Powder Coating

Probably the most frustrating aspect of this project is getting certain cosmetic items how I want them. One of the major hurdles that caused me to put the project on hold was the coin door. It had some rust underneath the original finish so I completely disassembled the door and stripped it. This left me with a bare metal door. Now… how do I refinish the door and make it look original?

Well, I started with a primer coat and then some black paint. I quickly noticed my new paint job on the door was not going to hold up to actual use. It scratched easily and didn’t have the original textured look I was after. Maybe I should have finished it with clear top-coat, but I wasn’t really thinking about it. I stripped it again and tried some textured paint, but I still didn’t get the look I wanted. I then realized that I should just have the door powder coated. But where…? I shopped around for price quotes from a few shops and didn’t get much response. Shortly thereafter, I lost interest and put it aside.

Well, just last week, I found a place to powder coat the door and it’s finally done. Only cost me $35 and looks just how I wanted it to. The only minor issue is the hinge… powder coating tends to freeze it in place and breaking it free means damaging the powder coat finish. Fortunately, it just resulted in some small pits along the hinge so I’m going to touch them up with some black paint.

The frame.

The door.

Back at it…

Well, it’s been about 5 years now since I last worked on this blog. I’ve even heard a rumor that kids don’t blog anymore! I suppose I’m not a kid anymore, so whatever. 😉

I’ve always intended to finish this machine. I’ve always wanted it to look pristine and sit proudly next to my primary MAME machine as the vertically-oriented, 4-way leaf-switched beauty that it is.

Nevertheless, I put it under a drop-cloth to protect it from dust and left it alone. I suppose I just got busy with other stuff. But, spending time with a friend of mine working on his machine reminded me of how much I enjoy this hobby, even when it’s frustrating.

So, I’m not promising a ton of updates, but there will be some activity coming up.

Switched To WordPress

The site looks a bit different today. I’ve recently switched from the b2evo platform to WordPress. Why?

I obviously don’t visit my own site all that often, but I noticed about a month ago that my “referrer” page was literally filled with links to porn sites. How could my innocent little blog get caught up in that? This page explains it quite well.

OK, I understand the problem (referrer spam) and the vulnerability (logging referrers) in b2evo. So… where is the option to turn off referrer logging and display in b2evo? I mean… I generally don’t care which domains visit my site. I do care when they are displayed as links and they waste my bandwidth.

Well, after some research, I found it’s just not possible. (short of manually editing a ton of .php files to identify and remove the code) Needless to say, I was severly disappointed with b2evo at that point. After reading the b2evo forums, I realized I was definitely not the first person to ask for this feature. They do include a “blacklist” function, but it doesn’t seem to do jack. I’m not about to fight an uphill battle by manually updating my .htaccess file every day to ban these domains.

That made up my mind. I dropped b2evo like a bad habit and now I’m using WordPress to publish this page. I found a nice php script to import the b2evo database and I was done. Hope you like the new look. I sure do.

Finishing up the paint on one side…

I wanted to finish the blue paint on one side to see how it would look. First, I had some masking tape to apply.

In case you’re wondering: Yes, this took quite a while! I paid careful attention to all the details of the sideart so as not to harm it in the slightest. Here’s a close-up to show off the work I put into it:

Once this was complete, I got the computer-matched paint out again and went to town. Honestly, with the masking tape in place and the new paint all over, it looked like a blue mess for a little while. I had to resist the urge to pull the tape off too early, but somehow I managed. Here’s how it looks now:

I’m VERY happy with how it came out. The masking tape certainly did it’s job. Here’s a closeup of the detail around the black borders. (I lightened the picture to show off the black-on-blue lines)

As you can see, I even managed to retain the slight overspray from the original factory paint job. I wanted this to remain intact to keep the machine looking “authentic”. I plan to go over the black border and probably some of the yellow to touch up a few spots of the original chipped paint, but for now I’m quite satisfied with it.

One side down, one to go… 🙂

Painting One Side

There was a black strip of paint on the bottom sides of the cabinet. Here’s what it looked like:

This black strip was probably put there by an operator to hide damage to the bottom and corners. Arcade cabinets tend to get nicked and gouged up on their bottoms from being moved around and painting a black strip is easier than using wood filler to achieve a proper repair. I found a picture of a Super Pacman upright cabinet on the Killer List Of Video Games which didn’t have this strip. See…

The strip came off very easily with some light sanding. I ended up sanding all of the areas that were patched with wood filler and most of the bottom.

The whole side:

I then painted most of the sanded areas with computer-matched blue paint. Although the cabinet was originally spray painted at the factory, it had a certain grain to the wood that was visible through the paint. I was careful to match this grain pattern with the brush strokes.

I didn’t mask the side art with tape before painting, so I just avoided the areas that were close to it. Eventually, I will mask the heck out of it and get the blue paint even throughout.

Because I sanded more than I painted, the blue color looks uneven in some areas. (in Pac-Man’s mouth and near the top front) That will be fixed soon enough. The pictures really don’t do justice to how nice the paint came out looking in real life. 🙂

Kick Plate & Paint

I pulled off the old kick plate today to clean the area around it. It was only held on by a few rusty staples so it was easy to remove. Unfortunately, it was pretty dinged up as you can see:

Here’s a better look at it:

I found that Mike’s Arcade.com sells a replacement piece of this plastic, so I placed an order for one.

With the kick plate plastic off, I had better access to clean the grime off the front of the machine. Here’s the before shot:

After it was cleaned up, I decided to try some of the color matched paint to see how it would blend around the artwork. I kept a half-inch distance from the artwork because I plan to use masking tape when I really start painting. This was just a quick test:

I’m very happy with how it came out, so I’ll probably continue the cleaning and painting soon.

Upgrading Software From 1982

Now that the game is playable, I’ve set high scores which are lost after power off. That kind of sucks. Luckily, I found this today.

This guy reprogrammed two 2764 ROMs and upgraded an SRAM chip to achieve high score retention after power off. That’s insane, but I still intend to reap the benefit of his hard work since he offers the binary ROM images free for download.

I could buy them preprogrammed from this place for $45, but frankly I need an excuse to buy an EPROM programmer. One can be had for under $50 thanks to Willem. I don’t think the blank chips will be more than $10 either. The chips are all socketed, so it’s a plug and play swap once I have them programmed. 🙂

Stock coin box acquired…

When it comes to buying stuff, I can be pretty darn impatient. I could have bought a coin box on eBay for around $10 + $3.50 shipping if I had waited a week for the auction to end. Well, I didn’t want to spend a week waiting and hoping no one else would bid the price up. After all, there might be huge demand for vintage Bally/Midway coin boxes in the next five days. 🙄

Anyway, I found a “Buy It Now” auction for a slightly better looking box for $20 + $8 shipping. It will ship today so I’ll probably get it next week.

I’m still trying to justify the extra money I spent, so allow me to explain why this one was (potentially) worth double the price.

Notice the metal clips on one side of it? Yeah, that’s the biggest difference. I believe those clips lock the box into the metal cage. I’m not certain however. I guess I’ll find out when it arrives.

Marquee Area Cleaned

I took off the marquee to clean some ancient tape adhesive stuck to the top. That made it look virtually brand new. While I had the marquee apart, I figured it was a good time to clean the entire area.

Before:

After:

The speaker looks a little better with some shine on it. This photo is a bit deceiving however. The area still looks dusty behind the speaker, but that’s actually clean plywood you’re seeing. The marquee area wasn’t really meant to have any paint on it at all, but every machine has some paint overspray from the factory. Paint overspray happens to be a good way to determine which game a converted cabinet originally housed.

I also cleaned the marquee top retainer.

Before:

After:

Unfortunately, it’s pretty dinged up. I’ll probably replace this part because it’s cheap and easy. It looks OK for now.

Finally found what they look like…

After e-mailing some friends and a few online shops, I finally obtained a picture of the missing Super Pacman coin box. Now that I have a nice new set of coin mechs in place, I need one of these! 🙂

It will sit in the metal cage below the coin door and catch quarters. eBay looks like the easiest place to snag one for under $10. I think the machine will have all of it’s stock parts after I obtain this item.