Last month I cam across an eBay auction for a former Killer Instinct 2 arcade machine. I say “former” because this poor machine was converted to “Turkey Hunter USA”. A conversion generally means spray-painting all of the original cabinet artwork black, replacing the computer board and the marque and finally gutting the old control panel, covering over the original control panel art with new art and drilling fresh holes for the new controls. It’s quite sad to see, and it’s something I hated doing when I worked in an arcade.
Killer Instinct 2 is my all-time favorite arcade game, they’re pretty uncommon to find in arcades these days and they’re fairly uncommon among collectors as well and growing in value. The cabinet for sale had the turkey hunter controls and PCB removed so it was just a cabinet and monitor with Turkey hunter art work. $200 +another $150 or so for freight shipping. I decided to buy it and this is what I got:
I had a lot of parts to order, I had to buy buttons and joy sticks, a Killer Instinct Marquee, new control panel lexan overlay and art, and the condition of the monitor and power supply were completely unknown and of course I had to buy a Killer Instinct 2 PCB, without that it’s just a fancy box. Lots of other little things such hardware, wiring, connectors, etc.
First thing was getting the paint removed off the original artwork, this was first because I wanted to get it done out in the garage before moving the machine indoors. I first tried a product called Lift-Off, which worked but not very well, I then switched to a different product called Citri-Strip, which was fantastic. The results:
I also attempted to remove the Turkey hunter control panel graphics, after unbolting the plastic overlay I tried both a heat gun and goo-gone to separate the new control panel art from the original control panel art, the results, sadly, weren’t that great:
You can see that the new art work pulled up some of the paint from the original art, leaving nasty white lines of missing graphics. Even if that wasn’t the case there were three additional holes drilled in the original overlay around the player 2 joystick and the colors were all faded and dingy (the Killer Instinct logo on the Control panel top is supposed to be red just like the Killer Instinct logo on the control panel front).
I managed to find a new, never used Killer Instinct 2 marquee, which made for the easiest and best looking part of the cabinet “deconversion” so far.
Of course even this took some work, the marquee was for a conversion kit (meaning for people who wanted convert a non Killer Instinct machine to Killer Instinct 2) so it needed to be trimmed to size.
The power supply was making some horrid noises, it wasn’t even the original power supply. I pulled it and bench tested it and found that the output voltages were way off so it was getting junked. The monitor was making some horrible noises too, the PCB I put int to test it wouldn’t boot (due to the bad power supply) so I couldn’t determine if it worked or not.
For some odd reason there were hundreds of finishing nails among other bits of hardware on the floor so I cleaned all of that up to prevent any electrical shorts and I bought a new power supply, then modified it to fit in the original mounting location (the junk one that came with the cabinet wasn’t original and had just been screwed into the floor)
This let me boot it up but sadly the monitor wasn’t showing a clear image
I pulled the monitor chassis and bought all new capacitors and a new flyback, I also planned to replace a few small parts related to image sync to fix the horizontal sync issue the monitor seems to be having. Here is the chassis with all of the new parts installed:
No good, after reinstalling the image quality was better but the monitor couldn’t hold a sync; it was even worse than before. After getting advice from a few experts they told me to check that I hadn’t installed one of the new parts backwards… after pulling the board back out again and checking I found that the part in question wasn’t in backwards but the solder joint wasn’t strong enough, fixing that, and reinstalling the board I get a nice stable picture. Some small adjustments still need to be made but on a whole the picture looks great.
Not only was the original control panel gutted and then drilled out when it was converted but all of the original control panel wiring had been cut out of the machine as well. I had to completely disassemble the control panel and install new tee-nuts for the joysticks. I bought all new buttons, joysticks and switches. I couldn’t find a Killer Instinct 2 control panel harness for sale so I would have to build one. I found a harness for a different Midway game that used the same style connectors and wiring colors so I bought it. Repinned the connectors for Killer Instinct and then routed, trimmed, and crimped a disconnect onto each wire. Here is what I started with (just 2 wires!), and what I built:
Control Panel Overlay and Monitor Bezel:
I still haven’t been able to find new control panel art, so I made myself an temporary cover-up out of some black poster board. I also bought a reproduction laser-cut lexan control panel overlay and I had new monitor bezel stickers printed from some scans that I found online.
The Results so far:
So I’ve got all of the electronics fixed and rebuilt the cabinet has been washed clean of all the Turkey Hunter conversion stink, the last bit is to plug in the Killer Instinct 2 PCB I bought and fire it up:
I got a few games in and I’m really happy to have all the work so far pay off.
What’s left to do:
I’ve still got some finishing touches to do here is the list
- touch up paint on the side art to cover up scuffs and scrapes
- repaint the front lower section of the cabinet
- replace a coin door light bulb
- find and install a bill collector blank for the hole in the coin door
- find and install a proper control panel graphic
- properly mount the KI2 PCB
- install a cooling fan for the PCB
- fine-tune the convergence on the monitor
- built a light shield to prevent the marquee light from bleeding onto the monitor bezel
- install new t-molding
I’ll get some of the larger items on this list done soon, but other items might take a while to source the right parts. I’ll do an in-depth wrap up video once I’m 100% done.