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(Topic ID: 268801)

Hardtop Install for SS Mata Hari


By Mathazar

5 months ago



Topic Stats

  • 27 posts
  • 5 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 months ago by Mathazar
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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#1 5 months 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).

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#2 5 months 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.

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#3 5 months 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 5 months 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

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#5 5 months ago

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

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#6 5 months ago

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

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#7 5 months 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).

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#8 5 months 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.

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#9 5 months 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.
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#10 5 months 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!

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#11 5 months ago

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

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#12 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months ago

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

#17 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months ago
Quoted from eagle18:

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

eagle18 - what are "Reese Rails"?

#22 5 months 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.

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#23 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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.

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