(Topic ID: 82361)

PMD – Fathom Restoration


By PinballMikeD

5 years ago



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There are 569 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 12.
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#1 5 years ago

I think my Fathom warrants its own thread, don’t you

So, over the next few…..months (hopefully not years) I’m going to painstakingly document every meticulous detail pertaining to my Fathom project, and I mean everything…..

Hopefully, this will be a fun/informative read for folks that may be contemplating whether or not to tackle a restoration from this era. I’ll do my best to explain my thought process for the: who, what, when, where, and whys along the way.

Stay tuned.

#2 5 years ago

Thanks so much Mike! Gonna go get some popcorn..

#3 5 years ago

Finally! This is going to be my favorite thread for the next few months. Thanks Mike!

#4 5 years ago

Step #1 - Actually Find a Fathom to Restore.

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OK - The hard part's out of the way

Now let's take a closer look at the game as it sits. Here are some exterior pictures:

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Not to bad, definitely will need a new coin door skin. Ouch...... This one's been slapped around a few times

More:

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I'm going to guess this game has some rust on the inside, just a hunch......

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Definitely some nice gouges on the backbox, but pretty solid overall. Not bad for a 30+ year old machine.

#5 5 years ago

For me....that cab is in good shape! I love the character cabs have as you know they have been played, abused, loved on, and still keep chugging along.

But this is a resto thread...carry on

#6 5 years ago
Quoted from Pinballerchef:

For me....that cab is in good shape! I love the character cabs have as you know they have been played, abused, loved on, and still keep chugging along.
But this is a resto thread...carry on

I'm toying with the idea of a custom cabinet. One I'm sure the pinball "purest" will hate

Not 100% sure just yet, but I have some interesting ideas in mind.

#7 5 years ago

Ok, so how does the backglass look?

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 8.25.43 PM.png

Bummer, it's bubbling

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Triple Thicked already. Oh well, not much I can do for the backglass. I'll have to pickup a repro CPR glass.

#8 5 years ago

Just couple steps ahead of you. Playfield is done and I'll do the cabinet after I do 2 High Speed playfield swaps. Converted mine from 555 bulbs to 44/47's. Playfield is lit with frosted white LED's.

IMG_0296.JPG IMG_0298.JPG
#9 5 years ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

Just couple steps ahead of you. Playfield is done and I'll do the cabinet after I do 2 High Speed playfield swaps. Converted mine from 555 bulbs to 44/47's. Playfield is lit with frosted white LED's.

IMG_0296.JPG 98 KB

IMG_0298.JPG 91 KB

Nice job.

I hate farting around with those old 555 lamp sockets, so I'll probably convert all mine over to 44s as well.

#10 5 years ago
Quoted from PinballMikeD:

Ok, so how does the backglass look?

Bummer, it's bubbling

Triple Thicked already. Oh well, not much I can do for the backglass. I'll have to pickup a repro CPR glass.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 8.25.4... 1.8 MB

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Don't wait too long on the back glass. Classic is sold out, so it's down to the distributors. I see Bay Area Amusements shows them in stock.

#11 5 years ago

Playfield pics:

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Hooray, more rust

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The lower half of the playfield was mylared; still plenty of cupped inserts and other issues though. The wear above the pop bumper area is pretty bad as well.

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Although the playfield is in decent shape (especially considering the age of the game), I'd never attempt to remove the mylar. I can almost guarantee the artwork would never survive. But on a positive note my machine has Centaur pop bumpers

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#12 5 years ago
Quoted from PinballMikeD:

Nice job.
I hate farting around with those old 555 lamp sockets, so I'll probably convert all mine over to 44s as well.

If you don't go the LED route at lest with 44/47's you can vary the brightness of the feature lamps. Have an EBD I'll be doing as well and will also convert it to 44/47's.

#13 5 years ago

I think that's the best stock playfield I've ever seen in a Fathom

#14 5 years ago

Lets take a look inside the cabinet:

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Wow, looking pretty good....

