(Topic ID: 208174)

Future Spa: Father and Son's Second Restoration [COMPLETE]

By jsa

1 year ago

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#1 1 year ago

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


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:

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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:

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Typical cabinet separation:

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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:

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The plastics and rubbers are still white:

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The guide rails still shiny:

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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:

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

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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:

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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:

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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:

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

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#4 1 year 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 pintechev:

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!?

#7 1 year 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.

#10 1 year 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 1 year ago

And so it begins...

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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):

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Anyway, slowly moving through the process here!

#12 1 year 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.

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Assemblies all spoken for:

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We tried to keep the braid for mapping purposes later:

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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 1 year ago

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

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#14 1 year 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.

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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 1 year ago

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

#17 1 year ago
Quoted from pintechev:

Who is going to restore the playfield?

Do you have a recommendation? We were thinking HSA.

#21 1 year 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?

#23 1 year 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.

#27 1 year 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.

#29 1 year 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!

#31 1 year 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.

#34 1 year 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.

1 week later
#36 1 year ago

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

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

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Start with removing the lamp panel:

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We get all the electronics out, and the transformer.

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

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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:

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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.

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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 1 year 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.

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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?

#39 1 year 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 1 year ago

Teardown of the cabinet progressing!

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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:

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

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

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1 week later
#41 1 year 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.

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

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

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The strange back plates come off from underneath the neck:

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...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.

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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:

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Next step will be sanding.

#42 1 year 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:

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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.




...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 1 year 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.

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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 1 year 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.

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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 1 year 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.

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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.

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#46 1 year ago

More progress:

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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.

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

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#47 1 year 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 1 year 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:

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It appears to be nailed on straight through:

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#51 1 year ago
Quoted from jibmums:

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.

I was thinking of just pulling the long nails out, doing the clamp-and-glue method, then replacing the nails with long screws and counter-sinking them.

#52 1 year ago

Repairing the cabinet has begun. We're starting with the separated front corners. Insert glue, camp, repeat.

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While it dries, time to give the lamp panel some TLC. We were thinking of just doing the front:

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Then when we saw the nasty back, with flux everywhere, decided to give it a once-over with 80 grit.

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We must not forget about the recessed lamp panel for the Future Spa logo:

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The panel will eventually get painted with a bright white and the recessed panel with a matte black.

We were also just reviewing various plastics. Unfortunately, as captainneo is learning happened with the playfield under the star posts, it seems the white plastics also leached red dye from the posts where they made contact and were never moved for 40 years:

IMG_0770 (resized).JPG

I'm going to keep these plastics, though. I may replace the red posts, but the white ones are original with the Bally logo that you can't get anymore. I'll dress them up with some small shiny washers and you won't see the red.

#53 1 year ago

Neck repair. The base of the neck was somewhat warped and the whole unit was lifting off the cabinet. We replaced the two rear nails with screws of the same length, glued everything back and clamped it down. This thing is never coming apart.

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#55 1 year ago

Today we're starting some of the under-cabinet repairs. We start with this large area under the coin door:

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First step is to drill some small holes to give the wood some bite to hold onto our repair:

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Here is the area with the holes:

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We then need to construct a dam. The proper way to do this is to make a right angle that goes underneath the lip of the cabinet and folds up to form the dam. We were being a bit lazy, so we started by waxing the aluminum and sliding it underneath:

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We then took another piece of aluminum, waxed it, and placed it against the side with some clamps, putting some painter's tape underneath at the floor seam and on the backside of the aluminum.

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Then we pour in the fiberglass resin. I love this stuff. I find that if you wait about five minutes it gets to a consistency that won't just seep through and drip out.

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What you often will find is that as the resin seeps slightly into the holes and cracks, the surface will sink down. Since we want to be above the surface, you take your thicker resin and drip it over the top, so you end up with a slightly convex surface.

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Then, while this larger repair dries, we insert wood glue into any separating plywood around the edge and clamp tight.

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#56 1 year ago

Finishing up the last of the fiberglass resin repairs on the bottom of the cabinet. Yes, we'll sand off the over-spills.

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The finished product looks pretty slick.

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You may be asking, "Why are you bothering to repair plywood that no one ever sees?"

That's just it; What we learned last time is that it's not so much what everyone else sees, it's what we know. When we're done, we want this to be better than new, that's what we strive for. I know high_end_pins not only restores, but sometimes makes some personal aesthetic upgrades to the original. bryan_kelly may stick to the original colors and finishes, but it definitely looks better than new when he's done. I think we strive for something like that, in that we restore the cabinet/playfield to its original glory, then amp up the exposed stainless to chrome to just pimp it up a tiny bit more. Watching high_end_pins re-do a stencil line by hand...Well, I don't think we've got that kind of skill, but I get it. You can see how original stencils were not even close to perfect!

Anyway, these little details matter to us...We don't talk about it when we show our pin to our friends, we just know.

#57 1 year ago

One more:

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#58 1 year ago

Here are a couple examples of the "corner sharpening" method. Again, this is done with a right angle aluminum dam. The surface is prepared by drilling some small holes. If the corner was larger than a centimeter square, we would embed a screw or something similar to give the resin something to hold onto. It's stronger than Bondo, but it can still come off in one chunk if you're not careful. What's nice about the fiberglass resin is that it seeps into cracks and crevices so it's going to bond with a more perfect fit.

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#61 1 year ago

Ok, looks like one more tack rag and we're ready to flip this bad boy over and begin the Bondo (well, not Bondo, Half Time) work.

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Side note: This isn't the first time I've seen initials on a coin door electronics base plate. Has anyone seen these before or have any thoughts on if these are done in factory or after? Most of all, I'm super curious about the word "Bang."

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#62 1 year ago
Quoted from jsa:

Side note: This isn't the first time I've seen initials on a coin door electronics base plate. Has anyone seen these before or have any thoughts on if these are done in factory or after? Most of all, I'm super curious about the word "Bang."

Fascinating... I see on high_end_pins Voltan restoration some of the same initials, so I guess I have an answer to my question!

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#64 1 year ago

Zombie apocalypse or pinball restoration?

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#66 1 year ago
Quoted from MustangPaul:

While you sanded the lamp panel back you should clear it, your OCD will love it. I did it to my Jackbot (it has a real wood panel too) and it turned out great. One coat then sand another coat and sand then a final coat no buffing. Easy to clean now, not perfect but looks great.

That does look pretty slick. The Future Spa panel also has the Future Spa recessed logo area, so I might get that set up and re-attached and do a clear coat. I think I'd want it to be white, though, as it was originally.

#68 1 year ago
Quoted from Bryan_Kelly:

What Paul is showing is the backside of the panel. I would never do that to mine, but I'm one who likes originality.

That was our consensus (my son and I) after we had a look at it. We're going to stick with the standard white (not the speckled white). I don't think a matte clear buys us anything.

#70 1 year ago

More corner sharpening. Unlike decals, which benefit from a bevel for both cutting the decal and other reasons, the stenciled cabinet will start with sharp corners. Advice from high_end_pins is that by the time you’ve primed, sanded, base coated, sanded, cleared, sanded, etc etc, the corner will slightly bevel itself.

