(Topic ID: 217453)

YCV - Bally Mata Hari - "Eye of the Day"

By Arcane

1 year ago

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#1 1 year ago


Here is another Bally Mata Hari restoration thread. We all know it is a popular machine which was produced in great quantities and thus, it is not surprising that another restoration thread would be added to this forum.

Mata Hari was designed in late 1977 by Bally and its team of skilled designers (Jim Patla) and artists (Dave Christensen). Mata Hari is a very interesting case as it sits right on the edge of Mechanical versus Solid State eras. A couple of hundred machines were produced with the mechanical system and more than 16,000 with the Solid State system. Even though Bally introduced their CPU, rectifier, displays and light boards, they kept the pleasant and nostalgic Chime unit with its four channels. Other manufacturers such as Recel (Spain) kept the mechanical guts of the machine while introducing new Electronic Sound boards. Maybe Bally had not had time to perfect their Sound board yet and instead, decided to keep the melodious sound of the xylophone in their early Solid State machines.

The theme for this machine was inspired by the famous, rebellious and unconventional woman Margaretha Geertruida Zelle born in 1876 (maybe Bally was commemorating her 100th birthday) in Netherlands. After a short marriage and life in Indonesia and the SouthEast (the name Mata Hari means Eye of the Day in Indonesian), she came back to Europe where she fully explored her true personality and sexuality. She became an exotic dancer enthralling the French males audience with her lascivious moves imported from the Southeast, a courtesan reveling in the art of sexual pleasure and finally a spy for the German and later on French governments. Her late handler, captain Georges Ladoux head of the French Secret Police, probably jealous of her sexual excess with other men, decided to compromise her and had her sentenced to death by a military tribunal. On the day of her execution, she turned to face the firing squad, waved away her blindfold and blew the soldiers a kiss. Her motto during her entire life was: "I have always lived for love and pleasure."

Below used to be a beautiful and historical picture of Mata-Hari that the local forum censorship removed. Very sad indeed.

My first encounter with the Mata Hari pinball was in a fancy Bistrot on the Place Du Languedoc in the city of Toulouse in France. It was 1979 and I was barely 18 years of age. That machine with its beautiful colors and suggestive backglass was a magnet for all young men. I remember enjoying the tricky playfield with its nasty rebounds, reminiscent of French Billiard. The Bistrot in Toulouse still exists nowadays, but there have been no pinball machines in it, for decades. Forty years later, a visit to the Pinball Museum in Delray Beach, FL convinced me that I had to have such machine added to my small collection. A simple advertisement on rec.games.pinball produced the day after, what I was looking for (more or less). Timing is everything as we all know so well.


#2 1 year ago

Mata-Hari was found in a remote place, south of Lexington, SC. I realize, like most of the collectors, that gems cannot be found in affluent and large cities. You have to go to the country side or to remote places to still find some interesting machines.

In this case, the deal comprised a full cabinet, backglass in very good condition, all displays, boards and a potentially booting CPU, plus two fully populated playfields and one stripped playfield that I could almost qualify as NOS, in regard to its grand age. The cabinet has suffered a little bit and will likely need a full repaint to look pristine.

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This playfield is quite worn out and old, judging by the condition of the plastics. I will most likely, use it as my reference to rebuild the NOS playfield.

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This one will likely be my donor playfield. The plastics are in very good condition, although dirty. Nothing that Novus 2 can't change....

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This is what I call the almost NOS playfield. It had a couple of paint chips that I fixed with acrylic paints and artistic ink markers. I am reluctant to clear coat such piece and will likely keep it well waxed with fresh balls. I am not a clear-coat-at-all-cost kind of guy and when you find something so nice, it is an heresy to try to change it and risk a disaster if anything goes bad. Besides, for a home usage there is no way that I will manage to wear out this playfield.


#3 1 year ago

After taking apart the main cabinet and the lightbox, I decided to redo the little board holding the Tilt mechanism and the two chimes. I got the inspiration of painting it red, from Matt (see https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/i-thought-she-was-a-dirty-girl-before-i-stripped-her-down).

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I also painted in dark grey (same shade for the legs), the chime holders. The Chime were completely rebuilt with the little kit provided by The Pinball Resource. It includes all 8 grommets and sleeves as well as the little brass tubes keeping the grommets relaxed. All parts were tumbled and polished to the best of my abilities.

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I also decided to connector-ize the four coils for some eventual Chime maintenance in the future. As always, I re-organize the electric wires and tried to make them look tidy.

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This is the sixth pinball that I am restoring (4 Bally's, 1 Gottlieb and one Recel) but it may be the most intense restoration that I have ever tried, so far. It will take time as we all know.


#6 1 year ago

I am now working on the lightbox panel. The panel is repainted with white primer (flat white) as I like the more diffused light it provides behind the backglass. Each socket is filled up with a bunch of old bulbs which purpose is to help repaint lightbox panels. Then each socket is carefully cleaned with an abrasive stick and a blow of compressed air, a new #47 bulb inserted and verified. Really nothing fancy....just business as usual. Oh, some felt strips are added on the vertical plane only, to allow some air circulation and heat escape.
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Then we verify that the Transformer board works after changing the Trifurcon pins on #1 and 2 and #10 and 11 on the main J3 connector:
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Always pleasant to verify that one's work is not wasted. Now that the General Illumination lightbox panel works, we can verify each individual switched light.

I am now working on cleaning up and painting the inside of the lightbox.


#7 1 year ago

Matt was kind enough to send me the PDF files of the Mata Hari cards. I printed these on Manila paper sheet to give it an older look:
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The original ones are so old and cooked that they break at the touch.


#8 1 year ago

Some progress on the lightbox/Backbox. I have started putting back together some hardware, after painting the inside and the front of the backbox.

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The new printed cards from Matt are coming very handy and make a big difference with the old parchment from 40 years ago.
I also started painting one side and the top. These surfaces have to be painted horizontal because of the glossy nature of the paint.

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So far the paint is not reacting too bad. It takes some use to get a nice, even and shiny coat. I suppose it is time to order some stencils from Pimball Pimp.


