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Finding my Pot of Gold

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Having just finished a day trip out to Ohio to pick up a HUO game (more on that later), I settled in to wrapping up my stay-cation that was heavily focused on arcade repairs and projects. I certainly wasn’t planning on picking up anymore games, isn’t that what we all say? While outside trying to do some sanding and priming we got hit with a heavy rain, afterwards the sky was emblazoned with an amazing full rainbow. I had seen plenty of rainbows, but never a full one in person. I took it as a sign that I was meant to find the Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow! She didn’t buy it 🙂 but I still scored the game.

rainbow picture

So we really did have a rainbow and a few days later I scored the Pot of Gold off eBay. I probably paid too much, but I could pick it up and after talking to the seller, it sounded like a home use only cabinet. A pretty uncommon game and even more uncommon to be HUO. I had some arcade part sale cash burning a hole in my paypal account, so what the heck.

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The seller was about 40 minutes away and turned out to be a local operator. He did have other games, but he was mostly into redemption style games and machines. His eBay pictures and description left out a few details, such as the drag damage and shoddy black paint used to cover it up. Or the weird gouges on the left side of the cab, almost like someone was digging their nails into the cab while playing. The drag damage is particularly amusing because the little nylon glides are worn down to the nail, when in the coin box is a brand new set of leg levelers! Overall the game is in amazing shape and still has that new cabinet smell when opened up.

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When I asked the seller where he got the game he said it came from a bulk buy of redemption equipment. That seller used to work for Atlas Vending and had acquired the game new and stuck it in his basement. I tried to get contact information for the former Atlas employee, but he didn’t seem too interested in sharing. It would have been nice to learn a little more about the history. I exchanged contact info with the seller and told him to let me know if he came across any other interesting games and that I’d do the same for him in regard to redemption equipment. I was anxious to get home and see if the game would be an easy fix or would end up as an in depth repair.

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This machine was clean inside and out. The pinball coin door looked brand new, the coin box has a lid and those pesky leg levelers, the inside of the cab is clean and free of rodent droppings, grime or other crud. The front bezel art and the control panel looked amazing with little or no damage. The wells monitor was super clean, and the pcb set almost NOS. While I couldn’t confirm this was a home use only cab, it sure looks like one to me.

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According to the seller, the game sometimes worked. I unloaded the PoG at home and gave it a quick inspection. Everything seemed OK so I fired it up. I get lines on the screen, maybe horizontal collapse or just bad video, but I can coin it up and the game plays blind. My first thought was the loose edge connector, but then as I was looking it over I noticed the scorch marks on the power supply and powered off the game. I also noticed a Kaos sticker on the monitor and a couple of ID tags inside the cabinet. Looks like this game was originally a Kaos and was factory converted to Pot of Gold. That would explain the dragons on the front.

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With the burn on the power supply and the monitor video issues I’d have my hands full trying to get this working. Hopefully luck is on my side and I’ll have it working soon.

Stern Berzerk Upright ~ I

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

It has been quite a while since I’ve had any time to post, but for good reason. I have been working on projects galore, including a game I purchased at one of the Milwaukee Super Auctions way back in December of 2006 (or perhaps January 2007). Berzerk! This classic arcade game brings back a lot of memories for me as I loved playing it as a kid. It was easy to understand, had great robot voices and high scores were pretty rare so I even got my initials on the game from time to time. I inspected the cabinet at auction and while it was working, it was obvious that a fast paint job was done to polish it up for auction. I had been on the lookout for a Berzerk UR and since I hadn’t seen one come up in a long time, I decided to pull the trigger. There was a little bidding back and forth, but I ended up winning. It fit nicely in the back of my 4 runner.

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I didn’t have any other projects at the time and decided that I would do a cap kit, clean it up and even re-stencil the side art. I got started by stripping the cabinet and taking lots of pictures for future reference. Taking lots of pics during a tear down is a great idea no matter what game you’re working on. If you end up having to shelve the project you can always refer back to the pictures. The game had a Willis control panel overlay on it and a crackled original underneath. Little did I know that would lead to another whole project…

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After a complete tear down I started sanding down the side and repairing the hidden damage with bondo. The wood must have sat in water for awhile because the plywood had taken on the soft, brittle quality. A pain to repair with bondo. I only managed to do a first coat on one side before I got the golden egg dropped in my lap. A warehouse raid and bulk buy 5 minutes from my old house. Bezerk would have to wait, but stay tuned!

