(Topic ID: 284327)

The Phantom Tollbooth Retheme


By wayinla

35 days ago



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  • 84 posts
  • 19 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 6 days ago by punkin
  • Topic is favorited by 17 Pinsiders

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16
#1 35 days ago

I wanted to share what has been an educational and enjoyable project for me that started just after the Covid pandemic started. I have, so far, been happy with the results, and your thoughts could be to the contrary, and that’s cool too. I’m just excited that I was able to do what I intended to do.

This pin has really been a labor of love for me and I hope that anyone who has the patience to read this thread and see the pictures will read the book and be inspired to do a project of their own. And it doesn’t even have to be a pinball project!

When I was in elementary school I was looking for a book to read and the librarian suggested the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster with illustrations by Jules Feiffer. Since that time it has become my favorite children’s book, full of amazing characters, fantasy and lessons to be learned. The flowing yet scratchy drawings and elaborate map by Mr. Feiffer added so much to the story left such an impression on me that I HAD to honor their work with a pinball. I decided that the playfield would be the map of the Kingdom of Knowledge shown at the beginning of the book.

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#2 35 days ago

I knew that I couldn’t make a pinball from scratch so it had to be a retheme of a beater pin. I didn’t want to deal with sound so it would be an em. I hate to destroy original art so I had to find a pin that wasn’t a popular one and was also a beater. I was lucky to find a Williams Super Star in that condition (check the ratings!) I played it for a month and was surprised that it was a fun little pin. Simple but it had a chaotic appeal that I enjoyed. I also found that the game play and simple rules would match the Phantom Tollbooth theme almost perfectly.

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#3 35 days ago

The playfield was removed and put onto my rotisserie. Then I went old school and taped paper together and did my rough sketch of the new art. The tricky part was to reconfigure the original map in the book from a landscape orientation to the pinball playfield’s very long portrait orientation

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#4 35 days ago

When I had the art finalized the playfield was disassembled using ideas from Vid’s playfield restoration thread. Lots of photos and labeling using painters tape. Heavy parts like coils were zip tied to keep them from bumping around. Loose parts were put in labeled zip lock bags.
When the top of the playfield was cleared and the mechanics were secured, the backside was taped up with plastic to protect it from over spray. Then I used a random orbital sander to remove the old art.

The next step was to prepare it for the new art.

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#5 35 days ago

Masking prep work. I decided to make the ocean areas of the map unpainted wood to add more interest to the playfield. A liquid mask was applied to create the coastline. It turned out to be a pain to remove and it would have been best to use frisket.

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#6 35 days ago

The playfield paint was a rattle can Krylon Fusion flat white that sprayed on easily and smoothly. Several thin layers that ended up being a bit thick but was required to cover the darker underlying wood. The extra layer of paint proved to be useful when adding the art. A Costco tent protected the paint from the elements.

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#7 35 days ago

Mask removed. Coastline detail.

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#8 35 days ago

Following. Very cool idea!

#9 35 days ago

Starting the art. Doing it the first time was scary. I didn’t want to screw it up!

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#10 35 days ago

More art drawn in. Another scary task was lettering. I wanted to copy the the look and feel of the art and felt that the lettering was extremely important. I noticed that Mr. Feiffer had a mixture of upper and lowercase characters so that needed to be kept. It also needed to be hand draw and everyone who knows me knows that my penmanship is awful. One thing I was worried about was keeping the letters horizontal and even so I taped a T-square to the table as a guide. I just went very slowly and I think the lettering came out ok and fairly true to the original.

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#11 35 days ago

Oh yeah, one of the more difficult things to draw were the roads. Keeping two lines parallel to each other was not easy, and it shows!

#13 35 days ago

I did make several changes (mistakes!) while drawing on the white painted playfield. Even though the initial rough art was first penciled in there were times where after I used ink, I just screwed up or changed my mind. Luckily the India ink had a somewhat erasable property. Most of the ink came off using an art eraser. What didn’t completely come off was totally removed with a light sanding of the paint. The most drastic change was the Doldrums. The first time I drew it the swirling road looked too much like a maze and not like the book art so I had to erase/sand the entire section and redo it.

#14 35 days ago

Deciding on the clear coat was a back and forth issue. Since the pin is an em, should I honor the simple clear that was used in the 70’s or go with the modern 2pac? I decided on going modern with the Spraymax 2k because I wanted maximum protection to preserve the art. The cabinet will have original art in the spirit of the em’s.

After reading all the SprayMax posts, the toxicity of the 2pac was troubling and I didn’t want to invest a lot of money into a respirator, filters, etc. but I did want to be protected. So another project was in the works. I bought a full face swim mask, and three 6 feet bilge hoses. I connected the mask to the hoses and the hoses to a small fan. The whole setup worked great supplying fresh air to the mask while forcing any spray away from the mask. I did wear a Tyvek bunny suit. I cleared coated the playfield outdoors under a Costco tent with good results.

