(Topic ID: 268801)

Hardtop Install for SS Mata Hari (and now Cabinet Resto, too!)

By Mathazar

1 year ago


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  • 69 posts
  • 11 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 15 hours ago by Mathazar
  • Topic is favorited by 7 Pinsiders

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There are 69 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
#1 1 year ago

Last year, I installed my first hardtop and thought I'd document my experience here. Even with a steep learning curve (I'd never done anything like this before) it went pretty well.

This all started with me picking up two Mata Hari's from two different estate sales, about 3 months apart, for $300 each. Neither machine worked - one didn't power on, the other powered on with GI lights lit but would not boot into attract mode. My initial goal was to repair each machine to working condition, sell one, and keep the other for our newly built-out basement gameroom (which already had Eight Ball Deluxe and a Star Trek Pro).
Seeing Double (resized).jpg

#2 1 year ago

First thing I did was go thru both machines and repin *everything*. The machine that wouldn't power on at all had a mess behind the Rottendog rectifier board....spliced wire held together by tape, poor soldering....not a great attempt at fixing what was likely a power on problem for him, too.

Found all sorts of bent pins on connectors, some connector housings burnt with crusty pins...all replaced. Rewired that one transformer properly, put in some new fuses, replaced old caps on the SDB and 3 weeks later both machines are powering on to attract mode.

IMG_6167 (resized).JPGIMG_6168 (resized).JPGIMG_6169 (resized).JPGIMG_6186 (resized).JPGSDB J3 Connector - Broken Jumper Pin (resized).jpgTransformer Test (resized).jpg
#3 1 year ago

I decided to focus in on the Mata Hari I was keeping and thought I'd try breathing new life into the playfield with a hardtop. The original playfield was a bit tired with artwork lifted here and there from previous owners attempts at removing mylar along with some poor touch up spots that are rough to the touch and bumpy. Balls in play were also being affected by several inserts being cupped, and the shooter lane was pretty beat up with dirt and swirls. A couple of broken plastics, dingy drop targets (and they sometimes wouldn't stay up), spongy flippers, and a beat to hell backglass rounded out the areas I wanted to address. The cabinet could use some new life as well but that's a future project.

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#4 1 year ago

Before and After pix of one of the drop target banks - they both cleaned up nice and after assembly (with new springs and targets), they function great! Process for cleaning:

- 10 minutes in a heated ultrasonic cleaner with 60%/40% mixture of Mean Green and water.
- 24hrs in a tumbler with crushed walnut media
- 24hrs in a tumble with corn cob media

Before (resized).jpgAfter (resized).jpg
#5 1 year ago

Time to sand the playfield....getting the artwork off of the inserts.

01 - Sanding Down Inserts (resized).JPG
#6 1 year ago

Also going to focus on cleaning the shooter lane and getting rid of the ball track across the upper arch.

03 - Ball Track (resized).jpg
#7 1 year ago

Saucer needs some help, too - EB Wood Epoxy will work well here, and I'm going to paint it black (taking a cue from another pinsider who did that to his Mata Hari saucer....I liked it).

04 - Original Saucer (resized).jpg
#8 1 year ago

Saucer repaired, painted black (Creatix), and clear coated (SprayMax from a can) for protection. It looks goofy around the upper edges in this shot but the ridges look nice and straight after the hardtop goes on.

06 - Saucer Painted (resized).jpg
#9 1 year ago

Cleaned up the shooter lane and ball trail in the upper archway. Sanded the inserts 220/600/800/1200 and now ready for some clear to gloss them up (SprayMax in a can). Had some issues with outgassing (time) before I put the hardtop on....when I do this again on another machine, I think I'll opt to wet sanding up to 2000 instead of clearing the inserts.
07 - Mased for Clearing Inserts (resized).jpg

#10 1 year ago

Getting ready to apply polyurethane (MinWax from a spray can) to the bare wood areas. The poly will even out the natural wood color and also provide a layer of protection even those most of it will underneath the clear sections of the hardtop.

I masked off the middle of the playfield so as to not get any overspray on the mechs I chose to leave installed. When I do this again on another pin, I think I'll take the extra time to remove all mechs....that's probably shorter time than I spent on masking off all those edges!

