Topic: Atari Vindicators Repair Log  (Read 37502 times)

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Offline Womble

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2014, 09:48:48 PM »
Hands up who thought this project was dead?

After 4 years I finally got the urge to work on this again and to get it finished. So am cracking on with it in the hope that my mojo lasts long enough to get it all done. I really don't need it stood in the toy room for another 4 years as a tombstone to the memory of optimistic thinking.

Nothing had changed on this since the last update, the cab was still missing one side track and the piece of wood where the wheel had once been.

So I tipped the cab on its side and fired up the jigsaw to cut the missing piece.

Sadly as I was fitting it it became clear how far gone the rest of the wood on the track edge was, the whole lot had been soaked at some stage and left the particle board the consistency of Weetbix. The original nails were rusted and loose and the whole lot was slowing giving way. Even if with a new section supporting the wheel it wouldn't work as the old sections supporting the new section would just give way under the weight.

Also even if I did manage to retain the original woodwork I would be faced with a tonne of work prepping it for new paint and rubber tracking.

The area under the rubber was water damaged as well as glue infested, and would need to be chiseled out to get to semi decent wood, filled and sanded flat again. Trouble was even with the chiseling above the structure was getting looser and looser as the wood crumbled and the nails worked loose.

The only option is to replace the lot, demolition time!

Bunnings only sell one sheet of 18mm MDF (as close to the original as possible) and it is massive, but they do have an awesome cut shop, so they were able to slice it up into strips the right size for the track surface and the edging. I just needed to cut the angled edges to the panels, which with my jigsaw was actually a right pain.

The old edge formers were made of plywood and were in good condition once all the Weetbix was chipped off so these were retained

So with a few panels cut I had the nose and tail sections ready for gluing.

One quick dry assembly to check the fit...

...looking good.

With the track nose removed I had enough access to fix another problem. The inner edge was badly water damaged too, this leading edge is part of the entire side panel of the cabinet and not easily removed without completely breaking the cabinet down. Aside from the effort involved this would mean I would lose massive sections of wood in great condition with the original pristine vinyl covering, not an option, despite the current mojo situation.

The panel in the undamaged areas just above where the track foot kicks out is 20mm thick... the water damaged track area it had swollen to 26mm thick. No hope of getting any T-moulding to cover that mess.

With the track box totally removed I had enough side exposed to attempt to restore it by flooding the area with wood hardener and clamping the shit out of it to attempt to squeeze it down to 20mm again.

A quick test run to see if it was possible, using a cable tie to prevent the T-mould slot getting crushed in, proved I could get it back to 20mm with a lot of force.

So, the cab was flipped over..

...and the edge got a very long drink of wood hardener...

and it was clamped up within an inch of its life. I already had one drill vice but bought a couple more as they have long plates of steel which allowed me to clamp the whole thing up consistently and compress a large area without trying to find something additional to spread the load. A couple of bits of MDF were used to spread the middle load into the corners the upper and lower vice would not touch.

I used the original t-moulding to prevent the t-mould slot collapsing, and was slightly concerned I would ended up with the shitty old T-mould firmly glued in place. Thankfully it didn't stick, and after 24 hours the clamps came off, to reveal...

Pretty damn good, except it wasn't fully dry. So It is likely to spend the entire week clamped up to fully harden, I will probably have to run raw PVA glue along the edges to really lock it in too.

Next step is to glue the end caps and the top plank in place, fit a bracing block of timber behind where the wheel attaches so I can use some proper screws into proper timber rather than trying to screw it to the MDF itself. Then the edge board goes on to finish the right track section.

Of course now I am going to have to demolish the left track and repeat the whole process, but that should take me half the time with all the issues worked out.

Watch this space...
Sic Transit Gloria Atari

Offline Womble

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2014, 09:50:13 PM »
Ok, so it is December now and the last update was in October, but things haven't ground to a halt on this

A new toy has certainly helped!

Part of the reason the old wheel had fallen off was that it was only screwed into the MDF, which considering the weight of this cabinet (145KG when complete) seemed a bit unwise. The force on the wheel is also not always in the same direction so the whole assembly will try to twist when you rock the cabinet back on to the wheels. Some bracing with real timber seemed like a good idea. Pilot holes were drilled for the wheels based on the positioning of the other original wheel (though even that had a mixed bag of screws so potentially it had torn off at one time), and a piece of scrap wood was cut to size so it would not only take the screws from the wheels but also be glued to the inner and outer face of the track to brace it a bit better.

The missing wheel was found...

...and given some TLC.

New right track front installed...

...some tidying up of back-end by chiseling off the remains of the Weetbix wood and glue to allow it all to align properly...

...and the new back fitted with the bracing timber well glued down.

Messy business this!

A couple of days later, with the ends firmly glued in place it was time for top plank with beveled ends to align with the track caps. In the cold light of day, after a clean up it looks pretty damn good.

Upright again!

Time to look at the other track!

It was in much better nick but it was Weetbix the very front and the wood is still a sticky gluey mess under all the rubber tracking.

At this stage I could go one of two ways, take the easy way and live with it, or replace the lot. As the other track would be perfect I took the plunge and decided to rebuild this one too, had pretty much sold myself on that option, hence the new toy. I soon regretted it. Aside from the front of the edge panel this one was infinitely stronger than the other one had been. Trying to break in proved mostly unsuccessful except in buggering the front of it.

Jigsaw time!

Regret kicked in about here..

Once it had been jigsawed down the middle it was easy to break it up. The damage to the grey vinyl will be completely hidden by the new wood work so I wasn't too annoyed about it.

Another saggy wheel, this one also had had a hard life, 4 none matching screws and the wood it was mounted on was looking pretty ropey.

Time to build new structure for this side.

First task was to clean up old formers...

...chisel off the remnants of the old particle board and knock through the old staples for removal.

Cutting the end caps for the other side using the jigsaw had taken me an entire afternoon, and involved lots of colourful language and about 50% wastage with wandering angles and dodgy alignment of parts. This side took an hour with no wastage at all to get a complete set of end parts that fit together without any sanding or prep.

Glue time, trickiest bit is always the first piece.

The old formers were reversed so the old inner face becomes the outer as that was still smooth and not ragged from the removal of the old glue and particle board.

More clampery ensued as end caps took shape...

...and lots more chiseling off rock hard glue and powered 80s particle board, am sick of this part of this.

This is the inner former that is welded to the cabinet side so has to be cleaned up in-situ.

Prior to fitting the end caps I had to think about fixing mashed corner piece. Again the wood was totally shot, as this was the lowest part of the cabinet any water running off it would collect here and have time for a good long soak in.

It had to go, using a scrap piece of MDF as a spacer guide I cut parallel to the former getting back to half decent wood.

I found some scrap timber left from the house build that was exactly 20mm thick to match the cabinet panel and rounded two corners off and routed the T-moulding slot in it. I got the routing done as a favour so I quickly cut the side panels too so they could be T-mould routed at the same time.

After a lot of measuring and double checking (because it looked wrong by eye) about I took the plunge and made the cut.

Good fit!

The old vinyl was cut back with a razor blade far enough that the seam of the replacement would be under the end cap woodwork.

I had planned to use some the new vinyl but it occurred to me I had kept a tear of the old monitor shroud covering for colour matching. If I could re-attach a piece of that it would be a perfect match. It was bit battered...

...but nothing that 48 hours of being clamped between two blocks of MDF didn't straighten out. Baby wipes and some eucalyptus oil took care of the dirt and glue residue. The new corner was glued in place and the gaps filled.

After a 24 hour wait the vinyl was cut and glued in place.

I had already tested the use of wood glue to refit the old vinyl, the back of the vinyl was fairly well coated in wood dust and remnants of the water damaged areas which were well stuck by the original adhesive so the wood glue still thinks it is gluing wood to wood.

The end cap goes on and covers the seam almost entirely, the vinyl hasn't been cut yet so it still looks ragged.

The old wheel gets reinstalled...

...and more clamping and gluing ensue, seems to be the theme with this project.
Sic Transit Gloria Atari

Offline Womble

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2014, 09:51:59 PM »

A complete a bombsite in here!

48 hours later and its time for the top plate to be cut

Perfect first time

Once that was clamped and glued in place I finally got round to taking a razor blade to the repaired corner...

... not too shabby I think! A little bit more filler required along the joint at a later stage.

With everything now fully glued the cabinet had two wheels for the first time in ages so I could actually move it without dragging it, handy as the cabinet needed a trip outside. The back panels of the cabinet were also pretty crumbly but were mostly intact.

Replacing them would be an absolute bitch and would likely involve damaging the side vinyl as the back panels are stapled through from the outside before the vinyl was installed. I also didn't want to lose the Atari stickers which are still present, if a little battered. Even in the undamaged areas the rear surface has a rough texture to it and I think the black is the old paint. The solution was to give the entire back a good long drink of wood hardener, basically just watered down PVA glue, followed by a stint in the hot sun to dry. It was certainly thirsty, 400ml was brushed on and sucked into the wood.

It was then wheeled outside for an afternoon in the sun dry.

It worked well, the crumbliness is gone and everything is rock solid again. After a repaint it should be pretty much the way it should be.

Time to fix the other wrecked corner, much the same as before but not as much damage to replace.

Thankfully there was just enough left of my rounded routed block to do this corner too, but I glued it to a block of wood so I could get it under the saw blade without needing to have my hand anywhere near the biting bit.

Happy with that!

More gluing and clamping...

...the paper is actually the backing paper from sticky labels, wood glue doesn't stick to it well so this avoids you getting your clamp or your press block glued to your work.

Another week passed while that lot set, partially as the urge to work on this is weak most evenings. Next step is to make the side panels, except I already had side panels ready any waiting, shame they didn't fit. A big problem with this cabinet is that it isn't completely true, it probably never was. So parts made to fit mathematically often are not quite right when it comes to a real world fit that has to look right. At some point between my measuring the dimensions for the panels based on the loosely fitted edge caps and them being finally installed things had changed somewhat. Not hugely but it would be noticeable, if I made the front section of the track fit correctly the back would be a complete mess.

What doesn't help is that one track box is 4mm longer than the other, again it probably always was as the original formers are still stapled to the main cab structure that was inside and protected from the wet by distance and vinyl on both sides. Ho hum, time to scrap those and start again.

I have no easy way of making perfect long cuts without resorting to the jigsaw of the wandering blade, but Bunnings do, and it just so happens that this panel looks roughly the same dimension as 16mm panels they sell. So I took one of the large off cuts from the massive sheet of 18mm MDF I bought waay back and marched back in to Bunnings one night. The girl on the front door was perfectly happy to put a "customer's own" sticker on it and let me in with it. The guys at the cut shop didn't bat an eyelid at the sticker and were happy to slice it up for me. A bit cheeky I guess, but Bunnings have already made a killing out of me and this project so any guilt was extremely short lived.

