Skip to main content

Going Underground #1 - the Foosball Table Restoration

I know I've done a lot of posts lately about Apple in general. But this blog is actually only PARTLY about Apple - it's primarily about our iOS-centered home remodel/update. And while technology is a big part of the remodel, there are other parts, too. 2x4s. Drywall. Furniture. Cabinets. And a game room.

The first item arrived a couple of months ago - our Deustcher Meister 1970's era foosball table. My family picked this up in the early 1990s, I played it rather religiously through highschool with my friends, and I remember it looking pretty old back then. It looked substantially older when I picked it up from my parents new house last fall.

The players were filthy. The rods were rusted. The ramps (in each corner, to the side of the goal) were chipped and pulling away from the playing surface. One of the players was facing backwards.

Obviously, that won't do.

Now, there are plenty of good aspects to this foosball table. The chrome label is in perfect condition. The coin mechanism is present (although disabled, by me, 25 years ago.) The playing surface is perfect. Every part is original, and present. The wood laminates on the side are in generally good condition, although there are some scratches.

I was able to sand the scratches out of the actual wooden components, and we'll re-stain when we're done.

But some of this stuff is going to have to be replaced. And really, where do you even start restoring a 40 year old foosball table? Where do you find parts? Am I going to have to buy another 40 year old table and part it out?

15 years ago, I probably would have. Today, we have the internet. And it's still difficult. eBay is hit and miss, and even the places that sell parts for my foosball table generally have little to nothing in stock.
  • Rods
20 years of use followed by 20 years sitting in a basement isn't a great environment for chrome rods. The chrome got pitted and wore off in spots, and where that happened, it got rusty. Which wore off more chrome. Several rods were flat-out difficult to spin.  
Replacement rods are available online, but it's like $100 for a set, and that's probably in excess of the value of the table. So I went to work with super-fine steel wool, and then Brasso. And the results were... actually pretty good. The rods aren't shiny where the chrome is missing, but they're perfectly smooth and spin well.
  • Foosball Men
Now, these guys are just filthy. None of them are broken, which is a plus - but some of them have strange paint: one goalie's face was purple! Moreover, after 40 years, all of the paint starts to get sticky-tacky, and starts to wear off where the ball hits players' heads.  
I'd initially thought that I could re-paint each player to look like a Manchester United v. Chelsea match, but that's going to be more trouble than it's worth, and will probably look mediocre anyway. We'll go for a straight up blue-v-red match.  
I'm going to really clean one of these guys with Goo Gone tonight - if that works, I'll take all 22 players off their rods and give them a thorough cleaning. If I can't get them clean enough, I'll purchase all new "tournament style" players and be done with it. But I'd prefer to use the originals, if I can.
  • Laminate Repair
This will be the trickiest part of the restoration. the "side edge" laminates have some chipped and missing areas. I can't find a replacement, so I think I'll be attempting a "repair" using white kitchen countertop laminate repair compound, and then sanding the filled-in areas to match.  
The corner ramps are generally in good shape, but have pulled away from the playing surface over time. Each has two small holes - presumably from where the ramps were previously held down with adhesive or nails, and caused when the ramps pulled off the surface. These can probably be filled in with a laminate repair compound (or frankly, with a spackle) with no issues.
OR - and this is interesting - I could purchase new ramps by acquiring a "conversion kit", available online for $40. Apparently, some foosball tables have three players on the goalie bar, while others (like mine) have one goalie, and 2 ramps to ensure the ball doesn't get stuck in a corner. I won't be "converting" a 3-goalie table to a 1-goalie.... just replacing worn out ramps. We'll see. I think I'll attempt a repair first.

This is going to be a small part of the basement when it's finished - but a cool one.


  1. What did you end up doing with the players? I recently purchased a vintage foosball table and will be starting to refurbish it shortly. Any tips or advice?

    1. I just cleaned them up really well - here's the post on the cleanup:

      And here's the post on the laminate repair. I used a bathtub crack repair kit:

      All told, it's working really well. The player cleanup was spectacular.... but some of the paint wore off, and I haven't gotten around to touch-up/repainting them.

      It's not a "vintage restoration", but I wasn't worried about maintaining value or using original pieces anyway. With just elbow grease, we turned a broken down old foosball table into a really-useful table that works *great*.

      There's nothing you can do about worn chrome, though, short of re-chroming. With silicone applied, though, they spin perfectly, so that's really a cosmetic issue.

  2. Hi there, do you Have any idea how much a table like this is worth?
    I have one similar. Thank you

    1. Honestly, I don't know.

      I can't imagine it's THAT expensive, but everywhere I've looked online they've been at least several hundred dollars.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Not All AirPort Extremes are Created Equal (UPDATED)

I'm looking for a used AirPort Extreme. In all the usual places - eBay, Craigslist.  I'll probably get one this week. Why? It's a long story.  A while back, I picked up an AirPort Express A1084 router on Craigslist, and found that it was incompatible with my AirPort Utility and wireless-n network, even though it looked *identical* to the current model of AirPort Express.  So, I wrote a post on this blog about the different types of AirPort Express routers, noting that if you're looking for used Airport Express routers to extend your AirPlay network, you'd better seek out model A1264. In the months that followed, Apple updated the AirPort Express again, changing the form factor (it looks like a little white AppleTV now), adding simultaneous dual-band support, and giving it model number A1392.  ASIDE: I'm not totally convinced that the form-factor change was an improvement. The A1264 plugged directly into the wall, which was incr

Review - WOW Ultra TV vs. DirecTV HR34 Genie

Here in the Chicago suburbs, we had two options for whole-home DVR services. We initially went with WOW Ultra TV, and after about 4 months, we switched to DirecTV's HR34 Genie system. (Neither Verizon FIOS nor AT&T UVerse were available in our area, so we can't review those. I haven't used Dish's Hopper, either. This is a straight compare/contrast review of WOW vs. DirecTV.) Both Ultra TV and Genie have their plusses and minuses. Both offer 1080p output, but that's primarily for the menus, as most TV content is provided at lower resolutions.  Both systems have a similar design architecture - a central hub, with multiple tuners and a large hard drive, recording and storing all TV shows, and distributing them to televisions around the house upon request.  Both systems also bring a number of "add-on" apps and have ways of accessing "on demand" content.  We've had each system for enough time to really put them through

Review: NuCore Flooring from Floor & Decor

This NuCore flooring review will also function as a Basement Update: We're finally, officially moving forward on the Phase 2 finish work.