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#71 1 year ago

Can anyone here identify if this is normal for a '79 Bally cabinet?

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Note the hole on the inside upper right corner of the coin door opening. When we removed the coin door parts, there was a "recessed" nut on a shorter bolt there. Presumably, it's recessed for clearance of the lock down bar, but I'm not entirely sure it's supposed to be that way. Anyone?

#73 1 year ago
Quoted from Grnrzr:

I thought the same thing when I first saw it, but it is like that on all the old Bally’s I own. I attached a pic of my in process xenon cab.

Thanks! At least yours doesn't have a completely destroyed wood beneath it! Thanks for confirming.

1 week later
#74 1 year ago

Ok, now we're getting too obsessive. Ok, to be fair to my son, I'm being too obsessive. Cabinet is ready for 220 grit then it will find a quiet corner to await priming without getting dinged.

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#75 1 year ago

As I sit here staring at this photo I wonder about the black neck, if it should be painted first, or last. On one hand, it's the easiest to fix up, on the other hand, if I got masking tape lines on my white cabinet I'd lose my mind. During our BoP restore, I kept having to touch up paint that was ruined by the tape.

Of course, that was before we were spraying with automotive paints with hardeners. Maybe the cure time will be so much faster this won't be an issue?

1 week later
#77 1 year ago

Backbox repairs continue. We had to fill some gaps, fix some separating plywood layers underneath the top, sharpen some corners. Almost ready to sand with 220 and start building our spray booth.

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#78 1 year ago

Our process works kind of like this: We mark with a pencil, apply grey muck, sand muck away, sand more, sand again with 120, realize we missed spots, repeat.

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#79 1 year ago

While all this sanding is going on, which can go on forever if you're obsessive like I am, it's best to get your hardware tumbling.

Lately, I've been putting a few squirts of this stuff in with the fine walnut shells and really like the results:

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Honestly though, after our last restoration and thinking about things I wish I had done differently, one big piece was sifting through the tumbler with my hands to find parts. My sifter I had at the time was too large to stop very small parts from falling through. This has been corrected! I found these on Amazon:

amazon.com link »

What's great about this particular product is that it fits perfectly on top of those cheap, Home Depot buckets:

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This makes recovering even the smallest parts way easier:

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Another area open for folks to debate, our version of a restoration has a few characteristics. For one, we try to keep the original parts if we can make them look pretty. If we can't and they are beyond repair (like plastics, or glass channels, or other stuff like that) we swap it out. For our BoP, the playfield was beyond repair, so we swapped it. I still count that as a restoration. If the plating is gone on a tilt bob, we would consider replacing it. For paper or cards, we like to create new ones, then we use a laminating sticker generator to replace them with laminated versions that resist the elements. I've seen other folks use an eraser to make them whiter... We're not so dexterous to do that, so we went with our method. For coils, we've found a way to nicely reproduce the wrappers, so we'll probably clean them and re-wrap them.

You may have seen earlier, we tried to keep the serial numbers (which matched by the way) on the backbox and cabinet, but it became way too difficult and we ended up sanding/bondo-ing over it. However, the tilt hardware backplate with the signatures we are keeping. We sanded it up and kept the signatures on the upper right as best we could:

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Maybe we'll hit it with a coat of matte clear once we get to that stage to preserve the signatures.

Ok the backbox and cabinet is are prepped for priming. Only thing left is the light panel and some wood plates (speaker, power switch) that need a little cleaning up before they end up getting painted as well. We'll need to create new coin door guides... Or skip them? TBD.

1 week later
#80 1 year ago

Booth building prep.

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#81 1 year ago

Skeleton is up.

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Decided to treat the booth kind of like a toy hauler. The back will have intake filters and fans blowing air from the rear windows of the garage into the booth. The nose can fit through the garage door a foot or two where there will be outbound filters for exhaust. Haven't decided if I want outbound fans... If I do, I'll need to make some kind of baffle so I don't blow myself up. The nose wall also tilts open inward, as it's a positive pressure booth, so that wall folds in allowing you to bring large items (and ourselves) in and out. When it's closed, the pressure should also help keep it shut.

I have no idea if this is going to work. I've stolen various tricks from spray booth ideas I've seen here and all over the Internet.

Note to self: Make sure you can turn off fans from the inside.

#83 1 year ago
Quoted from MustangPaul:

That looks like it's gonna work great. Hope you have enough light inside.

We purchased a lightweight LED-based shop fixture we intend to suspend from the ceiling of the booth on the inside. I was looking for a fixture less likely to serve as an igniter for an explosion, this one seems to be pretty much what we needed:


We will see.

Our booth has all the vertical posts glued into the junctions. The horizontal (floor and ceiling) are not glued, so we can disassemble it later. Debating on adding cable ties to reinforce those, though honestly I don't think it's necessary. Since it's mostly an indoors booth, there isn't any wind or elements to push it around, just us. Anyway, next step is to disassemble the walls enough to wrap plastic around them and then re-assemble them.

#84 1 year ago

Joints reinforced, fans and filters installed. Added a shop light. Next up, wrap it up.

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#85 1 year ago

Now this is a respectable spray booth.

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I should ask everyone I know if they need something painted. Assembly is enough of a PITA that I can't imagine taking it apart until I know I'm not painting anything FOR A LONG TIME.

1 week later
#87 1 year ago

Ok, next step will be priming all the painted wood parts. We'll start that on Monday.

Meanwhile, some goodies arrived today. Thanks to Chris at Hot Rod Arcade / PinballPlating.com for amazing work, once again.

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Seriously, this Future Spa has no idea how lucky it is that it landed with us.

#88 1 year ago

A brief pause from our restoration, my son and I spent the weekend at Golden State Pinball Festival in Lodi, California. What an excellent group of people. We discovered a whole new set of favorite machines. Naturally, we spent a lot of time on Bally's from the Future Spa era.

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About a year after Future Spa, there came Embryon, another widebody Bally with a really fun and engaging playfield. It was interesting to see how Bally evolved in just a year between those two machines. I could see owning one of these one day.

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Everyone has their personal taste...and my son is no different. After an entire weekend of playing a diverse set of machines, he made a case that his new favorite was a Gottlieb!

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Now that is a site to behold. Many, many thanks to fellow pinsider mof who gave us tips and tricks on how to play Black Hole...and for his generosity with my son! What a fantastic community we have here.

Ok, now back to the restoration...next stop, priming.

1 week later
#89 1 year ago

Masking the cabinet complete:

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Now final setup for our HVLP primer sealer. The challenge is it's a new (cheap) HF HVLP gun. Unfortunately, we have no experience with so we'll need to do some practice runs first. Also, last time we learned we need to have all our cleanup supplies ready to roll because you have to clean your gun immediately after a painting session. I'm presuming this is done with mineral spirits, but we've never worked with these automotive paints before so we'll have to see.

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#91 1 year ago

Ok, our first experience with the new HVLP setup. Mixed bag. We managed to get a light first coat of primer sealer on most of the cabinet.

