(Topic ID: 67163)

*FINISHED* The Acrylic Pinball Project - I am "clearly" insane

By Mk1Mod0

6 years ago

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#1 6 years ago

Yup - certifiable nuts. After many fits and false starts, this project is fully funded and off the ground. I have a master carpenter to help with the fine fitting and cuts and a high learning curve for everything else. The idea is to do a 100% acrylic case, back box and playfield. I have all the materials for everything but the back box. That will come later depending on how the rest of it goes. The "donor machine" is a Sonic Super Straight. I picked it up for a song as an easy project. It's 100% working (or rather it was before I disassembled it!) and a pretty fun game. The casing is made of particle board that got wet at some point and has disintegrated. I've already done box repair and large stencil painting so I thought I would challenge myself to do something different. Having been inspired by a shoddy case and a clear acrylic PC case kit I built for the wife some time back, I set off on solving all the details of a project of this magnitude. (IE - you can't staple braided ground wire and light sockets to acrylic.) I also did a quick search and found that the Pacific Pinball Museum has done 3 of these. So knowing it can be done, I got busy...


#3 6 years ago

Laying out all of the pieces on a sheet of 3/4" acrylic. Going with all the same dimensions as the original wood casing to avoid modifications for coin door, flipper buttons, etc if the thickness were different. The various parts will be rough cut here to make it easier to move around. Then they'll be taken to work where we have an oversized table saw with a 14" industrial MTCG blade for the final sizing and corner beveling. Then they'll come back home where my carpenter has built me a jig for laying the pieces into a perfect 90 degrees for "welding" the corners. It all goes well that'll happen in about two weeks. First I have to add all the little bits and pieces to make the case the same. Graphics will be (hopefully) etched into the sides for a different look.

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#4 6 years ago

Took a lot longer than I thought. The cutting was very slow going and I had to give my poor 25 year old B&D sabre saw breaks so as not to overheat it. I sourced plastic cutting blades from TAPPlastics.com that didn't work worth a hoot. Did much better with a Porter-Cable down cut laminate blade. It made nice smooth cuts with no melt and refill. Just had to go slow so as not to make the saw jump out of the slot.

#7 6 years ago

Early experiments in mounting play field pieces. 1) A few screws together and close to the edge with no cracking. 2) Cutting a switch slot. 3) Drilling insert holes with a spade bit. Success.

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#10 6 years ago

Also found I could solder the lights up while already mounted to the play field piece without marring the plastic. That will help a lot. Tried using clear silicone to secure lights normally held down by staples. Worked very well but looked like ass. Will look into other options.

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#11 6 years ago
Quoted from magnoliarichj:

this should not be that hard people build aquariums that hold water with this stuff... you have no water to worry about....

True, but I am adding 75 pounds to an already heavy machine that will be supported by 8 bolts.

Quoted from CaptainNeo:

find someone with a laser cutter. it will help out nice. plus you could engrave the sides with art as if it was a stencil.

I wish! LOL

Quoted from loppydog:

Yeah our laser at work cuts this stuff nicely! The biggest problem you may have with a laser is the cabinet size. Our table size is only 32"x18".....not big enough for most of his prices I would assume.

True. Side pieces are 53"X20".

Quoted from moto_cat:

I believe pacific pinball museum built 3, 2 em's & 1 solid state

Yup. (Stated in my first post.) I'll never get to see them and I think they are way cool. I thought others might enjoy seeing one as well so here I go.

#15 6 years ago

1) To me, the making is the fun part. Even if I could afford to get everything cut/assembled/etc I wouldn't. Just having it is not the point.
2) I was having a couple of local plastics fab shops working me up an estimate just for fun when I found out what the materials cost was. Eek. Besides, having never made a pin case before I doubt they would get it right the first time.
3) This is the next step. Having done successful pinball cabinet repair/rebuilding and machinery repair, I am moving on to duplicating an existing machine. After this is a re-theme or a custom one off.
4) It's fun!

#16 6 years ago

This is how I'm doing the plastics and the playfield as well. This was done using a clear waterslide decal and the results aren't too impressive when held up to the light. I thought about doubling it for better results. I'm going to opt for stenciling and painting with black paint. The plastics will be image reversed and painted on the bottom side. The play field will be painted on top and then either clear coated or mylared.

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#17 6 years ago

Stencils cut with the Silhouette Cameo.

#20 6 years ago

Taking any and all advice and thanks for the tips. I know the sabre saw cut better the longer I used it so it makes sense that the same would apply for drill bits. I did get some bits made for drilling plastic but I'll reserve judgement after my experience with the sabre saw "plastic cutting blade." I have attempted "flame polishing" on some of my practice pieces. I do NOT have the touch! Will take a lot more practice to get that down... I am experimenting with regular bits, plastic bits, spade bits, hole saws and flush-cut router bits. We'll see who wins. I have had my first crack incident. Fortunately it went where nothing was affected. Could have been disastrous. Still worried about all that weight on 8 bolts.

#25 6 years ago

Okay, screw the paint. In another test, I wanted to see how sandblasting the plastic would look for doing the side art work. I must say, it is quite awesome. The picture does it no justice. But when side lit by color leds, I believe it will be pretty cool. Will do this for the plastics as well and possibly the playfield.

#26 6 years ago

Sooooo, I'm thinking that leds will work for the lighting in an old EM? You have no need to fool a transistor into staying latched so wouldn't they just work? Or would I still need a resistor to keep from blowing them out?

#30 6 years ago

Huge day yesterday. Final cut all the lower cab parts including 45s, bottom piece slots and the top slots for whatever you call the plastic doohickie that holds the glass in place. (Glass guides?) Anyways, lots of fun was had, a few curse words were exchanged and all evidence was properly disposed of before the boss returned late in the day. It's about to get real up in here.

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#35 6 years ago

My carpenter buddy came up with this here jig to hold two pieces of the body at a good 90 with the joint down for gravity. I can get the sections aligned and clamped into place before completing the bonding process. Now all I have to do is practice a whole bunch 'til I'm good at it...

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#36 6 years ago

Practice... practice... practice...

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#38 6 years ago

Well, the topper's almost ready! LOL Just add some LED lighting and it'll be sweet. Actually this is my first attempt to do a corner melding. Many, many more practices to come. Also, my portable, home made sand blasting box seems to work just fine.

#43 6 years ago
Quoted from Zitt:

Are u using acrylic solvent to bond the corners

Using this stuff. Pretty awesome so far.

#44 6 years ago
Quoted from Dayhuff:

I WANT ONE !! To whom and where do I send in my deposit too?

John P. Dayhuff
Battle Creek, Mi.

Umm, lemme see if I can finish the proto first, then we'll talk. LOL

#51 6 years ago
Quoted from rockinganker:

One suggestion before gluing, sand all your joining surfaces smooth. It looks like your edges are a little rough either from a CNC or table saw, your clue will not bond 100% if they are not smooth. I've made a lot of acrylic displays, shelves and misc. pieces and block sanding your edges is a must.

Table saw. It looked really good until it passed by the backside of the blade. Had access to a high end jointer which we did use for the flat edges but doing the 45s on them was difficult to do well. I will be block sanding them to make a much better joint.

Quoted from browne92:

If you have trouble with the areas around the glue joint turning white, or "clouding", use Weld-on 4 instead of 3. It's made to avoid that.

Same thing happens if you flame polish edges with a torch. The heat creates stresses in the acrylic which can be released by the solvent cement, or even changes in ambient temperature. The only way around this is to anneal the parts, which is a long process of heating the whole part to an even temperature, and gradually cooling. See here:
Neat project. Best of luck.

I'm thinking the clouding/crazing is due to the high humidity we still have going on here. If it doesn't get any better with later tests I'll be switching. Also, no flame polishing for me.

Quoted from KingNine:

This is beyond cool. I'll bet after you get it done you'll find keeping it clean is the hardest part lol. That was always the problem with me see through computer case.

My wife has a clear acrylic computer case I built for her from a kit. Part of the inspiration for this project. I agree... It's awesome when it is clean. When.

#52 6 years ago

Didn't get a lot of playtime this weekend, but a few items were worked on. It's been quite awhile since I played with a router and longer since I worked plastic. I'm starting with the simplest and least visible pieces. Hopefully I'll get better as we go along. Item #1 is the bottom of the lower casing. It was previously sized and cut with the other major pieces so I'm down to the hole where the on/off switch goes and a couple of air slots that are located under the two cross pieces that support the bulk of the machinery for the game. Step one was to drill the switch hole with a hole saw bit. Step two was to make a starter hole where I traced out the opening. 1/2"

#53 6 years ago

Next, clamp a guide piece to run the router against and carefully run the length of the marked area.

#54 6 years ago

And....voila! Or tada if you prefer. Now, to add supports, the switch mount piece, etc, etc, etc...

#59 6 years ago
Quoted from cfh:

I have a clear Surf Champ playfield and backbox insert, which Mike kindly supplied me for doing a similar project. Acrylic is not the material they used, i believe they went with Lexan. Acrylic cracks very easily. Mike tried a lot of different materials for the playfield too, finding certain thing held screws better. The conclusion was again Lexan worked best for holding screws, and not cracking when a post is hit by the ball. You may want to talk to Mike at the PPM so you're not making expensive material cost mistakes.

Wrote to the PPM several times when I first considered doing this and never heard back from them. Lexan was my first choice, having worked with it to make boat windscreens and such in the Navy but it is quite cost prohibitive. The acrylic I have is heat press formed vice extruded and will hopefully hold up to the abuse.

Quoted from RWH:

I've not attempted anything near the scale you are taking on but, have you tried using a Rotozip laminate bit in your router setup???? I have used them in the past to cut acrylic for cabinet work in kitchens and they were fantastic!

Regular bits seem to do just fine in the router. I did go with a laminate bit in the jigsaw. It out cut everything else.

#65 6 years ago
Quoted from Luckydogg420:

Are you building a completed plan, or are you winging it as you go? I'd imagine that it would be tough to add pieces later on in the build.
But this is a great project. I'm following

It's an existing machine. (Super Straight by Sonic) I'm merely replicating all of the support in clear plastic.

Quoted from cfh:

You may want to talk to Wade Krause about the Lexan versus Acrylic issue. He's the one that actually made and cut the clear playfields and cabinets for Mike at the PPM. He's probably easier to get a hold of too. But i really think you need to use Lexan for this. Acrylic is just way too brittle. If you're having trouble cutting it, using it in a pinball machine may be worse case. Lexan is more money but if you do all this work and it breaks, that would cost more than using Lexan!

The piece I purchased for the playfield is "Acrystar" which is a cast acrylic polymer based on methyl methacrylate. The testing I have done is promising, but does not replicate a steel ball traveling at whatever speed a 70's era Williams flipper can fling it at. I've priced like sized lexan and it is doable. Meanwhile, the material I have is very easy to work with and quite flexible. I tried to overstress and crack it but that still doesn't tell me if it'll take shock loads.

Quoted from cfh:

I will be using the Surf Champ clear playfield and backglass. But I'm going lower cost for mine and using the original cabinet. I'll cut out the sides though and put clear insert panels so you can see into it. this is much lower cost and a good first step in the process. i like to walk before i run. i'm sure there's a huge learning curve on all this, and probably a ton i haven't even considered.

I considered that route. I also looked into doing a S/S frame (I'm a welder) to support all the structure and covering it with a thin, cheap plexi but in the end I decided whole hog is the way to go. Nothing really new here, just different material and different glues.

Quoted from browne92:

The paper on the sheet says "polycarbonate". That is Lexan.

Yup. Lexan is a brand name, like Kleenex. That particular piece was a freebie given by a friend that was sadly too thin for the playfield so it went to the bottom piece and will be in a few other places as well.

#66 6 years ago

Replicating the on/off switch mount. Hole saw for the large circle then routed out to the proper depth. Regular bit for the remainder. Some edge polishing next.

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#67 6 years ago

OK. Deep breath, and lets start on the coin door piece. First, we'll drill some pilot holes for the door and the plunger.

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#69 6 years ago

Next, we'll jigsaw out the major portion where the coin door goes.

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#70 6 years ago
Quoted from Jean-Luc-Picard:

Thanks for all the photos. Really fun to see the progress. Where do you buy your acrylic sheets? Must cost a fortune?
This may have already been addressed "if so oops", do you have plans to do LED lighting inside the cabinet?