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Damn rust = More money for Mike Chestnut.... I'll have to bend a few things back into place as well

Everything should clean up pretty nicely though.

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#15 5 years ago

Alright, time for a look in the backbox:

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Only one display is not working, but I'm upgrading to the new LED style units anyway - no worries here.

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The game wouldn't boot up (not even one blink on the MPU), so I installed a new Alltek MPU - problem solved. My game even comes with an upgraded Stern lamp board I'll probably go with LEDs though, so that will get replaced as well.

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My Squawk and Talk board isn't working, crapped the bed after a few days.

I guess it's time to install new pots and caps. I probably would have done that regardless of whether it quit working or not, no since in cutting corners right?

#16 5 years ago

Checkout what I found inside the cabinet:

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Pretty cool, this will be a fun little project - but it's nice to have an original cash box.

#17 5 years ago
Quoted from PinballMikeD:

I'm toying with the idea of a custom cabinet. One I'm sure the pinball "purest" will hate
Not 100% sure just yet, but I have some interesting ideas in mind.

I vote yes for the custom cabinet.

#18 5 years ago

Finally, here are some pictures of the bottom side of the playfield:

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Overall, not too bad. I'll have to see how the parts tumble and polish. Only a few rusted metal parts, so that's a good start. Everything is here though.

#19 5 years ago

Step #2 - Start Buying Parts

Although the original playfield is in pretty decent shape, it would cost a small fortune to restore it. I'm not a "playfield guy", but I know that attempting to remove all that mylar is just too risky. I'm pretty sure the original artwork wouldn't survive the process, not all of it anyway. Plus, most of the inserts need to be replaced as they are either cupping, lifting, or just fogged up and hazy looking. Bottom line, anything is fixable, but sometimes it just doesn't make since from a monetary perspective. In this case it would be cheaper to install a touched up reproduction playfield.

Lucky for me I found a gentlemen willing to sell me his CPR playfield

Thank you Pinballer73

#20 5 years ago
Quoted from PinballMikeD:

Checkout what I found inside the cabinet:

Pretty cool, this will be a fun little project - but it's nice to have an original cash box.

If it is important to you to have that cash box, by all means restore and keep it. Personally, I have found those old cash boxes to be more of a safety hazard with those sharp edges and want nothing to do with them. After several small cuts over the years reaching around those damn things I just toss them out these days. Going to a plastic bottom was one of the better changes of the cash box design.

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#21 5 years ago

Something to consider... Since I have been doing playfield swaps, have gotten into the routine of installing Molex connectors on all the major components....Flipper mechs, slingshot coils, drop target mechs, pop bumper mechs, etc. Allows the removal of the major components and simplifies the transfer to the new playfield.

Pop Bumpers.JPG
#22 5 years ago

Fathom playfields are basically unobtainium, especially the ones from the later runs (true CPR playfields). The first run (Halifax) playfields are more readily available, but they are inferior in terms of quality. So, how do you tell the difference? Here are some things to look for:

Streaky Inserts (Halifax):

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Registration Issues (Halifax):

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Don't get me wrong, the Halifax playfields are better than any 30+ year old beater. They just aren't as nice as the later CPR playfields. Almost all of the black boarders around the inserts are off. Here's some interesting reading regarding the history on the Halifax Fathom run: http://www.pinballnews.com/learn/fathom.html

#23 5 years ago

Here are some close up pics of my playfield:

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The clear coat isn't too bad. It isn't even, but at least the clear isn't too thick.

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No registration issues with the black boarders around the inserts

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However, black touch ups will be needed to address the cracking in the clear coat around the borders of the inserts. This is pretty common on reproduction playfields. A lot of times you'll buy a new reproduction playfield and it will look perfect. You stash it under your bed and pull it back out 6 months later and presto - you have cracking at the insert boarders. This can be fixed, but the cracking will sometimes come back after several months. I've noticed this scenario more on playfields with overly thick clear jobs.

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Some dirt in the shooter lane when the playfield was cleared.

Overall, I'm elated with my purchase. Yes, some minor touch ups are needed, but nothing major.

