Atari Centipede Upright Restoration 2

So things are going well with the restoration of the Centipede upright. Everything has been stripped out pretty much. We have a cleaned up marquee, bezel, control panel and monitor.

Time to take a look at the inside and outside of the cab itself. Things aren’t pretty there. General grime, dead insects and dirt greet me:


Looks worse than it is. That power brick can come out and we can start vacuuming inside. Once that is done, the wiring loom can be removed, washed (in a bucket, add hot water and detergent, leave for an hour) and put back in. The power brick itself, just needs a soft brush and the vacuum head to get the worst of the dust off, then a good wipe down in the sun with a damp cloth. So after a couple of hours work doing all that, and leaving everything to dry in the sun we get this:


Much better I’m sure you’ll agree.

The outside of the cab had a nice layer of grime on it. Cue detergent and hot water and a cloth! This is what came off it with each wipe:


30 minutes of elbow grease later and the sides came up nice and shiny again:


That bucket of water was black. So much grime came off it. Anyway, that’s a vast improvement – the colours really pop now compared to how the cab was found. I’m growing to like its battle scars. Adds character to the cabinet I think, compared to a shiny new one.

So onto the trackball. You’ll recall in part 1, the ball was rusted solid. The bearings and shafts have been removed and are soaking in 3-in-1 oil to loosen things up. With the shafts, I put them on the drill and spun them in a cloth soaked in WD40 to remove the surface rust before dropping them in to soak:


I’m going to leave them there for a few days to let the bearings bathe in the lubricant. Fingers crossed when we put the trakball back together, everything will be silky smooth as it should be. We’ll come back to that later.

One of the biggest issues with finding a cab that’s been sat somewhere for a long time is rust. Typically the marquee holders will succumb to damp conditions over time, and you’ll find they are often in pretty bad shape. The holders consist of two metal bars that are painted black and should be nice and smooth. In other words, not like the ones found on our Centipede:


See how the metal top and bottom is pitted and rusty? This is an easy fix. Takes a bit of time though. Coat them in paint stripper and leave for 45 minutes, to let the chemicals do their work:


Go get a cup of tea, let your family know you’re still alive after breathing in the fumes, and then grab a scraper and scrape off the now bubbled up paint. It should lift off without any effort:


Sand off the remaining surface rust, to leave a nice smooth surface:


We now need an undercoat to give our new paint something to cling to. Two coats of undercoat from a spray can later:


Then black metal paint. I use the Hammerite brand for this sort of thing. Here’s coat number one:


Each coat needs about 30 minutes to dry before applying another. Three coats later, and we are as good as new:


Lovely stuff. So we’ll put those to one side along with the other already restored bits. Next up, let’s deal with that horrible black laminate on the front of the cab. It’s scratched to hell, and the bottom has started to break off as a result of the damage to the base of the cab:


We want to get that off completely. The way to do it is with a heat gun, which will soften the glue holding it on. Once you’ve heated a small area, using a wallpaper scraper, carefully ease up the laminate and work your way around the whole thing. This took about 45 minutes, so you need to take your time, but it gives us a nice clean surface, upon which we can apply some new laminate:


Let the remaining glue dry again and we can sand off later. A quick search on eBay found a seller willing to sell sheets of black laminate cut to whatever size you want. Result! While I was online, I ordered some new black t-molding which will replace the grotty stuff on there currently. Both should arrive later this week.

You’ll notice I’ve not yet dealt with the damaged wood at the bottom of the cab. This is entirely down to procrastination. I HATE working on damaged wood, so I’m basically looking for anything else to do on the cab before I have to tackle this tricky job. Or maybe I’m secretly hoping that the wood fairies will come one night and fix everything for me.

Whatever. Still lots more to do elsewhere.


Returning to the monitor, you’ll recall we had vertical collapse. A common issue. A hunt around online pointed me towards an area of the chassis board that was likely at fault. After messing around with my multimeter, I identified a transistor that was out of range.


I ordered and replaced the offending component, but still had the same issue. At this point I decided to accept defeat, as the issue was clearly beyond my limited electronics skills. What’s more, the chassis appears to have had previous repairs, and not to a very high standard. Check out this solder work:


I mean I’m not world’s greatest soldering engineer, but good god that’s terrible.

Anyway, I know when to accept defeat, and the chassis has been sent off to a fellow collector who knows his stuff on monitors. He can work his magic for me, and hopefully send us back a nice working PCB for our G07 monitor. More updates on this next time.

So that’s it for now. We’ve made good progress and are heading into the home straight. Next time we’ll get that trackball rebuilt, repair the wood damage, glue the new laminate on, and rebuild the cab with our newly cleaned up parts. With a trailing wind, we should have the thing complete during the next update here on the blog. Fingers crossed.

Part 3 will follow soon where you can see my attempts at wood repairs! God help us all.

Thanks for stopping by. See you next week.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Neil McEwan says:

    Hi Tony. Isn’t it funny how one man’s hate is another’s love. My favourite part of a resto is always the wood stuff, mainly as that is where my skill set lies I guess.

    She’s coming on nicely though and I think your wood skills are secretly better than you belie on here.

    Good luck as always and thanks for keeping up with your blog.



  2. Tony Temple says:

    I need to get you round Neil. Bring some filler! 🙂


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