(Topic ID: 291047)

Shooting for the Stars - Classic Stern Restoration

By JLay

6 months ago


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  • 67 posts
  • 11 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 months ago by Flynnyfalcon
  • Topic is favorited by 8 Pinsiders

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  • Stars Stern Electronics, 1978

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There are 67 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
#1 6 months ago

Have started a restoration project on a Stern Stars that I've had for a few months. This will be my first full blown restoration and I'm shooting for the higher end since I appreciate that kind of thing. The machine came to me in pretty good shape, some very light wear on the PF and cabinet. The previous owner had spray painted the coin door and legs white which I'm not a fan of. Came with an Ultimate MPU and some upgraded electronics. Backglass is original and in near flawless shape.

Plans:
-CPR Playfield (picked up the last unit from them a few weeks ago)
-New plastics from CPR
-Full cabinet repair and respray / stencil
-Clean and tumble/polish of all parts
-Alltek LED board with retro comets (keeping old bulbs if I don't like the LEDs)
-Clean and tidy wiring harness, repin connectors
-Coin door restoration, strip and paint w/ hammered silver (legs to match)
-Apron strip, repaint and decal
-Chime rebuild - might explore building a new body out of better wood or other methods to improve sound... fun side project.

Decisions to make:
-Replace lamp sockets or try to clean old ones
-Reuse white plastics posts or different color - considering clear star posts?
-Replace or reuse cabinet rails and lock bar. Some slight damage there might splurge on some new brushed+clear from hotrod

Gonna be a long process but will be sharing here frequently and asking lots of questions... thanks in advance for all your help!

I'm fortunate to work as a prototype engineer and have access to lots of fun toys and tools that will help this project...

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#2 6 months ago

Some close ups of the PF. Really good shape with a few small wear areas and some swirls. I really didn't like how the white registration seem sot be off if which gives a weird sliver of white to all the inserts. It's also very noticeable in the right in/out lanes.

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#3 6 months ago

CPR playfield arrived and looks pretty good. Holes and dimples seem to be off just a bit, which is particularly noticeable in the center post in the drain. I'll make a template from my original PF to make sure that all those are in the right spot. Got Kruzmans install kit and will be tip-toeing through all things related to the new PF...

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#4 6 months ago

Some of the immediate questions that I have are...

-How do you paint metal parts that have some riveted on moving components? Mostly thinking the lock-down bar sliding mech and the coin mech brackets with the little latch. I feel like if I paint these as is these components will bind and gum up. I had similar worries about the coin door hinge but it seems that you can paint over the hinge and it will still operate.

-One of the slingshot mechs was broken and the other is heavily worn. I purchased this kit as it looks like I can mount it and should work similarly to the last one. The original stern kits seem difficult to find, has anyone used this one in the past?

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#5 6 months ago

Looks like a great project. I have restored several vintage games with playfield changeover etc and you have to change the lamp sockets. You will never be happy with them and you will always have intermittent operation otherwise.

#6 6 months ago

Looks like a great starting point. The playfield looks nice. I just restored a Quicksilver and regret not replacing the sockets. I tumbled them and then dremeled the contacts but I still have problems with them. Stars is one of my next restos and will definitely get new sockets.

Looking forward to watching your progress, awesome fun pin!!

#7 6 months ago
Quoted from rstrunks:

Looks like a great project. I have restored several vintage games with playfield changeover etc and you have to change the lamp sockets. You will never be happy with them and you will always have intermittent operation otherwise.

Thanks! That's what I was thinking... It's hard to tell though if the previous owner replaced most of them or not. They're pretty clean sans a bit of corrosion but all of the PF lamps have new looking solid ground wire routed and soldered... I'll probably just redo it all so that I can learn how to do it and know that they're all new. I like HEPs direction of adding little removeable ground washers, I'm not sure if he purchases those or made them himself. I have a laser at work and can cut my own if I need but I'll have to dig more into it...

Looking at the pics now I think I agree that I'll need to replace them... cheapest place is PBR?

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#8 6 months ago

Pinball resource is best. Figure out the sockets you need and quantities and Steve will hook you up. He has all of them in stock. I don't replace the ground braid. Get some paste Flux and that will make the soldering much easier. Take your time and you will see the fruits of your labor.

#9 6 months ago
Quoted from rstrunks:

Pinball resource is best. Figure out the sockets you need and quantities and Steve will hook you up. He has all of them in stock. I don't replace the ground braid. Get some paste Flux and that will make the soldering much easier. Take your time and you will see the fruits of your labor.

Why don't you replace the ground braid? This machine has solid exposed wire soldered to the sockets in place of braid. I was planning on using something similar but not trying to reuse what was on the machine...

