(Topic ID: 225862)

The reanimation of Gen. Yagov - An F-14 Tomcat restoration

By cletus

1 year ago

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  • 250 posts
  • 31 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 80 days ago by Clnilsen
  • Topic is favorited by 33 Pinsiders


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There are 250 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 5.
#1 1 year ago

I've been following heni1977's F-14 Tomcat restoration thread and it seems that we are pretty much neck and neck with our restorations. I've made some different choices throughout my restoration so I thought I'd share my progress so far and do my best to update my restoration here on Pinside over what might be the next decade at the rate I am progressing.

F-14 is my second machine in what I hope will someday be a massive collection. I'm enjoying the thrill of bringing a near-dead mechanical work of art back to life.

Here's a link to Heni's inspirational thread if you're interested: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/f-14-resto

#2 1 year ago
Quoted from cletus:

I've made some different choices throughout my restoration so I thought I'd share my progress so far

Lets see some pics!!

#3 1 year ago

Holy Crap! It's been almost two years since I picked her up all broken and sad.

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#4 1 year ago

This machine was originally an export only machine and spent a bunch of time in what I imagine was a dirty FIAT repair garage. Every moving part was covered in sticky oil. All of the coils were nearly seized-up with black lube. I removed and cleaned every moving part and checked for any disastrous wiring issues.
I started by rebuilding my power supply, the snubber boards, and the flasher resistor boards.

Check out that sweet piggyback capacitor hack that somebody thought was a good idea!
Those old resistors on the snubber boards were all fried.

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#5 1 year ago

A friend of mine repairs medical equipment and was able to restore and recreate a few of the beat-up stainless parts.

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#6 1 year ago

New flipper assemblies all around from http://www.thepinballwizard.net/

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#7 1 year ago

A little confession here... I actually put my name on a list in March of 2016 to get a new playfield from Peter @buthamburg at https://perfectplayfields.com/ before I bought this wreck of a machine in September of that year. Once I saw progress from him on his topic: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/demand-check-f14-tom-cat , I got lucky to find a poor condition machine local to me. That new playfield was pretty sweet when it arrived in December of 2016, but I still drove it over to @kruzman 's house about a year later for a perfect clearcoat treatment.

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#8 1 year ago

Kruzman worked his magic over the course of a few months and I met him out at http://www.pinballatthezoo.com/ to pick it up in person and play a day of pinball. I didn't have him ship my playfield, but I still purchased one of his awesome playfield crates for possible future restoration needs.
Much Shiny!!!

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#9 1 year ago

Alright, my timeline is a little off now, but after getting all of the mechanical stuff working, I focused on the lights and flashers. I went with a full LED upgrade from www.cometpinball.com and it looked and played amazingly.

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#10 1 year ago

I spent a lot of time that year trying to get the sound working consistently. I tore it down for my cabinet restoration before I got it working so maybe when this thing is powered back on grumpy will be willing to step me through some sound debug.

Here are some pictures of my "fell out of a moving truck a couple of times" cabinet as I tore it down.

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#11 1 year ago

Cabinet prep begins. I used a lot of wood filler, epoxy, and sandpaper to get that cabinet clean and squared up again. I'm not sure why I didn't take any pictures of the process though. Weird.

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#12 1 year ago

It's pretty cool how that original artwork stained right through.

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#13 1 year ago

Cabinet primed and sanded and primed and sanded and primed and...

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#14 1 year ago

Here's a little sampling of the sweet stencils that I picked up from pinballpimp at http://pinballpimpstencils.com/?page_id=4063

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#15 1 year ago

I painted everything black and prepped for the first color. The stencil went on rather easily.. and then white!

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#16 1 year ago

Peeling those big sticky vinyl stickers off is nerve-wracking. So many little pieces of vinyl to remove.

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#17 1 year ago

I lightly sanded the white paint after it dried to knock down the edges a little. The red layer of paint was next!
Beautiful!!! This is going very well.

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#18 1 year ago
Quoted from cletus:

This is going very well.

Looking good!

#19 1 year ago

Yellow was next. It was getting late and I was anxious to see all of the colors on the cabinet so I didn’t sand the red.
Big mistake. The light sanding roughs up the paint and keeps the vinyl mask from sticking as much. As you can see, some of my red paint came off with the yellow mask. SON OF A MOTHER!!!

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#20 1 year ago

I spent the rest of the next day doing touch-ups. It didn't come out as perfect as I had wished, but it's not terrible.

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#21 1 year ago

Same process on the other four sides. Now I'm a semi-pro stencil guy.

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#22 1 year ago

Wow, inspiring

#23 1 year ago

Oh good a new playfield. I see some "restores" where the playfield still looks like crap. Paint missing and bubbled Mylar is not my idea of a restore.

#24 1 year ago
Quoted from Travish:

Oh good a new playfield.

Yep. I'm trying to spare no expense on this restore while also trying to do everything myself. Everything I'm doing is a first time effort. I've done my homework here on Pinside.
I'm pretty close to having my cabinet put back together and then I'll start with the playfield swap. I'll try to take more detailed pictures of the process from now on. I swear I took more pictures of the cabinet restore, but I only get to do hobby stuff between all the other work and family needs. I get into a zone and I'm done with everything before I remember to snap any shots.

#25 1 year ago

Here's the paint I used for the cabinet. It worked out pretty well, but I ended up needing twice as many cans of paint as I thought I would. I estimate that I used 8 cans of filler+primer, 8-10 cans of black, 4 cans of white, 2 cans of red and 1 can of yellow. I also went through about 10 cans of clear for a top coat.

It takes about a can and a half of paint to get one solid coat on the main cabinet.

I sanded with 600 grit paper and an orbital sander with a vacuum attachment between coats of primer, black and clear.

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#26 1 year ago

I see some of your IDC connectors a little toasty. One thing to really improve reliability that is inexpensive but takes a good day is replace all those IDC connectors with molex. They were meant to speed up manufacturing not improving reliability. After chasing ghosts issues in the past I replace ever single one.

I know what you mean. It's hard for me to get started but when I do I can't stop. Your working on a playfield or doing connectors and look up at the clock and it's 3am.

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#27 1 year ago

Thanks, travish!!!. During the winter months when I couldn't paint in the garage and my machine was completely torn down I bought a set of IDC connectors from www.pinballlife.comn and replaced almost all of them. You'll see a big difference in a few posts from now. I also replaced nearly every single socket on my MPU. Some previous owner socketed every chip on the MPU and did it poorly. Hopefully, at powerup, those sound issues I was having before teardown will be remedied.

#28 1 year ago

The cabinet has moved back into the basement dungeon workshop. It now stands on a brand new set of era-proper chrome legs from Pinball Life.

System 11 Legs - https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=1939
Levelers - https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=921
Bolts - https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=1792
Brackets - https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=144
Cabinet Protectors - https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=2711
Castors - amazon.com link »

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#29 1 year ago

I decided to bling-up the armor. I started with a 320 grit sandpaper on my orbital sander to cut the grain out of the stainless steel rails and then moved to 600-grit and 2000 grit. I finished up with a felt wheel and then a buffing wheel on a die grinder using green rouge to get this spectacular shine. Hours of polishing were worth it.

Orbital sander - amazon.com link »
Sand Paper - amazon.com link »
Angle Grinder - amazon.com link »
Felt Discs - amazon.com link »
Buffing wheel - amazon.com link »
Green Rouge - amazon.com link »

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#30 1 year ago

I put a round of new ground braid throughout the cabinet and cleaned up all of the internal parts as much as possible. More polishing on the service box. LOL, why not?

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#31 1 year ago

Here are the stapler and staples I used to attach the ground braid. They are a perfect match for the original and what I'll also use when I get to the playfield swap.

Stapler - amazon.com link »
Staples - amazon.com link »
1/4" ground braid - https://www.pinrestore.com/Supplies.html

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#32 1 year ago

Why not also polish up the back plate for the back box. Before and After.

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#33 1 year ago

I put the back box wiring harnesses in the dishwasher, as learned somewhere here on Pinside. I can tell the white wires from the yellow wires now! Haha!

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#34 1 year ago

A little reassembly in the backbox. It is definitely not easy wrangling all of those harnesses back into place.

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#35 1 year ago

A NOS translite and some new domes really make the new paint pop.

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#36 1 year ago

Heads Up!

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#37 1 year ago

I really like these lockbar decals that titan_pinball sells.

