(Topic ID: 214665)

Gottlieb Hot Rod - a tribute to classic EM pinball

By jwilson

5 years ago

Topic Heartbeat

Topic Stats

  • 85 posts
  • 60 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 years ago by BENETNATH
  • Topic is favorited by 59 Pinsiders


Linked Games

No games have been linked to this topic.

    Topic Gallery

    View topic image gallery

    IMG_6502 (resized).JPG
    IMG_6503 (resized).JPG
    IMG_6504 (resized).JPG
    IMG_6508 (resized).JPG
    IMG_6506 (resized).JPG
    IMG_6481 (resized).JPG
    IMG_6468 (resized).jpg
    IMG_6469 (resized).jpg
    2018-04-14 14.17.16 (resized).jpg
    2018-04-14 14.16.57 (resized).jpg
    1B084A1B-4321-4C72-8C4B-0052245A7A03 (resized).jpeg
    bDJPDLq - Imgur (resized).jpg
    5DVmt2R - Imgur (resized).jpg
    IMG_6118 (resized).jpg
    IMG_6114 (resized).jpg

    There are 85 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 5 years ago

    For over 20 years I've been playing, collecting and restoring pinball machines, and having gone through almost 300 machines in that time, I finally needed to venture into building my own games from scratch. But like learning to walk before you run, I decided to start with doing a re-theme of an old EM game with score reels and chimes, but more importantly no complex video or music to worry about.

    9Zn37Jz - Imgur (resized).jpg9Zn37Jz - Imgur (resized).jpg

    Since Gottlieb mostly did "safe" themes like bowling or cowboys, I thought I'd try to create something a little more "racy" - a general "Hot Rod" theme based on drag racing, set in the late 1970's, the pinnacle of EM pinball supremacy.

    To that end, our journey begins with an existing machine that we'll be re-theming, since starting with a base game is much easier and cheaper than building things like cabinets from scratch and collecting all the various little parts and pieces. In this case, my base game is "Mustang", an unremarkable 2-player game from 1977 that I picked up from a friend for a few hundred dollars in "as-is" but decent condition.

    Being a 2-player game was perfect for the drag racing theme - a head-to-head competition between two drivers - and the game in question is not rare or highly sought after, so "destroying" it to bring my vision to life wouldn't upset people too badly and my plan was to make it far better than it ever was in its first life.

    v8uE6o7 - Imgur (resized).pngv8uE6o7 - Imgur (resized).png

    Not many features on this machine - not even powered slingshots! Turning this game from a snoozefest into a modern game with modern features like multiball was going to be a challenge.

    LkVmkJE - Imgur (resized).jpgLkVmkJE - Imgur (resized).jpg

    Inside the head. Here you can see the eight score reels (four per player) plus the match stepper and associated logic, plus the Jones connectors at the bottom. Can't tell you how many times I've picked up a game where they've cut the wires not realizing the head comes off!

    IMG_2347 (resized).jpgIMG_2347 (resized).jpg

    Under the playfield you find more steppers and relay banks to control feature lamps, drop targets and other playfield devices. All said, the game was in very nice original condition, a bit worn around the edges but it wouldn't have taken much to get playing as-is.

    IMG_2340 (resized).jpgIMG_2340 (resized).jpg

    Taking the head board out of the game, I removed all the stuff that won't be needed for our conversion to modern electronic controls. Not much left - the eight score reels and the credit stepper.

    IMG_2355 (resized).jpgIMG_2355 (resized).jpg

    Same was done to the playfield - all relay logic removed and only lamps and devices that interact with the ball are left behind. Without the support relay logic, the bare-bones nature of the game is more evident by the sparse number of coil-driven devices compared to other games.

    IMG_4630 (resized).jpgIMG_4630 (resized).jpg

    The pile of coils, switch banks and steppers left over after ripping out all the old EM logic from the head, playfield and main cabinet. Don't worry, none of this was tossed out - it goes off to the parts bin to be used to save other classic EM games. It weighs a ton!

    IMG_2387 (resized).jpgIMG_2387 (resized).jpg

    Originally, the plan was to make my own control boards. In this photo is a switch matrix, a solenoid board managed by an Arduino, a flipper board that handles direct fire, and two rectifier boards to convert the AC voltage from the original transformer to DC for use with modern electronics.

    IMG_2430 (resized).jpgIMG_2430 (resized).jpg

    Some initial tests doing a lamp matrix using existing pinball designs showed promise but I kept running into programming issues on the Arduino - with the overhead from the libraries to make programming them simple, I wasn't getting accurate enough timing, and lamps would flicker badly. Ultimately I am not a very good programmer and this kind of embedded development was beyond my abilities.

    IMG_4366 (resized).jpgIMG_4366 (resized).jpg

    This is when I discovered the Open Pinball Project - a very low cost open source pinball controller system based on the Cypress 4200 PSoC family of processors. Using very inexpensive dev boards - less than $4 each - you can control coils, lamps and switches using a serial API over USB.

    There are a number of more commercial options available, but given the budget involved with this game they didn't make financial sense at the time, whereas the complete set of boards pictured above totalled less than $100 fully populated.

    IMG_4260 (resized).jpgIMG_4260 (resized).jpg

    Mocking up where the controller boards would sit. Having them on the playfield, closer to the devices and lamps they were meant to control, would mean less wiring and ultimately less expense.

    At the top is lamps and bottom coils. The lamps are controlled by BS170 MOSFETs while the coils are IRL540Ns.

    IMG_4268 (resized).jpgIMG_4268 (resized).jpg

    Initial wiring up of the lamps. The positive lead for the lamp voltage is attached to the lamps, while the wire returning to the board connects it to ground, allowing current to flow and the lamp to glow. All lamps are direct drive - no lamp matrix to worry about.