This time I used the fully completed and solid as a rock tracks as the template, three JAMMA finger boards also came in handy as their combined width was exactly the overhang I needed on the edges. Once the panel was perfectly aligned I clamped the crap out of it and drilled a pilot hole through it and into the outer wooden former.

This let me reposition the panel with perfect accuracy using two drill bits. Using the JAMMA fingers I then drew the outline of the cuts to take the corners off and fired up the mitre saw at 45 degrees. After cutting two I alligned the board for one last sanity check as I really didn't want to cock these ones up too.

Two more cuts on the reverse side and it was done, a perfect fit.

The cabinet was rolled over and the same done for its track. The result is two slightly different tracks but both are a perfect fit for their sides. While I was had the saw set up I also dug out the front panel that I got made back in 2011, it never did quite fit, a quick fiddle with a ruler and  pencil on it to plot the center line revealed why. Both of the lower sides that slot between the two tracks were out by a few mm. One side I could fix the problem area with a single swipe of the mitre saw but one side needed to be pruned further than my saw's reach. Knew I should have paid the extra for the sliding mitre, except it was a lot extra so maybe not.

This is as far as I could get the cut, close but no cigar.

The rest was taken off with the jigsaw that was threatened with landfill if it did a wonky cut

She fits!

It looks so weird and awesome to see the cab with its front on again.

Time to properly line it up!

Except a boatload of old glue and wood chip had to be chiseled off first.

The trouble is it needs to look right, so the control panel was dug out of the corner and dropped into place.

At this stage I went looking for the original bolts that hold it in place, but I had nothing in the parts tray and no recollection of what they should look like. Going back to the photos I took when I first got it showed I probably never had them in the first place. So some rather shiny ones from my stash were used as temporary ones to hold it in. I ended up lying it down again for this stage as gravity was not helping, a single JAMMA fingerboard helped size up the overhang required.

Once it was perfectly aligned it was clamped and two small alignment holes were drilled equally spaced and into a clear space in the cabinet's inner frame.


Taking shape!

Time to route the edge panel T-moulding slots, this time I bit the bullet, borrowed a mini router from a mate and fired it up. I already had the bit from before as the guy who did the favour didn't have the 2.4mm slot cutter, the deal was I provide the bit and some beer and he provided the router and the cutting. Shame those panels are in the scrap now.

Very very easy job this one, it cut like a hot knife through butter. It took a fair while to get the depth set up perfectly but it hit the centre line all the way round.

With the alignment holes completed on the side panels and the front panel it was time to fit the dowels to allow them to be fitted and removed for priming, painting and vinyl application. This was done by stepping through drill bits of increasing size on the edge panels until the hole was 8mm for a dowel.

From the pilot/alignment hole up to the main hole took about 8 drill bits as I didn't want any drift to occur and wreck the alignment. On the side panels I drilled through entirely from the outside, it will need filling, and sanding but will be covered with vinyl and the side art so any imperfection wouldn't be seen. The front panel is more critical, so I did the cabinet and the panel itself separately, and on the panel the dowel hole doesn't go all the way through to the front face. A bit of a gamble but thankfully it worked well. With all panels dry fitted I figured it was time to drop in the coin door, the marquee frame and the other controller for a reunion shot.

Lots still to be done, but am really pleased with the progress so far. There are two back corners on the monitor shroud that probably need the same treatment as the rotten ones at the bottom, as well as some more wood hardener squeeze manoeuvres on a couple of places, but then most of the work left is cosmetic, filler, primer, paint and vinyl. The artwork is a story for another day ;)
Sic Transit Gloria Atari

Offline Womble

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2015, 11:23:05 AM »
Am keeping the momentum up on this one, partially because it is majorly in my way, but I can almost see the finish line now.

The last remaining sections of nastiness on the main cabinet body were around the rear edges of the monitor shroud where the wood has crumbled and worn down..

..and on the underside where the main cabinet sides protrude through the base.

Over time these have been damp and crushed out of shape, its not in an area that will be seen but this is where the T-moulding ends so fixing these up should help keep that in place, plus I am determined to get this back to the best condition possible, inside, outside and even underneath. Wood glue was injected and a small clamp used to push everything back together while it set.

The real problem area was the back edges of the monitor shroud itself, as this cabinet is slightly tilted back any rain water would track towards the back and down the rear edges, so the wood there is a badly frayed along the edge, and both lower corners had taken damage as they would be the drip points. The right hand one was just a bit swollen..

..but the other one was a complete mess.

One option would be to cut a large lump out, but then I would have to replace the black vinyl on the inner side of the rear overhang, again it would be out of sight but I have got this far I might as well do it properly. The rear edges also need to be fixed to give straight edge to take the vinyl which will need to be trimmed with a knife, not easy on a ragged wandering edge.

Both corners were fed wood hardener and clamped up tight for two days to fix the swollen corner and to provide a solid foundation for something a bit more drastic on the wrecked one.

Bondo time! References to bondo are all over US arcade forums, but it is just a brand name rather than a specific product its basically car body filler. It sticks like shit to an army blanket but thankfully not to baking paper, which when strapped round a piece of MDF and clamped to the sides makes a pretty good edge guide to build up the edges without over filling and leaving a huge ridge that would need to be sanded down.

Some sections took a lot to get back to the straight and level.


I thought this would be quick, but it took most of the afternoon to do repeated applications to build up the edges, and the badly damaged corner. Each application takes about 30 mins to fully cure, and it is best not to do this on a hot day as once the hardener is added you should get roughly 5 minutes to work with it before it starts to seize up, that decreases rapidly when its hot. The first day I tried this I barely got 60 seconds and that was with the absolute minimum of hardener added.

