Future Spa: Father and Son's Second Restoration

(Topic ID: 208174)

Future Spa: Father and Son's Second Restoration


By jsa

4 months ago



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#1 4 months ago

Greetings Pinsiders. Some of you may have followed my last restoration, of Bride of Pinbot. You can see it here:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/bop-father-and-sons-first-restoration

Some additional background: In May of 2016, I asked my son (who was 15 at the time) if he would be interested in restoring a pinball machine with me. Ben has talent as a maker, and discovered a community at school that welcomed him as he explored everything in the maker universe (3D printers, laser cutters, electronics, etc.). It was life changing for him. I was looking for something which we could connect on and do together, and so I approached him about restoring the BoP linked above.

We spent the better part of eight months building it. Thanks to mentorship from so many of you, and the role models of @bryan_kelly and @high_end_pins, we set off on an adventure that turned out amazing. We don't think there's a better example of a BoP out there, but hell, we're biased.

Anyway, we spent the year playing it, and now we wanted another project, hopefully one a bit easier that gives us a chance to improve our skills in a few areas, primarily painting. We found our chance with this 1979 Bally Future Spa:

IMG_9361 (resized).JPG

What's special about this particular game is that it feels like a time capsule. The playfield was a NOS assembly, found in a crate several years ago, though the cabinet is original and probably didn't see much abuse, outside the usual wear and tear and fading:

IMG_9362 (resized).JPG

Typical cabinet separation:

IMG_9363 (resized).JPG

The playfield is immaculate, but that's also part of the reason we're taking it apart. This playfield's paint is old enough that it's very fragile, despite looking beautiful. It sat in a crate for 40 years so to play on it too much is inviting a lot of damage. We decided we wanted to have it professionally clearcoated, so we would be tearing it down and shipping it out. You can see how nice it looks, though the inserts are significantly cupped:

IMG_9367 (resized).JPG

The plastics and rubbers are still white:

IMG_9412 (resized).JPG

The guide rails still shiny:

IMG_9411 (resized).JPG

The only thing we can find corroded are the light sockets. Can these be tumbled and restored, or do we just replace? Here's an example:

IMG_9371 (resized).JPG

Overall, though, the underside is in great shape. It hurts me to even pull it apart:

IMG_9368 (resized).JPG

That left us with the cabinet. I've followed a lot of debate here on Pinside about a cabinet in this good shape, that perhaps it would make sense to wait for something to fall off it it before restoring it to its original glory. Ben and I are not those people. We want to bring it up and past the original quality! Also, for our last restoration, we were using decals. This will be our first paint job with stencils, thanks to Pinball Pimp. The plan is to disassemble everything, reinforce/repair all the dings and splintering parts, fix the corners up, sand and prime everything perfect, and then do our first HVLP with two part auto paints. I'd normally use rattle cans but I want to try it for fun.

I'd love opinions on this process. I know @high_end_pins will do multiple layers of clear in between so he can touch up, knock down edges, etc. I'm planning on doing something similar, though if last time taught me anything, I kind of suck with an HVLP gun. (I hope these paints are easier to work with than when I tried to paint with latex last time.) What is everyone painting their stencils with?

Also the backglass looks great:

IMG_9376 (resized).JPG

There's no triple thick on it. I'm not inclined to do anything to it since it's not flaking! I'd love opinions. Well, the only thing I did, I took the idea from @high_end_pins and put the back glass up high where I won't accidentally break it:

IMG_9380 (resized).JPG

I'll rebuild all the corroded trifercon connectors, probably I'll use newish boards (my boards are fine, but my rectifier has never been updated and some of these boards need a refresh). I've not decided on LEDs yet, I'll burn that bridge when I get to it. I even built a new rotisserie inspired by @vid1900's thread:

IMG_9429 (resized).JPG

Anyway, we've got a long road ahead and we'd love any advice you can spare along the way. Back to the Spa!

IMG_9407 (resized).JPG

#2 4 months ago

Replace every lamp socket.
Great project. Will follow.
Good luck to you and your son, I miss my youngest, as he just left for college. Make the most of your time together.