I am acquiring the acrylic locally as shipping makes getting it elsewhere too expensive. (It's freaking heavy!) Fortunately, I have a local vendor who has competitive pricing. The 3/4" sheet to make the case was just over $15 per square foot. My plan is to do the side graphics with sandblasting and light it up w/LEDs.

#72 6 years ago

Now, I'll mate the new with the old and take a 1/2" bearing router bit and clean out the remaining material. This is my "C-N-C"... cut an' copy. AKA lo-tech.

#74 6 years ago

Last on this part is the hole for the credit button. Regular bit all the way through then a 1" spade bit to recess the button. Ready for graphics!

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#82 6 years ago
Quoted from browne92:

Standard twist drills have a tendency to grab upon breaking through and crack/shatter the material. It might not be as much of a problem on thicker material. But there is a trick to grinding the drills so they don't grab. I bought a $4 set of Horrible Freight drills and ground them all just for use on acrylic. If you've found this to be a problem let me know and I'll get you a picture of the modified drill.

I purchased these in several sizes and so far I am reasonably impressed with their performance. Designed "for acrylic and polycarbonate materials." So far I have found that duller is better. The more I use the jigsaw blade the better and cleaner it cuts.

#83 6 years ago
Quoted from winteriscoming:

Is there any room for using white nylon hardware in this project, maybe to secure lamps and such? You may have to thread the hole, but might look good in the clear. Of course they probably wouldn't be good in place of any structural screws/bolts.
Looking good. Best of luck in the project!

Trying to use as much original hardware as possible, but still wrestling with what to use where the GI lights were stapled to the back of the score mount and the underside of the playfield. Not sure exactly what you are refering to but I take all suggestions! Pictures are good too. I like pictures.

Quoted from vid1900:

How are you going to do the graphics?
Vinyl adhesive, sandblast, laser etch?

Sandblast like the little test topper earlier in the post. And while I have you on the phone... 1) What kind of glue would you recommend for the inserts? 2) I'm considering sandblasting the P/F design as well and then covering with mylar. Any thoughts on that?

Yer killin' me, Smalls!

#84 6 years ago

Another small piece completed, but good proof of concept for mounting and polishing. (No flames here - 220grit, 500grit, 1200grit, buffing wheel.)

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#91 6 years ago

Gotcha! Looks good but may be oversized for what I need. Great suggestion!

Quoted from GaryMartin:

Have you experimented with using Hot Glue or some type of clear adhesive that will attach to both the ground strap and the acryllic?

Yeah, there's a pic way back where I tried hot glue and clear silicone RTV. It was up to the task but looked like crap. My favorite solution at this time is to go with small S/S screws. Just a ton more drilling and screwing. The pieces for that will be the last produced so I have time yet to explore other options. Meanwhile, if anyone wants to know where to get really good ground braid for a really good price, I found it.

#92 6 years ago

Slow week in the progress department. Between work and honey-dos, not a lot got done. I managed to test fit the plunger and start button to the new piece. Like a glove. Next, I completely disassembled the coin door to make it as light as possible while fitting and drilling into the new piece. Boy, does it need cleaning. And 5 pesetas for a game? That must have been a long, long time ago!

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#97 6 years ago

Slowly but surely. Spent the week playing with my new LED strip lights from superbrightleds.com I was attempting to see how well it would light up the graphics that will be sandblasted into the sides. The results were less than encouraging. Did more research and found that depth of cut is key. Since I am merely sandblasting and not carving or gouging I thought that I would not be getting the depth required to cause the images to light up the way I had hoped. Eventually I remembered that one of my test pieces was done with aluminum oxide instead of the cheap playground sand I used elsewhere. I put the LEDs up to it without even polishing the side and BAM!! The graphic popped like a weasel with new springs. I also discovered that it is true that graphics reverse printed on the inside of the case will look much better than ones blasted onto the outside. (And, bonus, it will make it much easier to clean the machine.) Should get around to doing this to the coin door piece this weekend. The rest of the past week was eaten by work and new acquisitions. (2 Space Invaders. It's a disease. There is no cure.) Pics to follow...

#99 6 years ago

Ok, so here's my unscientific test results. (No LEDs were harmed in the making of this presentation.) Pic 1 is the topper test sidelit by the LEDs. As you can see, the sandblasted portions don't really carry the light at all. Pic 2 is a practice sample blasted with aluminum oxide, blasted side out. Pic 3 is what I'll be doing. Same piece, blasted side in. I think it looks the best of the three.

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#103 6 years ago

So here's the raw and cleaned up images of the coin door graphics. Once I reverse the image I'll cut it on the Cameo to get my stencil and prepare to apply it to the piece.

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#110 6 years ago

Progress, slow but steady. Constructed my redneck engineering sandblast cabinet today. The ones locally available are not only too small, but not free. I hate not free. This one cost a large cardboard box that my new upright freezer came in, a roll of duct tape, a small piece of plastic and a few hours time. Tested this evening with sifted playground sand on the bar lockdown mechanism. Works. I'll load it up with the good stuff tomorrow. (Aluminum oxide.)

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#111 6 years ago

Cut the stencil tor the coin door piece today as well. Should get time to blast that tomorrow!

#114 6 years ago
Quoted from Crash:

How do you plan on doing the playfield plastics? Printing a reverse image on translucent adhesive and applying to the underside I heard is a great way.

If you look way back to the beginning, I tried to do decals with just black lines and hated the way it looked. After considering spray paint, I decided I would do the sandblasting for all graphics. (Case, plastics, P/F and B/G.)

Quoted from browne92:

Be careful with the play sand. Silicosis is nasty stuff.

Agreed. My setup is near airtight. I use a half face respirator and then let it settle before opening up and evacuating the chamber.

#115 6 years ago

OK, finally, some pay off. Took a 4-day weekend but I finally feel like I am actually getting somewhere. I swear it is all I can do to not rush this 'cause I only get one chance. So here's the coin door section with the mask applied on a makeshift stand I whipped up. Turns out the stand was too tall for my home baked sandblast cabinet and I ended up just propping the back with a 2X4. Anyways, I did the initial blast then pulled it for an inspection.

#116 6 years ago

Here's the result. I identified a few places that were not blasted properly and marked them with a Sharpie. It makes it easier to see in the blast cabinet and I just hit it until the black is gone.

