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The Craig-a-pede

Updated: Mar 22, 2018

There it was, in the back of my van. For the first time in about 7 years I owned an arcade game. I have been collecting on and off for over 20 years. A divorce, a job that required a ton of travel, and small condos made collecting difficult. I once had a collection of about 18 games and pinball machines. Now I am lucky enough to have the financial means, a huge new home (well, new to me), and a wife who thinks having a classic arcade in our home is rad. It was time to get the band back together.

It was loved once, although not recently. A thick layer of dust covered it in a corner of a musty home about 45 minutes south of Houston. No longer turning on, but according to the owner "only needed a new cord", it was complete. 200 bucks later I was back in my driveway with a 300 pound Atari classic staring back at me. What isn't to love? Classic Atari artwork, beloved arcade classic shooter, programmed by one of the few female programmers at Atari in the 80's... It would never be a top shelf example but I felt we could make it live again and maybe even shine a bit.

Assessing the situation, it did indeed need a new power cord and somehow it was missing the power switch. A small amount of water damage was at the bottom of the cabinet edge. The control panel, marquee, and bezel were in remarkably good shape after a good bit of cleaning. Some bad chunks out of the cabinet also would have to be addressed. They made a lot of Centipedes so this is far from a rare game. Parts and reproductions are fairly easy to find and not too expensive. But first we had to get the thing running to see what the other issues might be.

This goes right in a tub of soapy water once it all comes apart...

After some good old fashion soap and water... and a bit of scrubbing the control panel looks almost new.

All this will be taken out and yeap... cleaned and scrubbed down.

After the scrub-a-thon... a quick trip to the local electronics store for a power switch, fuses, and power cord. She came back to life but on life-support. The self test made it beep a 80's beep of terror and then it started to kind of work. Garbage on the screen turned out to be a RAM error. Thanks to this new fancy thing called the internet, RAM was ordered and we just had to wait for the FedEx guy to grace us.

We also took some time to address the slight water damage (and just let's be honest, neglect) to the bottom edge and to the sides of the cabinet. At some point I will probably break out some wood filler and even cut a new bottom. We did add new legs and filled some of the worst of the damage with Bondo. Again not the ideal method, but I wanted to at least stop the damage from getting any worse. These cabinets are amazing since they were never designed to last 35+ years. They solider on after being kicked and beaten by every player... converted and repainted into other games... and often left and forgotten in a dusty or wet warehouse for years at a time.

Some fixing and repainting of the top was in order as well

This was the nastiest of the damage, it must have taken a hit at some point.

Take it all apart and clean... clean... clean...

T-molding cat says "Green is cool, and what time is dinner?"

A lot of scrubbing, new RAM installed, few new caps on the monitor, and a dash of green T-molding (because why the hell not).. and bingo! Not a minty example for sure, but a true survivor that now plays like a champ. I could go the extra mile and really fix up those side panels with wood glue and a lot of work. But it would kill me to cover that orginial art up with repro art. Plus Atari made A LOT of Centipede uprights, so I don't feel bad that mine is a B- example. For a 36 year old vending machine it looks pretty great. Happy hunting!

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