(Topic ID: 50286)

Fish Tales Restoration Blog


By jgreene

6 years ago



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  • 58 posts
  • 26 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by Soulrider911
  • Topic is favorited by 20 Pinsiders

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There are 58 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
#1 6 years ago

I recently picked up a Fish Tales project game from a fellow Pinsider with plans to do a major restoration. I always get a kick out of following other's restoration threads so I've to try my hand at documenting my restoration here too. This is my first attempt at a restoration thread so bear with me if it totally sucks!

The Start:
I've done four game restorations/rehabs before this one. My first projects were shop jobs but my last two (T2 and HSII) were pretty major restorations so this will be my third 'major' project. I'm definitely not a pro restorer though! Hopefully I can pick up some ideas from others and maybe pass on some of the tips I've learned.

With Williams DMD games I like to look for projects with good bones - major assemblies complete, solid playfield (under the dirt), no major structural issues etc. In this case the game was a re-import that was absolutely filthy but otherwise basically complete and playable. The plastics were all there and the playfield was pretty good with pretty minor fish insert wear and only a couple minor wear areas elsewhere. The cab decals were in really nice condition - but completely blown out and faded.

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#2 6 years ago

The cab itself is solid with some easily repairable separation at one of the front corners. Typical dirt and grime buildup inside. Overall the underside of the pf is actually pretty clean considering the game's topside. I'll be doing full decals so the cab will get stripped down for refurb.

Inside the back box there was one hack were the operator relocated the rectifiers off the driver board and stuck them onto a giant heat sink. Probably an improvement over the originals, but still a hack... Other than this hack the backbox GI connector was burnt (no surprise for a 90's DMD I guess) and the connector had been cut off.

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#3 6 years ago

Teardown in progress...

Lots of dirt and grime, some light corrosion etc. I bought a bunch polishing wheels and compounds for my buffer. I'm going to try to polish and buff out all the stainless parts/guides rather than just re-grain them. Pretty much all the plastic posts had cracked or disintegrated over the last 20 years.

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#4 6 years ago

First signs of progress. Before pulling the playfield I deep a deep clean with Simple Green and then hit it with the polishing compounds. Its always surprising how well these cleared playfields clean up! No wax yet in the photos as I have to replace the pops/launcher mylar first. I'll post some glamour shots of the waxed playfield once it's in the finished state.

I'm currently using the treasure cove kit, and would recommend it to others. But for the money I think you'd be better off just buying automotive polishing compounds if you are in the market for a polishing kit.

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#5 6 years ago

Looks like a pretty good restoration core Have fun!

#6 6 years ago

One thing that I like to do to Fish Tales machines is swap out the red lane guides and pop caps with green or blue ones. It makes the upper part of the playfield color flow.

#7 6 years ago
Quoted from exflexer:

One thing that I like to do to Fish Tales machines is swap out the red lane guides and pop caps with green or blue ones. It makes the upper part of the playfield color flow.

I saw a couple guys post pics with the blue caps/green guides in the FT mod thread. They really seem to make that area look nice so I ordered a set for my game. My main load of parts from pinball life just shipped so they should be here next week.

#8 6 years ago

Sweet your on the right track.

#9 6 years ago

Getting caught up...

Here's some pics of the cabinet repair. I don't have a heat gun so I used a sander to take off the old decals. Overall they came off with no major issues.

I started with a belt sander running 60 grit paper. I used the belt sander to take down the majority of the decal (these things are surprisingly tough!) to a point where wood was just beginning to show. This left a mostly thin layer of decal with minimal 60 girt roughness on the plywood. From this point I switched to my random orbital sander using 80, 120 and 220 grit paper.

I repaired a bit of separation on the right front corner using exterior wood glue + some brad nails. Bondo was used to repair any deep gouges, chips.

The cabinet sections are currently painted & waiting decals this weekend. In the meantime I'm taking car of some detail work like brackets, trim etc.

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#10 6 years ago

nice work!

#11 6 years ago

Looking good.

#12 6 years ago

Decals

This past weekend I made it through my first decal job. I've installed a set of galaga decals in the past, so this wasn't my absolute first attempt ever. But these things are huge in comparison plus they cost way more. Talk about stress! Overall I think it turned out excellent. No air bubbles, everything is aligned, smooth sufaces and nice crisp edges.

