(Topic ID: 132836)

Making New Ball Guides From Scratch - Vid's Guide


By vid1900

4 years ago



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There are 59 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
#1 4 years ago

When you are restoring a pin, you often find ball guides that can't be polished back to a satisfactory level.

Either they have holes worn through, or if they are Classic Bally, the plating can be worn off down to the base metal.

Here we are going to go through the entire process of replicating a Bally horseshoe guide.

#2 4 years ago

I've got 11 Bally Silverball Mania games to restore.

Nearly all of them have the horseshoe guide with the plating all the way worn through to the base metal.

Because SBM has the horseshoe front and center, it has to look perfect for a high dollar restoration.

Some restorers send them out for new chrome plating, but the metal is kind of thin on them, so I'd rather have new, better ones.

The Bally guides are steel, flashed with copper and then plated with chrome.

Once you wear through the chrome and hit the copper layer, you can never buff it back to new again.

Us restorers affectionately call this the Bally Line of Death.

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#3 4 years ago

I'm going to replace the thin, plated steel with #8 mirror grade Stainless Steel.

Because the new guides will be Stainless all the way through, they can be re-polished at a later date, no matter how worn they become.

Because the new guides will be #8 Mirror Finish, I won't have to spend expensive hours polishing the metal.

-

The brackets for this guide are hidden on the playfield, so we can just reuse the old ones. If they were visible, I would cut new ones from Stainless Steel Unequal Angle.

UNEQUAL_ANGLE.jpg

To remove the brackets, we simply drill out the back of the rivets with a BRAND NEW 3/16" drill bit.

If the rivet is loose and spins, hit it with a hammer to reset it, and finish drilling.

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#4 4 years ago

The center pop on SBM can scrape against the horseshoe.

Always grind a flat spot into the center pop's Ring/Rod. Grind off a little more than you need, because the mech will get sloppier as time goes by.

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#5 4 years ago

Here you can see the guide with the brackets and rivets removed.

The bends in that metal were from the ball hitting it for 30 years, not from me removing the brackets, lol.

The new guides will be made from 20ga #8 Mirror Stainless, and will be much more robust.

Remember the old rule from your materials classes: If you double the thickness of a material, you get 8x more stiffness.

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#6 4 years ago

A gentle bend is easy to make in a ball guide, just by drawing it over the edge of a workbench.

But the SMB horseshoe is a severe 180 degree bend.

For this job, we need a tool called a Slip Roll .

A slip roll draws metal through 3 rollers leaving a curve in a piece of metal's memory.

slip_roll.jpg

Now, one of the best kept "secrets of the slip roll" is that if you put a curved piece of metal into the slip backwards, it will make it completely flat again.

I cleaned all the old wax off the horseshoe, so the wax would not contaminate the rollers.

You also want to be careful not to scratch up the rollers, because they will keep "imprinting" those scratches into highly polished metal. When the rollers get all scratched up, you have to put them into a lathe, and cut them down to fresh metal.

Here the horseshoe goes in backwards:

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And it rolls back out completely flat:

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You can see the wear spot from the Ring/Rod.

Now I can use this as a template to make a bunch of of new horseshoes:

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Someone is going to ask "Why not just measure the old one and make new ones from those measurements?"

I answer that I don't want to measure all those holes.

Having a template means that by using a transfer punch, all the holes will be exactly where they should be, no measuring required. Measuring along a curve would further complicate matters in that I would have to use a flexible rule....yeash, I'd rather do it the easy way.

#7 4 years ago

The original Bally ball guide was made too tall and would scratch off all the printing from the plastic above it.

I ordered strips of #8 Mirror Stainless that were 1/8" thinner than the original Bally guides to avoid this scratching problem.

Both sides of the Stainless are polished, but the **good** side is covered with a thick, protective film.

The film is white, so you can see your marks easily upon it.

I used a Machinists Square and a razor knife to make my cut lines.

-

The 20ga metal is too thick to cut with tin snips, so we use a tool called a Shear.

A Shear is like a guillotine for sheet metal.

The blade comes down and cleanly cuts the sheet in a single stroke.

There is a guide at the side of the shear that is square to the blade. As long as your metal is tight to this guide, you know the cut will be a perfect 90 degrees.

