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(Topic ID: 268389)

saving Blackout from mold and neglect


By zacaj

5 months ago



Topic Stats

  • 14 posts
  • 3 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 months ago by zacaj
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders

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#1 5 months ago

I picked up this blackout from isochronic_frost last year, originally documented in his thread: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/blackout-restore-or-part-out

A quick look when I picked it up showed a lot of mold around the playfield, so I took the playfield out and cleaned some of the worst bits off the sides and bottom with some bleach. The playfield had been partly cleaned, but it still had a thick layer of mystery stuff on it, so I left it next to my dehumidifier to be dealt with later. Last month, I took a quick look at it. I cleaned a test spot and was able to get it off, but was worried that, if the stuff on the playfield was mold, that it might come back, so I left it a while longer. Yesterday I finally got a chance to pull it out and look at it again. The test spot still seemed clean, so I figured it was hopefully safe to get to work on it. Here's a few pictures of the starting condition: pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

Tearing down the playfield revealed more moldpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

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With the top side torn down, I began removing stuff from the bottom as well to clean it betterpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

I removed everything sticking through the holes in the playfield, and all the lamp sockets, since there was a lot of mold in the insert holes, then went through all the holes with some vinegar and q-tips to clean them out. I think I got everything visible, at least. I'd like to take everything off the back of the playfield and give it a good wipe down, but that'd involve removing all the stapled GI braid, etc which is a pain. At some point I'll stick lights in all the GI sockets and hook up 6V to them, to see if the sockets are even usable. If I need to replace all the GI sockets then it'll probably be worth it to pull the GI wiring off and remove the whole wiring harness, but if they're usable I'll just attempt to clean around them as best I can. Will also need to test some of the insert sockets to see if they're savable or if I need to replace them too.

I flipped the playfield back over again and began cleaning it too. Staring with a vacuum to get all the loose bits of dust and mold off, then a pass with naptha, then four passes of novus 2, some hand buffing, got it looking alright:
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There's a lot of ball swirl, which I can live with, but also a few other issues.

1. Bad inserts. All the arrow inserts have shrunk and bent over time, so the ends are now rising above the playfield. Many of the circle inserts have shrunk too and sunken. Plus, there's still mold in the gaps between the inserts and the wood.pasted_image (resized).png
With these issues, I think it'll have issues playing well. I'm thinking the easiest route here is to get a playfield protector, but I'll still need to deal with the raised arrows. I think I've seen some people remove them and flatten them? Or I can buy new ones, since there doesn't seem to be much art on them.
2. Some of the ball guides seem to be nailed into the side rails, so I haven't removed them yet. I'm used to newer williams that used small phillips heads here, and couldn't find a good way to pry out the nails so far. Will need to figure that out, or maybe just take the side rails off completely. There's still a bit of mold and dirt in the corners that I couldn't reach, and I'd like to clean and polish all the guides
3. Wear at the top arch. pasted_image (resized).png
4. Lots of flecks of missing paint in the center and left side. This is all showing white, which I feared was more mold. I think some of it was, since some of the white spots disappeared after some cleaning, but much of it remained, so I think that's a white base coat showing through. It's not visible much from some angles, but from the playing angle it's really apparent. pasted_image (resized).png

At first I hoped this playfield might be a good candidate for restoration, since I've already torn everything off, and most of the needed touch ups would be small spots that I figured would be quite forgiving. I've never done any touchup/etc before but have always been interested in giving it a try if the proper game came along. Sadly, talking to a friend who does restorations professionally, it sounded like it'd actually be on the harder end due to all the uneven holes, etc that would need to be filled in before clearing. I may check into how much that would cost to have done for me, especially if the sockets turn out to all be bad necessitating a full bottom side teardown which would also be required for sending it off.

If that doesn't turn out to be necessary though, I'm thinking I'll try to fix the inserts, then clean the playfield further with some magic eraser, etc to get the ball swirls removed. Usually I don't go that far since it'll damage the top coat, but if I'm going to get a playfield protector at a minimum, I don't need to worry about that. Then maybe I'll try my hand at some simple color matching and touchups of those white specks. Will need to find out what kind of paint to order, but excited to get a bit deeper into this playfield than I usually do.

#2 5 months ago

Updates to this will probably be very sporiadic, as evidenced by the first one taking five months... Lots of research and work to be done when I have the spare time from other projects

If anyone has any tips on how to approach the playfield clean up of the ball swirl and these white specks, please chime in!

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1 week later
#3 5 months ago

Cleaned some of the heavier ball swirl up with magic eraser and alcohol. It's a bit hard to see in the picture but the tip half has a ton of heavy swirling which appears black to the eye, while the bottom half is almost completely clean. IMG_20200517_132038.jpg
This was my first time really working with the ME, but it worked impressively well, to the point where I had to wonder if I was misremembering how some of my test spots looked beforehand, but it also was a bit concerning. The initial cleaning with the ME and alcohol looked great, due to the playfield still having that wet sheen to it, but it'd quickly get hazy, and there's be a visible border around where I'd wiped, and wiping it with a rag afterward to clean the alcohol off didn't help at all, so I ended up hitting the area again with novus 2 afterwards, which cleaned it up nicely. Despite the good results, that weirdness concerns me, so I'm not doing it any more than necessary, just in the brightly colored areas with the heaviest swirl...

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I started removing the old warped arrow inserts and replacing them with new ones.

They still have the letter from the molding left on top, which I'm just going to leave for now, rather than dealing with sanding off the top and then needing to clear them again to remove the haze.

Instead, to level them, since they stand a bit above the playfield, I'm sanding off the bottom edges, and leaving a very slight lip on top (which is small enough that the protector will cover it fine) so that if I do need to sand the tops in the future I have some material to work with.

Should have ordered more spare inserts though, in case my sanding and leveling goes too far on any of them.

Not much mold visible around the edges of the insert holes, which is good to see.

I'm also having an issue with the white areas as seen in the last image they're incredibly yellowed. I thought the ME would clean that up, but it has no effect at all. Even the bare would sections of the playfield seem much darker than I'd expect, which is also much like the black jack I have which also had moisture damage and came from Florida. I'm guessing something with the environment down there has a reaction with the top cost or something? It's weird that under the posts is whiter, but under the apron is darkened. May have to repaint the white areas

#4 5 months ago

Finished replacing the arrow inserts. They seem to hold in fine so far just press fit. Dropped off the playfield at a friend's to get touched up. Hopefully will have it back in a week or two. In the mean time I'll have to repair the cabinet. Will probably need a new bottom and a deep cleaning. Seemed structurally okay last I checked it.

3 weeks later
#5 4 months ago

Got the cabinet out of storage today... The bottom isn't as bad as I remember, but the back, neck, and back of the head are also in less than perfect shape due to moisture damage. I'm not good enough with woodworking to fix all that, so I'm just going to leave it as is.

Brought the cab outside and tried to clean it out.pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

More of that white mold was scattered around; I cleaned everything I could find with some white vinegar, then left it for a few more hours to see if any came back. When cleaning the playfield, I found that sometimes there seemed to be more mold that would appear after I'd cleaned an area, and I'd have to do multiple passes to really get it all out. The cabinet didn't give me as many issues though.

I also tried to clean the wiring as much as I could without undoing the harness.pasted_image (resized).png
There didn't seem to be any mold on there, but just a lot of dirt. There's still some dirt in the depths of the harness, but at least the parts you have to touch are clean now

I took off the coin door and shooter rod for some derusting and polishing, and found more mold hiding inside their mounting holes. Also removed the flipper buttons since they were disgusting, and cleaned some mold out of those holes too.

Got the head mounted to take stock of what will be needed there.

Saw this interesting sight: pasted_image (resized).png
Looks like the light board was originally for another game, and then they plugged all the lamp holes and drilled new ones. Not sure if factory or aftermarket, seems like a lot of effort to go through.

Head is actually dirtier than the body, although I don't see any mold. Tempted to try pulling the entire harness out and dishwashing it or something like I've seen a few people mention before. Will need a good vacuuming, etc either way.

#6 4 months ago

Interested in an update.

#7 4 months ago

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Cleaning the head looked like tough work with all the cabling in, so I bit the bullet and pulled the entire wire harness, and threw it in the dishwasher. Did two cycles and got it pretty clean overall. I'd hoped the washer would get into the depths of the harness better, but I can still see dirt in there if I pry the wires apart. Not too bad though. Pulling the wiring harness wasn't very hard either, only two wires (for the GI) were soldered.