09 - Masked for Poly (Wood).jpg
#11 1 year ago

New hardtop installed, wood frame installed, and most topside playfield parts back on (less plastics). Can't wait to play it.

11 - Reassembly (resized).jpg
#12 1 year ago

New drop targets in totally rebuild banks, new plastics, new bumper caps on totally rebuilt pop bumpers....with new rubbers and the smoothness of the hardtop, this thing plays SUPER fast now.

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#13 1 year ago

I went with LEDs for the inserts....really makes them pop. Photos of this don't do it justice....they're too washed out in pictures. But in real life, they look fantastic.

I love how the inserts look tho I know LEDs are not everyone's cup of tea. My personal preference for SS pins is color matched LEDs for inserts and incandescents for GI. I tried warm LEDs for the GI but I still prefer the incandescent look there.

And another personal touch....I made the White 5X arrow inserts Blue and put in a color changing LED for the credit light.
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#14 1 year ago

Since this is a keeper pin for me, I invested some money in a CPR repro backglass. You can say the original one (on the right) has seen better days.

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#15 1 year ago

One of the last things I did was to swap out the tired, original high voltage gas score displays and replace with low power LED displays. And all done....for now. I'm working on a new project now (hardtop install and cabinet repaint for Eight Ball Deluxe) but after that, I'll be turning back to my Mata Hari for a total cabinet strip down, repair, and repaint. I've got some experience in that area now that I've done a bottom-up restoration on an SS Black Jack machine earlier this year. That machine didn't work at all and the cabinet was pretty badly weather damaged, but it still came out nice. If you're interested in seeing that project, here's the link: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/my-first-restoration-1977-bally-black-jack-ss

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#16 1 year ago

I’m glad you captured all this. Love watching Mata Hari’s get rejuvenated!

#17 1 year ago
Quoted from mrm_4:

I’m glad you captured all this. Love watching Mata Hari’s get rejuvenated!

Thanx, mrm_4! If you like Eight Ball Deluxe, I started a new topic on my hardtop install with that one....just got started with that project this week:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/hardtop-install-and-restoration-for-eight-ball-deluxe

#18 1 year ago

Looking good Mathazar. Great job. I’m just finishing up my MH hardtop installation this weekend. My Reese Rails will be here this week so I can finish it up. I’m going to repaint the cab later in the fall.

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#19 1 year ago

Wait wait wait. I wanted to see more detail between posts 10 & 11!

Looks amazing. And yes mrm_4 I think did the black saucer hole. Nice detail. One day I’ll do this to mine.

#20 1 year ago
Quoted from eagle18:

Looking good Mathazar. Great job. I’m just finishing up my MH hardtop installation this weekend. My Reese Rails will be here this week so I can finish it up. I’m going to repaint the cab later in the fall.

Beautiful work on the metal polishing/brightening! The kicker assembly, ball trough, and apron brackets look great. When I was working on those bits (days and days in the tumblers and hand polishing the pieces that wouldn't fit in them) my wife would just roll her eyes and say "why are you working so hard prettying up parts of the machine no one will ever see?". It's because I'D KNOW, lol. Besides, shiny machines, regardless if the parts are seen, just play better.

#21 1 year ago
Quoted from eagle18:

My Reese Rails will be here this week so I can finish it up.

eagle18 - what are "Reese Rails"?

#22 1 year ago
Quoted from Nikrox2:

Wait wait wait. I wanted to see more detail between posts 10 & 11!

Haha....I'll see if I can find a few more pics. I think I got so excited at that point assembling it and seeing it come together that I didn't think to stop and take more pictures!

Here's one...not topside, but maybe interesting. The kickout assembly for the top saucer was loose and ball ejection was sloppy and haphazard. The mounting holes were worn out....I used the toothpick method of filling in the holes and remounting.

Saucer Assembly 04 (resized).jpg
#23 1 year ago

Nikrox2 - here are a few more that could go between Posts #10 and #11....rails/framing going back on, rebuilding the flippers, and installing the hardware under the apron.

I'm going to paint the cabinet this summer after I finish Eight Ball Deluxe. When I do the MH cabinet, I'm going restore and repaint the red frames around the playfield too. They were originally stapled in, but when I put it back to together I used screws. They'll come off much, much easier now and be a snap to put back on.

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#24 1 year ago
Quoted from Mathazar:

Beautiful work on the metal polishing/brightening!

Thanks. I do it all by hand. I know that’s probably crazy but it really doesn’t take all that long, and I like the finished product.

Quoted from Mathazar:

what are "Reese Rails"?

Look up TaylorVa on here. He has a running thread about the rails he makes. He makes them out of oak and stains them the proper color followed by a nice coat of laquer clear. I have never seen them in person but from the pics on his thread and how people just rave about how they really finish a restored playfield, I ordered a set for MH. I restored my EK about 1 1/2 years ago and I ordered a set for EK last week too when I ordered for MH. Check out his Reese Rails thread. He keeps it going with the work he does.

#25 1 year ago

Mathazar,

For having entirely renovated a Mata Hari, a couple of years ago (documented on Pinside), let me express my disappointment for you not trying to rescue the original playfield. The few defects you had on the playfield, were easily correctable (I and others have indicated the matching colors) and you could have instead practice at clear coating your repaired artwork.

You did a very nice job at installing the hardtop, but it will remains a hardtop (plasticky) and will never provide the smoothness and crispness of the original artwork.

I understand that a few destroyed playfield have to be salvaged with a hardtop, but in your specific case, I consider it a crime to not try restoring the original playfield. I am thinking about future generations (my kids love pinballs) and cringe at the prospect that a lot of decent machines will have been turned into a pale copy of what they used to be, due to the abuse of hardtops.

I know it is your machine and you are free to do what you want with it and even though Mata Hari has been produced extensively, these relics of the 1970's deserve to be restored like Museum pieces, whenever possible.

Yves

#26 1 year ago
Quoted from Arcane:

Mathazar,
For having entirely renovated a Mata Hari, a couple of years ago (documented on Pinside), let me express my disappointment for you not trying to rescue the original playfield. The few defects you had on the playfield, were easily correctable (I and others have indicated the matching colors) and you could have instead practice at clear coating your repaired artwork.
You did a very nice job at installing the hardtop, but it will remains a hardtop (plasticky) and will never provide the smoothness and crispness of the original artwork.
I understand that a few destroyed playfield have to be salvaged with a hardtop, but in your specific case, I consider it a crime to not try restoring the original playfield. I am thinking about future generations (my kids love pinballs) and cringe at the prospect that a lot of decent machines will have been turned into a pale copy of what they used to be, due to the abuse of hardtops.
I know it is your machine and you are free to do what you want with it and even though Mata Hari has been produced extensively, these relics of the 1970's deserve to be restored like Museum pieces, whenever possible.
Yves

Yves, next time you are in the North East Ohio area I need to have you over to play my MH with the hardtop and turn you into a believer!

#27 1 year ago
Quoted from Arcane:

Mathazar,
For having entirely renovated a Mata Hari, a couple of years ago (documented on Pinside), let me express my disappointment for you not trying to rescue the original playfield. The few defects you had on the playfield, were easily correctable (I and others have indicated the matching colors) and you could have instead practice at clear coating your repaired artwork.
You did a very nice job at installing the hardtop, but it will remains a hardtop (plasticky) and will never provide the smoothness and crispness of the original artwork.
I understand that a few destroyed playfield have to be salvaged with a hardtop, but in your specific case, I consider it a crime to not try restoring the original playfield. I am thinking about future generations (my kids love pinballs) and cringe at the prospect that a lot of decent machines will have been turned into a pale copy of what they used to be, due to the abuse of hardtops.
I know it is your machine and you are free to do what you want with it and even though Mata Hari has been produced extensively, these relics of the 1970's deserve to be restored like Museum pieces, whenever possible.
Yves

Appreciate your opinion and position, but like you said it's my machine and I'm free to do what I want. I've said it a few times before but I'll re-state here:

- I have no real artistic skills, I do not have airbrush painting equipment, nor do I want to invest in any.
- I have absolutely no desire to risk my health in doing 2PAC nor do I want to invest the considerable $$ into the required equipment and hazmat get-ups to do so. Also not a fan of rattle-can clear results.
- Eyedropping clear into the inserts to fixed the cupped ones, unless you plan on clearcoating the entire playfield afterward (my issues with that above), is also a delicate procedure that I'd rather not do.