#3 4 months ago

You live in CA, while I like the idea of keeping it up and out of the way, one decent shaker and that BG is toast. Can you find another spot for it?

#4 4 months ago
Quoted from Jjsmooth:

Replace every lamp socket.
Great project. Will follow.
Good luck to you and your son, I miss my youngest, as he just left for college. Make the most of your time together.

I thought that would be the best route. I've never dealt with sockets that were soldered to that exposed braid (and the screws holding them in) before...Do folks ever just flat out replace the braid with shielded wire?

Quoted from mschonbrun:

You live in CA, while I like the idea of keeping it up and out of the way, one decent shaker and that BG is toast. Can you find another spot for it?

Ah. You raise a good point. I pretty much live right above the San Andreas fault. If there is a big shaker, I might have bigger problems. I thought about putting it under a bed, but we have heated floors and I don't want to damage the paint. I thought about the garage, but we have wild temperature swings (45 to 75) and I can't imagine that's good for the glass, either. I could just man up and put it under my other pinball machines! Open to suggestions, of course. Maybe I could put some gaffers tape on it to brace it somewhat in case of a big earthquake!?

#5 4 months ago

Awesome project. I love my Future Spa! It really is a fun and underrated machine.

If I can ever find a nice backglass I will be starting a restore thread of my own.

#6 4 months ago
Quoted from jsa:

I even built a new rotisserie

Are you working on that thing in a hallway? Tight quarters.
Seriously, I enjoyed your other thread and look forward to monitoring your progress on this machine. Like @radium mentioned, I too think this one is underrated.

#7 4 months ago
Quoted from Atari_Daze:

Are you working on that thing in a hallway? Tight quarters.
Seriously, I enjoyed your other thread and look forward to monitoring your progress on this machine. Like radium mentioned, I too think this one is underrated.

Thanks! Regarding the room, that was just temporary. I didn't want to move the cabinet much (super small room) until I got the playfield out, not I can roll the playfield to a different space to work on it.

#8 4 months ago
Quoted from jsa:

I thought that would be the best route. I've never dealt with sockets that were soldered to that exposed braid (and the screws holding them in) before...Do folks ever just flat out replace the braid with shielded wire?

Ah. You raise a good point. I pretty much live right above the San Andreas fault. If there is a big shaker, I might have bigger problems. I thought about putting it under a bed, but we have heated floors and I don't want to damage the paint. I thought about the garage, but we have wild temperature swings (45 to 75) and I can't imagine that's good for the glass, either. I could just man up and put it under my other pinball machines! Open to suggestions, of course. Maybe I could put some gaffers tape on it to brace it somewhat in case of a big earthquake!?

I think under the pinball machine sounds safer then up top, but packing it up and then gaffe tape isn’t a bad idea...

#9 4 months ago
Quoted from jsa:

What is everyone painting their stencils with?

Per the vid guide, if using latex, use the best quality latex they have:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/cabinet-restoration-vids-guide#post-2734248

My experience with latex:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/polishing-up-a-silverball-mania/page/2#post-3971679

#10 4 months ago

In my last restoration, I started by priming it with Original Kilz, which I sprayed with my HVLP. That worked pretty well. I then used expensive latex and thinned it until it would spray properly with my HVLP gun. With my purple color (on the BoP), it worked pretty well. With black, however, after having lots of issues with orange peeling and other reactions (temperature was not an issue), I switched to rattle cans and got fantastic results.

This is consistent with @bryan_kelly's experiences, he uses rattle cans. Once you learn the technique for them they work great. Pinball Pimp even recommends them. However, I want to get a bit more custom on my paint, and I also want to shoot clear coat between stencil coats, so I want to give automotive a try this time.

For the cabinet, there will be primer, followed by a white base coat. Then I will "flick" gold specks into the paint. Once that's done, I'll probably lightly sand, clean, and spray on 2PAC. Sand again, clean, and do layer one...etc. This will be quite a project. I am excited about learning to spray clear, I hope (with some practice) this becomes second nature.

#11 4 months ago

And so it begins...

IMG_9625 (resized).JPG

My son has grown a bit since the last restoration. That serves me, as his arms can get to things they couldn't a couple of years ago.