#10 6 months ago

You can certainly replace it. I never have and I have found it easier to utilize the original one and it has already been routed around all of the obstacles under the playfield. I trace around it with a sharpie before I remove anything then I can always look back at my old.playfield if I need to see which way the ground wire goes etc...

#11 6 months ago

That's the power bus not the ground wire just FYI, and it's standard.
The ground braid is in the cabinet/head.

Good luck! I'll be doing a PF swap when I get some free time myself

#12 6 months ago
Quoted from JLay:

Decisions to make:
-Replace lamp sockets or try to clean old ones
-Reuse white plastics posts or different color - considering clear star posts?
-Replace or reuse cabinet rails and lock bar. Some slight damage there might splurge on some new brushed+clear from hotrod

These are just opinion, nothing more...

For sockets, I've done both, and both work great depending on starting point. If they are not in bad shape, I'll do the filing of the joint, and a bit of solder so they are solid. But if they are too gone, I'll just replace. I figure that I won't notice the cost after 6 months of play, and having lights that don't flicker is the only goal here. If I can get them solid with not too much effort, I'll do that, otherwise, I'll replace.

Use white. Again, just opinion. I love the stock look of fresh from the factory. And I will get closer to that if I use the color and type of post that came in the game originally. But if you like something different, by all means, do that. The greatest part about pinball is that if you are restoring your game, you get to do whatever you like. And don't ever let anyone tell you differently. Heck. if you like rainbow puke, do that too. It's your game, and the only one that needs to enjoy it is you.

Parts like tails and lockdown are a preference as well. I usually like the original, even when it has some wear on it. It's a connection to the history of the game for me. I love seeing the scratches and dents that were acquired over the years. It makes me feel the line of ownership of the game. But if you want to replace, go for it.

Obviously the overall important thing is to repair the game how you want it to be. I like original, but if you like different go for it. Either way, I find Stars to be a remarkable game. Mine is restored how I like it, which is original, and playing great. I suppose if I had a new playfield, I'd have done that as well. Enjoy the game when you're done.

#13 6 months ago
Quoted from DaveH:

These are just opinion, nothing more...

very much appreciate the perspective. I agree with you on the white posts, I thought maybe clear ones would light up the PF a bit more but I don't see why white won't reflect a similar amount of light. I'll probably swap the old yellowed ones out with nice bright new ones to match the fresh white on the PF.

I think that my personal goal with this build and the ones to follow is to maintain the original aesthetic as much as possible but make it better than new and maximize long term reliability. I will likely keep this game in my very small collection but do keep resale value in mind since I'll have to move it at some point to make room for more projects.

#14 6 months ago

Some before shots of the bottom of the PF... overall good shape but could use a nice cleaning. New lamp sockets have been ordered from PBR... or at least attempted order before I got their Easter break email. Will have to reorder next week but will probably forget...

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#15 6 months ago

Depopulating the top side. Realizing now that this might not be the most exciting restoration since this thing already looks pretty good, but I think it will be a great first pin to take on without feeling too daunting.

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#16 6 months ago

First stab at coin mech disassembly. Got them completely taken apart, cleaned, tumbled and reassembled. Not perfect but a big improvement.

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#17 6 months ago

Flipper brackets cleaned up, straightened and rebuilt with new coils.

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1 week later
#18 6 months ago

Had lots of time to work on some random things over the past week... Got the wiring harness taken down and thrown in the dish washer while the GF was at work (she came home early and found it though, luckily I just got a strong eye rolling).

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I also played around with using hydrogen peroxide and UV light to brighten the yellowed posts. I definitely see an improvement but only left the min for a few hours since I was afraid they may get brittle. Also a word of warning to anyone trying this I used 12% hydrogen peroxide which is quite strong stuff and needs lots of eye and skin protection when using. I got some on my finger and it burned for a while and turned white, it can cause significant damage if it gets in your eyes too... I will be trying this on my cabinet buttons and faded plastic coin slot insert since I can't seem to find new ones.

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#19 6 months ago

The back of my CPR playfield had a pretty rough uncoated finish so I sanded it down with 320 and hit it with a few lights coats of satin gray Krylon. Very light sanding with 500 after it dried for a few days to smooth it out. Very happy with how it turned out. Wend to Ace HW to find something to fill in the holes and inserts before painting and ended up with large size 'Backer Rod' which worked well. Not a perfect solution for the larger inserts but I made it work.

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#20 6 months ago

Got all of the top side parts that needed to be hammered or pressed in installed first. Picked up Kruzmans dremel kit which has been very helpful. All of this took place while Pinside was down so I didn't have any restoration guides to reference, just took my time and went slow. Made sure to have a bit of a gap between the metal posts and the clear and then started prepping all of the holes that get a plastic post by removing a larger area of clear around the hole (after double checking the location with the plastics, one dimple was off by a few mm's).

