(Topic ID: 19809)

F-14 Tomcat Restoration


By vid1900

7 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 50 posts
  • 16 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 6 years ago by skywalker
  • Topic is favorited by 16 Pinsiders

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There have been 16 images uploaded to this topic. (View topic image gallery).

lift.jpg
LED2.jpeg
playfield.jpg
spinner-repair.jpg
upper-loop.jpg
upper-TOM.jpg
Left-Kick.jpg
456-bank.jpg
new-body.jpg
star-post.jpg
bumper-body.jpg
lift.jpg
upper-before.jpg
spinner-distruction.jpg
left-kicker.jpg
line-of-death.jpg

#1 7 years ago

The #6 best selling Williams pinball game of all time is the Steve Richie F-14 Tomcat.

Even though they made 14,000+ of them almost no one has ever played the game as it was designed:

The clear coat was so thin on the game that it came with almost a full Mylar. I say "almost" because Williams left a 1/2" gap above the pop bumper (the most busy part of the game) and left the entire upper loop unprotected. F-14 was designed to be a super fast game, and all that lumpy Mylar slows it down.

Secondly, Williams used a million of the arrowhead inserts. These inserts pop up in every direction on many games (like MM), so why not populate an entire playfield with them?? Even when you heat them up and reseat them, they often pop up again a few weeks later. On most games the ball bounces around off the inserts like a golfball rolling down a cobble stone street.

Thirdly, many games shipped with the incorrect flipper coils installed.

Fourthly, the game's lights would short out against the targets, so Williams issued a service bulletin instructing operators to simply remove the lights and tie the remaining lights together to a single function. So the games have empty flasher domes that do nothing at all.

Fifthly, the single pop bumper gets an amazing amount of action and is usually completely worn through on most games.

=

So I had a few people bugging me over the years to restore their F-14. They are so much work that I kept putting it off until one day I had three to do at once.

Having three identical games to restore at once makes the restore work go much faster. You put the right size nut driver in the screwgun and go to town. You load up the HVLP and coat each game side by side. You print a bunch of decals and fix all the inserts at once.

#2 7 years ago

Typical playfield problem:

Note here that the arrowhead inserts have popped up, lifting the Mylar with them.

Note that the Mylar has lifted the paint off of the playfield

Note that the unprotected outlane has worn down to the wood.

line-of-death.jpg

#3 7 years ago

Here you can see where the ball has worn through the insert printing and how much fading has occurred compared to under the star posts:

left-kicker.jpg

#4 7 years ago

:

#5 7 years ago

Note here the deep hole dug under the spinner:

spinner-distruction.jpg

#6 7 years ago

Here is the upper loop with wear down to bare wood.

Note empty hole where lighting wires have been cut out as per service bulletin.

upper-before.jpg

#7 7 years ago

Here is a detail where you see the inserts have all popped, lifting the Mylar and pulling the paint from the playfield:

lift.jpg

#8 7 years ago

Do mine while your at it? Kidding, good work!

#9 7 years ago

Did you want to do a fourth ? not as much wear as in pics above but do have couple inserts lifting
looking forward to following the updates on your restore

#11 7 years ago

All three games had bumper bodies with holes worn right through them:

bumper-body.jpg

#12 7 years ago

How much color fade in a 25 year old Star Post?

star-post.jpg

#13 7 years ago

If you've never taken a bumper apart, this is what the body should look like:

new-body.jpg

#14 7 years ago
Quoted from Greg2608:

Did you want to do a fourth ? not as much wear as in pics above but do have couple inserts lifting
looking forward to following the updates on your restore

I'll say maybe. My plate is pretty full right this moment with games, but maybe in a month or two.

#15 7 years ago

Here is a shot of the gloss of a clear coated playfield

456-bank.jpg

#16 7 years ago

Here is the Left Kick area after clear coating. Compare to the second picture in this post.

Left-Kick.jpg

#17 7 years ago

Very nice. Thanks for the image for those insert decals. I'm in the final stages of clearing the one I'm doing. I agree with every point you made on this. Those inserts sucked to reseat and that little missing strip of Mylar in the upper play field is the stupidest idea ever

#18 7 years ago

I bet this game rocks when it's mint....trouble is everyone I have played is beat to hell.

#19 7 years ago

Here is upper fixed:

upper-TOM.jpg

#20 7 years ago

Damn, looks amazing vid. I hope mine looks this good when I am done.

#21 7 years ago

Very nice indeed. Bottom line...its hard to beat a freshly "shopped" and clearcoated pf...IMHO of course. Bravo Zulu vid1900!

#22 7 years ago

Beautiful work mr. Vid.....I'd love my PF to be like this someday. I know it will happen....patience is what I have.

