(Topic ID: 206926)

Eight Ball Restoration - A Rookie's First Attempt

By fatcake

1 year ago

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  • 15 posts
  • 9 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by fatcake
  • Topic is favorited by 5 Pinsiders


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#1 1 year ago

This is my first ever restoration. I've owned two games before my Eight Ball, but all the help they needed was replacing bulbs and getting cleaned. So far this EB has been a lot more work and will continue to be, but I'm excited to learn and take on this challenge! This pin needs a lot of love. My good buddy jmulvenon picked this EB for me from a questionable house (drug house, hoarder house, you name it) out in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma.

I'll go ahead and outline the work I've done so far and what I plan to do for the future.

1. I replaced the power supply board with a lot of help from the pinside community. That adventure can be found over here https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/eight-ball-board-repair
Long story short, the old power supply was pretty burnt up and it required a lot of re-pinning connectors and undoing a ground mod.

2. I replaced the solenoid driver board. The old board had burnt up once before. I actually managed to get this board working by replacing some components, but I didn't really trust the board. I admit that some of my fixes to remove bridged traces were pretty hackish. I just didn't have a whole lot of confidence in this board so I decided to upgrade to a new Alltek board. I was quite impressed with how much the new board simplified the design. However I guess repairing a new board will be next to impossible given how small its components are.
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Here's some of the dodgy fixing I did to remove bridged traces. I actually got a dremel to drill out a ton of char between the two traces. Granted it worked, but I didn't like it.
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3. Some of my scores were burnt out. I bought two new pinscore displays to replace the ones that were burnt out the most. I thought I could live with the other displays that are slightly burnt out, but I love the new pinscore displays so much I might just end up swapping them all. We will see. I still have a digit out on the fourth player. That should be a simple fix. I'll either replace it outright or just replace the bad components.
Looking a bit burnt out on the third player and game info displays
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Looking much better
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Honestly impressed with how far board tech has come along
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Things to do:
1. Obviously the playfield is in awful shape. I can't make up my mind on what I'd like to do with it. I picked up a second hand playfield for 60 bucks in a package deal along with some other bingo playfields. If you want to read about that here's the thread: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/am-i-going-to-commit-a-bingo-sin#post-4144936
The second PF is in decent shape, but it has its fair share of issues too. Lots of ball swirl. The current playfield has a split down the right side, which I assume is de-lamination. I can't make up my mind if I'd like to touch up the second PF or just do an overlay on the first. I'd be curious to see what you guys think.

The current playfield.
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The split in the current playfield.
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The second hand playfield looks ok. But the closer you get the worse it is.
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Up close.
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2. The backglass has some minor flaking. I need to triple thick this and stop the flaking in its tracks.
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3. The cabinet is quite rough. Perhaps I'll get some stencils and clean this thing up?

So overall I've got quite a bit of work ahead of me. I can't quite make up my mind on what kind of restoration I'd like to do. A piece of me would like to just stick to something basic and do a "players" restoration. That way I wont fall into a time and money pit and I wont get overwhelmed on my first restoration. Another piece of me wants to do an overlay, then follow it with a cabinet refresh, and then replace the plastics, and then it just goes on from there.

What do you guys think?

#2 1 year ago

a "restoration" will usually result in spending more than its worth, the nicer you make it, the more you spend. plus how much is your time worth? just the playfield swap will be a lot of hours. i have a couple games i will never get back what i spent on them, but no plans on selling them. good luck with whatever you decide.

#3 1 year ago

Make it a players. That way you can enjoy it and at you leisure work on developing skills redoing the second playfield. Then based on your interest level go from there.

#4 1 year ago

If this is a hobby then this would be a great candidate game to learn on. It's like rebuilding an old Mustang. Don't go into it expecting to get your money back do it for the enjoyment.

Eight ball is a classic game, like an old Mustang. It's very worthy of restoration. The trashed playfield would be an excellent learning opportunity for installing an overlay. Kind of like a cadaver to a young wannabe surgeon.

#5 1 year ago
Quoted from BigAl56:

The trashed playfield would be an excellent learning opportunity for installing an overlay.

... or for improving airbrush skills: the artwork is rather simple, and the second playfield contains all missing artwork to copy from.

#6 1 year ago

I think you should fix up the second playfield. This is a great game that's worthy of the time.