#117 6 years ago

The results...

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#118 6 years ago

To tell the truth, I'm starting to impress myself. And when I added the LEDs...

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#133 6 years ago
Quoted from browne92:

It adds to the effect if you hide the light source.
Should be a helluva show stopper when done.

Yup. Just doing a little proof of concept test with a trial strip and some duct tape. The strips I intend to use are incredibly thin and bright and should be easy to hide. http://www.superbrightleds.com/cat/flexible-strips-and-bars/

You can buy in bulk length and then customize to need. These have copper pads every 3" where you can cut and solder in leads.

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#134 6 years ago
Quoted from CraigC:

For the back box insert panel you could use the wms press fit wpc style lamp sockets with the idc connectors on the back.

Not sure which ones you are talking about. A pic or catalog link would be good... thanks!

#139 6 years ago
Quoted from browne92:

BTW, if you haven't tried already, I did a little experiment last week and found that Forestner bits work well on acrylic too. I had to let everything cool a couple of times during the cut, as I could smell the acrylic getting hot. Might have helped if I applied more pressure to shorten the drill time and/or backed off the drill speed.

Yep. I have done it but do not prefer it. You can cool it with water as you drill, just be sure to clean and dry immediately after. Low/med speed, light pressure always. Let the drill do the work, never force it. Whatever I have in the chuck of the press, it's just a slow, steady process. Pressure makes for chips/cracks.

#141 6 years ago
Quoted from desertT1:

Looking really good. What are you using to actually throw the sand around in your free blaster?

http://www.harborfreight.com/portable-abrasive-blaster-kit-37025.html Cabinet was free. The blaster was a couple bucks. This one actually works pretty well, as you can see. Performs with my home garage pancake compressor. I get about a minute of spray time to a minute of compressor run. Shooting with the 70 grit aluminum oxide.

Quoted from beatmaster:

this is just crazy, one of a kind for sure.
i can only imagine what the playfield will look like
does the light for the cabinet is RGB, change colors every week or so depending on the mood you are.

Still undecided...
1) Three colors on cabinet(left side, right side, coin door), fourth for P/F and fifth for head.
2) Color changing all around.
3) Blue lower cabinet, green playfield, red head/ back glass.
Leaning towards #3. The point of the color here is to highlight and accent, not grab your attention. Always taking suggestions...

#144 6 years ago
Quoted from RyanClaytor:

Wow. That acrylic housing for (what I'm assuming is) the on/off switch is amazing. It looks crystal clear...and you did that all with varying coarseness levels of sand paper? Is that true? How long did you spend sanding at each of the varying stages you listed? ...and do you recommend a buffing wheel for the final stage?
More thanks and praise for this thread. Good luck with your project. Those LED lighted panels are coming along smashingly.
Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

That's exactly what it is. Mostly won't be seen. Yep, a couple of minutes of wet sanding with each grit successively until that level of scratches are gone. (Using a block where I could to keep it flat.) Then the buffing wheel with polish for that extra shine. I happened to have an old bench grinder I hadn't used in years so I pulled the grinding wheels and got a couple of buffing wheels. One leather and one cotton. Makes polishing the metal and plastic parts extra nice and easy. I was actually surprised with the ease of this. And thanks.

1 week later
#145 6 years ago

Been a rough week or two with cooler temps than normal and lots of work at work. Overtime is a good thing and I never turn it down. Today's goal, weather dependent of course, is to finish the blasting of parts for the cabinet sides and plastics. Took a lot of work to get the artwork ready. Now I just have to bring the images up in the Silhouette software, reverse and size, and cut.

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1 week later
#150 6 years ago

1) Mr Forstner, I like the cut of your jib. Or the jib of your cut. Or... hell, you make a nice hole, k? Flipper button.

2) Ready for grit media impalement. Aim for the shiny spots, k?

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#157 6 years ago

Side panel. Hard to see the blasting results with the paper still on the outside, but you get the idea...

#162 6 years ago

Gonna need more LEDs...

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#167 6 years ago

"Some assembly required..."

#171 6 years ago

OK. First dry fit-up today and all looks well. Meanwhile, I have more practice pieces curing in the jig. Trying to figure out why I am getting so much of a crazing effect. That'll make for ugly corners.

Kitten approved, as you can see, so I've got that going for me.

Thanks for all the compliments and encouragement. It helps a ton!

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#172 6 years ago

On the other side of the garage... (yeah, it's the same side but I needed a segue...)

1) A little tuning and a lot of cleaning and this will be transferred to it's acrylic counterpart.
2) Every label in this sucker is bi-lingual. Smarter than me.
3) Multi-national service outlet. Two prong or two blade - no problemo!
4) I've seen worse. MUCH worse.

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#174 6 years ago

Joey! Yeah, I actually have watched a lot of his videos. I can relate to them much better than some of the "pro" website how-to videos. I think the problem I'm actually having is called "clouding" and it is due to our high humidity here. May have to due the major construction inside.

#176 6 years ago
Quoted from browne92:

As I said before, if you're using Weld on 3, try 4. It was made specifically not to do that:


It has nothing to do with humidity.

Got it. Thanks. (Hard head here... tough to penetrate.)

#181 6 years ago

"HEPing," huh? Had to look that one up! No, staying classic with a few updates. Color LEDs lighting the side artwork and soft white LEDs in the backbox so as not to blind the players. Probably some thing in the case to light up the machinery and such. I considered clear flipper bats and clear posts, but concluded that I had to have some contrast. Then I saw these - ebay.com link

Sold. Still considering options for the flippers. Other than that it will be all original. The idea for me was that anything wood would be turned to clear plexi. Casing, back box, playfield, etc. Also doing the backglass, transition and guides. It's all starting to shape up now, but March is coming fast and I've got 4 other machines to prep for TPF. Wish me luck!

#184 6 years ago

Light work weekend. Finished grooming over the machinery and spent some time compiling a list o' stuff to order for the other 4 machines I'll be bringing to TPF to be played and hopefully sell. (Thanks, PBR, you guys are the best!) Managed a little garage time and finished routing the slots for the machinery platform supports, the back box support and the coinbox back stop. Also finished cutting out all of the corner blocks, platform support blocks and playfield supports. Picked up a new piece of polycarbonate for the playfield. (See, I can listen!) Now all I need to do is dress all the corners and prep for final assembly. Meanwhile, working on the back box support collar and stripping inserts from the old play field. Getting ready to service the 4 score assemblies and credit counter. Whew!!

