Out of Hibernation : Crystal Castles Rebuild (Part 2)
Updated: Apr 28, 2019
In Part Two of the exciting saga of Bentley Bear Comes Home, I'll finish rebuilding the marquee light (with some difficultly). I'll rebuild the rusty coin box and mechs, as well as the nasty power brick in the bottom of the cabinet. Some new T-Molding will be applied to the sides. I will also fix the bottom of the cabinet, patch the rough spots on the sides, and do a final clean up of everything. Hopefully after all of that, we will take it in the house so it can join the other arcade classics in the permanent collection. At the same time I am finishing up two other projects but hey, that's a story for another post at another time... ok let's do this!
The power supply brick in the bottom of these classic Atari games are fairly indestructible, but it's a good idea to clean them up a bit when restoring a game. You should always replace that "Big Blue" capacitor on these supplies when you recap the monitor of the game and the boards. Even though the old one probably will still work (I've never run into a dead one), they do lose their maximum output over the years. This can create some odd behavior in the game, such as interference or strange CPU issues. By replacing it, we guarantee all of our new caps throughout the game are not going to be a problem for many, many years. This also makes it easier to accurately set things like the B+ voltage in the monitor with reliability. I sanded it down a bit (the best I could anyway) to minimize the surface rust. I also put brand new fuses in the fuse terminals which I cleaned off using an emory cloth (this can help with random interference). If you are bothering to do all this, its a good time to wipe down all the wires and clean the bottom of the cabinet as well. A good scrubbing of the bottom inside cabinet usually will go a long way in removing that "Warehouse Funky" smell a lot of arcade games tend to have.
At this point, I went ahead and removed the nasty old degrading T-Molding along the edges of the cabinet. The T-Molding on Crystal Castles goes all the way around the back, and connects at the middle of the bottom. I was playing with the idea of replacing it with some baby blue colored T-Molding after seeing Todd Tuckey from TNT Amusements use it on some machines. But I feel the artwork is just so grand by itself on the game, it doesn't really need any extra "Bling" to make it more special than it already is. With the T-Molding removed, I could start work on patching the two small areas of damage on the sides of the cabinet with some wood putty.
We return our attention to the top marquee system, which was not making me very happy. The speaker cover was a pain in the arse to sand and refinish. After all of that nonsense, getting the overlay to stick on was another nightmare involving every clamp like device I own to play a part. After I got it all together I felt the marquee was much too transparent when compared to the original, giving off an ugly masked look. So I devised a solution, since no one seems to make a better reproduction for these parts as of 2019.
Using a roll of static cling heavy tinting material (Bought of of Amazon for like 14 dollars), I wrapped the back of both the upper and lower glass marquees with the tint. Afterwards I carefully cut out (Using a light box shining through the front to the back so I could see) the area I wanted the light to impact the most. The end result was impressively effective. Now the marquee lights correctly with very little spill over and even has a nice diffused effect around the edges of the logos. Hopefully one day someone will make better repos.
With "MarqueeGate" over and done with. I started focusing my attention on the rather beat and sad looking coin door, and the switchgear behind the door itself. Full of rust, and a wonderful collection of 1980's rat poop it was time to work on the last major bit of the game. I decided to sand both the coin box and the coin door itself. A lot of arcade collectors love to get coin doors powder coated but alas, I am not that fancy... for I am just a simple country girl. So I have a secret formula of spray paint(s) I use that mimic the look of powder coated paint pretty well. If I was reselling this game, I probably would however get these pieces powder coated, just to be fancy.
The left coin mech was "sealed off" pretty early in this game's life. Less than 750 coins passed the left mech, while the clock on the right hand side was a little over 50K. That means during its life out in the wild, this little bear took in over $12,500 in quarters. So after all those years of work it deserved a little hibernation. I took apart all of the testing mechanisms (coin counters, switch, credit button, and volume control), so I could sand and repaint the rather rusted metal plate.
What a difference that made! I think it's the attention to things like this, these items in any project very few people will ever see that can make a huge difference in the quality of a restoration. I went through a good bit of an ordeal to safe that official Atari patent sticker on the top on the coin collector box as well. All the wires and connectors get a scrub down, and we are ready to tackle the rest of the coin door now. I took the coin door completely off the game and stripped it down to its bits and pieces. The panels themselves were heavily rusted but savable. Both coin slots were missing the actual coin mechanical acceptors. Time to sand, sand, and sand that rust away.
Here on the right, you can see the dramatic difference of the restored surround and top coin door. The bottom door was almost solid rust so it took a bit longer to get that one up to snuff. I considered actually just buying a brand new entire coin door, but unfortunately the newer coin doors aren't exactly the same appearance wise as the original ones from the 80's. So, in an attempt to keep the game as authentic as possible I decided to put in the hours upon hours of sanding in order to fix the original ones.
The metal adjustable leg levelers on the bottom of the game were rusted and broken. These are sometimes missing completely, so it was shocking to see them even in this rather rough state. Even if a game doesn't get waterlogged these little legs/feet always tend to rust over years of the floor being mopped around the bottom of the game. The top two took a bit of work to remove, and I needed up replacing both the legs themselves but also the nut that holds them into the bottom of the game.
I received my new Atari reproduction flat style black T-molding, replacing the worn and brittle original stuff on the game. I considered getting a lite baby blue color instead of the original black after seeing one of Todd Tuckey's videos on You Tube... but felt keeping the game as original as possible this time was really what I wanted. Also the game cabinet is so wonderful it doesn't really need anything else like color T--molding to make it pop, it's pretty pop'n already the was it is. On Crystal Castles the T-Molding goes all the way around the game. I found laying the game down on the ground (with some blankets) tends to make it a bit easier to get this stuff on evenly.
We were getting pretty close to the finish line. I filled the two damaged areas on the top left and right sides of the game with wood fill. I also evened up the front bottom edge a bit with a detail sander to get rid of a rough spot. I also added two front corner protectors to the bottom sides of the cabinet to prevent future splitting of the corners of the cabinet. The right side has a very slight swelling (probably due to years of someone mopping near the game), so hopefully the corner protectors will help that structurally a bit from chipping if the game is moved in the future. Now I just needed to finish up the bottom coin door and do a general last final clean inside and out and the game was ready to join the others upstairs in the arcade.
And after an uneventful ride on the appliance dolly around the house, our beloved bear gets to join the other games in the arcade upstairs. I was planning on sticking it in the corner in a place of honor, but you couldn't quite see that amazing side art. Instead we placed it next to the very popular Elevator Action and the restored Donkey Kong Junior. We have room for about 3 or 4 more in the arcade before we will have to get.... uh... creative with the arrangement. Or start maybe trading some games out.
So finally my grail of arcade collecting comes home, and I couldn't be happier in the way it turned out. Buying a game over the internet is a gamble, but the fine folks at Coin-Op Warehouse made it a great experience. It's also another great example of finding a vintage game unrestored, complete, and unmolested. There was no lame "improvement" from an inexperienced game collector I had to fix. True survivors like this are a dream to restore, and becoming a rare thing. You can check out the You Tube video below about the restoration process of this game as well. Thanks for reading and happy hunting!