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Pinball Rehab

pinball repair and restoration

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Restoring Cabinet Graphics - Overview
There are several techniques available when restoring damage to cabinet graphics. Which one you use depends on how the graphics where originally applied, the type of damage and the complexity of the graphics. The purpose of this article is to help you decide which is the best approach for your situation and link to the appropriate techniques. This article is oriented towards major graphics repair requiring creating decals or stencils. For repairing cabinet graphics damage by painting with a brush or airbrush see this article. Types of Cabinet Graphics Many...
 
 
Editing Graphics with Vector Software
Once you've copied a pinball graphic using a camera or scanner (see references for how to do this) it's time to create a final graphic for publishing. While some will skip the editing step, you are going to get a much more professional looking product with a little editing work. For these examples I'm using CorelDraw X6. It has a very slick tool called PowerTRACE for easily converting bitmap images into vector files. Other vector problems like Adobe Illustrator have similar tools or there are free online services that will convert a bitmap graphic...
 
 
Editing Graphics with Bitmap Software
Once you've copied a pinball graphic using a camera or scanner (see references for how to do this) it's time to create a final graphic for publishing. While some will skip the editing step, you are going to get a much more professional looking product with a little work. For these examples I'm using Corel PaintShop Pro X5 (a bitmap, or raster, editing program). It has a very slick tool called Find All Edges which makes the process about 10 times faster than doing it manually (of course you do give up some accuracy). ...
 
 
Creating and Applying Vinyl Decals
This article covers using vinyl decals to repair cabinet graphics that are so severely mangled there is no choice but to cut away the damaged area. The same technique is appropriate when a portion of decal has been peeled off during moving, or some other such misadventure. Since the graphics in this case are dithered (small colored dots used to create the illusion of more colors used in the printing process) it's impossible to recreate the look with paint (see Image 2). When replacing graphics that have to be cut-out it's best to use...
 
 
Cabinet Touch-Up Paint (Hook)
I recently did a cabinet touch-up on a Data East Hook pinball that required a different technique than I would normally use. In Image 1 you can see a large black smear on the left side of the cabinet front. The black area appears to be a manufacturing defect; either the black color ran or later colors weren't applied properly. Since I needed to cover the black with yellow, which is absolutely the worst color as far as coverage, I decided to first paint the entire area yellow and then come back and redo the...
 
 
Repairing Stripped Screw Holes in Wood
If you work on a pinball game for more than about five minutes you're going to find a stripped screw hole in either the cabinet or the playfield. All you need is some wood glue and a couple of toothpicks to fix this problem (bamboo skewers also work well). It is worth noting, this is the procedure that professional woodworkers use on stripped holes. All you need to do is dip the toothpick in the wood glue and push it into the screw hole until it hits bottom. Then do the same with a...
 
 
Wood Patching Guide
This article is intended to provide general wood patching techniques that will help you to complete cabinet, backbox and playfield repair. Even if you have experience with non-pinball wood repair you will find information and techniques specific to pinball repair in the article. For specific pinball repair examples see the cabinet restoration section or the playfield restoration section. Tools and Supplies The first step is to get your supplies and tools together. I keep several types of wood filler on hand for pinball repair: Elmer's Carpenters Wood Filler, Minwax High Performance...
 
 
Repairing Backbox Corners
Remember that Samsonite commercial where a gorilla jumps up and down on someone's luggage at the airport? I just picked up a Data East Hook pinball that must have been moved from location to location by the same gorilla. Every corner on the backbox was heavily destroyed (see image 1). In addition, on several corners the top layer of plywood was de-laminated (see image 2). Normally if the wood was only slightly de-laminated (as compared to warped out about 1/2 an inch as it was on the Hook) I would use wood glue for...
 
 
 
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