EDIT March 2019: A quick interview about the restoration was syndicated nationally, WHAT?? http://watchstitch.com/article/its-the-nostalgia-arcade-expo-gives-parents-kids-chance-to-bond-over-classic-games/26743074
(oops... this first post is a long one... shoulda broke it into parts but I preloaded all the photos into this one)
When a guy is fortunate enough to have one tolerant wife, two amazing daughters, two ignorant cats, and 11 pinball machines... certain things are required to maintain order. Most of the 11 pins didn't come both cheap AND easy... and I'm certainly not loaded to indulge "easy". In fact, I love the challenge of bringing things back to life and I try to teach my kids that anything is possible. Maybe not practical, but possible. They've seen my restoration efforts first hand, and I like to think they've taken an appreciation of it. As for pinball, they love showing off to their friends, but are hardly devoted players themselves... yet. Lots of school activities keep them beyond busy so I don't complain.
But yeah, while I'm a guy in house with a woefully imbalanced estrogen content, l love cats and so do they. So! The latest project acquisition is a Bad Cats in need of help all around. The cab is solid but faded, the MPU board wouldn't boot, and the playfield... well... let's just say the playfield was probably never cleaned since it was unboxed:
Pretty gross right? But the reaction when they saw it in the van in the garage made it worth it. It got better when I told them it didn't work... and they would have to help me fix it.
The MPU turned out to be an aggravating issue filled with giant red herrings lifted right off that playfield, as documented elsewhere here: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/system-11b-u42-pia-failure-no-progress-in-troubleshooting ... but it's working now. With that accomplished, I finally got to work with my girls on the playfield teardown and eventual reconditioning.
This game is destined to remain a player... not a high-end restore. The goal is to get them involved with the restoration by getting their hands dirty and having a playable game in a theme they love as the reward. I'll do most of the work of course... but this is a great learning lab for them.
*LESSON 1: Not everything is garbage (but it might look that way sometimes)*
My oldest, 13, helped me tear down the playfield so I could do a better job cleaning it. She got to experience stubborn fasteners and the frustration of fossilized lok-tite, as well as how overcome them with the apprpriate use of brute force because sometimes breaking things is not just OK, but required. She witnessed the destruction of the cleaning necessary to banish fused layers of nicotine scum, which makes things equally better and worse:
In the last picture above, she is removing the drop target banks so I can introduce her to the Miracle of Purple Power. Like me, she was astonished that none of the targets would drop without an assistive push into what felt like a vat of goo.
After she laid the assemblies on cardboad, soaked them with Purple Power, and gave them a generous rinse spray, they are snappy like new! She was pretty amazed, and maybe even a little proud
*LESSON 2: Recovery*
I'll admit: I did not have high hopes for cleaning the playfield back to any level of consistency. The mylar in the pop bumper nest preserved such a nice pristine original gray, but past experience has taught me that grays are very tough to match, whether you are cleaning, or retouching. And the grime layers were so uneven and different... I wasn't holding my breath.
Still, I bought a dozen assorted ME blocks, and mixed them with Naptha, Fantastik, and Elbow Grease. Lots of it. I was amazed at what came back:
You almost can't see the transition from the pf to the pop nest mylar....!?!
Unfortunately, lots of fuzzy brown remains throughout, along lane edges and such. I just can't break it down without ultimate destruction. I need to remind myself this need not be a *perfect* pf, but it is already leagues better and more pleasing than it was... and it will be clean and fun... this is good enough to start replacing the missing art.
*LESSON 3: Replacement*
Lots of bare wood, right? In an intricate piece of artwork to boot. Well, speaking of boots, we can get the red-striped fisherman cat's boot back. First I outline by connecting the lines that were left and implied:
Then I color-match the rest of the boot and fill it in:
In that picture above, you'll note I also used red to repair the stripes and the seafood wheel. I also keylined other elements and filled in text.
My 10-year-old decided she wanted to get involved with this, so I set her to practice on the "BAD CATS" insert keylines, and the large tail to the left of them. I knew she wouldn't have the learned or practiced brush techniques I do... so those were easy areas for her. The mistakes on the inserts can be easily scraped off and/or hidden by the decals I will eventually make.
I was getting tired by the time I did the fish tail, but the trio of drain kitties are gradually fading back into view:
STILL TO COME....
I don't know, this could yet turn into a disaster. But for now the plan is:
- 13yo wants to keyline the missing art (lady cat, pillow cat, fishmouth cat, etc) with pencil first and then try her hand at the paintbrush for same
- 10yo wants to color the fish in the seafood spinner and paint more solid areas
- I need to design decals for the inserts and certain playfield text
- We may change the color on one or more cats to match our own
- (hope to do Python proud either way)
It's going to be a long process.... but why pinball if you can't have some fun with it, right? The fact they want to do this with me at all is VERY gratifying
Sorry for the novella...