Sheriff cocktail restoration – Part 3

Following part 2 of this blog  the constituent parts of the cab have variously been cleaned, shot blasted, sprayed, painted, powder coated, filled and sanded and it’s now time to try to put everything back together and hope the game still works…


Xmas comes early… all the metalwork back home and ready to unwrap

Have to say the service from Unimet Enamellers in Reading was spot on; they were professional, easy to deal with, quick and provided a great finish at a very fair price.



Beautifully restored, all the rust, chips and gloss black paint gone

Let’s just remember how this main body looked during the dismantling process:


You can see how rough the paintwork was and also the half painted legs that should be chrome

Time for the first step so at this point I rewatched my time lapse of the dismantling and started rebuilding in the reverse order of how it all came apart.  First securing the metal section of the main body to the wooden top then attaching the leg holders and legs themselves so the the cab can be turned the right way up.


The legs have not been re-chromed but the bare metal and new end caps look better than before

That was the easy bit, now onto the control panels and then the electrical side of the rebuild.  The separately bagged screws, bolts, etc. for each part of the cab are invaluable but the control panels have so many little bits I know it will be time consuming and fiddly to get them back together.


This is the ‘simpler’ Player 2 panel, Player 1 Panel also had the two start buttons


That’s both control panels rebuilt and reattached to the cab.  Such an improvement to how they looked before.  Just the “cooker knob” controller to add back to the one in the picture and that’s finished.




In goes the rebuilt coin mechanism on the Player 1 side.  Just missing one bolt that sheared off when I tightened the bolt so I’ll have to source something similar to replace that.  Important to get the coin mech working as there is no free play setting on the game and it takes old 10 pence pieces.

A bit of soldering and the fuse, on/off switch and power cable go back in.  The before and after photo here really does show the massive difference from just 3 weeks ago.  I spent far too long before this step carefully scraping paint from the fuse holder and switch, clearly putting off the soldering and electronics that lay ahead.

Unable to put it off any longer I start putting back the monitor and various wiring looms that had been removed.  A couple of bits of soldering but nothing too difficult and just plug everything back together, all the time referencing the photos I took during the dismantling phase.  All was going well until I came across a cable from the monitor that had 3 potential places to slot in to but no photo showing me where it was connected originally.


The photo above is one I hastily took, annotated, and sent to my expert arcade repairing friends in hope they could help.  Remember I have no schematics or info to refer to, just my photos and terrible memory.  The blue circled connecter could fit on pins 1, 2, and 3 but only one is right.  A wrongly connected cable can fry a component if you are unlucky so I was loathe to just guess with only a 33% chance of success.

In the end I did just have to pick one and hope for the best.  I’m pleased to say I did no damage to the monitor and it was second time lucky after the first position I connected it to gave no on screen response.

To hark back to Part 1 of this restoration though I cannot stress enough how important it is to take LOADS of photos of EVERYTHING before you take it apart.

A few Japanese labels remained inside the cab that reveal its country of origin but nothing that, when translated, gave a clue as to the manufacturer.

SO, that’s everything back together and time to turn on the power and …. … I hear the intro sound of the game but get no picture, not good.  I try to coin up to see if the game plays “blind” but inserting 10p after 10p does nothing.  I recheck the wiring to the coin mech and it seems fine.  I go over and over the myriad connectors to the main PCB from the monitor, power, sound board, control panels and all seems well.  At this point I’m pretty tired, I was up at 05:30 and it’s now late afternoon.  I decide to put the game in position and leave it for another day with a sick feeling in my stomach, “I’ve made the cab look beautiful but broken the game” is my main thought.

An hour or so later I am looking through some photos of the PCB from when I first picked up the cab and I see something that wasn’t on any of my more recent pics.  One of the connectors to the PCB actually connects to the underside of the bottom board in the stack.  It’s worth noting that as well as having many connectors with wired looms into them, the PCB has a number that are not used at all, just to make it even more complicated to work with.  I reconnect the wiring loom to the underside of the PCB, switch on the power and YES … Sheriff lives again and coins up fine.

I can’t say how happy I am at this point having thought I could be months away from having a repaired and fully working game.  So now some pics of the cab back together and working.  I will be getting the legs chromed to really finish off the look but it’s a pricy step and there are far fewer companies doing chroming than powder coating.







Thanks for reading… if you missed parts 1 and 2 please check them out, appreciate any comments you leave and keep an eye out for my next blog that will most likely be based on the Vectrex which is a huge passion of mine.

Sheriff cocktail restoration – Part 2

Following part 1 of this blog  the cab is now in bits, all screws, washers, nuts, and bolts are bagged and labelled and the cab now takes up approximately 500% of the space it used to do when intact.


Just some of the parts in my arcade, the rest were spread across the loft floor

Along with the extra space required to have the cab in parts, the other reasons you want to get on with the project with no delay is to be able to play the game again and that every day your memory of how everything came apart will fade like Marty’s photo in Back to the Future until there’s no trace left. Luckily we won’t need to harness lightning strikes, play electric guitar to a school prom, or drive a modified Delorean to get this project done; although that last part would be pretty neat.  I had already found a local metal spraying company before the dismantling stage so I could get the parts that needed shot blasting and powder coating over to them as soon as possible.  Other than drop off, paying and picking up this part was entirely handled by the third party.


Control panel overlays in surprisingly good nick

The simplest, but often very transformative, improvement to the aesthetics of any old cab is a deep clean with warm water or other suitable products.  You don’t have to dismantle everything to clean it but it makes it a lot easier to get into every corner and to wipe down things like the wiring looms.


Over 35 years of dust and grime

I use Mr Sheen all over the outside of the wooden sections and then set to with baby wet wipes inside; these work great and after temporarily removing the power supply, monitor control, etc. the interior wood and wiring looms looks a lot more presentable.


Mmmm… clean

These photos shows some before and after shots of where black paint had splashed from a previous slap dash job of repainting the metalwork.  The glass scraper made this step really easy and caused no additional damage to the exterior wood veneer.

The wood veneer also had some less superficial damage and was pulling away on both sides of the cab.  I had decided to keep the veneer original but to make it as good as I could with simple methods.  Super strong glue and clamps remedied the loose sections and then I used wood filler to repair a couple of damaged sections.  Once dry I sanded the filler level with the original wood and then mixed up some acrylic paint to match the colour and painted it over.  I knew the damaged sections would be in the shadow of the top lid once reconstructed so I was fortunate in that they didn’t have to be perfect, just “good enough”.  As luck would have it, “good enough” is exactly my level of ability.

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Good enough

The last main part of the restoration for me was the artwork on the underside of the glass.  As I mentioned in Part 1, the artwork is silk screened to the underside of the glass so new glass is not really an option on this project.  I’d previously attempted to retouch the black backing on one corner of the glass with a small brush and acrylic paint.  This resulted in an ok improvement but was time consuming and not as good as I wanted.  A bit of research turned up some pretty impressive results with black gloss spray so I masked off each corner where the paint was particularly chipped away and sprayed 3 coats of the gloss paint.


The result, from the front of the glass, looked pretty good and I was happy until I started to remove the masking tape.  The first corner came away fine but the second one removed all of the original black paint it was taped over.  Honestly I felt sick at this point seeing perfectly good original artwork being pulled away.  I quickly checked over all the masking tape and fortunately I hadn’t taped over any of the actual artwork, just the black sections.  If I had taped over the image/text sections this could have been a really big disaster.  I proceeded to VERY carefully remove the rest of the masking tape with no further problems, all the time cursing myself for the damage already caused.  If more of the black paint had pulled away with the tape I think I would have just left the rest attached as an eternal reminder of the time I “restored” the artwork.

Thankfully the newly damaged area is almost impossible to see having been resprayed and after a few other small repairs to the coloured areas using carefully mixed and matched acrylic paint the glass was also “done” and ready for the rebuild.