I chose to use the dry technique based on my previous arcade art experience. And after doing them dry, I don't see how there's any advantage to doing them wet. The real work is in aligning the decals. The application is pretty straight forward after that.

I did the the backbox decals first since they were much smaller and would hopefully allow me to practice my technique. From there I did the cabinet front before moving onto the sides (front first in case anything needed to align across the corner). I basically used the same align, clamp, apply one edge, then apply the rest technique shown in the IJ cabinet decal videos on youtube.

My decals are the newer 'next gen' ink jet type decals. When I first received them I was a bit concerned since they seemed to be printed on pretty light weight vinyl and had a couple slight printing issues. The 'fish tales' lettering on the front look a little soft around the edges and I could see some slight streaking in the black edges of the cabinet front decal. I was also surprised how thin the vinyl backing is on these large decals.

After installation my opinion has changed. They look and feel fantastic with a slight raised ink feel much like silk screened decals. Given the light weight feel of the vinyl I don't know how well these will handle wear and tear compared to the original WMS art (that stuff was tough to sand off!). But that's probably a non-factor since this thing will be leading a life of luxury in my basement from now on.

Overall I would buy the 'next-gen' ink jet decals again. But given a choice I would go for silk screened decals first.

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#13 6 years ago

Couple more shots showing the finished product. The lower cabinet internals & wiring are also shown at about 75% complete too.

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#14 6 years ago

Looking good. Let me know if you need any photos along the way. I am happy to help out a fellow fish tales restorer

I suggest getting some more split tubing to clean up the wires inside of the cab. It realy makes it look clean.

#15 6 years ago

Love this thread ! Keep it up !

#16 6 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

Looking good. Let me know if you need any photos along the way. I am happy to help out a fellow Fish Tales restorer
I suggest getting some more split tubing to clean up the wires inside of the cab. It realy makes it look clean.

Good suggestion, I'll probably go that route when i restore my IJ next year. The factory wiring layouts always seem kinda sloppy.

#17 6 years ago

Looking good, keep up the good work!

#18 6 years ago

Very impressive work. I've added this to my favorites. Keep up the se great posts!

#19 6 years ago
Quoted from Gnatty:

I've added this to my favorites. Keep up the se great posts!

Ditto

#20 6 years ago

Wow! Looks great, making me want to restore my FT!! Love this post and also adding to my fav.

#21 6 years ago

Thanks for the kind words guys, I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested when I started.

#22 6 years ago

This really is an amazing thread. I may hit you up for some pointers on redoing a cab down the road.

Outstanding job!

#23 6 years ago
Quoted from jgreene:

Thanks for the kind words guys, I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested when I started.

I love threads like this one.
Everyone does something a little bit different that makes you say, why didn't I think of that?
Keep the photos coming.

#24 6 years ago

Metal Polishing
The last several days have been busy finishing trim on the cabinet and wrapping up metal work on the buffer.

My plan of attack for reconditioning/polishing stainless ramps and guides has been slowly evolving as I've learned from my mistakes and seen others work (there’s a great series on youtube showing many steps of all out MB restoration). Over time my projects have gone from simple re-graining with scotch pads to multi-step buffing and polishing.

I found that regraining stainless with sandpaper and scotch pads requires a TON of work. Stainless is pretty tough stuff and if takes forever to sand it down by hand. This led me on quest to find a combination of abrasives that I could use on my buffing wheel. After some looking I found nice stainless steel wheels and compounds from from Eastwood: http://www.eastwood.com/ew-buff-kit-10-in-for-stainless-and-steel.html. Using this setup has drastically cut down time and allows me to finish stainless with a chrome-like shine.

I especially like the emery compound as it can erase light ball trails quickly. With some time it can also partially level deeper trails and impact areas. The emery also smooths out much of the original steel’s grain allowing for a near mirror-like finish. After the emery the metal is polished using a stainless compound and finished with white rouge. The results are really nice in person, but I had a hard time capturing how good they look in pictures. After using this 3-step setup I’ll never try to sand parts by hand again.