This time, the plan is to take off the assemblies first. I'm photographing each assembly in situ so I can map out the wiring harness later, and labeling the photos:

IMG_9579 (resized).JPG

One thing you can see is that the mechanicals are covered with a fine, tanish spotting, like dirt. I'm not 100% sure what I'm seeing here. It didn't come off with a damp cloth, so I gave it a quick once-over with a scotch brite pad. Here's after in a couple different lights:

IMG_9680 (resized).JPG
IMG_9679 (resized).JPG

Is this a normal spotting or should these parts get tumbled, do you think? It could be corrosion, it could be mold...This NOS assembly is super shiny, but the metal clearly has been sitting, untouched, for a good 40 years!

Another miraculous thing is the wiring harness. You can see in this picture, the colors are vibrant. It's literally just a little dust on the wires:

IMG_9676 (resized).JPG

Normally I'd throw the whole harness in the dishwasher, but I'm hesitant because it's so nice. Also, the switches themselves have a patina, even some original markings from the installation, but do they need much work? Here's an example from the in-line drop targets:

IMG_9683 (resized).JPG

They haven't even been adjusted ONCE. This is crazy. Normally I'd replace the switches, but I think in this case just cleaning them makes more sense. What do you all think?

My original intent here is to remove all the sockets. I planned on leaving the braid that connects them, but that's proving to be almost impossible, as you can see here:

IMG_9671 (resized).JPG

Now I'm thinking it probably makes more sense to remove the staples and the braid with the sockets on them, then replace the sockets and braid later. I know @high_end_pins has replaced the braid sometimes with shielded wire. Anyone care to weigh in on that? The GI on these games are 20amp AC, if I recall, so I'm not sure why they wouldn't be shielded. Thoughts? I *will* be replacing the sockets. I'm planning to replace with the same type (press in bayonets) vs. using something like 55's. It sure would be fantastic, though, to replace with a solution that makes swapping the bulbs a bit easier! I welcome suggestions on that.

One thing I'm also on the look for are brittle, corroded connectors, like the ones on this fuse (that probably has never been changed):

IMG_9577 (resized).JPG

Anyway, slowly moving through the process here!

#12 4 months ago

Major progress. Underside has been mostly torn down, about half way through the topside.

Wiring harness is a bit of a tangle. These early Ballys, We're hoping we can separate the lamp/gi/switch/coil harnesses.

IMG_9844 (resized).JPG

Assemblies all spoken for:

IMG_9845 (resized).JPG

We tried to keep the braid for mapping purposes later:

IMG_9827 (resized).JPG

After taking it apart, I think we'll replace the tinned copper braid vs. shielded alternatives. I can see the value proposition here. We'll just add solder lugs to make the sockets serviceable.

#13 4 months ago

Anybody have any tips on getting these ridiculous rail staples out?

IMG_0074 (resized).JPG

#14 4 months ago

I managed it. I guess there are no shortcuts. Tap it with a hammer (which is a terrible thing to do to a playfield), hopefully get a bit out the underside, then grab with vice grips.

IMG_0075 (resized).JPG

Not a fun process. I think next time, I'm going to snip it close to the playfield surface with my nippers, then use a pin punch to knock it out the other side.

Once the playfield was clear, we cleaned with naptha, and then did a full 1200 dpi scan. This was a lesson in patience. In case anyone is curious, we used a HP Scanjet 4670 and then Photoshop's photomerge function to create a pixel perfect scan. Here's a massively reduced version (in other words, not fit for printing) (300 dpi), as the original is an over 4GB .psb file:

Future_Spa_300_DPI (resized).jpg

It's a beautiful playfield, but the scan gets me into a level of view I couldn't see with my own eyes. We
re glad it's going for restoration.

#15 4 months ago

I'm going to stop looking at the scan. It's making me anxious.

#16 4 months ago

Who is going to restore the playfield?

#17 4 months ago
Quoted from mschonbrun:

Who is going to restore the playfield?

Do you have a recommendation? We were thinking HSA.

