Archive for January, 2009

The arch (aka apron)

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Remember my arch (aka apron)? The part that’s been cleaned so much that the graphic on it has been badly worn away? As a reminder, here are the photos:

Badly worn decal on left side of arch

Badly worn decal on left side of arch

Badly worn decal on right side of arch

Badly worn decal on right side of arch

Well, my original intention was to cover these up with new decals.

However, having ordered and received the new decals, I decided I didn’t want to use them because they would obviously look like decals if I applied them to the apron (as they are relatively thick compared to the current decals, which are silk screened onto the apron). So I’ve now decided to look for an alternative solution.

Having looked for an alternative way of transfering the image onto the arch, it became obvious to me, that potentially it was going to be difficult to reproduce the decals to a quality which I would find acceptable. I therefore decided that I would be better off to leave my current arch well alone and buy a second one to work on (preferably old).

So, off to eBay and then to the internet to find a second-hand TAF arch. But could I find one? No. Although I didn’t want to buy a new one, I even checked the on-line pinball shops, but even they didn’t have any.

But then I discovered something interesting. The part number for the TAF arch is A-13204-20017; the part number for a Jackbot arch is A-13204-50051; the part number for a Johny Menomic arch is A-13204-50042. I could see a pattern here. The A-13204 part of the part number was the same every time. Could it be that A-13204 denotes the metal part and the second part of the part number (ie 20017) denotes the machine (ie colour and decals)? After all, the aprons all seemed to look pretty similar, and it definitely would make business sense (for Bally/Williams) if they had always used the same base part for the arch. Even whilst looking through the shops, I found a “generic” Williams/Bally arch. Maybe my theory was correct?

A little research on eBay yielded the following:

A-13204-20017 = TAF Arch
A-13204-50051 = Jackbot Arch
A-13204-50042 = Johny Menomic Arch
A-13204-50005 = Fish Tales Arch
A-13204-50012 = Hurricane Arch
A-13204-50018 = Whitewater Arch
A-13204-50047 = Tales of the Arabian Nights Arch
A-13204-50004 = Getaway High Speed II Arch
A-13204-20001 = Harley Davidson Arch
A-13204-20018 = Creature from the Black Lagoon Arch
A-13204-50048 = Scared Stiff Arch
A-13204-50020 = Twilight Zone Arch
A-13204-50017 = Indiana Jones Arch
A-13204-20004 = Party Zone Arch
A-13204-50036 = Corvette Arch
A-13204-50039 = Theatre of Magic Arch

Could these all really be the same part? Or could there be a difference, for example, between the A-13204-5XXXX parts and the A-13204-2XXXX parts?

So it was off to my favourite forum ( to see if anyone there could help me. Well, after three days I’d had no reply to my question, so decided to take the plunge and try to buy one of the other arches second-hand.

A quick posting on the newsgroup got an almost instantaneous answer and I was offered a Hurricane arch for 15 dollars. So I bought it.

Now this arch is going to take at least a few weeks to get to me – enough time to research and work on my decal/transfer idea/technique……

Market Price for Pinball machines

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I came across an excellent web-site yesterday. This site ran by Sasha Werner in Germany includes a table in Excel format with pinball prices, as sold on either eBay or in a forum.

Market prices of pinball machines

Market prices of pinball machines

The spreadsheet, which Sasha has been running since June 2006, has currently 6281 unique entries and  includes all types of pinball machines, with prices and the condition of the machine (based on the product description and photos).

Yes, my pinball machine is also in the list and yes, I wish I had seen this list before making my bid….

The actual Excel spreadsheet can be accessed via this web page, and if, for whatever reason, this link is not working, I have my own copy (from today’s date) here.


More manuals….

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Went crazy and bought a full set of manuals for my TAF today on eBay. Once again I didn’t really need them, but it’s somehow good to know I’ve now got a complete set…

Full set of TAF manuals

Full set of TAF manuals

Assembling the bookcase

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Whilst deliberating on how to proceed with the renovation of my TAF (and how to find the necessary time, of course) just for fun, I tried to put all the parts of my new bookcase together to see how it would look .

Everything went fine until I tried to fit the bookcase padding, as it would appear to be too thick for the bookcase.

A tight squeeze

A tight squeeze

As the photo shows, the rubber (without backing paper) is 7,2mm thick. The actual spacing, however, is 6mm.

Sure I could squeeze it in (after all it is only rubber) but I wouldn’t know how to  do this with the backing paper removed: to squeeze it in requires placing the rubber against the bookcase front and then sliding it down (under compression)  into its final resting place behind the stops on the base. If I were to attempt this with the backing paper removed however, the rubber would just stick to the bookcase front as soon as it touches, thereby not letting me slide it down under compression.

Time to contact the shop where I bought the parts  (Best of Pinball) for their help…

Front decal colouring

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Took a closer look at the front decal which I had recently bought and something quite odd struck me. The colours on the sword seemed to be somehow different to what I had expected.

Front decal (and arch graphics)

Front decal (and arch graphics)

The flower and hand have an obvious yellow tint, but there are two colours on the sword, namely yellow and orange. It certainly looked strange.

I checked my TAF and what was orange on the decal was the same yellow on my TAF. Just to make sure this wasn’t due to colour fading, I checked a few images on Google (which was difficult, as not a lot of people tend to take a clear picture of the front of the pinball machine) and came to the conclusion that this orange colour was in fact wrong and should have been the same yellow.

Black paint removed around sword/logo and an extra decal

Black paint removed around sword/logo and an extra decal

So I contacted the supplier (Pinball Universe) for clarification. Their immediate response was “We have sold 100’s of these and had no complaints” but I followed this up with another question to clarify whether all the decals they had sent out had been with the orange colour on the sword and I’m still waiting to hear…..

No confidence

Friday, January 9th, 2009

I picked up a can of 1K Clear Coating from ColorMatic today (having ordered it at the beginning of the week) as well as a couple of cheap sets of fine artist brushes from Lidl. Although I’ve made enquiries about having my playfiled restored professionally, it now looks like I’ll be renovating my pinball machine by myself after all!

So far I’ve got my paint brushes, acrylic paints, plastic wood, silicon remover, sand paper, sanding block and now clear coat varnish – all the ingredients for a “make over”. It’s just the confidence that’s lacking…

Restoring the Playfield

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

I’m desperately trying to understand the best way to restore my playfield.

By looking through several forums on line, I thought I’d found the answer to one of my problems (how I can touch up the diamond plate overcoat once I’ve touched up the playfield with coloured acrylic paints): water based floor varnish seemed to provide the answer.

Just to check, I posted a thread on my favourite forum ( to ask the question.

The subsequent replies proved to me I was wrong. Or was I?

As there doesn’t appear to be a definitive answer, I’m tending towards a compromise:

The best coating would appear to be a so called 2 component clear coating (2k) as used in the automotive industry, which, because of its two components (a paint and a hardener) sets very quickly is very hard and is very resistant to UV light – which causes “yellowing” over time. However, once mixed this paint has no shelf life. Not a good product to use for minor touch-ups then.

However, I found a similar, 1k product, which would appear to have similar properties to the 2k variant but have a longer shelf life AND is availbale in a spray can – basically everything I was after. The product is a 1k clear coating from ColorMatic.

1k Clear Coating from ColorMatic

1k Clear Coating from ColorMatic

Now to find a local source….