Repair Log: Cube Quest: 011410

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Patient: Simutrek, Cube Quest UR
Technicians: ???
Problem: Game would power up, but die after a few minutes. No sound.
Troubleshoot: I was just a lucky observer with this project, so I can’t provide too many details. (I will ask and update if possible) I did get to see the huge board set and the massive cage that housed it. What a monster.
Solution: The easiest way to work on this board set was to have it out of the cabinet, but the cage and cabinet has connectors that are all dependent upon one another. Sticking your head into a dark cabinet to probe with an Oscope is not a fun time, especially when the cab is in the garage during a wonderful Midwest winter.

cube-quest-pcb

The cage itself prevented effective troubleshooting, it was just in the way. What to do? Build an equally complex testing harness and power supply, of course. After many days of painstaking labor to develop and build a dedicated test station for Cube Quest, the tech was finally ready to get down to business.

After only a short time, the technician was able to get the board working, as you can see. One interesting bit about this game is that it was designed to work and play even if (or should I say when) the laser disc player failed. What you see here is game play minus the laser disk effects. Still pretty cool. The next step is to restore the sound and then connect the laser disc player to see if it will all work together. Want more info about this particular game? Check out the post over at rotheblog, happy gaming!

Willis Frogger cpo

Monday, January 25th, 2010

OK, simple frog pattern on the right to mimic the original tire tracks, pointing frogs around the joystick to indicate jump direction, got it. But what’s going on with that background? Is that supposed to be pavement or some kind of Rorschach test? I keep staring at it with my eyes a little squinted, hoping the secret message or shape might appear before my eyes.

It does bear the Willis name and even a part no, so there is no doubt that this version is the actual Willis Frogger reproduction overlay. It will hop on over to the archive. Enjoy!

Arcade Obituary: Exidy’s Clay Pigeon

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Victim: Exidy Clay Pigeon upright no. 17970

clay pigeon

This rare piece of arcade history came my way thanks to Jon Jamashid, or evil exidy on the forums. He was moving cross country and had to unload some games. I ended up with Clay Pigeon and Hit N Miss. I shipped them all the way from Florida to the Midwest because Exidy cabs are somewhat scarce in these parts. I’m a huge fan of the Exidy 440 series of games and was looking forward to installing my multi-Exidy kit into a cabinet. (more…)

Stash of donated artwork arrives at my door!

Monday, November 16th, 2009

I connected with another video game collector recently, Steve23, located in Georgia. I had referenced a Wico catalog, on my resource page in response to Steve’s Willis side art post on KLOV. He liked my efforts to preserve a little bit of the history behind the video game industry and messaged me. After a brief discussion via messages, Steve offered to donate a box of miscellaneous artwork to my preservation cause; very generous. (more…)

Willis Tron cpo

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

The Tron control panel overlay by Willis was a decent attempt at capturing the feel of the original cabinet design in an aftermarket product. A step up from some of the random artwork jumbles commonly seen in bootleg artwork, this cpo was produced by Willis in 1983 with quality materials and an attention to detail. While the artwork is vaguely similar to the original overlay, there are some notable differences. (more…)

Reactor artwork ~ good stuff

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

I’ve been working on a Reactor restoration for a friend, a very patient friend, because I think it was about an eternity ago that I started the project. I plan to wrap it up this winter and thought I would share some pictures of the artwork before it all gets applied. It’s very nice stuff. (more…)

Galaga upright no. 5922 – sold

Friday, November 6th, 2009

I got lucky with this game pickup, right place right time and all. Way back in November 2004, I was returning a Uhaul trailer to a location in Cicero after having just hauled home a load of games. I noticed some commotion in the Uhaul garage and heard some familiar sounds. I went to check it out and there were two employees playing an upright Galaga, pretty funny to see at the time because it was cold out and they were bundled up in winter gear. (more…)

Repair Log: Space War: 081209

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Patient: Vectorbeam Space War UR
Technicians: Mark H, Bill K and Chris M
Problem: Slightly shaky graphics during game play.
Troubleshoot: After discussing the problem with Mark H, I pulled the monitor and got it over to his place for testing. He didn’t find any issue with the monitor and suspected the ribbon cable, which I hadn’t brought along. Apparently the ribbon cable is a common failure point on the old Vectorbeam and Cinematronics games, similar to those crappy MCR ribbon cables that are always brittle and prone to failure. Good idea to just replace it. Here’s the old red ribbon cable attached to the monitor/pcb. (more…)