Control Panel Refinishing

We have a Frogger cabinet in the arcade that was converted to Rally Bike. I stuck a Raiden II boardset in it (always liked the Raiden games) and since it's been earning really well, I decided to give it a new control panel. As luck would have it, I had a scrounged "Twin Cobra" control panel that was also from a Frogger cabinet and happened to have all the right holes cut in it...

(And yes, I literally crawled into a dumpster at the local vending/arcade distributor several years ago to get this control panel. Gotta put that college degree to good use, you know. "Dumpster Diving at Dunis" was my "Wednesday after work" routine until I got a girlfriend. ;-)

Step one. Joysticks and buttons removed from control panel
Mmmmmm... BBQ! The overlay wanted nothing to do with coming off, so a few minutes on the BBQ got the metal nice and toasty which made peeling the overlay off remarkably simple. Smelled really bad though. Not recommended for your home oven.
The overlay left plenty of adhesive and 'gunk' on the metal. (A spilled coke had got under there too and caused some significant rust as well.) Multiple applications of Jasco paint/epoxy remover makes short work of adhesives. Don't worry-- according to the can it only causes cancer in Californa.
With the adhesive stripped off and the remain Jasco washed away to contaminate the ground water, time for a bath in Naval Jelly. The Naval Jelly will neutralize and dissolve any rust. Just brush on, let sit for 5-10 minutes, and wash away...
All nice and shiny! I put the panel in the (indoor) oven at ~170F for 30 minutes or so to make sure all the water was well dried away after washing it. The Naval Jelly will protect the metal from flash-rust for at least a day.
Time for some welding. I tacked some metal plates (found in the electrical aisle of the local hardware store) on the back of the panel with a wire-feed welder. The plates covered holes from other conversions that I didn't want. (Yeah, I had a little feed problem with the wire on that one on the left and got a bit hot...)
With the welds done, I mixed up some "Evercoat RAGE" (about the same as "Bondo") and filled the holes after cleaning everything well with MEK. I left the original Frogger control holes alone in case one day this gets converted back...
With the RAGE hardened (about 20 minutes) I hit the excess with a Dewalt hand sander. I went ahead and smoothed out any other rough spots on the metal at the same time. (About 200 grit paper and another cleaning with MEK.)
Rustoleum Flat Black in a spray can. My favorite arcade-game parts color. I put the paint on just to prevent any needless rusting under the control panel overlay. Baked on at ~170F in the oven for a couple hours to speed up curing.
One generic control panel overlay later... (I *hate* putting on CPO's. I'm not very good at it. I heated up both the CPO and panel with a hairdryer to make the CPO more flexible. Then it was just trying to get it on straight and *slowly* wrapping everything around...)
Done! Some joysticks and buttons from Happ Controls and it's finished! Turned out looking pretty good for generic JAMMA stuff...

Hope this was helpful to someone!


Updated: 6/19/2003

2003, Clayton Cowgill