Thursday, November 26, 2015

Job 7: Painting the Playfield

Here's another job best done in phases. Step one of repairing the playfield paint is touching up the smaller dings and scratches with a brush. It's already much improved.

There are some larger areas, however, where a brush leaves ugly streaks and a different approach is required. Time to upgrade to airbrushing.  The first areas I'll tackle are the solid white blocks that will lie under the playfield plastics. I'm starting here because there's no paint matching required, they cover a lot of area, they've yellowed with age and because brightening the playfield under the plastics will reflect more light and create a brighter game.

I started by applying clear adhesive frisket, carefully cutting out the shapes and masking the rest of the playfield with scrap paper.

Then, I sprayed it with white paint.

I removed the masking paper...

 ... and the frisket...

... and did a little cleanup around the edges. You can already see a huge improvement.  Next, I'll repeat the process with some of the more damaged off-white target labels and part of the swoosh that runs through the upper left.

You may be asking why I went to the trouble of mixing an off-white khaki color, rather than re-paint all the labels stark white.  A few reasons: There are a whole lot of those labels and not only would I have to paint them, but I'd have to decal the text back into place, which is a lot of work - only six were damaged enough to need re-painting. I like the contrast and appreciate that it shows the machine's age and history in a subtle way. Also, the white inserts and posts have aged into a light beige and they'd really stick out against stark white labels. Since I have no need, desire or interest in replacing all 48 posts and 12 white inserts and making sure the decals are on perfectly straight, I've decided to keep the off-white theme going and paint the labels accordingly.

I had one last round of airbrush painting: the reds at the top of the playfield were a big part of the damaged area. You'd think red would be an easy color to match, but it turns out Gottlieb's color was more like a deep orange. It took a lot of trial and error to get it right.

Finally, I was ready for a few touch-ups. Mostly re-defining the black outlines with a liner brush.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Job 6: Disassemble the Playfield

Here's what we're dealing with:

It's not a complicated playfield and it doesn't have any craziness like a roto target or spinners, but there are just a lot of switches to unscrew.  Experience has taught me to think of this job in phases. Phase one: remove the plastics, posts, bulbs, rings and other surface items.

Here's what that looks like. Notice how dirty it is under the apron and how clean it is under the posts - especially noticeable around the center targets.  Check out the engineering behind that center element.

Here's a shot of everything I removed in this first phase, which I'll clean later. Except for the 2" screws, which will be ditched in favor of Phillips-head replacements.

That's way more posts than I would have estimated and fewer rubber rings.  Those amber tubes on the left go over the bulbs to shield the plastics and surrounding areas from heat. They won't be necessary when I install LED's.

Next, it was time to disassemble the rest, which includes unscrewing the standup and rollover targets (and taping them, along with their screws, to the back of the playfield), removing the flipper bats and pop bumpers and taking off the side rails.

Turning it upside down made it easier to get at some of the screws. All that's left is to remove the wire ball guides and I have a nice flat surface to start from!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Job 5: Re-assemble the cabinet

With the cabinet re-painted and the internal mechs adjusted, it was time to re-attach the hardware. While everything was disassembled and I was waiting for the paint to dry, I got new springs and a new bushing for the shooter rod, shined up the coin door and strike plate and installed a new red start button, new coin slots and pricing labels.

Then, I just needed to install the cabinet mechs and re-attach the tilt switch, power button, knocker and chimes.

Done! With the cabinet completed, about a third of the hard work is done. Now comes the hard part - restoring the playfield.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Job 4: Adjust Cabinet Mechs

One thing I always like to do with my EM machines is boost the transformer. Out of the factory, these machines were set to normal tap, but today's grid can take the extra load and converting it to high tap power boosts the pop bumpers, making the game faster and more fun.  It's just a matter of finding the red wire on the transformer...

... un-soldering it, and re-soldering it to the high tap node.

Done!  Next, I had a look at the chimes unit, which needed a little upgrade. The middle chime especially needed help, as it was just going "thunk" instead of "ding!"  Disassembling is easy.

I cleaned things up, installed new rubber grommets on the chime bars and added new nylon washers. Then, I re-assembled the unit in the reverse order that I took it apart.

Now it sounds and looks beautiful again!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Job 3: Refinish the Cabinet

With the head done, it's time to make the cabinet look just as nice. The first job is to remove the mechanics, which involves not only the main relay board but also the tilt mechanism and the chime unit, which are all hardwired together.  Here's what that looks like:

Next, it's time to take off the coin door, coin plate, side rails, back rail and inner hardware, leaving only the wooden shell.

The cabinet was just grimy on the inside, so I gave it a good vacuum. Here's what I found floating around in the bottom:

A bulb, a few broken fasteners, all of the relay labels from the bottom of the playfield (that might cause some trouble later on) and what appears to be a squashed, fossilized shooter tip.

Before I take off the original finish, notice the original unfaded color hiding under the side rails and legs.

Also, I noticed this bare patch on the front right side of the cabinet - probably a classic nudge spot, as players would bang the side of the machine to coax the ball during play.

Off it goes, and we're left with a bare wood cabinet.

A couple of coats of fresh paint...

... and we're ready to start the stencils. Just like with the backbox, I've cut them out of acetate and spray-glued them to the cabinet.

A light first coat goes on...

... followed by a few more, and the stencils are ready to come off.

Beautiful!  Now, the second set of stencils is done the same way.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Job 2: Sealing the Backglass

This is the back side of the backglass for my Flying Carpet. The dark grey areas are opaque and block the light, the light gray areas are translucent and let the light through to highlight certain areas of the artwork and the score and credit windows are transparent.

As is frequently the case with older machines, the heat and wear causes the translucent paint to flake and chip away. This backglass has a few missing chips, but I've seen a lot worse. The big problem is that it had a lot of flaking - paint raising up from the glass - and all it takes is a strong breeze for those bits to flake off.

So I bought a $5 can of Krylex Triple Thick Glaze at my local store and coated the back of the playfield. There's nothing I can do about the missing chips, but the flaking bits are now locked down, sealed tight to the glass. Potential crisis averted!