Arcade Raid! Warehouse Find, UK

It’s been a while since I’ve reported on any arcade raids here on the blog. What’s more, it’s been even longer since a decent one occurred here on UK shores. But I was able to buck that trend back in January this year, by being involved in this three-man warehouse raid. So, here we go:

To set this one up for you briefly; we were aware of a long-established operator located in a coastal town here in the UK. A fellow collector made contact and established that the guy had been running his arcade business since the early 80s, siting all kind of arcade machines in arcades, clubs and pubs right along the West Coast of the UK. What’s more, he discovered that the operator didn’t really know what he had in storage at his premises, but was pretty certain that he had some older equipment, and was happy for us to come along and pick through it.

We agreed a date, and met at the location. For me this was a brisk 3 hour drive – but it was more than worth it.

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An early morning start: Plenty of coffee, clear skies, gloves, torch and an empty boot!

Arriving at the premises, it was pretty clear that the business had changed significantly over the years. The good news was we were pretty much left to our own devices and allowed to forage around unaccompanied. On first impressions, there was very little immediate evidence of the glory days of early 80s video arcade cabinets.

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Fruit machines, pool tables, juke boxes and a few modern video titles were immediately apparent. Note the upstairs storage area to the right – more on that later
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Things were packed very tightly in the main area, but were able to clamber over a few things to see if we could spot any gems hidden away. You can just make out a “Unigame” Jamma cabinet on the right there. This turned out to house a rare Vulcan Venture PCB

It was obvious viewing things forensically, that the deeper back we went, the more interesting the finds were. Clearly, machines had been stored long ago, and then more things were stored in front of those old cabinets – you could see how easy it would be to lose track of so much inventory, placed into this building over many years. The challenge was actually getting way back to view the interesting machines that were tucked away from view.

We searched hard, and found a few gems hidden towards the back of the room:

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1995’s Sega Rally here. Looked to be one and a half cabinets. Useful for someone…
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Atari’s Badlands! Cab was complete, but we were unable to test it
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This was a nice find. A Sega Enduro Racer, complete with seat. Some of it was in bits, but things look complete. Very collectible!
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Even a spare set of handlebars for the Enduro Racer

Diving further into the building, we came across a room with cocktail cabinets stacked up on top of each other:

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There were half a dozen tables in this room. Everything very dusty
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Most were generic, empty and unidentifiable
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Although some were worthy of our attention – this Colour Space Fever appeared to be complete
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And this Missile Command. I really wanted to save this one, but it was the one machine that the operator wanted silly money to part with unfortunately
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Underneath 35 years of dust and grime, the Missile Command cocktail

Opening up some of the generic tables revealed the ravages of time:

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Mould and grime in this one. Any surviving PCBs in these cocktails are likely to be rusted and oxidised

With that room checked through and declared ‘clear’ we ventured further to the back of the warehouse and climbed some old stairs up into a loft area. More discoveries:

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We quickly worked out that this room was where arcade monitors went to die
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Old tubes, chassis and boxes of junk
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In a dark corner was literally a mountain of abandoned monitor chassis. We were able to grab a few presumably non-working Wells Gardner and Hantarex chassis for spares
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And found some obligatory 70’s porn along the way…
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Grabbed these up and over coin doors – always useful
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This was an interesting find amongst the dead tubes – an original Street Fighter control panel. It was well-worn and the wear that was evident showed it had provided a lot of entertainment over the years
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Although we didn’t take it, this was a nice find. Jungle Lord pinball backglass. Looked in nice shape too.

So we’d grabbed a few useful bits from these rooms, but the best was to come. We moved back into the main warehouse and climbed the stairs up to the raised area we’d spotted when we first walked in:

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Note the parts, boxes, manuals and junk covering half the stairs
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The view down from our vantage point
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The area stretched the length of the warehouse and at first glance, looked to be more of the same
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There were a bunch of these 80s jukeboxes. No use to us, but cool to see all the same

The key to this area, was to pick through thoroughly, and look beyond what we could visibly see. What was obvious in this place, was that so much had been stored over the years (and badly too) – we figured there were sure to be things worth saving if we looked deep and hard enough. As you can see, we had our work cut out:

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It was hard to know where to start
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Immediately you can see PCBs and parts. Note the monitors across the shelves on the back wall there
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The thing with these shelves – you couldn’t trust what you saw. Getting on hands and knees was the order of the day, to see what had been stored behind the obvious stuff
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This Hyper Sports cabaret Jamma cabinet was sitting in the middle of it all. It didn’t appear to be populated with anything other than a monitor, and had signs of water damage, so we decided to leave it where it was

