(Topic ID: 231099)

1976 Bally Led Zeppelin (retheme)

By rotordave

5 years ago

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  • 491 posts
  • 115 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by dmieczko
  • Topic is favorited by 114 Pinsiders


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“Led Zeppelin?”

  • Yes! 5 votes
  • Hell Yes! 21 votes
  • Why the hell not? 4 votes

(30 votes)

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#1 5 years ago

This is a project I’ve been waiting to get into for quite some time.

So, away we go!

A few years back, I ended up with a 1976 Bally Freedom as part of a deal. It was pretty beaten. I got it all playing good though. Not the worlds best EM, but fun enough to play.

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I have a soft spot for the 75/76 Bally EM machines - the era just before they went electronic. Some of the games (including Freedom) were made as both EM and SS versions.

I have a line up of Freedoms sister machines - Wizard, Capt Fantastic, Bow and Arrow, Old Chicago ... they play snappy with their gruntier flippers, very much like their SS brothers. We play these machines maybe more than any others in the collection. They are real levellers.

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#2 5 years ago

So, Freedom was a bit of a clanger - not really cool enough to restore - so an absolutely ideal candidate for a retheme.

The thought process started as to what it could become.

One thing that I don’t like about some rethemes - the pin doesn’t suit the era of the pin. For example, you don’t want to put Apple IPhone as a theme on a 1976 pin - it’d be stupid.

So, what was big in 1975/1976 - the era of the pin?

For me, the answer was pretty obvious. Led Zeppelin were one of the worlds biggest bands between 70-76, breaking attendance records around the world.

And I have a tie in - LZ were my gateway band into heavier music, as I’m sure they were for thousands of others. I remember watching the New Year’s Eve music request TV show here in NZ around 1981 - the last song they played around 1am was Stairway to Heaven from the Song Remains the Same movie. At the start of that, the spotlight is on Robert Plant illuminating his blond mane, and 10 year old RD says “wowwwww! That guy has light up hair! Amazing!” Lol

Within a few days I had bought the Song Remains the Same double cassette, and proceeded to play it until the tape snapped. A black Swan Song logo Zeppelin shirt followed very shortly after. I had LZ books and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the band. I could have chosen them as my Mastermind topic.

I eventually moved on to heavier music, but LZ always has a place in my music library.

So, theme decided! LZ was one of the biggest bands in the world in the mid 70s, totally era correct to the pinball machine, and it’s a wonder Bally never made a LZ pin in the first place!

Plus - Dragon Pants. Dragon pants.

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#3 5 years ago

Looking forward to hopefully epic thread!

#4 5 years ago

So, now I think, how am I gonna do this?

I can handle all the mechanical aspects, no problems.

But artistically, I’m pretty hopeless. I can design buildings and furniture (I have done both) but human forms and cool stuff? Fuuuuggggggetaboutittt!

Photoshop - I know my way around the program, but I’m amateur hour compared to some people.

So I need some assistance.

The first guy I hit up is Jeremy, a top ranked pinball player from Wellington. He’s just a clever dude. I had spoken to him about this project a while back, and a few weeks ago he told me that he will be tied up for most of 2019 working on the new Avatar movies, so the time was right to get this thing started!

Jeremy will handle the photoshop aspects of the project, mainly altering the PF graphics to the new theme.

Then I needed someone with real artist skills, to bring the backglass and plastics to life.

I mentioned the project on the Head2Head podcast a few weeks back, and got an email from a talented guy Stateside who is both an artist and a pinball player, and a LZ fan.

Meet Brad Albright, from Dallas, Texas.

Making this retheme a truly international event!

So the first step was to remove the PF, strip it down to the timber and scan it for Jeremy.

I also decided that I will add another pop bumper to the playfield to spice things up.

This is next to the collect hole, and near the right spinner - so if you have poor accuracy, you will get punished!

Also - 4 band members means 4 pop caps, right?

You can see the wear track on the PF from the left flipper to the scoop. The pop will be situated so that the scoop shot is clear, but don’t miss!

