Complete Stern Grand Prix

Andy B

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Oct 6, 2014
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Picked a Stern Grand Prix up, advertised as a “little restorer project”, from EBay.

Advert said seller was from Czech Republic but the machine shipped from Italy.

Bought last Monday, arrived by TNT today. Would have arrived last week but got delayed in Italy for a couple of days and same in France. Both times there was a message on tracking page saying “Package delayed in transit, recovery measures started” - very dramatic - seller said TNT employees in Italy on strike in dispute over danger money they were promised for working during lockdown so that explained that delay.

Anyways from photos you could tell it had been damp at some point in its life as all metal hardware under playfield was rusting and plate in backbox that boards mounted to badly rusted too. Asked the guy about the damp and he said it was totally dry now as he had dried it out in a car spray oven!

When it arrived today there was wet mud on the base. I suspect that was picked up in transit though as photos on EBay advert showed it in warehouse (guy is selling other pins on there and they all look to be stacked in a warehouse).

It was advertised with no DMD though seller posted photo of it with DMD to show it was working (with video also).

Luckily I had a DMD lying around since as I upgraded my Elvis to Color DMD last week.

I wiped the mud off the bottom and then sanded it down.

Installed DMD.

Swapped EU plug for UK plug.

Crossed my fingers.

Switched it on.

Display shows Stern Grand Prix but does not get past that.

However the game plays - albeit display not working properly and right flipper bat is cracked so just hangs loose (though coil fires for it) and the sound rims are in Italian.

This is going to be a long shop log - good job there’s no footie on for at least a month or so to distract me - first task is buy myself a tumbler!
 

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Pick Holder

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I think the DMD showing Grand Prix is just a boot thing. If you unplug the ribbon cable between the CPU board and the DMD board (not the one between DMD board and DMD) and turn the power on it will probably just show that.

If I was you check voltages first - and then the main CPU board. Those boards arent cheap if it is corroded to hell.

I had one of these when it was about a year old (tell a lie - it was Nascar ). Interesting game. Prefer it now many years after I sold it.

Best of luck mate!
 
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Andy B

Andy B

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Sun’s out and since as the garage is full of crap and wife not really happy with me shopping a pin in the house I took the Grand Prix out in the garden after work today.

Started at 6 and by 9 had the playfield out and cabinet and backbox completely stripped.

That’s the easy part - not looking forward one bit to stripping the playfield. All the under playfield nuts securing the playfield posts are really badly rusted and it’s impossible to unscrew most of the posts. I may end up having to dremel them off and tap through 😒

Tell you what though - ain’t half looking forward to taking the sander to the cabinet and getting the spray cans out - bloody thing stinks!
 

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Andy B

Andy B

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How easy is it to strip and spray legs? Thinking of going with red and wondering if it’s worth the time and effort to do it myself or if I should just buy some new.
 

stumblor

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What a project! Those boards look as though they've avoided the damp though? I think your biggest issue is going to be the rusted posts and screws in the playfield, once broken they're a nightmare to deal with.

Legs - Just get them blasted and powdercoated. Cheap as chips really and far, far easier than doing it yourself.
 
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Andy B

Andy B

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Yes, the boards are in great condition.

I may not be able to totally strip the playfield due to some of the posts being totally rusted in underneath (most of them don’t actually look that bad above playfield).

Will get some prices for blasting and powder coating the legs - what’s the going rate?
 

stumblor

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You get all kinds of quotes (and all types of finishes), but when you find someone good who knows what they're doing (and doesn't cost a bomb) you can pretty much get all the armour done for under a hundred quid.

I'm getting some done with these guys tomorrow but I'm sure others will have some good (and possibly more local) recommendations.

https://ctc-powder-coating.co.uk/
 
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Andy B

Andy B

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You get all kinds of quotes (and all types of finishes), but when you find someone good who knows what they're doing (and doesn't cost a bomb) you can pretty much get all the armour done for under a hundred quid.

I'm getting some done with these guys tomorrow but I'm sure others will have some good (and possibly more local) recommendations.

https://ctc-powder-coating.co.uk/
Wow! They look nice, particularly the candy colours, hope I can find somewhere local to Hull that does similar for similar prices - will get lockdown bar, side rails and legs all done in red probably.

Just need to buy one of those star type screwdrivers so I can get screws out of side rails.
 
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stumblor

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If you really want to go down the powder rabbit hole then check these guys out:


(creds go the @Sutol for this discovery)
 
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Andy B

Andy B

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Changed title of thread to complete.

It’s obviously not complete but I’ve decided that this will now become the most expensive virtual pinball machine I’ve made (and also my first!)

The nuts under the playfield and all the posts are just too far gone with rust. They’re all seized up.

I just spent 3 hours stripping the top of the playfield and every single post and machine screw I was removing was either snapping off or else I was having to dremel the tops off and tap them out.