    There's no photo but the coil and switch wiring was run after this, as well as wiring in the head and cabinet.

    IMG_4603 (resized).jpgIMG_4603 (resized).jpg

    For the head, boards are wired up on a test panel and connected to the score reels. Each score reel has four connections - advance coil power and ground, and zero position switch signal and ground, all wired with modern Molex connectors for easy swap outs.

    Score reels work similar to how a slot machine reel works - it advances a space (showing 0-9) with each firing of the coil, and a switch is depressed when the reel is on the zero position.

    The brain of the game is a Raspberry Pi 3. In this photo are three controller boards to handle coils, lamps and switches, the RPi3 and a newer version of the rectifier board which handles lamp voltage (6.3VDC) and coil voltage (24VDC) while a separate switching power supply in the body handles 5VDC for game logic.

    lG1Pezb - Imgur (resized).pnglG1Pezb - Imgur (resized).png

    In order to keep track of the wiring for later troubleshooting as well as for programming the game, careful documentation of wiring colours, which controller, wing and pin it connects to, and the function it performs is maintained in a spreadsheet.

    IMG_4615 (resized).jpgIMG_4615 (resized).jpg

    It's a good thing these boards are cheap - I managed to fry a bunch of them while trying to figure out the power wiring and common ground. Whatever you do, don't leave a floating ground, tie all grounds together near the power supplies!

    aHxINxN - Imgur (resized).pngaHxINxN - Imgur (resized).png

    For programming the game logic I turned to Mission Pinball Framework, an open source project that is designed to make constructing a working pinball machine as easy as possible for those of us who are not as versed in programming. It supports a wide variety of controller hardware (including OPP) and handles all the low-level logic of stuff like direct fire coils, switch handling, coil pulse timing, lighting and so on. In addition, it also handles gameplay functions like score and player tracking, defining "ball devices" and setting up game rules.

    It does this primarily via a YAML-based configuration system as displayed above - this defines the "base" mode where a game would spend most of its time and lets you set values for scoring, creating counters to handle how events are tracked and so on.

    Broken down into its simplest definition, a pinball game is a "state machine", meaning that gameplay is made up of events that change the state of different values, triggering more events and so on until you run out of balls. In an EM like Hot Rod was originally, that state machine is very simple and might only have a few logic accumulators - for example "complete rollovers to light Extra Ball". However, thanks to the power of modern electronics, that game logic can be greatly expanded. MPF does most of the heavy lifting for you, leaving you free to concentrate on the more fun aspects of pinball making - the rules.

    AcVo0WD - Imgur (resized).pngAcVo0WD - Imgur (resized).png

    For functions that the MPF YAML configs can't properly handle, you have the option of writing your own modes directly in Python. In this example, to properly emulate the bonus count EM-style where each bonus light is awarded one at a time, a script follows that logic flow.

    Although I had limited experience in Python it wasn't too hard to use online tutorials and examples to muddle my way through the basic logic for the bonus count and some other functions. If I can do it, anyone can.

    HHpm1X4 - Imgur (resized).pngHHpm1X4 - Imgur (resized).png

    The above is the console window of MPF while the game is running and the start button has been pressed to begin a game. It shows a ball served into the shooter lane (far right column) waiting to be plunged into play. The green highlighted switches are "active" - the large block on the left are the score reel zero position switches (ie. scores are at zero) and in the middle column it shows two balls in the trough and one in the shooter lane.

    The far left column shows the active game modes. When most players think of modes in pinball, they think of ones they've started while playing, but in MPF modes can be any "state" that's active - so for Hot Rod, there's the "base" mode, a special handler for the H-O-T rollover lanes, "gi" handles the general illumination, and so on. Modes will start and stop as the game progresses.

    The console allows you to see game state at a glance while designing your game software, or while playing, to make sure everything is working as expected. The console is separate from any display your game might have - most modern games will have score displays and/or a screen the player can see for animations or game info.

    Since this is an EM, the only output devices I have are score reels, lights and chimes, which actually makes programming the game a lot simpler in many ways but much harder in others - I don't have to draw fancy graphics, but also communicating with the player is extremely limited. For example, on a modern game if a player loses a ball quickly it will often return the ball to a player (ball save) and display on the screen a message saying "Ball Saved". On my game, I return the ball and ring a bell in the backbox that isn't normally heard during game play as "feedback".

    IMG_4683 (resized).jpgIMG_4683 (resized).jpg

    Mustang was a single ball game, but Hot Rod was going to be a modern version of the classic EM, and that meant Multiball. That also meant the one-ball trough needed to go to make room for one that could handle three balls. Originally I got it working with the single ball trough but it was time to upgrade.

    Here I've removed the apron and I'm taking out the metal guides from the trough.

    IMG_4684 (resized).jpgIMG_4684 (resized).jpg

    Underneath is the existing single ball eject coil and trough switch. The original game did not have a shooter lane switch as it wasn't needed for a single ball game, but I added one which can be seen to the right side.

    IMG_4685 (resized).jpgIMG_4685 (resized).jpg

    Everything out of the way.

    IMG_4690 (resized).jpgIMG_4690 (resized).jpg

    Using a jigsaw, the two holes were connected by a cutout and the top of the new trough is test fitted in place. Horse does not approve.

    IMG_4691 (resized).jpgIMG_4691 (resized).jpg

    Ball guides are added to direct balls to the new trough, and the bottom part is also installed.

    IMG_4696 (resized).jpgIMG_4696 (resized).jpg

    Well this is a problem - the new trough extends down and hits the chime box!

    IMG_4699 (resized).jpgIMG_4699 (resized).jpg

    Chime box is moved further into the cabinet out of the way. Here you can see the bottom part of the trough - balls roll to the end and come to rest, where the upward facing coil can shoot them up and out when it's time to serve a ball. This trough is designed to hold six balls but I'm only using three.

    IMG_4700 (resized).jpgIMG_4700 (resized).jpg

    The apron tray was modified to make room for the trough, and you can see the red opto glow from the trough which are used to detect the last ball and any jammed balls. Definitely nothing like this in 1977.

    IMG_4721 (resized).jpgIMG_4721 (resized).jpg

    Mustang also did not come with powered slingshots, which is a travesty, so I decided to add them myself. This is the underside of the slings, showing a single switch in the middle and two lamps.

    IMG_4722 (resized).jpgIMG_4722 (resized).jpg

    Switches and lamps removed, there's room to expand the three holes to make space for two switches and the slingshot arm and coil.

    IMG_4724 (resized).jpgIMG_4724 (resized).jpg

    Marking where to cut on top.

    IMG_4725 (resized).jpgIMG_4725 (resized).jpg

    Holes expanded, slingshot hardware installed.

    IMG_4738 (resized).jpgIMG_4738 (resized).jpg

    It's a tight fit but it's all in. I used Williams sling mechs for this because I had them sitting around - just pretend they're Gottlieb.

    IMG_4741 (resized).jpgIMG_4741 (resized).jpg

    Working powered slingshots! They make the game much more exciting and should never have been left out of the original.

    At this point, the game is physically working 100% with all lamps and coils including the score reels, so the next step is to start the visual transformation.

    IMG_4661 (resized).jpgIMG_4661 (resized).jpg

    40 years of cokes and who knows what else was put through this coin door, so I did a full restore on it. This is the after photo.

    IMG_4714 (resized).jpgIMG_4714 (resized).jpg

    Measuring the original backglass for score reel window dimensions to use in the new artwork being designed.

    IMG_4883 (resized).jpgIMG_4883 (resized).jpg

    The top of the playfield is completely striped down to the wood, but leaving the wiring and mechs installed underneath, a decision I would later regret.

    IMG_4943 (resized).jpgIMG_4943 (resized).jpg

    This image gave a few of my EM-loving friends a reason to gasp as I sanded the relatively decent original artwork completely down to the wood. This has two benefits - it gives a much flatter surface to work with and also removes any ball trails that indicate wear and tear. It's going to look brand new.

    IMG_4945 (resized).jpgIMG_4945 (resized).jpg

    All done. You may notice some sun damage on the shooter lane, but that colour difference won't be visible on the finished game so I wasn't concerned about being overly aggressive with the sanding to remove it as it goes fairly deep.

    IMG_4946 (resized).jpgIMG_4946 (resized).jpg

    With all the artwork gone and the playfield nice and flat, it was a good time to measure and trace all the inserts and holes to help guide the art redesign.

    IMG_5009 (resized).jpgIMG_5009 (resized).jpg

    The original cabinet isn't exactly fine art - blocky two-colour stencils convey a vague "cowboy" feeling but that poor guy has a foot for a hand and no head!

    With the side rails removed, the colour difference in the paint is obvious - years of living in smokey bars and arcades take their toll. Fortunately there's a spray can white that closely matches the original called "Heirloom White". I will also reproduce the speckle pattern as well.

    IMG_5011 (resized).jpgIMG_5011 (resized).jpg

    Using paint stripper, the lead-based original paint just sloughs right off the cabinet. Using paint stripper instead of sanding cuts down on the amount of airborne lead from the paint and is much safer overall, but a lot more work and very messy.

    IMG_5012 (resized).jpgIMG_5012 (resized).jpg

    With the paint gone, the deep gouges in the side are more visible, as are a few love notes. These will all be fixed with bondo and fibreglass.

    IMG_5055 (resized).jpgIMG_5055 (resized).jpg

    Back in the day, the only way for people to know about your pinball glory was to take a pen knife to the head and carve your high score for all to see. I wonder if Paul Rizzo got in trouble for vandalizing this poor game.

    IMG_5056 (resized).jpgIMG_5056 (resized).jpg

    Any splits in the plywood or cracks in the joints were filled with wood glue and clamped tight, then after drying sanded smooth.

    IMG_5067 (resized).jpgIMG_5067 (resized).jpg

    Using fibreglass on the corners and bondo in the middle, the sides are smoothed out nice and flat and all evidence of the gouging and hearts is gone.

    IMG_5070 (resized).jpgIMG_5070 (resized).jpg

    The front of the cabinet was particularly chewed up on this game so it was reinforced with fibreglass resin and sanded into shape.

    IMG_5122 (resized).jpgIMG_5122 (resized).jpg

    After glue, bondo and fibreglass, the head is primed and ready for paint.

    IMG_5160 (resized).jpgIMG_5160 (resized).jpg

    Same with the body. The different colours are regular primer and a high-fill poly primer that helps to fill in the woodgrain. Everything is rattle-can, I don't have a compressor that can handle painting. Also I needed to trim those weeds.

    IMG_5162 (resized).jpgIMG_5162 (resized).jpg

    Proper surface prep is critical! There was some contaminants here that caused the paint to crackle. The only solution was to sand the whole front down, clean with naphtha, re-apply the primer and repaint. A costly mistake.

    IMG_5212 (resized).jpgIMG_5212 (resized).jpg

    After the white is dry, the speckle pattern was applied by dipping a toothbrush in a bit of black paint and using a thumb to "flick" the paint at the surface. That isn't the factory technique but it's surprisingly effective.

    IMG_5281 (resized).jpgIMG_5281 (resized).jpg

    The speckles were done at the factory to help hide any flaws in the cabinet plywood and minimize any visible damage over time. Although it was commercial equipment, they weren't really built to last more than five years and as such they took a few shortcuts to save money like using cheaper wood.