#18 4 months ago

HSA is no longer taking playfields. This is his last year and he is no longer accepting work. That’s kind of why I asked...

HEP is great; I would see if he’s willing to take it on.

#19 4 months ago
Quoted from jsa:

Once the playfield was clear, we cleaned with naptha, and then did a full 1200 dpi scan. This was a lesson in patience. In case anyone is curious, we used a HP Scanjet 4670 and then Photoshop's photomerge function to create a pixel perfect scan. Here's a massively reduced version (in other words, not fit for printing) (300 dpi), as the original is an over 4GB .psb file

I respect your patience, but there is no point in scanning at such fine resolution: 300 dpi offers more than enough detail for this purpose. Actually even high resolution scans for art printing are done at 300dpi - sometimes 600dpi at most whilst using huge, expensive, high resolution scanners (not these cheap Scanjet scanners) that can actually capture the data. What these Epson handheld scanners do is 'invent' the extra pixels at that resolution, not 'capture' them. Exactly what Photoshop would do if you would resize a 300dpi image to 1200dpi. But as said there is no point in doing this: the 4GB file is huge and way too big, it will be slow to handle in Photoshop, and indeed it takes ages to make the scans in the first place.

Also note that the automatic stitch functionality in Photoshop is 'inventing' pixels as well. You'll notice that it creates extra layers with alpha channels and gradient fills to match the various parts. Which again results in increasing file size. If you want to stitch the parts together than this should happen manually. But unless you plan on reprinting the complete playfield there is no need to stitch the parts together. When I want to redraw artwork I simply use the part I'm working on. There is for instance no point in loading the artwork between the flippers in memory when I'm working on say the bumper area.

Good luck! That is a very nice playfield already... much nicer than mine.

#20 4 months ago
Quoted from jsa:

One thing you can see is that the mechanicals are covered with a fine, tanish spotting, like dirt. I'm not 100% sure what I'm seeing here. It didn't come off with a damp cloth, so I gave it a quick once-over with a scotch brite pad. Here's after in a couple different lights:

Quoted from jsa:

Is this a normal spotting or should these parts get tumbled, do you think? It could be corrosion, it could be mold...This NOS assembly is super shiny, but the metal clearly has been sitting, untouched, for a good 40 years!

Quoted from jsa:

They haven't even been adjusted ONCE. This is crazy. Normally I'd replace the switches, but I think in this case just cleaning them makes more sense. What do you all think?

I would soak all the metal parts Simple Green, Mean Green, or Zep Industrial Strength Purple and tumble them in corncob media. Switches that have been tumbled come out looking like new.

For the larger metal parts like flipper bases, pop and sling brackets and drop target pieces, I bought a cheap buffing wheel at Harbor Freight and polished them. They shine up very nice.

#21 4 months ago
Quoted from g94:

I respect your patience, but there is no point in scanning at such fine resolution...

Yes, I can see your point (though too late now). I did try scanning at 600 dpi and 1200 dpi and found the results to be different, but that doesn't necessarily mean better! The 1200 was the default on the stupid program I was using for scanning (getting the scanner to work was a beast of a challenge, as nothing would work except Microsoft's built in Fax and Scan center on Windows 7...I really would prefer to scan right into photoshop but I can't get my Macbook running High Sierra to acknowledge that the scanner exists).

I kept all the quadrants so I'll probably just use the original individual "non-stiched" scans. I've inspected the stitching points pretty carefully and honestly, I disagree about the manual vs. computer, I think the computer does a way better job of finding identical pixel areas and stitching than I could do manually. That may be a reflection of my eyesight!

Anyway, it's nice having the master scan and I'll keep it safe if people need it for anything.

Quoted from cottonm4:

I would soak all the metal parts Simple Green, Mean Green, or Zep Industrial Strength Purple and tumble them in corncob media. Switches that have been tumbled come out looking like new. For the larger metal parts like flipper bases, pop and sling brackets and drop target pieces, I bought a cheap buffing wheel at Harbor Freight and polished them. They shine up very nice.