The plan is to trim the edges with a router but that definitely is an outside job which must wait for a weekend but With the cabinet lying face down I can get started on another major milestone - paint! The back of the cabinet got a final brushing of watered down PVA glue to ensure it was rock solid and was left for a few hot days to fully dry.

It turned out to be pretty hard to colour match the back of this one. It seems some Vindicators cabinets had the same black vinyl on front and the back, but this one clearly never did so no online sources were much use. Also the multiple PVA washes the back had been given left it looking shiny in the undamaged areas and both gloss and matte in the rougher textured areas. Time to dig in the untouched since 2011 parts pile to find the monitor access panel that was still in virgin condition.

It seems any water ran around this so it is in very good condition. For some reason the inner side has the grey vinyl the cab exterior has, I guess they made these from scrap cabinet off cuts. The outer side has the exterior black paint so I took it into Bunnings for colour matching. The closest they could find was White Knight "Splashes" in Flat Black.

The edges and stickers were masked up and the paint went on.

The wheels were removed again and a dose of MDF primer was applied to the rear end caps to seal the surfaces, this is to lock out moisture but mainly so it doesn't drink the rubber glue needed to fix the rubber tracking later on.

Looks awesome!! With the access panel (yet to be painted) dropped in to check the match it is possible this paint is ever so slightly more matte than the original. It is hard to tell due to the way the water damage has changed the surface textures,  but am happy with it. Once the hatch is painted it will all look right, it just a dramatic improvement over the sad battered look I had got used to.

After one coat there are a few places that need a touch up, especially on the masking take over-runs, I didnt bother painting right to the edge as that is going to be sanded back anyway. A few other areas will need a touch up anyway later on.

Also, with the cabinet lying face down I was able to take a good look inside the compartment in the base that seems to have been designed to take a fan. There's no signs Vindicators cabinets ever had fans fitted so this is just a dust and spider trap, a role it has played well for 27 years.

This lunar landscape is at 90 degrees to the floor so this grime is well set in. The screw may be one of the PCB mount screws lost at some stages in the dim and distant past. The whole lot was vacuumed out and wiped down. Need to track down a replacement fan cover, probably a mesh one to keep the wildlife out in future.

It's getting there!

I also found the CP bolts that I thought I never had. It is amazing how bits seem to just walk off on long drawn out projects. :rolleyes
« Last Edit: January 13, 2015, 11:30:22 AM by Womble »
Sic Transit Gloria Atari

Offline Panther

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2015, 01:55:58 PM »
Getting there mate, can't wait to see this finished  :D

Offline Womble

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2015, 03:26:34 AM »
Cheers Panther - am keeping my nose to the grindstone on this one...

Well today was February the 9th, the day on which, in 2011, a 50 foot truck somehow reversed into my street and dropped off a rather sad looking Vindicators cabinet. I can't quite believe this has dragged out past the four year point, but it has, so it is time for a progress update I think, a big one!

Since last time -  more priming of the side tracks while it was face down...

...and more priming work when it was face up...

...and more gluing and clamping of crushed particle board.

The usual method again, soaking glue into the smooshed edges and clamping with a small vice overnight.

This cabinet woodwork repair seemed endless and was really starting to drain my enthusiasm. Time to take a look at the mains wire, no idea why I left it attached for so long as it had been chipping the surface and generally getting in the way for a long time. Due to the unhealthy bulge and the electrical tape it was clearly going to have to come off at some stage.

I was expecting to find the wires bodged together, but it was just a nasty gouge in the insulation, still enough to condemn it though.

It got the chop.

The next bit was something I really was not looking forward to, sorting out the back edges of the monitor shroud. The ragged worn edges had been stabilised with a good soaking in glue, and then built up with bondo, which was easy but messy, and I needed a clean straight edge to trim the vinyl to.

I had planned to clamp a straight edge of wood a suitable distance from the edge and then run the router along to cut the back straight. A good idea in principle, a nightmare in practice. The clamps were always in the way, so I had to stop after 10cm and move them, at which point the wood would slip and I would have to start lining everything up again. It also made a monumental mess, like standing in the middle of a blizzard as snow flakes of cured bondo covered me, the cabinet and everything within ten feet.

This idea was abandoned quickly, I had no idea how I was going to make this work on sloping top portions anyway as there was nothing to clamp the guide wood too at the back without needing massive clamps or weird shaped ones. It turned out that just using the flat plate of the sander was more than good enough for this job and it made a lot less mess.

It took a fair few episodes of bondo, followed by sanding, then more bondo to fill small imperfections, rinse and repeat as nauseum.

The top seam also needed attention... a line of wood glue was rubbed into the joint

...and was followed up with a watered down glue wash to get it well soaked it.

A few hours out in the sun dried it all off nicely.

It was at this point I noticed something nasty, many moons ago I had clamped and squeezed one of the front edges before I put the new side track woodwork, i.e while I still had easy access and only needed a clamp up something an inch thick. I was sure I had done the other side too, but apparently not, and it now had its track woodwork installed so the easy access was gone. Ah the joys of a stop/start project.

Where the previously squeeze size was 20mm, to match the rest of that panel area, the other side was still 24mm which would be a dead loss case for refitting t-moulding later. My only option was to squeeze it with the track in place, which meant I needed something with jaws that could open at least 28cm and also apply a lot of force. Time for some additions to my clamp collection!

These apparently have a max clamp force of 750KG, should be enough :)

Yet more wood glue wash...

... until it is sopping wet with it...

... and the living crap clamped out of it to squeeze the soggy panel back to the right width.

