Atari Centipede Upright Restoration 4

So we should now be in the home straight on the restoration of this Atari Centipede. What started as a “light restore” has turned into quite the job. I under-estimated just how much work I had to do to get this cabinet up and running and looking decent again.

But things are coming together, and all that’s left are a few cosmetic jobs to get the cab complete.

So I left part 3 with the replacement black vinyl placed on the front of the cab, weighted down to let the glue set. Everything worked out OK; so with the glue dry, there’s something missing. A hole for the coin door!


Sounds easy, but it is a delicate job as this vinyl stuff is very brittle. One wrong move and it can split very easily. I used a Stanley knife with a new sharp blade and carefully cut round the hole, then finished off smooth with a rasp:


Note the bits of white glue that have squeezed up along the sides. I’ve tested an area and it looks pretty easy to remove so I’m not worried about that at this stage.

Next up was putting some proper feet on the base of the cab, and some minor Bondo work to the bottom front edge behind the vinyl:


I’ve left that to dry for a day, and we’ll sand smooth tomorrow. While that’s doing its thing, I made a replacement cardboard bezel. The old one was rotten and falling apart. I cleaned up the old one and used it as a template:


Draw round the old pieces and cut round the shape with sharp scissors. Then grab a long ruler and a plastic scorer to mark the required folds in the cardboard. Here’s the finished product. Old one at the top, new one at the bottom:


Control panel next. You’ll remember this was stripped and given a deep clean. The hardware and loom was also scrubbed clean and it’s now time to repopulate our nice looking panel:


Once complete, a quick test in my Centipede cabaret to check everything is wired up and working correctly:


Thumbs up – trackball is silky smooth and fire button and start buttons work and light up where they should. The panel came up really nice. Here’s a before and after shot:


More jobs are calling on the main cabinet. Where we’ve Bondo’d the base of the cab, we need to re-cut the channel that holds the t-molding in place. Sensible people would have a router to do this, but not being very sensible, I used a cutter bit on my drill. It worked out fine:


Confession: I killed my Dremel – it simply couldn’t hack it. Whoops. So it looks worse than it is – that picture does it no favours! This edge will be covered by the new t-molding so it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Next, I wanted to tidy up the edges next to the new vinyl front – it was pretty tatty. I smoothed the edge out – removing the loose wood and glue particles:


Once that’s vacuumed away. I used masking tape to protect the new vinyl, and painted the edge with blackboard paint:


Job done. Great stuff Blackboard paint – really works well, and covers a multitude of sins on many a cab.

From here, a photo speaks a thousand words, so I’m going to summarise how I spent my Monday afternoon in the sun:

Clean up coin door surround. (Top-tip: Baby Oil!):


These are cool. No they’re not the cardboard things you pee in when you’re in hospital, they are the original coin chutes! They cleaned up nice:


The artwork was peeling slightly at the rear and it was really annoying me. Grabbed some PVA glue, worked it in there along the rough edge, then clamped shut using a wood brace. Another top tip – spray a thin coat of WD-40 along the leading edge of the brace – stops it sticking to the glue when you clamp it down. Left this drying for 3 hours while I got on with everything else:


With the PVA glue out, I worked some into the exposed areas of wood where it was flaking slightly. I’m prepping the back and top of the cab for blackboard paint, which will tidy everything up massively, and brighten up our dull vinyl:


Coin door is in nice shape, but the coin return flaps and hinge are rusted:


Rather than take the door apart (OK, OK, I couldn’t undo the screws), I gave each a quick sand, masked everything off and grabbed the Hammerite spray paint. Then I had a thought – why not tidy up the rusty bolt heads while I’m there?


I know. I know. But humour me for a minute:


That’s four coats later. Small details, but worth doing. Leave overnight to dry.

More painting! This is the rear wooden door half done. You can see the tatty condition it was in on the right:


Just one coat needed. Came out well (the weird streaks are the sun reflecting off the car):


Next up the cab itself. I was in a rush to get this done before it got dark, so didn’t snap progress, but the top, back and t-molding groove were all painted with black blackboard paint. Here’s how it turned out, left in the garage to dry out overnight:


So I had assumed that this being Part 4, we’d get to the finish line! But I’ve gone mad with photos, as I wanted to document everything for the blog. So one more part to go, where we put everything back together and switch on! Stay tuned for the conclusion of this Centipede restore!

See you next week.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Been watching this restore closely, great job mate it’s coming on a treat.. That control pane cleaned up like new!

    Liked by 1 person

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