Here’s some pictures of it being packed up in Rochester NY for it’s journey to Kansas City. I bought this bowler from Mickey Treat of http://coinopny.com/, and had a very positive experience. Mickey normally does restorations of these bowlers, but he agreed to sell me one unrestored as a project.
I’m beginning the restoration process. Here’s what I’m starting with.
There are two broken switches which I have to rebuild with piano wire based on Shaggy’s repair suggestions.
The coin box is really rough, dented, and repainted, but the paint is worn. Looks like someone set a can of red paint on the coin entry plate at some point and left a red ring on it.
Overall it’s in pretty good shape. It’s very dirty from years of being stored, and some of the components like the coin and metal ball guide are pretty rough.
There’s quite a bit to do, cleaning, painting, mechanicals, etc.
Ball Return Guide
The ball guide was rusty so I decided to see what bead blasting it would do.
Quite a bit of bead blasting, cleaning, and a clear coat really cleaned this up.
There is some woodwork that needs to be done. Generally speaking the wood is in OK shape, but there are some problems.
The left end cap is split in 3 pieces and had been pretty hacked up. To fix this I removed it, lightly sanded it, glued it back together and then used wood filler to fill all the cracks and nail holes.
The end of the lane where the shin guard rubber attaches must have been sat or stood on, and was severely cracked, and had been repaired poorly in the past.
First I had to fix the split in the piece that I removed.
Then re-attach it.
The coin box had been pretty mangled. The coin entry plate had paint rings, and had been somewhat hacked up. The coin return button area had a doorbell button attached for free play. The paint was pretty rough, and the wrong color. I decided to bead blast this as well.
I used dark bronze hammer tone paint, which is as close to the original color as I could get. I hammered out most of the dents, but I couldn’t get it perfect.
Restoring the Coin Mechanism
This particular machine appears to have been made during the transition of United to Williams. I don’t believe the the alley is original to this game, but I can’t find any pictures to verify the original alley would be branded United.
The coin box on this machine appears to be pretty unique. From pictures of machines around the time this game was made, very few have the same coin box. Through research, I found that the coin mechanism, and associated brackets appear to be the same from the earlier machines where the coin box slid into the rear of the ball return area.
I found someone selling one of these on ebay, and bought it to use the parts to complete my game.
Ball Lift Assembly
The ball lift chain assembly was greasy, and gummed up with many years of dirt and hair. I think some rodents had called this machine home for a number of years. There were some various nut shells and other sights of habitation. The ball lift brackets were also gummed up and their rubber coating was coming off.
I had recently got a parts washer so I loaded it up with 2 gallons of mean green, some dawn dish washing liquid, and 19 gallons of water and proceeded to wash the crap out of the chain assembly and guide.
Scraping the old plastic coating off the lift brackets
I used some “dip” plastic you can get in the paint section at home depot. This is essentially a can of liquid plastic that you can dip stuff in, and it will solidify after a drying period in to soft plastic, like what you would have on the handle of a screwdriver. You can even get it in different colors.
All the units are pretty sluggish or frozen. I also noticed some burnt and melted coils (not too many). Here’s the process for re-building the stepper units on this machine.
Start with a picture of what it looks like before you disassemble it so you can reference it if you forget where a spring attaches etc…
Remove the springs and arms, as well as unbolt and remove the gear/sprocket.
Clean up the plate and the posts that the arms go on with solvent or mean green.
Clean up the arms, making sure to clean out the holes in the arms and in the plate where the parts go through with something like q-tips and mean green. Then lube metal to metal parts with Teflon gel lube.
While you are there, clean out or replace any aluminum or brass coil sleeves, as well as replace any nylon coil sleeves.
Look how nasty these old nylon coil sleeves get. When they are dirty or greasy (never lube these) the plunger doesn’t slide freely in them and that can cause the units not to operate properly.
There’s just a few of these mechanisms to do in a bowler! This took me about 3 days of slowly and carefully going through each one and cleaning it, and replacing parts as I found issues. Sometimes as you disassemble you will notice there is a burnt coil you didn’t see before, or a broken or lose screw. It’s good to methodically go through each one of these to ensure you don’t leave a situation that will cause problems when you turn the machine back on.
Bakelite Plate and Rivets
Clean the Bakelite disk rivets with mean green or alcohol and either 600 grit sandpaper or a scotchbrite pad. One thing I’ve noticed about the sandpaper over the scotchbrite pad is that you can get “left behind” strands of the scotchbrite pad on parts of the assemblies you are cleaning. If you didn’t get these removed, they could interfere with it’s operation.
Make sure to gently clean the “fingers” as well. Make sure to lightly lube the surface of the rivets when you are done.