#23 7 years ago
Quoted from Whridlsoncestood:

Thanks for the image for those insert decals.

You are welcome.

Believe me, with 3 playfields full of worn off insert printing, I was an inch away from just having a silk screen burned and completely re-screening the black on all of them.

Now that a bunch more people want their playfields fixed too, I should have done just that - who knew? LOL.

#25 7 years ago

Here is upper loop.

Filled in the holes, sanded level and sprayed a new coat of black.

upper-loop.jpg

#26 7 years ago

Very nice Vid!!
Hmm kinda curious do you reclear with Automotive clear or do use the spray can clears?

#27 7 years ago

That is definitely Auto clear. I need to step my game up to auto clear. Varathane works great. But there is a slight step beyond, that only auto clear can get.

#28 7 years ago

Spray Can clears take too long to shoot between coats, and don't "flow" flat. They can take weeks to cure hard enough to buff out. Water Based Cans dry fast but leave very little solids behind, so it might take 9-10 coats to equal the protection of 3 coats of 2 part Urethane.

2 part Urethane coats are sprayed 8 minutes apart, so in under a half hour you have 3 very level coats of protection. The Urethane coatings are so glossy, that if nothing drifts into the spray booth and lands in the finish, you don't even have to buff the playfield out.

Of course the 2 part Urethanes are ultra toxic, so you need to wear a chemical respirator. Don't be fooled into thinking that a disposable dust mask is going to keep you alive.

Also Urethane cures very hard, so you need to sand out any imperfections within the first day. If you wait a few days, the Urethane is so hard that it becomes very difficult to wet sand.

#29 7 years ago

Another consideration is that Water Slide Decals will be destroyed by 2 Part Urethane (2PU) if you come in too "hot" with the spray gun.

Feather an almost dry first and second run over the Decals about 5 minutes apart.

Give these two coats about 10 minutes to cure and then go ahead and shoot the entire playfield with your normal 3 coats.

=

I once tried to use a Water Based Can coat on the Decals first, then shoot a normal coat of 2PU. The Decals still wrinkled, so I assume that the Water Based Can coating is too porous to offer any protection - or that 48 hours was not enough time for the Water Base to actually cure.

#30 7 years ago

Nice glad to see im not the only one that uses auto clear when i restore my playfields auto motive is the bomb but on wood realy should add the flex addative it keeps the clear from getting super hard so then the clear stays slightly elasticky so it dont crack or chip with ball activity or heat

#31 7 years ago

Oh my gosh, the outlook of our 2 F-14s in the shop does not look good after seeing all these beaters... They're sitting in the very back behind a mile of junk and I have no idea what they look like.

#32 7 years ago
Quoted from Crash:

Oh my gosh, the outlook of our 2 F-14s in the shop does not look good after seeing all these beaters... They're sitting in the very back behind a mile of junk and I have no idea what they look like.

That's funny, because I know of another guy that has two in his garage buried under a pile of junk.

He says both are out of order. I hate to see the battery damage....

#33 7 years ago

You guys have been emailing me about the deep wood wear under the spinner.

This was the picture with the least glare, from the game that had it the worst:

spinner-repair.jpg

1 week later
#34 7 years ago

Sorry about no updates for a while.

Here is one of the games reassembled. We were playing it last night - OMG is it fast without the Mylar.

The customer wanted to try the new Cointaker Premium 2 LED, NON-GHOSTING LEDs as the GI lighting. The new LED's have a clear cap that looks perfect for defusing the light out the sides of the lamp. About 5 of the caps were broken off when the LEDs arrived, so I glued them back on with Crazy Glue. The LEDs are supposed to not strobe and indeed, at least on F-14, you can play in total darkness and not have the ball look like it's in a disco. I'm going to have to order some and try them in a super strobbing game like WH20.

playfield.jpg LED2.jpeg

#35 7 years ago

Those cointakers are what I use in my F-14, I love them!

Makes the game so much nicer I think.

1 month later
#36 7 years ago

i

Quoted from vid1900:Greg2608 said:
Did you want to do a fourth ? not as much wear as in pics above but do have couple inserts lifting
looking forward to following the updates on your restore

Jobi said:
5th?

I'll say maybe. My plate is pretty full right this moment with games, but maybe in a month or two.

it's been a couple of months, and i have a playfield that could also use your wonderful touch. would you like to do a few more?

#37 7 years ago
Quoted from KingPinGames:

it's been a couple of months, and i have a playfield that could also use your wonderful touch. would you like to do a few more?

PM me and I'll do yours too.