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Honestly, though, I was led to believe that 1 Quart of the speed sealer would be plenty for a couple solid coats of primer on everything. We were barely able to cover one pass of a super thin coat.

I wonder if our HVLP gun is pushing paint to fast? I have the $12 Harbor Freight gun and a regulator at the gun. When the trigger isn't pressed, it reads about 90 PSI. When the trigger is pulled, it varies between 38 and 45 PSI. I wasn't able to get much of a difference adjusting that regulator (it drops off too fast). However, I can adjust the HF inflow adjustment, as well as the pattern. I went with a tall, narrow pattern, per the instructions, and did some sample runs. It seemed to go on evenly, and in the few areas of orange peel, that peel "flowed out" in a minute or two. The whole thing was dry in ten minutes.

This is the stuff I was using:

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The instructions say we'll need to sand (like with 800 grit) before any other coats or paints will go on since I ran out of primer and we're days away from getting another can. Any tips? I know vid1900 talks about CFM being too low is more of a problem, so I don't think that's an issue. Plenty of air! By comparison, using one of bryan_kelly's rattle cans last time could cover two large sides of a cabinet.

#92 1 year ago

For the record, it sucks that they don't make safety goggles large enough for glasses. Come on. I have to buy special lenses? Not going to happen. (I guess that's what my son is for.)

#93 1 year ago


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I'm already seeing the appeal of the automotive paints. They go on very flat (and flatten out if not), dry in five minutes, can be sanded in ten, and generally are faster to work with. That being said, the clean up is a royal PITA, and the fumes are deadly.

#94 1 year ago

If your Tyvek suit doesn't have long enough arms (or you have freakish long arms like me), here's a trick. Cut off a couple old socks.


#96 1 year ago

Base coat. We chose Toyota's brightest white.





#97 1 year ago
Quoted from MustangPaul:

Looks like the paint booth is working good.

It's doing two parts of its three jobs. 1) The job of keeping the paint off the rest of the garage, check. 2) The job of keeping dirt, dust and pollen off the paint, check. 3) The job of moving air over the cabinet with enough velocity that fumes are pushed out the filters, FAIL. Basically, box fans can create a positive pressure, but unless you have egress fans, I think it's mostly just a big balloon.

#98 1 year ago

Speckles added. We used Chrysler's metallic silver for this, as we feel it fits better with the rest of Future Spa.

We used a brass brush to flick the paint. It completely sucked, as sometimes it would accidentally drip a major drop and that would run, which is freaking hard to clean up. However, we got it done.



#101 1 year ago
Quoted from Jjsmooth:

The fans should be pulling air out only. And pulling air thru the filters.. should be no positive pressure at all.

That's the debate right there. There are positive pressure and negative pressure booths. There are pros and cons to either way.

The main reason you want a booth to be positive pressure is to avoid sucking in any particulate from bad seals. If you have great seals, and you're confident, you can do either way and not take any risks.

The main reason you want something in between would be to push air over the spray surface, so slight positive pressure.

The main reason you want negative is if you can move air faster out of the booth than into the booth, which also achieves the above result, depending on air velocity.

As this is an amateur operation, we chose positive pressure so it would keep it clean, and it's working great for that.

You can't put box fans as exit fans with automotive paints because the fumes can spark and create an explosion. However, you can build a baffle (out of cardboard) that would "catch" enough of it that makes it safer. Though once you start having to mess with all that, it makes me think you ought to build something that's better than pvc and plastic tarps.

#102 1 year ago

A couple thin coats of Omni MC760 clear.

Note, we're not going for a gloss look, this is just a intermediary step. When we're done, we'll use a matte clear as the final coat. This clear is to set the speckle and surfaces that will be getting stencils. Everything cleared here will get sanded with 800 grit and cleaned prior to stencils or final coats. If we sanded without the clear, we would risk sanding off the speckle or cutting too deep into the base color.

It would be nice if we could do this step with matte clear as well, but unfortunately the matte additive, when sanded, will cloud up and mess up the colors. You can't sand matte-adjusted clear. So, a few glossy shots before the next step, sanding and stenciling.



#104 1 year ago
Quoted from JethroP:

I use automatic paints and clears in my work. I've never used a paint booth. I do all my painting in the driveway in the morning before the wind comes up....sometimes the afternoon if there is no wind. As you know, the paints dry in minutes. The clears take just a few minutes longer to set. Seldom do I have any issues with dust, and if I do, they can be sanded out in the paint or polished out of the clears. If you are applying a speckle or web over the base, that will hide most blemishes anyway.

Our home is a little weird in that the pollen is so over the top, if you wash your car, twenty minutes later you get a fine yellow dust on it. I did the last restoration in the driveway and it was ok, but we needed an upgrade.

#107 1 year ago

Ok, here's some more interesting things we learned.

You may recall that we chose to follow the high_end_pins method and shoot a intermediary gloss clear over the base coat and speckling.

I completely get why he does this now.

The speckle, once it dries on the base coat, literally feel like bugs stuck in the paint. The drops are sometimes pretty flat, but often are not. I don't think it matters how they are applied (via a under-pressured HVLP or with the toothbrush), this is the case.

If you were to sand those flat, you'll end up just pulling most of it off and losing that work.

Instead, we shot base coat, speckle, then a couple coats of gloss clear.

Next, we sanded with 800 grit (this is debated, I've head everything from 320 to 1000, YMMV). This took the surface to a glass smooth level. Now it's in much better shape to receive stencils and keep straight lines/prevent bleeding on the next step.

This being said, imagine our surprise to see this:


If you look closely, you'll see that after hitting it with 800, and believe me it's smooth to the touch, you can see some gloss clear getting left behind precisely along the original grain. Mind you, you could not see any of these grains/lines before the sanding!

I'm sure it's fine, after doing coats of stenciled colors followed by a matte clear coat, this shouldn't be visible. Still, is this weird? At first we thought it might be orange peel being left behind, but that's clearly following the grain. Interesting, right?

#110 1 year ago
Quoted from Arcane:

I think the clear always sinks into the grain of the wood or any micro-crevasses there may be. In addition, by sanding the upper surface, you created a contrast that makes the lower levels of the clear coat more obvious. It is just a theory...
If you look at pinball machines from the late 70's or early 80's, they were never slick and smooth or intended to look like a glass surface. That trend to turn every poor quality wood box to look like a metal box or a marble coffin is ludicrous in my opinion.

I agree with your sentiment, Yves. As this is a restoration, our goal is to get the machine to what it may have looked like new, if not a little better. Even the cabinet, as it arrived, was smooth to the touch and not showing grain, so I wouldn't try to do much more than that. The purpose of this step is not to create a glossy, glass-like surface for the final product. It's to help with stenciling.

Quoted from JethroP:

The whole point of shooting a webbing or speckles is to hide the defects. I would never shoot a gloss or semi gloss on a pinball restoration (except for a playfield). It wasn't done at the factory for the reasons you are observing...it brings out underlying defects. You would only want to cover your base/speckles with a matte or satin clear so your sticky stencils won't lift the speckles/webbing. Of course in the factory they didn't use sticky stencils so they didn't use any clears. The factory used reusable metal (or wood) stencils. You're doing a beautiful job!!

