Guide to Restorations - Section 1 Getting started! Last Updated on: 8/24/2013

Please READ the entire Guide prior to beginning as it may save you some headaches during the whole process.

Let me start with the standard disclaimer.

The information provided here is "AS-IS", and "Use at your own risk". In other words, I am providing you this information for free and its based on my own experiences and experiences of other people on the Internet. Your mileage may vary when you use this information. I make no claims as to its usefulness or accuracy. I try to verify what I put on here, but I am human and subject to making mistakes. I am far from an expert in this area, nor do I claim to be. There are many ways to do Arcade Game restorations and this is my perspective. If you have alternate way of doing something, then let me know and I will be more than happy to add it here.

Well, enough of that, lets get to the fun stuff! Restoring your Arcade Game to its "Original State". "Original State" is more of a guide than what will probably happen. The reason I say this, is that most games that you will be restoring are around 30 years old. If you can find 100% original parts for everything then consider yourself lucky. For the sake of argument, "Original State" is defined as follows: "As close to the original product that came off the assembly line as possible." In the process of restorations it is sometimes a good idea to modernize the game in some respects. If you are purest, then you need to start looking for as many original parts as you can and when you can't find them..... well, you'll know what you need to do.

This guide is not meant to help repair defective games (i.e. monitor or board problems).  However a very important part of restorations is the ability to fix electronic and electrical problems with you games, so I will try to provide information in the Repair Log section and/or links to sites that have the information need to repair a game I am working on.

This guide is designed to help you figure out how to restore your Arcade game. To help with this, I have broken it down into 7 sections (including this one). If I need to add more sections, or change a current one, I will do so. It will all be based on input I get from the people visiting my site. If you find any errors or omissions or would just like to comment, please drop me a note by using the Contact Me! page.

In order to restore an Arcade Game you will need several things:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Patience
  • Space
  • Work Area
  • Tools
  • Supplies

Without those, you're headed for trouble. You need TIME because restorations take a long time. You need MONEY to buy parts, tools, etc... Restorations take a long time so PATIENCE is a must. If you don't have SPACE then where are you going to store the games when you're done restoring them? My WORK AREA is my garage as I can mess that up and its easy to clean. Unless you are McGyver, TOOLS will come in handy. Use the SUPPLIES with the TOOLS, you can't paint a cabinet if you don't have paint.

Here is a list of commonly used tools and supplies. As time progresses, this list will get bigger.  

Hammer I recommend two types as a minimum. The normal claw hammer, and then either a rubber or plastic (I have the plastic) mallet. The Plastic mallet is for tapping on things you really don't want to break like stuck buttons, etc...

Phillips, and Flat of various sizes. I have 3 different sizes in each type.

Crescent Wrench

A must for removing bolts.


I have an adjustable set of pliers that allow me to remove things the crescent wrench is too small or awkward for. This also allows me to pull things out like staples, nails, etc... where a claw hammer can't get to it very well.

Needle Nose Pliers

Used to grab small things from tight places, used to pull wires off that have quick disconnects.


No, not lesbians, its the cutters used in electronics. Used all the time to cut wires.

Crimper Used for crimping quick disconnects on wires.

Buy a sanding block and some sand paper. I currently have 60 (coarse) and 150 (fine) grit sand paper. I bought a sanding block for about $5. For the heavy duty sanding, you will want to get an motorized sander. I have a two handed sander for doing big jobs like the sides and a Finishing Sander for doing touch up work.

Wood Chisel

I use this to scrape things off such as excess putty or to shape wood.


Get a good drill and a good set of drill bits. If you are making a new control panel, you will need the right bits (I'll find the sizes out later).

Skill Saw or Table Saw

If you can afford a Table Saw, it will come in a lot more handy than just a Skill Saw, but that's just my preference.

Jig Saw

Used for cutting odd shaped pieces or cutting inside an area of wood that a Skill Saw or Table Saw can not reach.

Paint Accessories

Restorations always require painting. How you paint depends entirely upon you. I use Paint Rollers (Foam), Paint Brushes, and Paint wedges (for corners). Spray paint in a can for Coin Doors, Control panels, etc.. I now have an Air Compressor and Paint Gun as well. If you can afford it, get the Air Compressor and Paint Gun because it does such a good job.

Paint Stripper

Used to remove paint. I use it to see if I can save the original artwork on the sides of the machines after someone has painted them completely black. Its a good idea to use this when redoing coin-doors.

Wood Putty

I used to use Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty, but Bondo is much better to work with. Don't forget the putty knife and work in a well ventilated area.

Soldering Iron

If you plan on doing any work on PCB's, Monitor, etc.. you will need a soldering iron. A lot of controls are soldered on as well (like Defender) so a soldering iron will come in handy.

Desoldering Station If you plan on doing a lot of PCB work, this is a must.  This will save you so much time and effort it's not even funny.  It will also help reduce the risk of damaging PCB's. 
Hand Truck

Moving games around can be a real pain in the ass, especially if you have to do it by yourself. I purchased a hand truck for $25 and it will handle loads up to 600LBS. More than enough for Arcade Games. I don't have to go up any stairs so I don't need a fancy one. I also don't have any large games right now so this one works fine on standard UR games. If you have to go up stairs or handle larger games, I suggest buying a bigger version ($100+).

Wet & Dry Vac

Cleaning out a game is an important step in the restoration process. Dust shortens the life of electronics so its important to keep the game dust free on the inside as well as the outside. A Wet & Dry vac can also be used as a "Blower" to blow the dust out of things like the Monitor, the PCB, etc.. where vacuuming wouldn't be practical.

Work Light

I have a Florescent work light that I can hang inside the game and has an extra outlet on it. This helps a tremendous amount when replacing power cords because I can plug my Soldering iron into the light and I have plenty of light to see what I am doing.

Hot Glue Gun

These will come in handy when you want to glue things together that wood glue or super glue would not work on. (like Plastic)

Heat Gun

When removing things that are attached with Adhesive, Heat guns can be a great help. The problem with Heat Guns though is that it can damage the item you are removing.


Used to add finishing touches on the edges of cabinets. Also used to make the groves for T-Molding. Can be used to make Dados, Rabbits, etc.. if you do not have a Table Saw.

Discharging Tool

Used to Discharge the Monitor prior to working on it. See the Parts Link on the home page and visit the Bob Roberts link. I own one of his Discharging tools and I swear by it.

Painting Tarp

Needed if you plan on painting your game. Prevents paint from getting on the ground and you can wash and reuse it.

There are some tools that you wont use very often, but the ones you will use almost every day are marked in Green. 

Once you have all your tools and supplies its time to find a Game or Cabinet...

Rate this article! 

Date Posted: 9/16/2018 12:07 PM
Posted By: John Pepper
Comment: Gooadd some pd page, maybe add some plastic adjusting tools which is what i'm currently looking for.

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All Articles in this category
Article Date 
3/23/2000 Guide to Restorations - Section 1
Getting started!
3/23/2000 Guide to Restorations - Section 2
3/23/2000 Guide to Restorations - Section 3
3/23/2000 Guide to Restorations - Section 4
3/23/2000 Guide to Restorations - Section 5
3/23/2000 Guide to Restorations - Section 6
3/23/2000 Guide to Restorations - Section 7
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