Our Spidey Sense Is Tingling

Unrestored game

Every time we pickup a new game, it’s always an adventure. We never quite know what we’re in store for, but the first 24 hours after we have a game is a critical window in determining whether it will be fixed or if it will end up at the back of the queue with the rest of our games that need restorations. Tonight we scored a sweet Spiderman game and I’m optimistic that we can restore the game and have it in the hands of one of our customers within our 24 hour time window. Join us live on the blog as we update our progress and write a bit more about what we’ve done to help bring life back into this game.

old control panel

T-Minus 2130 hours – We’ve only just started and have already run into our first roadblock. I always like to start with the control panel. Rebuilding one sounds easy in theory, but it’s almost always the most time intensive part of the process. On our Spidey it has the original artwork that was installed at the factory, but as you can see mother nature hasn’t been so kind. The glue that they used to put it on has bubbled up from being exposed to heat and there are several places where there are noticeable tears in the artwork. Before we got the game, it looks like another collector tried to paint the exposed wood black to try and cover up the defects, but it’s still pretty bad. Since we picked up some repro art in a bulk buy, we’re going to go ahead and install it instead. It has a few subtle deficiencies compared to the original, but it will look much cleaner overall. You’ll also notice that the control panel is missing it’s plexiglass overlay. For home use, this isn’t as important, but since this Spidey is going back into service, we need something sturdy to protect it and will be making a new one for it. Before we can do any of this though, we have to strip the control panel of the joysticks and buttons so that we can peel off the old overlay. Unfortunately, the original joysticks are very rusty. We’re going to try and see if we can refurbish them because they originals feel really smooth thanks to the rubber grommets that they used in the sticks.

rusty grommet

One of the sticks won’t let us take it off because the metal on the grommet has rusted to the joystick. This will take some time, but luckily we have a really harsh corrosive acid that we keep in the shop for just these situations. This acid is so intense that it pretty much destroys metal, rust, teeth and anything else if you let it soak overnight. We won’t tell you the name of this particular chemical, but trust us it works 😉 We’ll check on it in the morning to see if we can save the stick or if we’ll have to dig into our inventory for another joystick.

do the dew

T-minus 930 hours – So our attempts to rescue the joystick have fallen flat. Unfortunately, this guy is stuck on there, so we’re going to have to bolt cut the stick and salvage as many of the parts as we can. Now that we have the control panel clear the next step is to strip off the old sticker and prepare our plexiglass overlay.


In order to make our plexi we use a Dremmel to cut the plastic. We’ve experiemented with a lot of ways to do this and while the Dremmel does take a little while to do the job and usually goes through at least one blade per project, the heat from the saw causes the plastic to melt instead of crack. A lot of alternative methods end up cracking the plexi and very few things are more frustrating then to spend a couple of hours and $50 in materials only to see it fall apart right before you’re done. We’ll still need to drill our button holes, but so far so good.

plexi cut

T-minus 630 – The next step in our restoration is to address the water damage that the cab has experienced. In the industry we call this particular cab a particle board cab. In order to fix it we’re going to have to flip the game on it’s back. Arcade games hate to be flipped upside down, so we like to do this before we troubleshoot the guts.

particle board

As you can see from the photo this Spiderman lost it’s legs at some point. While that’s not a big deal if it just sits in your basement, it becomes a big deal when said basement floods and the cab soaks up a gallon of water or so. The wood is so damaged that it flakes off in our hands. This will only get worse over time and leaves really gross particle board flakes on our customer’s carpet if we don’t seal it up. In order to stop the decay, we must first sand down the damaged area. After that we need to seal it. We used fiberglass resin to do this and it’s very effective. The particle board sucks up the resin and when it dries it creates at linoleum strength surface that can handle the rigors of being moved from one member’s location to another without breaking down. After applying the resin we’ll need to wait for it to dry, so now is a goo time to go back to working on the control panel.

particle board resin

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