The Frogger:FullRestoration - Cabinet and Monitor Rebuild

8/2/10 - Prep and some headway...

Since my freelance gig is over, I have plenty of free time now to tackle this project. I bought a new Frogger monitor bezel, CPO, side art and the Kings Oak Wood Grain Vinyl Covering at arcadeshop.com the other day and it just arrived in the mail so I better get this started. By the way, you'll need at least 14' of vinyl for a Frogger.

I started off by pulling all the electronics and metal bits off. The thing was FILLED with dead spiders and cobwebs. I guess this machine has been in storage for a long time before I got my mitts on it. It also has a bit of water damage at the bottom. The base board looks good thankfully. A friend of mine suggested I simply pull the flaky crap off the particle board and then bondo. Since some boards don't look too hot, I'll add wood hardener before I bondo everything up.

Next up was getting the old vinyl off the machine. I read that people either use a heat gun, chemical crap like 'Goo Gone' or just peel off the vinyl by hand. The machine was made in 1981 and that vinyl wasn't going anywhere so I tried the 'heat gun' method. It was a huge pain in the ass at first but I worked out a system of heating the edge of the vinyl then scraping it off slowly while leading the heat gun while scraping. It took a while but it payed off. The trick is not to worry about scraping it all off to the wood... just get the vinyl off then sand the rest. The side is now crazy smooth after using just 100 grit. I'll apply the wood hardener and finish it up with 150 then 200 for a crazy smooth finish.

8/4/10 - Sanding, sanding and... oh, yeah. More sanding!

I spent the last two days stripping the vinyl from the front of the cabinet and control panel, (which I am a master at now), applying wood hardener to the particle board edges, filling in holes and sculpting the bottom of the cabinet with bondo. I also cut all new back boards for the cabinet. Originally, I wanted to route the entire sides with my router with a flush trim bit but the corners at the bottom were too far gone.

A word on wood hardener. The shit is TOXIC. I mean, like... crazy toxic. I wouldn't recommend it unless you had no other option, (which was the case for me). Make damn sure you wear good a respirator, goggles and gloves. The stuff is basically just a thinner epoxy. I used Minwax from Home Depot. It does work wonders. The board is strong as hell but it tarnishes the look of the nice, sanded wood. I figured it'll ultimately have vinyl applied or painted over it. Whatever.

Bondo is some crazy stuff. For those that haven't worked with it I strongly suggest wearing proper respiration, eye gear and gloves so you don't get that shit on or in you. I worked out a neat method of applying stuff quickly. I used a piece of crap wood as my palette and taped a page of newspaper around it. I have a 1" diameter scrapper that I tape over length-wise with 1" painters tape. This will save your palette and scrapper from getting bondo all over it. I mixed it according to the instructions... one scoop of the grey with 1 inch squirt of the white for this particular brand, (3M Bondo - Home Solutions. Again, at Home Depot). Mix well with a wooden dowel, (a round, wooden stick). When you're done mixing, roll the dowel off the palette as you're scraping the mixture off of it. The mixture will roll off it nice and save you from scraping the crap off later. Apply IMMEDIATELY! It will start hardening right away so you have to work fast. The can says 3 - 5 minutes. Yeah, right... you got 2 at the most. Stop once the mixture starts clumping and feeling stiff. It'll only fight you otherwise and make your work sloppy. Let it cure for 30 minutes... not less! It'll ruin your sandpaper on your orbital sander. While that's curing, just peel the newspaper and tape off the palette and scraper and toss them out. Quick and clean. You're ready to make another mixture.

The 4 back boards were in sad shape. Literally flaking off and looking pretty bad. I made the executive decision and decided to scrap them and buy new particle board, (Guess where? You got it! Home Depot). One might think, 'Gee whiz, they got some fancy cutting tools there... why don't I just have them cut the pieces for me'? Punch yourself in the nuts right now because it'll be quicker than going that route. Home Depot does have those fancy, schmancy board cutters but what they don't tell you is that the cut can be off as far as an 1/8 of an inch from start to end. Yikes. So do yourself a favor and have them cut the board just small enough for you to get in your car or truck. I'd suggest 28 inches wide so you can have some spacer to cut the 23 15/16 inches for the length of the cabinet. Oh yeah, the top panel uses 1 1/4 inch plunge bit and the bottom panel uses 1 1/2 inch plunge bit for the 4 holes in each. A 5/8 inch plunge bit for the barrel lock. You'll also need a 1 inch, 1/2 inch diameter router flush trim bit for the power cord. They came out awesome and fit perfectly.

The control panel was a snap after working on the cabinet for so long. Just apply a heat gun to the panel for a good 15 - 20 seconds at the edge of one side. With a little force, the scrapper will literally slide down the panel. Go down maybe an inch or two for the whole edge. Heat the whole control panel a bit to loosen things up then peel the whole vinyl overlay off. The glue will most likely go with it go there'll be hardly any clean up. You can use Goo Gone, (from that magical store that has everything), to clean up.

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