Typically I would just tumble the metal parts in walnut shell media and it seemed to do the trick. For switches, I've never actually tried tumbling (in my last restore, I replaced the switches). Honestly, despite the age, these switches all tested great, so I'm inclined to just tumble them, maybe throw a cable tie around the stack to keep it in one piece and let it go. I have the vague memory of some post where someone recommended against doing that because of some conductive coating being removed, can anyone remember this?

#22 4 months ago
Quoted from jsa:

I really would prefer to scan right into photoshop but I can't get my Macbook running High Sierra to acknowledge that the scanner exists

I have a 2009 Macbook. There is an aftermarket program that claims to work with OS 10.7 and up. However, you have to have the drivers that HP put out for OS 10.5 or 10.6. HP is worse then Apple about obsoleting Apple products and you will not find the Mac drivers anywhere on HPs support pages. However, you can download the Pee Cee drivers for XP, 2000, and Vista at HPs pages.

https://support.hp.com/us-en/drivers/selfservice/hp-scanjet-4670-scanner-series/303640

I never throw anything away and dug out my old Mac G-4 and installed the 4600/4670 software disc on the G-4 and was good to go.

#23 4 months ago
Quoted from cottonm4:

There is an aftermarket program that claims to work with OS 10.7 and up.

I'd love to know more about this. What is it called?

Quoted from cottonm4:

However, you have to have the drivers that HP put out for OS 10.5 or 10.6.

I have the mac driver disk for 10.1.5 and up from 2003. I have no idea where to locate the other ones.

#24 4 months ago
Quoted from jsa:

I'd love to know more about this. What is it called?

I have the mac driver disk for 10.1.5 and up from 2003. I have no idea where to locate the other ones.

Found it. It look like he made an update on 1-26-18. I'll have to check this out.

https://www.hamrick.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=VueScan&utm_campaign=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=VueScan&utm_campaign=google&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIirXjy72Q2QIVRmB-Ch0r4wRlEAAYASAAEgIKRPD_BwE

#26 4 months ago

I'm using and older laptop for this purpose only, with Windows 7 and the default "printers and scanners" application from the start menu. It's not 100% ideal (I can only make one scan at a time) but it works without any issue. I tried VueScan but prefer the default app.

#27 4 months ago
Quoted from g94:

I'm using and older laptop for this purpose only, with Windows 7 and the default "printers and scanners" application from the start menu. It's not 100% ideal (I can only make one scan at a time) but it works without any issue. I tried VueScan but prefer the default app.

That is precisely how I did it. I'll keep trying though... VueScan on my Macbook doesn't find the scanner, so something is up. This is the sort of thing I enjoy hacking so eventually I'll get it. My goal is to scan into Photoshop.

#28 4 months ago
Quoted from jsa:

That is precisely how I did it. I'll keep trying though... VueScan on my Macbook doesn't find the scanner, so something is up. This is the sort of thing I enjoy hacking so eventually I'll get it. My goal is to scan into Photoshop.

Apparently then, with his update? he still doe not included the H-P driver you need for OS 10.7 and up. Without that H-P driver it is not going to work on your Macbook, IMO. If you can figure out how to make it work that would be wonderful because I would love to be able use my Macbook, too.

#29 4 months ago
Quoted from cottonm4:

Apparently then, with his update? he still doe not included the H-P driver you need for OS 10.7 and up. Without that H-P driver it is not going to work on your Macbook, IMO. If you can figure out how to make it work that would be wonderful because I would love to be able use my Macbook, too.

I never give up on these things. I'll keep trying!

#30 4 months ago

Love Future spa and always glad to see it get love. I am totally on board with restoring the cabinet, but that playfield is virtually perfect. What exactly needs restoring about that? If you want to restore one, how about we trade as I would be thrilled to have a playfield that nice.

#31 4 months ago
Quoted from Xenon75:

Love Future spa and always glad to see it get love. I am totally on board with restoring the cabinet, but that playfield is virtually perfect. What exactly needs restoring about that? If you want to restore one, how about we trade as I would be thrilled to have a playfield that nice.

Heh, I understand your question. If the playfield had been played on like a normal playfield, I wouldn’t bother. The paint looks great but having never been played on is super fragile. The inserts are severely cupped. Most advice I’ve had is to clear it to prevent damage.