All wire guides were tumbled and then hit with the polishing wheel to shine them up

This is my first restoration attempt so please don't hesitate give any tips or jump in and correct me when I do something wrong!

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#21 6 months ago

Started on the chimes but still a little bit of work there. Waiting on new rubber bushings from PBR and plan on lightly staining the wood resonator.

Chimes were cleaned and wet sanded with 400, 600 and 1000 to get them nice and shiny. Coil bracket was cleaned in CLR, sanded and hit with flat gray rattle can enamel.

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#22 6 months ago

I'm working on getting my Stars going, although not as deeply as you're going. As far as the slingshot kickers go, my left one is broken, and Steve at PBR says those are not available anywhere. The kit you have may work, but you may have to mess with placement to get the correct geometry. I found a kicker in my "junk box" of parts, so I am hoping it will work. It's close, but not exact.

On my chimes, the plunger is just barely hitting the end of the chime bar. Is yours the same way? I could not tell from the pics. I am thinking about trying to relocate the bars just a bit so I get a full plunger hit on each bar, but then I worry about what I may end having to do to the chime box. So, for now, I am going to see what happens.

For your wiring harness - take a close look at the connectors for the MPU and LDB - If your original MPU battery leaked, its possible they were effected. The only good fix I'm aware of is re-pinning.

Good luck with your rebuild - I'm following.

#23 6 months ago
Quoted from Billc479:

I'm working on getting my Stars going, although not as deeply as you're going. As far as the slingshot kickers go, my left one is broken, and Steve at PBR says those are not available anywhere. The kit you have may work, but you may have to mess with placement to get the correct geometry. I found a kicker in my "junk box" of parts, so I am hoping it will work. It's close, but not exact.

I'm hoping to try to mount the new slings tonight or tomorrow and see what it looks like. Will post here and let you know, fingers crossed.

My chimes also hit near the edge, especially with the smaller one. I don't see any other way around it since they screws are already on the edge of the wood...

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#24 6 months ago

Always amazed by the magic of hydrogen peroxide and UV. Worked wonders with the cabinet buttons, looks like new. Left them in for about 5 hrs with 12%.

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#25 6 months ago

So it seems your CPR came with a dimple for the Kirk post? Mine didn't.

#26 6 months ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

So it seems your CPR came with a dimple for the Kirk post? Mine didn't.

I assume this is the center post? Mine seems to be dimpled OK relative to the flipper positions, but because it's in the center of that star it highlights any skew in the artwork which is kind of a bummer... I guess I'd prefer they not dimple it so that you can chose to add it or not, or locate it based on looks or ideal performance

#27 6 months ago
Quoted from JLay:

I assume this is the center post?

Sorry yes, 'Kirk post' = center post.

That's why I was asking, mine isn't dimpled at all. Either way I guess it's a leap of faith...without playing it it's impossible to tell where it would work the best as they are usually not dead center

#28 6 months ago

Continuing the populate the PF very cautiously. Rails had plenty of time to dry after their spray painting (gloss enamel). I mounted the top plastic corner panels to the rails to make sure they went on right, and then made sure they were all aligned to the edges of the PF. Marked new rail holes from the bottom through the pre-drilled PF holes and fixed with countersunk 1-1/4" wood screws.

Located the ball trough / kick out bits as best as I could (some dimples were off for the mech and the clearance holes for the rivet/screws were off). Biased the last piece of rail off the ball trough bracket (top side) and made sure it was parallel before securing to the PF w/ countersunk screws. Ball trough parts were cleaned, sanded and hit with satin gray enamel paint (will place some clear mylar strategically on some of the wear areas).

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#29 6 months ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

they are usually not dead center

Interesting I would have assumed it was dead center. I will be sure to make a template from my old PF to locate it based on the flipper holes...

#30 6 months ago

Quoted from TheLaw:
”...they are usually not dead center”

Well that’s counterintuitive

#31 6 months ago
Quoted from 29REO:

Well that’s counterintuitive

I know right!

Take a look at the OPs machine, looks to be leaning towards the right side.
His CPR versions looks to be over to the left

If it works it works...but you wont know till it's in there.

#32 6 months ago

Gonna get nerdy here... because this kirk post is gonna stress me out (more than it already does with the dimple not being centered on the artwork). Pulled out the HP 3760 scanner and scanned the original PF... Based on my expert analysis in illustrator (artwork scalled 1 : 1) it looks like the kirk post is about 0.072" to the right of the flipper hole centerline. I don't claim to know if this is intentional or for some manufacturing/tolerance reason. The kirk post does appear to be centered between the smaller wire guide holes which makes me wonder if maybe the drilling / routing operations were just off by this amount...

My gut is that it was intended to be centered but isn't because of various process tolerances...