We quickly realised that we were going to have to get ourselves dirty and clamber through the junk to find the jewels that we were sure were there. Here’s some of our more interesting finds:

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This was a pile of BAS Jamma control panels. There must have been 10 or so. they had been thrown under a pile of chairs and not visible from the outside. Particularly desirable though were the yellow SNK rotary joysticks though. A nice find!
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This was a killer to get out. A Bally Fireball 2 pinball. We spent a good twenty minutes moving a huge pile of those pool table lamps to get it out. Back breaking work!
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This Tatsumi Buggy Boy steering wheel was found underneath and behind the pinball table. Useful for someone for sure
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So this was the bottom rung of a shelf unit in the back corner. I shone a torch through, and across the sea of fruit machine reels, there right at the back, I spotted what was unmistakably a European Pole Position II steering wheel and control panel. It had been placed there some time in the 80s, and clearly long-forgotten. I had to save it, and there was only one way to get it out….
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This is how I spent most of my time on this raid. Covered in dust on my front, climbing through arcade parts picking out the stuff we were after buried deep in the shelves…

What was clear, was that we were onto something in this area of the warehouse.

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Those chairs were held in place by two loose radiators and a wooden drawer. Health & Safety be damned!

We started pulling out what became literally mountains of old arcade PCBs from deep inside the shelves:

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A Nintendo board here
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A MACH 3 and Missile Command PCB amongst these
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I was glad the other guys were with me, as I didn’t recognise much of what we were pulling out
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Atari AR boards. filthy, but always useful
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This is what we came for…..
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We tried to get organised as things were found, but there was so much of it to go through
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Ummm…. more PCBs (I’m running out of captions now)
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There was a lot of Konami Jamma stuff I recall as you can see here. We stacked them as best we could, sorting what was worth taking and what we would leave

I could post another 50 pictures of what we found, but lets cut to the chase with what we ended up with. Bear in mind we only had so much space in our cars. But we still came away with a very decent haul between the three of us:

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This nice cabaret style Jamma cabinet housed an original and rare Vulcan Venture PCB. There was space for this in one of the cars. The other upright cabinets we agreed a price on the day, and made arrangements for them to be picked up by our friendly arcade courier at a later date
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Amazing what you can fit into a Volvo estate car. Here’s the Fireball 2 pinball squeezed in
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Here’s my car loaded with various parts
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And a few boxes of PCBs and parts
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Another car load. Back seats are down. Mainly PCBs and a couple of 14″ monitors. A nice haul!
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Unloading at home – a 19″ monitor (still trying to get this one fixed and up and running, Atari coin door, a few power bricks, AR2s and various PCBs.

So as you can see, this was a significant raid. Some great finds that required a lot of work and a change of clothes to get to. But we did well and everyone went home tired but very happy with what we managed to save.

We do have plans to go back at some point, as we all felt there was definitely more to be found and rescued from the depths of those shelving units. I’ll keep you updated…

Previous arcade raids can be found in the archives at the top of this page!

Thanks for reading this week.

Tony

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. neil1637 says:

    Oooh, dirty work chaps! Another brilliant lead followed up and you really never know what you might find until you get there and blow off the dust. Utterly brilliant work and a nice write up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dan says:

    Looks like a brilliant haul. Can’t wait to find out what those PCBs were.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ringadingding says:

    WOW, i don’t know if i’d be thrilled or overwhelmed by seeing all that stuff and thinking about all the work it was going to take to go through it. Glad you stuck with it, though — you got some great stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Vulcan Venture pcb initially didn’t work. 😦
    After re burning 5 EPROMs and replacing an odd ram chip, it now plays!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hungrygoriya says:

    I felt like sneezing just looking at your photos! This is a pretty amazing place though… I’m so glad that you guys got to plunder the treasure trove and come away with some great stuff! Good luck with refurbishing the stuff you found.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. TomTom says:

    Those cocktail tables are sooo dusty!!!

    Nice raid, it is always amazing to see so many pieces stacked upon each other, and each time, it is pretty neat to see some of them torn from their doom !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Omaha Arcade Lover says:

    Nice haul! I’m curious what crazy money he was asking for the Missile Command cocktail.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Maksim says:

    I as well am curious about the mad money he wanted for that cocktail?

    Like

  9. Tony says:

    Suffice to say it was a four figure sum.

    Like

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