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The T3sk3y Defenestrator

Whitewater Restoration – stick a fork in it

.. ‘cuz it’s done.

After 9 months and more orders from Pinball Life, Marco Specialties, Bay Area Amusements, and Pinball Resource than I care to count, I crossed the last to-do off the list of restoration tasks.

Restore White Water - playfield view

Restore White Water - playfield view

I’ve had a bunch of pesky little tasks for the past couple of weeks to resolve – like coloring the white edges of the decal with a blue paint pen.  It’s a little detail, but it really makes it look professional.

The last task was to do something I’ve never done in pinball restoration – weaken the flippers.  Everything I’ve learned has been how to make the flippers nice ‘n strong.  This machine had the wrong flipper coils when I bought the machine – but they were okay with the worn linkages.  Once I rebuilt the flippers, the flippers turned into cannons that threatened to destroy all the expensive new plastic parts.  To rectify, I went one step weaker with the coils and that did the trick.

White Water - Upper playfield view

White Water - Upper playfield view

Pictures from the entire restoration odyssey are here on my SmugMug site: Whitewater Restoration

Whitewater Restoration – Part 73

I’m quite sure there hasn’t been 72 other updates to this saga, but there should have been.

For those not following along, I’ve been restoring a Williams Whitewater pinball machine for months.  I started tearing it apart in February and spent the spring restoring and rebuilding the playfield.  I spent the summer months restoring and redecaling the cabinet.  During the fall, I’ve been reassembling.

I could go faster – but with a new addition to the family midway through the restoration – whaddya gonna do?

I made a major push forward over the past couple of weeks and am finally within sight of the end.  Over the weekend, I put it back on its legs, reattached the head, reinstalled the topper, and started restoring the lightboard behind the translite.

I’m down to three major tasks:

  • Reinstall the playfield
  • Reassemble the lightboard
  • Clean and reassemble the Speaker/Display panel

I think that with some luck, I’m within a week of completion.

Here’s how it looks as of yesterday – Sunday, the 19th of October:

Back on its feet again

Back on its feet again

For gruesome restoration detail.. here are the rest of my pictures: Whitewater Restoration

Whitewater Restoration – Slowly but Surely!

One nice side benefit of having a new child arrive twelve days late is that you have lots of time to sit around and wait.  I was able to make use of some of that time to get some work done on my Whitewater restoration.

My latest project is the restoration of the upper playfield.  Like the rest of the machine – it was pretty dirty and needed a lot of work.  All ramps needed to be replaced, lots of metal parts needed polishing and regraining, and Bigfoot needed some TLC including a bath and some fur regluing.

The underside of the upper playfield

Once everything was off the playfield, it required a good sanding (of the backside) and a good polishing (of the front)

Lots of magic black dust on the backside

That’s better!

Reassembly is going pretty slowly – so far, I’ve got all the lamps on the backside, all the ball guides regrained and some reattached, and the upper flipper rebuilt.  I’ve also got Bigfoot back in place after a bath, lots of hot glue, and some stiching.

Bigfoot is back!

My next project is to build up all of my new Pinball Inc. reproduction ramps.  This will require moving all hardware from the old ramps to the new ramps, moving the decals to the new ramps, and adjusting everything to fit.  The new ramps are almost twice as thick as the old ones – and they don’t always fit.

The new Suicide Canyon ramp from Pinball, Inc.

I also acquired a new set of clear plastics from Orbit Pinball – I’ve got to get some riveting done on the indicator sign before I can mount that.

You can see the rest of my restoration pictures at Smugmug: (link)

Whitewater Restoration – 50% done, 90% left to go.

Nowhere is this more true than in pinball restoration. Even when you’ve got some of the ‘big ticket’ items done – there is still an amazing amount of work left to complete.

I hit a big milestone last week in my Whitewater restoration project – I finished the lower playfield. I ended up backtracking a little because I received some sorely needed replacement parts from the guru of Pinfooties – Bryan Kelly. I had to remove the disaster drop ramp to replace a JB Weld’ed ball guide – and I had to remove the apron to replace an epoxied ball trough.

The lower playfield restored and reassembled

For most machines, this would be the 50% completion point – and the rest would be cabinet work. On Whitewater, there is an upper playfield that is densely encrusted with ramps, gates, wireforms, and a furry bigfoot guy. This will be a sizable project by itself. I’ve been cleaning my workbench area in preparation for stripping and rebuilding the upper playfield and I should be ready to attack it very soon.