Reset bank assembly
Ok, this thing was kicking my butt.
The problem was that the switches on the alley (which activate each of the pins) go through the relays at the top of this bank. First off, the sequence of the relays isn’t like other machines like this I have worked on. From the top, they are numbered as follows: 1-10, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 1-10, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1-10. Obviously the schematic doesn’t give you any clue to this, and the bar where the sticker that would normally label this bank was missing. So trial and error to figure it out. Anyway, the problem was that the roll-over switches are wired to the relays based on which pins should trip based on the other pins that were hit. Some of the make/break switches were not “breaking” when they should have, and it’s very, very hard to see this. Even with a magnifying glass! As soon as you start to adjust one switch, you start to alter the behavior of the others. It took me about 5 hours to get all the pins triggering at the right times. Whew!!! glad that’s done.
Mapping of the switches from top to bottom:
|R.O. SWS Control
Repair of rear lane section lock down catches
The location where the brackets on the rear underside of of the lane section that contains the switches lock into the alley were broken and missing from years of abuse. This is probably the best picture I have of what it looked like before the repair. Look at the very bottom of the picture at the back end of the alley, you can kinda see the missing wood.
Here’s my repair. I used an oscillating saw to cut away a section to use to attach a new block of 1 by 2 wood, and then drilled holes in it for the brackets to seat in. If you look under the lane section you can see the new wood. This worked out pretty well.
Ball Return Guide
The ball return guide was missing a bracket to attach to the coin box. It looks like there was a bolt welded to the end that would be inserted to the coin box, but this was sheared off. I had a hard time figuring a way to attach this that I was happy with. Here’s what I came up with.
I bent a rubber lined metal wire guide around and slipped a bolt through the holes. I then slipped the whole thing onto the ball return guide. I then slid this through the hole in the coin box to mount it. See below.
I was able to get the proper (repro) mounting hardware for the front of the ball return guide from Saint Louis Ball Bowlers.
In this picture the coin box is taped off for painting the red triangles that were originally there.
I ordered some new balls from Paramount Industries. I got the “EPCO Ram Pro Rubber Bowling Balls”, and got the mint green and black. The mint green kinda goes with the green on this game. They are around 40 bucks a piece – not cheap, but well worth the price. These are a great upgrade to the bowler from the original balls, and if you don’t have the original balls, it’s wonderful that they still make balls the right size. I found these balls are made for some less common forms of bowling such as Candlepin and Duckpin.
Man, the light sockets on the board under the roll-over switches were toasted. Take a look at these!
I’ve already replaced a few in this picture, but I went on to replace all of the. It looks to me like someone soldered the base of each socket to the cup to reduce the flickering, but somehow the solder they used just roached those sockets something terrible.
Lane sections foam padding
Each mounting bracket for the lane sections needs some replacement foam padding. The padding that was on these when I got it was dried out and falling off. The padding helps keep the lane sections elevated above the ball gutters. It also gives resistance when you tighten the mounting bolts to bring the lane sections level and into alignment with each other.
In the below picture, I’ve stripped the old hardened foam from the bottom of the alley sections and replaced it with self adhesive weather stripping. I found some heavy duty weather stripping that seemed like it would compress but retain it’s “springyness” over time. This keeps the lane sections raised from the frame as you bolt them down, and gives you the ability to adjust the lane sections up and down.
Everything is now sanded and stripped and it’s ready for paint and stain.
Stain applied to the back lane section. The wood is so old/dry it just soaks it in. Had to do about 3 applications in most places. I think the poly will help gloss it up.
Here, the sides prepped for paint. I used an epoxy wood filler product to fill the large cracks/spits/holes in the wood, and regular wood filler to fill the minor imperfections. and sanded the whole thing with 220. The plywood was slightly delaminating at the bottom right corner (seen in the picture below). I used wood glue to get in between the layers as much as possible, and then clamped it. This worked perfectly as well.
The sides of of the back-box are painted in this picture, just waiting on the 3 red triangles that go on each side.
Getting ready to paint the green line down the back lane section on each side. There will be red triangles painted over this.
Taping for painting the triangles.
Ball Return Rubber
The ball return rubber from http://www.stl-bb.com/ is just a bit too narrow for the wooden channel. I found that if I didn’t “press” the rubber down into the channel, but just let it lay in the channel, it fit in the channel nicely. Based on that finding, I just used some latex caulk and put a generous glob of it at a few places in the channel (like where the two sections of the bowler meet, and at the top of the ball return), and then gently “smushed” the rubber into the latex caulk to it would sit at the right height. This ended up working perfectly.
I’m still working on adding more detail about the restoration above, but here’s some pictures of the completed bowler.