    Ironically, this "throwaway" game from 1977 managed to survive 40 years and is more solidly built than any pinball machine made today, using mechanisms with much thicker metal and overall better construction. Made in the USA!

    IMG_5208 (resized).jpgIMG_5208 (resized).jpg

    As part of the redesign, I moved the score reels from a stacked configuration to a side-by-side one, more like the drag race style the game's theme references. Using the measurements I took earlier, I mapped out the location for the score reels and credit stepper on a new plywood sheet - you also get a preview of the new backglass art.

    IMG_5209 (resized).jpgIMG_5209 (resized).jpg

    Holes rough cut with a jigsaw.

    IMG_5210 (resized).jpgIMG_5210 (resized).jpg

    Test fit of the score reels.

    IMG_5214 (resized).jpgIMG_5214 (resized).jpg

    With the cut guide removed after drilling for the lamps, the final backbox panel is ready to be wired.

    IMG_5241 (resized).jpgIMG_5241 (resized).jpg

    Flipping the board over, the RPi3 is located above the match lamps, while all the control boards are placed between the score reels. After wiring the lamps, the rectifier board will go opposite the credit stepper.

    IMG_5310 (resized).jpgIMG_5310 (resized).jpg

    The backbox board is test-fitted in the head and fits perfectly. The backglass sits in front of the board and the board itself tilts back to allow access to change lamps.

    IMG_5311 (resized).jpgIMG_5311 (resized).jpg

    From the back, with the rectifier board installed. Here you can see the metal "hinge" brackets, the hold arm at the top and the stop bracket on the right. All the metal bits have been cleaned and polished.

    IMG_5312 (resized).jpgIMG_5312 (resized).jpg

    With the base paint complete and the head rewired properly, it's time to paint the stencils. Originally, they used thick steel templates to paint the graphics, which helped mass production but had very low detail and tended to have a lot of underspray. Although this is a tribute game, I wanted to do better than factory, so I picked up a stencil cutter.

    The USCutter SC-Series is a low-cost unit that provides quite a lot of features for the money and is also Mac-compatible so you don't need weird Windows drivers to use it.

    Here I was calibrating the speed and cut pressure using the built-in test cut. Ready to go.

    IMG_5315 (resized).jpgIMG_5315 (resized).jpg

    The first stencil is cut and the masking weeded out where colour should go. The first colour will be red, and this is the side of the head. The material is Oracal 812 stencil mask which has decent adhesion without pulling paint and allows for very detailed stencils.

    IMG_5317 (resized).jpgIMG_5317 (resized).jpg

    Stencil applied. The masking tape fixes a couple of tears from my inexperience in repositioning while applying the stencil. Ready for paint.

    IMG_5318 (resized).jpgIMG_5318 (resized).jpg

    First pass with red, which is fairly transparent. Several light coats get the job done.

    IMG_5319 (resized).jpgIMG_5319 (resized).jpg

    Red complete.

    IMG_5320 (resized).jpgIMG_5320 (resized).jpg

    Repeat with black.

    IMG_5321 (resized).jpgIMG_5321 (resized).jpg

    The finished stencil. Original games used two colours, and although it's tempting to add more, I wanted the game to look the part on casual inspection. That said, the amount of detail and the crispness of the lines will tell any experienced pinballer that this isn't original.

    IMG_5341 (resized).jpgIMG_5341 (resized).jpg

    Additional stencils added to the front.

    IMG_5345 (resized).jpgIMG_5345 (resized).jpg

    When cutting the head stencils, I noticed that they came out a tiny bit bigger than I expected, I printed out the side stencils on tracing paper using the pen option on the cutter so I could check the size and placement prior to committing a lot of expensive stencil material.

    IMG_5346 (resized).jpgIMG_5346 (resized).jpg

    Turns out that was the right decision, as the registration marks were a couple of inches off the side! I found a calibration setting in the cutting software and adjusted it to the correct sizing.

    IMG_5416 (resized).jpgIMG_5416 (resized).jpg

    As before, red first.

    IMG_5417 (resized).jpgIMG_5417 (resized).jpg

    The right side cabinet red complete.

    IMG_5418 (resized).jpgIMG_5418 (resized).jpg

    Left side cabinet red.

    IMG_5420 (resized).jpgIMG_5420 (resized).jpg

    Left complete. Those with sharp eyes may notice that left and right are different stencils - each car is in the foreground on their respective sides. Another thing the factory never did but I think is a nice touch.

    IMG_5422 (resized).jpgIMG_5422 (resized).jpg

    With the black complete, you can see our drag racers - a '55 Chevy and a Corvette.

    IMG_5423 (resized).jpgIMG_5423 (resized).jpg

    Looking good!

    IMG_5426 (resized).jpgIMG_5426 (resized).jpg

    Ahh yes, the dreaded checking. No issues with the white, but the red seemed particularly sensitive to this problem. What this meant was a complete sanding back down to bare wood, repainting the white, redoing the speckling, then redoing the red. A couple of days were lost to this.

    na5KaUB - Imgur (resized).jpgna5KaUB - Imgur (resized).jpg

    After the stenciling was complete, the cabinet was clearcoated with a satin finish to better match the original finish but also minimize the stencil edges and give a nice, smooth surface.

    IMG_5427 (resized).jpgIMG_5427 (resized).jpg

    What's this mystery package?

    EK5jTD4 - Imgur (resized).jpgEK5jTD4 - Imgur (resized).jpg

    It's the new backglass illustrated in the style of Gordon Morison, the original artist who did a large number of the original games for Gottlieb in the 70's and 80's. The illustration is by Jason Goad, who did an excellent job re-creating the 70's look to make the game seem of the era.

    IMG_5429 (resized).jpgIMG_5429 (resized).jpg

    Older games used a blackout layer so they could provide status info to the player, which you can see in reverse here. Number of players, ball in play, tilt and match.

    IMG_5430 (resized).jpgIMG_5430 (resized).jpg

    The backglass is installed in the head to test the fit and that the backboard doesn't press too tightly against it when closed.

    IMG_5431 (resized).jpgIMG_5431 (resized).jpg

    Using a handheld service light behind the glass, you can see some of the backlit info lights.

    5YgoVRH - Imgur (resized).jpg5YgoVRH - Imgur (resized).jpg

    Tackling the cabinet wiring. When originally getting the game working, I skipped this step and just wired the flipper switches directly, because for that phase I didn't need coin switches or tilt, but now with the cabinet complete it was time to wire it all up. The front of the cabinet is more complicated than you might imagine as there are a number of powered or sensing devices at the front of the game - tilt bob, roll tilt, two coin switches, the start button, two flipper buttons, three chimes and a knocker.

    IMG_5522 (resized).jpgIMG_5522 (resized).jpg

    The cabinet is partially re-assembled with a freshly restored coin door, new legs and polished lockdown bar, ready for the playfield.

    IMG_5515 (resized).jpgIMG_5515 (resized).jpg

    Gluing the backbox board with the light blocking layer. About 1/2" in depth, this prevents the light from one lamp leaking over to light another lamp's section, just like how the original backbox board worked except that I'm using MDF here instead of particle board. So as the info lights are mostly around the edges, the surrounds go around the bottom and top left, with a small one for the tilt lamp.

    IMG_5517 (resized).jpgIMG_5517 (resized).jpg

    Painted white to maximize light dispersal.

    IMG_5525 (resized).jpgIMG_5525 (resized).jpg

    While that dries, the cabinet re-assembly continues with the newly rebuilt and polished chime box. All existing wiring was removed, so everything is re-wired with more modern vinyl-wrapped wire instead of the fabric-wrapped wire it came with originally. Also, molex connectors are added to each distinct device for ease of maintenance.

    IMG_5526 (resized).jpgIMG_5526 (resized).jpg

    All the polished bits and bobs. This photo really illustrates the quality of the original Gottlieb parts from 1977 - thick metal bracket for the knocker, solid metal backing on the flipper switch, thick metal lockbar receiver, multi-ply cabinet-grade plywood for the cabinet including full-length wood gussets for the corners. All this for a game meant to be used and thrown away in only a few years!

    BZ39l37 - Imgur (resized).pngBZ39l37 - Imgur (resized).png

    With the cabinet work complete, it was time to start work on the playfield redesign. To maintain the vintage look, I added various hot rod elements while still retaining some of the original layout. Extra Ball lamps become Jackpot lamps, the saucers become ball locks, and text about the skill shot is added at top. Instead of horses we get horsepower!

    IMG_5532 (resized).jpgIMG_5532 (resized).jpg

    Originally playfields were screenprinted by hand, which would be the ideal method as it has the highest detail and accuracy, but I lack the facilities to properly screenprint a piece of this size, so instead I used stencils and an airbrush.

    This is for the base white layer, which takes up most of the playfield.

    IMG_5533 (resized).jpgIMG_5533 (resized).jpg

    First pass with the airbrush. You'll note the patchy appearance - it ended up taking about four coats to get a consistent white layer down. This is my first time using the airbrush so it's a learning process of how to get good results.

    IMG_5541 (resized).jpgIMG_5541 (resized).jpg

    White layer complete.

    IMG_5547 (resized).jpgIMG_5547 (resized).jpg

    Like with screenprinting, colours go down from light to dark. This is the yellow layer.

    Why is the stencil all cut up you ask? Well, it turns out those measurements I took earlier, combined with the inaccurate scaling of the cutter, resulted in the artwork being slightly off in a number of places - enough so I had to make on-the-fly adjustments to re-position parts. In the end it worked out okay but only because the art was relatively simple and abstract - if it had been detailed at all, I'd have been screwed.

    Measure twice, cut once.

    IMG_5549 (resized).jpgIMG_5549 (resized).jpg

    I didn't record the orange layer but here's yellow and orange complete. The shapes are starting to be more recognizable.

    IMG_5552 (resized).jpgIMG_5552 (resized).jpg

    Red. Flames! And some words!

    IMG_5553 (resized).jpgIMG_5553 (resized).jpg

    There were a few screw ups as I went along that needed fixing. Here I redid some of the white after the red was positioned incorrectly. You'll also note the underbleed in the orange, which was due to not properly applying the stencil and being too aggressive with the airbrush. Fortunately the black keyline will cover that up. I learned a ton about airbrushing with each colour I put down.

    IMG_5554 (resized).jpgIMG_5554 (resized).jpg


    IMG_5555 (resized).jpgIMG_5555 (resized).jpg

    More examples of the repositioning needed to get stuff to line up properly. It was only a few millimetres off but it was enough.

    IMG_5557 (resized).jpgIMG_5557 (resized).jpg


    IMG_5558 (resized).jpgIMG_5558 (resized).jpg

    Hot pink! The one advantage airbrushing has over doing a digital print is that you can do some wild colours.

    IMG_5559 (resized).jpgIMG_5559 (resized).jpg

    A closeup of the airbrush area. Multiple light coats to avoid buildup.

    #2 5 years ago

    IMG_5561 (resized).jpgIMG_5561 (resized).jpg

    The pink was the last colour before we start adding the keyline black.

    IMG_5562 (resized).jpgIMG_5562 (resized).jpg

    By this time, I've figured out a good technique to get crisp lines without overspray. However, one mistake I made was not putting down a layer of clear to fill in insert gaps and level out the playfield, which is starting to bite me back now that I'm doing keylines - you can see some sinking on the H insert for example.