#185 6 years ago

OK, EM gurus. How do I repair this? In my navy days, I would have just filled the sucker with hot lead! Do I just heat it up and melt in some solder?

1 week later
#190 6 years ago

Still progressing, slow going at this point. Down to polishing up all the cab pieces before final assembly of the lower cab. Even though most of the corner marriages won't be seen thanks to legs and lockdown bar, it still has to be a good, solid joint that can take abuse without cracking. Going to add in cab protectors for a little extra flex and may need longer leg bolts. Meanwhile, still cleaning score reels and stepper motors etc, etc, etc.

#201 6 years ago
Quoted from lowepg:

Next, please do a Fish Tales and turn the cabinet into an aquarium

Eh, it's been done. LOL

#204 6 years ago

"Tanked." I like the show too but this was a horrific idea. Ugly don't begin to describe IMHO.

#208 6 years ago

Finally, a good productive day. The spousal unit is down hard w/ H1N1 so I was free to work uninterrupted while she slept off last nights puke fest. Thanks, whoever invented Tamiflu. Today was my second dryfit test with the machinery supports and coinbox back stop added in. I also threw in all the angle braces and machinery platform for fit, trim and drilling. Everything looks excellent. A little more dressing on the corners and we will assemble the lower cab.

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#209 6 years ago

The next trick was to figure out how to duplicate the spiked T-nut / bolt system that secures the machinery platform to the supports. Thanks to the helpful folks at Ace, I got that covered.

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#211 6 years ago

That same trick should work for the head bolts, just a little bigger version. I'm finding that for every accounted hour on this project there seems to be two hours of unaccounted time for stuff I am not anticipating. The lower casing has been the beast I assumed it would be and then some. I sincerely hope that once it is assembled, the rest will flow a lot easier. It will become more about taking stuff from the old and putting it in the new. Once I get the case filled in and the machinery transferred to its new home, I'll be duplicating the score board while building up the back box. After that, just the play field! Easy, right?

Last item today was to affix the playfield supports to the case sides. So far, so good.

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#218 6 years ago

I like to hedge my bets, so I went ahead and added screws to the playfield supports. It's pretty heavy, with a large rack of relays and the bonus score motor.

#219 6 years ago

First, of course, I did a dozen or so tests to find the maximum drill bit width allowable while maintaining grip of the screw and structural integrity of the part. Any good fabricator knows you always test it first. You'll know the hole is too small when...

#222 6 years ago

I am taking copious amounts of notes for my own future reference... I am also categorizing as such because the difference in size and material. (Acrylic vs polycarbonate, extruded vs cast, etc., etc., etc....) I can be a li'l A/R, but it makes me a consistent ass instead of an unpredictable one!

#223 6 years ago
Quoted from AMBoggs:

If I had done something like that on a final piece, I would have cried.

You would have heard me scream.

#225 6 years ago

Done. Glued up. No looking back now. Whew! Guess I'd better get started shining up the legs...

#236 6 years ago
Quoted from LongJohns:

Excellent work.
But for future reference, there is a drill size chart for screws sizes available - although not sure how well this translates for use in plastic: http://www.wlfuller.com/html/wood_screw_chart.html
Or this one if using machine screws: http://www.boltdepot.com/fastener-information/us-tap-drill-size.aspx

Thanks! Nice references. The second one works great but the first just gives a good starting point. Most wood (even "hard" woods) will compress, to a point. The plexi, especially the cast kind does not. If the hole is too small, either it cracks, or if polycarbonate (like Lexan) the friction will heat it until the screw is stuck and you snap the head off. Not wanting any of that in my project, I start big and work my way down. (Wastes less screws that way.) It seems to be a fine line between too big to give grip and too small to work. My bit set breaks down to 64ths and I'm getting better at making educated guesses. But testing never hurts.

#240 6 years ago
Quoted from browne92:

I can't really tell from the pics, sorry if I missed something, but are you tapping threads into the acrylic? Or just running a wood screw into a big enough hole to get grip but not blow out the acrylic? Have you tried self-tappers?

Option two. You can tap the acrylic but one over tightening and you're done. (Drill bigger, thread again, etc.) As for self-tappers, I believe they would work, but length is key here. The drilling tip would end up emerging from the other side of the plastic. Also, trying to remain as original as is reasonable, fasteners included. Thanks for the suggestions!

#242 6 years ago
Quoted from browne92:

When I said 'self tappers', I wasn't thinking of the drill tip kind, more like this:

Interesting. No idea how those would work.

#243 6 years ago

And then there's this. "One of these things is NOT like the others..." Never really paid much attention to the legs. I had four, they were the same length and all were covered in crappy rattle can silver. (Applied while attached, of course.) So now that the time has come, I find one is chrome and the other three are burnished. And one of the levelers is NOT coming out. Yes I know how, I do it at work all the time. Cut, drill, tap.... Sometimes you just gotta say, fuckit. New legs on the way. Done and done.

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#244 6 years ago


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#247 6 years ago
Quoted from MadPole:

I'd like to kill two birds with one stone and get an EM shuffle bowler. Haven't had any luck finding one anywhere close.

If I had the room... EMs are easy, dude. Just throw in a little mechanical action where the transistors and ICs usually sit and you got it!

#250 6 years ago
Quoted from Turboderf:

This clearly looks great


Quoted from Lonzo:

Where is a good place to get this kind of acrylic?

I sourced mine locally by searching plastics in the local yellow pages. There are lots of places online, but the shipping will kill you. (This crap's heavy! I will own the world's heaviest machine when this is done...) I bought mine at a local plastic fabrication shop that also sells raw materials and supplies. They are a good bunch and offered some excellent advice on techniques. Naturally I payed a little more per square foot than I can find online, but there's no shipping and I get to inspect the pieces before I buy them. I would hate to buy a $600 piece of acrylic or lexan only to have it show up cracked.

#255 6 years ago
Quoted from Manic:

Any idea (or guess) on how much this bad boy is gonna weigh when finished? Friends and family are going to scatter when you even hint at moving it
No way to fake a plexi coin door? The door certainly spoils the illusion and blocks a lot of the view - at least from the front.

