Saturday, March 28, 2015

Job 2: Refinish the Cabinet

By this time I'm an old pro at cabinet refinishing. Step 1: take it all apart. This time it was a little harder, because the chimes, coin door and tilt mechanisms are hardwired to the rest of the cabinet mechanics.

This is the inside mechanical guts of the machine, removed from the cabinet. You can see the coin door on the right, the playfield is propped up against the wall and the newly-refinished head on the left, with its backglass.

The rest of the cabinet is in the workshop.

Check out how clean this cabinet is, even before restoration! Normally, the inside front is stained with spilled soda and accumulated dust, spiderwebs and gunk, but this is the cleanest old machine I've seen! 

Step 2 is to remove the lock bar hardware, plunger and side rails.

You can see the original finish that was under the metal side rails. This machine was well-taken care of, but it could't escape the telltale ravages of time and probably spent its early years in a venue that allowed smoking.

Anyhoo, it was all coming off with the sander.

Boom! Blank cabinet.  Next, it gets filled, primed and painted.

Beautiful!  I created stencils in the same manner as the head and applied them with a light coat of adhesive spray.

Next, the blue:

And the final reveal:

So pretty! Side rails, plunger and hardware go back on...

...followed by the re-installation of the cabinet mechs, coin door, tilt mechanism and chimes unit.  Job complete!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Job 1: Refinish the Head

With this project, I thought I'd handle the biggest issues first and work my way down to the smallest. There are no mechanical problems, so this restoration will be purely cosmetic and the biggest job will be the cabinet.

First order of business: isolate the head and remove backglass and the mechanical "guts."

Once again, Gottlieb did a great job of making everything modular, so this was pretty easy. The lock lever and a few other metal bits needed to come off too and you can see that I've laid them out on the work bench in place, so as not to lose track of what goes where.

Here's the backbox sans guts, pre-restoration:

After sanding it down to the bare wood:

The main box is a harder wood (maybe ash or maple) and held on to the original paint, while the cornice frame on the front was much softer (probably pine) and had no problem shedding its outer layer.

From here I filled in the gouges and dings, primed and pained with a creamy white (I had plenty left over from Fun Land) and applied the first stencils.

I had traced the original artwork, transferred it over to large sheets of clear acetate, carefully cut out the shapes with an X-acto knife and applied the acetate to the backbox with light spray adhesive.

Voila! The first stencils:

These bled a little and needed a little touchup before the blue would go on. I discovered that three or four light coats worked better that trying to do a single heavy coat all at once.

Next, I used the same procedure for the second set of stencils:

I have the whole backbox propped up on old paint cans, so it's a little off the ground.  The blue turned out pretty well:

Fresh and clean!  Next, it was time to re-install the mechanics and hardware, in reverse order that they were removed:

Job complete!

It occurred to me only later, after reviewing the photos that I had done the front stencil upside down - it should be a thick blue bar on top and a thin orange bar underneath. Oh, well. I kind of like it better my way.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Jet Spin Gameplay: Before Restoration

I made this video to document this game's condition before restoration. It works perfectly but has some cosmetic issues and could use new bulbs and rubber rings - notice that there's no rubber on the flippers. It's fun even in this condition, so I can't wait to get it in tip-top shape!


Friday, March 13, 2015

Jet Spin High Scores

When I bought this Jet Spin, the seller told me that it was sort of the "neighborhood machine," that kids would come over and play. When I took a closer look, I discovered that they had written their scores in pencil on the sides of the backbox! The cabinet was going to be re-finished, so I took some time to record the scores for posterity:

Laura: 116,000

Andy: 86,400

Scott: 134,470
Kelly: 122,850

Ken: 189,510
Laura: 142,800

Jim: 191,860 (all-time high)

Ginny: 110,000

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Project: Jet Spin!

With Fun Land sold, my kitchen was looking awfully empty, so I did some looking and found a beautiful 1977 Jet Spin as my next project! It was a 90 minute drive north of home and with a borrowed SUV and help from a friend, I was able to buy it and bring it home. Mechanically, it looks to be in perfect working condition.

The cabinet is in really good shape for a 38-year-old machine and had a few minor dings and scratches. The previous owner told me that it was home use only since 1995, but before that it seems to have spent time in a venue that allowed smoking - the cabinet should be white, rather than yellow.  

The playfield is mostly just dirty and, aside from a few wear spots that need to be re-painted, should clean up really well.  The only other issue is that all 21 playfield inserts are badly cupped and will need to be replaced. I've never done it before, but am looking forward to that little adventure.

Here are some close-ups of the playfield before restoration: