(Topic ID: 238499)

Rescuing a Rescue 911


By mark532011

65 days ago



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  • 51 posts
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  • Latest reply 6 days ago by ForceFlow
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There are 51 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
#1 65 days ago

I picked up a Rescue 911 project a while back and it looked in ok shape at first glance.IMG_0060 (resized).JPG

It was obviously filthy inside though that was easily fixable.IMG_0072 (resized).JPG

Diving in deeper showed some definite areas that needed attention. It didn't start, the rotating light on top didn't work, the helicopter didn't work and the playfield has some areas that definitely need attention.IMG_0284 (resized).JPGIMG_0290 (resized).JPG

After about a month of electronics work, I got it up and running and started in on the playfield. I thought this would be a good machine to learn on so if you are looking for Vid or HEP-level restorations, sadly I am not at that level of expertise...yet.

#2 65 days ago

I started stripping off the pieces and parts and realized just how dirty the pf was...IMG_0528 (resized).JPG

I also noticed other areas of wear, where the paint was gone. And not in just a tiny speck or under where a post was, but in heavily worn areas. I identified 2 in the back and one on the middle left:IMG_0529 (resized).JPG

#3 65 days ago

Plus of course, the front-and-center middle area. IMG_0535 (resized).JPG

Fortunately, it appeared the previous owner had recognized the wear in the area that the balls dropped and put in a piece of mylar on each side, limiting the size of the area where the paint was worn off. That area must get a lot of impact because the wood was worn down in addition to the paint being worn off.

#4 65 days ago

good for you! although we all cannot be HEP ... he had to start somewhere as well!

#5 65 days ago

This seems doable, 3 small areas and one large one. If I screw it up, I am confident it will at least be as good as it is now. And thanks to Gottlieb having the forsight to put a massive piece of mylar over the center of the playfield, most of it was in great shape.

I decided to start with the worn area in the far back right. It may not even be visible during play and given the difficulty in the ball reaching that spot, its amazing that it is worn completely away!IMG_0260 (resized).JPG

The issue for me is two-fold.
1) I have no artistic/drawing ability, the idea of painting new graphics on the pf was not going to happen. That mean I was going to have to scan the pf.
2) color-matching is next to impossible. I've read Vids description of his attempts and how difficult it sounds. That meant I needed to try and use whole blocks of colored area rather than trying toi patch in the middle of a color.

While I have an old copy of photoshop from back in the days when they sold it for $100 instead of renting it for $100 per year, I did not have the fancy HP scanner that everyone uses. It was time for plan-B
IMG_3954 (resized).JPG

#6 65 days ago

Not having a scanner meant using a different approach. I printed out a sheet of paper with exactly 1 inch squares and used it as a guide. It was a little tricky as it was right on the edge of the playfieldIMG_3961 (resized).JPG

Importing the photo into photoshop I was able to use the reference grid and warp/distort the image until it was exact. Then it was relatively easy to extend the graphics and draw in the missing pieces:ps-wave (resized).jpg

Now I could print out a version that laid perfectly right over the playfield:IMG_3965 (resized).JPG

Once the graphic was in place, it was time for color matching. A tricky proposition due to the descrepencies between what the camera and photoshop sees and what the laser printer produces. I created some variable reference color blocks and slowly homed in on something I was comfortable with.IMG_3964 (resized).JPG

#7 65 days ago

Once I had a graphic I was comfortable with I turned to the playfield itself. After reading about using Miliput to fill in the divit ( https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/la-portas-firepower-rejuvenation/page/3#post-3875275 ) I gave it a try but the area is tiny and the depth is just the thickness of paint and I really struggled to get it the right depth.

In the end I made a mess of it. The milliput was lumpy and I couldn't sand it smooth very easily as the area was so small and I was scratching outside the spots I had a graphic for, so I left it. Then I was worried a decal might not handle the bumpy surface so I opted for actual sticky-back laser paper. Finally covering it with a mylar cutout.

The result is not as good as I pictured it in my mind, but I am confident from the players perspective they won't really see anything unusual.

IMG_3993 (resized).JPG
#8 65 days ago

That's a wax and go game

but seriously, it's a labor of love and its all good - have fun with it!

#9 64 days ago

Next up was an easy one. The square pushback targets had worn badly. Fortunately they were removable and could be laid on my scanner.before-911 (resized).jpg

A little photoshop work: after-911 (resized).jpg

and they look great on the game!
IMG_3997 (resized).jpg

#10 64 days ago

Wow nice work so far! 8 games is a good selection, didn't realize there were too many pinheads around here!

#11 64 days ago

Heya! there are a few pinheads in Bellingham. I hope to see you at a gathering!

#12 62 days ago

With the two "easy" ones out of the way it was time to tackle a much more difficult area. In the back left between two of the pop bumpers was a large area where the playfield was simply gone IMG_3950 (resized).jpg

My first decision was if I was going to remove the mylar around the pop bumpers. Since the graphics under the mylar was fine and the mylar itself was fine I opted to leave it as-is.

There were two other issues around this patch.
1) I was unable to find a good scan of the missing graphics. There are lots of good pics of the lower half of the board but in the back and hidden behind several parts and pieces all I could find were a couple of angle shots of the police car.
2) I was not going to use the milliput this time. This meant a small (but noticable) depression would be there, however I felt that it would be far superior to the way it was now.

And although its not an excuse, this is not going to be a museum quality playfield, I just want to fix the major issues, clean it up and get it back to a reasonable players quality game.

#13 62 days ago

I followed my same pattern. Using the grid paper I could take a picture with the camera and get it into photoshop and set it to the correct size without having a scanner.IMG_3948 (resized).jpg

Then I set to work attempting to replicate the missing graphics.police-car1 (resized).jpgpolice-car2 (resized).jpg

It may not be absolutely perfect and I am not sure about the placement of the rear-view mirror but it is pretty close.

#14 62 days ago

Then it was a matter of cutting it out, placing it and putting the mylar over the topIMG_4004 (resized).jpgIMG_4003 (resized).jpg

I think it came out quite good although there are a couple of issues. Color matching is quite a difficult thing. I don't really know how to describe it but the there is an issue of different light and different angles. To my eye, the gray of the road in the patch matches the original perfectly in some angles and in others its not even close. You can see it in these pics. In the first pic, the gray of the road ios quite close, in the second one it is very noticably darker..sigh.

Ideally I would have run the gray overlay all the way to the end but its a long way and probably would have looked worse. I hope its not too noticable. Either way its still much better than the way it was before I started.

#15 61 days ago

I am now down to more visible (i.e. towards the front of the playfield) patching.

Next up was the ball trough into the helicopter rescue area. It is partially concealed but is still plenty visible. Here is a reference shot of a good one: Rescue 911 Reference Playfield 2 (resized).jpg

I am thinking the metal flexs and chews up the playfield as mine had considerable wear right along the metal.IMG_0545 (resized).JPG

The area was complicated by two issues:
1) the original mylar was close by (the lower half of the word "ACTIVATE" is under the mylar) and it was part of the giant piece that covers most of the playfield so there is no way I was going to touch it. Which meant I could not do the entire set of blue in one patch, I was going to have to try and color match again.
2) the blue is not a solid color but actually a crosshatch and it slightly fades from dark to light when going back to front.

But still, the bare wood looks crappy and I wanted to fix it to something that was a little more attractive

#16 61 days ago

Following my process, I laid down a grid for the photoIMG_0544 (resized).JPG

Then imported into photoshop and warped/distorted it until it was exactly right. I spent some time tryingt to figure out where to stop the graphic, finally opting to keep it as small as possible and just cut straight across.IMG_3999 (resized).jpg

Getting the blue crosshatch pattern pretty close was really tricky and although its "close" I don't think its perfect, but not too bad.IMG_4005 (resized).jpg

Still, afterwards, I think that I would have been better off, rather than trying to make the patch as small as possible but rather to make it the whole area.

#17 61 days ago

Next up is the bottom. After getting the old mylar patches off, its in pretty bad shape with bare wood in several places.IMG_3994 (resized).JPG

After what I learned in the last patches, I am thinking of just doing the whole bottom below the mylar as an overlay rather than trying to place individual patches. Its too big for a single patch though...

#18 60 days ago

Work continues. The bottom is too big for a grid so I just did my best and used a few sheets of paper to try and get it exact.IMG_4006 (resized).jpg

My original thoughts were to use 2 sheets, a left and right but I hate the idea of a seam up the middle. I'm thinking of making the central area (shown in the pic) one sheet and then a couple of smaller sheets to get the side areas.

Still have quite a bit of photoshop work to do to clean up the graphic

#19 59 days ago

I struggled quite a bit with the blue grid in the center. Its not a solid grid but fades from a thick set of crosshatching at the middle of the playfield:
top-grid (resized).jpg

to a very tiny grid at the bottom: bottom-grid (resized).jpg

you can see it clearly in the overall pic:
BGTE7548 (resized).JPG

Unfortunately my photoshop skills do not have that ability....so I am attempting a gradient overlay that slowly changes color to be about the same. It may not be perfect but since it covers the whole playfield, unless you know what it originally looked like, it should look correct.

#20 59 days ago
Quoted from mark532011:

I struggled quite a bit with the blue grid in the center. Its not a solid grid but fades from a thick set of crosshatching at the middle of the playfield:
[quoted image]
to a very tiny grid at the bottom: [quoted image]
you can see it clearly in the overall pic:
[quoted image]
Unfortunately my photoshop skills do not have that ability....so I am attempting a gradient overlay that slowly changes color to be about the same. It may not be perfect but since it covers the whole playfield, unless you know what it originally looked like, it should look correct.

I have painted a solid color as a background (in this case, it would be the light blue) and then printed the gradient pattern on clear water slide, so then you only need to focus on get the gradient squares colored how you want them. Since you are using (decal paper?) you could get some clear decal paper and print the gradient on that and then apply over your solid painted area.

#21 59 days ago

thats a great idea, I will give it a try!

#22 59 days ago

The center section is in place - for better or worse.
Getting the graphics finally to something I was happy with, I printed it out and put it on the playfield. the color looks wonky in the photo but looks much better from the players perspective.

Sadly, I did not get it perfect. It turns out its a lot easier to slide a piece of paper onto the playfield than to put sticky-paper on it. I got the left side looking good but the right is about a 1/16 inch off and is up on top of the existing mylar a smidge. The big curve in the mylar meant I needed to make a "V" shape patch and the wings were quite difficult to get right.

I'm going to try a brand-new xacto blade and see if I can't trim the patch to match the existing mylar, I would like to get it smooth before putting the final protective sheet on it!
IMG_4008 (resized).jpg

#23 55 days ago

...and the playfield repair work is done. Its not as perfect as I would like it to be, but the next one will be better!

Things I've learned:
1) color matching is hard.. i used half an ink cartridge and never did get it right. The combination of the sheen difference between the printed image, the laser printer idiosyncrasies and my abilites resulted in a poorer color match.
2) edges - this was pretty much a worst-case scenario. A great big curved piece of existing mylar over a color-fade playfield right smack-dab in the middle. I couldn't really remove the mylar as its one gigantic piece overing half the playfield and it looked great under the mylar. So I tried and partially suceeded to get a good repair. for the future, trying to get the repair to match the edges of a color area is the only way to go, stopping in the middle of a colored area is a recipe for disaster.
3) paint thickness. I can't believe how the thickness of paint is such a big deal, but when looking across the lights reflection it is easy to see where the pain was missing. I don't really know how to resolve that...yet.

Still, I have to remember what it looked like before. When I show it to my wife she can't see the seams unless I specifically point them out so I don't want to beat myself up too much

Just as a reminder, this is the old one and the new one for comparison:IMG_3994 (resized).jpgIMG_4011 (resized).jpg

Next up - putting the cleaned parts back onto the pf.

#24 54 days ago

awesome, reading this while listening to rescue 911

#25 54 days ago

playfield repopulating begins. There are a couple of situations I am unsure about. Unfortunately the manual shows the playfield diagram only with the plastics on it, so things under the plastics are a mystery. And its tough to find documentation or reference photos.

For example, the backdrop of the middle helicopter drop. its just bare metal on mine, but it makes sense to have some kind of rubber bumper on it - did it originally have one? IMG_0532-cropped (resized).jpg

And between the left bumper and the helicopter assembly, I found a spare red cone. No screw and no obvious place to put it, was it a dropped piece that was never bothered to pick up or is there somewhere its supposed to go?IMG_0524-cropped (resized).jpg

but I press onward, putting the helicopter back into place. A quick before and after at this stage:IMG_0524 (resized).JPG

IMG_4012 (resized).jpg

#26 53 days ago

When I was cleaning out the inside of the cabinet I found several pieces of black curved plastic. They looked like they were some kind of insulation and I spent considerable time looking around the underside of the playfield without locating anything that looked like it was missing anything. It was only when dissembling the helicopter and puzzling out how the motor worked that I found out where the pieces came from and why the heilcopter moved without resistance around.

For whatever reason Gottlieb decided to put matching gears on the helicopter shaft and the motor and there is supposed to be a sleeve with teeth on the inside connecting them. In my case, I had none:IMG_0521-cropped (resized).jpg

A new one was purchased and I turned my attention to a cosmetic issue. The cable that runs to the helicopter. The black sheath had frayed in a very visible spot right behind the helicopter. IMG_4013 (resized).jpg

I did not have another sheath but its actually longer than it needs to be so I pulled it off and reversed it, giving the visible part a better look. We will see how well it looks when everything is put back together.IMG_4018 (resized).jpg

then it was a matter of replacing the friction wheel and reassembling everything and hopefully I have a working helicopter!
IMG_4021 (resized).jpg

#27 51 days ago

Work continues. I've been cleaning and getting the parts put back onto the playfield. Each piece is documented, where it comes from and how it is attached before it goes into the tumbler.IMG_4029 (resized).jpg

and slowly the table begins to take shape again!
IMG_4028 (resized).jpg

#28 51 days ago

A new problem has surfaced. Two of the parts are broken, actually the parts are not broken, just the mounting pieces attached to them are. How much abuse did this table take in its past??IMG_4024 (resized).jpg

I thought it would be no problem to talk to PBR and get replacements, and although they have some for the 911, they don't have these specific ones. Time for plan-B.

After some thought I realized that the part was ok, just the mounting hardware was broken. With a metal bender, a grinder and some rivets, I think I can get these parts back to functional again...

#29 45 days ago

not a lot of progress has been made. I am mostly waiting for parts and tools to do the rivet repair and for the posts I broke while attempting to get the lok-tite posts freed.

Still I am making some progress, getting things put back on is a great feeling!

IMG_4047 (resized).jpg
#30 45 days ago

Incredible work and progress! I love your 1" grid method. I have a HP scanner but you need the PF COMPLETELY stripped to get a decent scan.
Any chance the next time you'd do it you'd do a lil Photoshop tutorial? Just recording your computer screen would be great!

#31 45 days ago

+1 for the Photoshop tutorial... I've never really dug into that tool and I need to... Having someone with experience walk through it would be huge.

Also - what color laser printer are you using? I bought a black one, but I have a pinball pool that I have a full scan for that is begging for a color decal (and I have two light coats of clear on it ready to waterslide and clear a few more times)

I may get around to my rescue 911 one day - I have the pop bumper wear and inlanes where the ball drops is atrocious. The operator slapped mylar onto it - but not until after the paint was damaged and didn't wax beforehand. I have two big bare wood chunks left

20190228_230013 (resized).jpg
#32 44 days ago

Thanks guys. A photoshop tutorial is a great idea. I am not an expert but I can get what I need done and it’s a great tool for specific purposes.

I’ve been thinking of another small spot that could use a patch. It’s not absolutely needed but it’s been bugging me so I might give it a try.

On the 911. I’ve got the topper replaced. It was in bad shape and I didn’t know where to get specialty parts for it. Fortunately there is an exact replacement on amazon for $20 (wolo rotating beacon 3110-r) and it’s a complete replacement. I just cut it’s wires and twisted them to the old connector and it was done. It even comes with 2 of the special light bulbs

#33 41 days ago

Some progress has been made but unfortunately even though I did a lot of work nothing is in the "done" column and most of it was backtracking...sigh

As posted earlier, the section going into the helicopter ball lift must have had some heavy heavy usage as both the curved outer wall and the straight inner wall have broken supports.IMG_4024 (resized).jpg

Fortunately the metal itself is ok, its just the supports riveted on that are broken. With PBR unable to supply a replacement I set about to make my own.

