Donkey Kong Restoration 5 FINAL

So here we were, the home run on the restore of this cabinet. In the first 4 parts, you saw the cab in a tatty state. Gradually, we’ve seen the cab take shape as new parts have been added. I now needed one last push to get this completed.

The last part that needed work was the monitor. I mentioned earlier that these things put the fear of god into me. Thankfully it appeared that the exploits of Laurel and Hardy (Jims and myself) hadn’t caused any permanent damage to the screen and it still powered up OK when plugged into the power supply. Phew! However, it was covered in what I could only describe as 30 year old oily soot. I’ve never dealt with anything like it. No fun at all. Couple that with some old sticky residue (“Gummy substance” anyone?) and I had my work cut out.


I found an old plastic ruler and some “Sticky Stuff Remover” that The Warden produced from a cupboard under the kitchen sink was the best thing to use. I got through several cloths, and two buckets of fresh water. Several hours later, I’d managed to get most of it off and we had something like a decent looking monitor – albeit with chronic screenburn. (The process that happens when the same image is continuously shown on an old CRT monitor – the shape of the image literally “burns” into the tube). I’d have to address that at some point in the future.


And then it suddenly dawned on me that I was ready to switch on. There was not much left to do – just small details. So I plugged everything in. Checked out my work, double checked again.

3-2-1 CLICK!



The world of arcade game restoration once again proved to me that she can be a harsh mistress. The blank screen just sat there as if to say “now what you clueless idiot?”. I had no idea what was wrong, but doggedly continued to piece the game together, ignoring the fact that the cab was not going to work.

I got into the groove and in quick succession got the marquee, coin door and other remaining parts installed into the cab, until she was pretty much together. Then the t-molding came out. If one part makes a cab look like a cab, it’s the t-molding. For the uninitiated, this is the plastic strip that runs down the edges of the cab to make it look smart. It is installed by tapping it’s t-shape into a groove that runs down the edges of the cab. It takes a bit of time as you need to be careful not to damage it or the wood of the cab. You also need to cut grooves into the plastic when you come to a corner otherwise it will crease up. Tapping with care requires a hammer and something soft so as not to damage it. I think I used a sock, folded in on itself. (Hey, sometimes you’ve got to improvise right?).


Eventually, I could do no more. I had no choice but to start looking at the cab to see why it wasn’t starting up. Again, I’ll reiterate, I am no expert, but followed some logic and thought that a good place to start would be the mains. The mains wire from the wall socket leads into a transformer, which in turn feeds a PSU that sends voltages to the circuit board. A search led me to a page which listed what these voltages should be, so I pulled out the multimeter and started testing the output.

Nothing – there was no power. Sometimes, things become very obvious. It was clear that the PSU was not working. Pulling this out and stripping it down revealed the source of the problem:


A tiny 4amp fuse. I figured it must’ve blown when Jims and I managed to mess up the monitor installation.

Thankfully, that turned out to be all it was. One replaced fuse later, and BINGO! We had signs of life.


Even I’ll admit I was impressed with myself. Starting out with a shell of a cab, to end up with a smart looking playable game, is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. And I mean that not only from a personal point of view at getting this dead thing working again, but also because I’ve given the old girl a new lease of life. By rights, this thing should’ve been scrapped, and many old 30 year old arcade cabinets have been. I am sure there are many people out there who wouldn’t have understood the cultural significance of a colourful lump of wood that was part of the backdrop of many of our lives back in the 80s. But I did, and I wanted this shell of a machine to be making noises again and making players smile once more.

Wherever she ends up, this D2K machine is good for another 30 years now.

This was a nice touch. Because this was the first D2K kit shipped outside of the US by Thisoldgame, they customised the identifier plate for me. This sits at the back of the cab, above the rear door. Notice the serial number “D2K – UP UK – 001”:


Another small touch, but one I’m really pleased with are these custom engraved coin slots. A forum member on a UK forum works in a metal shop, and was kind enough to get these made up for me. I think they came out great:


This was my first restoration, and it was a long and arduous journey, but one I’m glad I’ve taken. I learnt a lot about arcade cabinets, and gave me the bug to try some more. Here’s a before and after shot:


So I guess the point of these blogs I’m going to put up is that if I can do it then so can you. It’s really not that difficult – everything is fairly logical, and you get to learn about woodworking, artwork, paint, filler, sanding and a little electronics. And if you take your time you get to own a really nice looking machine. Here’s the finished result:


With the Donkey Kong II kit installed, the player can switch between Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong II, so there’s plenty of gameplay to be had from this game.

More restores to follow!

Thanks for reading.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. JD says:

    Love it! I have also been doing a D2K restore/conversion. That engraving on the coinslot plates is choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. TT says:

    Thanks JD! Nintendo cabs are fantastic things to work on. Wish I’d kept the second one I acquired on reflection, as they are very hard to get hold of over here.


  3. Christo says:

    Hi, Congratulations on a job well done and history saved!! “respect” I am an long time Arcade machine fan and lived the 80’s with them. It is my dream for the longest time to find and restore a Slap Fight Cab from Taito if I remember correctly. However, here in South Africa it is not that easy as different cabs were updated with newer games but an old cab with old artwork of a previous game was used. Wish me well on this en-devour… I hope you have many more great adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. quakezero2013 says:

    Hey Tony,

    I actually came here through an article I wrote on Kotaku and I must say that I’ve been binge reading it all on a slow day at work. I love how you explain everything in a simple manner so even I can understand it (I’ve never ever read anything abo0ut restorations before). Just wanted to let you know that you’re doing a great job writing understandable and entertaining articles that anyone can enjoy. I’ll check in often for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Michael Freed says:

    Great blog! I just bought a DK that I am in the middle of doing a partial restoration. I stumbled across this in my search for info. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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