#32 4 months ago
Quoted from jsa:

I managed it. I guess there are no shortcuts. Tap it with a hammer (which is a terrible thing to do to a playfield), hopefully get a bit out the underside, then grab with vice grips.

Not a fun process. I think next time, I'm going to snip it close to the playfield surface with my nippers, then use a pin punch to knock it out the other side.
Once the playfield was clear, we cleaned with naptha, and then did a full 1200 dpi scan. This was a lesson in patience. In case anyone is curious, we used a HP Scanjet 4670 and then Photoshop's photomerge function to create a pixel perfect scan. Here's a massively reduced version (in other words, not fit for printing) (300 dpi), as the original is an over 4GB .psb file:

It's a beautiful playfield, but the scan gets me into a level of view I couldn't see with my own eyes. We
re glad it's going for restoration.

You have such a nice playfield. As others mentioned though 1200 dpi is not real. Just use the native resolution of that scanner which is 600 dpi. You can always donwsample at any time later. Also as someone mentioned, PhotoShop actually does a pretty quick and dirty job when it blends. It makes these odd masks that work great for a photo but are not meant for this kind of work. Let it try, but don't let it merge the file. Delete the masks and fine tune the positioning of the layers manually. One key thing, in PhotoShop use the measure tool to check some dimensions and compare them to the real PF. I bet you will find it is wrong. The factory only allows .050" in the keylines to be misaligned to the playfield before seeing bare wood. If your overall image is off by that or more, you have a problem.

I spend about 3 hours manually aligning things before merging layers. You only have to do this if you need it. Just keep the individual scans.

#33 4 months ago
Quoted from BJM-Maxx:

PhotoShop use the measure tool to check some dimensions and compare them to the real PF. I bet you will find it is wrong.

+1

Then do a test print on plain paper and check it!

#34 4 months ago
Quoted from BJM-Maxx:

You have such a nice playfield.

Thanks! I agree. That's why I'm taking extra pains to protect it and clearcoat it properly.

Quoted from BJM-Maxx:

Also as someone mentioned, PhotoShop actually does a pretty quick and dirty job when it blends.

I hear you on that. I've kept all my original (un-stitched) scans in original TIFF. Too late now to re-scan at 600dpi. Even if 1200dpi isn't real, I believe my master scans are good enough for use, just unnecessarily large.

Quoted from BJM-Maxx:

Let it try, but don't let it merge the file.

That was me, for simplicity sake, I merged them. You're right, I could manually adjust...for now I'll just use my merged files for simple viewing. I'll stick to the masters for any actual work I need to do.

#35 4 months ago
Quoted from jsa:

Thanks! I agree. That's why I'm taking extra pains to protect it and clearcoat it properly.

I hear you on that. I've kept all my original (un-stitched) scans in original TIFF. Too late now to re-scan at 600dpi. Even if 1200dpi isn't real, I believe my master scans are good enough for use, just unnecessarily large.

That was me, for simplicity sake, I merged them. You're right, I could manually adjust...for now I'll just use my merged files for simple viewing. I'll stick to the masters for any actual work I need to do.

The 1200 dpi downsampled to 600 dpi is fine and will save space, no need to rescan. For printing, a really well created 150 dpi print is as good as you need. 300 dpi is plenty. I work at 600 dpi myself but did a whole playfield at 300 because that was the scan I was given and it looks great. 1200 just won't pay off unless you were printing oversized posters of the artwork.

1 week later
#36 4 months ago

Now with the playfield properly boxed and shipped off to @captainneo:

IMG_0142 2 (resized).JPG

We begin the teardown of the backbox. Overall, at least from a distance, it's in fairly good shape.

IMG_0156 (resized).JPG

Start with removing the lamp panel:

IMG_0189 (resized).JPG

We get all the electronics out, and the transformer.

IMG_0213 (resized).JPG

A good staple remover makes getting the information cards and aluminum off the backbox without destroying them much easier.

