(Topic ID: 195445)

Space Invaders :: a step by step restore (recommendations r welcome!)

By arqpuebla

2 years ago

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  • 24 posts
  • 10 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by mof
  • Topic is favorited by 11 Pinsiders


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#1 2 years ago

I want it to share with anyone interested, my second complete tear down and restore.
I like to do all involved, wood work, electronics, touch ups, clear, etc.
I will try to explain all the work done to it step by step, and I would love any comments or suggestions that can take place.

All of my tear down and restore progress pics are going to be in this album, https://www.flickr.com/gp/arqpuebla/E338Pd

#Space Invaders

::: When I Got it :::

I bought this SI cheap, was not looking for it, just came across and I couldn't let it pass.

It Came I think in really good shape, considering its 37 years old.
I love more 90s machines, but when I got this one, It inspired me a little respect for its age and condition, and anyway It would be a nice add on to my line up, next to my Bally Xenon.

::: Restoration approach :::
This pinball make me think a lot (a lot) , and search thoughts around pinside Forum, about how to approach the restoration regarding the concept of just "erase" all and re -done, or literally restore it. I mean, I think I don't want just sand all, prime and make new stencils, I'm decided to keep the originality as much as I could, and I don't mind if it not result a mint SI, and show just some scars.
I plan to blacks just paint them with HVLP gun and paint, and for the greys and red, airbrush color matching the cabinet touch ups. Then I think I will just wax all the cabinet.

What do you think??

Cabinet has some wear, but in good shape,
Cabinet Art, its dirty but it is there maybe in 90% considering it's scratches and wear around flippers buttons area and such.
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The PF has a full adhesive vynil protection, some operator decided to protect the PF when it was bought.
It do have some wear, but I'm not scare about touch ups, compared with my previous TAF work, that was full of planking and detail.
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#2 2 years ago


First thing I do, Is just do all concern to the game boot up correctly and has all it's test point in order, replace caps, solder missed wires, cold joints, etc.

In order to Know that the game was playing before, so when I put in the future all parts together again, I pretend to get the same working condition, so If not, I know that it was my fault that I did something wrong.

[PF TEAR DOWN & Vynil removal]

I started un populating the PF,
The procedure that I feel confortable with, is just take a picture, of the item to be removed, and then another picture with the item (screw, post, nut) removed and placed in my cutting pad, the grid help to in the future determine by it's scale wich item is witch if I have any doubt . Here's and example pic.
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My son helps me a lot
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Well all finish, now Its time to remove that sticky vinyl of all of the PF.
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To be sincere, I thought this is going to be a lottery, I mean, could result a mess, with all the artwork sticked to the adhesive vinyl.
First I tried under the apron, with some freeze can, and it came out, but with the clear!! leaving the bare wood exposed.

I asked for an opinion on the SI club thread, and pinsiders told me to let it be!!. But I couldn't I have to try it!

So I went with the heat method, with a hair drier, with no luck, heating and heating and was very very difficult to just pull the vinyl.
So, I used my heat gun! (never used it for removing mylar). and was very very very well.

The key was to just use low temperature, and move very quickly my hand while I just pull the vinyl as much parallel to pf as I can.

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But when I was getting some advance in my task, I realize that It would be much easier if I can pull a small part at the time, because all the vinyl width was to much for pulling in parallel to pf.
So with my Xacto knife , gently I marked the Pf to get about 5" width bands. And It resulted very well.

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Under that yellowed adhesive vinyl was a beautiful PF, with no balls swirls or trails. beautiful. As you can see in this after and before pics.
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All thanks god, went very well, just some minor lifts on some inserts, and around GI holes.
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Now to the next part, remove glue residue, check the shooter lane dirt and chips, etc.

#5 2 years ago

[Cleaning the PF]

Like jibmums mentioned, isop alcohol is not a good candidate for cleaning, scrubbing a 80s PF, although I don't have the experience on 80s pf, I had read vid1900 recommendations on his awesome PF restore threat, and in so many pinside users in other posts,.

