Atari Battlezone Restoration 5

We made good progress in Part 4 of this restoration after the lull of the cold winter months. Time this week to get out in the garage and tidy up some of the loose ends that are still to be done with the cabinet.

Pulling the cab out of the garage, I noticed it covered in a thick layer of dust. What’s more, the textured wood grain sides were absolutely filthy, and an even bigger problem (or so I thought) was a thin sheen of Bondo smeared at various points on the cab.

Schoolboy error on my part here – that’s the remnants of the filling job I did previously. I thought I’d managed to get it all off. Top-tip – fill your holes from the inside out, not the outside in. I was worried I wasn’t going to get this stuff off without fully re-laminating the sides (a job I really wanted to avoid if possible).

Thankfully, after trying all sorts of products, from brake cleaning fluid to drain cleaner (yes really), I was able to remove it with a lot of elbow grease, detergent, boiling hot water and a scrubbing-brush:

Boiling hot water and detergent
Plastic scrubbing-brush

The brush got into all the grooves of the sides, and after a good hour of continuous scrubbing, I managed to get all of it off. Phew! Next was a quick sand of this repaired edge and re-routing of the t-molding groove. Not the neatest of jobs, but it’s the underside of the cab so I’m not too bothered:

Bondo work
T-molding groove re-routed

It will look a lot better once I’ve touched everything up. Talking of t-molding – once thing I was concerned about was the light coloured wood showing through the very edge of the t-molding. This happens over time where the cab swells very slightly, and the edges get worn out. So I took off the old stuff:

Cab edge

And got to work with our old favourite, Black Chalkboard paint:

Get yourself some Black Chalkboard paint!
Painting the edges black

This means when our new t-molding goes on, we won’t see any of that particle board peeking through the sides. You’ll see what I mean shortly. So here we are with the cab. Notice the small repairs at various points. I intend touching these up with brown and black touch up paint pens. Much of the sides will be covered up with the new side art I have to go on, but there are bits around the edges that need work. I’ll come onto that shortly:

A cleaned up Battlezone prepped for artwork

So let’s get the T-molding on. You’ve seen me do this before so I won’t dwell on it too much. Here’s our tools and t-molding reading to get to work:

Arcade t-molding kit

So starting on the underneath of the cab, slowly work your way round with a rubber mallet, hammering in as you go. Don’t hit too hard or you’ll end up with dents in your rubber. Not good.

Rubber mallet time!
Going on nicely…

Remember when going around corners, to cut v-shaped slots into your t-molding to ensure a tight fit:

Remember your corners

I like to nail the two edges in where they meet. These won’t be visible under the cab, but will ensure that everything stays nice and snug:

Finishing touches on the base of the cab

And there we go:

Looking much better

Onto the coin door. I thought about leaving this as-is, but you can see that over the years, the dreaded rust has taken hold at certain points, and there’s a lot of paint chips around the edge of that frame:

Scrappy coin door. We need to fix this up.
Rusty coin reject flaps need a respray

So starting with the black frame; it’s out with our trusty paint stripper:

Out with the trusty paint stripper

Leave that for an hour, then strip everything with a wire brush, which works into all the nooks and crannies:

Wire brush attachment
Bare coin door frame

After a good rinse in the sink, we can apply our first undercoat:

Coin door frame undercoat

I left this to dry overnight, to give a good base on which to apply our paint. I’ve used Black Hammerite, with a hammered finish, to match the look of the original frame:

Repainted coin door frame

Couple of final bits. You may recall I resprayed the front laminate. It came out well, but the paint is rather soft and I suspect will scratch easily. I fixed this by adding two layers of a matt spray lacquer:

Few coats of lacquer should toughen the front up

That should add some protection against knocks and scrapes. I also added a matt black plastic strip across the bottom to tidy that section up, and to act as a foot plate. Countersunk some screws so they are flush. I’ll paint those black too:

Applying a matt black plastic strip with countersunk screws

So now the cab is in decent enough shape to bring into the arcade room in the house. After getting it up three flights of stairs, we can take a look at the remaining bumps and scrapes on the sides. I’m not losing too much sleep over this, as a lot of it will be covered up with the side art I have planned for the cab.

Still looking a bit scrappy

As you can see, it’s a bit tatty. Those four holes where I filled in where the bolts had been put through are particularly noticeable, along with the repair to the lower right there. So to do this, I got hold of some oil based paint. The colour was “Burnt Umber” and it goes on nice and thick:


Touching up the wood grain sides

Here’s our four holes before and after:


That will dry a darker colur after a day or so. Here’s one side looking a lot better:

Touched up wood grain sides

It’s not perfect by any means, but the filled areas and damage look a lot better at first glance. The art will draw the eye away from any marks anyway. More on that art later.

Here’s the cardboard bezel. It’s in OK shape, but needs a clean:

The cardboard bezel from Battlezone cabaret. This sits in front of the monitor
Rear of the Atari Battlezone cabaret bezel

Eww. A well wrung out cloth with detergent got this all cleaned up. I left it drying, making sure it was flat.

So there we go. The actual cabinet is now in restored condition, and cosmetically, things are looking much better than when the cabinet arrived.

Almost there!

We are ready to repopulate everything and switch on! Stay tuned for the final part 6 soon on the blog!

Thanks for reading this week.


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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Anthon Hall says:

    I think you meant to say “Countersunk some screws so they are flush.” not “Countersunk some screws so they are plush.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tony says:

    Good spot Anthon! Thank you!


  3. neil1637 says:

    It’s almost there pal. Looking forward to the next/final update. I see it has been granted access up to the holy arcade room. I suspect this means we are good to go. Of course you are now going to have to sell you centipede cabaret to me to make room……

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Andy says:

    Great work. Long Live Battlezone!

    Liked by 1 person

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