(Topic ID: 96287)

Fish Tales Restoration

By Sunskift

5 years ago

Topic Stats

  • 93 posts
  • 41 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 years ago by d0n
  • Topic is favorited by 31 Pinsiders


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There are 93 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
#1 5 years ago

So, it has begun....


This is my first restoration, so there will be many questions asked in the forum. I'm not in a hurry, on the contrary, I will try to go slow, learn a lot and enjoy every moment. My ambition is to bring it up to showroom standard (is there a proper terminology for this)?

I found this one with a collector in a neighbor city. I lost count when I looked around in his basement. There were several rooms, all filled with games. I knew that I couldn't make a great bargain, dealing with a pro, but at least I would get my machine.


It got most of the parts in place, its dirty, it is faded and I don't think it has seen any service for 20 years. So any job on this, without outright wrecking it, will be added value to the pinball world.

It actually played, with almost full functionality. I couldn't get the captured ball to advance its status, but I'll deal with that later on.

Yes, I will need new decals: DSC_4537.JPG

Cabinet is pretty messed up: DSC_4541.JPG
Luckily, I possess decent wood working skills.

I have just started tear down, and are using this as a learning process.

I have set up camp in the garage (will later turn this in to a pinball shop / game room - please, don't tell my wife just yet).

This is the knowledge center
Every part goes in to the BOM....(or I will never be able to put it back in place)

Wish me luck ! I'll try to document my progress here periodically. Expect a long, long (expensive) journey

#2 5 years ago

Looks like fun! Added to favorites

#3 5 years ago

That game is worthy of a long, long expensive journey. Good luck and go forth.

#4 5 years ago

Have fun! Never seen a button like that on top of the ball shooter!

#5 5 years ago

Sounds like your off to a good start. We'll all be watching..... No Pressure.....

#6 5 years ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

Have fun! Never seen a button like that on top of the ball shooter!

I was thinking the same thing!

#7 5 years ago
Quoted from Seatmandan:

I was thinking the same thing!

Looks like you need to find a new fishing reel

#8 5 years ago
Quoted from Pinballer22:

Looks like you need to find a new fishing reel

I'm more worried about the L-bracket holding the cabinet together.

#9 5 years ago

old thread, but may have some useful info and pictures for you?


have fun!

still loving mine!

#10 5 years ago

Love this game! Looking forward to seeing your progress. Remember... fixing up a pin is like fixing up a boat. It only requires two things, time and money. If you don't have a lot of one, you better have a ton of the other!

#11 5 years ago

Hi and thank you all for the encouraging words! I'm gonna need more of that in the future, judging on the state of my game, having gone a bit further in the tear down. I have been a bit tied up with RL obligations, but I have worked on the set up in my pinball shop/garage

I have received a shipment with something that is a bit tricky to get in Europe (dead simple in the rest of the world) - Inch tools...

and also some basic equipment that I think will be necessary to have:

The cabinet is now stripped and I don't think it has ever been cleaned before:

I have also had a good look at the L-bracket corner. I believe it is fixable, but it will call for a set of the new style leg brackets - and some wood repair prior to that.

Good to see the old color under the attachments, this is a reminder of how it will eventually be again.
My detective nose tells me that this game has seen more time parked than active... What do you think?


I will now spend some serious time with the cabinet and the backbox, hopefully also combined with tear down and cleaning of the playfield.

#12 5 years ago

I think cabinet decals are still available for Fishtales.

#13 5 years ago

Yes, I got the decals already.... Just need a couple of days with the sander and wood filler.

#14 5 years ago

Have fun, I did a total restoration on my fish tales and it turned out great. I took my time and worked on it here and there. Took me over 2 1/2 years, mostly because of the play field taking over two years to get back from restoration!

#15 5 years ago

Removing decals.....


NO! This is going to be my death.... Need to find a better way

Somewhat better... Random orbital. At least I'm prepping at the same time as I'm removing the old decals.


I will move outdoors for a wile, or the dust (vacuum connected doesn't really help 100%) will cover everything in the garage.

#16 5 years ago

Well, everybody else have probably already experienced and solved this, but I'll tell about it anyway. What ever route you take, the heat gun or the sander, you will end up in the glue barrier. It feels like just moving the smear back and forth.
After some frustration, I remembered something that I saw in a thread regarding how to lift glue left behind by a playfield mylar. It was done with flour. I tried the same basics for the cabinet art glue. I sprinkled flour over the areas of glue, just like you would do on a baking board making bread. Then I just took the paint scraper and scarped the glue off. It came off in nice flakes and did not get stuck agian. Whoever had that thread about mylar glue and flour... Thank you!

#17 5 years ago

somehow I can't seem to do it this well! lol

#18 5 years ago

Can't wait to see your progress. I too am restoring a FT.

#19 5 years ago

Whoo, you are quick Yoshootmee ! Guess you are eager to get back playing. I'm more trying to enjoy my tinkering with the game - I suck big time, playing

I have been attacking the bracket corner... remember? Worst thing first...