Was getting a bit downhearted about the whole thing and then when tapping out a post that needed to be tapped out from underneath the playfield a chunk of the top of the playfield went with it 😒

I could probably glue it back down but it’s over one of the inlanes and I’d need to do some sanding and playfield touch ups to make it smooth over this frequent use area and I can’t be ****d to do that and carry on trying to remove the rest of the posts and potentially have more playfield disasters so I’m going to cut my losses and sell the boards and plastics which are the only things that are good enough to sell (the boards, crazily enough, given the state of the rest of the machine, are in really good condition and fully working),

I’ll use the cab for a visual pinball table as it’s solid.

Took loads and loads of photos of the aborted strip down but the only one I’ll post is the straw that broke the camel’s back one of the chunk of missing playfield 😢
 

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Andy B

Andy B

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What about a replacement playfield or even just a playfield protector over the playfield after you have done you repairs ?
Would need to be complete playfield complete with all parts top and bottom and don’t think there’s any chance of me getting one of those. Damage is too severe and I’m bound to do more getting the rest of the rusted parts off the top (and they have to go because they look terrible as is) and I don’t like the playfield protectors - had one on my Elvis and that pitted after a year or so, so ended up removing it.

Think the VP route, selling the boards to recoup some of my losses, is the way go.
 
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CHRIS B PINBALLS

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Sorry to hear about this Andy but you are 100 % correct there is absolutely no point throwing money and time at this it would have cost you a fortune and only ever be a average players machine you could probably pick up a nice Grand Prix for around 2k anyway and it’s an ok game
I am not sure why people buy from that guy on e bay all his stuff is way over priced an fooked
 

AlanJ

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i’m sure you could glue that back down ok. never going to be perfect but it would keep a game alive


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Andy B

Andy B

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Sorry to hear about this Andy but you are 100 % correct there is absolutely no point throwing money and time at this it would have cost you a fortune and only ever be a average players machine you could probably pick up a nice Grand Prix for around 2k anyway and it’s an ok game
I am not sure why people buy from that guy on e bay all his stuff is way over priced an fooked
Thanks Chris.

All my instincts we’re saying “Don’t buy, don’t buy” but then a little voice called out “How bad can it be? You always wanted to get a tumbler anyway. Strip playfield completely, tumble all parts, put it back together, you’ve got yourself a working Grand Prix for under £1,500.” - That’s one expensive excuse for buying a tumbler

Anyways, lesson learned.

The cabinet is solid and the decals were ordered before I started the playfield strip so I’m selling the boards and plastics and converting it to Vpin and at least I have a tumbler 😊
 
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Andy B

Andy B

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i’m sure you could glue that back down ok. never going to be perfect but it would keep a game alive


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
It’s too far gone mate. Even if I did manage to remove every post - and believe me they all do need replacing - without doing further damage to the top of the playfield I’d need to replace all nuts under playfield as well and some bits of the bottom of playfield were breaking off as I was tapping stuff out so wood filler would be needed.

Believe me, I hate it when machines get broken up for parts but the playfield is just a total write off.

Gonna spend bank holiday weekend prepping the cab and in meantime will post wanted ad for Grand Prix playfield but at same time will also start making shopping list of hardware I’ll need for Vpin conversion as I don’t expect there’ll be any spare playfields out there.
 
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CHRIS B PINBALLS

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Thanks Chris.

All my instincts we’re saying “Don’t buy, don’t buy” but then a little voice called out “How bad can it be? You always wanted to get a tumbler anyway. Strip playfield completely, tumble all parts, put it back together, you’ve got yourself a working Grand Prix for under £1,500.” - That’s one expensive excuse for buying a tumbler

Anyways, lesson learned.

The cabinet is solid and the decals were ordered before I started the playfield strip so I’m selling the boards and plastics and converting it to Vpin and at least I have a tumbler 😊
We have all done it Andy I still keep doing it lol 😆
 
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James

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I really feel for you on this one. You can see what looks like the playfield has got wet under the post area. Was probably just that little bit too far to go. I look forward to seeing what the VPIN looks like. Good luck with it.
 

carl lawrence

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Just been thinking about this ,the playfield probably needs more time to dry out so more parts can be taken off instead of braking off , especially as modern stern metal is soft as shhh..it .
 

stoptap

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If you do break it down could I purchase some of those Stern bulb holders from you please ?
I have a few that have cracked legs.
 
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Andy B

Andy B

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Sure.

ive started to part it out already.

You mean those in the photos below?

Yellow part or white part or both?
 

Pick Holder

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I saw this and thought about it whilst I was browsing ebay. I did a couple of zoom ins and saw that it was very bad.

An expensive lesson. Can tell you for sure I have thrown many pins into skips/set fire to them/ripped boards out many years ago, it of course was in the cheaper days of pinball.

Do not know anyone that has bought from those people and been 100% happy. They seem to always be economical with the truth, and generally expensive.

If you need vpin help, inbox me.