This layer of clear is unaltered gloss but is there only to set the speckles so they don't get lifted with the stencils. We can't shoot matte clear because it doesn't take well to being sanded (creates a cloudy base once sanded). However, once this is done, we will shoot the whole surface with a matte clear to make the gloss level consistently matte. You won't even be able to tell it's been clear coated. So yes, this is purely for stenciling...and also to help get the surface similar to how it looked/felt before.

1 week later
#111 1 year ago

We went through a lot of work to get the cabinet masked in preparation for applying the stencils. Unfortunately, we were using yellow (low adhesion) frog tape, and it just started coming up after a certain point.

I like the yellow because it leaves zero residue, but clearly it's not good for holding paper to a surface very long.

3M makes their various types of Scotch Blue tapes, we're probably going to re-do the whole preparation using yellow Frog for something with a sharp line (like a corner), and the blue for holding masking paper. Any tips/wisdom?

#114 1 year ago
Quoted from Elicash:

I too use the 3M tape (I believe it is also branded Scotch tape). But you should know that there is a premium version of the Blue tape. It has orange little accents in the packaging and I believe it is called EdgeLock. I swear by this stuff. Great clean edges when painting, long lasting adhesion, and no residue after.
Edit: here is a pic

Thanks... that's the key, the good stuff. I think that is the Scotch I have successfully used in the past. I'm guessing it's closer to green FrogTape. The yellow is my problem: Probably great for very low tac applications (maybe playfield?) but won't stay stuck long enough for my needs.

#115 1 year ago

Cabinets masked in anticipation of stencils. Stencils that are against edges will get "married" to the tape prior to painting.

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In this case we've moved to FrogTape green (medium adhesion) for anything taped to the paint. For tape to tape or tape to paper we're using 3M green, which is high adhesion. I'm much happier with this.

#117 1 year ago

Prepping stencils. This involves trimming them. First, we make sure the stencil fits properly...this is mostly for the head/backbox because these early Bally's have a raised edge along the front.


We use a straight edge and a new blade to cut into this. We've triple checked to make sure we're not hitting any artwork (and we're leaving necessary registration marks exposed).


We're cross referencing photography. There's a certain amount of restorer's license going on here, deciding what edge to favor and what looks best. For the cabinet sides, we opted to favor the bottom edge, so that the artwork gets pushed up above the lower line of the rails. We noticed that when we removed the rails, there was less than 1/4" of overlap (if you zoom in, you can see the unfaded strip of pink), and that was awfully close...It would be horrible if we finished this and the rails didn't properly overlap the artwork! Instead, we're going for the lower details and pushing art upwards.

A reminder, this is the original:


I find it interesting that the stencils leave a white area for under the rails. You're just inviting a mistake there, I think.

Ok, next step, we apply the stencils. We're waiting until the morning of painting because we don't know how long these stencils like to be adhered and don't want to take any chances.


Ok, next step, applying these guys!

#118 1 year ago
Quoted from MustangPaul:

Looks like it's time to change your filters before you start to paint.

Perhaps, they seem to do the basic job of keeping dust from coming in during the painting and keeping paint inside. I'll make sure they have enough air flow before jumping in.

#120 1 year ago
Quoted from Arcane:

Have cotton swabs (for your ears) and Naphta handy, when removing the stencils.
I am in the process of re-painting my Mata Hari and have saved the situation multiple times, in case of excess paint, leaks under the stencils or paint too dry when you pull the stencils.
Dip the cotton swab in Naphta (just a drop) and very delicately approach it to the mistake: the cotton fiber will suck the excess of paint, while Naphta dilutes it.
Good luck.

Do you feel this will work well with automotive paints? I had a really rough time fixing mistakes during the speckling. Also, what type of stencils did you use?

#122 1 year ago
Quoted from Arcane:

Same stencils as yours: Pimball Pimp. They are fragile and very sticky...be careful. Small details can remain glued to the backing paper.
I have no clue what you need to remove automotive paint. I would use the same thinner as what you use to clean your spray gun. The trick is the cotton fibers sucking the excess of paint.

I use mineral spirits, though lacquer thinner also cleans it up quickly.

Our biggest fear is the timing. Automotive paints set really quickly and are dry within ten minutes. For this reason, we will set up all the stencils for one color. We'll hit the entire head and cab for 2 to 3 coats, then immediately remove the stencils. Stressful.

#125 1 year ago

A great many things learned today!

First, we applied stencils.

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Where stencil material met an edge (where there was no painting), we made sure to extend into the mask:

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Ultimately, I have to agree with all of you, Pinball Pimp's stencils here applied fantastic. We took some tips from others, and covered the "X" registration marks with masking, so our opaque paint wouldn't obscure it.

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All stencils applied and ready to go:

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We used Delfleet Essential automotive paint. This is a 6 to 1 to 1 mix ratio and dries solid in about 30-40 minutes. My mistake, the other automotive paint I used for the base was Omni MBX, which dries much faster. At a high level, the stencils worked great and fairly happy with the results:

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There were some great outcomes:

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...and some HORRIBLE outcomes. You can't imagine how upset this made me... it was 100% my fault, I forgot to adjust the pressure on the first spray (yes, I tested it first, but failed to pay close enough attention). We'll have to sand this out.

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In terms of when to remove the stencils, because we thought this was going to dry in 5-10 minutes, we began removing the stencils off one side of the cabinet really quickly (15 minutes) after application. we quickly realized this was a mistake. The paint was extremely sticky, and would sometimes stretch or string. It still kept the edges and lines as we wanted, but those lines are far rougher/more raised.

In contrast, we started the second side of the cabinet about 1 hour after application. All the lines were clean and no lifting or stretching. For paints like this, I recommend waiting for the initial cure time before removing, not when wet or sticky. Because the base coat was cleared and solid, there was no base lifting either, though the material from Pinball Pimp seemed unlikely to do that.

By the time we got to the head, the paint felt like the surface of a car, and yet it still came off cleanly. We used a pair of tweezers and an Xacto knife to get to the pieces.

As for those paint runs, I'm hoping I can just sand them down before the next stencil layer. Once the next stencil is finished, we'll do any touchups...and depending on how ambitious we are, we'll probably do some regular clear to level out the lines, sand, and do a matte clear to finish it off.

#126 1 year ago

Sanded out the runs. This stuff sands out fine. I'm using this Delfleet Essential only because it was the only paint manufactured that made the color close to what I want.

It turns out that DuPont made these crazy colors (like the original Future Spa) back in the 70's, and stopped for some reason (I'm guessing it wasn't particularly good for you). To match bright neons, you're better off with things like Createx Airbrush colors vs. automotive paint. Still, we got what we wanted.

It's called Delfleet because it's targeting fleet painting, meaning a lot of cars in a short amount of time. It's a base and clear, so it dries super glossy. If you sand it, it's because you know you're going to clear over it. We can hit it with naptha and tell it's retained its color.

