Cab Construction Done

Adding the Goodies

The build in terms of wood work construction is now almost complete. The next steps were to incorporate the trims. To do this you need to drill holes for the buttons, leg bolts, and plunger holes. Optionally you can do this after painting etc but it seemed more sensible to do it now, plus I was impatient and this far into the project I wanted to get a good look at how it was all coming together.

I took the measurements off a real pinball cabinet. Some slight adjustment was needed but generally it should "feel" like a real cabinet when you play. As the front of my cab is the exact size of a real one it makes sense to follow these measurements.

Coin Door Hole

For the coin door, it has a lip that overlays the cut so finally we have a cut that doesn't have to be perfect (but we keep it as tidy as possible of course.) On modern Stern machines I notice that the coin door is recessed slightly. Tired and unwilling, I skipped attempting that as it would add little. To cut the hole it was a basic jig-saw job. So that was fairly easy.

Adding Leg Brackets

The pinball legs I ordered are a lovely shiny chrome, I also ordered metal brackets which make excellent guides for drilling your holes. You will get some tear out on these holes but as the leg covers them up they don't need to be perfect either.The strength of the leg comes from the clamping effect of the bracket and the leg. Metal brackets are essential here to give long life to a cabinet that is deliberately nudged!

Bracket and Bolts

To drill the hole I first measured the correct height of the brackets / legs. The front legs are mounted much higher (Shorter) than the back legs to create the slope you'd expect to make a pinball roll. To maintain the real feel I went with the same slope also. You can further adjust the slope later as the leg feet are adjustable.

Taking the bracket and placing it where it will end up, you can pass a smaller drill bit through to create a pilot hole. A drill bit the size of the bolt will not fit through the bracket as it is threaded. The drill bit should pop out exactly on the corner of the cabinet. Then removing the bracket I followed through with a drill bit that was the size of the bolt. Repeating the process for each bracket I quickly attached the legs to get my first real look at the cab.

Starting to look like a pinball machine now. Legs, coin door and lockdown bar in place.

Playfield Display Runners

Using some thin strips of pine I measured where my playfield TV will sit. A lot of difference in opinion on this one. I want my pinball cabinet to have some depth like a real machine and as my display will still have some bevel around the edges I think sitting the TV into the cabinet at roughly the depth of a real playfield should give a nice look. There will be glass sitting above this to help make it feel contained. It's a personal preference and only an option when your screen isn't the same width as the cabinet so I've opted to do it here. I think it will look good.

Testing it out

As I haven't decided where to place holes for the back box yet I'll just leave those till later in the process. It was time to put my (half finished painted) back box on to see how it all looked. I placed the TV carefully to see how that looked too. The length of my machine will allow a little room at the front to do my own custom instruction cards like some other builds out there. When I create the bevel to cover the TV that will all be incorporated.

Testing the TV and overall feel with the backbox in place.

Adding Button Holes

For the start and extra ball buttons it's great to recess these due to their design. Using a spade bit makes drilling recessed holes fairly easy. This creates a button that is flush with the panel. You begin with the larger spade bit first, drill to a depth that will create a flush button and then drill out the smaller hole for the rest of the button to fit through.

Start and extra ball buttons look great recessed and illuminated.The flipper holes don't need to be recessed so they are just a straight forward drill. They too have a lip so you only cut the hole to the size of the inner section obviously. I had to be careful that the right flipper button wouldn't collide with the plunger, mine narrowly escapes by a few mm.

Plunger Holes

The plunger has a unique shape that needs to be cut slightly larger to make a comfortable fit. You can do this with various sized drill bit and then jig-saw the straight lines. I had to hack this a bit to make it fit because drawing an acurate template from the plunger wasn't easy.

The plunger will be modified to interface with the software in a later step.


The buttons and trims really add a lot to the look and feel of the machine. 

Playfield Backing

The backing is a piece of MDF that runs vertically at the back of the playfield. On top of this there is a small strip of moulding that will hold the playfield glass in place. I insert the moulding behind the backing plate so that it covers the top of it. This will also tie the backbox and playfield nicely with no ugly gaps.

The insert fits nicely and will give a tidey look when the glass is on.My particular plastic insert was too wide for my cab so I had to trim it shorter with the saw.

Ready For Gap Filling

With all the holes cut, it's time to remove all the components again ready for gap filling and prepping for finishing. It's kind of frustrating getting it so close only to go backwards again but such is life when it comes to paint.

Ready to fill those screw holes and to tidy it up. You can see the unique shape required for the plunger.

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Reader Comments (2)

Where did you get the playfield backing trimming from?

March 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRasmus Nielsen

Hi Rasmus, from a pinball parts supplier. There are many part suppliers online... search for "rear moulding" or "rear playfield moulding"

March 22, 2010 | Registered CommenterDan Potter
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