I used the remains of the old t-moulding spine to keep the t-moulding slot from collapsing under the pressure and to focus the squeeze on the wood itself. I had to cut the outer surface off the t-moulding to allow the wood to dry out, if the t-moulding is complete it makes too good a seal on the panel edge and it never dries.

72 hours later and the clamping is done, you can just see my mini vice clinging to the underside of the cabinet here, it is clamping some of the frayed edge of the main cabinet edge that protrudes through the base.

Back in the garage again, more clamping required, to fix the swollen corner on the front of the monitor shroud on the right which was 2-3mm thicker than the t-moulding on the corner.

Same process, fill the slot with something, this time remains of a metal heat sink plate

block the section with MDF offcuts to spread the load, soak the particle board with a glue solution, this time drilling tiny holes to let the glue get in easily...

... and bring out the big guns for some force.

While it was laying down I tackled the front track "toe" section inners. The vinyl here was a mess, and the wood was all knocked about. As this buts up against the front panel which will be all new, with new vinyl on it, these need to match or they would look dreadful.

Vinyl comes off...

...on both sides..

... and I give up for a few days as I am over it again.

After three days the edge clamps have done their work while the glue set hard...

...and the corner is back to its original state and no longer sticks out beyond the t-moulding...

...which I am planning to re-use as it is in good nick, and for a couple of other reasons I will get to later.

The toe sections get bondo'd up...

and sanded back to their original splendor.

Once the cabinet was upright again the top got another light sand as a couple of small sections had been worked on, and the new back edges look great.

It should be a breeze to trim the new vinyl on that edge!

Primer time...

...mainly to seal the boards, but also to fill any tiny voids that are holding dust from the sanding. I have vacuumed the surfaces thoroughly but I bet the vinyl would end up stuck to 50% loose dust and only 50% fixed material.

First coat, a very light one to avoid soaking the wood again.

Second coat...

...and the same treatment for the front panel too.

The track edge panels get their alignment dowels checked and glued into place.

and the outer surface of the dowel filled and sanded.

Then they got some primer action too.

All the sanding and priming had made a bit of a mess of the black paint job on the rear. It was only really intended to be a first coat anyway, so the second coat was now due.

Yet again the cab was flipped face down...

...and the mains input and switch panel was removed so I could safely paint the inside of the switch cutout.

The old rear panels were recovered from their 4 year storage...

...complete with original Vindicators Operator instructions and lock that has long since lost its key.

The lock was removed and the panel gots a glue wash to match the back of the cabinet as it was a bit inclined to shed surface flakes.

With it fully sealed it was time to crack open the black paint for a bit of a marathon session.

The rear of the cabinet got its second coat, with a slight overlap onto the white so any thin edge visible between the back and the vinyl shows up black instead of brilliant primer white. The dent you see on the top edge is a trick of the room lighting I think, it isn't there in real life.

The front panel got a first coat

quickly followed by a second one as it was dry within minutes

Both rear panels were painted too so they now perfectly match the velvety black of the cabinet rear.

Even with this progress, there were still some sections of woodwork needing attention...

The front side edge of below where the CP sits had taken a lot of water damage and then been susceptible to physical damage. The corner of the vinyl had come forwards and the wood behind it had disintegrated.

Sigh - more wood glue soak treatment, this section took a LOT until it started to pool on the surface!

And some more clamping, using baking paper to stop the blocks (used to spread the load) from ending up glued firmly to the cabinet.

This worked very well, but the collapsed corner was still hollow, so some thin slivers of wood were cut, lubed up with glue and slid into the gap until the vinyl surface was level. It was then clamped up for another 24 hours.

It is a bit hard to tell on this shot, but it is looking much better and is again structurally sound.

The slightly tatty upper half of that panel lives under the CP, but I will probably give it a coat of black on the paint brush's next outing.

A couple of small jobs remained that I had been putting off were next on the list.

Firstly the cleaning up the side rail blocks that brace the track outer to the track upper, they were still covered with the remains of particle board and full of staples.

And making another a replacement one of these...

It is the angled hand grip that is screwed to the top of the cabinet so you can get hold of something when tilting the cabinet back. The original is a complete write-off as it bore the brunt of the water damage and was a crumbly mess. So I needed a fresh one, something like this...

The the tracks got clamped and glued in place

 and the grab handle was test got primed.

The end was really starting to feel like it was near but there were a couple of large items on the to do list that had been put off until I was a lot further forward with the cabinet, like about now!
Sic Transit Gloria Atari

Offline Womble

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2015, 03:27:50 AM »
The first one up was the power supply!

Four years ago it was bodged up with an old AT PSU and a lot of electrical tape, that got canned a long while back. In fact the AT PSU was only there to supply the 5 volts for the main board, as the original 5V PSU was missing,  the audio board, amplifiers, coin lamps and marquee take their power from this beast.

When I released the 4 large screws holding this down it refused to move, so I had my head stuck in the cabinet trying to find a 5th screw or something I had missed. In fact the only thing holding it in was gravity, its is heavy, far heavier than it looks, at least 10 Kilos and about a kilo of that seemed to be dirt and rust.

It is the original PSU though, serial number VIN1222, just like the rest of the parts.

Luckily most of the rust was actually dirt, and all the dirt just brushed off...

... leaving a pretty tidy unit.

After a strip down, in which all parts were removed from the base plate, and all the wires cleaned with a damp cloth so the colours could actually be seen, it looks pretty good.