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#38 1 year ago

Getting close to done on the cabinet. I still need to refinish the backbox lightboard. Maybe, this week.

This post brings us up to where I am today.

I still need to purchase a new set of speakers. The original cones are all smashed and torn.

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#39 1 year ago

Wow - this is a great thread. Thank you for documenting this!

#40 1 year ago
Quoted from pintechev:

Wow - this is a great thread.


When I'm all done I think I'm going to have a "Name That Leftover Screw" challenge!

#41 1 year ago
Quoted from cletus:

When I'm all done I think I'm going to have a "Name That Leftover Screw" challenge!

Only one leftover screw??? That's fantastic, I usually have dozens.....lol

Looking fantastic, played an F14 the other night for the first time, not a bad game at all!!

#42 1 year ago

I just found this picture. The first thing I cleaned and repaired when I got the machine was the display. The plastic front was loose and the displays were all smoked over. You can see the difference between the clean and smoked side of the displays. I cleaned and Novus polished the plastic front. I washed the speaker grills and used 3M - Super 77 spray adhesive to put it all back together. I painted the H-rails a semi-gloss black and it looked as good as new. The display board came on and off so many times during my initial debug phase. I'm glad I repaired it first.

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Edit: I also reflowed/resoldered all of the broken and loose solder joints on the display board.

#43 1 year ago
Quoted from AUKraut:

Only one leftover screw??? That's fantastic, I usually have dozens.....lol
Looking fantastic, played an F14 the other night for the first time, not a bad game at all!!

Haha. Oh, there'll be more I'm sure. I've got a handful of the same screw and I have no idea what they're for. So far it doesn't seem to matter.

Funny thing. I picked both of my games after having played a ton of different games on Pinball Arcade on the PlayStation. Apparently, I'm a big Steve Ritchie fan. Speed and brutal play are what really draws me into a game. I also like when a machine directly taunts me while I play.

I had no idea about this fantastic place (Pinside) or that I would ever own a real pinball machine before I fell in love with the arcade version of #black-knight-2000. I bought that one in really good condition so I thought it would be fun to pull a machine out of the dumpster and transform it into a show stopper.

#F-14-Tomcat was it. My F-14 ball times average about 35 seconds on a good day and I love/hate it.

#44 1 year ago

This is a beautiful restoration. Love the cabinet work.

1 week later
#45 1 year ago

Some good info on your experience with the cab stencils. I am by no means a cab pro at all, I only have a couple games experience. enough to know there are great stencils and crap. I went to the link for your stencils and they look pretty darn good, and it seems like once you learned from one side, it all worked well.
There is nothing better that a "real" restoration. Not to take away from folks who do great work fixing up games. If you are a control freak, or perfectionist (its the same thing) the only way to do it is like this.

When I was doing the pf for this game. He made it very clear that he wanted the best I could do. I didnt really realize at the time the amount of effort he was going to invest. Its a reminder for me to stay on my game.

When it is done I will give you 1600 for it.

#46 1 year ago
Quoted from kruzman:

When it is done I will give you 1600 for it.

Thanks, Ron. I really do wish I wasn’t so underwater this one. I’ll probably never get to sell it for a profit, but that was never the plan.

I’ll be starting on the playfield next. I’ll make sure to post plenty of pictures. Hopefully, I’ll have it done by the time Pinball at the Zoo rolls around and I can bring it out for the weekend to break in in.

#47 1 year ago

I ordered some mirror blades to finish off the cabinet, and I thought it might be a good idea to CAD up a mirrored panel for the back of the playfield to finish off the look. I put the order in with a laser cutting place in town. I should have them in a few weeks. I ordered eight extra panels to sell. I’ll put a link here when I get them. I’m thinking $25 a piece plus shipping.

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#48 1 year ago

The light board is all cleaned up and reinstalled. I sanded front and back and sealed the back with some polyurethane.

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#49 1 year ago

I found this coin lodged in the inside back corner of the cabinet when I was tearing down last year. This F-14 looks to have spent some time on route in Yugoslavia.

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#50 1 year ago

I was just thinking about that coin and how this Tomcat probably spent a couple of years in a Communist Yugoslavia where Gen. Yagov was probably seen as the good guy. Weird and cool.

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