And FWIW, I think it plays fantastically close to, if not the same as, a properly waxed 40 year old "natural" playfield.

11 months later
#28 59 days ago

Dialing in the pop bumpers sure is a lot easier with the playfield out of the cab and on a rotisserie. Doing some routine maintenance and cleaning up some wiring this weekend before tearing the cabinet down for a repaint this spring. Looking forward to repairing all of the nicks, gouges, and cracks on this 44 year old cabinet and seeing bright, vibrant colors again after a fresh Pinball Pimp stencil job.

Out of Cab Adjustments (resized).jpg
2 weeks later
#29 40 days ago

OK - last year I put in the hardtop and have been VERY pleased. She plays like new, and now it's time to spruce up the cabinet. I'll probably spruce up the playfield a bit more (like resurfacing and painting the playfield rails and touch up the saucer's black paint) once I get into the painting phase of the cabinet.

So here's what I'm starting with on the lower cab. A little fade, LOTS of scratches and gouges, and some creative expressions from days gone by (specifically the message "F**K YOU" carved into the left hand side). Further, evidence of some previous repair work via excessive glue remnants on the rear. So my high level checklist for the cab is:

0 - Disassemble and clean/tumble/polish all metal bits
1 - Strip down to bare wood
2 - Repair minimal structural damage
3 - Fill in the gouges and holes with JB Weld Wood Epoxy
4 - Sand and prep for primer paint
5 - Primer paint
6 - Repaint with Pinball Pimp stencil
7 - Reassemble with cleaned and polished bits, plus a few new ones recently purchased items (side rails, lockdown bar and receiver assembly, coin door frame, coin door skin).

Focus now is the lower cab. The backbox has some water damage that will be fairly involved to repair....that will come later.

IMG_9352 (resized).JPGIMG_9353 (resized).JPGIMG_9354 (resized).JPGIMG_9355 (resized).JPGIMG_9356 (resized).JPGIMG_9357 (resized).JPGIMG_9358 (resized).JPG
#30 40 days ago

Instead of sanding off the lead-based paint, this time around I used the Acetone method and chemically stripped the cabinet. Got all the paint off in 45 minutes and no mess. A little extra care had to be taken to dispose of the Acetone-soaked rags, but no big deal, and way easier than sanding off the paint.

So with the paint off, I went to work filling in holes, carvings, and gauges with wood epoxy.

IMG_9390 (resized).JPG
#31 40 days ago

Pretty pleased with how the back of the bottom cabinet turned out....got rid of the ugly excess glue, got the surface down to nice and smooth, and repaired the missing chunk at the bottom edge, and smoothed out the roughness between the neck and the copy of the cab.

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#32 40 days ago

So the wood epoxy work is done, and the cabinet is all sanded smooth, vacuumed, and been over a few times with a tack cloth. I wanted to lay down a primer coat today but while the weather is nice for painting (72F), storm clouds are moving in and there's rain in the forecast all weekend. Looks like it'll be next week before I can start with primer and painting.

Meanwhile...parts continue to move thru the tumblers and getting spruced up.

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#33 40 days ago

Looks good so far! It’s awesome to have a nice looking cabinet with a nice looking playfield.

#34 40 days ago

Love the detail in this thread.

I'm a little jealous I don't have a tumbler for my parts, yours look terrific!

Hoping for a MH myself someday.

#35 39 days ago
Quoted from RonSS:

I'm a little jealous I don't have a tumbler for my parts, yours look terrific!

This tumbler is quite inexpensive at less than $50 - I actually bought 2 to double my throughput! I've been using them for year, no issues with the motors at all. And when I'm working on a pin, they're both active 24/7 for weeks on end.

amazon.com link »

1 week later
#36 28 days ago

Finally, good weather and available time converge. First coat of Kilz primer applied today. Sand down a bit tomorrow, then second coat of Kilz to get it uniform. Fingers crossed I can get started on the base Marigold Yellow color this weekend.