Another thing I learned today: Another good reason to shoot a coat of clearcoat after a stencil layer is for sanding purposes. If you sand around the edges, and it's high contrast (say, pink and bright white), the pink dust can grind in a bit to the top layer of the white. It cleans off with naptha and a little elbow grease, but you can see how having a layer of clear in there would avoid sanding actual color and achieve similar results.

We couldn't do that because we were fixing the runs. When we were done, we hit all the cab with 800 to knock the edges down a bit in anticipation of the stencils. We're nervous that the paint edges are so high that we may see some bleed through the stencil material.

#127 1 year ago

Stencils ready, prepped for purple. It's about 58℉ outside this afternoon so we'll just have to wait for warmer weather or we'll get more runs.


I've got to say, these Pinball Pimp stencils are pretty impressive. I don't see any way around enhancing them a bit by adding some masking tape to extend the stencils over the bevel. Otherwise, you would end up with a colored outline around the edge, and we didn't get this far by letting that happen.


Does anyone know if you can do touch ups with automotive paint without the HVLP, maybe with a traditional airbrush? We're happy to mask and shoot touch ups, though the clean up is the same as if you're doing a large area and quite a pain.

#129 1 year ago
Quoted from JethroP:

Yes, you can touch up with siphon feed or airbrush. I've touched up with a hand brush too. If you don't like your touchup, it's easy to sand down and start over. I like the fast dry for that purpose.

Maybe a finer point on the question: If I shoot automotive paint with the HVLP, and switch to a small airbrush for touch up, will it blend properly? As long the the atomization via the HVLP doesn't actually create a different color.

#131 1 year ago

We're actually pretty happy right now.



There's something about planning stuff out, executing, and getting it right that just makes father's day 100% perfect. The lighting doesn't do it justice. We hit the red with 800, so it's been deglossed, and the purple was still curing in the photos...and the lighting was weird. But we're happy.


Next stage is mixing touch up paint, fixing any little mistakes, and then move to do some coats of regular clear, sand, and final matte clear.

#132 1 year ago

Unaltered coat of MC760 clear to lock down the colors. This is not the final surface as we will finish with a matte clear. Our intent is to sand this flatter, see how it looks, and decide if it needs another coat of clear and sanding prior to final topcoat.




#133 1 year ago

I should add that we don't really think this needs to be perfectly flat. Stencils have layers. Original machines had those layers as well. Even as a resto-mod, we would be fine with some edges/layers. However, if you ever choose to use automotive paints, I recommend two stage, basecoat paints. The colors we wanted were unavailable outside of the single stage paint we had access to, and unfortunately those have clear built into them and tend to go on a bit thicker. You can convert them to two stage, but they remain pretty thick.

Compare this to a rattle can, where really it's simple and what you see is what you get. This automotive finish is amazing looking, like a car, and we really love how it looks...but it has its drawbacks. The challenge next is block sanding it without cutting into the color in a damaging way.

#135 1 year ago

Taking some time trying to match the dark red paint of the apron to fix up some damage.

We're using Createx airbrush paints for this.

This is where experience counts...and we have none. I've managed to make a nice purply brown.

Anyone have any advice for this? We've followed vid1900's method but for crying out loud, it's super frustrating!


We start with red, add a little yellow...seems to be going in the right direction, but too bright. If we add blue or black, things go off the rails really fast.

#139 1 year ago
Quoted from JethroP:

The guy on the metal apron thread hasn't done Future Spa yet. But the decal is available at Ministry of Pinball:

Yeah, I appreciate the alternatives... We're committed to restoring this one. It's literally almost perfect, having come from a NOS assembly. It's just a matter of matching a small amount of paint. There are literally no ball trails, it seems to have been scuffed either in transit or during its brief life in a HUO condition.

We're going to try both our match (by eye) and professional match (computer + professional eyes) and see who comes in closest. The challenge with the pro match is that it's latex, but that's fine, we'll thin and airbrush it.

#141 1 year ago
Quoted from Joey_N:

Oh I know, sorry, I meant just get on the list. Sounds like the OP doesn’t really need it though. I haven’t actually confirmed that the original fades like the cabinet does.

Funny, I just got a call from the professional paint matcher. He says that the color is an usual red, and very difficult to match. It's not just me! He's going to try some oil-based alternatives just to see, but you can imagine that I'm not thrilled.

We may have no choice but to sand it all down and restore everything with waterslide decals on top of a new red. Disappointing. vid1900 any sage advice here?

#142 1 year ago

Ok, first round of clear has been sanded as flat as it would go until it started to cut into the color (as expected). Minor touch ups completed, and another round of clear shot. It went on pretty smooth this time. After it cures a few days we'll sand again and hit it with the final, matte clear.



#143 1 year ago

Nothing like a real professional willing to do a little extra homework. We have our apron red!

The short version is that with water-based paints, it's extremely difficult (if not impossible) to get this Bally red without crossing over into muddy or brown. It has to do with the red pigment and modern chemical regulations making it difficult to pull off.

I got a very experienced professional to figure this out, and he started with a very expensive (like $50 expensive) quart of European Hollandlac oil-based enamel. He spent the better part of two days adjusting, and was able to hit a color match by adding a violet purple and another purple to the mix on a satin sheen version of the paint. After performing the naptha test it's pretty much dead on.

Unfortunately, since this is oil based and everything else we're doing is not, we have to be very careful using it and ensure it cures fully and then scuffed properly before clearing over it (which is absolutely required since it has a different sheen than the rest of the paint we're using).

For future reference, this Bally red was achieved with Hollandlac Satin 1002 Rembrandt Red, with ALK24-1Y and ALK241-4 added, by eye.

IMG_1463 (resized).JPG

IMG_1465 (resized).JPG

IMG_1464 (resized).JPG

#144 1 year ago

The slightest scratch with an Xacto knife on the apron creates a trail of lifted paint. Note to self: Just say no to cutting Frisket until I have more practice.

1 week later
#145 1 year ago

Added new coin door guides. One of the originals was completely missing, the other was a science experiment of 40 year old beer goo. The new ones are bit sharper than the originals but we like them this way:


Then, re-taped for matte clear application. Next, we sanded with 600 for final application of clear coat (matte/eggshell level finish):


Next step is clear coating the apron and shooting that final matte clear. The temperature is around 76 degrees out so we're waiting for the temperature to drop to around 68 or so before shooting.

#146 1 year ago

Apron cleared. Not perfect, but a real improvement.


#148 1 year ago
Quoted from JethroP:

Wet sand the apron with 1000, 1200, or 1500 then polish it. It will smooth out the orange peel and be perfect.

Yep, that's the plan. It's only on the edges the player can't see anyway. We got some orange peel above the repair in the upper left, I think mostly because it's on top of oil paint (which wasn't supposed to work at all).

I can't stress enough the importance of temperature on clear coating for us. In the end, we found that 68 degrees was the ideal temperature and the clear would "flow out" into a perfectly flat surface.

The challenge, though, is runs. Clearing the final coat on the cabinet went perfect, but the back box had runs on one side, so we'll need to sand that out and recoat. Almost there.