1 week later
#7 1 year ago

Update since my last post:

The plastics cleaned up quite nicely. I know there are some tricks to reduce yellowing. I might try it. I might not. We will see.

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I've got the playfield almost completely torn down. I just need to pull off a couple targets and then it's ready to be worked on.

I appreciate everyone's input on how I should restore the pf! Ultimately, I think I'm going to do both suggestions. I'm going to install an overlay on the thrashed playfield, and with time and money I'll buy all the necessary equipment to restore the second pf by hand. Restoring by hand will be intensive because some colors of the pool balls have halftone dots on them. I can't just airbrush everything. There's also no one making insert decals, so that would be all custom. So to do a restoration by hand is going to require some equipment and time! I plan on doing it but I want to ease into it.

-Overlay Impressions-
I bought an overlay from classicarcades on eBay. I think I'm mostly satisfied with it, but I've noticed some things about it which might cause headaches. I'm not sure if they made this overlay or if they are just reselling it.

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1. None of it is cut to line up with holes. It's a bit frustrating that I'll have to cut them by hand, but this seems to be the case with most overlays. I think cutting a hole for the rollover is going to be the biggest pain. I might remove the rollover before application, cut a hole after application, and then reinstall the rollover.

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2. The outlane arrow is a known issue with EB and I know that CPR actually attempted to correct the issue in their repros (wish I could find one). Because the overlay is transparent for the arrow, I think it's going to show the paint/wood underneath because the overlay arrow appears to be larger than the insert arrow. It would make my life much easier if the overlay arrow was the same size as the insert. If you guys have any suggestions on how to get around this, I'd appreciate it. Best I can come up with is to get matching color paint and paint around the insert and then apply the overlay.

Original pf. Note that the insert is actually smaller than the painted pf arrow.
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3. I'm not sure how I feel about the faux wood on the overlay. I guess no original wood will show. My biggest concern about this is that the shooter lane is concave and the overlay is not. I might have to do some goofy stretching here. I'm not sure how forgiving the overlays are.

4. There are zero instructions. As far as I can gather, most people sand the entire pf down to bare wood. Next, some clear coat the white wood (probably not necessary for me). Some apply it using soapy water and some just stick it right on there. Some will clear coat the overlay but it seems there are risks in doing this. I'll probably skip that.

5. Maybe this is nitpicking but I wish the overlay had a clear backing. This would make it much easier to line everything up, tape it down, and then apply in small sections. Not sure how I can easily line everything up ahead of time.

So that's where I'm at right now. Mostly just working on getting the pf prepped and then I'll install the overlay!

Curious to see what you guys think about everything.

#8 1 year ago

This is just my opinion, but I believe that both playfields are salvageable, can be hand painted back to great condition and will always...always look better and play better than an overlay.

The first playfield is more work as you need to repaint the whole central area. The good part is that it is all geometric shape and is actually not too difficult to redo, using acrylic colors and a brush or an airbrush.

I have installed an overlay once (Flash Gordon) because the playfield was too damaged and too complicated to be repainted by hand. Eight Ball is easy and you should at least try your artistic skills on one of the two playfields.

Overlays are a mess to install, will rarely fit, lights are barely visible underneath and the way the ball rolls on them is not pleasant. With time they will become dull, lose their colors and show balls marks all over the place. Finally, once an overlay has been installed in a machine, its value goes down to almost zero....unless the buyer has a replacement playfield for it.

Give your current playfield a chance instead of sanding them down to the wood.

By the way, this overlay is not a of very good manufacture. The overlay I installed on my Flash Gordon had all the holes for the rolling switches, pre-cut. If you have to do these holes manually, it is going to be very tedious and somewhat imprecise.


1 week later
#9 1 year ago

Quick question for you guys.

What are these nails called? What's the best way to remove them? I'm assuming you just hammer them back in once the playfield restoration is done?

They look like brad nails to me. Do they serve any purpose?

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#10 1 year ago

I just did a overlay from the same guy. For the most part it lined up.i have to cut ever hole. I sanded the playfield down to the wood.i re glued all the inserts. I then clear coated the playfield with auto clear and got the playfield level. Applied the decal. 4 inserts where slightly off. I used black paint around them. I then clear coated over the overlay. Make sure the inserts are all tight and level or overlay will be a mess down the road.

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1 week later
#11 1 year ago
Quoted from fatcake:

Quick question for you guys.
What are these nails called? What's the best way to remove them? I'm assuming you just hammer them back in once the playfield restoration is done?
They look like brad nails to me. Do they serve any purpose?

I just finished restoring an old Eight Ball machine myself. My playfield was in comparatively good shape, so I did not have to do much for it.

Here is a picture of the nails you mention in use. As far as I can tell, the nails are simply '6d Finishing' nails. As you can tell from the picture, all they do is to help hold up the plastic.

As for removal, I think I would try using a pair of vice-grips and carefully twist and spin them out. If they come out really badly and damage the playfield, one could probably simply replace them with a long thin screw of the correct length.

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#12 1 year ago
1 week later
#13 1 year ago

Not too much to report on progress. The playfield is nearly torn down for sanding. I haven't bothered with much else because I need warmer weather for clear coating and painting. So things will probably be on hold till April.

Meanwhile I did slap in an led conversion kit and ordered some sunlight white bulbs from comet. I put a color changing led in the spot where the jukebox is. It's a fun effect, although I'd like to frost it. The glass cracking in that area makes the led way too strong. I might tinker with some warm white bulbs around some of the people in the back glass. I know a lot of people hate leds, but I think they can be great when tastefully done. I'll just have to tinker with temperature to get it right. It's not quite there yet.

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2 weeks later
#14 1 year ago

Hey Fatcake, loved your idea about using a rainbow led on the jukebox. Just tried it myself. I think that might be a keeper!

6 months later
#15 1 year ago

So I decided to get this project rolling again. Summer has been very busy and I haven't worked on Eight Ball at all. My time has been absorbed with house projects. My house was built in the 30's so its always in need of some sort of attention. With fall and winter right around the corner, I wanted to make a little progress on this before it gets too cold to paint.

The first thing I did was tear down. I pulled everything from the cabinet and tried organizing everything into bags. We will see how good my system is when I try to put this thing back together.

The cabinet was absolutely filthy before tear down. Keep in mind, this pic was taken after I throw out all of the previous operator's trash.
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Looks a lot better after the tear down.
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I have to note that I absolutely hated pulling the nails out of the side rails. Why is this a thing a manufacturers even do? Securing it with nuts and bolts seems way easier to deal with.

The next step was pulling the old paint off. I didn't want to sand to much, so that I would avoid making a ton of old lead paint airborne. I don't really like super abrasive chemical strippers, so I elected to use Citristrip. This stuff did a great job pulling the paint off, but if it dries its nearly impossible to get off. Also, I found that it had a real knack for gumming up my sanding pads.

Before stripping
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Giving the fonz a new do
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Someone left a message under the coin box. Frank Key? Frankie?
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Down to the wood
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I elected to use an airless sprayer on this project. I know that I really should be using the awesome HVLP systems that are recommended on here, but I don't really want to sink the money into something that I might only use once. I also didn't want to use spray paint. I wanted to have some control over what colors I'm picking. So fair an airless sprayer hasn't been bad. It certainly creates a little bit of an orange peel finish, but its something that I can live with. This wont be a HEP level restore, but pretty much anything I do to this game will be better than what it was. Remember, this game was picked from a drug/hoarder house.

I put down a few coats of white and then got to work on the stencils. I really regret not putting down a primer. Technically, the paint has primer in it, but I think it might be causing some issues that I didn't use a real primer. We can get into that in a bit.

After the first round of stencils
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My girlfriend and I really had to battle the stencils a few times. In some cases they really didn't want to stick to the cab at all. While I was spraying down the orange, one of the stencils came up a bit on me and caused a little over-spray. I know this would kill some people's OCD, but I can live with it. It's not great but its not awful.
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The front of the cab was quite beat up, and I had spent a lot of time using wood putty trying to get things to smooth out. The problem is that the paint isn't wanting to adhere where the wood putty is. When I was pulling the stencil off the front of the cab, this happened.
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I'm not entirely sure what caused this to happen. My guess is that a proper primer should have been put down, or that I should have used bondo or fiber glass to smooth gashes out. Right now my plan is to just put some primer down on this spot, tape stuff off and spray the appropriate colors until it all smooths out. I think the bright side here is that its in an area that's easy to tape off and I don't need to order stencils again or anything like that.

Do you guys have any suggestions on how you would tackle this problem? Starting over isn't really an option. I feel like my plan should work, but I'm open to suggestions.

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