Sunday, March 15, 2009

Restoring a Swiss Cheesed Control Panel

Like many Dragon's Lairs, this one was ultimately converted to another game. This particular one became a Clutch Hitter, which required 2 joysticks with 3 buttons per joystick. The original Dragon's Lair had one centrally mounted joystick with 2 sword buttons, one per side.

Here's the converted panel:


Here I am in the progress of stripping the panel. My trusty heat gun, box cutter and scraper are clearly in view. For removing the adhesive, I used some Goo gone and a brass wire wheel brush on a power drill.


Check out the cleaned off panel--I see way too many holes! Fortunately, when they converted it, they did not fill any holes--they just cut new holes, put on the overlay, and bolted a piece of plexiglass over it.

My strategy for filling the holes was simple. I bought a thin piece of aluminum sheet metal, and cut it to the exact size of the panel I was working on.


Next, I clamped it in place behind the panel, and traced out only the holes I wanted to keep with a sharpie.

The 'keeper' holes were then cut out (roughly) with a dremel. They need not be perfectly round, since they won't be seen or touched in the finished article.

Next, I slathered on some quick setting epoxy:

Then I glued the aluminum sheet (carefully aligned) to the original panel. You can see that I clamped it in place with some spare junk buttons and some spring clamps. Now I have nice solid metal behind every hole I want to fill.


Bondo time! Here is the first layer after application:


Here it is after some sanding. I ended up putting on another layer (mounded up over the holes) and repeating the sanding process.

Next up I had to do some work with a metal file--some of the holes were kind of rough cut with the drill from the original conversion. After the edges were flattened out, I cleaned the panel with 409 (to get rid of dirt/fingerprints) and then primed the sanded panel:


That's starting to look more recognizable. After priming, I put on a coat of black paint.


Next, I lined up the overlay (from Quaterarcade) and put in some buttons for alignment. I pulled the backing off of the top edge, and tacked it down.


Next, I removed the buttons, and slowly removed the rest of the backing, sticking the overlay to the panel. I used a heat gun (very gently) to heat the portion of the overlay that had to make the 90 degree bend. Then I clamped it down (with spring clamps and some buttons).


Here's a shot of the panel in place on the machine, with a leaf switch Wico installed and a few buttons loosely tossed in.


Here's the machine with the restored panel and marquee. The cabinet still needs a lot of work, but it's identity crisis is over.

4 comments:

Dan Amrich said...

Holy cow, that looks fantastic. Great work.

gibbous said...

Very nice. Thanks for sharing!

Dave said...

I'm loving that Dragons Lair. Making me wish I had one of my own.

Robert Musick said...

Hey, don't know if you are still reading these posts, but was wondering if you would mind sharing some info. I am in the process of restoring a Space Ace Control panel..Exact same Layout as the DL. Could you tell me what size carriage bolts you used for the Joy stick? I can't seem to find this information anywhere.
Thanks