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#15 35 days ago

I decided on keeping the original cupped inserts but they had to be leveled with 2pac. I tried spraying the SprayMax in cup and eye drop it onto the inserts but it created lots of bubbling. After about three attempts and having to dremel out the bubbled clear, I finally bought Acme FC710 clear and FH612 hardener. Mixed 3 to 1 and applied with a glass eye dropper - no bubbles! Then came a lot of wet sanding with 1200 and 2000 grit sand paper. There are about four layers of clear. SunnyScopa laser waterslide decals were sandwiched between layers of clear.

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#16 35 days ago

Because the land is in white paint and the seas were unpainted wood, the plastics that are on the seaside were made from thin basswood sheets to match the playfield. I used 1/32” basswood so that the GI lights would emit a warm glow through the wood. I used MinWax Clear and several light layers of MinWax Ipswich Pine to get close to matching the playfield color. Not perfect but close enough for me.

The plastic pieces were two layers, one with the line art and a white decal for the background.

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#18 34 days ago

I borrowed a friend’s cheap scroll saw to cut the new playfield plastics from Polycarbonate Clear Plastic Sheet 12" X 18" X 0.0625" (1/16").

#19 34 days ago

Ugh. I forgot that one screw for a roll over button switch was too long and it pushed up the clear coat. Luckily it didn’t go completely through but it did cause a little bump on the playfield. I replaced the screw with one of the correct size. The damage really isn’t too bad so I ll have to live with it.

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10
#20 34 days ago

Repopulating the playfield

The original playfield posts are red and I don’t like how they look on the mostly white playfield. Wondering if I can spray them white? I can’t find 1 1/16” white posts but there are jeweled clear posts available and I would need 39 of them.

Replaced all the red posts to clear and it looks so much better. The red was too distracting but the clear blends in with the white playfield perfectly.

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#21 34 days ago

I am really impressed by the art on this! I know most (all?) of this is Feiffer's stuff, but your layout and care in planning it is really awesome!

#22 34 days ago

Very cool!

#23 34 days ago

Dude. Amazing ! I remember this being one of my favorite books in the early 70's in grade school. There was also a movie made, 1/2 live action and 1/2 cartoon by Chuck Jones of Bugs Bunny fame. Several clips on YouTube.

You've done a fantastic and I can't wait to see the finished pin.

#24 34 days ago
Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

I am really impressed by the art on this! I know most (all?) of this is Feiffer's stuff, but your layout and care in planning it is really awesome!

Thanks! Yes, all the art is copied or styled after Mr. Feiffer. Most of the characters are scanned from the book and turned into decals, though a couple were hand drawn. The key lines around the inserts and their lettering are decals. I think the font is “Comic”. Same with the point values scattered around the playfield.

#25 34 days ago
Quoted from seeburg220:

Dude. Amazing ! I remember this being one of my favorite books in the early 70's in grade school. There was also a movie made, 1/2 live action and 1/2 cartoon by Chuck Jones of Bugs Bunny fame. Several clips on YouTube.
You've done a fantastic and I can't wait to see the finished pin.

I think a lot of kids were influenced by this book back in the day. My buddy’s son who is a 28 year old EMT said it was his favorite book. I’ve talked to some of my other friends with younger children and oddly enough not many of them knew about this book. But there are a LOT of books to read and hopefully they’ll get to it.

I have never seen the Chuck Jones adaptation of TPT (another acronym for Pinside!). It’s always a different experience seeing this type of work. They usually take a lot of liberties with the story. It it does look like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to see it!

#26 34 days ago

Now that the playfield was pretty set I started work on the cabinet design. I wanted the pin to somewhat fit in with an EM line up so the art was inspired by Gottleib’s 2001/Dimension pinball made in 1971. Part of me choosing this was because the design was all straight lines and could be easily created using tape and a straight edge. One thing I noticed was that in the 1970’s the cabinet art didn’t necessarily have to be related to the theme, which actually made design decisions easier.

I like things simple but I did want it a little different so the art on the side of the head is more complex, depicting the Mountains of Ignorance from the book. I also chose to use three colors instead of the usual two colors of the the time. Here is what the art looked like on the computer.

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#27 34 days ago

The cabinet’s old paint was removed using Jasco paint & epoxy remover. With the possibility that the paint contained lead I didn’t want to sand it off. I then used Kilz primer, Rustoleum filler primer spray and Bondo to fix the major wood defects and then sprayed a covering coat of Kilz primer. All painting was done with rattle cans.

