Thursday, October 29, 2015

Job 1: Refinish the Head

It's good to start a big project with something easy. As usual, Gottlieb engineers made it easy for me to gut out the mechanics and hardware of the head, leaving only the wooden box. Here, you can see the original bright mauve color, preserved from fading on the inside of the box.

After sanding, I have a clean start. No need to re-finish the inside.

After filling a few chips and scrapes with wood filler, the new base color goes on. Man, is that pink!

I created stencils based on the original artwork and carefully cut them out of acetate. The lesson I learned from Jet Spin is to use light coats of spray paint and build slowly, rather than try do cover it in one coat.

The second coat goes on...

... and the stencil comes off. Looking good! Now I just need to do the black on the other side and the yellow stripes on the sides and front.  Putting the mechanics and hardware back in is just as easy as taking them out.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Initial Assessment

Let's have a look at the new machine and see what needs to be done. I tried it out when I bought this machine and everything works except for one of the score reels (which I expect will be an easy fix). I bought it from a lovely woman in Indiana who said it was in her family since the 80's and was in a bowling alley before that - her family owned a local coin-op business. Of the machines I've worked on, I'd put it squarely in the middle - not as well looked-after as Jet Spin but not as roughly handled as Fun Land.

The cabinet will have to be re-finished for sure. Not just because of the flaking paint, but because the color is badly faded. Most Flying Carpets you see nowadays are this pale peachy pink, but the original color was actually a vibrant purplish mauve, still evident where the legs used to be and inside the cabinet and head.


I should note that the cabinet finish looks worse than it is because instead of producing cabinets with a clean, even finish, Gottlieb liked to add a surface texture called "webbing," where they'd spatter black paint across the cabinet, resulting in Jackson Pollock streaks. I think it's supposed to look marbleized. Whatever the reason, I find it ugly and won't be reproducing that effect on my machine.

The playfield is mostly dirty and I'm eager to see how it cleans up. The tarnished steel can be cleaned but I'm a big believer in keeping some of the flaws, rather than polishing everything away - keeping a few rust spots here and there preserves a bit of the game's character and shows that it had a history.

This will be the biggest challenge - there's some major playfield wear between the pop bumpers and the "boomerang" row of six standups, as well as in the center playfield. Painting and decal work will be required and another adventure with clearcoat is on the horizon.

But first things first and one job at a time.  Here's the plan: Step 1: refinish the cabinet. Step 2: repair the playfield. Step 3: Solve the mechanical issues. Step 4: enjoy one of the greatest pinball games of all time.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

New Project: Flying Carpet

Jet Spin is done and I'm enjoying it a lot, but I was looking on Craigslist and came across a project I couldn't pass up - one of my all-time favorite machines, Flying Carpet. This is a one-player Gottlieb wedgehead from 1972.

It's unusual for a few reasons - it has no inlanes at the bottom, just two pairs of vicious outlanes. And it's also missing slingshots, normally found by the flippers. It sounds difficult, but this machine is going to be a lot of fun because it's a speller - the object is to spell the words "FLYING CARPET" by hitting the standup targets and rollovers throughout the playfield, which lights the specials.

Flying Carpet was sort of an inbetween-eras game for Gottlieb because it's a puzzle-based one-player wedgehead like the ones that were popular in the 60's but it has three-inch flippers and many of the fittings and more advanced internal features found in late-70's games.

The machine I got is in decent shape, so it should be fun to restore!