I've had my Cyclone for over 10 years. At some point it, the front of the cabinet got wet while in the previous owner's possession and causes the wood to swell and crack in the front. Luckily, the rest of the cabinet is in fantastic condition, but I've been living with this front damage for a while and it really was an eyesore. I recently moved to a new house that has a garage and have always dreamed about having a place to do restoration work like this. This was a great starter project to learn how to use bondo and do stencils.
I ordered the stencils from Pinball Pimp (Jeff was kind enough to sell me a partial set at a discount since I only needed the front). I used Rustoleum spray paint - semi-gloss black, gloss real orange and gloss sun yellow. I did not go overboard with prepping the cabinet - other than removing the backbox and playfield, as well as all hardware going through the front of the cabinet, I left everything on. Then I just wrapped everything in a clear paint wrap and painter's tape, including any holes leading into the cabinet to avoid spray getting in. I also gave the coin door and carriage bolts a few coats of semi-gloss black, which in my opinion always ends up looking great and is a nice alternative to powder coating.
Overall it went pretty well with a few learning mistakes:
1) My first bondo application was pretty bad - it was rough and chalky. I did not do a good job mixing it and did not apply it fast enough. I sanded about 50% of the first coat off and did a second coat with a much better result.
2) I cut out and wedged a piece of cardboard in the coin door cutout, but did not get it perfectly flush with the front of the cabinet. This caused some wrinkling in the first stencil due to excessive space in between the stencil and the cardboard. Luckily due the nature/placement of the art, the uneven stencil placement did not affect the art whatsoever, so I got away with it. I remedied this by cutting out out the center of the stencil for the 2nd layer and that really made it easier to apply the stencil properly.
3) The final layer of spray paint (yellow) cracked a little bit upon application. I was trying as hard as I could to spray as light of a coat as possible, but I still got cracking... maybe it was the humidity in my garage? I had the dehumidifier on full blast, but it was a very humid couple of days here on Long Island. Maybe there is a better brand besides Rustoleum spray paint to use. Not 100% sure. Kinda sucks, but not too bad.
Things that I learned that went right:
1) The pinball pimp stencils are great and the registration marks make it very easy to ensure that the next layer goes on in the perfect spot. You do have to be pro-active in making sure the first layer hits in the exact spot it should (especially on games like cyclone where there is a small circle around the credit button, but after that, the 2nd layer is very easy to line up). The videos on their site are very helpful for seeing how to apply them.
2) I found that waiting about 3 to 5 hours to remove the stencil after painting seemed to be an ideal amount of time for the paint to dry, but still remain loose enough to remove without damaging the edges of the paint. This has to be done very slowly and carefully while paying attention to the edges of the art to ensure they don't get damaged by the paint that is clinging to the stencil.
I'm pretty happy with the results considering it was my first time doing either bondo or stencils. I'll be better prepared for the next one having learned a few things. I think the one piece of advice I'd give anyone doing this is to just be patient. The process took me several days in between prepping, applying and letting paint dry (oh and going to work and all that life stuff that gets in the way), but in the end, it was worth it!
Anyway, I hope this is helpful for anyone thinking about doing bondo or stencil work in the future!