    IMG_5563 (resized).jpgIMG_5563 (resized).jpg

    Due to the mismatch of the stencils to the playfield, I decided to do the black in pieces, one area at a time. Here I did a single rollover. This allowed me to be very precise in my placement to maintain the best trapping. "Trapping" is where you use a third colour, generally black, to connect two adjacent colours and hide any inaccuracies in your registration. You can see an example in the top left corner where the white and orange don't perfectly line up - the black lines will "trap" that.

    IMG_5564 (resized).jpgIMG_5564 (resized).jpg

    Outlane outline.

    IMG_5565 (resized).jpgIMG_5565 (resized).jpg

    The trapping on the saucer hole wasn't great so I cut out slightly larger stencils to fill the gap. The whole process evolved as I went as I made various design choices to overcome issues.

    IMG_5566 (resized).jpgIMG_5566 (resized).jpg

    Burning rubber done. Some really fine detail here is coming out nicely. The small bit of white at the bottom of the tire will be trapped by the lines I add next.

    IMG_5569 (resized).jpgIMG_5569 (resized).jpg

    Doing small text with stencils is extremely difficult, so for this I used laserprinted waterslide decals. It works very well and can be positioned while still wet, then locked down with a cloth as you squeeze out the extra water. It's best to put them on a completely flat surface but they worked well even on the rougher texture of the painted playfield.

    IMG_5570 (resized).jpgIMG_5570 (resized).jpg

    Extra Ball, Ball Lock, Jackpot and "Complete For Double Scoring" are all decals.

    IMG_5573 (resized).jpgIMG_5573 (resized).jpg

    Green proved to be extremely transparent and I could not get good coverage, so I couldn't fill this gap properly. I'd need to find a solution for this.

    IMG_5574 (resized).jpgIMG_5574 (resized).jpg

    A little custom stenciling to the rescue.

    IMG_5575 (resized).jpgIMG_5575 (resized).jpg

    Problem solved!

    IMG_5668 (resized).jpgIMG_5668 (resized).jpg

    Playfield art finished! A lot of time was spent on the black lines to make them line up properly. I made a lot of mistakes - the blue is darker than I expected for example - but mostly corrected them, and at a certain point you need to let go of perfection and get it right the next time. I'm sure I'm the only person who will see the various flaws anyway...

    IMG_5705 (resized).jpgIMG_5705 (resized).jpg

    To protect that artwork, you need to add a clearcoat. Normally you could use two-part automotive clear and spray it, but you need a lot of specialized equipment and a spray booth, plus that stuff is really toxic.

    As an alternative, KBS Diamond Finish is a roll-on, water-based option that dries quickly and layers well. When you mix it with the thinner, it goes on very smooth and self-levels very well. It's not cheap but it beats spraying.

    IMG_5706 (resized).jpgIMG_5706 (resized).jpg

    All you need is a foam roller and a tray. You mix it at 20-30% thinner and it's very watery. You don't need to press hard, just glide the roller over the surface.

    IMG_5707 (resized).jpgIMG_5707 (resized).jpg

    After the first light coat. The wood soaks it all up. You don't worry about it being level at this point, you're just trying to get it to lock in the art.

    IMG_5716 (resized).jpgIMG_5716 (resized).jpg

    However, I got impatient and tried to put on another layer, much too thick, much too quickly and this melted some of the decals. The extra thinner makes it a "hotter" solvent mix and the decals are delicate. You can see some of the "melting" in the "When Lit" text.

    IMG_5717 (resized).jpgIMG_5717 (resized).jpg

    It completely melted the bottom decal! I didn't have any extra decals so I had to wait to fix this when I was near a laser printer again. A frustrating end to the day.

    IMG_5719 (resized).jpgIMG_5719 (resized).jpg

    After finally getting new decals and fixing all the mistakes, I was trying to shortcut levelling out some of the inserts and went a little too aggressive with the power sander and this happened - right down to the white layer! I was so mad at myself. Most of the issues I'd had with this process was due to rushing.

    Don't rush! It takes less time in the end.

    IMG_5721 (resized).jpgIMG_5721 (resized).jpg

    This one, at least, wasn't too hard to fix - remove the old decal, repaint the whole blue area, re-decal. Phew, saved.

    IMG_5725 (resized).jpgIMG_5725 (resized).jpg

    This is after about 8 layers of roll-on clear, no sanding. I wanted to build up a really good layer for sanding. Air bubbles are not an issue if you don't press on the foam roller as you use it.

    IMG_5726 (resized).jpgIMG_5726 (resized).jpg

    10th and final layer of clear really makes the colours pop. Time to start sanding.

    IMG_5852 (resized).jpgIMG_5852 (resized).jpg

    Hand sanding wet starting with 600 grit, moving up through 800, 1000, 1200, 1500. Above is after 1000 grit. It's nice and flat at this point.

    IMG_5856 (resized).jpgIMG_5856 (resized).jpg

    Then after sanding comes polishing, using a dual-action polisher and progressively finer compounds. Just like polishing a car. After three separate power polish stages you get a nice shine.

    IMG_5858 (resized).jpgIMG_5858 (resized).jpg

    Not too shiny though - EMs weren't really clearcoated from the factory and I want this game to look similar to the original. Better, but not too much.

    IMG_5735 (resized).jpgIMG_5735 (resized).jpg

    While waiting for the playfield to fully cure for a week, restoration of the rest of the parts continues. Repainting the back loop cover and the apron in spray can fridge white.

    IMG_5736 (resized).jpgIMG_5736 (resized).jpg

    For the side rails, you want a nice warm wood tone, so spray varathane works great. It tends to yellow a bit, which is fine for wood. I used a satin finish to better match the factory look, which is unfinished.

