Welcome back readers. Things are moving apace, not something I ever thought I would write on here, so without any delay, let’s read on.
If you missed the start of this restoration story, then you can catch up here, before reading on. For those ready to go, grab a brew, get comfy and prepare to shoot pointy rocks! (Well maybe we are getting a little bit ahead of ourselves…..)
So, we ended the last update, with control panels finished and my mate working on the monitor. Which was proving somewhat problematic. It was akin to the chicken and egg fable, in that, I needed a working PCB to test the monitor, but couldn’t test the pcb without a working monitor. So, despite Paul recapping the chassis and replacing the shorted resistors we (read he) was left scratching his head.
It was dead. Putting it all back together resulted in, well nothing. But actually, that nothing may itself have meant something..
Atari use a series of sounds and flashes on the player buttons, to assist identifying faults on the pcb board and I had nothing, on either.
Multimeter out and we checked all the voltages and they were good, as they should be on leaving the power brick, but still nothing. We scratched our chins and left it, in favour of a more reliable brew. Then after about 20mins, where we had forgotten that we had left the unit switched on, it suddenly started making loads of beeps and sounds…
We rushed over but, still nothing appeared on the screens. Regrettably we were stuck.
During most restorations, different people, having different skill sets, inevitably get to a point where they get flummoxed. This can be quite demoralising and it’s easy to just push it all into a corner and walk away, to avoid any further stress or disappointment. It is at these points that I tend to turn to something within my reach, and complete that part, restoring not only the machine, but a bit of confidence.
And to that, it was time to polish out some scratches. On this cabinet, between the monitor screen and the glass top, there sits a smoked acrylic square, used to diffuse the bright vectors and further protect the monitor and cardboard bezel. You can see it in the very first photo I uploaded, of the cab.
Now, most likely due to the glass top, long since having been smashed (there was lots of shattered fragments inside the cabinet), the acrylic had taken a lot of wear and tear. To try and show these up for the purpose of a photograph, I have rubbed over a thin layer of polish, which sits in the scratches, and shows up better in the photo.
The polishing procedure is one where it often looks horrific before it starts to look better. You need to take a deep breath and trust the products to do what they say on the bottle…
First step is to remove the scratches and gouges that are present. You cannot magically fill these, they need to go. So with a sanding disc attached to a drill, and using a fairly heavy grit to start with, of we go.
I needed to keep on with the dry sanding until, all I could see were the circular scratches caused by myself. Therefore ensuring that all the previous, straight gouges and marks had been removed. The key is to try and maintain an even coverage of the entire piece and not just focus on the areas that were marked.
Once the dry sanding is done, I switch to a wet sanding disc and added some fairly heavy grade paint polishing product. And again we sand/polish in circular motions.
Once I had the deepest marks removed, I moved onto the popular Novus 1,2,3 range and swapped the wet sanding disc for softer buffer.
Hours, and I mean, hours, later, moving through the 3 grades of Novus and a final application of Jeweller’s rouge, red and white, all using the buffer, and we are left with the final result.
But as fancy as all this looks, really, I was buying time, I had to get to the bottom of the blank/dead monitor. In an ideal world I would take both the monitor and pcb to my test bench and try the pcb on a known working monitor and vice versa. The only problem here, that I could see, is that I neither have a test bench, nor a spare working monitor or pcb..
And so, to the community, I turned. Now I have mentioned before how wonderful the arcade collector community is, but it deserves another mention, for reasons you will soon understand. As I have increased my footprint within the hobby, the more friends I have made with fellow collectors. And with this increased friendship, comes a larger, more fertile pool, from which to ask advice and receive help. And into this pool, I dipped….
Various people, suggested various things, some of which I (read Paul) had already done, and it quickly became apparent that the real crux was not knowing whether or not the PCB was working, even with faults, or was, (worst case), completely dead.
Then my phone rang.
On the other end was someone I had never met, nor even spoken to, but whose name, is echoed around the arcade halls, and considered to be very adept in fixing and future proofing pcbs, with an emphasis on all things Atari. To avoid any embarassment and/or an unwanted onslaught of people seeking his help, I shall call him, Bob.
Bob is first and foremost a gentleman. Bob is also a genius. Bob came to the rescue.
In short, after some phone conversations and the quick realisation that this was way above my paygrade, I packaged up my precious PCB (very, very carefully) and shipped it off to my new best friend.
And whilst I waited to hear back, it was to the more familiar, I returned. This being a cocktail cabinet, access to the main components, is from the player two side, which is effectively the rear, in a more traditional upright cabinet. Here the entire side, below the control panel hinges down, with a cam lock at the top to keep the unwanted out.
This is often an area of damage, as once the key is lost, instead of delicately driling out the lock, which can shower the components inside with tiny shards of metal, operators, simply forced the lock, usually by shoving a flat screwdriver into the gap and prising it open, damaging the soft wood around the lock area in the process.
Which is exactly what had happened to mine. With the door open you can see the damage to the panel above the lock. It’s not too bad, a shallow gouge, with the smooth laminate also missing.
Using a proprietary two part wood filler, and a wooden brace, clamped up against the area to be filled, to ensure crisp straight lines, I set to work. Because the fill was not overly deep, it was done in just one application. Try not to fire loads of filler everywhere, as you will only have to remove/sand it away later, when it has set as hard as stone.
Next to remove the (little) excess of overfill. For this I used a damp, very fine sanding pad, by hand, applying just enough pressure to remove the filler without taking off too much of the vinyl finish. You are always going to affect the surrounding area to some extent, but we want to try and limit the amount of repair needed at the next stage.
Next up and time for some paint. Here, with such a small area, we are looking more to blend in, rather than paint, as you would a whole section. Nothing fancy used, just a small paintbrush (borrowed from one of the kids) and a Posca paint pen.
The key, as with most painting, is to apply lots of very fine coats, rather than one heavy load. For this I simply put a small amount of paint onto the area and feathered it out, using the paintbrush. Repeating the process as many times as need until the area was covered and the colours of both new and old start to match up.
At this stage it is always going to look a little different, as the colours will be slightly different, even with a block colour such as black, and also the finish will not match, and so you can still see where I have applied the new paint. However, all we need for big finish is some basic automotive products; some back to black polish, a polish pad and a buffing cloth.
With a good couple of applications and a little bit of buffing, the new old paint is brought up, blending nicely with the newly applied. Resulting in a rather nice, uniform section. Which is as good as damn it, and poles apart from what we started with.
And then my phone rang.
On the other end was Bob….
And on that cliffhanger, I bid you farewell until next time. Some good progress made, and even better news is that I am actually much further ahead in real time, so the next update should not be far away.
Please let me know what you think; any thoughts you have on how far to go with restoration projects; and the game itself, Asteroids, surely a stone cold classic, right?
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Thank you for taking the time to read through, see you all next time.