#9 1 year ago

I am also working on the rework of the original Bally Boards.

The Solenoid Driver board was reworked and the ground and +5 volts circuits improved. All large pins have been re-flowed, which consists into sucking all the old solder with a vacuum pump and replacing it with fresh solder. Capacitors are being replaced as well. Although it is a Mata Hari machine from 1978, the board is the -22 newer version (most likely replaced down the road).

The Lights Driver board seems to be in excellent condition, even though it is an early version with the buffer chips, between Decoders and thyristors.

The power supply board has been reworked by the previous owner and I will likely replace it down the road, once the machine works. I like reliability in all electrical things I do and a healthy power supply is paramount on these machines.

The CPU is supposedly booting ....but that remains to be seen. Most likely an Altek unit will finds it way into this machine.

I am also replacing power cord, Power Line filter and a few other electrical components.

My goal in this restoration is to finish the cabinet and lightbox and get it painted and working. The painting and stenciling is really the big challenge in this restoration. I am a thousand times more at ease with electrical rework and design, than painting.

Once this is done, I will start rebuilding the playfield. I do have two spare playfields that can be plugged easily to verify that everything works correctly, so I am not in a rush to start the final playfield (based on the almost NOS playfield).


#10 1 year ago

The other side of the lightbox is painted as well as the back.

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Now, I need the stencils to finish it and re-install all the electronics inside.

I started working on the main cabinet. After removing both rails, the nasty task of sanding that old lead based paint has started. I do that outside with a professional mask and goggles. The front of the cabinet as is often the case, suffered from mistreatment and mishandling. I am strengthening it with a piece of pine and epoxy resin. Once dry and sanded, this repair will be a lot stronger than the original cabinet.

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#11 1 year ago

Starting the dirty work of cleaning the inside of the cabinet and painting it.....

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...and After....

It will take a few days....


#14 1 year ago

While waiting for the paint to dry and for the stencils to arrive, I am reworking the electronic boards.

The Solenoid Driver board needs some new capacitors as the original (40 years of age) or even if they have been replaced, are long toasted and dry. I am using a good quality capacitor for the +5VDC with much beefier wires than the original Bally wiring. The holes on the PCB are slightly enlarged to accommodate the bigger gauge of the cable. For the high voltage, I could have used a single capacitor but prefer to use a parallel configuration to get more capacity and more reliability. It may not be as pretty than a single cap, but it is lighter and a lot more reliable. If one cap dies, the other one will take over the job.
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On the back, I have done the modifications suggested by Marvin for the ground and for the +5VDC:
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For those who are not familiar, it consists to link TP1 to TP3 using a short length of wire (+5VDC) and for the ground, to link the two tracks as shown in the middle of the board. It goes without saying, but all the large pins have been re-flowed.

For the displays, it is imperative to reflow all the main pins on the connector. Here the old solder is sucked away and replaced with fresh solder. In addition seven 100K resistors must be replaced with 1/2 Watt metal oxide resistors. The original 1/4 Watt resistors are normally burnt and their carbon composition becomes pure powder. Just touching them is usually enough to break them as they have become brittle with the time and heat. Bally used the worst and cheapest kind of resistors you could find at that time. They are easy to recognize when replacing them: they are cylindrical in shape and black. The 1/2 Watt resistors are bigger and do not fit next to each other on the board. I simply place the middle one, slightly higher.
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If the glass display is not damaged, this will give the displays a long and reliable life.


#15 1 year ago

A few more details:

1) The Line filter. New one, beefier, hopefully a lot more efficient. I re-attached the varistor which seemed in good condition.
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2) Painting the inside of the cabinet.....not my cup of tea. Some felt to help the playfield, when it sits upright.
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#16 1 year ago

Painting of the inside of the cabinet is pretty much done: Marigold Yellow for the sides and primer + white coats for the bottom.
I like the white inside a machine as it brings light during maintenance and allows you to see and find little parts that may fall.

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Original label for that machine with the corresponding Cabinet number:
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I also have the original documentation that consists of the two books found in Bally pinball machines. They are dated from June 1977....


#17 1 year ago

Today, I redid the power supply.

The Bally AS-2518-18 are notorious for being extremely poorly designed and failing on a regular base. The original PCB is not very well traced and numerous modifications must be made to bring it to modern standards (See Marvin's recommendations). Instead of wasting my time trying to improve and make reliable an old piece of electronics, I decided to go with the $35 kit from NVRAM.WEEBLY for a complete replacement of the Power supply including fuses and shipping. It is truly hard to beat such a deal and I am very happy with the product and the final result.

Here is the kit as provided by NVRAM.WEEBLY:
AS-2518-18-kit (resized).jpg

It takes a little bit of assembly to put it together. The fuse holders are re-enforced for the 20 Amps and 10 Amps fuses.

Here you can compare the original Power Supply and its replacement. The replacement uses 35 Amps rectifiers instead of the 20 Amps used by Bally in the late seventies. There is only one drawback with the replacement power supply: the clear plastic insulator cannot be mounted on top of the fuses, because of the up mounted heatsinks. It is not such a loss as the two resistors are generating a lot of heat and are better off with as much cooling as possible.
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The replacement circuit is very well designed with large tracks and makes for a much cleaner and more reliable assembly:
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Below is the finished assembly:
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The replacement PCB is mounted with four sturdy columns, instead of the awful and fragile plastic pins used by Bally. There is plenty of space to prevent a bending of the wires and for air flow, underneath:
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After powering up the transformer and installing the fuses, all the voltage values are matching the schematics. Overall, I am very happy and feel a lot better about this central and essential piece of equipment.


#19 1 year ago

Final picture for the weekend:
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I installed the leg anchors/holders and painted the neck with a black satin.

Matt, you do not have to be jealous of anything: your machine is a little marvel of perfection


#20 1 year ago

Well, the stencils have arrived. Very fresh stencils, perhaps a little bit too fresh....They stick so much, it is scaring.

Anyway, there is my first ever attempt at Using Pinball Pimp stencils:
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I am quite happy with the results but the stencils took some tiny specks of paint with it. Mostly on the edge. I wonder if placing the stencils in the fridge may reduce their stickiness a little bit.... I am mostly concerned for the final stencil (Black).

