(Topic ID: 249284)

Whirlwind... Spinning back to original condition.

By yaksplat

11 days ago

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  • 9 posts
  • 2 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 6 days ago by yaksplat
  • Topic is favorited by 6 Pinsiders


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#1 11 days ago

I know there's quite a few Whirlwind restorations on here, but I thought I'd add mine in as it's my first attempt at a machine restoration.

My dad's favorite machine had always been Whirlwind. In the early 90's, I'd be doing laps around the arcade while he always played Whirlwind. I'd blow through $8 in quarters, while he only went through $2. In the coming years, I realized that you could play a lot longer in pinball if you got good at it and then i started gravitating towards the row of pinball machines as well. I outgrew going to the arcade with my dad in the later teenage years and then the arcade closed before I ever had a chance to return with him.

Flash forward to 2006. Out of the blue, I ask my dad if he knows of a good reason why he shouldn't buy a Whirlwind pinball machine. He says that he couldn't think of one, but he really doesn't need one. A week later, he calls me and says, "I couldn't sleep last night and just kept thinking about how much fun it'd be to have a Whirlwind machine. How do we get one? Where do you get one? Is this possible?"

I hunted down a local machine on RGP a couple of hours away in Shinglehouse, PA. I negotiate with the guy and we go do the pickup. The machine was in pretty good shape, but then again we had nothing to compare it to. It had see a lot of exposure to cigarette smoke. It took a few weeks of airing it out and cleaning the inside of the cabinet to get the old arcade smell out. It was finally good enough to be allowed into the house.

There were a few areas of the playfield that were worn. Cliffy's were added along with some leds, and new rubbers. Later I installed some nvram to eliminate the need for batteries. That was good for several years, but there were some minor things going wrong with the machine. It would start a multiball at the wrong time, sometimes the ramp wouldn't lift and you could hear it keep trying to lift the ramp. The cellar coil was weak and you could no longer shoot the inner loop from the plunger.

It's time to do a full restore of the machine. I've been wanting to overhaul the machine to get it back to new condition and working perfectly, so I bought a playfield from Mirco along with a set of the radcals. I just got the machine over to my house last week and started taking pictures and ripping the machine apart. I used to work in a circuit board factory while I was in college so the electronics don't scare me. I do a ton of woodworking, so i'm comfortable with working on the cabinet. New to me will be painting, with an HVLP sprayer and then getting everything back together in working order.

Here goes nothing....
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#2 11 days ago

Since I'm using radcals on the machine, I'm not completely taking the machine down to bare wood. I want to just repair all of the missing corners, dents, and remove the layer of cigarette tar. First thing up was removing the side rails. Black double-sided tape underneath. I used a putty knife and they were easily removed.
It took a bunch of naptha and a straight razor to remove the remaining glue. Removing the glue was actually the worst part.
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#3 11 days ago

I had a lot of corner damage. Not as bad as some machines that I've seen on here, but bad enough. I went through the how to guide for restoring cabinets and i got some fiberglass resin. It was amazing and worked better than i thought it could have.

Original corner with dam set up. I used some brass that I waxed. I had brass laying around and i could easily bend a sharp corner in it.
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#4 10 days ago

Following. Do me a favor and when you do the RAD CALS document it. I'm interested to know if you put the front piece on first and then the sides butt up to the front piece making the corner. And for the head do then side cals do you literally line up the top corners and ensure the top is flush and stick it down? I haven't seen a video with the new style RAD CALS installation and would enjoy to hear your story on them. I have a TAF cabinet I plan on using them on.

#5 9 days ago

Now that I've got the cabinet all repaired it was time to prime it. But first i used a tack cloth to remove any remaining dust.
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This is my first experience using a HVLP sprayer. I used oil based kilz primer and a Harbor freight gun. I figured i'd make plenty of a mess, so i built myself a Dexter style murder hut in my garage with a fan and incoming air filter.
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I had some trouble with the gun starting off. I was using the 1.8mm tip and it was spitting like crazy. The paint wasn't flowing well. I thinned out the paint and then it started working much better. Not great, but much better. Turns out it was a rookie mistake. I was using the wrong needle. Who knew that there was a matching needle for every tip? Not this guy. Like I said, rookie mistake.

I had some areas that needed all of the splatter sanded off, but other areas that turned out quite well. My murder tent worked great. No over spray in the garage and no dust in the tent.
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#6 8 days ago

Topper Restoration

So much like many of the other Whirlwind toppers out there, mine was yellowed from age and smoke. It had the common crack that was on the front bottom.
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The inside was gross with the area under the cage where no one had been able to clean it.
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I clipped out the rivets from the back side and just pushed them out the front. No drilling needed for rivets like this. I let the pieces of mesh soak while i refinished the rest. I didn't really want to remove, buy and apply new decals, so I masked them off. While doing so, I found that the entire bottom was extremely weak and prone to cracking.IMG_20190813_203943 (resized).jpgIMG_20190813_204921 (resized).jpg
I decided that while i was fixing the crack with some fiberglass, that I would glass the entire bottom flange.
with some fiberglass resin and fabric.
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I trimmed the excess off and cleaned up the edge.
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Then it was on to painting. I just used some standard Krylon from a rattle-can.
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Once dry, I removed the masking, which was about 99% perfect. My cut lines weren't dead on in a couple of minor places, but they won't be see from 6' away.
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I still had quite a time cleaning up the mesh. The years and their dirt were not kind. But once they were finally clean, I reattached the mesh with some 1/8" x 1/4" rivets.
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When it's ready to go back on the machine, I'll redrill the holes through the fiberglass and resin.
Topper is like new. $105 saved.

#7 8 days ago

Circuit Boards

The boards in this machine were quite dirty.
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It looked like some of the dirt had been cooking on some of the resistors based on the patterns on the boards.
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I took all of the boards off of the backing plate, removed the snap in lugs and then cleaned the panel. It wasn't obvious how dirty the panel was until the dirt started coming off.
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All of the boards were cleaned with simple green water and some light scrubbing with a brush.
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Everything looks great again once installed.
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#8 8 days ago


Just a quick cleanup here. Wires needed to be cleaned, and the rest is just cosmetic.
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Varnish removed from the screws and brackets, winding was masked off and a quick spray of paint. A very thin coat, just to make it pretty. New tie wraps and ready to go. Sticker was masked off so i don't ruin my warranty

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#9 6 days ago

The first setback is upon me. I figured something had to go wrong. It was bound to be in the painting process as that is what i'm least familiar with. So, I was using Kilz odorless oil based primer, which i guess is not as good as the original oil based stuff. But being in NY, the government has to make sure that we're safer and can't trust people to take care of themselves.
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The cabinet was sanded to 150 grit and all was was vacuumed out and then tack clothed to make sure the surface was ready. I sprayed the primer, waited a day and then sanded and proceeded to paint. All looked well.
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Then i pulled off some tape, and along came not just the latex paint, but the primer as well. In fact it was tearing off in sheets. I'm so glad NY was worried that i couldn't use a respirator at this point that i didn't really mind that i'd have to start over.
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No, actually I'm kind of pissed that i get to sand all of this off and not only waste all of the paint and sandpaper, but the time as well.

So in another thread the determination was that the primer wasn't really dry. Potentially due to the humidity or other factors and I rushed it a bit, so my fault. But i still blame NY. The latex paint sealed in the primer, causing it to re-soften and detach from the wood. The latex stuck to the primer well, but that was a complete disaster.

New plan. Sand it all off tomorrow and re-prime the cabinet. I'm going to talk to the folks at ppg and see what the recommend for a primer. I'm leaving for a trip on tuesday, so the primer will have 10+ days to cure before i re-paint. This time i will be painting the white first. That was another rookie mistake.

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