Restoring a 1963 Gottlieb Swing Along - Need Advice

(Topic ID: 235229)

Restoring a 1963 Gottlieb Swing Along - Need Advice

By justinnap

14 days ago

Topic Stats

  • 10 posts
  • 6 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 days ago by justinnap
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    #1 14 days ago


    I'm restoring my wife's childhood Swing-Along pinball. It's not a very collectable machine so I'm doing it mainly for sentimental reasons (Plus, it was released 1 month before I was born, so we have something in common, we're both antiques!).

    I plan to refinish the cabinet and restore it back to the original color scheme / design.

    Question 1: Would you spray the inside of the cabinet? Why or why not?
    Empty Cabinet (resized).jpeg

    Question 2: The metal side rails are nailed on. I'd really like to remove them prior to painting and would consider getting them re-plated. Any tips on how to get the nails out without damaging the rails?
    Side Rails (resized).jpeg

    I'm sure I'll have a lot more questions as I go forward.

    Thanks in advance!

    #2 14 days ago

    Search for sanding side rails for how to clean them up.

    1 week later
    #3 5 days ago

    Thanks “dr_nybble”; the post you pointed me too was very helpful!

    The side rails on our Gottlieb Swing-Along wrap around a piece of plywood making it impossible to slide a putty knife underneath to loosen the nails.
    0AE07ED2-19B8-44BA-B0EE-034651E3487B (resized).jpeg

    One solution mentioned on pinside is to drill out the nails... I opted for another method that worked very well for me. I used the putty knife to loosen the nails at each end of the side rail and then created a long wedge which I tapped down the side of the rail. Once the nail was driven out a bit, I would remove the wedge, extract the nail and repeat for the next nail further in.
    81175EFD-1E81-4D0A-9775-6813AE4FCBD4 (resized).jpeg

    The wedge was made from a thin plywood strip I had lying around. I mitered the end and wrapped the wedge in UHMW tape (mostly because I also had that lying around). I’m not sure the slick tape was really necessary, but it did make it easy to insert and remove the wedge.
    373356FA-651D-4AA3-A3C1-60A13C3D095E (resized).jpeg

    It doesn’t seem like there are many games with the wrap-around side rails, but posted to the other thread to document another option. Perhaps there is a circumstance when using the putty knife against the cabinet artwork is undesireable... the wedge method could be used to keep all the prying at the ends of the rail and underneath.

    #4 5 days ago

    Does anyone have an opinion about painting the inside of the cabinet? Most of the inside cabinet is unpainted with just some overspray around the top. I could leave it natural and maybe spray a clear finish of some kind on the inside... or paint it the same white base coat. The only concern I have about painting it white is the metal filings the EM seems to generate standing out against the white... granted, this is not an important decision in the restoration process... but I am interested to see what other people think.FD18DB28-CA9F-4E55-9F58-41C9BC16B976 (resized).jpeg

    #5 5 days ago

    Paint it all. I like them that way because it looks (and smells) clean that way.

    #6 5 days ago

    Whether clear or white, I would paint it. Every bit of wood that is coated leaves less to absorb moisture or otherwise deteriorate as it ages. However, I would leave the outside as is if original. I'm of the every scratch and nick tells the story of it's life, (ok, maybe that's a little dramatic) but unless the cabinet paint is trashed, like to do a good clean, light touch up, and wax.

    #7 5 days ago

    Painting the inside of the cabinet is pretty optional, if you ask me. If you paint the whole thing, you'll get the added protection that DCRand mentions, however, in a home environment, I don't think that's really going to be much of an issue. Not painting it keeps the original look, but again that's not really much of an issue, unless you plan on ogling the inside of your game often.

    If it were me, I'd just do what's easier.

    Quoted from DCRand:

    However, I would leave the outside as is if original.

    Problem is, the outside of his game isn't the original paint scheme or stenciling. In order to return it to original, the OPs going to have to redo it all.

    #8 5 days ago

    I’m doing a cabinet restore now as well. I wound up “splitting the difference”. That is, I wanted to keep the factory look, but yet freshen up the interior a bit.

    Removed all hardware and labels. Sanded the sides to get rid of the spills and gunk. Sprayed cab paint about halfway down each side (extended about 2 inches below the factory edge).

    Result turned out pretty good - smells nice, cleaned up the sides and retained factory ‘look’.

    #9 5 days ago

    Oops, sorry didn’t realize outside wasn’t original. Have fun painting, look forward to seeing the end result.

    #10 4 days ago

    Thanks for all the input! I think I’ll sand the inside and then decide what to do based on how well I can clean it up.
    Yes, at some point in the game’s life, someone did a hasty repair. Very rough bondo, latex base coat and sprayed stripes (with overspray on a lot of the metal parts.) I hope to return it to the original design.

    Follow-on question:
    What is the best type of paint to use; enamel, latex (probably not), acrylic, other? As a woodworking hobbiest, I’ve avoided learning how to spray finish (beyond a spray can of lacquer). I’ll probably use this project to justify investing in an HVLP sprayer and learning a little about paint.

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