ATARI CENTIPEDE RESTORATION – PART 5: THE FINAL MUSHROOM…

Well, it’s the final post in this restoration, which means, we are either going to be playing Centipede, by the end of this, or, a partly working cab will be hitting the market place…. Read on to find out…

If you haven’t been following this resto, and/or you just want to catch up on the work so far, then click here Atari Centipede Restoration – An Introduction. We have come a long way, since I took receipt of this cabinet, and it is good to look back and reflect on the work carried out. I have had a few nice messages of thanks for some of the techniques illustrated, which is always a bonus, if these writings manage to help someone else in a similar position.

With everyone now literally on the same page and hopefully with five minutes to spare and a brew in hand, let’s get into this.

Back in part three of this restoration, we looked at the heavily damaged side panels, around the control panel area, and covered the reconstruction side of this. If you can’t remember then you can have a quick refresh here – ATARI CENTIPEDE RESTORATION – PART 3: MORE WOODWORKING.

As you can see, this still required some final filling, sanding and painting to try and hide the new piece as best as possible.

Better, yes, but still room for improvement

I started by appyling a fine layer of filler across the whole section and then sanding that back to the painted surface above, filling in all those little imperfections along the way. Then it was just a case of slowly applying various shades of off white, to try and replicate the fading patina that has taken 40 years to attain on the original area surrounding the new piece. I lightly sanded with 1200 grit in between every other coat just to keep knocking it back and retain the smooth surface.

No fancy pants paints or brushes used here, just more stuff, briefly stolen from MrsM’s crafty stash.

To paint, or to Thrust.....

And after a lot of trial and error, I ended up with a result I was happy with, which both matched the distressed appearance and hid the join at the same time.

With all the woodwork, finally, completed and the cab still empty, it was time to fit the t-molding, as it’s much easier to maneouvere the cab, without the heavy monitor, etc inside. Now, I have covered this process previously, in depth, and there are lots of videos online to show you how to do this.

So for today, my main tips are, aim to start and finish along the bottom edge, so that the inevitable join will not be visible; cut out small triangles from the spine when fitting around convex curves; cut small notches into the spine when going into the concave curves; this allows the spine of the molding to flex as required and produces a much happier result on the edge. Also, if replacing molding where the groove has become a little wide, using hot glue will increase the hold strength and not require you to clamp the piece, whilst other conventional glue, would dry.

Previously I mentioned the original fluorescent tube behind the marquee had stopped working and despite replacing the tube and starter motor, there was still no life. Voltages were good, so I suspect that only leaves the ballast, as having failed.

At this point, I just wanted to get this working and the easiest, least destructive way is to simply wire in a warm white LED diffused tube light. Readily available on the tinterweb and as cheap as chips, when chips were cheap… 37 and 1/2 a pence for a small bag, when I was a nipper! Anyhoo, this light simply wires into the original wiring feed for the old light, meaning, if wanted in the future, this can just be re-replaced with something more original.

With this back in place, I realised that the metal marquee brackets were in need of a light sanding and dusting of paint.

And with another job ticked off the list, I put the newly refurbished trackball back onto the control panel having given it a good clean. The CPO is not perfect, it’s got a couple of light scratches and it’s ‘on a wonk’ by about 1.5mm from side to side, but it’s not enough to warrant replacing at this point. Here it is, ready to go back onto the cabinet.

Next job was to look at the coin door, which was missing some bits, from when I first got the cab. I don’t use coins to coin up, I know some people really associate with pushing their 10p’s through the slot to start a game, but, it’s not for me. That said, I still want to make sure the mechanics work.

You can see from the photo, that one of the actual coin mechs itself is missing, some of the wires to the bulb holders and micro switches had either came away or were about to, the bulbs were smashed or missing, and also a few of the metal brackets that hold the physical coin door in place were also missing.

All of these are relatively easy fixes, but it helps massively to have the manuals with the expanded diagrams to keep you on the right track;

  • I de-soldered and re-soldered all the loose wires and checked all the continuity throughout.
  • Broke out a couple of replacement bulb holders and bulbs from the ‘arcade stash’ and soldered these in place.
  • The missing metal brackets – again to the community I turned and a good friend had the required parts in the post the next day. Thank you.
  • The missing coin mech – you guessed it, the community came through again and the required model number was in the post. Thank you.
Even the hidden brackets get a quick sand and polish.
In situ..

This leads us to the elephant in the room. The part I leave til last, as it scares me the most. The part I have little clue on where to start. Which part to lick, which part not to lick……….. Yep, you guessed it, the monitor.

[please do not lick any parts of your arcade cabinet – especially the bits that hold incredulously high voltages..]

However, as always, my trusty TV repair man is once again, at hand to both fix and provide some basic level learning. The monitor itself was working, however, as with most of the wiring in this cabinet, the looms feeding the mains voltage and the picture feed, were both hacked to within an inch of their life and needed replaced. I redid the RGB and sync feed easy enough (no voltages there), but the power wires, needed replaced from the chassis itself. Also I was having some issues with the colours dropping in/out and figured the pots needed a good clean. Again another easy job, with some cleaner fluid sprayed in and a good fiddle of the knobs back and forth (“ooer Matron”) and we were good.

And now with all parts restored, tested and working, it was time to put things back together again.

First things first – we need a nice clean, restored (empty) cabinet.

Clean, empty cabinet - check.

Then the monitor was in (thankfully it both fit and the new fittings, fixed it robustly in place)

I spy, "me"!

Which leaves all the electronic gubbins to put back into place.

Now, whilst this may work, those who know me, know that I’m never leaving it looking like this. So, after careful application of around 126 cable ties and fixings, it looked much better.

Fancy sliding image thingy....
So close now, I can smell the mushrooms...

And so, there really is only one job left to do – switch it on and post some photos……

But first, let’s just remind ourselves of what we started with, as this cabinet has come quite a way from the beaten up (albeit basically working), wonky, cabinet with panels broken and/or missing, internals shot to pieces, components broken, and more.

Compared to what is now, a fully restored, fully working, sturdy, aesthetically pleasing, iconic arcade cabinet, artwork and game. Feel free to drool over these final photos, all you wish, I’ve got a game to go and play….

For those of you that followed me throughout this journey, thank you for sticking around, I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. If this is your first time here – where the hell have you been !!!!! – but seriously please hit the menu button at the top and lose 5 minutes or so reading through some of my other posts.

As always, if you like what you find here, please subscribe, read through my earlier posts, hit like and share on the social media of you choice, via the buttons below. I genuinely would love to hear what you think, good or bad, and will always reply to any comment kind enough to be left.

Thank you again, for taking the time to read my posts, see you all soon for the start of another exciting project.

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