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#8 4 years ago

The guillotine blade of the Shear needs to be properly gaped for the material being cut.

There are 2 knobs on the front of the Shear to set this gap.

A gap of 5% of the material thickness is usually perfect. Try shearing off 1cm of the material to test, before you mess up a big piece of Stainless.

It is customary to write the current gap on the front of the blade with a grease pencil for the next person who uses the machine.

You know you have the proper gap when the metal cuts with a clean, loud snap.

If the metal bends or binds, you need to work on getting you gap correct.

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#9 4 years ago

A Transfer Punch allows you to transfer the exact center of a hole from a template.

$10 a set at Harbor Freight.

Don't even think about it, you need a set.

transfer_punch_set.jpg

#10 4 years ago

Clamp the old, flattened guide on top of the new material so you can transfer all the holes.

My new Stainless is less tall than the original, so I needed to align with the bottom of the guide so the brackets would still fit without a gap.

Using a small hammer and a Transfer Punch, Gently punch your marks into the new Stainless.

The Punch's center will keep the drill bit from wondering off course.

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#11 4 years ago

Drill out all your holes on a drill press.

The drill bit needed here was a #43, so it is too small for handheld drilling with a drill gun, because the bit will likely flex and break.

Use a clamp on your press. Do not even think about drilling while just holding the Stainless down with your hand. Should the metal bind up, it will spin and cut you to the bone, or fly up in your face, or both.

Most Stainless is super soft metal, but if it gets hot, you will experience a phenomenon called Work Hardening. The heated area will become very hard and you won't be able to drill it with a regular drill bit.

How do we avoid Work Hardening? Use a drop of oil on the bit (even cooking oil is fine for our purposes here), AND use a SHARP drill bit.

Sharp bits make chips, dull bits make dust. <- Memorize this.

If your drill bit does not instantly bore through, don't just let the bit spin and heat up. Sharpen the bit, or just put a new one in.

Once your holes are all drilled, de-burr your holes.

When you drill in soft metals, a collar of sharp material forms around the hole, called a Burr.

You can grind the Burr off with a Die Grinder, a Dremel with a small conical stone, a slightly larger drill bit, or even a de-burring tool.

Do this while you still have the protective film in place, trust me.

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#12 4 years ago

Back at the Slip Roll, we now can form our curve.

The "Good" side of the material faces the player of course, so remember to put the correct side up when rolling the material.

The two front rollers are adjusted to "grip" the material (remember, this Stainless is a thicker gauge than the old Bally material).

The rear roller is adjusted for how much curve is imprinted into the material.

Most craftsmen "sneak up" on the curve they want to form.

Sneaking Up means that you start with the rear roller farther back than you need it to be. You do a roll, and see how much curve was imprinted. You bring the rear roller a little closer, do a roll, and check the progress.

At some point, you hit the 180 degrees you wanted and the Horseshoe emerges perfectly formed.

Now, as long as you don't adjust anything, all the other strips will come out perfectly in a single roll !

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This slip roll can do curves all the way to 360 degrees and as tight as 2 inches.

The upper roller pops off, so you can slide off any 360 degree rolls from the machine.

If you unevenly adjust the rear roller, you can even roll out interesting shapes, like cones.

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#13 4 years ago

Here is the first rolled out piece.

Leave the protective film on for now, so you don't scratch up the face during riveting.

Remember, this Stainless is very soft metal.

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#17 4 years ago

The unprotected backside of the Stainless came off the rollers still looking very nice.

If the rollers were old, oxidized or scratched up, you could touch up the backside with a normal buffing wheel and some Green Abrasive compound.

Normally when you buff ball guides, you run the risk of a tab or bracket getting hung on the buffing wheel and being thrown out of your hands. Buffing just a "pure" piece of stainless with nothing for the wheel to catch on is a pleasure.

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#18 4 years ago

Now it is time to attach the brackets.

Peel back the protective film exposing the section you are working on.

You can use regular Semi-tubular Rivets that require a Rivet Press, Pop or Blind Rivets that are installed with a gun, or even tiny Carriage Bolts (usually in the model railroad section of the hobby shop).

They all work the same.

Just make sure that whatever you use is low profile enough to not touch the ball as it whizzes by.

Pop Rivets are the fastest by far, so that is what I used here.

Always put the second, un pressed rivet into the spare hole to ensure that the bracket will align properly after the first rivet is pressed.

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#19 4 years ago

Here is the first guide installed.

I wanted to test fit the first one as a sanity check, before making the rest, lol.

The new guide does not touch the plastic above it! So the printing is now safe, and the game should look good for many years.

The brackets are about 1/16" taller than the guide wall, so I'll grind them all down a bit before installing the rest.

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#20 4 years ago

The new guides:

1. Stainless Steel all the way through. If the ball ever wears a line into them, they will be able to be completely buffed out again.

2. Thicker than the Bally originals. The extra stiffness will deliver the ball back to the player with more energy intact (faster).

3. Shinier than the Bally originals. The #8 mirror has absolutely no grain at all. Looks like a million bucks.

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#21 4 years ago

Really nice! If you happen to have a less bent ball guide, is it possible and if so how, to adjust the curve "steepness" in that tool?

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#22 4 years ago

Hmmm ... I can't find a Slip Roll in my toolbox.

#23 4 years ago

I wouldn't pop rivet it. That's not as factory. Use a proper rivet and sets.

#24 4 years ago

Great tutorial as always! There's a metalworks company next door here, so I have easy access to all the equipment (not that I need any new ball guides at the moment )

The new ball guide looks lower than the old one, and the brackets now protrude from it. Is there a specific reason for that?

#25 4 years ago
Quoted from TheRingMaster:

Really nice! If you happen to have a less bent ball guide, is it possible and if so how, to adjust the curve "steepness" in that tool?

The rear roller adjusts the "tightness" of the curve, so yes you can easily make a much larger radius or make a smaller one (all the way down to 5cm).

#26 4 years ago
Quoted from Evets:

Hmmm ... I can't find a Slip Roll in my toolbox.

You can get a baby slip roll that would actually fit in your toolbox

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#27 4 years ago

You had me up until the pop rivets.

#28 4 years ago
Quoted from koen12344:

The new ball guide looks lower than the old one, and the brackets now protrude from it. Is there a specific reason for that?

Yes.

The old taller ball guide would scrape off the printing from the underside of the plastic above it.

I cut the newer ones slightly shorter to avoid that problem.

The brackets in the photo were about 2mm taller than the guides. They are hidden from the player's view by the plastic.

#29 4 years ago

Why would you go through all that trouble and use pop rivets on it? Use the press rivets.

#30 4 years ago
Quoted from Bryan_Kelly:

You had me up until the pop rivets.

Quoted from epotech:

I wouldn't pop rivet it. That's not as factory. Use a proper rivet and sets.

It's just a guide on how to fabricate replacement ball guides.

You can use Pop Rivets, Semi-Tubular Rivets, bolts, spot welder......plenty of choices, use whatever you want.

-

The raw guide strips were cut on a Shear, but if you wanted to laser cut or waterjet them, you can cut tabs along the bottom and not use any fasteners at all. Just make sure you form the curve BEFORE you bend the tabs, because the tabs, once bent, are not going to roll through the Slip Roll.

They come out of the cutter flat, then you bend the tabs and poof, no rivets, welding or brackets:

water-jet-cut-guide.jpg

#31 4 years ago

Is it possible to know where you order the metal strip?

#32 4 years ago
Quoted from Redketchup:

Is it possible to know where you order the metal strip?

Sorry about that, it would not be much of a guide without showing where to get the materials.

#8 mirror finish Stainless:

http://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-stainless-steel-sheets/=y3es7z

(put 5303T121 into McMasters search bar, because the frames won't directly link).

#33 4 years ago

Are you going to be selling any of these guides?

#34 4 years ago
Quoted from cichlid:

Are you going to be selling any of these guides?

Of course I can help a few of you guys out.

I really don't want to turn this guide into a for sale thread.

Just PM me if you need one.

5 months later
#35 3 years ago

Wow, those are amazing! I have been struggling with my SoF guides. Some are dented, all have grained, etc If there weren't 11 guides to reproduce I would be all over this. Well, if there weren't 11 guides and I had one of those roller things and the skills. Amazing tutorial as always!

#36 3 years ago
Quoted from nerdygrrl:

Wow, those are amazing! I have been struggling with my SoF guides. Some are dented, all have grained, etc If there weren't 11 guides to reproduce I would be all over this. Well, if there weren't 11 guides and I had one of those roller things and the skills. Amazing tutorial as always!

Thanks for bumping the thread. It was a good read.

#37 3 years ago
Quoted from nerdygrrl:

and I had one of those roller things

They have on inside of every Harbor Freight, just go in and use it.

The employees sure don't care, and if the manager asks, just say the boss told you to go in and see how suitable the HF slip roll was.

Take a few pictures of it while talking to the manager to make it seem real.

#38 3 years ago
Quoted from dmbjunky:

Thanks for bumping the thread. It was a good read.

It was a GREAT read, though I don't think I can be satisfied with anything other than a mirror finish now

Quoted from vid1900:

They have on inside of every Harbor Freight, just go in and use it.
The employees sure don't care, and if the manager asks, just say the boss told you to go in and see how suitable the HF slip roll was.
Take a few pictures of it while talking to the manager to make it seem real.

Hahaha. Don't mind me, nothing to see here. I just wanted to make sure it ah fits or something....

1 year later
#39 2 years ago

The HF slip roller that comes up on their website retails for about $400; others on a google search climb quickly to over $1,000.

However, Grizzly has this 12" model - certainly adequate to the task of creating ball guides - for $110. Still maybe a bit rich if you're not using it on numerous high-end restorations, but I would consider buying one if I needed it more than twice.

http://www.grizzly.com/products/12-Slip-Roll/T10727?utm_campaign=zPage&utm_source=grizzly.com

1 week later
#40 2 years ago

For the price of a single ramp, that looks like a nice deal

5 months later
#41 2 years ago
Quoted from sethbenjamin:

The HF slip roller that comes up on their website retails for about $400; others on a google search climb quickly to over $1,000.
However, Grizzly has this 12" model - certainly adequate to the task of creating ball guides - for $110. Still maybe a bit rich if you're not using it on numerous high-end restorations, but I would consider buying one if I needed it more than twice.
http://www.grizzly.com/products/12-Slip-Roll/T10727?utm_campaign=zPage&utm_source=grizzly.com

What guage steel are guides usually? The DE ones I have here are 16AWG

1 week later
#42 2 years ago

Great work these would look killer too anodized or colorized somehow, Jessie James would be proud lol

#43 2 years ago
Quoted from gmkalos:

Great work these would look killer too anodized

I'd worry that the Anodizing would wear out the balls.

Anodizing is Aluminum Oxide crystals - the same thing as sandpaper.

Once you DO wear through the crystals, you have the soft aluminum, so you would have that "line of death" again.

I love the idea of colored metal though!

#44 2 years ago

Well I'm no metalologist but I know chrome has a final coat of clear, there is a new color tinting chrome process maybe it could workout somehow? They do look killer without that line of death really finishes off a full restoration and makes it look like it came right off the line!

http://www.sprayonchrome.com/

#45 2 years ago

You could powder coat a translucent candy coating over the stainless.

It would wear off after a decade or so.

#46 2 years ago

That would be awesome!

#47 2 years ago

Vid, thanks for linking the stainless strip from McMaster. Can you link or recommend what to use for the uneven angle stock and also for rivets. I'm heading to build my star gazer guides from scratch

#48 2 years ago
Quoted from travisbmartin:

Vid, thanks for linking the stainless strip from McMaster. Can you link or recommend what to use for the uneven angle stock and also for rivets. I'm heading to build my star gazer guides from scratch

I don't have one here in front of me to measure the thickness, but I'm sure Mcmaster has a length of suitable stock.

You can use slightly thicker stock than the OEM, but don't go thinner.

PBR probably has them in stock and the rivets too, if you just want to buy them.

8 months later
#50 1 year ago

I don't have a riveter but I do have a TIG torch. Does anybody know if TIG welding angle brackets to the back of the stainless steel strip will effect the mirrored finish?

Addendum: Tried it out. It does create a stain on the mirrored finish where the heat was applied. Guess I will be using rubbing compound.

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