I’ve got to admit, last night was the most nervous I’ve been in my brief stint as an arcade collector. I decided it was time to apply a brand new control panel overlay on Centipede. “Why the nerves?”, you might ask. Sure a new reproduction overlay isn’t terribly expensive but you only get one shot to do it right. Everything needs to line up properly and the overlay applied without air bubbles. One slip and it’s going to look terrible. Most people probably wouldn’t notice a slight misalignment or a minor air bubble. I would and it would drive me nuts!
I’ve been prepping the control panel for a few days. Obviously, the first step was to remove the old control panel overlay. Surprisingly, I was able to peel it off without much trouble. Unfortunately, all of the adhesive was still on the control panel. I did quite a bit of research to determine the best way to remove the adhesive. Since I was working in the basement I needed something that was relatively odor free. I saw several suggestions for a product called Citristrip which I found in a quart sized container at my local WalMart. The Citristrip was brushed onto the adhesive and I let it set for about 6 hours. You can apparently let it sit for up to 24 hours. Using a putty knife to scrape, the old adhesive slid right off. I rinsed the control panel off with water and dried it with a hair dryer then sanded both the front and back sides down to bare metal. I had to do a lot of hand sanding on the back side as my sander wouldn’t fit. I used 100 grit paper until the panel was bare, then hit it with 150 grit paper. Just for good measure, I sanded one more time with 220 grit paper (click on each image for a larger version):
I then decided to hit the control panel with a couple layers of Rustoleum paint. There’s debate about the necessity of this step but since my panel had some rust prior to sanding, I opted for it as the Rustoleum should prohibit rust in the future. I applied one layer of Rustoleum semi-gloss black spray paint to the control panel and waited. 8 hours later, I was still waiting as the paint was tacky and had not set up yet. I had to wait two days for the paint to dry. I decided to look for another alternative and found the Rustoleum “Professional” line of paints. It is advertised as having better spray coverage and a much faster drying time. I can attest to both and it’s only about $1 more than the regular Rustoleum paint. I’ll be using this on all of my projects from here on out:
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That’s it. I made it! No bubbles and no misalignment. I probably spent 1/2 hour stripped the old control panel overlay and removing the adhesive, 45 minutes sanding, 1/2 hour painting (excluding wait times for drying) and an hour installing the new overlay and putting the panel back together. I’m not sure I’ll be any less nervous the next time but as Mr. Rogers used to sing, just “take your time and do it right”.