I had planned on pulling the lower playfield off the rotisserie and putting it in storage while I worked on the upper playfield – but I decided to mount the upper playfield and build around it when the time comes. The risk of breaking $100 ramps is too great when you are working on the entire upper as a unit. This will make the restoration a little tougher but a lot safer.

Here are a couple more beauty shots showing off the lower playfield in its restored goodness:

The pop bumper area showing lots of new parts

The Lost Mine area showing new mountains and targets

The Disaster Drop area normally located underneath the upper playfield

The rest of the restoration pictures are located here: (link)

Ten Places to Shoot Before I Die

I originally saw this idea on another photography blog: Chris Barnes’ Digital Imaging. The idea is to itemize ten places to take pictures at some point in your life. I thought it was kind of thought provoking – so I decided to take a swing at it myself.

This is my list of top ten things that I want to photograph before I die. There is no rhyme or reason to my list. It’s not along any common theme – other than they are all places I want to photograph. Some of them are not even practical given current socio-politico-economic reasons. But – it’s before I die and lots can change in the next seventy or eighty years.

1. Mustang, Nepal

Only recently open to Westerners, one could potentially get a view of Everest on the same trip.

2. India

Okay, I’ve shot in India before so technically I’ve got one out of ten. There’s so much more to see – and India’s got it all.

3. Masada, Israel

I saw the mini-series as a kid – bummer about the politics in the region.

4. Petra, Jordan

I saw Indiana Jones as a kid. Bummer about the politics in the region.

5. The Isle of Skye, Scotland

For only about $4500, I could join a SmugMug tour!

6. Easter Island

Yeah, that’s cool.

7. The South Island, New Zealand

I’ll either get pictures like this – or a lot of sheep.

8. The backcountry of Iceland – in the summer

Okay – I’ve been there too, but as you can see it was the dead of winter. It’s supposed to be gorgeous in the summer!

9. Pyramids, Temples, Sphinxes, etc. – Egypt

I’ve always thought Egypt was cool. There’s also a lot of things to point a camera at!

10. Earth’s Orbit

It couldn’t hurt to wish, could it?

It looks like it’s time to start making some travel plans. At one trip every three years.. it’ll only take thirty years..

Apologies to the people who own the images that I linked to. I’ll gladly remove them if requested!

Whitewater Restoration – All hail the washtub

I’m really glad we put a washtub in the basement when we built our house – even though the washer / dryer is on the ground floor. It gets used a lot in an average pinball restoration – and this is no average restoration. I’ve spent a lot of time hunkered over the basin scrubbing the gunk off of parts over the past week.

I spent last weekend replacing the lighting harness on the back of the playfield. This wouldn’t have taken very long, except that I’m replacing every single light socket due to corrosion. That’s a lot of soldering. It’s all back in place now and screwed down – and I think everything is in the right place.

I also had to clean all the big lighting circuit boards from the backside of the playfield. They went in to the laundry tub with dish soap and hot water – I don’t know what kind, some organic lemon brand my wife bought. Thank goodness it’s organic. Once dry, these boards were reinstalled and hooked back up again – with a full set of brand new #555 bulbs.


The lighting harness and light matrix boards are reinstalled

The next task was to clean. scrub, and polish all the mechanical things under the playfield. After spending about two hours with the lost mine kicker bracket removing corrosion, I decided to box all the parts up to bring over to Jesse’s. See, Jesse has a bead blaster. This will save me a lot of time.

While I’m waiting to go to Jesse’s, I started doing a little work on the topside. I replaced the pop bumpers with all new parts and I started re-graining ball guides. I was able to get a couple guides done tonight while I waited for my coils to soak. I had put all of the solenoid coils in the tub to soak for a couple of hours to remove the grit.


New pop bumpers and a freshly re-grained rear orbit guide

Tomorrow, I’m heading to Jesse’s to bead blast my grungy weldments. I’m anxious to see how they turn out.

Check out many more pictures over at SmugMug: (link)

Whitewater Restoration – The Wiring Harness Gets It!

WARNING:  The following image is not for the easily offended.


Whitewater’s wiring harness in the dishwasher

I’ll admit – this isn’t a standard cleaning tactic.  The ‘normal’ way to clean a wiring harness is to soak it in Bleche-Wite and blast it with a pressure washer in the driveway; then leave it out to dry in the sun.

It’s March in Minnesota.  It would have rested in a melty slushpuddle and been snowed upon.