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#28 34 days ago

The cabinet (head) art was printed on paper and taped together. I then made tiny holes where each corner of the art was so I could put a pen through it. I applied Frisket for onto the side of the head. The paper stencil was taped into place and I used a pen through each hole to make a dot on the Frisket. Then it was just a matter of connecting the dots and cutting the stencil with an x-acto

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#29 34 days ago

Painting of the head complete. All paint was rattle can Rustoleum Painter’s Touch 2X (satin):

Blossom White
Canyon Black
Oasis Blue
Fire Orange

I chose Blossom White over some of the warmer Heirloom White or ivory because if the white does yellow over time I don’t want it to get too dark. Splatter was done with Rustoleum flat black spayed into a cap and flicked on with a toothbrush. I went conservative on the splatter.

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#30 34 days ago

Loving this thread. Great work-

#31 33 days ago

Main cabinet gets the same treatment. I accidentally painted over a section that should be blank (circled area). Sanded, painted and fixed.

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#32 32 days ago

Cabinet and head almost done. Just some clear coat with semi-gloss water based Varathane. The iPhone wide angle makes for some weird perspectives!

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#33 32 days ago

I can’t believe this is the same game! Great work!

#34 32 days ago
Quoted from hodgesm0:

I can’t believe this is the same game! Great work!

Thanks! I hope it works when I put it back together!

#35 29 days ago

A rare rainy day in Los Angeles. The cabinet legs have come out their Evaporust bath and are looking better than before. The rear legs are in decent shape, while the front are a bit pitted but presentable. Spruced them up a bit with NevrDull and then waxed. I hope this protects them just a bit.

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The chromed piece that sits at the back of the cabinet and above the playfield also had the same rust treatment but is not looking good. Any suggestions short of new chrome plating? I could just paint it black.

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#36 29 days ago
Quoted from wayinla:

A rare rainy day in Los Angeles. The cabinet legs have come out their Evaporust bath and are looking better than before. The rear legs are in decent shape, while the front are a bit pitted but presentable. Spruced them up a bit with NevrDull and then waxed. I hope protects them just a bit.
The chromed piece that sits at the back of the cabinet and above the playfield also had the same rust treatment but is not looking good. Any suggestions short of new chrome plating? I could just paint it black.
[quoted image][quoted image]

I would be inclined to try Chrome colored spray paint, after sanding it a bit.

As for the legs, put the better ones on the front.

#37 29 days ago

This is amazing!

#38 29 days ago
Quoted from seeburg220:

I would be inclined to try Chrome colored spray paint, after sanding it a bit.
As for the legs, put the better ones on the front.

Thanks! I think I ll try the chrome paint. Is there a brand or specific one to use?

The game came will longer legs in the back so I don’t think I can switch them.

#39 27 days ago

Getting there. I may need to repaint that apron, though I did want to keep the history of the original pin.

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#40 27 days ago

Progress! After sitting part for several months, it needed some reseating of the Jones plugs and started up. The score reels reset to zero (yea!) but the relay motor kept on going. I powered it off and on and now it’s dead. Time to break out the schematic. This is the part that I’m still new at.

One thing I was concerned about was if the basswood playfield parts would have that warm glow. In the brief time that the pin was on I thought it looked pretty nice!

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#41 27 days ago

Wow !! Great work !!

#42 27 days ago

Found the problem. The left flipper on Williams em’s turns in the game and the switch needed to be gaped.

Now the 10’s score reel is constantly buzzing and it looks like a sling switch also needs gapping. So I’ll go through the pin and troubleshoot it. Looks like it can be played soon!

#43 27 days ago

Now to figure out the backglass/translite.

#44 27 days ago
Quoted from rvdv:

Wow !! Great work !!

Thanks! It’s been fun and a great learning experience. There’s a lot of little things and a couple of big things I could have done better or more thoroughly but I think for my first project it’s coming along better than I expected.

#45 26 days ago

Taking a New Year’s Eve break from troubleshooting. Found a Phantom Tollbooth mug I bought from Etsy a few years ago. I think when I got this I thought I have a chance of recreating the art.

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#46 25 days ago

Got the pin up and running! Still have some switches to tweak (buzzing and some chimes not reacting to some switches) but it’s playable. This is my first em that I dug deep into so there’s a lot to learn, especially deciphering schematics. Here’s a few pictures of the lighted playfield. I’ll try to get a video up when the tweaks are complete.

In this first picture I have a print out of my translite design to check alignment with lights in the back box

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#47 24 days ago

Game play video. I’ve got the playfield up about 9 degrees. Plenty zippy!

I like how the white playfield makes everything clearer. Lit inserts do not get lost in the playfield colors as in the original Super Star. Inserts are LEDs and gi are incandescents. Now I need that translite!

#48 24 days ago

Looks absolutely fantastic! Great work on all the art and putting this together !!

#49 24 days ago

This looks unbelievable! I also remember and loved that book, and I am really impressed with all of the work and care you put in to create this.

#50 24 days ago

mbecker
Much appreciated! This is a fun project.

a-1bogart
Thanks for the kind words. It’s such a great story.

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