So I tried with naphtha, just plain naphtha and magic eraser, with no good results, didn't took much residue.
Then I tried with Goo Gone, first I sprayed an area of about 1/8 of the entire PF, waited a few minutes, and then trowed some flour, and started scrubbing, with my finger, and was getting very good results.

My guide to know if some residue was not been removed, was the natural shine of the PF's original clear, I mean, with a source of light determine if an area was cloudy or shiny, and repeated the steps of goo gone and flour in that cloudy area.

here is a Pic of half PF cleaned
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After hours and hours of gently scrubbing, I ended up with a nice PF, with a nice natural shine of its original clear, no art was stripped in this task, and I could appreciate very clearly the mayor PF touch ups to be done in the future, product of the vinyl got damaged and didn't protect the PF, and such.

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Next step, would be remove art from partially damaged inserts, sand the PF with 400 grit in order to prepare it to the first layer of a lithly clear coat, in order to protect the existing artwork, sand again (to leave the 1st coat ready for 2nd coat's to adhere) , and start with the touch ups.

But first I decided to restore under PF and start with the back box.
The future top PF required tasks are clear to me, but I can't decide about cabinet artwork, how to approach it, I think, like I mentioned before, don't want to just sand all the cabinet and refurbish it, I would love to just restore the cabinet's artwork, and keep its originality and I don't care if it don't ended like new.

What do you all think?

#9 2 years ago
Quoted from Dr_Dude:

If possible, I always prefer to see a game's original artwork be preserved as much as possible: Clean it, repair damaged wood, touch up scuffs (particularly easy when the artwork is mostly black as on Space Invaders), and make everything function perfectly. Stripping off the old paint and redoing the artwork can result in a great looking "time capsule" game, but it is a LOT of work, and really seems more like some twisted kind of vanity than a loving restoration. Let the game keep a few of its battle-scars!

Thank you dr_dude for ur opinion, I think the same about it. I don't fell alone with my thoughts then . Will go that way.
Don't know if it's more work to refurbish vs restore it, I'm very concern, that any touch up to the cabinet, has not the get notice about it, My best option so far, is to do blacks, some reds, some greys, and then try to homogenize all the colors just waxing the cabinet, any high gloss of new paint will try to just little sand it with high grade grit. An all of the touch ups will use airbrush and frisket paper.

The key of succeeding, is to one never tell about where or what has a touch up.

#10 2 years ago
Quoted from xeneize:

This is the right approach. It doesn't need to look like "new".
Aguante, querido! Space Invaders siempre es un gran candidato para restaurar...siguiendo tu progreso. Sí, se puede!

hahahahah hola compadre!!! un gusto!

#11 2 years ago
Quoted from kursiv:

Iso alcohol is no longer recommended when you are clear coating in the end??

Isopropyl alcohol is not recommended for cleaning 80s pf, because is too abrasive, clear in that era of PF was too thin and/or with less resistance vs 90s pf's clear coats.

So, it easly eat the clear on 80s pfs. getting the artwork more propense to be damaged in the process of cleaning.

I do use a lot Isopropyl alcohol, for removing mylar glue or cleaning 90s pf, along with magic eraser.

About Isopropyl alcohol and future clear, is not an issue. Before clear coating, always you must clean the surface, in order to no get any organic residue before clear. Isp. is good in my experience for cleaning, using it lightly, but I do prefer more naphtha (lighter fluid), which evaporates very well, doesn't has water as isop. but is much less abrasive.

#16 2 years ago
Quoted from g94:

In my experience the thin layer of original clear contains dirt and is yellowing. For me that are two reasons to remove it. As the playfield will be clearcoated anyway there is no point in trying to keep the original clear. I use nitro thinner to remove it, applied on a cloth. Gently rubbing to remove the yellowed layer of varnish, it is more efficient than magic eraser and safer than sandpaper.

Will try that indeed, altought my PF doesn't has dirt, ball swirl or any kind of residue, coz was protected from day 1 with that old vinyl, but I do see that the original clear is yellowish. I can tell seeing this insert where some original clear was removed with the vinyl, and you can tell the yellowish color difference.
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Either way, I'm not pretty sure that you removed all of the clear, maybe you just degraded, removed just the clear top coat where the dirt and swirls was. I know thinner, I use it for cutting paint or primer and for cleaning purpose, It is very very abrasive.

But any way, will try in a small area, compare and will post results here!!.

#17 2 years ago
Quoted from g94:

Nice project so far. Following with great attention. I noticed you cut the mylar into strips. Great minds think alike , I did the same thing myself lately. Never saw anybody do that before. But it's good to share this because indeed it's much easier and safe to remove these strips, than dealing with the full size piece of mylar.

hahahah we must then drink a beer and some "strips" of pizza one day! That resulted very good!!! and the PF looks awesome!!
my vinyl was a mess, very very very thick, yellowish and dirty, and because all the heat I applied ended up very deformed.

In this pic, look how cloudy and deformed was.
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#18 2 years ago


I skipped the orders of things, I want it to do the bottom PF first. I want it to leave protected for the task to come, related with water sanding of the clear coat.
In my last restore, the bottom got with that cloudy white residue that passed trough the holes, due water sanding and was not that simple to clean it.
So, why not just give the PF's bottom a protection now, so it doesn't absorb the future water sanding residue?

For this task I bought some grey enamel paint, mixed the perfect color by eye, and applied with a roller.
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The result, altough was very simple to apply, was not good for my eye and quality standards.
The paint texture and shine, was keep telling me that is not like the original at all.

So, I was decided to sand it all, and do it like when Bally did it. I mean grey primer applied with HVLP gun.
The problem is that originally in production they first applied the grey primer and then the insert and all the holes were made.
This time will involve a mayor work masking all the holes.

First I filled the old GI return staples holes, I dint want them to be there.
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Then I sanded all the bottom and started to mask the holes. For that task I used a thick paper and cotton.
Cotton allowed to keep the paper pushing the holes walls.

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I painted with my HVLP gun and all resulted very well, nice texture, perfect color and shine (or lack of shine) 90% identical to the original paint.

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here a before pic. in order to compare
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Next step was, with my dremel, lightly sand all the holes walls, in order to remove all stuck dirt and any organic (silicone, wax, grease) residue from past years, in order to prevent that dirt to fly away in my clear coat process and reduce any possible chemical reaction in the clear.

And I forgot to mention that I scanned this quality check stamp, I plan to reproduce it in the future and put it exactly were it was.
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#20 2 years ago
Quoted from greatwichjohn:

For the bottom it's easier to use a mini foam roller for gray paint.

Tried that, using a roller with grey primer, no good, because the primer is more consistent that plain paint, it's more thick sort of speak, so it was like sticky, and started to dry faster than paint, and the result was not as smooth as using the HVLP gun.

So, I went masking all over.

1 week later
#21 2 years ago


I started stripping the backbox,
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for the ilummination panel I gently used some old pylers to remove the old staples.
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After sanding and repair some gauges with 2 part automotive epoxy filler. I sprayed with me HVLP gun
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For the wiring harness, I just layed it on the floor and cleaned with my power washer and some de greaser. The dry with air, and letting sit under the sun.
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Putting all back together.
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Finish the wiring on the panel
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As I started to assemble again, I polished each screw with my screw driver and this sponge. Got better results compared with prior works using a tumbler.
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Then with the box, I made some repairs, some screw in open corners, and glue.
Masked the original artwork on the sides, and masked the inside including the tech charts.
And Finnally I painted with satin finish and my HVLP gun.
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This pic is before painting and cleaning the side arts.
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here blacks finished, and side arts clean!
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For cleaning the art, I used just a sponge and first degraser and then window cleaner, wiping right away the water and It's residue with a fresh paper rag.

All looks good, I love to keep the original art, and those yellow, but original tech charts, It will be very easy to just replace them with new prints. But It's more difficult to have the originals , after 37 years that they were stapled. (respect)

Next I must do some touch ups on the grey and red, I already did some blacks, just with a small brush, but I don't like the finish, maybe I will try to sand them lightly with a high grade grit.

Already tried with some frisket and airbrushing the red eye that has an scratch, resulted good.

When all touch ups are finish, I will just give 3 layers of wax.

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