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The PF was scanned with my hand held scanner. Not really ideal, a flat bed would have been better, but I didn’t have one to hand. Scans came out pretty good.


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#5 5 years ago

Love this.

#6 5 years ago

Next up - strip the cabinet down and sand it for repainting.

Generally, I’d repaint the cabinet in my “garden shed spray booth” (lol) but on this occasion, I had it done by a friend who is a spray painter and has just bought out his boss. He’ll do it better than me, and it’s not that more expensive than me buying the car paint and doing it myself. Car paint is expensive stuff!

The cabinet paint was so flakey, it all needed to come off.

All dents were filled - all external bolts were removed and filled. I remove extraneous bolts from all my restores now, and fix things from inside the cabinet instead. Just looks better imo.


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#7 5 years ago

Next up, scan the backglass for my new American friend.

I did complete scans front and back, and then measured the position of everything and marked it on the back.

The new artwork needs to be arranged around the score reels (they can’t be moved) - however I can move the feature lights around the backboard if the art requires it. Not a big mission to do that.

Unfortunately when I was scanning it, the BG cracked in half! It was destined for the rubbish bin anyway, as it was pretty flaked out, but it’s still a shock when you hear that “CRACK!” That’s the first BG I have broken, and hopefully the last. Like I say, it was not going to be used anyway.


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#8 5 years ago

I’ve had the external look of the pin in my mind from the start.

Sometimes that’s a bit dangerous, as there might be better ideas out there and you end up closing your mind to other concepts.

But with this one, I was pretty sure it would work nicely.

Pretty simple, same as the other 75/76 pins.

No band/pin names, like most other EMs .. Wizard has “wizard” on the side, that’s one of the very few that does.

I wanted something that could have been made with a simple metal stencil in the Bally factory in 1976.

I decided to use the 4 Symbols, famous for being on the untitled 4th LZ album, which has earned the nickname “4 symbols” over time.

I got a good copy of the logo, and worked out the rough proportions of what sizes I wanted on my Wizard pin.

Roll of tape was 100mm - 4 symbols that size on the head worked nicely ...

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Saucer from the wife’s dinner set was 200mm. . Seemed about the right size for the sides ...

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I also measured the fronts and got some smaller ones done while I was at it. I didn’t know if I was going to use them, but let’s get them done now while we are at it.

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I sent the dimensions to Jeremy, and within the day I had the logos. My signwriter made me a stencil mask that afternoon.

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#9 5 years ago

All the metalwork was stripped off, and sent to the powdercoaters.

For a clean look, I wanted a black/white look - so all the metal was finished in gloss back.

I had it all back 48 hours later. Nice!

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#10 5 years ago

The same day, I got the cabinet back from the car painters.



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Forgot to say - cabinet is painted in a satin white. No real gloss to the finish. Didn’t want a shiny glossy cabinet on this one.

#11 5 years ago

What a great idea!!!!!!! I loved the band as well and have a collection of the Creem and Circus magazines with a lot of great pictures and articles
on the band

Net time use some stripper with a thin 4 inch scraper blade,a little messy but speeds up the sanding it's worth it.
Just got a festool sander and works real well the one that has the rotex dual mode gear driven.
A little expense by well worth it don't have to use stripper with this one. It's great for putting on new decals for the 90's games
I used to use the Black and Decker orange one and that was the best sander I every had actually found one on ebay but when I use this one no comparison.
Just wanted to put it out there,

But back to the project that would be a great idea I'll take one.
Maybe you want to kick around some ideas for it like from different albums for some of the art work

Led 3, 4, Presence, Houses, In Through the Outdoor ???
Good luck with it anyway love the symbols they work!!!!!!!!!!!

#12 5 years ago

Following! (April 30, 1977, Pontiac Silverdome)

#13 5 years ago

Now, on to the stencil work.

Stick on stencils aren’t really the best - you don’t get the overspray look of the original EM stencils.

But - not much other alternative unless you want to cut some metal stencils as per the originals. And we ain’t doing that! So stickers it is.

First up, I did the headbox.

I took a long time to make sure they were positioned in a manner that I liked. All the symbols are a different size - especially ZOSO - in fact, ZOSO was a complete pain in the ass because it was a totally different shape/size to all the others. It needed to be spaced differently to all the others to look correct.

I decided to do them all one at a time until I got the drying point of the paint sorted out.

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Stencil was all masked off with tape and paper, and painted. I used Rustoleum satin black spray paint (yep, you can get that in NZ now ...)

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A little wait for the paint to tack a little, and the masks get pulled off.

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The end result - I was pretty happy with how it came up.


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#14 5 years ago

Next, onto the cabinet.

First, I marked the leg positions, and the side rails, and tried to guestimate the correct positions. Again, ZOSO was the pain in the ass as it is totally different to all the others.

I marked each stencil with centrelines and worked around that. ZOSO is quite a lot closer to the other ones with the tape (from memory 20-30mm) but visually it looks correct. If you just go by the measuring tape, it appears to be too far away. You can see my writing on the tape at the bottom, 29cm between centres, and ZOSO is moved 2-3cm closer.

So always mock up things like this and make sure they look right to the eye before spraying any paint.

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#15 5 years ago

I left it all to dry overnight - and put it all back together!

Well, the cabinet, headbox and mechanics anyway.

Looking pretty smart, I reckon!

It’s always pleasing when you have a picture in your mind, and the end result looks just as you’d planned it.


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#16 5 years ago

Now I have all the mechanics back in the cabinet.

I didn’t put the graphics on the cabinet front as yet - they are a little finicky - so I thought I’d wait and see how it looks first. I can always add them later, no problems.

At this stage, I have left the coin door as polished stainless. Maybe I will change it to black later ... again, I’ll wait to see. Easy to change later!

So, now we wait for the final backglass artwork, as this will define where we go with playfield colours and extra artwork we might want to add on to the playfield (if any)

Next week we are off to the USA for a road trip and INDISC ... so LZ will sit there until we get back.

So for now, that’s all from me!


#17 5 years ago

Very cool!

#18 5 years ago

The year I was born,
Looking good!!! Led Zep is flipping Awesome. And they will live on forever through their music!

#19 5 years ago
Quoted from JWJr:

Following! (April 30, 1977, Pontiac Silverdome)

Quoted from heni1977:

The year I was born

The year _before_ my son was born...to my date at LZ.

#20 5 years ago

Oh yeah.

While the EM running gear was out, I gave it a clean up, got all the 40 year old dust off it (without going crazy overboard)

One of the fuse holders was missing, and it had a “fuse bypass mod” ... the two wires cut off the broken holder and taped together. So that needed sorting.

3 new fuse holders installed. Much easier when it is out of the pin.

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With my EMs, to make them nice and snappy, I do the famous “Clay Mod”. This is to run the machine off the low tap setting, which is a few more volts output than normal. This makes all the coils that little bit more grunty. You can read about this in Clays EM repair guide.

The low voltage tap is the one on the right, with the red wire. (The wire was previously on the 3rd from left output)

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You can see the NZ 230-115v transformer in the background. This Freedom came from Los Angeles and had the USA only 115v transformer fitted, so it needed to have a step down installed. I have them made in Auckland for me, they’re commercial quality, not some junk that’s going to burn my house down.


#21 5 years ago

this post is making me dazed and confused! love it!

#22 5 years ago

Another great thread Dave!

Love LZ. Game is looking great so far. Looking forward to seeing the finished product.

#23 5 years ago

Hey Dave, Im sure you've probably seen it but check it out if you have not. My friend Basil made a Led Zep pin out of an EK pin and brought it to the Colorado show this past year. It won best original or something. He did the symbol's on the head and the Swansong logo on the cab. He even changed the rules to the game and is making the chimes play Zep tunes.
Good luck, we'll be watching.
Some pic's might be on the Rocky Mtn Pinball showdown thread .

