30 Years of Dust (post 2 of 4)

(a continuation from the previous blog post on Rebuilding An Arcade Game)

First things first, I needed to take EVERYTHING out of the cabinet so that we could clean and refurbish. The marquee, the TV, the glass and plastic bezels, the control panel, the coin box, the original power supply, the switching power supply, etc…

I don't think the original owner knows about "Spring Cleaning"

As you can see from the picture on the right, 30 years of dust can really tarnish things. This is the original Centipede power transformer (albeit with a few modifications to bring it up to current spec to work with a switching power supply). Everything looked like this so a thorough cleaning was necessary (not just to make it look good, but dirt and dust can impede electrical flow as well).

Almost everything is held in with simple carriage bolts.

I took out everything of the cabinet with 1 exception: the CRT TV. I don’t know much about tube televisions, but I do know that they have capacitors that can store lethal amounts of electricity. I’d heard a few stories about people getting pummeled with enough voltage to bring some serious pain. I also know that CRTs can be quite heavy and if dropped will actually IMPLODE causing shards of glass to spit out up 6′ away. Yeah, I was a little intimidated.

I went online and found a great site on rebuilding old arcade games (www.arcaderepairtips.com). There, they showed me how to properly “discharge” a CRT TV. Wasn’t very hard, but quite scary for me. I actually had my wife Amanda stand close by wearing rubber gloves, ready to shove me away from the current if I got electrocuted. 😉

Screen Burn on an old PacMan. Click to see closer.

The TV came out and was in fact, quite heavy. Good news is I didn’t drop it. Bad news is that once it was out, I could see that it had quite a bit of “screen burn.” Too much to be salvaged (unless I wanted to read “1200 points for extra life” across every game).

So I went online and started researching arcade monitors. Turns out that they stopped making new CRTs years ago. They are now quite expensive because they’re either used or New Old Stock (NOS). I also was concerned about the electricity thing, and the weight. Whatever goes in there has to be properly mounted again as the screen actually goes vertical on those old games. It was mounted horizontally on my “reconfigured” Centipede/Wonderboy cab. This concerned me.

I also noticed that all the new arcade games (from like 2000-on) used new LCD technology that looked way better. LCD monitors are brighter, lighter, crisper, and use WAY less electricity (read power consumption and heat). Oh yeah and they’re cheaper too. The only downside is that it doesn’t have quite that same “crappy” CRT look that we just accepted in the 80s (which I actually kind of wanted because it’s all about nostalgia for me. I want everything to be as authentic as possible).

After...(with new LCD)

Before... (old CRT)

After much deliberation, I decided to go with the LCD (and now that I’m almost finished with rebuilding, I am SO glad I did). I knew that it would end up looking much better and have way less problems if I went this route. CRTs have so many complications and just the sheer weight to ship one was pretty ridiculous. By the way, I did find out that although you and I may have used CRTs in our homes back in the day (and use LCDs today), the ones in arcade games are a little different both in mounting and also quality (after all, an arcade game is on for like 14 hours every, single day).



Back to the actual cabinet: it was actually in quite good shape, but definitely needed a little TLC. Amanda and I cleaned the sides up from any skid marks and dirt over the years. We did this with ammonia, soap, and water. We also wanted to get the black “black” again.

As you can see in the pic on the right, the bottom of the cabinet had taken quite a few shoe kicks, probably from stealing quarters here and there. We wanted that looking new so with slapped a fresh coat of paint on it. We did this to all the areas that were black.



The entire cabinet is also surrounded by plastic t-molding on the edges. This had also taken a beating so I ripped it all off. I ordered some new t-molding from arcadeshop.com and installed that once we started putting everything back together.



With the cabinet starting to shine up, we looked to where we should focus our efforts next. There was still so much to do! The control panel…


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