IMG_0265 (resized).JPG

We go through this documenting each step for reassembly later. We were secretly hoping we'd find some kind of silly message behind the aluminum. That never happens, but you can always hope! Nothing but wood at this point:

IMG_0272 (resized).JPG

We'll hit the lamp panel tomorrow. Looking at it, it's overwhelming, but we believe it needs to come apart and get cleaned up.

IMG_0193 (resized).JPG

You just tackle each little bit, step by step...and when you get to the end, you're amazed at how much you have accomplished. My son keeps reminding me how long the last one took for us (eight months)...but first of all, Future Spa is a much simpler playfield, and second, we're so much more experienced after doing BoP. We're not afraid of these steps any longer.

#37 3 months ago

The lamp panel, finally stripped down. We won't discuss the crap that fell out of the lamp holes. I honestly don't want to know.

IMG_0371 (resized).JPG

You can see the typical scorching above the lamp holes. On the backside, we saw similar scorching along the wiring harness, which isn't a great sign. No signs of melted shielding, though, and the colors are still clear. This will get a sanding and re-painting, and the hardware shined up.

As I pulled these sockets out, I couldn't help but wonder if there wouldn't be a better, more serviceable replacement for the "staple down" sockets. I'll put new sockets in, but it just got me to wondering if the convenience of running that tinned copper braid isn't worth it. Has anyone reading this tried anything more accessible?

#38 3 months ago

That backbox still has some pretty decent original color on it. Most of these cabinets are faded to a loathesome pinkish-gray by now but were originally almost a magenta-maroon.

#39 3 months ago
Quoted from jibmums:

That backbox still has some pretty decent original color on it. Most of these cabinets are faded to a loathesome pinkish-gray by now but were originally almost a magenta-maroon.

One side, yes that's true. We're going to match to the colors under the rails/lockdown bar...maybe a bit darker.

#40 3 months ago

Teardown of the cabinet progressing!

IMG_0430 (resized).JPG

Pulling this apart is a fascinating lesson in archaeology. It's interesting to me how Bally used these aluminum jumpers to connect the braid between screws. It makes sense, because screwing through the braid is messy business. Also how this cabinet clearly had some "customization" in the factory...This wasn't an exact science. Also how the transformer was in the backbox, then moved to the cabinet in the 80's until the present, and now it's back in the backbox again with modern Sterns.

Pulling parts off reveal some nice examples of the unfaded original paint. My son and I were debating whether or not this is the original color underneath the metal parts, or if the paint itself degraded on it's own in some way:

IMG_0495 (resized).JPG

The cabinet is almost stripped. Tomorrow we'll take a crack at removing the side rails (thanks @vid1900 for the topic on this).

IMG_0545 (resized).JPG

This is pretty much all the hardware/screws for one 1979 widebody:

IMG_0547 (resized).JPG

1 week later
#41 3 months ago

Pulling out the rail nails. For the record, our method was a stiff putty knife (under the rail) to get it started, and then the magic of the Tekton pry bar:

amazon.com link »

Finally we used a pair of Channellock 357 End Cutter pliers to pull out the nails.

IMG_0573 (resized).JPG

Rails come off and expose the plastic glass guides, which still look pretty good:

IMG_0577 (resized).JPG

Decided to pull out the mesh from the neck, which we'll chrome up:

IMG_0582 (resized).JPG

The strange back plates come off from underneath the neck:

IMG_0584 (resized).JPG

...and we remove some of the blocking in the front, coin door area. This place is hardest hit by spilled beers (and who knows what) over the years, and we want to get our sanding equipment into the space, so we removed what we could. The bottom of the cabinet is SO cheap and flimsy we almost risked destroying it just pulling some of these elements off. We will NOT remove the wooden cross-bracing for this reason.

IMG_0589 (resized).JPG

So we finally have a collection of hardware to have plated, replaced, or shined up with our electric polisher.

Does anyone know if this style leg is original or if it's just after-market? They look a bit different from legs you would purchase today:

IMG_0598 (resized).JPG

Next step will be sanding.