Although I’m pleased with my current setup, next time around I will be looking to upgrade and include a better ‘leveling’ step for repair of heavy impact zomes/ball trails. The emery works great, but something more aggressive is needed to do real ‘leveling’ of damaged areas. I learned this lesson after trying level and polish some dings that I pounded out on my side rails. They turned out ok, but I just could not smooth out the areas I bumped out to repair dents as good as I’d like. Eastwood sells a more aggressive compound in multiple grits that appears to do leveling on a buffing wheel. Review to follow at some point in the future.

I thought you guys might get a kick out of my vintage buffing wheel setup. Not sure how old the motor is, but I’d guess 1940-50ish. For formed brackets I use a smaller set of wheels with a drill motor.

The parts below are the shooter lane guide and one of the outer guides from the boat ramp. The boat ramp guides had some heavy impact zones as you can see in the before pics. All the playfield guides were done to the same polish. I can’t wait to see these things on the game soon!

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#25 6 years ago

That looks beautiful. Nice work!

#26 6 years ago

Buffing part 2

I really like the look of chrome bolts on a games cabinet and on my T2 I went all out and bought actual chrome bolts. But the cost was s high that I started looking for an alternative.

By experimenting with my buffing setup I found that I can get a pretty decent 'chrome' look with standard grade 3 stainless carriage bolts. The bolts have some die marks on the heads form the box, so I can't get a 100% perfect mirror-like finish. But the results are pretty damn good looking for less than half the cost of real chromed bolts!

All the external carriage bolts on the cabinet and back box will get the polished stainless bolts. Labor time was around an hour or so for everything, but much less than trying to sandblast and paint the old ones. I think I've found a great alternative to chrome or reconditioning the old hardware.

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#27 6 years ago

polishing is very cathartic!!!

looking good! thanks for sharing!

#28 6 years ago

Cathartic is the perfect word to describe the feeling of watching the metal transform. Its the most zen-like step in the restoration for me.

#29 6 years ago
Quoted from jgreene:

Cathartic is the perfect word to describe the feeling of watching the metal transform. Its the most zen-like step in the restoration for me.

Yup, I LOVE it. The hours just disappear when I am polishing metal.

#30 6 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

The hours just disappear when I am polishing metal.

Insert knobs joke here.

#31 6 years ago

Great work on the ramps and guides

#32 6 years ago

Awesome!!! Great work,It's better than being thrown off of some rooftop by Mr.Turkey.

#33 6 years ago

On the siderails, I had success with an automotive pick hammer and dolly - you can get them flatter than with just hammering the low spots alone. Then, you have to do a decent amount of polishing just to see what the repaired areas really look like. if you get the dents popped out a little high, you can file them back flat faster than you can sand/polish them.

In my experience with beating out dents, the block sanding instead of going straight to the wheel really helps hide a lot of sins. A real metal finisher can make them look like new but it will take them more than two hours, therefore not cost effective v/s new rails.

#34 6 years ago
Quoted from TopJimmyCooks:

On the siderails, I had success with an automotive pick hammer and dolly - you can get them flatter than with just hammering the low spots alone. Then, you have to do a decent amount of polishing just to see what the repaired areas really look like. if you get the dents popped out a little high, you can file them back flat faster than you can sand/polish them.
In my experience with beating out dents, the block sanding instead of going straight to the wheel really helps hide a lot of sins. A real metal finisher can make them look like new but it will take them more than two hours, therefore not cost effective v/s new rails.

A hammer and dolly set is exactly what I was thinking of. I did a poor man's version of this with a hammer and my bench vise. It's tough to get under the lip of side rails with my setup though. Altogether the rails are improved but not where I'd like them...

#35 6 years ago

Minor progress - Fish Topper
Been working through some detail items like blasting/painting trim and cleaning boards. I should have a bigger update with the cabinet trimmed out (minus the playfield) in the pin lineup soon! Can't wait to see how this game looks next to my IJ.

For now I'm working through some detail items like the fish topper. It's surprising how much detail the rubber fish has. Williams clearly took their rubber fishes as serious stuff.

Aside from some grubby fingerprints and dust the fish is in great shape minus a rip near the flopper coil. I'm assuming all the fish toppers have similar damage though. For the repair I glued the tear with contact cement and added a large washer behind the striker plate. This should help distribute the load from the striker and prevent the hard corners from cutting into the rubber more. On the coil side I added a rubber ring to the base of the striker armature to help reduce its travel. The fish flapping seems a bit louder than really needed on these. Hopefully my mods will help soften the strikes and quiet it down some.