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#37 24 days ago

Made some good progress this weekend - got two coats of the base color down. I used Rustoleum 2X Marigold (borrowed that idea from mrm_4 - thank you sir!). Pretty happy with the results - only mistake I made was getting too aggressive on the interior rear....have some drip from overspray to sand out and touch up this week.

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#38 24 days ago

There are lots of nooks and crannies in the interior toward the coin door that are difficult to cover with a spray can (without flooding areas you don't need to cover). I came up with the idea, tho I'm sure I'm not the first one, to spray out the Marigold color on a small piece of wood and have Home Depot make me a matching can of touch-up paint. I'll brush on the interior areas I couldn't cover nicely with the spray can, and be able to do game-room touch-ups in the future if the cabinet exterior ever gets bumped when moving pins around.

IMG_9526 (resized).JPGIMG_9527 (resized).JPG
#39 24 days ago

Plan for this week:

- Sand out the drips on the interior rear
- Touch-up interior with brush paint
- Paint the neck black

I've got holiday plans this coming weekend so it probably won't be till early June for the first color stencil. By then the base color will be nice and cured anyway!

#40 24 days ago
Quoted from Mathazar:

There are lots of nooks and crannies in the interior toward the coin door that are difficult to cover with a spray can (without flooding areas you don't need to cover). I came up with the idea, tho I'm sure I'm not the first one, to spray out the Marigold color on a small piece of wood and have Home Depot make me a matching can of touch-up paint. I'll brush on the interior areas I couldn't cover nicely with the spray can, and be able to do game-room touch-ups in the future if the cabinet exterior ever gets bumped when moving pins around.[quoted image][quoted image]

Looking good.
I do this with the insides of my cabs too! I hate spray painting with a passion.

#41 21 days ago

Fixed the drips I had on the interior rear and finished the interior touch-ups. Painted the neck last night - mostly came out ok. Had a little bleed through with the frog tape in the front, but that will be mostly obscured by the rear glass channel hardware after it's installed.

IMG_9539 (resized).JPGIMG_9543 (resized).JPGIMG_9544 (resized).JPGIMG_9545 (resized).JPGIMG_9546 (resized).JPG
#42 21 days ago

Nice work.

I hate that this stuff takes so much time, but it just does.

Keep at it!

#43 21 days ago

Looking good!

#44 21 days ago

It's getting fun now. First color down on the front cab. Next color probably won't be till after the holiday weekend....got other plans.

z07 (resized).jpg
#45 20 days ago
Quoted from Mathazar:

It's getting fun now. First color down on the front cab. Next color probably won't be till after the holiday weekend....got other plans.[quoted image]

Having done one of these repaints lately: trust me, waiting 48-72 hours between colors is not a bad thing!

1 week later
#46 10 days ago

Milestone achieved - finished painting the lower cab this weekend. Pretty happy with the way it turned out. Had a few blemishes and I touched up a couple easy ones. I'll leave the remaining ones as-is for fear of making them worse....they'll add "character".

I have absolutely no artistic ability - love me some Pinball Pimp stencils (shout out to Jeff PinballPimp). Every time I use them, I feel like I'm pulling off a magic trick. Even my wife was impressed, and she normally just rolls her eyes at my hobby.

Next up is tackling the backbox repair and re-paint. Will probably start re-assembly of the lower cabinet components over the next few weeks.

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#47 10 days ago

Wow that looks sharp!

Sounds like our wives talk, mine is an eye roller too.

#48 8 days ago

Starting to put some hardware on / in the lower cab. Put on the legs, ran a new ground wire and put in the coin door frame and receiver for the lock bar.

Question for you guys - what would you do? The lock bar receiver actually cleaned up nicer than expected....would you leave it as-is all nice and shiny, or would you add the custom label? I usually put that custom label from Titan Pinball on my other pins because the receiver is usually too rusty or cruddy to buff out and it covers and hides that nicely. I like the uniform look of the label (it will be a much darker black after the protective film is removed and of course it'll be nice and flat once it's adhered) but it almost seems a shame to hide the nice and shiny metal.

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#49 7 days ago

Shiny bits!

#50 6 days ago

Tough decisions

I like it both ways, and would probably place the stickers. Your cabinet looks perfect and that Marigold Yellow is spot on.
It brings back great memory when I restored my Mata Hari.

Yves

There are 69 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.

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