Cleopatra is a System 1 game made by Gottlieb in November of 1977. It's estimated that about 7,300 Cleopatra games were manufactured. The game features 2 flippers, 3 pop bumpers, one 5-bank drop target, and 2 kick-out holes. This game was also sold in an electro-mechanical 4-player game version (similar to how Joker Poker has an EM counterpart). Gottlieb also made a 2-player version of this game named "Pyramid" which was produced in 1978.
It Only Cost $125
I bought my game from Dan, who buys and sells games, for just $125, knowing that it wasn't in the best of shape. But for that price, it sure seemed worth it to try and save the game from becoming a parts game. The game had set in water at one time during its storage and the bottom plywood that covers the bottom of the game box was rotten in places, and had a ton of mildew and mold on it. The entire inside bottom of the game box was covered with black mold and mildew (mostly mold) from the moisture.
Stop The Mold
My first job was to get rid of the bottom plywood and to remove the mold and arrest any further growth by using paint (I used Kilz as a primer on the entire inside of the game box once the mold was removed). The first thing I did was snatch the plywood off the bottom of the game box. It was rather loose and came right off. Then I tried using bleach and water and spraying it on the mold. This didn't do much other than kick up black mold "dust" which I didn't think was a good idea. I'm extremely allergic to mold and mildew and didn't want to be handling or breathing the dust. My next step was to use X-14 which is a bottled sprayer of liquid that gets rid of mold and mildew. This seemed to really do the trick once I sprayed it on and let it set for a few minutes. Then I decided that I needed to take another step to really get the mold out of the game box so I removed the playfield, the power supply board (the piece of plywood in the bottom of the game that has the transformers and fuses mounted to it), the flipper buttons and switches, the chimes, and any hardware still in the game. Of course the back box was not bolted to the game so that wasn't an issue.
Following the removal of the various parts, I turned the game up on end and used a garden hose to spray off all the mold, mildew, and X-14 solution. This left the wood looking clean and the mold and mildew was gone after several more treatments. I waited overnight and used "Kilz" primer on the inside of the game box using a small micro roller to spread several coats on the wood. I waited another day and reinstalled the hardware I had removed earlier after buffing some of it on my buffing wheel. The fresh white primer makes the game look like new.
Made A New Bottom Board
Next up was to cut a plywood board to the size of the underside of the game box. Normally, the plywood rests inside a rabbet cut in to all the sides of the game box. My plywood was gone where the rabbet would have normally been due to the game box setting in water. I made the plywood fit inside the plywood of the game but would rest against the game box plywood all the way around the perimeter of the game. Once cut to size, I used masking tape to mask off about a half inch along all edges of the plywood that would be face up (face up meaning that when you looked in the game box, this would be the face of the plywood you would see). The purpose for this was to allow Gorilla glue to bond to bare plywood in the half inch area while the rest of the plywood was painted with Kilz. Then I applied Gorilla glue around the edges (after dampening the game box plywood sides that would meet with the plywood piece I cut), laid the plywood in place, and used an air stapler to staple the plywood in place and to hold the plywood tight against the game box plywood sides. Once this dried, I checked to see if the glued plywood was tight and checked the rigidity of the game. It's now very solid.
The game box is rather faded in places since the purple color fades over time, but it still looks somewhat OK. At least the game box is solid and can be assembled with no concerns about wobbling or joints breaking apart in the game box after the major repair I did to the bottom piece of plywood. I also removed the coin door while I had the game box apart and buffed it up as much as I could before putting it back in the game box to receive the playfield and power board that I replaced.
The game has rather nice artwork, however, on my game you will find flaking that exists in the various colors that are in front of light bulbs in the back box. This isn't all that uncommon for the late 70s games, especially in areas where the artwork features red or flesh tone colors. I immediately sprayed my backglass with triple-thick Krylon to keep the flaking from getting worse. My backglass isn't in great shape, but better than some I've seen from this era. The flaking paint is rather small in size, but it appears in lots of places, especially in the flesh colors of Cleopatra.
Corrosion and Rust
At first glance, I thought the parts didn't have any rust. This turned out not to be true. Every screw on the upper and underside of the playfield appeared to have corrosion on it. I ended up having to remove the screws, bolts, kick-out plungers and metal, wire forms, etc. and put them in my Berry tumbler for 24 hours with some Flitz for cleaning the parts.
The back box is solid with no problems of mildew or mold and the underside of the playfield has all of its parts except for the large coil used to reset the target bank. I also needed to add plastic stand-offs for the circuit boards, the plastic stand-offs used for mounting the glass displays, and the lock for holding the backglass door shut. I suspected the CPU board was worthless since they usually are for this game, and I bought a Ni-Wumpf CPU board that was $180.
The playfield was very rough to the touch, some small wear around the center inserts, and some wear down to bare wood where the pinball hits the playfield due to the out-kick holes (two of them). The area to be repaired for the out-kick holes is less than a half a dime size so this won't be too bad to repair. I showed my buddy Clay how just a few minutes with a Magic Eraser soaked in alcohol will remove the ball swirl marks and brighten the colors, but it turned out that I really needed to spend some time trying to get the playfield shined up. I used the Treasure Cove products to buff the playfield and restore some luster to the dull paint on the playfield. It turned out pretty well shined up but the playfield seems to have some fade in the colors, especially the green color. I also noticed that the playfield wood under the flippers has a much lighter color where the flippers were at rest for an extended time when compared to the rest of the playfield which is much darker in color.
It took me 2 hours to completely remove every part off of the top of the playfield and many of the parts on the underside as well. The underside of the playfield parts were removed and tossed in the tumbler to get the corrosion and rust off. It turned out pretty well and the hardware came out looking shiny and like new despite lots of corrosion. The pictures below show the original playfield along with the restoration to make the playfield look nice, and finally - the reassembly of all the playfield parts.
It probably took another 8 hours to reassemble all the various parts of the game. First, I started with the upper side of the playfield, then I worked on the underside of the playfield. I adjusted and cleaned all the switches and for a change, the game fired right up with only a few switches needing to be fine tuned. The game plays well and feels solid. Looks a lot better with all those new parts too.
The electronics turned out to be "interesting." Someone had replaced one of the power supply SCRs without using a mica insulator to isolate it from the power supply frame. The result was that when I plugged P3 in place, the display fuse blew instantly. This threw me off since I didn't expect that someone would forget the mica insulator since once this happened, the power supply would never supply the high voltage when P3 was plugged in without blowing the fuse. This is probably why the game ended its days as a player. Well, this and the corroded CPU board that was shot. I replaced it with a Ni-Wumpf board and the CPU board was fixed. The driver board had two power transistors that were burned and bad, so I replaced them with a couple of TIP 102s which fixed that problem. I temporarily swapped the driver board with the working one in my Joker Poker and the Joker Poker played fine so I knew the board would work in the Cleopatra.
I also had to replace all the pins for the connector that goes between the CPU board and the driver board. These are usually corroded and/or broken when a game has a corroded CPU board. I had to re-pin a couple of other connectors on the left side of the CPU board as well. These .156 pins can be purchased from Ed at Great Plains Electronics. Be sure and get plenty of them and a good crimper helps as well. I use a high-end Ampex crimper that has a ratchet and it makes the job somewhat fast.
I got lucky on the displays since they were still bright and no segments were out. The only problem was the standoffs that were broken in several places that are used to support the display boards. Ed at Great Plains Electronics stocks the standoffs (which I bought), but in the meantime I used some 1/2 inch metal threaded barrels as standoffs with a screw from the backside of the backbox to hold them in place, and a nut and washer to keep the display secured. The screws that go through the backbox need to be an inch and an eighth to work correctly (an inch and a half will also work).
Thanks go to Jim, Peter, and Edd (who had lots of card scans) for scans of the game cards that were missing in my game. All I had was one score card and no game instructions. Now I have the complete set and have created several cards on different colored card stock. Due my current game line-up and the colors of adjacent games and their game cards, I chose a blue colored card stock that matches the blue in the plastics. You'll find a picture below that shows the colored game cards. I think they make a nice addition to my game's color scheme.
I think I've about had it with games that have had water damage. I've repaired other games with water damage such as a Black Knight, Medusa, and now the Cleopatra, and the Cleopatra is probably the worst of the games as far as corrosion goes. Having to remove all the screws for tumbling and replacing virtually every light socket is just way too much work. It wouldn't be so bad if the playfield wasn't so faded, but to replace all those parts with new ones and have to use a faded playfield seemed somewhat of a waste. I guess the only consolation is that most every Cleopatra playfield is a faded yellow-green color. The gamebox isn't great and even has some missing wood in places, but at least it feels solid. I guess the conclusion is that the game was saved from being parted out and will still see some years of play. I'm glad that there's always someone like me that enjoys restoring old games and saving them from the dump, but this game was pretty far down the path of being beyond repair. Although it will be a playable game, I'm not sure it was worth it when I look at the end results, the $250 on parts and the $125 for the original game.
Note: I finally finished restoring the game and after playing it quite a bit, I traded the Cleopatra for a Stern Sting Ray and Gottlieb Pro Football with fellow pinhead Ryan Sniegowski. Ryan and I agreed to return his first Pinball game to him for $400 (the Stern Sting Ray).
(click any picture to enlarge)