Overall, the quality and ease of these stencils is incredible. The junction between red and yellow is perfect and there is no leaking. I went with very soft sprays/coats trying to be patient (5 minutes) between them .... and ended up with about three passes. Five minutes later, I am pulling on the stencil.

Quite happy so far, but that is a lot of work and masking..... Rolling the colors may be so much more convenient.

Matt, it is your turn now with the main cabinet...... Be brave!


#22 1 year ago

Not much done today....no time really.

I just worked on the ground line, using braid wire as normally used by Bally. The rear legs, originally, are not connected to the ground and thus I added that extra connection. The middle line goes to the Lightbox and is terminated by a round lug for easy and clean connection. The upper line is soldered to the main cabinet line.
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All small details of importance.


#23 1 year ago

A little progress on the Lightbox:
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I am really impressed by the quality and precision of Pinball Pimp stencils. No wonder Jeff is the reference when it comes to repainting these classic Pinball machines.


#25 1 year ago

Time for a little update. The other side of the lightbox has been painted. It did not work as well as the left side. One of the stencil piece reap off and I had to install it by hand, carefully. Then my black coat was slightly too heavy, causing some issues when removing the stencils. Fortunately, I found a trick to fix my mistakes using a small cotton swab, impregnated with Naphta. By working very lightly, it lifted the black paint, leaving the yellow or red untouched. Relief!!!
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After this, it is time to re-assemble the power supply and the various boards. Fresh 10-32 screws for anchoring the heavy transformer to its mount.
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I like this....
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For the time being, I am only installing the Rectifier and Solenoid Driver board and the Light board. Before going further, I want to verify all the voltages and grounds.
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It is coming along. One of the displays has been installed and the high voltage adjusted to 165 VDC. I can see a faint light on the left side of the display. There is hope.
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#27 1 year ago

Some updates: working mostly on the electronics and displays.

I received a new Alltek CPU and installed it. The beast is alive, sings a tune and scores accordingly when the playfield is connected.
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Only shadow to this picture, the new Alltek board will not go into Self Test mode and I cannot access the Bookkeeping or test any of the lights and coils. What a bummer. I am in negotiations with the owner of Alltek to get an RMA and an exchange. I have purchased 3 Alltek MPUs in the past (10 years ago) and they have always worked perfectly. The new version (NVRAM based) although more sophisticated may not be as reliable as the old one.

I have tried removing J2 and J3 connectors on the MPU and pressing the SELF-TEST button....to no availability. I swapped it with another of my machines and the behavior is the same.

We will see how this goes.


#29 1 year ago

Just finished the front of the cabinet:
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Still doing one pane at a time. My recommendation, keep the black coat very light......


#30 1 year ago

I started working on the coin door. Al parts were bathed in Evaporust for a few days..... This is what it takes to get something relatively clean after many beers and years of filth.
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Also, moving along with the sides of the cabinet. Still doing only one panel at a time:
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There is a big difference in the way the red color "cuts" sharply and cleanly when you remove the stencils, versus the way the black behaves. I am going to try a very light coat for the black, next time. You may notice that I hid the corner located near the left flipper button, so as not to paint it in red. This way, front and side will line up, color wise.

This is all for today.


#31 1 year ago

Finally, the coin door is finished, mechanically verified and fully working. I just have to electrically test all the switches on the door.
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I used pretty much all the parts that I disassembled, which is always a good sign when you deal with this complex mechanism. It helps to have the original Bally parts catalog as the assembly of the door is very well explained and depicted on the manual.

The Play button is fully insulated on the push button side and also on the frame side. A short to the ground of that switch can cause hours and hours of headaches before finding the failure. I use thermo-shrinking tube to insulate all parts.

I use my pinballs like in an arcade: you have to insert 25 cents to get a play. I find it slightly more challenging and it reminds me of the good old times of being a teenager .... short on coins....


#32 1 year ago

Just finished the left side of the cabinet. I am very happy with the results overall and did not have to do any touch-ups.
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I used a very light coat, still too heavy in some places. That black paint covers very well and does not need much.
The features of Mata-Hari are well rendered and I am amazed by the quality and perfect registration of the stencils:
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That cabinet has some scars and I decided to not hide them with Bondo or wood putty. I admit a certain romanticism in preserving some of the genuine aspects of these machines.

As soon as the paint is tacky on the stencils, I start removing them. Your fingers end up in a mess, but it seems to work with this brand of paint.

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One more side to do and I will be done with this critical part of the restoration.


#34 1 year ago

Finally, the painting of the cabinet is behind me....phew.... Kudos to Jeff for his fantastic stencils. Mata-Hari with Xenon, is one of the most intricate stencil design and I am very happy that this delicate phase is over.
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As you can see, I have aligned the red border on the side with the border on the front. Even though most of it will be covered by the rail, I like it better this way.

A funny picture: what it takes to repaint the cabinet of a Mata Hari machine (inside and outside):
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I started mounting the leg protectors from Pinball Life: I use them on all my machines. Why spend so much time restoring the cabinet, when the legs will damage all your work, as soon as you tighten them?
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Now is the phase I enjoy the most: putting it all back together with clean, freshly painted and polished parts. Also, I always try to improve the electrical side of these machines, which were designed, let's say it frankly, to not last more than a few years. Engineered obsolescence.... at its best.

First a clean electric main wiring with a nice three wires high-amps 15 ft cord, attached to a new and stronger line filter:
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A pleasure re-installing a cleaned chime and tilt unit. Again, trying to keep the wiring as clean as possible. My guests like to shake these machines, so it has to be reliable.
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All my Bally machine have the channels painted like the legs. I know it is not original, but that part is usually so corroded that it is unrecoverable, without sending it to plating.
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A Tribute to Pinball Pimp...He certainly deserves it:
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That's it for today. Hope you enjoyed.