    IMG_5737 (resized).jpgIMG_5737 (resized).jpg

    Doing some touchups on the apron. In the end, I wasn't happy with the touchups so I ended up stripping and re-painting the entire apron, replicating the screenprinted text with stenciled text.

    IMG_5880 (resized).jpgIMG_5880 (resized).jpg

    Reassembly begins - side rails, top arch, ball gate and return bumper.

    IMG_5882 (resized).jpgIMG_5882 (resized).jpg

    Nice new reproduction saucer plastics and a polished inner ring really make it pop.

    IMG_5883 (resized).jpgIMG_5883 (resized).jpg

    Brand new pop bumper bodies and rings installed. Starting to look like a pinball machine again.

    IywKU3q - Imgur (resized).pngIywKU3q - Imgur (resized).png

    To replace the light shields from the original game, they were scanned in and traced in Inkscape to get the original shapes, and new artwork was created. The above was sent to a pinball specialist who printed and laser-cut the new plastics. The small Hot Rod logos are for souvenir keychains that I can hand out to people who play the game.

    IMG_5842 (resized).jpgIMG_5842 (resized).jpg

    The original slingshot plastics side-by-side the new ones. They even have fake part numbers.

    IMG_5843 (resized).jpgIMG_5843 (resized).jpg

    Howdy pardner. Sorry to see you go but the new ride is way nicer.

    IMG_5888 (resized).jpgIMG_5888 (resized).jpg

    New plastic shields installed and other small bits and pieces like lane guides, anti-cheat bars below the flippers and plastic posts.

    IMG_5890 (resized).jpgIMG_5890 (resized).jpg

    Repainted apron installed and pop bumper caps round out the playfield. Rollovers installed as well. There's a subtle change on the apron for those in the know.

    IMG_5900 (resized).jpgIMG_5900 (resized).jpg

    When I mentioned earlier I would regret not removing the under playfield mechs, this is why - they got covered in sanding slurry that builds up and dries hard. So now I had to remove all the mechs to clean them anyway.

    IMG_5910 (resized).jpgIMG_5910 (resized).jpg

    After cleaning and rebuilding, with the first version of the drop targets. I didn't really like them but they'd do for testing until I made replacements.

    IMG_5969 (resized).jpgIMG_5969 (resized).jpg

    First time with the playfield back in the cabinet since the rebuild started. At this point the game is fully playable as-is but the fine detail work is yet to be complete, both hardware and software-wise. Like any project, the last 20% takes 80% of the work.

    IMG_6114 (resized).jpgIMG_6114 (resized).jpg

    New reproduction targets with much more appropriate graphics. I got a gold foil stencil material and cut these out on the cutter. It looks way more stock in shiny gold.

    IMG_6118 (resized).jpgIMG_6118 (resized).jpg

    I also changed out the caps to be three colour - red, orange and black. The two colour ones I had earlier just didn't work as well. Every Gottlieb EM had the company logo on the playfield somewhere and Hot Rod is no exception.

    5DVmt2R - Imgur (resized).jpg5DVmt2R - Imgur (resized).jpg

    Pack it up nice and drive 10 hours from Toronto to Milwaukee for the Midwest Gaming Classic for its public debut.

    bDJPDLq - Imgur (resized).jpgbDJPDLq - Imgur (resized).jpg

    To wrap it all up, a final shot of me testing the game at the show, ready for people to play. Thanks for reading!

    #3 5 years ago

    Awesome job, beautiful. And a Chevy man to boot.

    #4 5 years ago

    Very skillful work! How much time have you into the project?

    #5 5 years ago

    Wow....that looks amazing!! Good job!

    #6 5 years ago

    Amazing work. Thanks for sharing

    #7 5 years ago

    Wow! That looks awesome.

    #8 5 years ago

    Brilliant! But why did you retain the Gottlieb logos? It's a totally remade machine and you should have designed your own logo, crediting yourself with this amazing work.

    #9 5 years ago

    This forum and hobby provides so much! It's creativity and passion like this that make the people here so incredible. Well done sir.

    #10 5 years ago

    Hot damn, hot dog, and holy shit! Inspiring work.

    #11 5 years ago

    Very impressive work!

    #12 5 years ago

    very jealous. This came out fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

    #13 5 years ago

    Played this a couple hours ago and it’s just as fantastic in person as it looks online. Amazing job. The game is surprisingly fast too.

    #14 5 years ago

    This is AWESOME!!!!

    #15 5 years ago
    Quoted from jrpinball:

    Brilliant! But why did you retain the Gottlieb logos? It's a totally remade machine and you should have designed your own logo, crediting yourself with this amazing work.

    I wanted to create a tribute to the golden age of EM games and also wanted it to fool people at a casual glance.

    Amusingly, I succeeded beyond expectations as a lot of people are passing it by, thinking it’s just a nicely restored classic. Apparently the attract mode lights aren’t the giveaway I thought they were!

    #16 5 years ago

    Outstanding work! Can you post a video of the game in action?

    #17 5 years ago
    Quoted from DennisDodel:

    Outstanding work! Can you post a video of the game in action?

    My 3-year-old son giving it a go.

    #18 5 years ago

    You did an excellent job.
    I enjoyed putting a couple games on it. Thanks for bringing it to MGC.

    #19 5 years ago

    Bravo Jeremy - looks amazing. Hope I can play it one day!
    If you haven't already done so, make a Gottlieb Hot Rod flyer in the style of the Mustang one!

    #20 5 years ago
    Quoted from jwilson:

    » YouTube video
    My 3-year-old son giving it a go.

    Hey, junior did a nice live catch on ball three. I think he has some talent there. He really plays incredibly for his age. Look out Keith Elwin!

    #21 5 years ago

    So much awesome packed into this thread. A single post undermines the time investment required to achieve the result. Bravo!

    #22 5 years ago

    Incredible. I didn't read, just looked at the pictures and I think that the design and execution are perfect.
    I'd venture to say that's the most beautiful retheme I've ever seen, unless there's others out there I forget.

    #23 5 years ago

    Totally awesome, i have a Bronco also, are you ready to make a second?
    Love it!!!!!!!!

    #24 5 years ago

    Awesome, you totally nailed the character and vibe of games from that era! If I saw this game at a show and hadn’t read this thread there’s no way I would believe it was a custom build, the quality of work is just too good.

    #25 5 years ago

    cool theme and love the art work, awesome job

    #26 5 years ago

    I absolutely love your theme and art! Very nice job!!

    #28 5 years ago

    So impressed with your work and really this is so pretty. Thanksnfor takkng thw time to document the buildd process!!! Lives up to the sneak peeks now it just needs a flyer art!!

    GAMEPLAY VIDEO!!?!?? Pics of her all lit in a dark room??

    #29 5 years ago
    Quoted from ShinyNick:

    Bravo Jeremy - looks amazing. Hope I can play it one day!

    Well, I can always drag it out to your place for a league night.

    Quoted from ShinyNick:

    If you haven't already done so, make a Gottlieb Hot Rod flyer in the style of the Mustang one!

    Interesting idea...

    #30 5 years ago

    Awesome Jeremy! Thanks for the very nice write up.


    #31 5 years ago

    I'm overly impressed with this retheme!! Excellent work
    My two favs are the incorporation of hot pink (I actually wanted more on the PF) and the back glass which gorgeous!! Really really cool stuff here.

    #32 5 years ago

    Saw this yesterday at MGC. Very nice. I own a real nice example of Mustang. The Hot Rod retheme is really cool. It caught my eye at the show as soon as I walked past it. I had to do a double take and go back and check it out. Nice work.

    #33 5 years ago

    An absolutely extraordinary piece of work utilising a diversity of skills which are just mind blowing. The concept, design, artwork & practical implementation is breathtaking. Take a bow you are a genius.

    #34 5 years ago

    Excellent work! Did you note number of plays before MGC?

    #35 5 years ago

    Nicely done!

    #36 5 years ago

    Impressive is an understatement!!! Well Done!!!!

    #37 5 years ago

    Amazing work! Put me in line to buy a copy of the translite should you decide to make more....that would look awesome lit up on my gameroom wall!

    #38 5 years ago

    Excellent work!

    #39 5 years ago

    Wow!! Amazing work!! I want one.

    #40 5 years ago

    Care to summarize what you learned from airbrushing? Lots of light layers?

    I am planning a repaint, what would you seal the bare play field with if you could do it again?

    I have a Silhouette Cameo, it cuts perfectly in terms of size but I have to scale images by 25% from Inkscape due to DPI difference. Wonder if there is something like that going on with your cutter. I also found there is a difference in how sizes are expressed in the Silhouette software versus Inkscape — whether dimensions include the thickness of an object’s stroke. I cut squares with different strokes to figure it out.

    #41 5 years ago

    Nice looking machine, thanks for the write up.

    I want to do my own EM or early SS re-themed using modern tech one day.

    #42 5 years ago

    Whoa. I'm beyond Impressed!!!!

    #43 5 years ago

    That is boss.

    #44 5 years ago

    Great job! This is sick!

    #45 5 years ago

    Very impressive! love the art.

    Really does a great job of keeping the Gottlieb feel.

    #46 5 years ago

    Thanks to everyone at the Midwest Gaming Classic who voted my game the Best Indie!

    1B084A1B-4321-4C72-8C4B-0052245A7A03 (resized).jpeg1B084A1B-4321-4C72-8C4B-0052245A7A03 (resized).jpeg

    #47 5 years ago

    My wife and I got to play this over the weekend at MGC and we had a blast. It was amazing to see this machine in person. To be honest we didn't know it was a custom game until on the drive home I was getting caught up with pinside and I saw this post. I just finished reading through it and it's such a great read.

    Congrats on the amazing game and thanks for sharing it with us. We both loved it. Hopefully we get a chance to play it again someday.

    2018-04-14 14.16.57 (resized).jpg2018-04-14 14.16.57 (resized).jpg
    2018-04-14 14.17.16 (resized).jpg2018-04-14 14.17.16 (resized).jpg

    #48 5 years ago

    it is a beautiful game and fun to play. an old e.m. with modern rules. Thanks for bringing it to MGC. Allentown?

    #49 5 years ago

    Incredible work! Love all of your process photos and descriptions. The artwork and design of the plastics, backglass, and playfield are absolutely awe-inspiring. Using a modern pinball framework to drive everything AND convert to a 3-ball multi-ball experience is the stuff of dreams, and you nailed it. Would love to play this at a show, so hopefully you're considering attending the Expo reboot this fall!

    Question for the curious: where did you have the backglass and plastics printed?

    #50 5 years ago
    Quoted from supercombo:

    where did you have the backglass and plastics printed?

    Backglass is digitally printed on real glass and I had that done locally. Spooky did the plastics for me.

    There are 85 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.


    Wanna join the discussion? Please sign in to reply to this topic.

    Hey there! Welcome to Pinside!

    Donate to Pinside

    Great to see you're enjoying Pinside! Did you know Pinside is able to run without any 3rd-party banners or ads, thanks to the support from our visitors? Please consider a donation to Pinside and get anext to your username to show for it! Or better yet, subscribe to Pinside+!

    This page was printed from https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/gottlieb-hot-rod-a-tribute-to-classic-em-pinball and we tried optimising it for printing. Some page elements may have been deliberately hidden.

    Scan the QR code on the left to jump to the URL this document was printed from.