#150 1 year ago
Quoted from JethroP:

You're doing a beautiful job! Maybe you know already, but if not, and for those that are following that might clearcoat one day, the activators that you mix with the clear are specified for a temperature range. You can buy slow, medium, or fast (cold temp, warmer temp, and warmest temp) depending upon the ambient temperature you plan to spray. Yeah, you want that "flow out into a perfectly flat surface" without flowing too much (runs). That's the art and skill that come with practice. If at all possible, spray on a horizontal surface, rather than a vertical one (which you already found out) to avoid runs. Cool thing about two part clears (and colors of for that matter), blemishes can be sanded out pretty easily and redone. I'm enjoying following your progress. I have a Future Spa in very good condition....but nothing that comes close to the beauty and perfection of yours!

Thanks! As we repair these runs, we'll put the backbox horizontal. Unfortunately, given the way/timing and pot life of the clear (about 2 hours before it's unusable), we couldn't figure out a way to do one side at a time without wasting a ton of clear...maybe we should have just done it one side at a time. Too late now. I have been watching others do it vertically, and you're right, the artisan experience counts here. Watching @high_end_pins do this without any fear is amazing. That's what an accomplished automotive painter brings to the table with this!

#152 1 year ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Put the cab in your rotisserie.
Spray one side face up including 1/2 the coin door, wait 15 minutes, flip it to the other side.
Most 2PAC has a 2 hour pot life and a 10 minute set up.

That makes perfect sense. We will do that for now on.

#153 1 year ago
Quoted from jsa:

That makes perfect sense. We will do that for now on.

Now, presuming I don't have a rotisserie set up with enough umph for a cabinet, I can't set it on the clear for probably a few hours, correct? Simple solution to that is build a cabinet-ready rotisserie for the next project.

For now, I have to shoot the repair on only one side, so we're good.

#155 1 year ago
Quoted from radium:

What's a rotisserie look like that can hold a cabinet? I can't figure out where/how that would attach

There are a couple of threads here on it. You have to make it differently, obviously. Most I've seen will screw into existing holes in the coin door area, though I'm not sure how the back is handled.

#156 1 year ago

When vid1900 is right, he's right. Laid them flat. Other than a couple bugs that just love clear coat, I think this is coming out just fine:



That clear dries to look eggshell/matte finish.

Honestly, while the colors aren't happening right in this photo, you can get the idea. Seems to be coming together nicely.


#157 1 year ago

Nothing like waking up in the morning to a finished paint job. Oh we're so glad this is over! Time to take the paint booth down.




#161 1 year ago

This meets the father and son seal of approval.


#163 1 year ago
Quoted from Joey_N:

This is inspiring. I’ve been in the hobby for nearly 20yrs, but have only stenciled several vid cabinets. Used oil based, and quite pleased. I feel like there’s no way I’ll replicate the old process exactly, probably lacquer on barely primered wood, metal stencils, etc. at this point, and especially after this, I think I’m moving to lacquer automotive paint, like the Duplicolor line. I have several classic Bally’s to restore and repaint, incl Future Spa, SBM, Playboy, KISS. Since so many with white base coat, will make more sense to buy enough to do several cabinets. Your cabinet may not be exactly the original process, but this seems like a great compromise using modern paints. I appreciate you sharing your tips. I look forward to my Future Spa project, but kinda wish I just had THAT cabinet!

Thank you so much! Yes, they used metal stencils in the factory, which had some great advantages for sure. That being said, their process back then was anything but exact. If you look at two of the same title from that era you'll often find subtle differences. Maybe that's a good thing!

Actually, as long as I'm at it, let me dump here our lessons learned during this automotive painting experience...while it's still in my head. With our BoP, it was a totally different type of challenge. This was really a whole new level.

*** I'm just going to rattle on for a bit, so feel free to skip unless you're really into the idea using automotive paints with stencils. I'm not trying to convince you not to do it! The end results are really beautiful. Since we're amateurs, we had to basically learn all this stuff on the fly...now we know way too much about paint. ***

- *Same chemistry.* You have to keep your paint choices consistent. Once you're committed (i.e. going with rattle cans, or auto paints), you should really stay on that path.

- The sanding vs. direct application Catch-22. Whenever you re-coat or apply a different layer on top of an existing paint, you've got two options:

1) You can recoat or add another color or clear coat quickly according to the label, so you don't require sanding. For example, these automotive paints usually said on the label you can do it within 24 hours without sanding (depending on the paint, sometimes they said within 3 hours!).

The problem with this approach is that if you do it too soon, the next stencils or masking will leave a mark when pulled off. There is a term in the automotive paint literature that says "Dust Time, Tack Time, Tape Time." Meaning, when dust won't stick, when it won't be tacky to the touch, and when it's safe to be taped (or sticky stenciled).

2) You can wait, in theory over 24 hours, sometimes 72 for clear, and then hit it with 600 or 800 grit to prepare it. The problem with this approach is that with stencils, you're not painting over EVERYTHING, that's the point, so if you sand everything, you need some kind of clear to restore the sheen. Most folks don't clear their cabinets, so you're pretty much stuck in option 1 unless you're cool with clear coating, as we were. (Well, cool is a stretch, we wanted to use clear, but we never had before so we found it terrifying.)

Once you decide to use clear, it liberates you from this Catch-22, and sanding becomes normal between layers.

- The stencils themselves (I really enjoyed the precision of Pimball Pimp's stencils) are a recreation of what the artist thinks was the original stencils. They aren't exactly the same. You often find yourself moving the stencil back and forth before sticking them down and wondering "why doesn't this look exactly like the photo of my cabinet before I sanded the paint off?" and you'll drive yourself nuts! Partly this is because not all machines were the same. Another issue is sometimes the stencils have been improved from the originals. They look better. Just chill out and go with it. OR, do like @high_end_pins does and fix the stencils to what you want. If you do that, you're going to need some talent.

- When a stencil has little pieces like with Future Spa's front of the cabinet, when you're laying them down, you might miss a small piece that stays stuck to the backing. Just relax, it's probably easier to manually place it down after then to try to go back with your squeegee and push it back down. I wish we had just applied it manually. If you get too anxious or fumble fingered during the stencil re-application, you might get a crease in the stencil. Not a horrible thing, mostly can be pushed out, but we found that a few couldn't and they would allow a tiny amount of paint to bleed through. These will then need to be corrected.

- Get ready to make lots of corrections, mostly from issues with edges pushing through. Look, maybe with rattle cans or small airbrushes you guys can be perfect on your first shot. However, I don't think I've read a thread on a single automotive paint restoration where they aren't fixing up things at various stencil layers. Some paint goes on wrong, something bleeds, a stencil got left on the backing, stuff happens. HVLP guns are weird. You've got pressure at the compressor. Pressure at the gun. Pressure when you trigger. Nozzle size. Atomization issues. Sweet lord. Anyway things go wrong but if you're doing clear coat layers they are easy to correct.

- In our amateur spray booth, overspray happens, period. Maybe if we had chosen to use more powerful exit fans or something it would have been better, but I doubt it. That's fine, you deal with it, but you have to spend 10x as much time masking everything perfectly. A small hole in the mask is too large. Paint vapor or clear gets in, and may alter your surface.

- Layers and clear coat order. We regret not using clear between stencil layers. We chose to do it like this: Primer, base color layer, speckle, gloss clear, stencil layer 1, stencil layer 2, gloss clear we could then sand and flatten, matte clear to finish. Here are two reasons I see why you should use layers of clear between stencil coats, now having used these paints ourselves.

1) The clear gives you something to sand down, filling the valleys, allowing your surface to be flat. Remember, when you go to stencil layer 2, you want to lay it down on a flat surface. Auto paints can lay down very thick! Single stage even thicker (you really shouldn't be using single stage, because the whole point of single stage is it has it's own clear in it, so it's thicker. Avoid this. We had to for color reasons that I won't bore you with here). You can see the issue, because if you keep layering up without flattening, you get really high edges and you can get some bleed in the transitions where new stencil pieces go over those edges.

2) The clear is very forgiving, paint is not. If you screw up glossy clear, you can sand it and buff it and you're good. If you sand too far on a stenciled paint, exposing the paint beneath it (base coat or previous layer), you then have to correct that mistake before the next layer. IMHO, you shouldn't be sanding on your color. Remember, auto paints are expensive and are 2 or 3 part mixes. Some have a pot life of two hours, sometimes, properly stored, it can last infinitely. Our purple paint, for example, if we made corrections, we had to mix more...and that starts to add up quickly. Hell, if you sand your color, and it's not something that is covered up by the next stencil layer, that scuff remains unless you clear over it.

For this reason, putting a layer of clear over your paint "locks it in" and lets you sand it without hitting the paint. It also provides a good surface to paint onto! It has to be glossy clear though, so you can sand it and manipulate it.

Then, you're probably wondering, once the stenciling is finished, how do you get that eggshell level of matte finish like the original Bally cabinets had? The answer is that flattening agent.

- Flattening agent. Oh my $@^%&#! is flattening agent a pain in the ass. You add it to your clear, and it cures with a lower sheen, depending on how much you add. It's also really expensive. You don't want to waste it. I've heard you can buy pre-mixed stuff for even more money, but if you want to stick to your chemistry rule above, it's nice to use the same clear coat. Your measurement needs to be precise for each coat or session, so they all have the same gloss level. If you are a pro like @high_end_pins, my guess is you have a paint scale that lets you measure portions precisely. We used mixing cups. The instructions for the flattening agent include things like "437 parts clear coat to 454 parts flattening agent to 144 parts hardener." Seriously!? We ended up getting lucky and using a 3:3 (clear:flattening agent:hardener) for eggshell. Ok, that you can use mixing cups for, but if you want to get fancy, you need better measuring tools.

- If you lay your flattened/matte clear down and make a mistake, you can't sand/buff it out. You have one option: Sand and re-apply the flattened clear...and because it might be a wee bit different the next session, you really can't "spot spray" it over a mistake, you have to sand it out (like a run, which we had on one side) and then apply to the whole side. For a run, you'll need some lower grit (like 320) to get it flat then hit it with 600 before re-coating. For something else, YMMV. Don't make mistakes with the final clear layer.

- If you get overspray at the flattened clear stage, it sucks, because you can't really sand it. (For reference: If you get matte clear coat overspray on something, something that already had a matte clear coat, it will look the same, but lose its smooth texture. Try not to do this. A trick that can work (if you do it within a couple days) is a clay bar with lubricant. We had this handy because I use it to detail my car, but we fortunately masked things pretty well.)

- Clear coat is expensive and *toxic as hell.* When @vid1900 tells you to have proper safety gear, holy crap, even with California's VOC standards, it's some nasty stuff. You ABSOLUTELY need a P100-rated organic vapor respirator cartridge! This is the one:

amazon.com link »

- If I could do this all again, I'd probably get a full face respirator to use it with instead of my half-face respirator. You end up with a clear coat triangles on your face. This is not healthy. The whole thing blows my mind that people do this professionally! Yeah, I can TOTALLY see the appeal of working with rattle cans after having spent a couple months in a Tyvek suit.

What's the punchline here? When @bryan_kelly talks about getting good performance out of rattle cans, listen to him, unless you want this challenge. It sure does look pretty though...

#165 1 year ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Even rattle cans are super toxic (Xylene, Toluene and MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone).
Do not EVER get rattle can paint on your skin!

I invested in good gloves, but wouldn't you know it, when applying the paint speckle, I take off all my gear to have dinner, and my index finger is COVERED with 1-hr old metallic silver car paint. It's in my cuticle, it's all over the place. I had no idea the rubber glove was broken.

I'm thinking that rubber nitrile gloves aren't good enough or you should be super careful if you use them like I did. I like them because you change them a lot, but man, that was hysterical. It came off with other poison, at least.

#166 1 year ago

Freshly cleaned wiring harnesses:


Upon investigation after cleaning, you notice things. My intent is to replace all the connectors, but before I do, I look for things that might be hints as to issues with the game.

I noticed this burnt set of connectors where the backbox harness plugs into the rectifier board. Note the three burnt pins have no wires coming out of them, it's like they've been clipped:


Also, I noticed that this connector also located near the transformer has two clipped wires:


Here's what they looked like in-situ in the game before the teardown:


Any thoughts anyone as to why these wires are clipped and what is going on?

#169 1 year ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Crappy servicemen would just solder the wires directly to the board or test points, rather than take 2 seconds and reterminate the connections.
Many Bally female plastic connectors are no longer available, so re-pin the wires, and put them back into the old connectors.
The 12v is often burned off, and the GI connections are often cooked.
They were simply under-speced for how much current was required to flow through them.
Here are some tips on repinning the boards and connectors :

It seems it was pin 8, the 12v DC (orange), pin 10, 7v AC (orange), and pin 11, 7v AC (orange). As far as I can tell, that 9 pin molex was added after the fact for precisely what you are thinking. It's just weird because it looks like extra pins were wired in there (including extra ground connections) that have no mate on the other connector:

IMG_1815 (resized).JPG

#170 1 year ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Crappy servicemen would just solder the wires directly to the board or test points, rather than take 2 seconds and reterminate the connections.
Many Bally female plastic connectors are no longer available, so re-pin the wires, and put them back into the old connectors.
The 12v is often burned off, and the GI connections are often cooked.
They were simply under-speced for how much current was required to flow through them.
Here are some tips on repinning the boards and connectors :

vid1900 Do the high current crimp connectors play a role in preventing a problem here, like these:


...or is the issue more around poor rectifier board design? I can imagine the pins were under-speced as you say, but what about the connectors themselves?

#172 1 year ago

When we got the machine, everything worked. I looked inside, saw chaos, decided "we'll fix it in post," and moved on.

Time to fix everything!

When desoldering your transformer leads, which by now are not the color they are supposed to be, away from the rectifier board, our system is to label everything with the right hole indicator.

With everything cable tied tightly together, you're likely to melt something. So instead, remove all these little guys.


