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Pinball Rehab

pinball repair and restoration

Making Ramp Flaps Making Ramp Flaps Hot

There's nothing worse than a rusty  looking ramp flap and it's not always easy to locate a replacement.  The good news is that with the right tools, a new ramp flap is pretty easy to make.  All you need is some blue spring steel (available at Pinrestore.com) and a Hand Punch Set (see references).  See Image 1.

After removing the original ramp, use it as a template to cut out a new ramp from the blue spring steel.  There are several solutions for cutting spring steel.  A grinder with a cut-off wheel works well if you clamp the spring steel between two pieces of flat steel, which will serve as a guide and heat-sink.

Note: Overheating spring steel will ruin the temper.

A bench shear will give you nice straight cuts.  If you don't have access to one, your local community college might be willing to either let you use theirs or cut the piece for you.  Lacking any other options, use a good pair of sharp scissors (I've found this works better than tin snips, although they may not be a good pair of scissors after you're done).

I have never been able to get decent looking round corners with any method, so I just trim each corner to make a 45.  If anyone has a technique for making rounded corners let me know.

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Making Ramp Flaps
Making Ramp Flaps
Making Ramp Flaps
Making Ramp Flaps
Making Ramp Flaps

If needed, use a small jewelers file to smooth the cut edges.  Place the new ramp flap on a piece of wood and place the file at about a 45 degree angle, with the handle lower than the tip of the file (see Image 2).  Repeat this on both sides.  A couple of quick passes, moving the file away from you, will do the job.

The position of the holes needs to be exact so use the old ramp flap as a template to punch holes in the new one.    If the two pieces are clamped directly together it's difficult to keep the punch in the hole of the old ramp flap while working, so you can use a little cardboard to help out.

Using three small pieces of cardboard, one on each side and one between the old and new ramp flap, clip them together with a pair of hemostats (see Images 2 and 3).  Note: I got the hemostats from my brother, he's a surgeon, and I'm scared to ask him if that's rust or old dried blood.  Align the edges carefully when clamping.

Place the punch in the hole of the old ramp flap, with the anvil on the other side and give the hole punch a good squeeze.  Repeat for the second hole.  The hole shouldn't need any filing, so you are now the proud owner of a new ramp flap (see Image 4).