A while back I bought a machine that I had no idea what it was originally because it was painted completely black, and gutted (aside from the 25” Wells Gardner monitor). This did not bother me much as I wanted to make it a MAME cabinet anyway, and the cabinet and CRT was all that was important to me at the time.
Helpful people figured out it was originally a TMNT machine (it took a while to figure this out because it only had a 2 player coin door, but I soon discovered the previous owner actually replaced the entire front of the machine to accommodate a 2 player coin door). Since then, I have replaced the front wood and made a cutout for a 4 player coin door.
So obviously my idea is to make this thing a TMNT machine again, though I will be making it a MAME cabinet because the machine was already gutted and TMNT PCBs are expensive. Not to mention I want to be able to play quite a few different titles (I already have my J-PAC, arcadeVGA, and other things needed).
I am having a difficult time trying to figure out how to fit the CPO without it looking like garbage.
I was lucky enough to find that someone actually sells TMNT CPO without any character buttons or anything, which is perfect since my control panel would not match up.
This is the one I bought: http://www.gameongrafix.com/control-panels--239/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-4player-no-characters-
Luckily this will not require putting plexi over the control panel, because the idea of cutting plexi makes me queasy. However, I am terrified about cutting into $70 worth of artwork.
Here is my control panel, so far:
(I know the box it is resting on is way too small).
I have since filled the 5th and 6th buttons on both side players since there is no such thing as 4 player games using all 6 buttons. I have also filled in the left and right hole above the square hole for the trackball (the remaining middle hole is for a spinner).
My issue is I have no idea how to cut all of these holes without it looking like a jagged mess.
With the button holes, I have room to be a little messy since the buttons have a lip on them and will hide that. But how am I supposed to do the hole for the trackball?
My idea to try and cut the button holes was to use the adhesive backing of the artwork, and stick it to the control panel. Then just cut some holes from the underside which should be OK for the button holes. But that is going to be too messy for the trackball hole, again because there is no “lip” so you are going to see it looking non-perfect. I bought an Exact-o knife and some #11 blades which, correct me if I am wrong, should be the best blades for this. But considering the hole is going to be exposing just the trackball, how am I supposed to cut this perfectly?
Further confusing things is the fact that the metal mounting plate for the trackball is obviously a completely different material than the rest of the control panel. Isn’t this going to be an issue when placing the adhesive for the CPO artwork? Isn’t it going to be noticeable that there’s metal underneath that portion and not wood? Do people just put a thin layer of wood filler on top of the metal mounting plate or something?
My final question relates to the artwork installation. This is the exact artwork I bought: http://www.ebay.com/itm/TMNT-Side-Art-Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles-Arcade-Game-/122266350413
In the auction, the seller is claiming it’s resistant to air bubbles, which is great! However, I am worried about it not sticking properly to the side of my cab. After 3 days of using orange gel substances and scraping for hours on end, I finally got all the black paint off of the side of my cab:
As you can see on the bottom part of my cabinet, I had to replace some of the wood due to it being in really bad shape. It isn’t lined up perfectly, however. Towards the middle, the replacement wood “sticks out” very, very slightly. It is perfectly flush at the front and back, but it’s not perfect in the middle. I have put in wood filler and sanded like crazy, but it’s not perfect. Is there any way to hide this? If I sound like I am being obsessive, people have said that even a single piece of hair will look terrible if the artwork is over it, so I would imagine this is going to be real easy to notice.
Another question about the artwork: I have read that I should make sure the surface is nice and smooth before putting the artwork on. Most of the machine has a nice semi-gloss to it. There’s some parts where I went crazy with the orange paint peeler and of course the entire bottom replacement is not glossy at all. Should I paint the sides with some sort of wood gloss? Or is a glossy black paint good enough?
Also I have used wood filler where there were any nicks on the sides, so that the artwork goes on perfectly as possible. However, along the “back edge” of the machine, the wood isn’t razor sharp along the edges. I have circled an example of what it looks like in yellow:
It’s a bit “rough” and I would imagine this is going to be obvious with the sideart. Even worse, I would imagine this will leave some “open areas” between the artwork and wood, meaning dust and other particles will get in there over time. How do I get those edges razor sharp? Is it even possible? It seems way too miniscule for wood filler. And if wood filler is the answer, how would I apply it there so that it will look perfect?
Finally, I am still very unsure of my ability to cut this sideart without it looking like garbage. I know that I should place a little bit of artwork at a time, slowly peeling back and using a credit card or plastic squeegee to place the artwork perfectly. However, it’s the excess artwork that is causing me panic. How do I cut it perfectly? I know that I am obviously supposed to use the cabinet itself to guide my X-Acto knife, but it’s not going to be perfect. So what happens in the back of the machine? The front should be OK because I can hide any imperfections in the t-molding. How do I get the back and bottoms to be absolutely perfect? I can’t even fathom how it’s possible to be honest.
I do apologize for the length of this post and I really appreciate any insight anyone can give me! I did watch some videos and read some posts on applying sideart, but none appeared to be for cabinets where the artwork took up the entire side of the cabinet (most were guides for sideart like Donkey Kong where little, if any cutting is involved). Thanks again!