#42 3 months ago

As we continue to collect parts, here's one we mustn't forget, the backglass lift channel. We remove it CAREFULLY using the @high_end_pins method:

IMG_0605 (resized).JPG

Once again, I have to thank Chris at @high_end_pins for sharing these techniques with amateurs like us. This is an irreplaceable backglass. We're not going to throw it up with a rusty lift channel. Taking it off is a scary prospect, as if we shatter this glass, it's over. Fortunately, Chris was nice enough to share his Voltan restore.

Topic:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/voltan-escapes-cosmic-doom-restore-hep

Video:

...and using the block with rubber mallet method it came off easily.

The backglass then goes back up high where us klutzes or the dog won't break it while we continue the restoration.

1 week later
#43 3 months ago

We're getting ready to sand out the cabinet and backbox. I figured I might as well scan the artwork just in case I need a frame of reference. I also took photos which should suffice, but the scans get me a little better sense of the (faded) colors.

cab_side_small (resized).jpg

cab_front_small (resized).jpg

One of my challenges right now is choosing a red while I still have these originals to use as a guide. The rails are a darker red (which matches the playfield). The red underneath the lock bar is the darkest, though a close second to the right side of the backbox.

backbox_right_smaller (resized).jpg

I've watched other folks restoring this machine and seen how various people choose the red. Some match the playfield, some go more pink. The stencil kit from Pimball Pimp says "Pink" on the instructions, but I'm pretty sure this didn't look pink when it was new.

However, if you go under the rails and lockbar, you see this wasn't a full on red either. It's interesting that a contemporary machine, Voltan, seem to use the same colors, and I'm pretty sure @high_end_pins had some of the same challenges with his restore as well.

The flyers don't help, they are just as faded or low res. I think I may bring a paint chip from under the lock bar to an auto paint place and get them to match it and bring it a bit darker.

#44 3 months ago

Beginning sanding, 80 grit. The Festool makes reasonably quick work, but we'll have to get in by hand to get to certain areas.

IMG_0688 (resized).JPG

We're attempting to keep the serial number that's pressed into the side of the backbox and cabinet. We sanded it as close as I'll go and we'll probably take a pick to pull out what paint we can. I know others just wipe it away...but given we had unified serials on both the backbox and cabinet, we're opting to keep it intact.

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The inside is looking better.

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#45 3 months ago

We considered taking off the neck. We think it's both nailed and glued, and fear too much damage, so we left it on. Even trying to set the nails was such iffy business with the cabinet seams we just decided to do our best sanding around it.

IMG_0699 (resized).JPG

My son likes the Festool. We're pretty sure it's lead paint so best to be safe. We probably should be wearing long sleeves as well.

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We do our sanding on the finer setting, as the other seems to chop up the wood too much. It takes a wee bit longer but we like the results.

IMG_0706 (resized).JPG

#46 3 months ago

More progress:

IMG_0735 (resized).JPG

Do other restorers wonder, like us, what combination of beer and other sludge ends up under a leg, and never gets cleaned? I mean, if it were me, and I were operating a machine, and I saw beer sludge on the front, wouldn't you want to get in there and clean it? I guess OCD and operating aren't a good match.

IMG_0736 (resized).JPG

Trying again to preserve the serial. I'm not sure if this is going to be possible. I'd love advice on keeping it.

IMG_0737 (resized).JPG

#47 3 months ago

I was thinking I might take a dental pick and try to deepen the grooves of the serial number, just enough to barely transfer through the pain layers above it.

#48 3 months ago

It seems the neck comes off as a single piece. I’m not removing it entirely but I started to see separation when sanding:

39D40A27-8150-4EB3-BE6F-0510C3399BB1 (resized).jpeg

It appears to be nailed on straight through:

47CB36AB-F774-49E5-B92D-5C43AB9E5C51 (resized).jpeg

#49 3 months ago
Quoted from jsa:

It seems the neck comes off as a single piece. I’m not removing it entirely but I started to see separation when sanding:

It appears to be nailed on straight through:

I had the same problem with my Space Invaders, exacerbated by the swing-open frame with two glasses in it. Four L-brackets screwed to the neck and the back panel, inside the cabinet so the repair is invisible, made it rock-solid.

#50 3 months ago

Wow, awesome project with your son! Someday I'd like to attempt a complete tear down with my son. Looks like fun.

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