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Thomas

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The internet already has plenty of Astro restoration threads with lots of great information. Do we need another? Maybe not but I'm starting a new thread anyway. I'm nearly done and I think it's turning out pretty well. I'll try to skip the bits that I've seen covered elsewhere and focus on the parts of my process that I haven't seen written about before. Maybe someone out there will find this information useful.

Condition upon arrival:

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Service door and rear access panel both recently painted. Poor color match.

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Black marks on both sides are mostly damage to the paint.

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Paint came off when I removed the tape.

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This cabinet (along with a Blast City and Net City) came by way of KC Arcade. I felt a little uneasy about sending thousands of dollars via bank wire transfer to a stranger on the internet. And the repeated shipping delays added to that uneasiness (a few weeks for delivery turned into three months). After that long wait the cabinets arrived via uShip which was a mild disaster. BUT - in the end I got exactly what I wanted and I have no idea where else I would have acquired these things so I'm happy. A FAQ on KC Arcade's process would be helpful for new buyers. If I buy from him again I'd be inclined to rent a truck and spend an entire day driving so I can buy in-person.
 

Thomas

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Disassembly


Essential tools:

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Almost the entire cabinet can be taken apart with this single screwdriver. Even those notorious side screws with some strength and determination.



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Blistering paint under the light (I had already scraped it off in this photo).

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Power supply looks new, inside and out.

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Thomas

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Cleaning

Not much to add about cleaning a cabinet that hasn't been covered before. Nearly every piece of metal was covered with rust. Soaking in vinegar for a few days, followed by some scrubbing with Bar Keeper's Friend, then rubbing with metal polish was my way of treating it. The vinegar took off all the paint on the speaker grills.

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All clean.

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I know a lot of people like to clean their monitors with de-greaser and a garden hose and put PCBs through a dishwashing machine and I'm sure that's all perfectly fine. But I'm not into it. A brush, dry rag, and electric duster takes out most of the loose dirt. A damp rag around the tube, frame, wiring, and other bits for the stuck-on dirt. For the PCB, 99% isopropyl alcohol. This cleaning method certainly takes longer than the garden hose/dishwasher approach and doesn't remove 100% of the dirt. But that's ok with me.

This photo is after replacing the capacitors. With the PCB taken apart I was able to clean the board well with alcohol.

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The metal piece that attaches to the bottom front (leg adjustment bracket?) needed some extra attention. I spent a long time trying to sand away the scratches with an orbital sander and 80 grit. Then finished by wet sanding by hand to bring back the brushed stainless look. Ideally I should have used a grinder to level out the surface before sanding but I don't have a grinder. I was disappointed with my results but fortunately once indoors and in normal room lighting it looks fine.

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Thomas

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The Crack

Even though this crack is in the back and out of sight it still needed to be fixed. The fiberglass bent so far inward that putting the rear access panel back on would be impossible once the cabinet was assembled and the monitor mounted inside.

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Note about the composition of this cabinet: It appears to be fiberglass with some resin coating (the black coating seen on the inside of the cabinet and under the white paint). Possibly some wood in there as well. Not sure. I see some mentions on various forums and threads about gelcoat. Gelcoat is a thick pigmented resin. The Astro City topcoat is very thin and most likely paint. Possibly single stage paint (no clear coat). None of this really matters unless you are buying boat products for this cabinet which can be more expensive and not widely available sometimes.

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To mend the crack I first tried a fiberglass repair kit. Didn't work. I was trying to sand off the black resin (or whatever it is) down to raw fiberglass but the area around the crack was getting very thin. And I was tired of sanding. So I applied the new fiberglass and resin over the black surface. Didn't stick. It didn't stick well to the raw fiberglass either so maybe something else was wrong. I mixed new resin and tried again. Didn't work.

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Next attempt was Super Glue Plastic Fusion. Didn't work. Too flexible and/or not strong enough. Or too old. Time to get serious.

The solution was a steel mending plate. This was the narrowest one I could find and the only place it can fit is on top of the crack. It's 2 inches long, about half an inch wide. A longer plate would have been better and added more strength as the repaired area still bends in slightly making insertion of the rear panel take a little effort.

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This rear panel was painted before I bought the cabinet. That's why the color looks off.

I covered the plate with several layers of Bondo high bond filler, then sculpted and sanded it into a nice even mound to hide the plate, prevent the plate from scratching the access panel, and to add more support. Looks decent for something I'll never see.

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Thomas

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Paint

About color matching: Paint color can vary even for the same color code. And it's possible that two Astro Cities back in the 1990s had slightly different colors, especially if they were manufactured at different times. This is why car painters use blending techniques when painting a new fender or hood even though they have the factory paint code. There's often some amount of variation in paint color. And of course when dealing with arcade cabinets that are nearly three decades old, the color can be very different between two cabinets depending on the environment they were in and other factors. Even colors on the same cabinet can vary as commonly seen with the metal doors becoming darker and yellow compared to the rest of the cabinet. So when selecting a paint, a color that might look good on my cabinet might not look good on another.