I added some fuses for the bridge rectifiers, then turned the game on with just the power supply installed. When I bought the game, the power supply was the only board included, so I had no idea of the condition. Luckily, it turned out to be fully working, even the 5V was above 5.0V, which I've never seen before on a project williams solid state...

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I installed the rest of the boards, which I'd purchased used and then gone through replacing sockets, interconnect, etc, and threw the switchpasted_image (resized).png

Success! Boards boot, I was able to exit audit mode, coin up via the door, and the knocker fired correctly too. The sound board had a weird issue where the speech was much quieter than the sound effects, regardless of how I adjusted the fader. Turned out to be a bad amp chip on the speech board. My P4 display was missing the bottom segment, and P3 was blank (probably outgassed), so I'll need to track down two more displays for it.

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#8 4 months ago

Why did your machine have so much mold?

#9 4 months ago
Quoted from Silverstreak02:

Why did your machine have so much mold?

I bought it like this... I think it was originally in storage somewhere that wasn't suitable for a pin due to the moisture damage. I had another pin once with similar damage I pulled out of a leaky barn near a lake.

1 week later
#10 3 months ago

Got the playfield back from touch up, pretty much all the wear marks are gone. pasted_image (resized).png
Installed the playfield protector. It seems to attract dust like crazy, while the last one I had didn't. Hopefully I can eventually just get it all clean.

Cleaned all the plastics. They were pretty disgusting, but cleaned up alright. Slightly yellowed, but no more than many other games from this era are.pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png
Spent my free Friday reassembling the playfield. All new pop bumper parts and a complete flipper rebuild.pasted_image (resized).png

I tried some wired wedge base sockets instead of the usual flaky bayonet ones for the pop bumpers, but I'm not a fan... No matter what I do I can't get them centered. Also I didn't have any non-ghosting wedge base LEDs around, another thing I hadn't considered. Right now I'm using some random 4smd bare bulbs which spot light way too much. Hopefully with some good frosted bulbs the off-center sockets won't matter so much.

The pop bumper caps cleaned up nicely with some light novus 2. Was glad no paint came off since these are impossible to find.

I used a combination of warm and cold LEDs in the backglass, and removed a few where there's wear, to make it present pretty well despite all the missing paint. Cool leds for the playfield, but I'm second guessing that. The playfield and plastics have a lot more bright colors than I was expecting, so I might swap over to warm, at least in some places.

Had to replace about 5 sockets, and two diodes, to get all the lamps working. Will need to order a few more leds for specific inserts that don't look good with incandescents.

Game is fully working at this point, but I'm not satisfied with how it's playing. The flippers and pops both seem fairly weak compared to some williams SS games I've played. This seems to be a common issue on williams from I've found. Some play really strong, and some always seem a bit weak no matter what I do. Will have to try repinning some more connectors, etc, or maybe switch the flippers to extension springs and see if that helps...

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2 weeks later
#11 3 months ago

What is the status of your mold issue? Has it come back? Was your solution just straight vinegar?

#12 3 months ago

Repinned every connector dealing with the flippers, including all the inline ones. So many connectors. That got some of the strength back, though it's still lacking.

Replacing the capacitors on the pop bumper switches made them much better.

Also repinned the power supply and put in new fuse holders.

Still not where I'd like but getting there

Quoted from Silverstreak02:

What is the status of your mold issue? Has it come back? Was your solution just straight vinegar?

Nothing so far. I'll post if I see any return.

#13 3 months ago
Quoted from zacaj:

No matter what I do I can't get them centered.

There are two methods for this.

1) Make a loop with each wire and zip tie them to the lamp base. There should be photos in the pop bumper rebuild thread.

2) Use a centering ring:

https://www.pinballlife.com/pop-bumper-lamp-centering-ring.html

#14 3 months ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

There are two methods for this.
1) Make a loop with each wire and zip tie them to the lamp base. There should be photos in the pop bumper rebuild thread.
2) Use a centering ring:
https://www.pinballlife.com/pop-bumper-lamp-centering-ring.html

Ah, cool. I'll add some of those to my next PBL order!

Definitely going to stick to bayonet style sockets in the future though

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