By Alan Lewis

What can I say? This thing looks like a piece of junk!


The first item to fix was the structure of the cabinet. It was completely falling apart.

The interesting thing about the old cabinets is that they were made from solid lumber, not plywood. Lumber was still cheap back then. So larger panels were made by gluing up narrow boards.

I used Gorilla Glue to repair all the seams and joints.

An example of a new corner block glued in place.

An example of one new and one old corner block glued in place. Note the rear panel was severely warped and split along the edge seam of the boards. I completely broke the panel into two pieces and reglued to be flat so I could reuse the old lumber. The Gorilla Glue filled the void along the seam very well.


Now that the cabinet is structurally sound it is time to make it look good again.

This was decision time: do I try to save the original paint or do I repaint. I always like to save the original paint on my pinball machines if possible. But this cabinet had some serious issues. One was the severe fading of the paint. Another was the old silver graffiti. But more importantly there was a nasty resinous stain that soaked completely through the wood at the front left corner and the paint was mostly gone or falling off.

There was no way to save this paint.

The resinous stain was permanent, soaked all the way to the inside. Nothing was going to stick to it and there was no way to remove it (I tried solvents). I decided to strip the cabinet and start over. The stain will still be there but I have more options to deal with it.

First I made measured drawings of the cabinet paint pattern so I could make stencils.

After stripping and sanding the cabinet I used Kilz primer to cover the cabinet stain. But I used the new solvent free version of Kilz and it did not work. The stain just came right through. I tried three coats and none would hide this stain.

I found that I had to use the original solvent based Kilz primer to seal over the stain permanently. Once I used that the stain was gone. The original Kilz primer is based on Shellac I think. The new Kilz is latex based.

I found that by uncovering the original paint in hidden areas of the cabinet I had a good chance of proper color matching. I found that the green matches "John Deere Green", the red matches Rust-Oleum "Banner Red" America's Finest brand. The white base coat was just a standard gloss white and the spatter is gloss black.




This is the drawing I made of the main cabinet. The scratched out area in the upper left is where the cabinet had black paint around the flipper buttons, but I determined that this was not original.



This is the front cabinet and the backbox drawing. I noted that the rear cabinet panel and backbox top panel was solid green with black spatter.


This is the AutoCad drawing I made from the hand drawing above.

Now I could print out the stencils and paint the cabinet.

I printed out the stencils using my letter sized inkjet printer. I just printed a bunch of sections of the long drawings and taped them together into one piece. Then I cut them out.

You can see my lines for the letter sized sections along the long item.

This is the taped together stencil from the Acad printout (the photo is after I used it so it is wrinkled)

It is for the spatter mask after the colors are painted on.

The stencils for the cabinet patterns and colors were hand drawn onto poster board. I used the measured drawing to do the layout. Then they were cut with a knife.

To attach the stencils to the cabinet I lightly sprayed the back sides with contact cement. This makes a temporary bonding adhesive, similar to Post-It Note adhesive. The stencils lay perfectly flat and don't move, but will peel off easily. As long as you only lightly spray the stencil the adhesive will not permanently stick to the cabinet.



The diamond shapes have to be painted on in succession. First the red goes on and dries and the stencil comes off. Then the green stencil goes on. Or maybe it is the other way around, I forget. Either way it works, just plan it out beforehand so you draw the stencils correctly for a slight overlap.

I don't show the backbox stencil, but it is made the same way.


The patterns are already painted on, now it is time for the spatter, the challenging part!

The spatter must be spaced 1/2" away from the color patterns along all edges. This means that a solid white border is around all the color shapes.

The spatter mask is placed on and held down (I used a bunch of wood discs I had)

The spatter is put on using a coarse wire brush (a welders wire brush) that is dipped into thinned black paint. It is held over the cabinet and whacked firmly with a piece of wood. How hard you hit and the distance from the cabinet controls the dot size. You need a random size and pattern so you vary the distance and how hard you hit the brush.

It works like a champ!

When you get the right dot density it is done!


The coin mechanism was used as an ashtray and broken.  Stick epoxy repaired all the areas and painted to match original color.



The top of the backbox was missing the two removable pieces.  These were made up to fit.


Painted and speckled to match



Copyright 2007 by Alan Lewis

No copying without written permission