#35 1 year ago

I installed the knocker in the main cabinet. Bally was out of its mind when they placed the knocker near the CPU board.... All this to save a few feet of wires and one connector. It does not make any sense to have this coil spitting coil dust over the boards and shacking the backglass and all the electronics near by.... Very poor design that was quickly modified in the following years and models.
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That will provide a nice and loud whack that can be heard by the whole attendance.


#37 1 year ago

Continuing with the electrical grounding of the machine. Look what I just discovered hidden in its yellow sheath:
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...and which one do you trust more for your guests and kids?

The devil is in the details.....
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#38 1 year ago

More details on the electrical circuit:
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Installation of the coin door frame is almost completed:
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I like a clean and well organized machine. Some people drool over a super polished playfield. For me, it is the electrical aspects of the machine which is the most important.
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I know that this is a departure from the original design, but I like it better this way:
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#40 1 year ago


Yes, I made them with a crimping plier and some lugs that I got from Digi-Key. You can probably find the same thing at Auto stores. Just make sure that the hole is big enough for the bolts (#8). The trick is to stretch the braided mesh until it becomes like a multi-stranded wire and then insert it into the lug. Very easy and very quick to do.

Yes, I know your feeling about these horrible Bally ground connections. You may think they are in good condition until you pull them out of their sheath and discover what is really going on in there. Plus the increased resistance of these 40 plus years connections offers a significant risk, in case something goes bad.

I want my machines to be as reliable and safe as possible. In addition, it looks so much better than the original Bally pieces of metal and you can rewire the ground in a more correct way. Bally, in their original design, created a lot of ground loops throughout their machines. As you may know, a ground loop will induce some parasitic noise and may cause strange behaviors that will take forever to diagnose. The way I have it, is to distribute the grounds in a tree like fashion, with a trunk line connected to the Line Filter and multiple branches never touching themselves.


#43 1 year ago

Usually, lugs are color coded. Red is the smallest and too small for the braid. Blue worked for me. You may try a size above it but then, the hole may be #10 or larger.

I am not changing any of the metal in the backbox. In the early Bally machine, that shield was of good quality. It is only starting with Eight Ball Deluxe that they replaced the metal sheets with metallized cardboard....and it was a disaster.


#44 1 year ago

Not much has happened recently, besides a few cosmetic details:

New shooter rod from Marco Pinball, with new bushing, springs, washers....etc:
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The rails were a sore point on my machine. First they were heavily damaged and compressed from the top and I also scratched them and created some sinking when removing the twisted nails. Matt was kind enough to give me a lead and I ordered a new pair from Marco. Interestingly enough, the holes do not exactly match and the replacement rails do not have the hole on the top rear part. A drill with a tiny bit took care of the hole misalignment. The whole enchilada looks so much better with pristine rails:
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Of course, the new rails are mounted with small Phillips screws.

There is so much work on the restoration of the cabinet, that it is better to do it all the way.


#47 1 year ago

Finally, Mata Hari is on her legs:
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and with her head:
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All lit up:
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The knocker has been wired and the feeders are mingled with the harness:
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A few more intimate details.....
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The Girl is almost ready. I just have to replace the coin lock-out coil before putting back the coin door.
Then, electrical debug phase, hunting down one gremlin at a time.....

So far, all lights on the lightbox are working, even the switched ones. All coils in the cabinet are working. The new knocker is brutal and very audible. It will trumpet your triumph... Only thing not working: the Test Button on the coin door. The connection, connector to connector is good when you press the button. I wonder....A4-J3-1...? Fortunately, the AllTek board has its own Test button. But that is a bummer and is impractical when the backglass is installed.

And of course, the playfield has to be rebuilt. But that will be another episode of our saga.


#48 1 year ago

There is always a need for extra help, checking things, making sure that everything works perfectly. Here Louie (my daughter's dog) is verifying the proper tuning of the Chime unit, during the boot up sequence:
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The wagging tail tells me that all is fine and that we can proceed with the final installation of the coin door, after having replaced the coin lock coil, procured from PBR.
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At this point, verification that all cabinet coils are working one more time is performed. Inserting one coin gives one play, two coins, three plays. Machine off, coins are rejected. All lights are working fine on the lightbox, with the exception of that stupid and mysterious Test Button on the coin door. Arghh....

The cabinet is finished and besides that Test Button gremlin, there is not much I can do at this stage. It is now time to direct my attention to the playfield.

The Top Saucer is in poor shape and needs a complete rework. The wood is eaten, chewed and in very pitiful condition. I am using BONDO (two parts first, then the red Putty) to fill up the damages and make it more presentable.
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Fine sanding is done and the saucer is painted with Acrylic black Gesso. Gesso is basically the primer used by artists on their canvas before painting anything.
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The final result is quite nice, very smooth and provides that black hole sinking feeling Mata-Hari would have given you, when killing you after a night or unbridled Love making.
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#49 1 year ago

Trying to rework that Solenoid Driver Rectifier Board. I thought I had the reason why the Test Button does not work, but no.
Before, tracks are partially corroded:
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After installing some wires for a better ground:
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That stupid test function still does not work. It is most likely something I will pursue on the Tech forum.


#50 1 year ago

We are finally coming to a conclusion for the restoration of that Mata Hari cabinet.

The electrical gremlin (Test Button) has been fixed: it was just a defective pin on A4-J3-1, which looked like it was okay, but had lost all conductive properties after 40 years of lack of service. Replacing the pin (funny, it was the only one that I had not replaced because of its aspect) fixed the issue. Morale of the story: do not trust an old pin...!

The coin box has been installed, after careful sanding and painting:
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The coin box contains, inside, a layer of grey foam to dampen the noise of coins falling down and mostly to absorb the humidity which is responsible so often for the internal corrosion of these coin boxes.
DSC03177 (resized).JPG

The cables on the lightbox have been dressed and are supported on the edge. I do not like to have heavy harnesses hanging from the connectors:
DSC03172 (resized).JPG
The extra connectors are for the Knocker, which has been relocated to the main cabinet.

We come to an end for that part of the restoration and our next installments will be the playfield and the backglass. In the meantime, the cabinet is sealed and will rest for a little while.
DSC03178 (resized).JPG

Thank you for following.

#52 1 year ago

Just a final touch to the Solenoid Driver board: the acrylic shield protecting from the high voltage.

I just built two of them from a Bally original I had, using a piece of Lexan bought at the local Lowe's. The original part is in the middle:
DSC03179 (resized).JPG

Finally installed:
DSC03180 (resized).JPG

#53 1 year ago

I am attacking the playfield. After removing all the parts underneath and looking carefully at the planking, there is no escape to Clear-coating! I know that the previous owner was keeping this playfield, attached to a metal wall, directly in contact with the outside. The variations of extreme temperatures in South Carolina probably caused the planking visible all along the middle section of the playfield (top to bottom). Interestingly, the other two playfields I have, although destroyed from an artwork perspective, are very smooth and totally flat. Anyway, since this is the best of the three playfields, it must be salvaged and preserved by a clear-coating.

I have been working on the touch-ups and removal of the mylar films: a total of seven of them. This is the result of many hours of delicate paintings and touch-ups. It is not perfect and I am hoping that once it is clear-coated, it will be more than acceptable. The Naptha test is already promising:

DSC03184 (resized).JPG
DSC03185 (resized).JPG
DSC03186 (resized).JPG
DSC03187 (resized).JPG

I am going to try to repaint the back of the board, too.

The major problem is finding someone who is willing to clear-coat for me. My Car guy (who is a true artist on automobiles) is really not eager to touch wood....and playfield. I will try to convince him; otherwise I may have to do it myself using the rattle cans. I am really not looking forward to do that as I have no paint booth.


#55 1 year ago

Just finished brushing the rear of the playfield:
DSC03188 (resized).JPG
A lot cleaner than what it used to be.


#56 1 year ago

For those willing to touch-up their Mata Hari playfield, here are some Acrylic colors that are matching almost perfectly an old playfield:
DSC03189 (resized).JPG

I could not find the yellow and thus it will have to be mixed or found with another brand.


#58 1 year ago

I started working on the components of the playfield. The flipper mechanisms and their coils.
Wiring is entirely redone. I cannot stand the flimsy wires provided by Bally and butchered for the most part, by very poor maintenance.
DSC03190 (resized).JPG

All 48 VDC wires are insulated with thermo-shrinking tubes. I do't know about you, but I hate while changing a bulb with Power on, being touched on the back of my hand or on the wrist by the 48 VDC. It always comes as an unpleasant surprise and I'd rather avoid it.
DSC03191 (resized).JPG
Ready to be assembled back. Each Flipper coil/Switch is connectorized using these double connectors very popular in Europe. They pass 15 Amps on each pole and will provide a very easy and quick disconnect of the flipper mechanism without pulling out the soldering iron.


#62 1 year ago

Working on the flipper mechanisms. Always a delicate operation to make it as smooth as possible, especially on the old Bally mechanisms.
DSC03192 (resized).JPG
The link arms and sleeves have been replaced. The plunger has been cleaned, tumbled and de-burred from the past impacts against the coil stop. A heat shrinking tube is used to insulate the contacts from the arm.
DSC03193 (resized).JPG
And to finalize the assembly, new sleeves have been printed and glued around the coils. It is an old system, certainly not as good as the more linear mechanism used on Bally pinballs from the 80's on. The trick with the old system is to use washers of different thicknesses, until a perfect and smooth travelling of the plunger is obtained (in reverse position, of course).


#63 1 year ago

Clean-up and re-assembly of the top saucer ejector:
DSC03195 (resized).JPG
I painted the top grey to match the legs. I just cannot stand this half rusted metal.


#64 1 year ago

First attempt at clear coating the playfield myself. Long story short, I could not find anybody willing to do the laborious job of clear-coating the Mata Hari playfield, in the Triangle area (NC).

My car guy was kind of reluctant, never having worked on a piece of horizontal wood with printed colors on it. He can do marvels on cars, blend metallic paints, feather clearcoat, adjust the color of old paint, but that specific work was apparently too difficult for him.

I have thus decided to go with the Spray Max 2K route after reading some success stories on the forum. I ordered four cans of that dangerous chemicals and purchased all the protections required to stay in good health, after spraying that toxic product based on Cyanide.

After reading and re-reading VID's guide to the perfect playfield, I decided to try my luck at it. The preparation is essential as we all know:

- Naphta wiping.
- Light 800 sanding insisting on the inserts.
- Again Naphta wiping.
- No more touching the playfield.
- Naphta again.... Did I mention this before?
- Cloth tack....
- Playfield horizontal, outside by 80 degrees. Can of 2K resting at the same temperature.
- Fully dressed.
- New respirator and new cartridge.
- Long breath.....
- Very light coat...feathered first.
- A few more lightcoats....still very light.
- Wait a few minutes for the heat to dissipate.
- Another slightly heavier coat.
- Another one.
- Can is finished.

Here is the result. Of course a lot remains to be done: filling the inserts by hand, sanding and preparing the second pass that will be a lot heavier. I also want to seal and bury in clearcoat the planking present in the middle of the playfield.

DSC03196 (resized).JPG
DSC03197 (resized).JPG
DSC03198 (resized).JPG
DSC03199 (resized).JPG

The goal of this first pass is to seal all my touch-ups and the artwork. I am not interested by a lot of luster and shine. That will come later.

In the meantime, my Car Guy has contacted me and said he would help me.
What I will likely do, is finish the preparation myself and bring it to him after the second pass for the final build-up and glass finish. He has all the equipment to do the best possible job and all the buffers to turn this playfield into a piece of glass.


#66 1 year ago

After a couple of hours of drying, the clearcoat is now a lot shinier and glossier:

DSC03200 (resized).JPG
DSC03201 (resized).JPG
DSC03202 (resized).JPG

The orange peel, dusting effect is mostly gone, leaving only the planking ripples visible. I am very happy so far.


#68 1 year ago

I just finished sanding the playfield and the inserts with 800 sand paper, in preparation for the second pass of clear coat:
DSC03203 (resized).JPG
The planking is almost gone, at least to the touch and I am hoping that the second pass will level everything.

I have ordered a quart of clear coat (liquid form) and will use that to fill up the inserts. I hate to spray Spray Max 2K in a glass container and I needed some eyedroppers anyway. Hopefully, I can conserve the liquid clearcoat in a cool place for future restorations.

In the meantime, the removal of the harness and all mechanical parts is taking place on one of my donor playfields.
DSC03204 (resized).JPG


#69 1 year ago

Not much done today. I just took apart one of the target mechanism, cleaned it and re-assembled it with fresh targets, "tombstone" style since Mata Hari was designed before Paragon which was the first Bally machine to use the new target "Hooded" style:
DSC03205 (resized).JPG
The tearing apart of the donor playfield continues, unabated:
DSC03206 (resized).JPG


#70 1 year ago

Some little progress. I just received some liquid clearcoat (as opposed to spray can) to fill up the inserts and work on the little defects of the playfield (there are always some).

I filed up each insert making sure to not create any bubbles:
DSC03207 (resized).JPG
DSC03208 (resized).JPG

After 3 hours, I started sanding and realized that the clearcoat had shrunk as expected. When sanding flat, I am not touching the inserts and they remain glossy whereas all around, the clear is being sanded:
DSC03209 (resized).JPG

Obviously, it will be another round of hand sanding the inserts to create some tooths and filling up with liquid clearcoat again. I can tell that the playfield is very flat already and I suspect that after the second pass of insert filling, it will be ready for the final coat and buffing. It is important to remember that the 2PAC always shrinks and that enough time must be given for it to settle elegantly, before the final coat.

On the electrical side, I finished removing the harness from the donor playfield and it is in the dish washer for a great shower.


#72 1 year ago

Second pass of clearcoat on the inserts is complete. Overall, the surface is much better after sanding the excess of clearcoat above the inserts.
I think it is getting very close for an additional and thicker coat, over the whole playfield. There are parts of the playfield which are getting very thin and I am afraid to sand any further and damage the artwork. Sanding was carefully done with 400 and the inserts finished with 800.

DSC03210 (resized).JPG
DSC03211 (resized).JPG

With your fingers, it is hard to perceive the junction between the inserts and the playfield.


#73 1 year ago

I just sprayed the third coat all over the playfield. A rather thick coat.... The second can of Spray Max 2K went almost entirely into it.
DSC03212 (resized).JPG
DSC03213 (resized).JPG
DSC03214 (resized).JPG

I am quite happy with the result so far. I will let it dry a day or two and assess from there. It may need some sanding and a final coat or it may simply need a light sanding and the final buffing.


#74 1 year ago

A funny picture: the ideal outfit to spray clear coat on Bally playfields

DSC03215 (resized).JPG


#76 1 year ago

The clear has dried and can be touched with the fingers. There are still some small defects that I believe I can fix with the eye dropper and some block sanding.

First, the traditional light test picture:
DSC03216 (resized).JPG
It looks very nice and the clear dried with a nice and smooth tension on the surface. Block sanding will take care of some small protuberances that are still visible.

Take a look at these two pictures:
DSC03217 (resized).JPG
This one show a slight protuberance above the insert, due to insufficient sanding from me, as I was afraid of hitting the art work.

The next one shows a sudden sinkhole, where the clear decided to just flow in:
DSC03218 (resized).JPG
I will try to fix that with my eye dropper and some block sanding.

Overall, I believe that at this stage this playfield can be block sanded, buffed with an orbital machine and left to dry for a few weeks before re-assembly.


#79 1 year ago

Well, for a full face respirator, I would need an air supply. I do not have that equipment.
Besides, I do all my spraying outside. With 80 degrees F, the clear dries very quickly.
Honestly, with fresh 3M cartridges, I do not smell the fruity and pungent odor of the vaporized clear.
Yes, goggles are a must as this stuff will be attracted to all moist parts of your body.
Thank you for your concerns and recommendations.


#82 1 year ago

To fill up the low spots and inserts, I just purchased a quart of 2 parts automotive clear coat. I hate to waste 2K spray for that purpose.
The clear coat quart can be bought for less than $40 and a quart will last you at least 50 or more playfields.
You also need to get the eye droppers and these are $14 for 100 pieces.


#83 1 year ago

Not much done on Mata Hari today, as I am busy working on Playboy in parallel ( see https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/ycv-bally-playboy-au-naturel).

I sanded the entire playfield with 800 grit. It lost its apparent luster but the smoothness is incredible.
DSC03219 (resized).JPG

In my opinion, you cannot keep a playfield freshly covered with Clear Coat and call it a day. It is full of glitter and shine, but it is not smooth. This is something I learnt when I had my car repainted (BMW E30 M3) a few years ago. After paint and clearcoat, the car was wet sanded by hand with 2400 grit and buffed. After this treatment, the water could not even stay on the vehicle, forming enormous puddles, trying desperately to find a way out of the body.

I want to achieve the same (or similar....) with this playfield. After 800, I will wet sand with 1200 and then 1500. After that, it will be orbital buffer and Meguiars 105 and 205 cutting compounds. For the time being, I am letting the clear cure, as I know it will settle sometimes in the most unpredictable ways.


#85 1 year ago

No, it is simpler than that:

- Suck 4 times the contents of an eye dropper with clear, and pour it in a little container.
- Suck one time the content of ANOTHER eye dropper with hardener and pour it into the previous container.
- Mix.
- Make sure your playfield is perfectly level/horizontal.
- Use a third eye dropper (or one of the previous ones) and pour delicately the mixture on the inserts, making sure that you leave no bubbles behind you.

- Wait a day for the clear to cure.
- WET Sand with 400 grit, using a block.

- Do it again as the clear will most likely shrink. Sand the inserts before applying another coat of clear, to give it some teeth.


#86 1 year ago

Okay, decision...decision! When should I stop spraying clear coat?

Even though the overall clear layer is relatively thin, I feel comfortable with it and it makes the surface perfectly flat and smooth. I do not want to play on a piece of glass and wish to retain the look of the Classic Bally machines from the late 70's.