Now to wait for the call from the powder coating company to collect the metal work, rebuild the cab and internals and see if the game will ever work again…

Part III coming soon

Sheriff cocktail restoration – Part 1

Who in their right mind would decide to completely dismantle an item they treasured, that is possibly the only one of its kind in the world and that they have no real experience of doing so?

Well that’s what I’ve set out to do to my Taito/Nintendo/Mystery Sheriff cocktail from 1979.

If you are unaware, Sheriff was the first game Shigeru Miyamoto worked on for Nintendo. I had played it as a kid but hadn’t heard of it for years until I was reminded of its existence by a fellow collector, Nintendo fan and YouTuber, Nintendo Arcade.

This particular version has the Nintendo name on the title screen but is in a Taito style cocktail cab and has no markings of either company.  General consensus after discussing with both Nintendo and Taito aficionados is that this is most likely a prototype of the Taito licensed version of Sheriff, Western Gun Part 2


One last go before I take it apart

I’ve owned the cab for about 18 months now and when I bought it I knew that, whilst working fine, it was a bit rough aesthetically and had lots of potential for scrubbing up.  I’ve been putting off taking it apart since then, partly as I’ve enjoyed playing it so much but also through the fear that it may never work again after I’ve eventually reassembled it.

I’d already cleaned the machine up with a bit of scrubbing and polishing and had the relatively simple job of re-chroming the glass retaining corner clips done but ahead lay a lot of work to restore what was a 1979 arcade cab that’d spent a lot of its life in a pub back to its former glory.

I also have to say I was inspired to document this adventure by the excellent The Arcade Blogger articles written by Tony Temple.  So many great restoration projects over on Tony’s site as well as other fascinating stories of arcade gaming history.

So let’s begin…

1. Dismantle everything
Tip one here is to take a LOT of photos of everything before you take it apart for future reference when you need to work out how to put it back together again. This was especially important with a one-off cab that has no documentation or schematics available.


Pictures pre dismantling are essential; photograph everything… then photograph it some more.

Tip two is to bag up screws, bolts, etc. for each element of the cab separately and label them clearly.  Bag them up immediately as it’s amazing how quickly you forget where the pile of bits by your foot came from.

This may look a bit obsessive but trust me, your chances of putting everything back together successfully will be greatly increased with this level of care and detail

Here’s a time lapse I set going of the dismantling process:
As you can see, a second pair of hands to help lift at times and fetch cups of tea is invaluable 🙂

2. Respray the metal work
I’m not going to do any metal spraying myself but to have it professionally shot blasted and powder coated you have to get everything attached to the metal parts removed.  In the case of Sheriff that includes the controls from their housings and the coin mechanism from its surround too.  All the metal work had been hand painted in gloss black emulsion at some point and then bubbled and chipped over the years, as you can imagine it wasn’t the best finish.


Main body, coin box, leg holders, and legs removed and ready for a trip to the sprayers


You can see the finish around the control panels and coin mech are non-too pretty

3. Restore the wood work
I won’t be replacing any of the wood work so I will, with no previous experience, make good the various paint splashes, chips, and other damage in and around the wooden top section of the cab.  A glass scraper should do the job on the paint and a bit of filling, sanding, gluing and painting should be fine for the rest.

These old paint splashes and over run should be easy pickings

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Chips away… this will be a little tougher to make pretty.

4. Repair the artwork on the top glass
The artwork for this game is silk screened to the underside of the glass.  This means there is no option to replace with nice, new, unscratched glass for this project and no reproduction art either.  Luckily the glass isn’t in too bad condition given its age so I will aim to repaint the silk screened art as best I can to improve the overall look.  Most of the backing is black so that will get the gloss spray treatment followed by a few damaged spots that will be touched up with acrylic paints mixed to match the colour.


The black areas are quite damaged near the corners but should be straightforward to repair


Some slightly more targeted and delicate painting will be needed on these small holes


Other than the above it will be general cleaning up of all of the inner workings, wire looms, etc. to really make this beautiful and rare game shine like it’s 1979 again.

Please do comment below and see you in Part 2 coming soon…