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#36 6 years ago

Put a piece of drop dead foam on the striker plate and that will quite it down more and soften the blow.

#37 6 years ago

Looks great. I always wanted a FT.

#38 6 years ago

Wow I need to try out your polishing method. Looks great!

#39 6 years ago

Fishing Reel Tournament Button Mod Part 1

My restoration game was missing the original fishing reel button, but I was reluctant to just buy a replacement because they look pretty blah are very hard to find and cost way too much. While searching for solution around I saw a couple machines in the FT mods thread using a Stern Tournament button in place of the original. Apparently FT was originally designed to use a similar lit button so as a bonus most have a vestigial power connector left unused on the cabinet harness. After seeing all this it was hard to pass up the Stern button since it will look 1000% better than the original and cost 1/3 the price.

The Tournament button isn't a plug and play solution and requires mods to the reel housing. This post will show the fab work required to mount the button. Later I'll show the actual install/wiring once I refinish the reel housing.

In order to install the tournament button I had to remove material from the ribs inside the housings to clearance the new button's micro switch. The material removed will have no negative effects housing's structure or exterior surfaces.

Next I drilled out a large fender washer to act as button's mounting plate. The washer will sit in the slotted channel surrounding the reel housing's button opening. I had to file small flats on the washer which have the added benefit preventing it from rotating once installed. Once installed the threaded ring on the button will tighten against the washer to lock the button in place against the reel housing.

Once assembled the interior fit is pretty snug so good insulation will be needed to avoid shorting the terminals to the housing. Overall I'm really happy with the fit. I really like how the button's bezel trims our the opening on the reel housing. I'd prefer a different graphic on the button or maybe another color, but at this point I'm pretty happy with the results. Pretty easy mod so far.

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1 week later
#40 6 years ago

Catching Up - Cabinet is in the house...

Its been a hectic week and I'm a bit behind in both posting photos and making real progress. Over the last week the assembled FT cabinet made it into the basement to clear space in the workshop & keep it away from dust & accidental damage. The backbox has all the boards mounted and the cabinet is acting as storage for some of the cleaned & assembled playfield parts. The game's a re-import as you can see from its cycloptic coin door.

At this point the main task is mechanical restoration & assembly of the play field. My last parts order is due in the next few days & I'm anxious to wrap this thing up! While waiting for parts I took inspiration from Vid's post and decided to build myself a rotisserie which will mount to sawhorses. Should have this completed on Saturday.

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#41 6 years ago

Really nice job with this!

#42 6 years ago

wow, looking great

#43 6 years ago

Love the thread !

#44 6 years ago

Really coming along beautifully.

Incredible job!

#45 6 years ago

1st Rotisserie

I built my frankenstein rotisserie using the threaded pipe design and then mounted it to a couple boards that work with a set collapsable saw horse legs. So far it works great, not sure why I waited this long to build one!

At this point I've put 3 coats of wax on the play field. Tonight I'll begin stripping sections for cleaning and rebuilding of all coil mechanisms. Hopefully I'll have underside all cleaned within a few days...

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1 week later
#46 6 years ago

You've done an awesome job with restoring this pin.

#47 6 years ago

Thanks for documenting all of this. Im about to start tearing mine down. It looks great!

#48 6 years ago

love your work!!

#49 6 years ago

Getting Closer...

Over the past week or so I've been slowly grinding away on the playfield underside work and reassembly of the topside. Feels like it took forever but I finally finished the playfield topside last night and IMO it all came together very nicely. Looking at the before and after pics side by side was shocking for me. I'd forgotten just how dirty and dull the playfield was at the start.

After taking the pics below I installed the playfield into the cabinet and went through all the wiring. It looks fantastic, but there are a bunch of issues I need to sort out: Intermittent DMD, no sound, pop bumper wiring locations mixed up (*sigh*) and some flakey lights. For now I'll post pics of the final playfield assembly on the rotisserie. Once I sort out my massive credit dot issues final assembly pics to follow.

The only thing not close right now is the modded reel assembly. I need to sandblast the old reel handle for painting and just don't have the motivation to bust out the equipment yet. Not to mention cleanup of the mess...

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#50 6 years ago

That's one nice FT. Congrats...

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