So, after two passes of Meguiars 105 (Orange pad) followed by three passes of 205 (White pad), with my orbital sander (I also use it for the cars), I have reached a decent result:

DSC03233 (resized).JPG
DSC03234 (resized).JPG
DSC03235 (resized).JPG

I know that for some clear coat enthusiasts, the layer is really too thin, especially outside of the playing area. But that does not bother me, as long as the playing surface is perfectly flat and smooth.

I am going to let it sit for a little while before doing anything else (such as waxing). I want to see how the inserts and some other spots are evolving. After all, I may have to sand it a little bit to give it some teeth and clear coat it with one final coat.

Please chime in and let me know what you think. I am a rookie when it comes to clear-coating playfields as this is my first one and will welcome advice and suggestions.


#88 1 year ago

I have taken the decision that this is enough for now. No more clearcoat....

The playfield has been waxed with Blitz wax:
DSC03237 (resized).JPG
DSC03238 (resized).JPG
DSC03239 (resized).JPG

I am going to flip it upside down and re-assemble the GI wiring and the controlled lamps ground line, before putting the rails back.
This gives me a chance to apply another coat of wax for good measure.


#91 1 year ago

Working on the back of the playfield.

First cleaning all the inserts from below. This is done with Q-Tips and alcohol. Nothing revolutionary here:

DSC03240 (resized).JPG

Then, the tedious task of re-wiring the GI sockets.....


#92 1 year ago

GI wiring is completed and switches are back in place.
DSC03246 (resized).JPG

Next is the harness.....


#93 1 year ago

Installation of the electrical harness. Tedious and delicate work for sure. All the future reliability of the machine is at stake, with this phase.
My approach could be different from what other people do: I re-assemble everything that goes underneath, leaving the top of the playfield, completely bare.
The rails will be installed last, right before moving the playfield in the machine. Then, electrical verification is done and finally population of the top will take place. I do not have a rotisserie and that is a convenient way for me to do it.
DSC03247 (resized).JPG
As I mentioned before, I am not a fan of 48 VDC on my hands. All coil connections are insulated.
DSC03248 (resized).JPG
DSC03249 (resized).JPG
The Bally books can come handy from time to time:
DSC03250 (resized).JPG
Finally, that will be all for today.
DSC03253 (resized).JPG


#96 1 year ago


thank you for the heads-up. Yes, I realized that and told myself that there must have been a reason why they did it like that.
But I like your approach and since I have been toiling on this machine to make it as perfect as I can, I probably will re-arrange the blades on every switch.
It should not take too long, hopefully.


#99 1 year ago

Fortunately, only the sub-assemblies contacts for the saucer and pop-bumpers are upside down. They probably had a new delivery of fresh pot on that day....
It should not be too bad to fix: un-solder the diode, flip the blade, re-assemble, re-solder the diode.


#100 1 year ago

Almost done with the underneath of the playfield. I still have two pop-bumpers to assemble, the slingshots and put in place the two banks of targets and it will be ready for the upper side.

DSC03255 (resized).JPG
DSC03256 (resized).JPG
DSC03257 (resized).JPG

Flippers have been connectorized for ease of maintenance and a new fuse holder has been installed. The old piece of Bakelite junk was sent directly to the trash can. I also spent a great deal of time verifying each lamp socket with its corresponding connector. Hopefully, that will pay off later.


#103 1 year ago

I could not resist. Electrical verification of the lights:

DSC03259 (resized).JPG

That is a relief. Apparently, just one socket which is mis-behaving. On the GI side: both halves are working well.

All General Illumination bulbs are #47. All switched lights are #44.


#104 1 year ago

A while back, during the restoration of the backbox, I found an interesting piece of history:
DSC03260 (resized).JPG
This is the Tax license to operate this Mata Hari machine, in South Carolina. The machine was operated until 1982 as indicated on the SC Tag. The cost for operating that machine was $75 in 1982, which represents a decent sum of money.

I glued that artifact under the coin box, where it belongs....


#105 1 year ago

While checking the switched lights, I noticed that the green arrow inserts are very dark, when compared to the other arrows or round inserts. And this despite the #44 bulbs.

So I decided to install white LED in these two green inserts, with a 470 Ohms resistor in parallel to fool the CPU:
DSC03261 (resized).JPG
The result is a lot better and all lights are now shining with the same intensity. The defective socket has been fixed, too.


#106 1 year ago

A few progress. The underside of the playfield, is almost finished.
DSC03262 (resized).JPG
DSC03263 (resized).JPG
I have tried to respect the color of the coil wrappers as much as possible.

Time to install the playfield in the cabinet and to move on with the population of the top:
DSC03264 (resized).JPG
Verification that the switched lights are working fine:
DSC03267 (resized).JPG

The enchilada:
DSC03268 (resized).JPG

and the most gratifying part of the restoration experience, the assembly of the top playfield:
DSC03269 (resized).JPG


#108 1 year ago
Quoted from mrm_4:

Can’t wait to see it finished Yves! Almost there.

Thank you Matt.

I made some very good progress today with the installation of the pop-Bumpers. By far the most tedious and delicate device to re-install.
I agonized for a while whether I should install Mylar films or not. In the end, I waxed my playfield around the Pop-bumpers and glued the mylar films. I will also put some near the slingshots.
I modified the light sockets and added connectors for a possible (and hopefully distant) future maintenance. Each Pop-bumpers has these connectors allowing an easy disassembly of the top unit, without a soldering iron.
DSC03270 (resized).JPG
DSC03271 (resized).JPG
The 1,000 points are controlled by the switched light bus, whereas the 100 points are illuminated by the GI. I installed old GE #47 bulbs, that withstand the vibrations so much better than the new Chinese bulbs.
I then proceeded to re-assemble half of Mata Hari. When you reach that phase, it hard to resist.
DSC03272 (resized).JPG
The Spray Max 2K is a pleasure to work with. The finished clear is very resistant but also flexible and workable at the same time. Holes are quickly enlarged with no cracks and most of the times, there is no need to use drill bits.