The larger of the two transformers is the 240V to 110V step down that was fitted when it was imported, the serial number plate on the rear of the cabinet still states 110V 60Hz so it was clearly born a US machine. The output of the step down goes to the connector block which provides a feed to the smaller transformer that seems to be a 110V to 110V on the secondary with three taps that go off to the fuse block for 17VAC and 14VAC across fuses F2, F3 and F4. Fuse F4 isn't used by Vindicators so the missing fuse is correct.

The mains input comes through a mains filter, and is double fused through the two fuse bays labelled F1. Double fusing is a bad idea generally and it is not common these days, I may or may not rectify that, in this application it is probably OK.

The only thing missing here is the 5v 10Amp switch mode PSU to provide 5 volts for the game board. Generally switch mode PSUs do not like having zero load on any of their outputs and a normal arcade PSU has 12v and -5 that would be totally unused. The original PSU was just a 5V power supply, with sense return terminals and the chances of finding an original is zero. So a parcel should be inbound from a specialised PSU supplier, containing a single rail 5v 10Amp PSU that will be happy on the 110V that it will be fed in this cabinet.

All up the power supply chassis strip and clean took me an hour end to end. It is is in fact the only section of this entire restoration that didn't turn out to be a boatload more work than I initially thought.

The mains harness that runs up inside the cabinet got a good wash too. It doesn't look too bad in this photo with the flash, but in real life inside the cabinet it was hard to make out the colours of any of the wiring..

After the brief break from the cabinet woodwork, what could be nicer than some more woodwork . Yep, same again, another edge this time, the back of the control panel on the right, more water damage, swelling and separating vinyl.

It was 23mm instead of 19, which doesn't sound much but you get the wood bulging out from the t-moulding an it looks horrible, especially in such an in-your-face area as the CP.

The usual drill again, with slightly more complicated blocking to get an even pressure across this corner.

More drill feed holes...

...and again, it drank in a lot of glue solution.

Am getting my moneys worth out of these clamps at least.

After a few days the clamps were released and some old t-moulding was offered up to demo the repair, looking good!

With the end in sight for the cabinet repair, and the PSU repair just waiting for the postman, the last single mountain left to climb was the CP and the iconic controllers.

Dirty, rusty, incomplete and faulty.

The microswitches are completely at the end of their working life. It had failed switches when I got it, and it lost a couple during my testing. I tore down the problem ones to clean and adjust but they only lasted half an hour before the resistance when closed went from single digit ohms up into the meg ohm range again. So I was only able to play a couple of levels before they failed on me again, at which point I  powered it off and decided to take a look at sorting out the cabinet woodwork - and here we are 4 years on.

The reason the player 2 start button never worked is clear here, the button housing has lost the tabs that actually hold the switch in place under the button.

It is no great loss as the switches are not original, or even correct for the cabinet, the correct ones are in a parcel on the shelf awaiting their moment.

I had taken a walk to a local powdercoaters at some point during the cab priming phase to get a rough idea of the cost to sort out the metal work. The answer was a lot, $150 to $200 which seemed pretty crazy, but he was able to confirm that this effect on the coin door is not powder coat.

Both the "leather effect" on the coin slots, and the speckled effect on the coin door are paint effects that can't replicated with power coat. The same with the marquee surround frame, so as they are mostly in good nick and easily painted, I will work on those myself. The controllers were another matter as they were in a dreadful state.  Clearly they have had a very hard life and it looks like someone attempted to paint them at one stage, going over the rust and damage in the past with gloss black spray paint. Based on the the underside (i.e. protected) surface of the black parts and online photos its clear the controller metal work should be satin black, with a smooth finish, a prime candidate for powder coating, once they are stripped down.

So lets do it!

The microswitch assemblies that detect the forwards and back movements were unscrewed and removed, and the handle grips unbolted.

Crappy old switches exposed again, along with the original colour of the metalwork.

Switches desoldered so the wiring loom could be pulled through.

Wiring completely removed, just the mechanics remain.

A bit dirty but it could be lot worse, no signs of WD40 thankfully.

Lots of photos of parts taken here as I suspect this will be a pain to get back together again.

One down, one to go.

The rubber buffer stops seem particularly crudely cut, the rubber is in good shape, but they seem to have been cut from the stock by a blind man in a hurry using a blunt spoon.

The controller arms look even worse when they are free from the mechanism.

The player 2 controller looks better underneath but is in just as bad shape up top.

Here we go again!

It was a lot quicker this time, except for one stage. There is a bit of a knack in getting the blue controller grips off the arms, you need to slide them down until they are just clear of the end plates, at which point they can rotate on the arm tube. If you don't rotate them they will bind on the corner and refuse to come off. When you rotate they should come off quite easily, unless the arms are badly rusted like this one.

I had to resort to sand paper to smooth the rusted surface enough to get the grip off, and even then it was a struggle.

One box worth of parts was my reward.

In the cold light of day the state of the main parts is clear.

So I dropped them round to the powder that morning, for a date with the sand blaster. Not a cheap option, but they will be done in 4 days and they should look absolutely mint.

Meanwhile the mechanical parts had an appointment with a degreasing bath...

...which is extremely effective, turning these...

...through a couple of hours submersion...

...into these.

The metal parts got a long soak, I was a bit wary about leaving the plastic washers in it for too long but they cleaned up well with a quick dunking.

The plastic parts and the rubber bump stops ended up in the sink.

The sub plate cleaned up very well, the scuff marks are just wear and tear, but the two sliding baffles were more problematic. The shiny portion you can see initially looked like it was just the area that was rubbed clear of dirt during use, but in fact they confirm that someone in the past had painted the controllers with gloss black paint, as that is what those areas are, the extent of them being masked by the controller plate above.

Player 1's baffles show it clearly...

... and player 2 was just a lot dirtier but had had the same paint treatment.

I guess whoever did this just did it with a spray can and moved the controllers back and forth to get all the areas that would be seen. I had hoped it would come off, and it did...

... but you can still see where the paint was, in fact it still looks like it is painted, more so as it is not hidden by grime.

I may resort to painting the baffles entirely in matte or satin black paint if I can't improve it any further.

The handle grips were pretty grim too...

... both nothing that soap and water couldn't cure.

And that is it for now, the t-moulding is inbound from the US, new locks are in the post, the rubber tracking is sat in the corner stinking up the room, and the correct leaf spring switches arrived for the CP last week. I still need to source some vinyl, but am starting to run out of things I need. Sadly there is still some woodwork left to do, 3 problem areas remain to be attacked when I can face more gluing and clamping.

It will be soon, very very soon, before the 9th Feb 2016 I promise.

There is already lots more to show,  lots of parts have arrived and a lot more filth has been consigned to the bin, I just need to write up the next stage :)
Sic Transit Gloria Atari

Offline Panther

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2015, 09:51:41 AM »
Great reading, should be fantastic once completed.  :)

Offline Womble

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2015, 12:10:38 PM »
Thanks Panther - am looking forward to that day hugely, just to have it finished and off the to-do list will be reward enough.

But wait, there's more...

Stripping the controllers was a significant step, but it uncovered two significant problems. Firstly these...

... they are the plastic bearings that clip into the metal controller frame and support the metal rods that twist and slide during use.

They cleaned up pretty well after a soak in the degreasing solution...

...but the problem was I was missing one, there are 4 smaller ones per controller and 2 larger ones, and on the right hand controller one of the small ones was missing. After 25 years I figured my chances of finding a spare was slim, and reduced to zero as I had no idea what they were actually called. I tried a number of image search strings but came up blank, so I posted on KLOV to see if anyone could help me out with a name based solely on a photo.

I also asked an even more unlikely question regarding the CP security bolts that this cab would once have had. There is a very good Vindicators repairlog on Dragonslair by a guy called Superully who had some very good photos of what his bolts looked like, which are these shots.

He was replacing his with standard screws, but had the luxury of actually having the originals on hand. All I had was the empty holes and the nut component embedded in the cabinet woodwork. My only logical option was to rip it out of the panel and take it to Bunnings and try a variety of bolts to see what would fit. Trouble was I knew they wouldn't have the right bolts, even if they had the right size, and ripping them out would create more work to get it back in again. Being US in origin this cab is a nasty mix of metric and imperial everything, and being in a metric country the only bolts I had on hand were metric, but M6 bolts did sort of fit, despite being a bit loose. So my question was "what imperial screw thread would I need if an M6 bolt just about works but isn't a tight fit"

Amazingly I got two perfect hits, the bearings are called Nyliners and the suggestion for the bolts was that they were probably black oxide, 1/4 inch, 20 thread, tamper-proof pin-in-torx bolts. Result!

With the Nyliner name I could track down the product brochure and it seems they are still made. Although mine were old and worn the question was whether they were imperial ones, or metric, especially as some metric values align very close to imperial ones, i.e were the rods 8mm and metric, or were they 7.93mm which is 1/4" in old money? Measuring the rest of the controller chassis seemed to point to the unit being imperial as they are bang on 4" wide, the chance of the them being metric being 101.6mm by accident seemed unlikely, plus the metal itself was about 1.6mm thick which is too close to being 1/16" for it to be luck. So working all that out I ended up with the parts being these ones.

So 5L1-FF for the smaller holes, and 6L1-FF for the large, I just needed to find a 5L1-FF one. Most sites are vague about the sizes. and ebay is hopeless, no-one actually quotes the real part number,  they just state the measurement, but how carefully they were measured is the issue, is it 7.93mm or 8mm? Thankfully Pinball Spare Parts out in East Melbourne happened to have a single one left in stock and did reference the original part number. Minimum postage ran to $8 which seemed a bit steep for something the size of a 5c coin and weighing about a tenth of one. To make up the postage I went looking for other stuff to get, including the mythical security bolts and found something that looked very similar by eye in the "unknown" section, it had no dimensions listed so I rang them up. I wish I kept a record of the guys name because he was very helpful and put in more effort than a $10 sale really warranted. The ones I had found were actually too small but another item was exactly what I was after, and they were literally cents each.

So a few days later both mysteries were solved and the parts were in the Vindicators coin box here waiting for their time to come, a quick test of the bolt in the side of the cabinet confirmed they were an exact fit.

To find both at the same supplier and in the same city was insane luck, importing from the US would have been slow and relatively expensive, plus the only supplier of the bolts refuses to ship outside the US at all.

The second major problem was that the controller frames consist of three pieces that are welded or braized together and a large proportion of these joints had cracked open. This explains why the player two controller was rattly as almost every joint was loose.

All four welds on one of the bearing plates had failed and the slightest pressure would cause it to fall out...

... which meant the mechanism was supporting the frame, rather than the other way round.

Pretty manky looking too!

Still I had a message from the powder coater that my parts were ready and a few streets away in the industrial estate was a steel fabricators, I decided to try my luck and drop in. I wasn't overly hopeful but the guy took them straight into the workshop to the bod on the TIG welder, and seconds later...

...fixed, for the princely sum of $20 for his trouble. Probably crazy money on a per-weld basis, but was more than happy to pay that for the problem to be gone.

