Donkey Kong Jr. is a game I’ve been planning to build since I first got into the hobby twenty years ago. As a matter of fact, I had most of the parts needed for over 10 years except the cabinet, which I pickup up nearly five years ago! I always loved both Donkey Kong and DK Jr, so I finally got the chance to finish up this project.
The cabinet I planned to restore was given to me by a good friend who was cleaning junk out of his shed. It was a “hard luck case” to say the least! The base was missing causing the bottoms of the side panels to actually be worn down quite a bit. There was some serious impact damage as well. It looked like it was hit on the back with a baseball bat. This game was going to take a LOT of work to restore back to its glory days.
Inside the machine was a rat’s nest of wires and junk. The cabinet was stripped bare other than this, so I had to pull a lot of parts together over the years to complete it.
The first thing I had to do was repair all of the cabinet damage. I had to cut out the damaged plywood on the back of the one side where it had the impact damage. I then created a “patch” to glue into place to repair what was cut out. This was a handy use for a router!
I also had to remove and replace the wood at the bottom of each side where it was drug on the ground without a base. I used a circular saw to cut out a straight section from the corner and replace it with another piece of plywood. It was amazing how much wood was worn off. You could really see it when I compared the old wood with the new wood.
I then had to replace the missing major pieces from the cabinet. I built several bases for Nintendo cabinets when I did my Fix it Felix build last year. I used one of these bases for this cabinet.
Finally, I had to replace the missing speaker panel from the front of the game. While googling around trying to find plans for cutting one, I found a guy who had CNC cut his own Nintendo cabinet. I contacted him and asked him to make me a couple speaker panels. They were a perfect fit and MUCH easier than drilling and routing my own panel.
Once all of the cabinet repair was complete, we had to paint it. We painted the black first because it was in the tough-to-reach places. Then we followed with the Orange. See the Donkey Kong Jr. 2016 Photo Gallery for a picture of the paint code that I used. The orange paint really went on slowly. It didn’t have the best coverage, so it took a ton of coats. I honestly did over 10 coats to get it perfect.
To me the most fun part of a restoration is applying all of the artwork. Over the last 10-15 years I’ve been slowly assembling all of the parts I needed for this build, from the functional parts such as the PCB and the monitor, to the artwork. I had a spare DK Jr marquee and control panel overlay for years. My most recent pickup was a bezel from my good friend Whitney Roberts of The BrokenToken Podcast fame. He had a really nice extra one he was selling at the Louisville Arcade Expo a couple years ago. Probably the oldest items I had were the Donkey Kong Jr. sideart I purchased from one of the first real arcade artwork reproduction companies over a decade ago when I got my Donkey Kong sideart for that restoration. I was a little worried that the adhesive would be questionable, but it worked great! I used the “wet method” of applying a soap/water mix to the cabinet and adhesive side of the sideart before applying it to the cabinet. This allowed me to reposition the art if necessary, and really helps to eliminate air bubbles under the art. The only difficulty I had with the sideart was removing the protective premask from the artwork once I was done applying it. The premask adhesive had really grabbed the art and it required me to remove it much slower than usual. I didn’t want to accidentally pull the sideart from the cabinet while trying to remove the premask! When I was all done, the cabinet and artwork looked amazing!
The last step of the restoration was really the most important part. I had to assemble all of the functional components of the game. I installed the PCB, monitor, wiring harness, coin door, etc. to finally get this to be a real game. Of course I encountered issues during my first test run after it was all done. The monitor was really putting out a bad picture. I confirmed that the monitor was indeed the culprit by hooking it up to my Donkey Kong. I went ahead and rebuilt the monitor with a new Cap Kit. After final adjustment on the monitor and the PCB video circuitry, it really looked nice!
I’m really proud of how this cabinet turned out. It’s a game I always wanted to build. However, if you read my last post about major changes to my gameroom, you’ll know I recently sold this game. I only had it a few months and didn’t really get a chance to play it much during that time. I had to sell it to help finance and make space for a new game I will be buying really soon! I’ll miss this game even though I didn’t have it long. I hope I find another some day, but I can always play it in MAME until them. The cool thing about this game is that it is now available for the public to play at Tappers Arcade Bar in Indianapolis. The guys that run that place are friends of mine and it was a perfect title to add to their lineup. I need to go visit so I can play it again really soon!
Thanks for checking out my restoration project. I have many more pictures and comments to see in my Donkey Kong Jr. 2016 Photo Gallery.