This was what was holding the corner together:

So, out with that crap and start with gluing the corner back together: DSC_4830.JPG

Then, to make sure it can take some nudging - dowels...

After the corner is fixated, I can rebuild the cosmetics... DSC_4857.JPG

Some more minor scratches fixed in other parts of the cab, and I'm almost ready to start thinking of priming...

#20 5 years ago

Looking good. I too am restoring a FT. Good job so far Sunskift.

image-751.jpg image.jpg image-89.jpg
#21 5 years ago

I have 8 machines in my collection, 1 of them being a FT that I restored. I am so glad I restored it. It also had a badly faded cabinet and I applied new decals as well. Couldn't be happier that I restored it...totally worth the time put into it. Out of all my machines, I have had it the longest and it isn't going anywhere! Great game!

#22 5 years ago

Awesome, Sunskift! Keep pics of the progress coming.
I went the other route, and just bought my FT already restored. Someday, when my schedule allows, I'll do my own restore.

2 weeks later
#23 5 years ago

No, I haven't quit the restoration, just been busy with other stuff.

With some time in the workshop again, I have cleaned up the cabinet and started priming it.
I couldn't get the bottom clean enough by sanding. Too much liquid damage, but not so bad that I had to put in a new bottom. I had to prime and paint though. A lot of primer was required in order to stop the fiber raising. This is from the first coat.

I have set up a temp spray booth in the garage. Works better than it looks.

Now ready to prime outside:

And after first prime coat:

I will do the head ready before I put down the black.

Remember the bad corner in this cab?


1 month later
#24 5 years ago

Any updates?

1 week later
#25 5 years ago

Hi there!

Nice project youve got going on there!

When you started talking about the inch tools (wait until you need inch bolts, nuts and screws...) I looked at where youre from and indeed youre from sweden too. Thats cool, dont know how many people are into pinball here but there are some here and there. If youd like to, check out my BOP restoration thread and maybe you will find it useful. Ive gotten a bit further than you have so Ive been through most of the "Where the hell do I find this tool/cleaner/part in sweden..." Ill keep an eye on your thread and wish you good luck! BTW I wrote this in english since its an international forum.

And one question for you, what paint are you gonna paint your cabinet with? I used one that can be read about in my thread but I would not recomend it after all. Its a bit too fragile but works OK. Im looking for something better for my next project so if you find something useful I would like to know...


1 month later
#26 4 years ago

Hi again,

I havn't stopped caring about pinball if you think I have been away for a long time. I have been totally swamped by RL ( work is killing me at the moment). I have however finished painting.

The now famous corner

image.jpg image-876.jpg image-703.jpg image-377.jpg image-26.jpg
#27 4 years ago

The cabinet is ready for decal installation.
I have learned at least one valuable lesson.... Don't ever think that a few plastic covers will make the job of a paint box. I have to clean the garage from top to bottom.
But I'm getting ready to start agian. But before that, I will do some changes in my working area, so it will be easier to work with the games.

I'll keep you posted!

#28 4 years ago

Looking good! What paint did you use? =)

#29 4 years ago

Thanks Andy,

I've been looking in to you BOP-work, and it is just amazing! Great work!
I would really like to tap in to your experience of European/Swedish products for restoration.

The paint I used was Servalac Aqua, semigloss and before that, I primed with Servalac Aqua Grundfärg. The paint worked quite OK. I think it will be a good base for the dacals. I just saw in you BOP thread, that you used a very similar paint, or even the exact same.

Hopefully I will be able to start up the resorstion work again. It has been resting during a very hectic period at work. The upcoming holiday season will be the time!
I also, just bought two more games (have to play something while working on the FT).

Hope to be back with some updates soon.

2 months later
#30 4 years ago


Finally started again! I have spent most time on setting up my workshop (former my garage). Most significant change was that I have opened up a door from the house to the workshop. Before I had to go outside to get in to the garage, now I just have to open a door! Living in my part of the world, this is a big difference considering the climate

So, I actually have two rooms in the shop. The electronics/component part with nice areas for tweaking mechanical and electrical assemblies. This also includes a cleaning / polishing station


And in the second, larger room, the workshop with wood working and assembly areas. Here is still some work to do. Carpenters are actually coming next week to finish up, closing of one old doorway and changing the old garage door to regular doors.


Some time has also gone in to setting up my game room in the house. Now equiped with three games. The two real ones (one is a scratch built virtual PB) will of cause be shopped when the FT is done.

And if you wonder, I'm still married.

Some time has also actually gone in to the FT, and I plan to pick up speed from now on, returnig this thread to its original purpose. Tear down of playfield is almost compleated. Cabinet is ready for decals. I can tell you that the playfield really needs the overhaul. Take a look on this sample picture!

I have taken more than 1000 pictures to be able to put things back together, so there could be plenty of before / after comparisons when I start to actually repair / replace things. Right now playfield restaoration is high on the list.

#31 4 years ago


Everything is in boxes. Playfield is now enpty!
I don't have any experience from judging the level of decay, but in my amateur eyes it looks salvagable. Or is it just wishfull thinking?

#32 4 years ago

After removing everything from the cab and the playfild, I have taken a few sample to evaluate the overall status of the game. The samples tells me that there will be a lot of replacement needed
Maybe this is what is expected... I will continue with the tedious cleaning and inspection of every part to create the shopping list. It will be a long, very long, list. It is also revealing that my game has seen quite a few innivative hacks and creative part swaps.

#33 4 years ago

Looking great! I am hoping to pick up an FT with my next bonus. You would be amazed at how many parts are salvageable with a little cleaning/elbow grease. Put your list together and then post here.

#34 4 years ago

Thanks nerdygrrl! Sure, I will post the list as soon as it is complete. It could still be a while though (lots of parts and lots of boxes).

Did I just say that the playfield was empty ? I forgot about the mylars.
I used the freeze method to get them off. Three of them came off without problems. No paint loss whatsoever.
The last one, the large that covers the fishing man just over the flippers, had kind of beaten up edges. That lead to that every time that I got hold of a piece, it broke away in a tiny fragment.
I then tried the hair dryer method instead and that worked just great! It came off without a problem and no paint pick up here either. Comparing the two methods, I would say that the heat method is a bit more controlled. You just have to make sure that the wife agrees to the use to the hair dryer
I removed the glue with alcohol and flour. No problem there.
I now got the playfield empty and roughly cleaned ready for touch up and then clear coat. I believe that I have a paint shop that can do this, but I'm going to check it out a bit more...

1 month later
#35 4 years ago

OK, now I have basically all assemblies broken down, inspected and cleaned. Some polishing is started as well. It was some job (as expected) to find all the items on the "replace with new list" in the various online suppliers stores. I ended up with using four different suppliers - Best of Pinball, Free Play and Pinball Center in Europe and Marco in the USA. Shipping came as a result to be a very high portion of the total bill It was however always some of the suppliers that was missing something and this was the best match that I could come up with.

Here is some unpacking going on

Nerdygrrl was asking for the "list" - Here it is !


Now I finally hope that I can start to feel some progress - It has been a lot of "preparations"

#36 4 years ago

Sweet resto.

What type of product did you use to fill scraps and scratches on the cab?

#37 4 years ago


I used "Plastic Padding Elastic" - it's an European product. Basically a 2K filler.

Quite easy to apply and level. As any 2K, you have a limited time to work before it hardens. But, on the other hand, you can start to grind and level almost rigth away.

#38 4 years ago

Be careful if you are using a auto bodyshop to shoot the clear. There is a little bit more to it than just shooting some clear. I thought about this for my TZ playfield and asked one shop. The guy said he had not done it before and preferred not to take a chance. The prep work and sanding between coats is important. Look at vid's thread if you have not done it yet. There is an scary post (https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/vids-guide-to-ultimate-playfield-restoration/page/34#post-2146561) about what can happen at the body shop!

#39 4 years ago

Very amazing work and skill .

7 months later
#40 3 years ago

It's a long time ago that I was in to this thread, but I haven't quit.
Some surgery to the playfield was required before coating, meaning milling out damaged areas and replacing them with new.

I've done this for several areas, including airbrushing other areas where paint was missing or damaged.

Then finally, it was time to send it to the top coat. I found a really nice auto shop that was interested in the project. Got a lot of support for the work and they had good advice for how to do the job. I have had it back for a while now and I have started to populate the playfield again. Here some pictures of the coated playfield.

And the backside..... Finally back in the fixture again

#41 3 years ago

Making some progress....

#42 3 years ago

Wow, just amazing to see the transformation. Very nice work!

#44 3 years ago

Jesus H, beautiful work man!

Im doing one of these right now and you would not believe the nightmare the bottom of the cabinet is turning out to be. I never knew plywood could split in such ways!!

Again, very nice work. Thanks for sharing all this.

#45 3 years ago

Nice job. I plan to start my FT restoration soon as well. Looking forward to more photos of yours.

#46 3 years ago

Thanks a lot for your support. Nice to hear that you believe that I'm on the right way!
I few more then...

Coming from this;

Ending up with this (after a lot of elbow grease) - it is actually the same coin door, just some straightening and paint.

Also some pictures from the backbox. Before, I couldn't touch the backbox without risk of going to the emergency ward for splinter removal. Now it is almost like new.




#47 3 years ago

The painted internal surfaces look awesome. I've been tempted to to the same on my JP.

#48 3 years ago

looks great!
What a difference, and the cab colors as well. Its amazing how faded out the colors get on the old cabs

#49 3 years ago

Oh noes not pincabs..... Any chance you put spacers in there first? I know some people just like the look of pincabs to match their other games, but have to put spacers in there first.

If you don't care about pincabs, just use the Stern style spacers. Your cab decals will be wrinkling shortly otherwise.

#50 3 years ago

Thanks for the warning about wrinkling! I'm going to look in to what I can find instead.

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