The angle braces were relatively easy to create, I picked up a small piece of .025 sheet metal and I cut off a couple of pieces about the right size and ground them down until they seemed about right, then it was a simple matter of drilling new holes and I had a set of replacements. They were kind of scratched up so I threw them into the tumbler to see if they would clean up, while I looked at the other brace. IMG_4049 (resized).jpgIMG_4053 (resized).jpgIMG_4054 (resized).jpg

The other one was trickier as it had a threaded base and a flat spot where it was riveted. My first thought was to take a long bolt, cut off the top and then grind the end flat.IMG_4052 (resized).jpg

I actually did it then realized that the bolt was not thick enough to have the proper sized hole. At the hardware store, I purchased a couple of wingpbolts. They have a threaded end and a large flat area for your fingers. I ground down the flat area until it wasn't too wide and drilled a hole in it. Then it was a simple matter of riveting it onto the piece amd it was done!IMG_4055 (resized).jpgIMG_4056 (resized).jpg

Its not quite as shiny but I don't think anyone will notice. The bolt is slightly larger but that goes into the table and cannot be noticed either. So I placed it in the table and it worked beautifully.

I did notice my rivets are slightly larger than the original ones and that got me thinking that perhaps that even though it is below where the ball touches the wall, the ball might touch the rivet. It was a quick and easy check.IMG_4058 (resized).jpg

And sure enough, the ball hits the rivet.. that is not going to work. So I have a new set of rivets on order and I am going to have to drill out the one I already did...sigh

#34 41 days ago

Brilliant solutions!

#35 39 days ago

Hey Mark - Can you tell us which color laser printer you're using? I haven't been able to find one on the cheap, and I'd be much more inclined to try one that I knew had verified decent results.

#36 39 days ago

I use the Dell C1765nf Color MFP XPS. I don't think they are available anymore though. I've found that although it prints yellow/red/black quite well, the blue doesn't seem to get as intense as what is on the playfield, not sure if that is common or an issue with this particular one.

#37 37 days ago

The rivets came in today from Marocos so I was able to finish work on the curved section of the playfield. I drilled out the old one and put the new ones in. They are perfect and finally finally with the replacement artwork and new walls that section of the playfield is done!

Now, I kinda wish I had done a larger piece of artwork as there are a couple of small bare patches visible under the straight wall.

IMG_4075 (resized).jpgIMG_4076 (resized).jpgIMG_4077 (resized).jpgIMG_4079 (resized).jpgIMG_4080 (resized).jpg
#38 37 days ago

Another thing that has been bothering me though it is more of a cosmetic issue than anything, was that the stainless side rails are quite worn and rusty where thousands of hands have been.IMG_4073 (resized).jpg

New ones cost over $100 plus the hassle of removing the old ones, so I thought since I cannot refinish them (stainless has a special coated finish) that I would just paint them on the body. I bounced around between a silver or a black and settled on a black paint.

However, when I sanded and wirebrushed the old rusty stuff off so the paint would stick, it didn't look too bad. Not perfect but certainly acceptable, so I put a couple of coats of clear on it to prevent future problems and called it good.IMG_4078 (resized).jpg

#39 33 days ago

Work continues, I can see the bottom of the parts bin!

One issue I have is a self-generated one. The left-side plastic lane had some chewed up areas and a piece cracked off, not so much that it needed to be replaced, but when I was cleaning the pieces I figured I would strengthen it a bit. Since there was so much plastic and chrome and such I thought I could just put some clear tape on it and nobody would notice.

As it turns out, that part of the plastic is right in front and the tape is easily seen.IMG_4085 (resized).jpg
IMG_4086 (resized).jpg

So I had a couple of options:
1) take the tape off and leave it as-is. Although it is not a fatal problem, I really didn't want to leave it and let it crack some time in the future.
2) replace it - its $40 for a replacement plastic so that is possible but not my first choice.
3) make it look nicer. I discussed it with my wife and she suggested putting a nice graphic on it that looks appropriate. Since my son is a firefighter, I decided to put a firefighter graphic on it.

