Some Restoration Examples

A 1964 Williams ‘River Boat’ The image to the left is how we received it. Many hours of sanding, painting and new cabinet stencils gave the result on the right. The rest of the machine had some playfield restoration to the worst of the worn areas [to preserve some of its aged patina]  plus a full overhaul, repaired and painted front door, new legs, etc.

A 1967 Gottlieb ‘Sing Along’ cabinet. Once again, it had been hand painted with gloss paint. Many hours of sanding, painting and new stencils to factory design saw the machine back in its former glory. The rest of the machine received an overhaul too, plus new chrome legs and re-polished brightwork throughout.  

The Sing Along cabinet in its as found state. It took a good few hours to get it back to scratch but its now a very desirable machine. It was also fully overhauled, new chrome legs, etc.

Some playfield restoration work examples

A 1967 Williams 'Apollo'

A 1964 Williams 'River Boat'

Playfield restoration techniques

This Apollo playfield took many, many hours to restore. This was a very challenging project with lots of wear. Apollo is a very scarce machine now so its owner wanted it preserved. The cabinet was also lightly restored, a new back-glass, chromed legs, etc and the machine was fully overhauled too. It even had a small fire underneath, caused by a locked-in pop bumper so its coil overheated and caught fire!
The circles around the Jokers lamp inserts were worn away. This is caused by excessive heat from [usually] incorrect wattage bulbs being used. The heat softens the glue and as the ball continually passes over, the insert sinks down so the surrounding woodwork wears. So in this instance, the inserts were reset and sanded flat, new circles around the lamp inserts applied, the Jokers redrawn by hand and the entire playfield was lacquered and rebuilt. The green and pink coloured sections were airbrushed to restore the worn coloured areas. Time consuming but it looks better and plays properly because the ball isn't hitting the woodwork anymore. The customer requested that some of the less worn areas were to be left as they were so that the machine looks more its age. All new pop bumper caps completed the job.
Sometimes, trying to re-touch worn areas like this makes them look worse. So instead, we make water-slide decals instead, scale them to fit over the worn section. There is a lot of work involved in making decals in that the playfield must be stripped down, sealed and levelled up before application. The playfield is then sealed with a special lacquer before the entire playfield is rebuilt. This machine, a 1964 Williams 'Heatwave' will also have a fully restored cabinet and an overhaul too.
The finished article. New reproduction pop bumper caps set it off well.!
We also made new pop-bumper coloured disks underneath their plastic skirts and also the banded areas on the perimeter. Years of ball wear tend to wear these out so we try to make new ones where possible.

As a guide to the prices to restore a cabinet, much depends on its condition. The average time spent, paint & materials and stencil production costs will often run to £1700 and more. The paints used are usually nitro-cellulose [as was used in the day] and sometimes a 2-pack material. It is a time consuming process and the typical turn-around is around 10 weeks. Please note: If buying a machine that has its original factory art-work on it and it is in a condition commensurate with its age, then we suggest that you consider this carefully because should you sell the machine at a later date, many collectors dislike restored cabinets because its history has been removed.  Better, where possible, to have it carefully partially restored, i.e. the worst areas restored with air-brushing or localised spot-repairs instead of a complete re-paint. It’s only fair that we point this out in case you might run the risk of devaluing your machine!

As for playfield artwork restoration, again, this can be a time consuming task and typically, as in the case of the Apollo machine illustrated, that job took some 80 hours labour alone. Again, be aware that some collectors prefer a machine to ‘look its age’ and avoid a fully restored playfield ,etc. That said, as in the Apollo, it was just the proverbial ‘bridge too far’ type of condition and its owner just wanted it brought back to look ‘as new’ again.