inside the backbox. The most important question should be asked, "why did it burn and short out?" This will be discovered in time, as I continue diagnostics and restoration. My first thoughts are it is the wrong coil (improper technician replacement), based on the identification number comparative to other standard full reset stepper units and number of coil windings. However, Dixieland has some unique aspects not found in other EM games of the age in terms of physical operation. One difference can be seen in the post above on the finished playfield photo. Can players spot it?

Coil.jpg

#16 51 days ago

18 SEP 17

After many hours of work, Dixieland (Bally, 1968) playfield topside/underside has been fully repaired and rebuilt and being dropped back into the cabinet for storage and protection. "Onwards and Upwards" to the lower cabinet mechanical assembly section again. Special thanks goes out to Cliff Rinear for a playfield photo of his game for wiring and switch validation of the zipper flipper assembly. Even though I own many Ted Zale "zipper flipper" games, not all the flipper assemblies are wired the same!

I will take final upper playfield photos and internal backbox photos, once I finish a couple of small tweaks. Lots of work still left to do.
Pushing into the 500+ hour range now, cabinet touch up and correction included and already completed in this restoration.

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#17 51 days ago

22 SEP 17

Dixieland (Bally, 1968) getting closer to actually final "play time".

New reproduction score and price cards installed. The top playfield fully reassembled with aprons, waxed, and buffed to a high shine. The cleanest it has been in nearly 50 years. Waxing takes around 2-5 days for me dependent on game title. Proper buffing for me takes a full day's work (8-10 hours) after three coats of carnauba to make no spots are missed. The backbox work is almost complete, and lower assembly electromechanical work continues.

An interesting thing to note regarding this specific title example is one of the two original owners (29 years and 20+ years) installed a screw post on the right side of the shooter lane at the ball launch. This was due to the shooter rod getting mushroomed so badly thereby shortening the plunger stroke out of lack of a proper rubber tip and not being able to launch the ball. The shooter rod and tip was replaced, and the screw removed to prevent future ball damage. I have not yet filled the hole, so see if you can spot it in the photo! (It will be filled in shortly along with sanding, painting, and clear coat)

Current time work project estimates so far ("xTheBlackKnightx" standards):

Cabinet repairs and touch painting (internal/external) - 150 hours
Top side playfield repairs, cleaning, touch up, clear coat, polishing - 150 hours
Bottom side playfield repairs, cleaning, and rebuild - 200 hours
Backbox - 100 hours (and almost finished)
Cabinet Lower assembly - ??? (I am guessing around 100-150 hours)

This game was actually remarkably clean for its age.
It really cut down on the overall issues and time required on the game.
Keep in mind, this is a proper full restoration, not a "high end" restoration.
I do not "chrome" parts, or do other similar aspects, as these are NOT factory specifications.
I am classified as a "purist" restorer/owner/collector/historian, but especially when it comes to EM games.

Playtime.jpg

#18 51 days ago

26 SEP 17

Time to start cleaning up and adjusting the motor score assembly, alternator unit, play counter, fuses section, and coin door and setting jones plug connection points on Dixieland (Bally, 1968) lower assembly. This is actually quite clean for a near 50 year old game. I have not checked the play counter to see if it has "rolled over" beyond the shown 63081 plays, but it may difficult in this case because the game is so clean. Usually I can tell when I take the counter apart from other titles.

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#19 51 days ago

28 SEP 17

Attention pinball enthusiasts!

Under preparation for a "test fire" of Dixieland (Bally, 1968).

Backbox is now finished along with the lower assembly except for a new GROUNDED plug. All male/female jones plugs polished, switches burnished and adjusted, steppers rebuilt and corrected, motor assembly scrubbed, scores reels cleaned, coils tested, and metal-to-metal contact points lubricated. This did take much less time than I anticipated. There are a few tweaks and brush up cleaning left.

I am not sure what will happen when I first turn on the power.
It could be interesting.
Stay tuned...

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#20 51 days ago

1 OCT 17

Dixieland (Bally, 1968) "lives again"!

Well, sort of...I really did not expect this title to just "fire right up" and start playing immediately after restoration on its first initial test run, but it did start its reset sequence and complete the score reels to zero count before ball kick out after adding credits and start button. It simply does not work that way, especially if an EM has not been played in a long time. In this case well over 5 years. Now, it's time to break out the schematics again, and crosscheck the wire diagrams. Lots of additional adjustments. But, I have to take a break for a couple of days on this project anyway. Another pinball roadtrip!

NOTE: I still have to add additional braiding to the cabinet to the coin door and legs for grounding to the primary lug connection. This is the one mandatory change I do to older games from factory specifications. This game is PURE original factory, meaning NO toggle power throw switch installed, just the left flipper button for activation.

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#21 51 days ago

11 OCT 17

Dixieland (Bally, 1968) "pièce de résistance".

A reproduction of the original brass plaque that stood on the game for over 20 years for second owner "College Fund" now restored to the title. Complete with accidental name spelling error by the engraver in 1997.
Thanks, Tammie Jo Cox for the memories, and donation of your machine to be preserved for pinball history.

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The game restoration is now complete.
Final restoration hour count was between 650-750 hours approximately.

Now, how does the game play? Come and find out soon through "The Stronghold" in YouTube!
I will be producing another History-Features-Gameplay video tutorial on this classic Ted Zale “zipper flipper” machine in the future.

Keep flipping,

TBK

#22 51 days ago

Fantastic work! Thanks for the great photos and detailed descriptions of your process. Can't wait to see the video.

Brad

#23 50 days ago

Great thread, thanks for sharing!

Jody

#24 50 days ago

Fully restored, “like new” EMs are beautiful. With a forum overflowing with meticulously restored Monster Bashes and Medieval Madnesses, it’s always extraordinarily refreshing to see a high end EM restore. Thanks for sharing.

#25 50 days ago

Great job, welcome back!

#26 50 days ago

I love this game and have one in my collection. Yours looks great and what a interesting story. I also have a goal of collecting all the zipper flipper games. I think I am at 12 or 13 currently. I look forward to the video and the book. By the way, when I first picked up my Dixieland I gave the dog looking out from behind the lamp post a name. My dog had just died. Her name was Sandy. So now when ever I see that little dog on the playfield, I remember my sweet little Sandy. Thanks for posting all the pictures of Sandy.

#27 50 days ago

I had a Dixieland about 40 years ago. Mine was in nowhere near as good of shape as yours.

If you get a chance to come up this way to Welby's Olympia Rare Coins, come check out the Bally Kiss I just restored.

#28 50 days ago

Super nice work man!! Good to see a face now associated with your avatar

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