I've always liked these threads, so here goes.
I purchased TFTC a few months back in really good shape. No issues, everything worked great. The most annoying aspect was the scoop shot... The game had typical wear covered by a Cliffy. An otherwise perfect shot would be rejected followed by a metallic 'thunk.' I thought, "Hmm, I wonder if I can fix that." This thought was coincided by the release of new CPR plastics. That sealed the deal.... I would breathe new life into my game.
I decided to strip, repair, and clearcoat my game with no prior experience whatsoever. But shit, if I'm going to do that, why not go the extra mile? If I'm already stripping the game and doing new plastics, I guess I'll send the trim out for powdercoat. And if I do that, why not the ramps? And since I'm down there, maybe some new FF speakers to eliminate that nasty hum. And boy, that coin door sure could use an upgrade. And so on...
Taking the advice of some previous threads, I started with tons of pictures. After that, I stripped the playfield into small Ziploc bags while taking copious photos. I labeled each bag for its position on the playfield. At the same time, I pulled the trim and sent it off to Matt at Back Alley. I wrestled with color choice (thoughts of lime green, gray, red, etc), but I ultimately settled for a simple black gloss. Nothing too flashy, but subtle enough to maintain its personality. I pulled the connections from the boards after labeling the wires and I was set.
With the game totally stripped, I prepped the playfield:
- Sanded the surface with 600 grit
- Repaired the scoop with JB Weld... for this, I scuffed up the wear so the weld would 'bite into' the playfield. After it dried, I sanded flat and touched up with acrylics. Paint matching wasn't hard, just a very dark blue with black trim. I color matched the wood as closely as possible.
- For the clearcoat, I decided to use SprayMax 2K (purchased from eBay for around $20 a can). I bought two cans, but ultimately needed more to correct some unevenness.
I followed the guide on pinrepair.com/clear to the letter. Lots of safety equipment -- don't skimp on the mask, goggles, gloves, or body suit. I don't have a rotisserie, so I used plastic sawhorses to keep the game level. One light coat and two heavy coats with sanding afterward. I was unhappy with some minor imperfections, so I re-sprayed too thickly and wound up with big imperfections. Lots of sanding later with two more coats and I was happy. I polished with my buddy's Treasure Cove kit and an orbital polisher.
Meanwhile, pinballlife and marco became my new best friends. I ordered a new coin door and decided to repair the VUK, rebuild the flippers, install new drop targets, replace all of the decals, and otherwise clean and tumble all of the metal. The inner walls of the game were pretty beat up, so I bought mirror blades from pinballsidemirrors.com on their Black Friday special. Any of you with DE games knows the playfield is pretty tight, so I sanded the playfield edges to better allow for the thickness of the mirrors. I also tweaked some LEDs to taste -- mostly cool whites and greens.
My powdercoat arrived from Matt about the same time I finished the clearcoat. As always, he does fantastic work and he is highly recommended. Communication and shipping were top notch. I installed my new trim and proceeded to rebuild the top side after re-installing the playfield in the cabinet. All of my pictures were invaluable... I walked a fine line between keeping everything original or adjusting to taste. For instance, I left some spotlights out (notably the two lights at the drop targets) because I felt they looked out of place. Also, with the brightness of the LEDs, they weren't really needed. I also replaced the factory spotlights with pinballlife spotlights (black wires instead of yellow wires). In my mind, the motif for this game was black & green without a lot of wire or clutter.
So after finishing the top side (huge victory), I reconnected the boards and double checked everything. There were literally hundreds of things that could have gone wrong. I rebuilt the flippers and VUK along with new speakers, wires, new plastics, coils, new solder all over the place, you name it. And of course, I had my little baggie of extra washers and screws that was left over.
Anyone who has ever done this knows what it feels like to turn on the game for the first time after everything is done. Needless to say, I was nervous. I fully expected the game to smoke, catch fire, or do nothing at all. I turned it on and everything lit up. I hit the start button and everything worked perfectly! And yes, I know you're supposed to wait AT LEAST 30 days before you play a ball, but I just couldn't help it. I'll let the game rest now knowing it works... BTW, the FF system on this game sounds phenomenal.
Ultimately, I learned tons about the process. This project was in my mind while I was out of the country for 6 months, so it feels good to see it to fruition. It was a blast and I want to thank several pinside members for their support while I was gone (you know who you are), but especially jsalce for letting me borrow all kinds of shit and answering my panicked texts. From start to finish, it took me just over a month.
Enough yapping... here are the pictures. I'm still waiting to install new apron decals and the mirror blades (don't want to scratch them with constantly lifting the playfield), but it's basically a finished product. More to follow. Enjoy: