Monthly Archives: August 2008

Restoring TRON – Stripping!

The security bolts on the joystick were gummed up and rusted, so I had to carefully dremel out the nubs on each bolt, a tense affair as original TRON joysticks are not cheap. Luckily, everything else came apart without issue.

The control panel plastics cleaned up quite well. After soaking the handle, buttons, and spinner in a bucket of warm water and auto detergent for a couple hours, I scrubbed away the many many years of dirt and grime. Particularly notable was the wad of solidified gum that had to be scrapped off with a razor.

Here’s the before:
TRON trigger mechanism

And after a good solid cleanin’:
Cleaned controls

I highly recommend Citristrip for removing stubborn and baked on control panel overlays. It has a consistency of sludge, doesn’t reek like most solvents, and didn’t feel like it was going to immediately burn my hands off if I got some on me (still, wear gloves, it’s powerful stuff). After a liberal coating with a cheap paintbrush, I let the panel sit overnight. The next morning, the old CPO and paint slid right off. Followed that with a wipe down of Goof Off to remove the last bits of adhesive, and then sanded the panel and applied a coat of primer. Here’s the CP immediately after using the Citristrip:

Control Panel

The monitor! A Well-Gardner K4900, it originally came out of a horizontal game, as there’s a slightly noticeable bit of burn-in, but not enough burn-in for me to identify the source. As the cardboard bit on the end of the neck states, someone replaced the caps in 1997, but I figure it’s a good idea to replace them now again anyway while I’ve got the monitor out of the cabinet.


An arcade cabinet is deceptively simple. It’s like a big model, really. As long as you can get ahold of a parts list and schematics, you can put one of these together. Still, label everything. If you’re not sure, label it. Or even if you are sure, label it.


Parts order update:

  • Phoenix Arcade reproduction TRON art
    (inner art, marquee, shroud art, CPO, spinner decal, and joystick insert)
  • CP and joystick assembly nuts ‘n bolts kit (thanks for the lead, Jeff!)
  • 18inch fluorescent light fixture for upper rear cabinet
  • starters for the 3 original fixtures
  • Various sundries for stripping, painting, and repair
    (Bondo, putty knives, satin black spraypaint for metal bits, etc)

The next parts update will be the big one, as I’m preparing to write up orders from Bob Roberts and Arcadeshop now.

Restoring TRON

Here’s where I document the restoration of my TRON cabinet, a time honored tradition shared by many other owners across the internet.

I intend to strip down the entire machine, repair and paint the cabinet, replace all artwork, and clean up and fix any mechanical or wiring issues that remain. When I’m done, this TRON should be damn close to like-new condition.

TRON and Cyberball cabinets

(Cyberball is next, but that one is gonna be a bit more of a challenge)

I began the teardown this weekend, removed most of the fixtures and exterior bits, and sanded and repainted half the brackets. Discharging the monitor, something I’ve honestly been dreading for years, was a nonevent, and I’ll be pulling that and the boards out next.

I’ll list out my parts purchases as I go, partly with the intention of tracking how much I really end up sinking into this, and partly to make things easier for the next poor soul who wanders by with a restoration project.

Initial parts orders:

link love 08-15-08

Arcade Mania, the new book on the Japanese arcade scene by Brian Ashcraft and Jean Snow, is now available for pre-order, at a very reasonable fourteen bucks. There’s also a Flickr group.

Jason Scott shares some neat Karateka trivia. I have no idea if the trick worked on the Atari 8-bit version, but then again I never tried putting the disk in upside-down.

Multiwinia trailer!

Also from Dtoid, Games time forgot: Space Ace. Poe’s Pizza, the place we’d trek to and burn our allowance on, had Space Ace in it’s lineup for quite some time. Still, for a kid on a limited budget, laserdisc titles were several places down the preferability list, as playtime could be painfully brief until you mastered the game.

Hey wow, SEGA discovered a roomfull of games, from back when SEGA games were good. /TEAR 9-9-99 NEVER FORGET

The TRON design documents.

I came across this fascinating collection of documents last night while digging around some of the less-travelled corners of the internet, searching for specs and background on the TRON cabinet I’m restoring.

This following bit, from Dave Nutting’s response after attending the TRON design meeting, is particularly wonderful, and shows how little things in the game industry have really changed:

(by the way, Bill is Bill Adams, designer and developer of the game, and George is George Gomez, visual designer, and the guy responsible for the look of the cabinet)

Anyway, here are the goods. The design documents, outlining the seven (!) mini-games and basic gameplay features, a couple Disney memos regarding assets, and Dave Nutting’s followup mail about the game to Dave Marofske, then President of Midway.

TRON Design Document: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]
Disney memos: [1, 2]
Daving Nutting mail [1, 2]
…or just download the whole collection.

An evening at EVO 2008.

Yesterday was day two of the EVO Championship Series, a yearly fighting game tournament hosted here in Las Vegas. While I wasn’t a competitor (I’m a solidly average 2D fighter player), I dropped by for several hours to take in the scene, see the new games, and to watch the midnight screening of Bang the Machine, a documentary following the participants of a Street Fighter series tournament, all vying for a spot on the team that would be traveling to Japan and representing the United States in further matches.

So, the new games.

EVO 2008 - Viewlix cabs

Capcom had delivered ten head-to-head Viewlix cabinets for the event, arranged in an outward facing circle near the center of the BYOC (Bring Your Own Console) play area. Eight of the cabinets were running Street Fighter IV, and the final two were builds of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, a game I hadn’t seen much of prior to last night but ultimately my favorite of the bunch. Additionally, an Xbox 360 kiosk was running Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, and I’d heard that Arc was on hand the day before with BlazBlue, although it was unfortunately gone by the time I arrived.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is looking great. Something like the fighting game version of Super Robot Wars, the game pits characters from various Capcom properties against Tatsunoko Production’s lineup. So far, less than a dozen of the playable characters have been revealed, but the character select screen seemed to be built for a whole lot more. Assuming licensing talks go well (the reason there’s never been a US release of the Super Robot Wars games), it could be quite the collection. I hope Mospeada, Southern Cross, or any of the other Robotech licenses are represented.

Pictures and video after the jump!
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