Bringing back the “Arcade away from home” Part 2

I had this nice little idea where every piece of my trip to Chicago would be smooth and I would be able to crank out a post per day. Little did I know a perfect storm was brewing, in every sense, and the trip gets really interesting. But here is day two….

The garage, a man’s domain?

In “Arcade away from home” part 1, the drive up to Chicago was a bit stressful. My wife and son came with me, and we were late at a meeting place to get them to my father who then took them up to Michigan. I could not find the adaptor for the GPS, which I didn’t have to have, I “should” be able to make due with the half charge left. It would have to do, we had to go. We were over an hour late, plus about 30 minutes of the ride was the little guy screaming at the top of his lungs because he was hungry, and his seat was right on the stick in the middle. No place to go, and I could barely shift. Then, as I got close to Chris’s place in Chicago there was heavy construction and twice I missed my exit, going an extra 12 miles because the exits were 5 miles apart and closed off due to the construction. I was running out of gas, there were extra tolls….blah, stressful. Looking back, this was hardly the most stressful part of the trip.

I looked forward to day 2, Saturday, which we had loosely planned to do a lot of different things, but hadn’t set any time frames. We had a leisurely breakfast, I got to write most of part one, and we finally made it out to the garage to start working around 11:00 am.

Making space / getting organized

We might have spent over an hour getting organized. First, we prepped a side panel of a Star Hawk machine to go under the knife. I wasn’t planning on saving the whole side, but I did want to save the sideart for color matching. Just getting the random staples / pieces of wood removed to have the piece be flat was a chore, let alone figuring out how to safely clamp it.

After that was done, we did a lot of re-arranging to get some space to work. Chris was nice enough to house two games for two months, and we’d be getting a third, so I was the one taking up a large portion of his garage. We moved some items in back and brought the cabinet and other items that Mike (Gatordad) would be picking up later to the front. The goal was to get enough space to first setup the Flight 2000 pinball to take a look, and then work on the Mad Planets. It came at the cost of our sinuses, the dust about killed me.

I hadn’t reassembled the Stern pinball machine, because, what was the point? I knew I’d be bringing it up, but I was still curious to see if it might just power right on. Well, after we got the legs on and took a closer look, it appears at the very least that the Flight 2000 will need a new power supply. So, no powering took place.

On to the Mad Planets. Two main goals. Get it cleaned and the correct flight stick assembled so that we could play it later when Bill came over for dinner. If you remember, when Chris picked up the MP, it had a regular joystick on the control panel, but came with a Tron and two extra flight sticks that were all stuffed in the coin box. Weird.

Bill did stop by around 3 to hand off the fully tested and working boardset and power supply out of the original Mad Planets, plus all of the duplicate fixed set of boards that I had bought in March off Mark H. down in Florida. If everything went well, I should leave with a completely working game and a complete backup set of boards.

Somehow we’re missing the pins

First thing Chris did was to reflow the solder on both flight sticks, including the connections on the leaf switch in his control panel. Chris has got an awesome, stocked, workstation in the back of his gameroom that made the whole process less awkward.

Chris M. soldering workstation

With a bench full of multiple disassembled Mad Planets flight sticks, Chris worked on piecing together a working one. Meanwhile, I started to clean the cabinet so I could hopefully move it right in when I got home. A pretty solid cabinet, but far from perfect. No deep gouges on the sides, but several scuff marks that took some serious elbow grease and a magic eraser to remove.

Mad Planets Cabinet Full Photo

There was one major spot that needed attention. On the back upper right it looked as though someone had taken, literally, a handful of gum and smeared it right into the corner. It took 30 minutes of slow work with a razor blade and the eraser to remove the pink cemented substance. Surely there are worse things to remove, but this was pretty nasty. Didn’t take a before shot, but here I am after getting rid of most of the large hunks.

Mad Planets - Dried Gum Cleanup

It was time to get ready for dinner and we needed to get some shrink wrap for tomorrow’s trip to St. Louis. Chris also figured out that we were missing the pins that held the metal shaft of the flight stick in place. So, I ran out down the road to Ace and picked up the pins – .29 each, and the shrink wrap, a 2″ diameter roll for over $30! That hurt.

Smooth sailing and game playing

How many times can you say this when it comes to arcade games – but we spent the rest of the night playing? Bill arrived at just before 7 for dinner. Chris prepared some home made pizza and Lisa some soup, everything was awesome. Bill brought Chris and I each another gift, a fully tied and connector ready Jamma harness. Pretty awesome little deal.

After dinner, it was back out to the garage. Bill and Chris used the pins to finish re-wiring the flight stick. I took the boards and power supply, hooked them up and grounded everything. Control panel ready to go, plug it in and blam! On comes Mad Planets, looking beautiful. Color was bright, no longer missing the red like when we brought it home and the flight stick was responsive.

We literally had played one game each on MP when Mike showed up. Mike had said he might bring some beer and hang out. He ended up bringing 3 twelve packs, 2 Corona and one Miller. Mike loaded up the Pac-man cabinet and we headed inside. The rest of the night was drinking and playing – beer and a couple of Rieslings I had picked up on my trip out to Ace. We briefly went down to the gameroom for some Robotron and Lord of the Rings and later, Metallica Guitar Hero on the Wii. Total blast, Mike stayed until nearly midnight, and we didn’t completely shut off the Wii until about 1 am.

Chris and I are both in denial that we are anything older than college age, knowing that we would be getting up to make a round trip to St. Louis in the morning to pick up another amazing find from Pat C. Ah well, you only live once right?

Here are some similar arcade posts

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Ha ha ha! I actually laughed out loud when I read this. And there is no denying that I am anything but college age and will be that way for at least 10 more years, when I finally hit 30!

Did you leave those pins for me, by the way?

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Chris? Your only 20… Then you shouldn’t be drinking yet!!! 😉

Great story Jeff, can’t wait to see some photos of the games.

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