Early calculations put it at 100 pounds over the initial weight of the machine. A 3/4" sheet of acrylic will best a 3/4" sheet of standard ply by 70 pounds alone. Throw in some extra for the back box, equipment platform and playfield and we probably hit right around 100# more. Moving it will be a challenge. I am modifying my cart so it lifts by the sides, not the bottom piece. Also thinking about s/s channel around the bottom which will keep it from getting chewed up as well as hide the LEDs. It gets moved in pieces, no doubt.
When I started this, the idea was to replace all wood with acrylic. There was no specific plan on how or what. In the ever-changing process, I considered clear everything. (Bumper caps, flippers, etc.) As it started to come together, I found I liked the contrast and color more than clear. It would be relatively easy to make a clear door panel but with all the crap behind it (coin mechs, coin return chute, light mounts, etc) I really didn't see the point. Besides, you can't see through the player!

#256 6 years ago
Quoted from shirkle:

If you don't mind me asking, what will be the total materials cost when it's all done?

My intention was to do this for under $1500 and I'm pretty certain I will. The 3/4" sheet was the biggest expense at $600. Around $300 more for the playfield and back box material. The machine itself was $175. Throw in a couple hundred more for bonding agents, fasteners, drill bits, saw blades, etc. It'll be close. Factor in the hours and it gets a little ridiculous. But, it's a labor of love, not profit. The knowledge I gained doing this is great and if I was ever dumb enough to do another, I'm already fully equipped and could probably do it in half the time.

#259 6 years ago

Okay. When this is all said and done, I am writing another entry called "A Pinball case; not just a damn box!" Thankfully, I have a not so silent partner named Bill. Bill D. Carpenter. (No relation to Karen.) While I might have made this without him, it would not have looked near as pretty! Sooooooooo we're up to making the neck and the interrelationships of all the pieces is quickly driving me to drink. Heavily. Saga with pics to follow...

#261 6 years ago

Step one - this angle is spot on.

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#262 6 years ago

Step 2 - We need to repeat that angle here, so all will be flush at the back of the machine.

#264 6 years ago

Meanwhile, a goody package arrived. I must say I am somewhat disappointed in that this is what passes for "chrome" these days. I'm guessing that somewhere between the EPA and cost controls we went from dipping to electroplating? (sigh...)

#265 6 years ago

Also, I have decided to "pretty up" a few parts. Normally, no one would see these...

#266 6 years ago

In recognition of Bill's skills, here is what was left after he cut two pieces from one, minus the width of a saw blade... He be savin' me mad coin. (The better he cuts, the less I have to buy.) "Measure thrice, damn it! Time is of no consequence!"

#271 6 years ago

And of course... for all the good there is sometimes bad. While cutting trim pieces for the head, we attempted two for the price of one with polycarbonate. Turns out it was a baaaaaaad idea! The saw blade heated up enough to melt the plastic and it ran into one of the expansion slots and grabbed. The piece shattered and took off. Fortunately, we were well out of the line of fire and not even a band aid was needed. (Although, clean shorts were sought out.) The top right piece was lodged into the saw blade and stopped the saw. The bottom right piece flew 20 feet to the left of the saw. The little triangle wound up between my feet and the other piece just sat there. My maxim in life is that complacency kills. Always pay attention to where and how you stand in relation to the work being performed. Safety first and last.

#272 6 years ago

Meanwhile, after shoveling all the sunshine off the driveway, it's back to work.

1. My CNC machine, post action.
2. That's a better fit.
3. Getting there.
4. More "some assembly required."


#275 6 years ago

I feel like the paperboy in "Better Off Dead." (Two dollars!!!) Except I'm screaming "3 degrees!! 3 degrees!!" Every. Dang. Part. of the neck needs that three degree slant to line up flush at the back of the machine. Two cuts on the sides, opposing of course. (I can't even SPELL paralello... paralella... um, funky slanty rectangle!) All better now, but sucked the life out of the day. Thanks for the 3 degree wood blocks, Buildy. They came in mighty handy. Onward! Forward!

#278 6 years ago
Quoted from pezpunk:

by the way, is that material going to expand / contract in hot / cold weather? i would hate to see it bust a seam during a freak heat wave or something.

So would I! LOL So far, so good. Since I started construction, my garage has gone from 95 down to 35 or so. No problems as yet. I'm sticking hard to the limits of the weldment for humidity and temperature. Still, my greatest fear is that one day it just falls to pieces. Either that or I watch in horror as a big crack runs up one side and down the other.

#284 6 years ago

Playfield scanned, inserts removed, ready for duplicating.

#285 6 years ago

Even the wife recognized this piece. It'll get band sawed tomorrow to even off the top. Once it is secured in place, I can put on the p/f glass channels, side rails, flipper buttons, and a few other things.

#286 6 years ago

This part sucked. I doubt I took 2 breaths the whole time. On advice from Buildy, I flattened the corner to avoid chipping. It worked. Two down, six to go...

1. Pilot hole.
2. Full sized in three steps. (1/8", 3/8", 7/16)
3. Buildy's top secret leg bolt corner hole drilling thingamajig.

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#300 6 years ago

The plan, at this time, is to do a combo of sandblast and black paint on top of the polycarbonate play field remake that will then be covered with mylar for smooth ball travel. Original inserts will be used. Don't need to. Want to.

Intended to do it reversed on the bottom, but tests showed that with a 1/2" thick field, it would be difficult at best to line up graphics with the switches and such. So, has to be on top.

The original play field has been asked for and will be given upon completion of the project, sans original inserts. Hopefully no damage will occur when I remove the 15 nail/screws that held down the pop bumper and flipper bases.

I plan to do 44s on the inserts and 47s elsewhere. I would like to do soft LEDs but that may quickly become cost prohibitive. The backglass will be done similarly and some color will be added with decals for certain areas. (TILT, Shoot Again, Player #, Match numbers...)

I did consider doing the colors on the P/F as well, but there is an awful lot of it and it would block the view.

#320 6 years ago

Work O/T plus call-outs = 18 hour weekend. Weax has gone cold as well. Need to insulate and heat the garage. Did manage to remove the 15 mounting nail/screw deals that held the pop bumpers and flippers with no real damage. (Buildy to the rescue, again.) 4 day weekend next week. I'm gettin' behind...

