Those of you have seen our website have probably noticed
that we frequently mention the restoration end of the games
that we have for sale. Some people have asked us exactly
what restoration of an arcade game entails. Although we
have described our restoration process in the “About our Games”
area of our site we thought it would be a good idea to walk
you through an actual restoration project.|
The Project Game
Most of the games we obtain have been sitting unused for
many years and have accumulated a lot of dirt and grime as well
as some wear from their time in service at an arcade. This
particular game, Joust (made by Williams in 1982) was found in
the back of warehouse that was partially exposed to the elements
and, as you can see from the pictures was not in the best
condition. We figure the game was sitting for at least
five years before we found it.
The game’s control panel was covered with so much dirt you could
hardly see the text and artwork on the control panel. The game’s
coin door bolts were rusted and the game had significant paint
loss and wear below the coin doors. The monitor glass was so
dirty it was hard to see the monitor behind it and, as you can
see below, the monitor itself had a heavy coating of dirt.
Needless to say the game was not working.
The first thing we do when restoring a game in this condition is
too strip the game down to just the cabinet. As you can see we
remove almost every part to the game: the control panel, the
monitor, the marquee, the monitor glass (or “bezel”) and the
After the game is stripped of its major parts we work on restoring
the cosmetics of the cabinet. The sides are cleaned and the
inside of the cabinet is vacuumed. We also replace the “leg levelers”
on the bottom of the game. Most games have some minor
scratches and wear marks that we do not touch up, unless
they are very noticeable. In this case the paint wear around
coin door areas was awful and needed to be repaired.
|A nice home for spiders
Rather than repaint the black area of the cabinet we used black
vinyl contact paper to restore the worn area. The vinyl paper
is a very close match to the original black and when finished
makes the game look fantastic.
After the vinyl was applied, we replaced the “t-molding” on the
game. This is the plastic molding that runs on the front of
the game, as shown below.
The next step in the restoration process is to clean up the parts
we removed from the game. We took apart the two coin doors to
After a light sanding to the doors and bolts they were repainted.
The monitor glass and marquee were also thoroughly cleaned as
well as the control panel. As you can see below, it’s amazing
what a good cleaning to a dingy control panel will do. We also
cleaned the contact switches on the joystick and buttons of the
|What a difference a good
Next we service the monitor. In this case the monitor was filthy
and was hosed down before we did any technical work. After a cleaning
we removed the monitor circuit board and replaced all suspect components.
The most common failing in these monitors are components called
capacitors, which tend to “dry out” over a period of years. We
replaced all the capacitors in monitor. In this case we also
replace a part known as the high voltage transformer with a brand new
one. (In this model monitor the transformer is known to fail after
a number of years.)
|Our standard practice
is to install new capacitors and high voltage units
With our serviced monitor complete we began piecing the game back
together and focused on the getting the game working again. The monitor
is put back in the cabinet so we can test the game. NOTE: Since
writing this article we have since starting installing brand new monitors in
all of our games (unless noted otherwise). We find that this provides the
most trouble-free operation for new game owners. For some games
we offer the original monitors, refurbished, with the option to upgrade to
a new monitor.
After cleaning the
transformer unit in the game we power the game up to diagnose the problem.
A common failing on these Williams’ games is the power supply unit,
which we found to be at least one cause of our problems. In this case,
we are able to upgrade the power supply with a newer, more reliable
After replacing the power supply the game came up, but with a ram error,
leading to the dashed lines shown in the picture below. After replacing
the bad ram chip the game appears to be working fine, although we
still needed to test the joystick and buttons on the control panel.
dashed lines on the screen
With the game appearing on the screen, we reinstalled the coin doors and
control panel to play test the game. The marquee was also put back on
the game (after repairing the florescent light behind the marquee).
The controls were then tested to ensure that they are working
properly (they are in this case) and the monitor glass was put
back on the game. We also put new locks on the coin doors.
The control panel is reinstalled to the game
|The game is put back
together part by part
After the parts are put back in place the game is virtually complete.
The only steps left are to set the game to free play and leave the game
on for a couple of days to ensure that it continues to work properly.
|The finished product, one of the nicest
looking Joust games we’ve seen in a while
A Word About our Restorations
Well, that’s how we restore our games in a nutshell. As you can see
we take great pride in bringing these games back to their original
state. In all, we spent over ten hours during the course of a week
restoring this Joust. While this is an extreme case, on average we
spend about eight hours restoring each game we sell. Before we ship
the game out, we will do a "burn-in" test and leave the game on straight
for at least two days to ensure that all electronics are working
Obviously every restoration varies by the game and its condition.
Some games require carpentry work (in some instances a corner of
the game may have broken off), while others require additional
technical services (some games are missing circuit boards for
example). In some games, we are able to purchase and apply
professionally reproduced artwork the cabinet sides and control
Note that we always try to describe the important points of each
restoration we do and always provide pictures of the finished
product. However please don’t hesitate to ask any questions
about are games and their restoration.
|Atari developed a very unique pinball game named Hercules. It was so large that it used a billard cue ball for a pinball!
Need Woodgrain style vinyl for your restoration project? We have
it for sale here:
Woodgrain Vinyl (per foot)
Looking for black vinyl for your restoration project? We have
it for sale here:
Black Vinyl (per foot)