#24 5 years ago
Quoted from ghostbc:

Some pic's might be on the Rocky Mtn Pinball showdown thread .

Hi Kevin! Yep, I saw pics of that machine from that show. Looked pretty cool.

I forgot to say at the start, this one will play some songs too.


#25 5 years ago

Go RD!! Who doesn’t love Led Zeppelin!

1 week later
#26 5 years ago

The draft of the backglass surround is done ....

Man, this Brad Albright guy is good ....


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#27 5 years ago

So, what we were going for with the BG (the design brief, if you like ..) was to tie it in with Wizard and Capt Fantastic, it’s sister games.

So here’s Capt Fantastic...

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You can see how they’ve used a frame to incorporate all the lights etc - we thought this was the best way to do it, as opposed to the Freedom (and most EM) way of just having a light bulb illuminate some random part of the glass and the hidden number shows through the glass.

So, so far so good!


#28 5 years ago

This looks awesome! I am curious to see how you integrate the processor for sounds etc. good luck

#29 5 years ago

Just an idea...instead of same player shoots again on the backglass...maybe “The Player Remains the Same” or “Player Remains the Same”???

#30 5 years ago
Quoted from wrb1977:

Just an idea...instead of same player shoots again on the backglass...maybe “The Player Remains the Same” or “Player Remains the Same”???

That sounds like a winner .....!

Good thinking champ.


#31 5 years ago

One word.....awesome!

#32 5 years ago

This is awesome...following RD! Zeppelin definitely deserves a pin.

#33 5 years ago

Cool man.....Cool. ...
Itl b o for awesome!

#34 5 years ago

“Ten Years Gone” on the PF for the outlane rollovers?

#35 5 years ago

Very cool machine re-theme and these are really neat ideas being posted.

"No Quarter" seems to have some connection

Thanks for the thread!

#36 5 years ago
Quoted from AvidListener:

Very cool machine re-theme and these are really neat ideas being posted.
"No Quarter" seems to have some connection
Thanks for the thread!

No quarter - I gotta get that on the coin slots.

These ideas are gold!


#37 5 years ago

whole lotta love on this post!

#38 5 years ago


#39 5 years ago

Wow As we say in Germany “Über cool”

#40 5 years ago

Rock and Roll! So far so good, I will be following.

#41 5 years ago

Looks good! Just to add my 2 cents, I really like the four symbols on the head but on the cabinet side I would have gone with a zeppelin as it’s the right dimensions and not as repetitive.

#42 5 years ago

Or the swan song label

#43 5 years ago
Quoted from freddy:

Or the swan song label

Swan Song was Peter Grants/LZs record label - the SS image became associated with the band as well, but that was more after the fact than 75/76. I don’t think LZ themselves ever used it as LZ imagery.

A Zeppelin on the side could have been cool if done properly - or ghastly if done wrong - think of a big long dick sausage on the side ... I just wanted a nice clean simple look for it.


#44 5 years ago

Dick sausage! That's funny!

#45 5 years ago

New “doodling” in from Brad Albright all the way from Dallas, Texas ... do you ever take a second to think that the Internet is a fantastic invention? Crazy stuff ...

Can’t upload the format here, so click on this link and check it out!

Robert Plant comes to life!




#47 5 years ago

Really a true work of art!
I cant believe how far this hobby has come. Never would've thought about this in the past. You have my great admiration.
Been playing since I was a teen, Im 66 now. First game I ever bought was a BOW & ARROW, and I still have it and still play it.
Keep up the fascinating work, I shall be following closely.

#48 5 years ago

I enjoyed you talking about this in the podcasts. Please upload some video along with finished pics when your done.


#49 5 years ago


#50 5 years ago
Quoted from Nevus:

I enjoyed you talking about this in the podcasts. Please upload some video along with finished pics when your done.

Will do for sure.

Jeremy emailed me yesterday, said he has almost finished the vectoring of the playfield layout.

Once that’s done, we will be able to colour it in to match whatever Brad comes up with on the BG, and tie some playfield plastics in with that too.


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