A Boy and his BlogA Boy and his Blog

Posted on Nov 19th 2012 at 10:43:04 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under pinball, Fathom, restoration, restore, singlebanana

When we last left our hero, he had just purchased a Fathom pinball machine from a local estate auction.  She was really nasty and needed a bit of TLC.  She was not playing 100% and our hero and his friend came to the conclusion that the game was stuck in tilt mode.  The appropriate wires for the tilt were disconnected and she was brought back to life.  Now it's time to make her pretty again.....Here comes Part 2 of Singlebanana's exciting pinball restoration blog!

After getting the old girl in working order, the next step was to do a thorough cleaning of the machine.  I typically start out with a bucket of water and a few soft cloths to rub down the playfield, plastics, cabinet, etc.  (never do this with the machine on). Once it's clean, I tackle tougher areas with a damp Magic Eraser and rub slowly to ensure that I don't work off any of the paint.  As I go through the machine, I make sure to have a pen and paper to write down any parts that I feel the machine may need; if I don't I typically forget some parts when I order.  Typically parts companies use USPS flat rate shipping, so it's best to get it most of your parts at one time.  It sucks to have to pay $5 in shipping on a $2 part.  If you have friends who have machines as I do, give them a call to see if they need any parts while you are ordering.  This way, you can not only help them out and have them call you when they put in an order, but you can also split up the cost of shipping.

After the cleaning the machine, I was fortunate enough to have some white rubbers lying around, so I began disassembling small areas of the machine to replace them.  If you ever have left over parts, or even used parts, it's good to keep them around if they are in decent condition.  I can't tell you the number of times that I have needed some random part and have just happened to had it from a previous restore.  While replacing rings, I also cleaned the colored posts with Novus #1 plastic cleaner.  I was able to replace a majority of the rings, but decided to add a rubber ring kit for this machine to my ordering list.  Rubber rings are typically sold in packs in which sellers have already sorted them by machine title; they have all of the sizes you need for your machine and some sellers will even insert a guide to help you place them in the correct spot.  Rubber rings and balls should be replaced for every machine you buy, unless the seller has just replaced them and they look new/almost new to you.  Rings get stretched out and loose their "bounce" over time and balls can pit and cause damage to your playfield.

While putting on new rubbers, I also took off the playfield plastics and used a standard plastic cleaner on them (Novus #1).  They ended up looking really good, but one of them was cracked around a screw (from an apparent over-tightening...NEVER overtighten anything, especially around plastics, they need a little give) and they were yellowed in the clear areas from age.  I made the decision to buy a new set, but considering I bought the machine for a lower price than I expected, I had planned for new plastics, just in case, and since the new set came with a sweet topper, I decided to order them.  I'm also a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the machines I am going to keep. Tongue

Initial Parts Order:

New plastics
Rubber ring kit
Leg leveler - 3" long nylon base - these are the feet which attach to the legs of the machine.  Typically, these look bad and rust out very easily.  These are cheap and essential in keeping your machine level.  They make special slider feet if you are putting a machine on hardwoods.   
Nuts 3/8-16 hex 5/8" flat to flat - usually not included with the feet and must be ordered separately, this nut keeps the feet in place.
Bally Coin Door sticker - just a cool sticker on the coin door, mine had faded severely
FATHOM (Bally) Drop target set (15) - drop targets discolored from fading, some of the center targets had been replaced at one time and were not correct for this machine
Springs - for each drop target, like rubbers, they get stretched out over time and need replacing
Flipper & shaft - current white flippers discolored and dingy looking, cheap to replace.   
Coil sleeves - these go inside the solenoid which fires the flippers.  The end of them mushroom over time and can affect the power of your flippers, very cheap and should be replaced for older machines 
Bushings (flipper) - the plastic that goes through the playfield and houses the flipper shaft, another cheap replacement, since they wear and gunk up, improves flipper performance    
Spring (barrel ball shooter) - mine has rusted out, but was working fine, another cheap cosmetic fix
Cabinet protectors 4 piece set (YELLOW) - these plastics protect your cabinet where the legs and cab meet and keep the metal from digging into the wood, plus they look cool. 

The rubber rings and plastics came in on Friday (had to order parts from two places), so I was able to replace all of these on the machine this weekend.  Also waxed the playfield (with pinball specific wax, Mill Wax) after a through cleaning and used chrome polish on pertinent parts.  I also had some blue LED lights that were incorrectly sent to me from another order (again, glad I kept them) and I installed these in the pop bumpers.  Not the clearest pics, but hopefully you can tell the improvement from before and after.

My other weekend project consisted of sanding and adding some fresh paint to the legs.  I picked up a coarse sanding bar and some black Rust-o-leum textured spray paint at Lowes.   Luckily, this machines original legs were black, since chrome is a tough repaint and rarely comes out well, new legs are pretty expensive.  They turned out well and I ended up putting some new leg bolts with black heads on order, since the current ones are a little rusted out.  It's tough to repaint bolts, because the paint tends to rub off when you tighten them.

When purchasing the spray paint, I also picked up some new 6-1/2" screws and 6-32 hex nuts.  These are very cheap items and do wonders in making your machine look great.  Some of the old screws were rusty and this cheap fix really stands out.  The hex nuts replaced the white rubbers which secured the plastics down; the chromes gives it a great look and a much more stable device to hold down the plastics.  You can see some of the new hex nuts, screws, and rubbers in this photo:

So far everything is coming along nicely.  I'm really not looking forward to replacing those drop targets, which will be tedious, time consuming, and put the machine out of play for a week or more, but I know that I will be very pleased with the results.  However, until the new parts get here, it appears that someone else in my house is really enjoying banging away at our new toy....


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Love the look of the restore. Things are coming along very quickly.
Yeah, so far most of the restore has been above the playfield and has not been very difficult.  The drop targets will take up a significant part of my time, since I have to unscrew the entire bank box for 4 sets and replace 15 targets total....  My hope is that I can work on them without having to take too much apart or un-solder/re-solder anything.  I discovered that the pop bumper cap inserts were being held together with hot glue gun glue because the tabs that held them on were broken off.....so I had to order new inserts.  Luckily they weren't superglued, so I can still get to the bulbs and the remainder of the cap won't have to be replaced.  Glue gun melt comes peels off easily as well.  Ah the little "surprises" you find when restoring; I've seen far worse.
The restoration looks great! What does the topper look like?
@Addicted:  The topper did not come with the original machine, but is something that the people who created the repo plastics created.  It's a 3-D scene that matches the artwork of the girl on the boat located above the rollovers at the top center of the playfield. Here's a link to a pic of it: http://mad-amusements.com/img/p/812-2237-thickbox.jpg
Nice work, and it looks like it is coming along really well! I'll have to remember the magic eraser bit and give it a try. Last time I just used Novus #2 and a chamois.
@Duke.Togo:  Yeah, it is coming along very well and I should have another big update within the week.  Magic eraser is great, but again, make sure you dampen it and go very slow over areas on your playfield, since you don't want to wear down to the wood.
The magic eraser approach is an interesting one, because it is an abrasive as you said, you needed to go super super slow, I found this post and wanted to comment because I have been unsing just a really good cleaner and wax - you will get a lot of swirls and marks out by just using the right pinball cleaning products, I got the premium serious one, but each to their own.


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