I printed out a nice little graphic and stuck it on the plastic. The thick paper and the mylar on top of it will give some strength to the edge and I think it looks good!IMG_4087 (resized).jpg

The result may not be exactly the way it was from the factory, but it looks reasonable and I think only an expert would know the difference. I am working on a little video of the actual photoshop process I used to make the graphic, it should be online soon for anyone interested.

#40 33 days ago

I am pretty sure that return plastic is supposed to have a piece of foam where the ball hits the end so the plastic has a cushion before the ball drops back down to the playfield? Game is starting to look pretty nice.

#41 33 days ago

As promised, I've posted a full video of the steps I took to create that graphic. It shows my actual computer screen using photoshop so I hope its useful!
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/using-photoshop-with-the-playfield

#42 32 days ago

woohoo, I've put the final piece on the table. After cleaning the apron and removing the old faded paper sticker advertising 1 euro per play, I discovered the graphic on the right side was torn under the paper:IMG_4091 (resized).jpg

I thought I would just leave it, but after checking the brochure, there is a pricing graphic right there: Rescue 911 Flyer piece (resized).jpg

So I whipped up a "FREE PLAY" graphic and voila, the table is done!!!IMG_4098 (resized).jpg

And, I recorded a little photoshop tutorial of how I did it over on the photoshop thread: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/using-photoshop-with-the-playfield

#43 32 days ago

I spoke too soon....

The Rescue 911 is indeed playing but I have 2 problems:

1) the ball is not picked up by the helicopter. The magnet is functioning because if I manually lift the ball up to it, it will stay on. The helicopter is positioned directly over the ball but there is a small gap between the ball and the helicopter. Is it possible the ball needs to be lifted higher? could the magnet have gotten "weaker" and not be able to lift it? not sure what could be causing this.IMG_4100 (resized).jpg

problem 2: intermittantly the ball is not kicked out into the shooter lane. I've taken a video of what is happening:

#44 32 days ago
Quoted from mark532011:

1) the ball is not picked up by the helicopter. The magnet is functioning because if I manually lift the ball up to it, it will stay on. The helicopter is positioned directly over the ball but there is a small gap between the ball and the helicopter. Is it possible the ball needs to be lifted higher? could the magnet have gotten "weaker" and not be able to lift it? not sure what could be causing this.

heres a link to a working one, looks like the lifting mech. is not lifting high enough.

#45 31 days ago

After some careful checking, the issue with the ball shooter is that the kickout ramp had been chewed up by the balls to the point there was a divot in the metal ramp and the ball would sit in the depression and not move.IMG_4103 (resized).jpg
IMG_4102 (resized).jpg

A bit of grinding and smoothing and the problem is solved.

The ball lift issue is trickier, I have double-checked everything and cannot find an adjustment. The ball would be pulled by the magnet about one out of every 3 times so it was real close. I've solved it temporarily by putting a small rubber washer on the lifter that raises the ball up about 1/8 inch. I know its not a long term solution but at least I can play it! Woohoo!!!

#46 31 days ago

A couple of pictures, the repairs to the playfield that looked so obvious when scrutinized closely on an unpolulated playfield pretty much dissapear once its all put together!

IMG_4104 (resized).jpgIMG_4105 (resized).jpgIMG_4106 (resized).jpgIMG_4107 (resized).jpgIMG_4108 (resized).jpg
#47 31 days ago

I do have one more cosmetic thing I want to fix. The plastic in front of the display is cracked.IMG_4109 (resized).jpg

It would be difficult to print the entire replacement graphic so I've been trying to think of some ways to fix it, I don't think replacements are available.

#48 30 days ago
Quoted from mark532011:

I do have one more cosmetic thing I want to fix. The plastic in front of the display is cracked.[quoted image]
It would be difficult to print the entire replacement graphic so I've been trying to think of some ways to fix it, I don't think replacements are available.

Great work! I would scan the artwork then print it out behind a new piece of plexi/PETG, or get it printed on a piece of vinyl and apply.

3 weeks later
#49 7 days ago

Looks awesome, I just picked up one myself this weekend. Mine is in rough shape. Rusted side rails, inches of dust and dirt, helicopter not working right. Hope mine can turn out half as good as yours

#50 6 days ago

Great documentation! Rescue 911 is a fav of mine.

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