There, now it's all removed and nicely labeled.


We'll remove the transformer hardware for cleaning. We throw the hardware in the tumbler.


We then CAREFULLY clean the surface and the goopy wires, restoring some color back. Next, we'll polish up the back plate, get the hardware back on, and we'll resolder the leads back into our new rectifier board from barakandl.


#173 1 year ago

You take apart a coin door, it's like an archaeological expedition. Mostly a lesson in what beer does over 40 years.

Next, OCD takes over, we clean all of this with Purple Power and throw what we can in the tumbler. The rest will get resurfaced and polished.


#174 1 year ago

Hey pinball restorers!

Do you too suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder like me? Do you find yourself waking up at night thinking, "did I retrobright enough of my plastic?" Do you clean things that no one will ever see? Do you spend countless hours on details any sane human would ignore?

I've got just the project for you!

Here's how to take the back of a coin door, which no one ever looks at, that is covered with beer sludge and mold, and make something your mom would be proud of!

Start with something disgusting, like this back of a coin door:

start (resized).jpg

Once you discover that the sludge and mold and corrosion doesn't come off by cleaning, hit it with 120 grit:

IMG_1895 (resized).JPG

Then 220 grit:

IMG_1896 (resized).JPG

Then 320 grit:

IMG_1897 (resized).JPG

Then Scotch Brite:

IMG_1898 (resized).JPG

Then buff with white compound:

IMG_1899 (resized).JPG

Then green compound:

IMG_1900 (resized).JPG

Now you can delight in details secretly for a part of the machine that no one but you know about! Except your wife, who will cry herself silently to sleep.

#176 1 year ago
Quoted from Arcane:

I think you have a problem: Anal retentiveness!
I am prescribing a laxative, immediately. Strong dose, for a horse!
Seriously, I hit mine with sand paper (150) and then painted it:

I was considering that, then I remembered the PTSD I'm suffering from my OCD around the cabinet painting, so I went this route instead.

#178 1 year ago

Getting my rectifier put together:

IMG_1901 (resized).JPG

Before I complete the installation of my new rectifier board, I decided to perform a test. I provided power to J2 pin 6 and 7.

TP1 shows 8.21 VDC.
TP2 shows 186 VDC.
TP3 shows 13.45 VDC.
TP4 shows 7.44 VAC.
TP5 shows 46 VDC.

I think this all is good, but should I be concerned about TP1 being greater than 6.4VDC? Any thoughts vid1900 or barakandl ?

#181 1 year ago

Looking pretty respectable.


#183 1 year ago
Quoted from Arcane:

So, you used the plastic mounts instead of the bolts and spacers provided with the kit. I prefer the bolts/spacers, as it gives a very sturdy assembly when connecting and disconnecting the large connectors on the board.

Yeah, I prefer to keep it the way it was. I replaced the mounts with new ones and they are higher pressure and hold it with greater stability. Also, I don't need that much extra space, IMHO.

Honestly, I'm not sure I got spacers with mine anyway, I may have them somewhere.

#185 1 year ago

Any thoughts on how to clean scorch marks off the metal backbox sheeting?

#187 1 year ago

Just polishing compound?

#190 1 year ago
Quoted from vid1900:

You can also just replace it with a roll of Aluminum flashing from HD. It's in the roofing department.
Or just look around the neighborhood for roofing crew, they will even bend the corners sharply with their Brake.
Nothing a crew of alcoholics like more than $10 beer money.

You know, vid1900, I don't know who you are, or where you're from, what secret agency you work for, but you never fail at cracking me the f' up.

#197 1 year ago

I'm not going to lie, there have been drunk people on my roof. I'm just not ready to say they were roofers. I can confirm that they are members of this forum.

1 week later
#199 1 year ago

Just a preview, we received our restored/clear coated playfield from captainneo this afternoon! We're so happy with this, but to do it proper justice, we need to take some photos in better lighting (skin tones are much lighter and more natural than pictured, pinks/purples much more vivid than what you can see here):




I haven't ever seen a playfield look so perfect. Thanks Neo!


#201 1 year ago

Ok, almost finished restoring the coin door, just a few steps left.


For starters, it's time to remove these old sockets. They're wrecked, and we're just going to replace all the sockets in the game with new ones. Here's an example:


Once replaced, we like to test all the connections with a 9V battery:


Then there is the matter of the burnt out coil on the latch magnet assembly. This is the coil that almost always is burnt out and buzzing, and either should be or is already disconnected. Here's the burnt one:


Now you may ask, why replace it at all? I have no answer for you. OCD. Everything must work or I lose sleep.

Preparing new coil wrapper for the working replacement coil:


Looks pretty sharp!


Then in there, as good as new:


Only thing left to do here is to re-assemble the skin, hinges and bezel.

#203 1 year ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Even if you replace the burned out lock-out coil, I would leave it disconnected.
Less noise, less heat, less electrical consumption - and it will never burn out again.

Great advice. I'll probably work in a molex and leave it disconnected.

#205 1 year ago
Quoted from Tsskinne:

If you took lots of step by step pictures to reassembling and reassembling your coin door I’d greatly appreciate seeing those as I recently took apart a Bally coin door from a centaur and my pics are missing, I feel like it’s the most over engineered thing ever when I look at all the parts in my box.

I did, I'm happy to help. I'll PM you.

#207 1 year ago

Finishing the bezel:


Almost complete:


Here is the last bit, coin door is done:


Meanwhile, my son learns to use the desoldering gun.


#208 1 year ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Put the pics up on pisides restoration section under future spa
Then everyone can use in the future...

When you say "under Future Spa," do you mean with it's own topic? Happy to post them up but I don't want to flood the club or people following this...

#211 1 year ago

...and now back to the cabinet. My son connects the new modern-style leg brackets along with the cabinet protectors. The reason we do this first is we make sure they are properly aligned with the leg bolts, pre-drill the holes, then remove the brackets for placement of the ground braid.



Here you can see the ground braid partially installed. We're taking the strategy more similar to how we did our BoP, a main strip and tributaries. Also, we intend on grounding the prop bar and speaker base as well.


#212 1 year ago
Quoted from MustangPaul:

That's beautiful. I take it you had it chromed.

Thanks, yes we did. It really comes down to whether or not we felt we could regrain it to a level we would be happy with or not, and the answer is no. Therefore, thanks to Chris at Hot Rod Arcades / pinballplating.com, we got this along with other parts plated beautifully.

#218 1 year ago
Quoted from Joey_N:

So, I have a few Bally cabinets to restore, incl Future Spa, but am building a lower KISS cabinet from scratch.
Very interested in the newer corner brackets and protectors like that.
What do you recommend/where is best place to buy these? Are they a system/set?

Right, Pinball Life also has brackets as does Marco. The inner brackets are here:


or Marco:


The outer brackets we got from Pinball Life as mentioned above, though Marco also sells them here:


I like the permanent ones. Marco also sells the protectors that insert between with felt, but I prefer the permanent ones. On a decal, I'll score the protector and remove the decal beneath it to keep the decal from wrinkling as torque is applied to the legs. Here's our process for that: