A Boy and his BlogA Boy and his Blog

Posted on Dec 13th 2012 at 12:22:25 PM by (singlebanana)
Posted under pinball, Fathom, restoration, restore

After finishing the major maintenance issues on Fathom (still working on the knocker, the tilt, and need to replace two light canisters), I decided to take care of some of the more cosmetic features of the machine.  The overwhelming majority of pinball machines, even those produced today, are lit with your average incandescent bulb.  However, with the more recent production of LED lighting, there are many in the hobby that like to "bling" out their toys with LEDs.  LEDs provide a much brighter, longer-lasting, more energy efficient, and in some cases, cooler (temperature wise) alternative to incandescents.   

Though my Dracula has LEDs in it, I was a bit weary of putting LEDs in my more classic Fathom machine.  I think it's hard not think about the integrity of the machine with older pins and some collectors even feel that LEDs in older machines are off-putting.  I'm not one of those guys.  I like a machine to look nice and bright and if I can run it cooler and more energy-efficeint, then by all means count me in.  Besides, it looks cool as hell.  I should also add that LEDs are great for older machines with backglass because not only does it make them brighter, but the lower temperatures of the bulbs keep the paint from flaking.

I received an order of lights last night for my machine and a Data East Batman I am working on for a co-worker (pics of that to maybe come later***UPDATE: see pics below) and decided to go ahead and begin putting them in.  Luckily, older games like Fathom have no ramps or crazy plastics to remove to get to the lights; however, the old 555 size sockets are super tight and my hands are extremely cut up and sore this morning from merely changing bulbs.....

Anyway here are some pics:



Also, I am restoring my 1988 Williams Taxi machine at this time as well.  My good friend decided that he would help me out and actually offered to repaint and clearcoat my playfield, put on new decals, and sand down current and replace some inserts.  This is really tough and tedious work, but I think it turned out really well (still waiting for some warm days to clearcoat).  I am forever indebted to my friend for such great work and super pleased with how it came out.  Here are some before and after pics:



Here are some follow-up pics of the Batman machine that I put LEDs in last night.  Turned out pretty good.

Posted on Nov 27th 2012 at 01:08:25 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under pinball, Fathom, restore, restoration

I last left off with my restore the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I had some "me" time on Sunday, so I decided to take off the legs to sand and spray paint them with a nice flat black textured finish from Rust-o-leum.  They turned out as good as expected, which is often pretty rare for paint.  After a few days of letting the legs dry, I received another parts order in the mail.  The wife was kind enough to take over the nightly duties with the kids on Tuesday (kind in that we hosted her entire entire family for Thanksgiving from Wednesday to Sunday) and I was able to knock out a few hours working on my machine.

I had ordered a new set of levelers for the legs, since the others were a bit rusted out.  Getting your game level is essential for good play, so spending the $10 or so it costs for new levelers is a no-brainer; I replace the levelers on every pin I get, unless they are already very nice.  I also ordered some cabinet protectors, which not only keep the legs from digging into the wood of the cabinet, but also look fantastic.  I went with yellow for this machine, but I might switch them out with green or light blue the next time I put in an order.  You will notice from the picture, that I also put on a new Bally sticker on the coin door, the color on the previous one had completely faded to gray.

I purchased some chrome polish/rust remover a few days earlier at an auto parts store and shined up several of the ball throughs on the playfield, the chrome which holds the glass, coin door, lock down bar, and side rails.  The majority of the night was spent installing some new white flipper bats.  Since the flippers were playing pretty strong, I decided not to do an entire rebuild for this machine.  Instead, I replaced the coil sleeves and plastic bushings that house the flipper rods on all three flippers.  These parts tend to mushroom, bend, and muck up, and for less than $15, I was able to replace the bats and get them operating smoothly.  With new flippers, new rubbers, balls, levelers, and a waxed playfield, I could already tell that the game was playing completely different than before; shots that were more difficult earlier, became a lot easier to make, the ball bounced better off of slings and posts, and raising the pitch made for a faster and less "floaty" game.  **Sorry, not picture of the flippers.  I'll try to include one next time**

Though it was getting late, I pushed through and decided to install the new topper.  While not a part of the original machine, I thought that the 3-D topper (which came with my plastics order) was so well done, that I decided to use it.  It really goes well with the theme of the machine and basically plays off the backglass.  The artwork for the topper is actually original to the machine and can be found above the rollover lanes.  I think it really adds to the experiece and I might rig up some way to light it up in the future.

Well.................I did manage to fudge during my wife's familys visit and sneak out to my machine to put on the spinner decals that arrived in the mail on Friday.

After a long and arduous Thanksgiving, I decided that I would like to go ahead and tackle the drop targets that I had been dreading.  I called my buddy over and we decided to tackle those tonight (Monday).  It wasn't quite the major pain in the ass that I was expecting. but it still took us a few hours to dismantle some of the mechanisms and ensure that they were working properly.  Completely worth the effort:



It seems that the game is playing top notch now and that the only thing left are a few minor repair issues (replace knocker coil), cosmetic addtions (new pop bumper caps, black leg bolts), and install some brighter and more efficient LED lights to really make it pop.  I have sunk a few hundred additional dollars into this machine to get it in great playing and physical condition.  I was reassured on my investment after I followed this listing on eBay:  http://www.ebay.com/itm/1..._trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649. Though this lisitng included a new reproduction playfield, if I ever decided to sell this machine, I feel confident that I could at least triple my investment.  Not bad. Smiley

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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