(Topic ID: 239076)

My Holy Grail 1953 Williams "GRAND CHAMPION" restorations


By PinballFever

3 months ago



Topic Stats

  • 45 posts
  • 15 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 20 hours ago by PinballFever
  • Topic is favorited by 9 Pinsiders

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#1 3 months ago

Obscure title I know but this game has great sentimental value to me. It was the first game I bought as a teenager for $30 and it broke my heart to leave it behind when our family moved across the country.

My search for another one ended 2015 when DirtFlipper PM'ed me that one was available 5 1/2 hours away on CL and I eventually did the 11 hour round trip to purchase and bring it back. It was kept in a basement for about 40 years that I don't think was climate controlled so there's a little planking but overall it's good. The backglass has some bad paint loss. The owner turned it on and it reset then I played a game but stopped immediately because the rubbers had fallen apart and the ball would break something. This game was also obviously heavily routed because it had some security metal pieces screwed in and someone'd drilled a hole through the side of the playfield in an effort to win free games.

Then last year I found out about another one available and was able to purchase/have it shipped here because it seems to have been lightly routed then taken care of by the owner for about 40-50 years. The backglass is beautiful and the playfield is better.

The warm weather is here and I've been restoring these two games. The "A" game on the right with the glass is the keeper and the "B" game is the one on the left.
Grand Champions (resized).jpg

#2 3 months ago

From your previous posts I am conscious this title means so much to you. Great to see the restos coming along.

#3 3 months ago

Thank you. This is a resto of love and passion that brings joy to my life.

Both games are projects. The first game is being restored while using the second game as a guide.

#4 3 months ago

Nice, I restored a 1954 Spitfire if you want to have a look. Where did you get the paper apron?

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/williams-1954-spitfire-restoration-complete

#5 3 months ago

@dr_nybble I PM'ed you the contact info for the paper aprons.

That's a sweet and amazing restoration. I like your photos. I'm fortunate my games aren't in as bad shape as yours was.

#6 3 months ago

This restoration is hard work but very gratifying.

Dollartree containers for soaking parts in Evaporust or CLR.

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2 weeks later
#7 79 days ago

Finished cleaning and lubing the steppers on the first game. I'm doing the steppers on the second game now.

I need a 4" bell for Williams 50's games like the one in this picture from IPDB. Someone replaced it with a knocker style bell which is incorrect for this game. (I've posted in EM Seeking Parts thread)

4 Inch Bell (resized).JPG
1 week later
#8 67 days ago

The ninth of 10 steppers is almost done. (5 steppers on the other game and 5 on this one) This has been hell because they were so dirty and gummed up but it'll be worth it when finished.

After that I'll need to solder in the new coils from PBR as you can see the bell coil sleeve was melted.

Novus 1 did a nice job cleaning the Replay score reel. (ISO didn't clean the dirt and grime at all and I'm noting what I used this time because I couldn't remember what I used to clean the reel on the other Replay stepper unit))

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#9 67 days ago

wait..."drilled a hole through the side of the playfield in an effort to win free games".....wat?

#10 66 days ago

If you look closely at the photo of the game on the left. You can see the hole in the side rail that someone drilled to try to manipulate the balls with a piece of wire. The operator put a rusty bolt and nut in the hole then sawed off the bolt at the nut. I had to use my dremel to grind it out.

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#11 66 days ago

It was to my immense relief that I got the backglass out of the backbox and in a safe place. It's in amazing condition for being 66 years old.

I'll get photos of the front after sealing the glass.

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#12 66 days ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

My search for another one ended 2015 when DirtFlipper PM'ed me

Good dude for sure. I mentioned a game I was hunting for once, and got a pic of one in the back of his car within 24 hours of our conversation. I was like, Whaaaaa?

#13 65 days ago

I hope he's doing well. His troubleshooting is always spot on and he has a lot of knowledge.

#14 65 days ago
Quoted from Luzur:

wait..."drilled a hole through the side of the playfield in an effort to win free games".....wat?

yes - crook could stick a wire (coat hanger) thru there and run up the score by hitting a rollover or whatever was convenient. Get a bunch of replays, hide the wire, then play away for free with your buddies. That why you see the metal side rail that goes down a few inches on early 60's games to thwart this. My favorite was a coat hanger with an L shape bend on the end could be threaded thru the quarter coin slot and into the ball trough and one could flip balls over the gate and have a never ending game. Same concept -- run up replays then hide it while playing for free. A design change blocked this a year or two later. At least these are the stories I heard from some bad people that did this. Not me.