There's also the issue of different manufacturers making paint for the same code. The differences between the different manufacturers' colors for the same code can be significant. One color I saw recommended more than once for the Astro City is RAL 9002. A quick search for this color online reveals a huge range of color variation (*paint colors on a monitor or phone aren't accurate so this is something else to keep in mind). The RAL 9002 I bought is super creamy and I can't see this being a good match for any Astro City. Maybe the RAL 9002 that other people bought from a different manufacturer is a closer match. I don't know.

Below are the paints I sampled. I sprayed or brushed the paint onto white paper and didn't apply any clear coat. So this isn't a perfect way to compare colors but good enough.

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Same color samples but outside in direct sunlight:

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Outside in shade:

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VW Candy White code LB9A is the other color I saw recommended. It's a little too bright but might be okay to use for my cabinet. I chose to use Honda Frost White code NH538 since it matches a little better. It's still not perfect, however.

Of course this whole color matching business can be avoided by repainting the entire cabinet. But I wanted to keep as much of the original paint as possible and especially wanted to keep the original stickers (I don't like the color of the reproduction stickers). I could mask the stickers and paint around them but that would look bad. So getting a good color match was important to me since I would only be painting the bottom front half and filling in the scrapes and scratches on the sides and front panel. Maybe a professional car painter can mix a better match but then I would need to pay them to spray it or buy my own spraying equipment. I didn't investigate this option and stuck with spray cans.

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I sprayed RAL 9002 under the light fixture since the paint in that area was blistered and flaking. You can see here how poor of a match it is:

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I sprayed the speaker grills with Rust-Oleum enamel, then some high gloss clear enamel. The gloss clear made them look too sparkly so I sanded them a little.

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The coin slot surround was broken and yellow. I used Super Glue Plastic Fusion to fill the cracks before sanding and painting it.

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djsheep

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Nice restore so far. Love the photo with the 6 different paint comparisons!
 

Thomas

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I tried to recover the original color of the control panel with chemicals and even sandpaper but failed. I don't know what these stains are or how far deep they go. A re-paint was needed.

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I wasn't satisfied with the results after spraying the control panel the first time so I sprayed it again. Then again. Painting in the garage is very messy so I made this funky cardboard paint booth behind the garage.

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My process for prepping, painting, buffing, and polishing was the same process used to paint cars. Plenty of good videos are available on youtube for this. I color sanded, buffed, and polished all by hand (NOT recommended). In direct sunlight you can still see a lot of sand marks that aren't noticeable in normal room lighting. It bothers me but usually I can't see it and I certainly don't want to spend any more time with compound and polish.

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Products used:

Dupli-Color White Sandable Primer
Dupli-Color Honda Frost White NH538
SprayMax 2K High Gloss Clear
3M Rubbing Compound (new paint only)
Meguiar's Ultimate Compound (entire cabinet)
Meguiar's Ultimate Polish (entire cabinet)

Compound and polish shouldn't be necessary if you follow all the correct steps, paint under the correct conditions (weather and humidity), and have the correct spraying technique. I had trouble getting a good finish for multiple reasons plus I'm picky so that's why I sanded and polished the clear coat.

***Don't buy Dupli-Color 1K Gloss Clear Coat. It has a slightly yellow tint and if you use it you will cry as all your hard work turns to piss right before your eyes. This was one of several times I had to sand everything off and start from the beginning. I spent way too much time and money on paint.
 

Thomas

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Electronics

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I know capacitor kits are available, at least for the monitor. But I decided to record all capacitor values and measure height and diameter maximums myself, then order everything from Digikey. The capacitor kits are probably fine but I wanted to make sure I got quality brands with the exact values that I wanted with long life expectancy. Also, there can be circuit board revisions and maybe a capacitor kit has some different values or missing a capacitor. I didn't want to deal with that. Or maybe I just enjoy wasting time making a list of dozens of capacitors?

Power Supply
This thing looks new. No dust on the inside and the thermal paste looked fresh. I replaced the capacitors and paste anyway.

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Capcom System 2 + Street Fighter Zero 3
I bought these at the same time as buying the cabinet. Replacing every capacitor on both boards really isn't necessary but I did it anyway.
I replaced CC18, the .10F supercapacitor, with a .33F supercapacitor.
And of course, replaced the battery on the game board.

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These buttons break if you accidentally breath on them. Super Glue Plastic Fusion once again is the adhesive of choice (the glue isn't visible once the buttons are back in the case).

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Replaced the old very loud fan with a new Sunon fan:

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Thomas

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Monitor chassis

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I must admit that taking this apart to work on was irritating. Dry silicone everywhere that needed to be softened with a hot air gun then carefully chipped off. And small PCBs and connectors that needed to be de-soldered. Then replacing the capacitors was a chore too since the traces are easily lifted from the board if you aren't careful. I was very careful and still lifted a few and needed to add in some jumpers. A lot of the capacitor leads were flat against the board which made this tedious (I think the Capcom board capacitor leads were like that as well. Can't remember.)

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Don't know what's going on here with IC402 but I re-soldered that joint.

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Extra unlabeled capacitor over a resistor next to C443. Maybe normal.

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If you like to remove all the flux residue from your board, here's a good way to do it: Lay a Kimwipe (or something similar) over the board, dip a toothbrush in isopropyl alcohol, then scrub over the Kimwipe. The Kimwipe won't tear and will absorb the flux residue as it is dissolved by the alcohol.

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All clean:

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Thomas

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I also scrubbed the top of the board and old components with cotton swabs and alcohol since I don't use the garden hose/degreaser cleaning method (I did use some Simple Green around the monitor frame).

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After everything was put back together I hit the power switch and had a few minutes of depression and despair as the screen was completely dark. Then I noticed a very faint image beneath the black screen. A less than quarter turn of the "screen" adjustment knob brought it back to life. Replacing the capicitors cleaned up some imperfections I noticed when I first received the cabinet and the image looks fantastic. Only needs some fine adjustment to color, contrast, and geometry.

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About that "screen" knob:
According to the service manual this knob adjusts the backluster cuttoff point. No additional information given. I'm no expert on these things but I think this knob adjusts the flyback voltage, and a quick web search confirms this. A web search also reveals people referring to this knob as a brightness adjuster and I don't think that's a good way to think about this knob. It does increase brightness but I think it's also going to break something if turned too high. In fact, I plan on lowering mine a bit because I can hear some squealing for about 30 seconds after turning the power on. Could be unrelated but my first guess is that the squeal is from the flyback. So my point is that the flyback knob shouldn't be haphazardly cranked up for more brightness but set to a certain value based on some other criteria that I don't know. I need to research.

I didn't bother to replace any of the white silicone blobs covering the monitor PCB. I think those are there mostly for extra protection during transport from the factory so that nothing can shake loose. I did however add a blob of ASI 388 Clear Electronic Grade Silicone to the neck. Under the anode cap I used Permatex Dielectric Grease.

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SS.SW switch:
The service manual is unclear about this. Something about normal image and enhanced, with the A position being normal. I tested the B position and it adds a sharpening effect that looks bad so I'm definitely leaving the switch set to A.

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Thomas

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"Do we need another?"

Of course we need them my man - These threads are always goldmines and great resources for beginners as myself.
Thanks for your hard work, following up this thread!
Glad to hear. I'm also a beginner and spent this summer doing a lot of research on arcade stuff. The Astro and CPS2 are my introduction to real arcade hardware. Lots to learn.
 

Offsider

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You have covered all the bases here @Thomas , honestly mate you should be very proud of what you are doing here. Big congratulations with the attention you have dedicated to this restore! Good job!

-Tom
 

Thomas

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You have covered all the bases here @Thomas , honestly mate you should be very proud of what you are doing here. Big congratulations with the attention you have dedicated to this restore! Good job!

-Tom
Thanks. I fine-tuned the monitor late last night so I might be close to done. I'll post some more info soon and some pics of the final product.
 

Aurich

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I know capacitor kits are available, at least for the monitor. But I decided to record all capacitor values and measure height and diameter maximums myself, then order everything from Digikey. The capacitor kits are probably fine but I wanted to make sure I got quality brands with the exact values that I wanted with long life expectancy. Also, there can be circuit board revisions and maybe a capacitor kit has some different values or missing a capacitor. I didn't want to deal with that. Or maybe I just enjoy wasting time making a list of dozens of capacitors?
This is 100% the way to go. Why do all the work to recap and then get lazy about doing it right? Kits are often wrong. Boards have variations. People pick cheap caps. Clearly you are way beyond being lazy about this, top notch effort. You are, actually, making me feel very lazy right now about my Astros lol.

After everything was put back together I hit the power switch and had a few minutes of depression and despair as the screen was completely dark.
We've all experienced that despair after a repair I think! Glad it was the kind with the easy fix, and not the "now what?" version.
 

hatmoose

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A masterclass in cabinet restoration! Thank you.
I recognise a fellow detail-obsessed tweaker when I see one, respect! There is nothing quite as sweet as the feeling of a perfectly recapped board with every cap personally chosen for size, shape, leg spacing, manufacturer series and provenance - bliss.

It looks like you have a lot of knowledge about paint, painting and body repair. This is a major area of improvement for the restoration community IMO, would love to know more about this sort of thing in a future series.
 
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