Some Pinball-Porn close-ups, for your pleasure. I realize that my rubbers are already releasing their nasty white dust....
DSC03273 (resized).JPG
DSC03274 (resized).JPG
DSC03275 (resized).JPG
DSC03276 (resized).JPG
DSC03278 (resized).JPG
DSC03279 (resized).JPG
I will finish the other side, one of these evenings.

I also wanted to mention that Classic Playfield Reproduction, was extremely kind to run a special batch of plastic set, outside of their normal production. I just asked if they would re-run them one day, and Kevin kindly offered to send me a fresh batch, a few days later. I was truly impressed by their responsiveness and kindness. I have bought many plastic sets and playfield from them in the past, but that was incredible.


#112 1 year ago

You are right, it does. I love the color of the sheet on her thigh and the title is enhanced by the red LEDs.

Thanks for the suggestion.

#113 1 year ago

Great progress these past few days working on the lower section of the playfield:
DSC03286 (resized).JPG
DSC03287 (resized).JPG

The beast is fully operational. I played a few games and like it very much.
The game is extremely fast, with a no-mercy ball ejection saucer. This machine definitely keeps you alert and aroused. No time for yawning or sleeping. It is QUICK! Not for the the faint of heart.

DSC03288 (resized).JPG
DSC03289 (resized).JPG
DSC03290 (resized).JPG
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DSC03297 (resized).JPG
DSC03298 (resized).JPG
DSC03299 (resized).JPG

Still a few details to do, labels, games cards and the cleaning of the backglass.


#117 1 year ago

Last stretch for the restoration properly speaking, the Backglass.

What can I say about it? Simply one thing: I have never ever seen such a dirty piece of glass, with tons of nicotine and crass accumulated!

Here are the few pictures describing my method. Everybody has its own and I will stick to my personal choice which has been preserving my backglasses for more than 15 years now.

DSC03300 (resized).JPG

Can you guys spell C.R.A.S.S and N.I.C.O.T.I.N.E ? Just amazing. Most of the backglass has already received a first clean up with the exception of that corner. The entire backglass was like that..... Crass preserves.....supposedly.

Th previous owner used some kind of goo to prevent more flaking. This was used in the dark areas and actually does not hurt too much the overall appearance.

So, I use 70% isopropyl alcohol and a very clean and soft piece of cotton. I clean one section at a time, leaving the crass some time to be dislodged by the alcohol and the friction of the fabric. The trick is to come in multiple light passes. No heavy scrubbing that would ruin the silver coating on the back. Take your time, go gently. Let it dry and come back to it later.

DSC03301 (resized).JPG

See, it is coming along, little by little. Patience, smoothness, softness, Love are the key ingredients.

There will be some bad spots, typically around the displays and where those #44 bulbs have been spewing their heat and jettisoning the ambient dust. So, after multiple light passes, we pull out the big guns: the Magic Eraser or ME. Again, some alcohol poured on the backglass and a very light touch on the ME, using circular motion, like an orbital sander. The crass is coming loose and needs to be wiped out immediately, before it settles down again. You will have a sludge in your hands. Remove it at once, before it dries again.

DSC03302 (resized).JPG

That's it, I cannot rub any more without damaging the 42 years old silver coating. The glass is infinitely cleaner than when we started. The glass is becoming more transparent. I can now see the features of Mata Hari and of the Baron, which I could not before cleaning.

Next phase is the Krylon Triple Thick: I love that stuff as it seals the artwork and will tolerate "some" rough handling of the backglass. But first, you must mask the display windows. I use Scotch magic tape. It has some low tack properties which are perfect for this usage. It is important to be precise and do a very clean masking.

DSC03304 (resized).JPG
DSC03303 (resized).JPG

Then spraying outside or in your spray room, go with very light coats at first. Some people will have a heavy hand on the glass, others a light dusting. Personally, I prefer some light coats, followed by a heavier coat which will make the backglass almost shiny. To finish it, I slightly dust it from a distance, equalizing the overall surface. I think it provides a better diffusion of the light and balances the inequalities that are inherent to spraying a backglass. Most of one Krylon can is actually spent on a single backglass, to give you some perspective.

DSC03305 (resized).JPG

While the Triple-Thick dries, you must remove the masking that you previously set on the display windows. Don't wait! I use an X-acto blade to lift the tape and a tweezer or pliers to remove the tape. Et voila.... All clean and transparent, so we can see clearly, those 40 years old Bally electro-luminescent displays. If, while removing the scotch tape, you have some uneven edges or runs, you can can quickly remove the Triple Thick with alcohol and a clean tissue. It works very well.

DSC03306 (resized).JPG

Let the glass dry for a couple of hours, then wipe it with the caress of a terry cloth. The dusting will go away, like fine white dust. You glass is ready and protected for many years to come.

DSC03307 (resized).JPG

Now, we can clean the channel and the top of the backglass.

DSC03308 (resized).JPG


#118 1 year ago

So, the protected backglass is now re-installed in the machine:
DSC03309 (resized).JPG
It is not too bad and will do, while I try to convince Stephen from BG Resto to print me another one.
DSC03310 (resized).JPG
DSC03311 (resized).JPG
DSC03312 (resized).JPG
DSC03313 (resized).JPG
The machine is fully operational and almost completed. It still needs some adjustments (contacts, tilt, slams, settings) and replacing a couple of light sockets which are misbehaving


#119 1 year ago

A couple of pictures of Mata Hari in its new environment:
DSC03321 (resized).JPG
DSC03322 (resized).JPG
DSC03323 (resized).JPG
DSC03324 (resized).JPG
DSC03325 (resized).JPG


11 months later
#122 3 months ago
Quoted from HoakyPoaky:

You did a really rice job on this restore. You've also given me a few ideas as I move forward on mine.

Thank you. I am following your thread too, with a lot of interests.


#124 3 months ago
Quoted from mrm_4:

Yves! Where you been hiding man?! Any new projects lately?

Good to hear from you Matt. No, nothing for the moment as I have moved to other sources of interests (I have too many).
If I could find a Playboy cabinet, that would be cool but space is missing in my basement to even add another machine.

I will be back, no doubt.

How is this flipperless machine doing for you?


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