1981 Artic Cabaret Arcade Cabinet.

I get my Artic Cabaret and slingshot myself into an extensive restoration project

Hi there, a few months ago, when searching through ebay I stumbled upon two old battered arcade cabinets for auction.

They were old woody cabaret cabinets, looked in very bad condition and not particularly nice to look at. However, something about them had character and appeal to me.. I’ve always liked the smaller cabinets, not necessarily wood grain ones but I thought I’d take a look at them to see what the deal is… The guy was in Nottingham where I work so I had nothing to lose.

Oh my god.. When I turned up, both of the cabinets looked ready for the scrap yard.. I looked inside, loads of white mould – dry rot, the cabinets were ply but had taken on some moisture low down and the floor had swollen and split.
Took a look behind the coin door of one of them and Tiger Heli PCB was there, looked legit too. The other cabinet was in similar shape, I don’t remember what game was in that one and the guy couldn’t switch it on to show me it working.

The joystick had collapsed and the buttons not in very good condition at all and would need replacing. However, the screen printed plexi on both the control panel and marquee looked in good shape.

I knew I wanted a restoration project but this one looked like it would be a big job.. Needless to say, I had to have at least one of the cabs and use it as my practice run at doing a restoration.. If all went well and I got a good feel for it, I’d be more confident when the time comes for me to restore a dedicated cab. The seller wouldn’t do a deal for both cabs so I took just the one.

Once I got it home, I cleaned it out as best as I could and took it down into the basement to work on the screen a bit.. It had thick uneven borders horizontally and vertically, the screen was rolling constantly and clearly needed some work or serious dialling in at least.

After some poking around with the monitor, I did manage to get it somewhere near to playable but it looks like it may need a cap kit and some further fettling.. I’ve struggled to get an identification of the chassis.
I got a response from ‘TheGDude’ on jammaplus who said ‘Its an old Toei color chassis, I pulled (and still use one for a test rig) sorry dont know the model…but its super reliable’.

At least I have somewhere to start googling. Maybe I’ll just tackle the caps one by one if I can’t find a kit.

Internally, I was please to see it was pretty original and vintage. A switching power supply had been added but it still had all of the original power supply and even the audio amp still in tact.

All the metal parts would need cleaning, rust addressing and re painting but that’s all part of the restoration job.
The faux wooden laminate was shot and I decided I wanted to strip the cabinet down altogether and re-cover it with laminate… Maybe a flat colour rather than wood?.. Not a fan of the original finish and since it’s a relatively generic conversion cab, I don’t feel like I’m spoiling it if I go for a flat colour.

I set about stripping the cabinet down of all it’s internals, I found that there were an awful lot of rust on the metal parts, lots of dry rot seeping out of the wood.. Shit, this cabinet is in bad shape and is gonna need a lot of work to put it right. Not sure that a time served original arcade collector would bother with this poor old cab, but I’m determined to fix it up, learn from the experiences along the way and then hopefully have a nice looking clean working cabinet for the end result.

I then cracked on with stripping the laminate off using a wallpaper scraper as that’s all I had amongst my tools.
The first side seemed to strip ok, it was fiddly and a word of warning, when the laminate smashes and cracks, it leaves a razor sharp edge, my hands were cut to bits where I kept catching the edges. Wear gloves!

The other surfaces weren’t easy, I had to introduce a heat gun to do the rest then it came off like butter..
It was also possible to scrape a lot of the glue off of the cabinet too with the heat gun and a scraper. Tedious work but the more I could strip, the less sanding to do.

Oh well, crack on I suppose.. Metal Parts

Anyway, I dismantled the control panel, threw everything in boxes until I get round to cleaning them up. Which reminds me, I wish I had a parts tumbler like the one John Jacobsen uses in his Journey Restore video

Got to get me one of those, my bolts and screws are in a really bad state and I don’t want to go out trying to find replacements if I can avoid it.

Arcade machine nuts and bolts

Since taking this photo, I’ve tried soaking the nuts, bolts and screws in Coke which helped remove some of the rust but they need to be thrown into a tumbler for a couple of days ideally to bring them fully back to usable condition again.

It’s my birthday next month so I’ll see if I can get someone to treat me to a tumbler 😉 and hopefully I can update with my experience with it. From what I’ve seen though, it’s really worth the investment.

I did some work on the control panel to glue and repair the ply which had swollen and split.. It didn’t turn out too bad considering the state it was in.. Unfortunately, the photo’s don’t do justice to how bad it looked before I glued and clamped it.

Anyway, it turned out ok as you can see in the pics..

I did quite a bit of Bondo work on the cabinet after gluing and clamping any split wood. The cabinet took a lot of sanding to get the remainder of the glue off, even after applying heat and scraping it.
Once I’d finished with the sanding and Bondo work, I cleaned the whole thing up and painted the inside, back and top with a matt black paint.. Not sure I’d use tat particular paint again as I found it a little thick and it’s taking weeks for the smell of paint to go away. Given the fact that I need to bring the cabinet into the house when not working on it outside I’ll go for odourless paint next time.

Just a quick look at the PCB which came with the game.. I asked on UKVAC as I weren’t sure how to identify this PCB as being a boot or genuine.. Following some responses, it seems it’s a genuine PCB.. Which is great news but to be honest, I’m not a major fan of the game. I’ll give it some time to see if grows on me though and may or may not keep it.

Tiger Heli Orignal Genuine PCB

Author Tony
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Comments (1)

  • March 3, 2017 at 6:56 pm Reply
    A nice write up of progress as it was. Lots of good photos too which is good for anyone reading to be able to visualise what you are writing about. Looking forward to reading about more of your tinkerings.

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