The powder coater's parcel contained some gems too..

...considering what the arms looked like before, compared to this...

Unfortunately my excitement was short lived, they had powder coated the entire piece, including all four bolts, the threads were completely buried and unusable.

I considered buying a tap and die set to chew off the covering, but getting it lined up on the buried thread would be a nightmare. So I took them back and complained, apparently I needed to have explicitly stated I wanted the threads protected, err yeh clearly I wanted the threads buggered, I mean who wouldn't? In the end they took them back to be completely stripped back and redone, the chemicals required to strip just the threads are so fumey they would wreck the finish on the rest of it, so a total re-strip was the only option.

While that was being re-done the controller chassis needed a trip through the degreasing bath, but not before the top plate welds were filed flat to let the controller plates sit flat.

From this...

to this... this...

... to this...

A great improvement, except for the top surfaces which were as rusty as ever. I think these controllers had had drinks poured into them at some stage, as were signs of what I guess was coke corrosion where it would have collected. Also as I had exposed bare metal with the weld filing I needed to protect that area from rust.

So a blast with the sander...

... took the whole surface back to bare steel.

Which was masked...

... and hit with metal primer.

I had no plans to paint the rest of them as this is purely a protective step, the rest will stay original, plus reassembly is almost certain to chip paint off around the bearing holes and that would make Womble sad.

With the controllers underway and the second trip to the powder coaters delaying things there I moved onto the CP itself.

Four years in the garage and not much love beforehand had left it looking tired, even after blowing the dust off.

It has a few dings on it, and the common cracks you get on old vinyl CPs but it was perfectly re-usable, after a good clean.

Soap and water is one way, but I didn't want to inflict the metal work or the CP overlay to a soaking. I had read a number of repairers swearing by chinese magic erasers. They are melamine foam blocks, the material has been known for a long time, but apparently its use as a cleaning material was only discovered a few years ago. I finally found some at Coles in Melbourne Central for $2 a pack. Just add water so they are slightly damp and rub away.

Holy crap do they work wonders

The areas around the controller holes are likely to be completely covered once the controllers slot back in so I didn't go crazy there. I will try harder if I need to, these are micro abrasives so I didn't want to get too brutal on areas that probably won't need it.

Meanwhile the postman had brought me this, a new 5V 10Amp switch mode PSU.

The main PSU chassis was missing the original 5V PSU and the cab came with an old AT PSU bodged in its place. Getting an exact fit was never going to be possible and spending lots on a 25 year old PSU from overseas seemed totally pointless. This one is not an arcade one as such, but is a professional grade one, made by a company that are happy to put their name to it and a full list of technical specifications and guarantees you will never get with an no-name $30 yum cha arcade PSU. As I only needed a single rail (ie 5V, not one with 5V, -5V and 12V) it was actually pretty reasonable.

It would be a painful experience to try wiring this up in the dark when everything is back inside the cabinet so the wiring loom needed to get fitted externally so it will go in as one assembly, so the wiring loom came out, it needed a wash anyway.

This provides the main PCB and the audio PCB with 5V and takes the AC from the transformer for the amplifier section and coin counter drivers that also live on the audio PCB. Originally the wiring supported a 5V and 0V sense connection back to the PSU. It was a common feature on Atari cabinets but is usually now disabled as bad connections on the sense connections can cause the PSU to think it needs to crank up the voltage leading to fried boards and burnt edge connectors. At a psychical level these wires are just connected to the 5V and ground plane on the PCB, so they make just as good power feed wires, as they do power return wires when connected to a PSU that doesn't support the sense feature.

Trouble was the eyelets are too wide for this PSU's connection posts

... so rather than cutting them off entirely and replacing them, I opted to give them a trim and a file.

Now they do fit, along with new linker wires to the main 110V binding posts. The upshot being a complete power supply unit ready to drop back into the cabinet.

It occurred to me that the 5V adjust pot is going to be very hard to adjust when this is all installed, so I guess I will have to get everything hooked up and running on the bench here so I can set the 5V correctly, prior to putting it all back into its dark cramped cave.

A cave that is still coming on nicely..

...the last of the clamping and gluing is now thankfully behind me, with the fixing of the last swollen edges.

More of the old tedious process...

There is a load of metal painting coming my way, plus the t-moulding has arrived and confirmed I have cut the wrong slot widths so I need to backtrack a bit there but all in all, and I know I have said it before, the end is in sight. Two Saturdays should do it, maybe three :)
« Last Edit: February 26, 2015, 12:26:30 PM by Womble »
Sic Transit Gloria Atari

Offline AndyRCM

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2015, 01:46:12 PM »
stunning . . .
"I could see the faces of those who led pissing themselves laughing" - Funeral Pyre by The Jam

Offline jack_farmer

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #25 on: February 26, 2015, 05:32:10 PM »
Wow! Looking great!  :D

Offline Panther

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #26 on: February 27, 2015, 11:51:21 AM »
Really cannot wait for this, wonder if you can get cheap flights to Oz  :P

Offline Womble

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #27 on: February 28, 2015, 11:18:37 AM »
Hehe if you book a year in advance they can be reasonable. It's coming on a pace, put in another 5 hours today and got loads done.
Sic Transit Gloria Atari

Offline Panther

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2015, 09:27:50 AM »
Somehow don't think the wife will let me fly half way round the world to play Vindicators (not without her anyways !!)  :o

Offline Womble

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Re: Atari Vindicators Repair Log
« Reply #29 on: March 02, 2015, 11:00:05 AM »
Its two player, she can come too!
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