Restoration Want List Projects Past games, interesting reads etc. Links

Project:Atari Pong
Project Started:5/4/2004Project Status:Current Collection

Goal of Project:
The restoration of a Pong
Ever since I was a kid in the 70s I remember playing Pong in one of its many variants. My first home gaming system was a Radio Shack 'Telstar' game that had a couple of Pong games. Then I got the official Atari Pong home game, and later the 2600 Pong Sports cartridge. All of these games bring back memories a long time ago when life was much simpler, but none of those do it quite like the original Atari Pong upright arcade machine. This page is my story of seeking out a machine of my own and the subsequent restoration!
Over the past 2 years i've had 2 Pong's slip through my fingers (sadly both of them were very very rough, but I would have taken them nonetheless). Finally Seth Soffer in the ( < z3k3 > I'm in Philly dammit! < prOk > oops!)Jersey Philly area got a good deal on a Pong on ebay and kindly offered to trade it to me. Seth shipped the Pong a few weeks ago and man was I happy. I can do just about anything with wood, but original artwork is tough to replace. In this case, the cabinet is a total loss but the artwork and controls are perfect! And so begins the restoration.
Here is how the Pong looks on day one as it was unwrapped from the shipper. As you can see, there's tons of swelling and damage to the brown woodgrain cabinet. On the other hand just look at the condition of the control panel! Based on the pretty much unsalvageable condition of the cabinet i'm opting to build a brand new one using the old one as a guide. I will be restoring this cabinet with every original detail. Looking inside, it uses solid Oak strips as blocking and the sides are pressboard with a plastic Walnut look vinyl applied. A smooth black t-molding finishes it off.
First thing I did was carefully take pictures and remove the yellow bezel pieces. The original glue was rather loose and they pried off easily. A little Greased lightning to clean them up and all is well. At this time I also removed the Television set that still works! Note the condition of the Control panel, ALL of the silkscreening is there and no hand wear is present. I've spun the bolts in a drill with some auto sandpaper to shine the heads up like new.
The original MGA tv!
Ok, to begin the process of building a new cabinet. First thing I did was measure every piece. As it turns out, Atari was very efficient as you can get all of the pieces out of a single sheet of 3/4 inch pressboard. I went to Lowes with my measurements and had them rip my sheet of wood in half lengthwise (24 inches) and again at 59 inches. This gave me the two sides, top and front to approximate dimension. Once I got the wood home, I set my stripped cabinet on it's side and clamped one of the sides down on it. Using a Jigsaw i trimmed the wood to within 1/4 inch or so all around, then with my router and a template cutting bit I smoothed all the details to exactly the shape of the original.
After cutting the sides, front, top and back pieces I made the blocking that holds the cabinet together. The original uses Oak, so my restoration will as well. Seems like an uneccesary expense. The cabinet is held together basically with glue, blocking, air nails and 1.25 inch metal screws. I found the exact same screw at Lowes and will replace the rusted ones. I intend to even put the blocking screw holes in the same place :)
Here's the pile of parts.. the Top, sides, two angled front pieces, bottom, back door, back bottom, top lip (I transferred the original Atari serial tag to this board) and shelves. Now i'm ordering the vinyl from Wico and the T-Molding from Arcadeshop. I also purchased some plastic feet that the original has renmants of. All the internal blocking has been cut and marked for installation. Tomorrow i will put the t-molding groove in the parts and stain the edges walnut so they look cleaner with the vinyl on. Looking at the cabinet it seems that was done at the factory as well.
The vinyl arrived from Wico today. It is 48 inches wide and cost 12.99 a yard. Thankfully given the price it is an absolutely perfect match for pong. I think it will look awesome when installed.
Here's the major panels that have now had the vinyl from Wico applied. This stuff looks great, a tad more vibrant than the stuff on the pong, but if you look in shadowed areas where it's not faded it is spot on. Also before putting on the vinyl I sprayed the exposed back edges black just like the original and I stained the front edges walnut to match the original as well. I went ahead and installed all the tmolding to these parts to help protect the edges as the work continues. Next, on to the blocking!
Here's a few shots of the final pong cabinet reassembled.. Still need to do some minor repair work and document the wiring.
Thanks to the excellent repair skills of Craig Yarborough and the advice of Jeff Anderson, a picture 2 years in the making is here!
Yes! it finally works!
The obligitory screen shot. Yea, this is the original Pong TV set!
Andreas Lange - 8/29/2005 11:34:11 AM
Dear Brian, with interest I saw your Pong Project. Congratulation! It looks great. I am the director of the Computer Game Museum in Berlin. For an exhibition we just preparing I was looking for an original Pong coin-op. I wonder if you or someone who read it can help me to find one to buy or borrow. We are also considering to build a replica. I am looking forward to your answer, best, andreas ([email protected])
Lincoln - 9/30/2005 2:17:31 PM
Did you replace the tv or use the original and How was it wired/powered? Im looking at buying some midway pongs.
arcadefever - 1/31/2006 11:58:45 PM
wowwwwwww brian you're the best !!!
joe - 2/1/2006 1:00:13 PM
That's a fantastic project & a fantastic restoration!!! All credit to ya m8!! Hell of a job!! :)
Andrew - 2/26/2006 10:09:04 PM
That's just awesome - completely awesome. I need to start buying some wood working tools!
Brian - 3/16/2006 9:55:14 PM
Is there any way you could post the dimensions of the cabinet so someone could create a replica cabinet from them? It's next to impossible to find any information on this game about what the size of the cabinet was. Oh and by the way you did a great job restoring this game.
Brian - 3/16/2006 11:49:58 PM
Unfortunately, because I used all the original parts for templates,I have no measurements or plans.
Brian - 3/18/2006 8:32:56 PM
I was just wondering if you got my last post because I donít see it here now I wanted to know if I draw up some plans of the cabinet if you could measure your existing cabinet and fill in the measurements for me. I could send you the plans through email. Sorry to ask again but there was no response to my last post.

GameTalk about this project!