#15 65 days ago

Just curious - are you going to take the best of the two and combine into one perfect game or try to restore both in parallel? Couple of times I've done this I pick the best pieces, playfield, cab, etc and make one "best" game then still work the make Game 2 back to original to sell. Doing it now on a 1962 Tradewinds.

#16 64 days ago

Almost everything on the A game is in better condition than the B game except for the plastics which are roached. I plan to use the B game plastics in the A game which will be the keeper. I'm thinking of donating the B game to a museum when it's done because there are so few examples of this title.

1 week later
#17 56 days ago

I removed and weighed the wooden legs from the A game minus the metal hardware. A couple of them felt lighter than the others. Two are about 2 pounds and two are over 3 pounds.

1 lb 15.8 ounces
2 lb 2.0 ounces

3 lb 3.4 ounces
3 lb 6.4 ounces

Are the heavier legs supposed to be used in the back to support the backbox? Just wondering.

#18 56 days ago

Great project!

Are you doing a full restoration?

#19 56 days ago

Thank you. I'm really enjoying this project.

Yes. I want both games to be as original as possible but to look nice from the ground up.

#20 54 days ago

The original levelers are shot and this is after soaking them in Evaporust for 24 hours.

I'd pre-ordered new levelers from PBR in case I need them. (I doubt 50's style levelers are available today)

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#21 54 days ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

I removed and weighed the wooden legs from the A game minus the metal hardware. A couple of them felt lighter than the others. Two are about 2 pounds and two are over 3 pounds.

I posted that question in EM Tech forum and these are the legs I'm referring to. They look the same but I'm guessing two of them are a different harder heavier wood like oak for use in the back.

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#22 54 days ago

Not sure why it took me 40 days to find this thread, but I'm now following intently. What an interesting title. Glad you're updating here for the inquiring minds! Keep up the great work!

#23 54 days ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

The original levelers are shot and this is after soaking them in Evaporust for 24 hours.
I'd pre-ordered new levelers from PBR in case I need them. (I doubt 50's style levelers are available today)
[quoted image]

Two of those earlier levels appear to have quite a build up of rust. Before soaking in Evaporust I try to rid parts of rust build up first to alleviate polluting the Evaporust and to give it a better chance of success. On threads I like to put them through the wire brush on a bench grinder and they normally come up like new.

#24 53 days ago

ryanclaytor Welcome. Better late than never. I hope you enjoy this thread as much as I'm enjoying these restorations.

Quoted from wayner:

Two of those earlier levels appear to have quite a build up of rust. Before soaking in Evaporust I try to rid parts of rust build up first to alleviate polluting the Evaporust and to give it a better chance of success. On threads I like to put them through the wire brush on a bench grinder and they normally come up like new.

You can't see it in the photo but the metal is rusted away on one or two of the original levelers.

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#25 53 days ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

I removed and weighed the wooden legs from the A game minus the metal hardware. A couple of them felt lighter than the others. Two are about 2 pounds and two are over 3 pounds.

I asked DirtFlipper if the heavier wooden legs are intentional and this is his answer, "Not really. It’s just random wood selection and aging."

It's amazing when you feel one of these legs in your hands and what you see when you inspect it closely. The red color goes well with the cabinet colors and the patina speaks volumes about the experiences they've gone through in life. I'm restoring the finish to bring out the beautiful patina in these legs.

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#26 50 days ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

You can't see it in the photo but the metal is rusted away on one or two of the original levelers.

It's subtle, but I think I'm detecting it.

Also, thanks for the kind welcome. Can't wait to see how these games turn out!

#27 50 days ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

I asked DirtFlipper if the heavier wooden legs are intentional and this is his answer, "Not really. It’s just random wood selection and aging."
It's amazing when you feel one of these legs in your hands and what you see when you inspect it closely. The red color goes well with the cabinet colors and the patina speaks volumes about the experiences they've gone through in life. I'm restoring the finish to bring out the beautiful patina in these legs.[quoted image]

I agree with DF...just make sure those are 32.5" legs - that's the length that game should have - IIRC.

Did you get a set of legs with both games? Are they the same length? Also...are they all red? I don't think WLMS painted any of their wooden legs red from the factory, but I could be wrong...they look like they could be original in your pics though...

EDIT: I see that both DID have the red legs in an earlier pic in this thread...cool! Do you think that's original? They just look too even for a home-job...

Sean

#28 50 days ago

Thanks for posting your photos - following with interest.

I am also curious about the red legs...!

#29 50 days ago

Gottlieb never painted their wood legs.

However I was curious so looked up 1953.

I think Williams did do a run of red legs - too many around in the photos and in this flyer.

So, keep them as they are

https://www.ipdb.org/search.pl?mfgid=352&yr=1953&sortby=name&searchtype=advanced

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#30 49 days ago
Quoted from Stoomer:

I agree with DF...just make sure those are 32.5" legs - that's the length that game should have - IIRC.

Confirmed they're 32.5" legs.

Quoted from Stoomer:

EDIT: I see that both DID have the red legs in an earlier pic in this thread...cool! Do you think that's original? They just look too even for a home-job...

Quoted from bingopodcast:

I am also curious about the red legs...!

Quoted from Shapeshifter:

I think Williams did do a run of red legs - too many around in the photos and in this flyer.

These legs are original to the games to the best of my knowledge and it looks like they're factory painted. They're red inside the bolt holes too.

IPDB has photos of this game with tan legs and the flyer shows what look like lighter colored (tan?) legs but I can't tell. I know someone who has this game with tan legs and Michael Schiess's (Pacific Pinball Museum director) game had tan legs.

I should email photos of the legs to Jay because two examples of this game with the same colored legs can't be a coincidence.

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#31 49 days ago

Speaking of the red legs. I got one of the threaded screws out but the others won't budge because they're rusted.

I'll call Steve and order new ones then dremel the others out.

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#32 48 days ago

New threaded screws are on the way from PBR.

It's going to take some elbow grease to bring out the original color. The grime on the cloth was just from cleaning one part of the leg.

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#33 46 days ago

I'm enjoying this thread and will be following your progress. Love seeing new life in these old pins. I have Lady Robin Hood that is in the queue for restoration.

Thanks for sharing your progress.

#34 46 days ago

Thank you. I realize I didn't say but this is my first restoration ever.

The beauty of doing a ground up restoration yourself is you get to know every inch of the game which you wouldn't if you were just playing or fixing it.

#35 40 days ago

Just discovered this thread. Awesome looking job you are doing, keep posting!

#36 39 days ago

Thank you. I hope you enjoy this thread.

Today, I ordered new ones of the circular part (no idea what it's called) from PBR for both games to go with the new levelers.

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#37 39 days ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

Thank you. I hope you enjoy this thread.
Today, I ordered new ones of the circular part (no idea what it's called) from PBR for both games to go with the new levelers.[quoted image]

That photo is strikingly artistic. Pinball still life!

#38 36 days ago

It does look kind of artistic with the 66 years of accumulated crud and rust and that photo was taken after bathing it in evaporust for 24 hours.

#39 36 days ago

I am enjoying this. Its always fun to see someone go through a game and pull apart mechanical assemblies and clean them nicely. I am enjoying much the same errand- with my Olympic Hockey- taking something mechanical like these game from non working to beautiful is very enjoyable to watch and do.

Keep up the good work. I am suprised (but not really) that Steve had those domes for the levelers! Amazing and just the kind of detail that will make the game a little bit nicer.

#40 36 days ago

Thank you. I'm really enjoying going through these games and restoring them.

The new levelers and mounting plates arrived from PBR. I'm going to try to put together the best 4 original levelers and mounting plates from both games for the "A" game.

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#41 30 days ago

The levelers from the "B" game. I was able to put together 4 usable original levelers for the "A" game.

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#42 27 days ago

Fixed. Will keep an eye on it and the new anti-split posts should help too.

Btw, questions are welcome on this game. (I know this is not one of those "I have that game too, can you check the wires?" games) I'll share what I feel may be interesting as I go through and bring these games back to life.

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#43 27 days ago

Curious about the following observations I have made... when restoring games I have found that older (for me 1972 is my oldest) games have a notable increase in metal thickness and quality on some parts. Do you find beautiful beefy highly polished metal brackets on game of this era (under the grime)? Is my observation reality- did games from earlier eras use heavier duty parts (perhaps because thats the only way they could be made)?

#44 26 days ago

I'd think so but I don't have newer games to confirm this. The older games seem to have a zinc coating instead of being polished metal like mine. I'm making sure to preserve the original protective zinc coating when possible.

3 weeks later
#45 20 hours ago

The new leveler mounting plates are better and look stronger than the old ones and the legs look good now.

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