#24 5 years ago
Quoted from BrianBannon:

If it is important to you to have that cash box, by all means restore and keep it. Personally, I have found those old cash boxes to be more of a safety hazard with those sharp edges and want nothing to do with them. After several small cuts over the years reaching around those damn things I just toss them out these days. Going to a plastic bottom was one of the better changes of the cash box design.

Good point, I haven't had a tetanus shot lately

#25 5 years ago
Quoted from BrianBannon:

If it is important to you to have that cash box, by all means restore and keep it. Personally, I have found those old cash boxes to be more of a safety hazard with those sharp edges and want nothing to do with them. After several small cuts over the years reaching around those damn things I just toss them out these days. Going to a plastic bottom was one of the better changes of the cash box design.

Next time you have some decent ones send me a PM. I'll buy them from you (especially the lids).

#26 5 years ago
Quoted from PinballMikeD:

I'm toying with the idea of a custom cabinet. One I'm sure the pinball "purest" will hate

Gonna put some DM gun grips on it?

#27 5 years ago
Quoted from jayhawkai:

Gonna put some DM gun grips on it?

I was thinking more like an interactive little mirmaid topper for my 2 year old daughter

Don't worry it will have LEDs and be powder coated.

#28 5 years ago

The CPR topper that came with their plastics sets is pretty-nice.

#29 5 years ago

Step #3 - Make a cold refreshing Margarita

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#30 5 years ago

Setp #4 - Start Teardown

Check it out, the wood rails weren't even painted on the outside.

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Just a few connectors to unplug in the backbox and cabinet and we should be able to remove the playfield.

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That was easy

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#31 5 years ago

Now I'll need to remove some parts in order to put the playfield in my rotisserie. First, I'll remove the rear left and right plastics.

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Definitely going to need a new CPR plastic set. Anyway, now that the plastics have been removed I can pop the rear wood rail off

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I hate these damn staples. I don't get it, why not use the screw holes in the playfield?

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Last thing to remove is the ball though coil assembly.

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That's it for today

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#32 5 years ago
Quoted from PinballMikeD:

Setp #4 - Start Teardown
Check it out, the wood rails weren't even painted on the outside.

None of the Bally pins from the era were painted on the outside but there is usually some overspray indicating that they just layed them down on something and sprayed the other side.

When I do a playfield swap I always repaint them on all sides.

#33 5 years ago
Quoted from Gatecrasher:

None of the Bally pins from the era were painted on the outside but there is usually some overspray indicating that they just layed them down on something and sprayed the other side.
When I do a playfield swap I always repaint them on all sides.

Interesting, I recently converted a Centaur II to a Centaur I and the rails where painted on both sides. It doesn’t really matter as I’ll reproduce all the rails anyway, just thought it was interesting.

#34 5 years ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

Something to consider... Since I have been doing playfield swaps, have gotten into the routine of installing Molex connectors on all the major components....Flipper mechs, slingshot coils, drop target mechs, pop bumper mechs, etc. Allows the removal of the major components and simplifies the transfer to the new playfield.

Pop Bumpers.JPG 101 KB

Nice idea

#35 5 years ago
Quoted from PinballMikeD:

Interesting, I recently converted a Centaur II to a Centaur I and the rails where painted on both sides. It doesn’t really matter as I’ll reproduce all the rails anyway, just thought it was interesting.

On your Centaur, were the rails stapled or screwed on?

When you see the rails painted on all sides, that's an indication that the playfield has been replaced.

99% of the time when you see them painted on all sides, the rails are screwed on rather than stapled. That's the other indication of a playfield replacement.

From the factory, none were painted on all sides and all were stapled.

#36 5 years ago

I've recently torn down my new Fathom to shop it. The playfield is worse than yours, and the cabinet is pretty similar, but I'm currently not interested in restoring it - just cleaning and getting it playable.

I'll be eagerly following this thread to see what's in store! If all goes well, you'll have a beautiful game!