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#33 6 months ago

Right...and now compare to the CPR dimple!

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#34 6 months ago

My dimple is pretty close to the location on my original PF relative to the flipper holes. I'll probably just use it as it is, or maybe just a tad bit to the right of the existing dimple to make it a bit more in the center of the star. The orange lines were copy+pasted at scale from the original PF drawing and then lined up with the flipper holes.

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#35 6 months ago

Got the new sockets in from PBR and started populating the back side. Waiting on the little solder tabs from Marco to run the bus wire HEP style.

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Hit the coin door, trim and bolts with hammered silver. Not completely happy with it but I’ll take it for my first attempt...

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#36 6 months ago

Just ordered a Stars playfield from CPR. Following this for inspiration

#37 6 months ago

I rejiggered the bus wire because the solder tabs (HEP style) made it look better that way, I assume as long as they’re connected to the same wire it doesn’t matter the order. Just needing a gut check...

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#38 6 months ago
Quoted from JLay:

I assume as long as they’re connected to the same wire it doesn’t matter the order.

It's perfectly good like that. Order of the braid connections make no difference so long as they're attached to the chain.
Nice work, keep it up!

#39 6 months ago

Got the bus wire down for the sockets. Used HEPs method with the #6 solder tabs from Marco (they came bent but I flattened them). Generous running with solder to each tab and them use a fat soldering tip to press the wire into the solder until it forms around it. Added flux to both the tabs and the wire where it would be soldered.

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Traced the old pattern on the PF before taking off and used that as a reference, will have to see if I missed something when the harness goes down...

#40 6 months ago

Getting the coin door back together - at least for now. Focusing on getting this game assembled again and in playing condition despite there being a little bit more to clean up. Do have plans for the cabinet and back box but have some family coming for a few weeks and we’re going into summer camping season so my weekends will be spent playing Fish Tales and catching trout...

Still lots to do on this though!
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#41 6 months ago

JLay - I got my machine put back together last night, and ended up with one piece that I can't figure out where it goes. It's very minor( I think), but...

It's a thin rod like a nail without a head, and has a sharp nail point - its thinner than the rods (nails) that go under the slingshot plastics and the rods (nails) in the corner of the apron. So, do you or any other readers out there know where it goes? Thanks

Good looking progress!

#42 6 months ago
Quoted from Billc479:

JLay - I got my machine put back together last night, and ended up with one piece that I can't figure out where it goes. It's very minor( I think), but...
It's a thin rod like a nail without a head, and has a sharp nail point - its thinner than the rods (nails) that go under the slingshot plastics and the rods (nails) in the corner of the apron. So, do you or any other readers out there know where it goes? Thanks
Good looking progress!

Hmm - can you post a pic here? I've had to sort through so much mixed up hardware that I've probably touched every nut and bolt 5 times... need to be better about my organization as things go in and out of the tumbler.

Did you disassemble any of the coin door mechs? Sometimes those can have tiny parts like that...

#43 6 months ago

JLay - Well, it appears I must have lost it while moving the playfield around. I thought I put it someplace safe, and now I can't find it. If it does reappear, I'll get the pic and ask. Thanks for your help.

#44 6 months ago

Continuing to put things back together to get the game playable again. Feeling good to see the pile of random parts and hardware start to dwindle...

I added a connector and cleaned up the wiring for the chimes, i find myself messing with these often to get them sounding right so it will be nice to easily pull out the unit when I need to.

Seems like the chimes are super sensitive to the screw tightness, any tips or tricks to get them sounding good and staying put? The screw holes in the wood seems pretty loose, might try to put a bit of wood glue in there and allowing it to dry and adding the screws again for some added bite...

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#45 6 months ago

Just installed the new beehive for the plunger and pretty disappointed in the amount of slop compared to the original. Does anyone have a fix for this or is it a common issue? The plunger wiggles a lot in there which makes the tip possible vary significantly...

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#46 6 months ago
Quoted from JLay:

disappointed in the amount of slop compared to the origina...

Yeah they're bad. If you look at the opening you can see it's an oval, not a circle.

#47 6 months ago
Quoted from TheLaw:

Yeah they're bad. If you look at the opening you can see it's an oval, not a circle.

Maybe I'll take it to work and drill out the inside enough to press in a brass bushing or something... seems like a pretty dumb thing to mess up given it's the one thing this part needs to do

#48 6 months ago

JLay
I found the needle in the haystack. It had rolled onto the floor, and I didn’t hear it drop. Regardless, I don’t know where the thin pointy one on the right goes. I’m hoping you took better notes than I did. Thanks

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#49 6 months ago

Just a nail. I always used those in the outline/apron

#50 6 months ago

Anyone know which stern sticker is true to stars?

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