A few years back, I picked up a cabinet that had been partially converted to MAME. It was a Track & Field cabinet (painted black) that was stripped, but otherwise in really nice shape. At the time I thought, hey, I can use this for MAME and *maybe* convert it back at some point in the future.
The parts didn't seem to fall into my lap though, so the project was on the way back burner until a few weeks ago, when I bought some parts and the guy threw in this for free:
I believe his exact words were (while chuckling): "You want that?" I was pretty psyched, since this would finally get my project off the ground. The panel had seen better days, but the metal was good, and that's pretty much all you need. If you find yourself restoring a control panel, there are 2 tools that are an absolute necessity in my book. The first is a heat gun. It looks like a hair drier but gets a lot hotter. Hitting the trashed overlay with the heat from the gun loosens up the adhesive, which allows the overlay to be easily scraped off.
Next off I had to remove some of the adhesive. There are a lot of products out there that are supposed to do this, but I went with an odd recommendation from rgvac--peanut butter. It worked ok, but next time I think I will try something stronger. Apart from the adhesive, I had to remove a lot of rust. Both sides of this panel had a lot of rust; maybe it was left outside at some point. This is where the second tool comes into play: a power drill with wire wheel brush. I've sanded stuff by hand before, but this bad boy ate it up like nobody's business! If you already have a drill, you can get a wire wheel for about $3.00. After cleaning off the metal, it was primed, and painted satin black on the control panel side. (I did this so only black would be visibile on the sides if the overlay was slightly offset on application--it's usually a good idea to do this.) This was all done with spraycans (Rustoleum), since I don't have a fancy painting setup.
After letting this dry, I placed an order with Pheonixarcade . They do great screenprinted arcade artwork, and Track & Field appears to be one of their specialties. Here's the sweet overlay they sent:
Installing it went smoothly. It arrived with a the backing punched out for two of the buttons. This allowed me to set the overlay on the control panel with two buttons aligning it on the button holes. I pulled away the backing on the opposite side of the panel and tacked it down. Then, I unfastened the buttons, and removed the rest of the backing, and carefully smoothed the overlay into place. I would have pictures of what I just described, but my hands were kind of full at the time! Here is the final result, finished off with some leaf switch buttons from Bob Roberts: