Before you turn a new game on: checking coils

Since we picked up this Williams Earthshaker in such horrible condition and have never seen it powered up, before we even attempt to turn it on, we need to go over some areas of the game to make sure that applying power doesn’t cause more harm.  In this article, I go over one check, which is making sure all the coils/solenoids are in good condition.  A burned-out coil can cause damage in other areas of the machine, or even a fire.

Protecting and sealing pinball backglasses

Continuing the ongoing saga of restoring a Williams Earthshaker, in this episode, I take a look at the backglass and go over some basic ideas on how to preserve and secure an old backglass from further flaking and damage..

After waiting awhile, let’s take a look…

Ok… we wait awhile and check it, and add some more coats..

So what do you do about clear areas on the backglass? You need to avoid creating any kind of “haze” that obscures score reels or other things that need to be viewed behind the backglass/translight. Here is how we deal with that:

Some additional tips:

  • When you work on the backglass, make sure the humidity and temperature levels are moderate.   It should neither be too dry nor too humid, but err on the dry side where possible.

  • Avoid cleaning either side of the backglass until after it has been treated, especially the screen-printed side.  Even if the screen-side is dirty, it’s best to seal in the dirt, rather than clean it and run the risk of causing the backglass to flake or crack.  However if you want to dust it with something like a Swiffer, you can try to do that, but again, be very careful that the Swiffer doesn’t hook on to any flaking and pull it off.  Ultimately it’s best to seal the screen-side before even trying to wipe down the front – you don’t want to risk getting any moisture on the screen side until it’s sealed.

  • Make your first 2-3 coats relatively thin.  Don’t slather on the Triple Thick unless you do it after several coats have dried and started to seal the backglass well.  There’s a lot of evidence that moisture if subjected to certain types of screens, can cause the backglass to wrinkle and peel off catastrophically.   So take your time and put a few very light coats on at first and see how the backglass reacts.

  • If you may have any loose flakes on the backglass, be very careful with the first few coats of Triple Thick.  Watch your spray angle and spray downward instead of across or you might risk blowing flakes of backglass around.

  • Spray in a well-ventilated area, or immediately leave the area after spraying

  • Avoid subjecting the backglass under any conditions, to freezing temperatures.  This may cause the various materials (containing different amounts of moisture) to expand and contract at different rates and cause cracking and flaking.

Earthshaker looks to have been in an actual earthquake


This week I pulled a Williams Earthshaker pinball game out of a guy’s apartment.  It had been sitting in the corner for a long time, not operating.  He got it off eBay more than a year earlier, paid a lot of money and I’m not sure he ever got it working, so it sat around collecting dust.  As usual, the description described to me on the phone verses what I saw in person were two different things, but he appeared to be flexible enough on the price to motivate me to go take a look at it.  We made a deal and I threw it into my car.  Here’s a first look…

Later on, I moved the machine inside and took a closer look.  I’m posting this video which was done before I attended the Houston Arcade Expo, and I managed to find a complete set of sideart for the machine from Gene at Illinois Pinball, so there is hope for the cabinet!

In the next video I pull up the playfield and take a look inside the cabinet.  I’m just getting this new web site going so I don’t have much traffic, but I envision in the future with more people visiting, after I post a video like this, other owners of the game might comment and we can collectively ruminate over the status and future of this pinball game.