#321 6 years ago

OK. Longest week ever. Worked OT last weekend, regular day Monday then lost 5 pounds (the easy way) overnight. No flu, just a heavy duty stomach virus. Better the next day, but apparently pulled my back in the process so I have been bed bound for three days now. Nice to catch up on Cash Cab, the NYT crosswords and the best of vid1900's threads. I also caught up on the Wrath of Olympus thread. THAT guy will make you feel inadequate! I also fully believe that the best comedians in the nation lurk in the comments sections of these and other websites. The C/L ones have me rollin'...

So anyways, I have a four day weekend, my back is... serviceable? and the weather is 70s and breezy. Hope to make huge gains this weekend. Not missing the east coast at all, especially this week!

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#325 6 years ago

She's got LEGS!!!! Go ahead, sing that out loud in your best falsetto. I know I did!

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#331 6 years ago
Quoted from zerbam:

awesome project........are those small inside leg plates going to spread the load out away from the corner when nudging?

Hopefully as much as they originally did against the 1" wedges. Trying to use all the old hardware where practicable. I considered the newer bigger plates but I believe the case protectors I threw in between the legs and cabs will also absorb a lot of that force. They are much softer plastic and should add some give. And this thing is for playing, not demonstrating death saves. I would say, so far, it is surprisingly sturdy.

I'll get the neck glued in tomorrow and commence filling out the cab. Once that's done, on to the playfield and back box.

#340 6 years ago
Quoted from Notbychance:

Im not sure if you plan on edge polishing the top of the cabinet edges under the side rails and adding some Sylvania mosaic led or not but that would be ultra pimp. Keep up the craftsman work!

Top of the cab will be polished towards the back where it will be seen through the neck. Under the side rails is the glass channels and there is no room for anything. I am fabbing some S/S channel to be added to the bottom of the cab which will serve two purposes; 1) hide the LED strips that will light up the sides. 2) protect the edges from chips and gouges when being moved and dollied.

#341 6 years ago
Quoted from Gerry:

I yet again have a BONER ! my GF thanks you...
Happy valentines day..

Um, congratulations, you're welcome and TMI! lol

#346 6 years ago

Whew!! Looooong day. First, for all you in the north and east. It was 78 and sunny with a light breeze. So there.

#348 6 years ago

Spent the morning finishing out the neck. Addressed a few fit and finish issues that won't be seen anyways. (But I know it's there and I am anally retentive.) Got the fastener nuts in for the head bolts and worked on the bottom of the head.

Since that is done now, I could add in the one side rail I have finished polishing. Since the side rail is in I could add the one shiny flipper button. I LOATH polishing. I'm more of an antiquing-go-with-the-pettina kind of guy. I'm gonna do a kickstarter style deal where you volunteer to polish something and get to play when it's done.

Aaaaaaand the damn INSIDE of the side rails WILL BE VISIBLE! Oh Jeez..... like bad pin mirrors.

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#349 6 years ago

Next, in order to blow off polishing the other side rail, I opted to take advantage of the nice weax by doing something that can't be done in the evening after work or when the weax sucks. (Like polishing.) So, with a light heart, time on my hands and the Best of the Spice Girls cued up in the MP3 player, I started on the play field.

First, I did a test of the human CNC machine. I called it a success.

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#351 6 years ago

Second task was to mate the old play field with the new material. Drilled through where the securing bolts were for the pops and flippers. Through bolted them. This will ensure that my alignment remains the same throughout the process. Even if I have to separate them and rejoin, I should not have any problems.

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#353 6 years ago

Once that was done, I clamped it all down and began drilling. And drilling. And drilling some more.

The G.I. lights were the simplest. A single shot with the 7/16" plastic drill bit. Same for the flipper post holes.

Next, the small holes for the pop bumper light wires and the pass-throughs for a gate opener/closer wire and a spinner switch closing wire. Pre-drilled with a 1/8" plastic bit then drilled to size with a standard drill bit.

Then, there's everything else. Pop bumper body holes. Stand-up target holes. Feature light/insert holes. Kicker and slingshot holes. Switch slots. And so on, blah, blah, blah...

Holes larger than 7/16" got drilled and will be routed out with the bearing bit. Smaller ones got drilled with a 3/16" plastic bit and then routed out with a straight 3/16" router bit. The outer edge rim be routed with the flush cut bearing bit.

The last pic looks a little rough because not all have been routed to size yet and the ratty paper doesn't help. Still looking for something long, hard and skinny to mark the switch slots for routing. Mental note: vacuum more frequently. My 20 year old Craftsman mini-shop vac wasn't made for heroic feats. I wasted an inordinate amount of time today cleaning a clog of hot plastic out of the hose. Yeesh! Enjoy!!

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#354 6 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

That's how playfields were made before CNC, template and router.
What speed did you use?

Yeah, I'm picturing nice punched steel templates with little old ladies running air powered hand routers. I'm running around 20-25,000 depending on bit size. I say around 'cause the thing has speed settings 1 through 6.

#355 6 years ago
Quoted from Zitt:

Had me until the spice girls reference. Barf

Just joshing with ya, dude. I was actually listening to ABBA, Cher and Amy Grant.

#360 6 years ago

Switch slots, graphics and a few other details and I'll start populating this bad boy. - Guess who's gonna be the first person to walk into a sharp acrylic corner and cut themselves? That's right, me! May have to cone it off for safety's sake.

#370 5 years ago
Quoted from NYP:

I think he routed out the inserts the same way the factory did, this guy has skills! Ad me to the long list of people who are really enjoying this thread. It must he hard deciding what to make clear and what to leave metal but so far I like the choices he's making.

I used the old playfield as a template for the new and yes, there was a ridge the inserts sat on. I would have preferred to depth them the same with forstner bits but I don't have access to a drill press with that deep of a throat. The original inserts will be super glued in, then any gaps filled with the acrylic bonding agent. After graphics are completed, I am doing a mylar sheet over the whole deal. Should be OK.

Again, the idea is to replace all wood with acrylic. There will be ONE original wood part incorporated into this build.

#373 5 years ago
Quoted from bintzknocker:

My families defintion of a project -- 2 of 3 conditions need to be met.
More than 1 trip to the hardware store

Three opposable thumbs up!

#374 5 years ago

Buildy's latest jig contribution. I'd give you three guesses as to what it does, but you'll only need one...

#382 5 years ago
Quoted from ls1chris:

what an awesome project! you need to do a em slot machine next! that would be amazing beside this in your gameroom!

I gotta say, that is a hell of an idea. I have also thought about doing a pitch and bat.

Quoted from RyanClaytor:

As TPF approaches and you see the light at the end of the tunnel on this project, I'd be curious to hear your plans for A) this machine and B) your next project.
Best of luck coming down the home stretch! It's been a pleasure following this process from afar.

It's just not looking good for TPF at this point. Turns out the light at the end of a tunnel IS a train. See my last post for more info. My hope is that this machine, once completed, will get to go other places for folks to enjoy. I'm doing this because most people will never get out to the Pacific Pinball Museum and see theirs. and I expect people will get a kick out of it. The more people that can enjoy it, the better. The next project is a pair of Space Invader widebodies I picked up earlier this year. One will be overhauled as built for my permanent collection. The other will get a modified play field and ruleset as I learn to run a PROC powered system. After that, I intend to build a one-off PROC controlled steam-punk machine like lots of folks here talk about doing and never do... really. I swear!

Quoted from AMBoggs:

I love Freud router bits and saw blades.

Me too! And that 1" ball cut the plywood like butter. See pic below.

#383 5 years ago

The good news is, the jig works like a champ. The bad news is, the numbers are off. At the proper start depth, I get a run of just over 11". Should be around 15.75". Back to the band saw!

#384 5 years ago

While I managed to cut out all the switch slots today, I am not entirely happy with the results. I have already designed an adjustable jig for this in my head. Future reference.

#385 5 years ago

1)This is a piece of folded stainless steel that I bent into a channel. The idea is to use it as runners along the base of the lower cab to a) protect the acrylic from chips and gouges when being transported and b) house the LED strips.

2) The old rail assembly.

3) The new and improved rail assembly.

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#386 5 years ago

Sadly, today was my drop dead date for work on this project in deference to prepping my other pins for TPF. I have four other pins in need of some minor repair and cleaning to get ready and a mini-van that needs a tow rig installed. At this time I will suspend work on this project in order to prepare for our annual migration north to Dallas for a fun filled weekend. The work I did on the APP this weekend FELT like work and I do not want this thing done on a time limit basis. It should be enjoyable and today was not. Fear not. The moment I have finished with the other stuff or TPF ends, I will return to this enjoyable project and finish it. Thanks to everyone that have been following my progress and giving me great encouragement. It is immensely appreciated. "I'll be back!"

#388 5 years ago

I hope so too! Dying to play that game.

1 week later
#395 5 years ago

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we're back. Things are moving right along for TPF prep so back to work. Post 1, Buildy gets it right. After a few missteps and several beatings with a 2X4, we finally managed to create a ball trough jig of the proper length and angle. The answer was so damn simple I don't know how either of us didn't come up with it sooner. Overthinkers anonymous meeting, anyone? Anyways, here's a good test run.

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#396 5 years ago

Set the router cut depth by taking the thickness of the jig....

Add the desired depth of cut, 1/4", and set it.

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#397 5 years ago

Ta freaking da. Commence drooling in 3...2...1...

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#403 5 years ago
Quoted from unigroove:

Great project. I just wonder why you routed the playfield inserts. If you would not cut out the insert hole and place a lamp below you will still see wether the lamp is on or off. All you need to do is color the inserts on the overlay, if they had color.

Wanted to use all the original parts I could while merely replacing all the wood with acrylic. And to see if I could do it.

Quoted from retired_user_101:

glad you're still planning to bring to dallas show.
was going to ask if you could bring if, even though you had stopped work on it to get other pins ready.

We'll see... it's getting there.

#404 5 years ago
Quoted from smokey_789:

Better get this done before it's time to start mowing the lawn.....errr...."rake" the lawn......

You know, I used to make fun of it but now I am all about the xeriscaping. I spent years when I lived in VA Beach keeping a perfect lawn with my neighbors. Down here I would consider that a waste of water. Bonus: no Sundays mowing, edging, raking, bagging, seeding, feeding, etc...

#408 5 years ago
Quoted from CNKay:

Are you going to lay down a sheet of mylar or something to protect from ball scratching the surface?
Way to cool! yes you are clearly insane!! It is looking amazing!!!

There is a sheet of mylar relaxing in the next room as I type. Doing decals for play field markings and then mylar over the top.

Quoted from Gerry:

If you put a high end ball in there and wax it with good wax....
I highly recomend collonite #885... you should have no problems on that surface...

I figured it was just a matter of time. The more I ignored the "waxed balls" thread, the more likely it was that it would come find me...

#413 5 years ago

Looking into it... I'd rather not mylar it, myself, but am getting short on time. Originally, I was going to spot blast the areas where words go and then paint them in and clear coat. Found making stencils for words that small while not impossible, would be difficult at best. My best option at this point is to do the words on white background decal paper. I believe it will give me the look I want, but I have to protect it. Will have to do some quick experimenting to see if that can be waxed without destroying it. Either that or I go with no verbiage on the play field. Not a desirable option either.

#416 5 years ago
Quoted from Gerry:

Collinite will absoulutely 100% NOT damage that PF...

Not worried about the polycarbonate, worried about the decals...

#425 5 years ago
Quoted from winteriscoming:

You already invested a lot into this, so maybe this suggestion won't be too expensive for you.


Waaaaay back on page three you can see the work I did making stencils with my Cameo. My point is that the playfield letters are 1/4" and 1/8". It will cut them, but the weeding and usage would probably be more frustration than fruitful.

Well, y'all screamed loudly and I heard ya. The mylar is out and the wax is in. The results of my unscientific experiment are quite clear. I am also going with the white backed decals. It is really close to the look I was going for anyways.

#427 5 years ago
Quoted from winteriscoming:

At the end of the day, it will be awesome no matter how you do it. I'm just a spectator and ultimately my opinion means nothing.

I take all advice seriously and actually heed some of it! LOL This place is a virtual plethora of useful (and useless) information. (Not to mention the repository of boob pics and ball jokes.)

Today I finished polishing out the ball shooter lane guides and top arc. With any luck, tomorrow I will assemble the back box and begin to install play field inserts and lower machinery.

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