So, while Heather was out of the house on Saturday afternoon, I dragged it upstairs to the dishwasher and threw it in.  I made extra sure none of the parts would droop through and get bashed by the sprayer – and I turned off the high-heat dry cycle.

After about 10 minutes, I opened the door to take a peek – and saw 2″ of what looked like motor oil in the bottom.  It was amazing how much black gunk came off!  When the cycle was done, I hauled it back down the basement and blasted out all of the connectors, sockets, and switches with compressed air to displace any sediment or residue.

How did it turn out?  I’m 90% happy with the results.  It isn’t perfectly clean – hand scrubbing would still remove more tough gunk.  There’s also a little bit of soap blech on the sockets and switches.  I should have used liquid instead of powdered soap – but that’s all we had.  It wipes right off, so I’m not anticipating issues.   On the bright side, it’s pretty darn clean – and it was a whole lot easier than the hand method!   I’d do it again.

Now it’s time to start replacing the harness:


Now, where does all this crap go?

As I was trying to disentangle the harness, I realized it was actually three completely separate harnesses: one for the switches, one for the lamps, and one for the high power (solenoids & flashers).  This means I could re-run one at a time to keep everything straight.


The switch harness replaced with the wiring risers in place

The next painful step?  Replacing 50 corroded light sockets, one at a time.  No – the dishwasher wasn’t to blame, I suspect it was the container trip back from China.

Follow the pictoral progress over at my SmugMug account: (link)

Whitewater Restoration – Sanding the playfield

Now that I’m back from a weekend of skiing in Utah.. I got a chance to spend a little time over the past couple of days working on my Whitewater restoration.

The project for the past couple of nights has been a deep cleaning and sanding of the playfield.  I’ll admit – this isn’t something most people do because removing the wiring harness is pretty daunting.  Once everything was removed, I slid the harness on to a piece of old playfield glass – then on to a shelf.


This is the filthy backside of the playfield – notice the magic black dust

To clean the backside, I sanded it with 120 grit sandpaper on a random orbital sander.  Some have claimed that a random orbital sander takes forever – but it seemed to go pretty quick.  After about five minutes, things started improving quickly:


The playfield backside with the right side sanded

It probably only took about twenty minutes in total to sand it – and I think the results were worth it!


Nice ‘n clean!

Next up – polishing the topside and power washing the wiring harness.

Whitewater Restoration Begins!

I purchased my Williams Whitewater pinball machine back in November, 2006 from Chad Keller at Pinball Expo. When I bought it, it was in decent unrestored but working shape. Since it arrived at my house, I’ve only done the bare minimum to get it working acceptably. Over the past year and a half, I’ve worked to acquire all the parts to rebuild it and restore it.

I finally got a chance to start on the restoration last weekend. This one is going to be the biggest project to date – because I’m doing a much more extreme restoration. Previous restorations have involved simply rebuilding the playfield. This time, the entire cabinet is getting redone with new decals and I’m going to do the backside of the playfield as well.

I’ll try to keep some progress photos online to follow along. Here’s the first picture – it’s the inside of the head after disconnecting the wiring harnesses to the playfield.


Look ma – no wires!

The second photo is of the lower playfield mounted in the rotisserie prior to removing parts:

 

Whitewater lower playfield

Thus far, I’ve removed the upper playfield, disconnected all the wiring from the backbox, and pulled out the lower playfield. The next step will be to start stripping the playfield to clean and replace parts.

My photos of the process are over at my SmugMug account: link

New additions to the CHAska Pinball Shrine (CHAPS)

It’s been a great end of the year for my pinball addiction hobby.  In October, I managed to acquire a pair of 1988 Williams Cyclones (or the CyCLONES as I jokingly call them).  Cyclone was a game from my past – the Bowling Alley in Waseca had one.  I spent many a night when I was home from college for the summer feeding quarters into that Cyclone.  It’s always been a goal to own one.  Well, I found two – rescued from campgrounds in Southern Minnesota.  I found them dirty and broken – and I’ve now restored one to rights.


Williams Cyclone 

This week, I ran across something even better – a 1988 Williams Banzai Run.  They made almost 10,000 Cyclones – but they made only just over a thousand Banzai Runs.  It’s a must-have for any pinball collector.  It’s an amazingly unique game – two playfields, one vertical.


Williams Banzai Run

On the downside, I said farewell to a couple of old friends – my Black Knight 2000 in October and my Funhouse in December.  Both went to good homes – and I’ve got visitation rights if I need a fix.

Stop on by if you want to give ’em a whirl!

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