2 months later
#38 7 years ago

Great job on the restore vid! Just amazing work. I have been contemplating removing my Mylar and have two quick questions. Did you lose a lot of playfield paint when you pulled it up? I know you typically can lose a lot of the insert art. Second, how necessary is clear coating afterwards? Will regular cleanings and waxings in a HUO setting be sufficient? Thanks in advance!

#39 7 years ago

Did you lose a lot of playfield paint when you pulled it up?

On some of the machines, the rising inserts had already lifted the playfield paint under the Mylar (see pic). A few tiny flecks of blue seem to always come up with the removal of the kicker Mylar. Otherwise, only the insert paint came up.

Second, how necessary is clear coating afterwards? Will regular cleanings and waxings in a HUO setting be sufficient?

F-14 playfields need more than just wax once the Mylar has been removed.

They had almost no clearcoat (thus the factory Mylar), and F14 is a brutal, fast game.

You can still buy the pre cut Mylar, but it misses many important areas of the playfield.

Send your playfield out for a real clear coat.

lift.jpg

#40 7 years ago

Thanks vid, I really appreciate the info. This is only my second machine and while I have learned a lot about pin repair and done a full teardown on the top of two playfields the underside teardown still really intimidates me. Gave me a lot to think about, thanks again.

#41 7 years ago
Quoted from practicalsteve:

the underside teardown still really intimidates me.

And it should.

You need to be organized before an underside teardown.

Build a rotisserie, take 1000 pictures from every angle, label even the things you think don't need labels, don't order parts until you have torn everything down (always hidden repair parts needed), order extra posts and screws (some screws simply vanish), get a few extra LEDs of each color (there are always a few bad ones), lightly trace outline of underside parts with a pencil (giant time saver) , find a large piece of cardboard to slide the harnesses off the playfield in one big movement.

....and don't worry if you hit a roadblock or screw something up - lots of good people on Pinside to help you get back on track.

#43 7 years ago

I just bought my first pin which is an F-14. It works but it's banged up. I read through your post here. Is there a restore book that exists? I am handy but I am just getting into pins again and I'm a little intimidated when it comes to restoration. When you removed the mylar do you replace the paint with decals or are you repainting the images? Sorry for the noob question.

2 months later
#44 6 years ago

Sorry I missed your question (2 months ago, yet!).

I know of no restore book, sadly.

The inserts graphics are replaced by water slide decals, the rest of the graphics are airbrushed.

6 months later
#45 6 years ago

Noobie to this. Hope someone can help. Got my 1st Pin a month and lovin' it!!

1. How the heck do you get at all the flashers on the backside of the PF? Only 2 work!
2. I saw on a post somewhere that the dome lights were in a Service Bulletin and they are not supposed to work? Non of mine light up at all.
3. My upper and lower ball diverter's (#21 & #22) do not work, not even during diagnostic tests. What do I do now? I have cleaned one, checked for loose or broken wires, moved them to see if there was any binding...nothing. Seems odd that both do not work.
4. Both left bumper switches (#56) do not work. How do I test it before I decide to buy a couple new ones?

#46 6 years ago
Quoted from Ed731:

1. How the heck do you get at all the flashers on the backside of the PF? Only 2 work!

Pop the playfield up about halfway and hold it, now here is the tricky part. You have to reach blindly behind it there is a little board back there with the flashers, there are two wing nuts one at each end, remove those. You also have to unplug the board. Often times traces get burnt out on the board so test continuity with your dmm to see if each light is getting power. Otherwise you may replace with all new bulbs put it back in and find that some do not work.

Quoted from Ed731:

2. I saw on a post somewhere that the dome lights were in a Service Bulletin and they are not supposed to work? Non of mine light up at all.

Are you talking about the beacon lights on the very top of the backbox? Those should all work unless something is wrong with yours. The service bulletin refers to the top two flashers at the top of the playfield right beneath the horseshoe loop you make to raise the bonus. Unless you happened to buy an early prototype chances are that when you go look you will see two clear domes and there will not be any flashers, not even sockets for flashers.

Not sure where to best direct you on how to troubleshoot #3 and #4. You may want to start a new thread for your problems, people tend to ignore older threads. I would start a new one and make sure you choose tech help for the group

#47 6 years ago

Thanks -- I will!

#48 6 years ago
Quoted from Ed731:

3. My upper and lower ball diverter's (#21 & #22) do not work, not even during diagnostic tests. What do I do now? I have cleaned one, checked for loose or broken wires, moved them to see if there was any binding...nothing. Seems odd that both do not work.

Check and see if they have voltage.

#49 6 years ago
Quoted from Ed731:

4. Both left bumper switches (#56) do not work. How do I test it before I decide to buy a couple new ones?

Again, check and see if the bumper coils have voltage.

#50 6 years ago

Stunning work on the PF Champ..

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