#37 5 years ago
Quoted from Gatecrasher:

On your Centaur, were the rails stapled or screwed on?
When you see the rails painted on all sides, that's an indication that the playfield has been replaced.
99% of the time when you see them painted on all sides, the rails are screwed on rather than stapled. That's the other indication of a playfield replacement.
From the factory, none were painted on all sides and all were stapled.

The rails were stapled to the playfield. If someone swapped the playfield they sure picked a beater to reinstall Maybe it has something to do with being a Centaur II? Anyway, I just found it interesting.

#38 5 years ago

Somebody must have painted them later-on then or it was a screw-up at the factory.

That's why I said 99% of the time because nothing is 100% the way these things were slapped together back then.

If it did come from the factory like that though, it is very rare because with these era machines it is normal for the rails not to be painted on the outside.

#39 5 years ago
Quoted from Gatecrasher:

None of the Bally pins from the era were painted on the outside but there is usually some overspray indicating that they just layed them down on something and sprayed the other side.
When I do a playfield swap I always repaint them on all sides.

Mine where painted on both sides stapled too.

#40 5 years ago

That's because someone probably removed them and painted them other than the factory and then put them back on.

#41 5 years ago
Quoted from Gatecrasher:

On your Centaur, were the rails stapled or screwed on?
When you see the rails painted on all sides, that's an indication that the playfield has been replaced.
99% of the time when you see them painted on all sides, the rails are screwed on rather than stapled. That's the other indication of a playfield replacement.
From the factory, none were painted on all sides and all were stapled.

I have to disagree. My Xenon, Playboy, Medusa, Skateball, Frontier, Fathom, Flash Gordon, BMX, etc all have painted side rails on both sides and I can assure you that they had their original playfields in them.

#42 5 years ago

A "cold refreshing Marg" is one of the tools I use to get through my learning curve of restoration. Thanks for posting!

#43 5 years ago
Quoted from Gatecrasher:

That's because someone probably removed them and painted them other than the factory and then put them back on.

I have seen it both ways, painted on both sides and unpainted. Can't tell you how much I hate pulling those staples out. Finally was able to figure out how to remove the side rails quickly without damaging them. Just keep wiggling the side rail back and forth. Rail comes off pretty quick. Make sure you remove any stray screws that might be holding it in first, though.

#44 5 years ago

I just ordered all the parts to rebuild the flippers on my new Fathom. Expensive!

The pawls are $14, the linear plungers are $5, the EOS switches are $6+, and the cabinet switches are $8+!

I hope it'll all be worth it!

#45 5 years ago
Quoted from Freeplay40:

Don't wait too long on the back glass. Classic is sold out, so it's down to the distributors. I see Bay Area Amusements shows them in stock.

Score

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 9.38.37 PM.png
#46 5 years ago

Playfield is packed up and ready for Kruzman to do his magic.

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 9.37.48 PM.png

#47 5 years ago
Quoted from mot:

I just ordered all the parts to rebuild the flippers on my new Fathom. Expensive!
The pawls are $14, the linear plungers are $5, the EOS switches are $6+, and the cabinet switches are $8+!
I hope it'll all be worth it!

Definitely worth it. I usually put new coil sleeves in and springs too. Total rebuild and then they will work like new forever in a home environment.

#48 5 years ago
Quoted from Gatecrasher:

Definitely worth it. I usually put new coil sleeves in and springs too. Total rebuild and then they will work like new forever in a home environment.

Of course! I got new sleeves, bats, bushings, and coil stops on my first order. I was trying to cheat and not replace the rest, but I've seen a little sticking with the new setup though, so I decided to place another order to replace everything except the coil.

#49 5 years ago
Quoted from PinballMikeD:

Score

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 9.38.3... 1.3 MB

Man that BG is amazeballs! Great color and art package...love it!

#50 5 years ago

Awesome resto documentation! Fathom is on my fantasy list. I love the artwork. If I may be so nosey, what was the cost of the machine? How did you find it, word of mouth, internet search in the wee hours of the morning? I know you probably paid a small fortune for the PF and BG, but it will definitely be worth the cost when you are done. Great job!

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