How to install a Control Panel Overlay – 4 Easy steps!

Here is the Control Panel complete with the Sky Shark art that was on the cabinet.

How to install a CPO - 4 Easy steps!

Custom Control Panel

As part of the conversion, I wanted to fit a new plex as a protector for the new CPO.  I had a local shop cut a piece to size and gently round the corners.  As shown above I taped the plex to the Control Panel, after removing all the hardware, and drilled the various holes.  The protective film was left in place to prevent scratches.  I drilled from the back so that I could use the existing holes in the Control Panel as a guide.  It is important to provide a piece of backing material so that the hole saw does not abruptly exit the plex.  In my case, I laid down a scrap piece of plywood.  I flipped the Control Panel over and rested the plex on the plywood then, as mentioned, drilled through the plex and into the wood for a clean hole.

When drilling small holes for bolts I find it works best if you slip a piece of scrap plex between the Control Panel plex and the wood backing.  A standard drill bit makes a cleaner hole, at least for me, if it has another piece of plex into which it can pass.  I also find it best to drill the smaller holes as slowly as possible.  Drilling the smaller holes fast tends to make the bit explode out of the plex causing a crack.  Once drilling is complete I like to flip the Control Panel over and, with a larger bit, slightly chamfer the carriage bolt holes.  This will allow room for the square collar under the carriage bolt head to sink into the hole.  Definitely practice on a piece of scrap!!

How to install a CPO

At this point, the original Control Panel was removed.  In this case, I peeled it back with the use of a heat gun and then took it for sandblasting to remove the residue.  I have had great success in the past using Goo Gone.  The old adhesive was a bear on this particular Control Panel so I opted for a media blast as opposed to a lot of scraping.  A sharp eye will notice the CP originally had 6 holes around its perimeter that had carriage bolts through them to hold on to the original plex.  I decided to eliminate the holes as 6 buttons and the joystick bolts are more than enough to secure the plex in place for home use.  To do this I picked up a $1.20 switch box from the hardware store (see it holding the Control Panel up for the pic?) and popped out 6 of the hole plugs.  I used JB Weld to secure them to the underside of the Control Panel to cover the holes.  After that dried for a day, I flipped over the Control Panel and used more JB Weld to fill the holes from the top.  A day later I sanded the excess smooth.  Finally, I painted the edges of the CP black.  I did this assuming I would not get the new art perfectly straight due to my error and the CP not being perfectly square.  Any place the new CPO does not cover will be less evident as the black paint will be less noticeable than the shiny bare metal.

Bare Metal

Now to start fitting the Control Panel.  I had 2 bends to deal with.  I decided to start the application at the top (closest to the monitor) and work my way down.  This way any fitment issues would wash out at the bottom edge and be less noticeable.  I was assuming I measured my length incorrectly (The measurements I provided to MAME Marquees.) as I had to estimate the material needed to cover the bends.  I did not want to end up short at the top where it would be most noticeable.  On this Multicade artwork Control Panel the material past the bend at the top was an inch wide.  Here I am measuring just shy of an inch on the CPO’s backing material.  Using a straight edge mark it and fold it back. Make sure you have the CPO oriented correctly!!

Here you can see why I folded back the first inch.  I only had to deal with the first inch of adhesive when I went to line up the CPO with the top edge of the Control Panel.  In my case, I was able to peel off and reposition the CPO a couple of times to get it where I wanted it.  Your mileage may vary but I suggest a test run before you actually peel back the first bit so that you get a feel for moving and handling the overlay.

Control Panel Apply

I have begun to slowly peel back and stick down the overlay.  At this point, I am about halfway down.  To get the bend I peeled back about a 1/2 inch (after the initial inch) and then ran my thumb up and down the bend to stick the Control Panel in place.  I was careful so that I did not introduce a wrinkle as that would carry through the rest of the CPO.  I found an old towel handy as a cushion to reduce friction between my thumb and the CPO.  Once past the bend, I would peel back another inch or 2 and slowly walk the CPO into place.

Peel back and apply

The CPO is a little more than 3/4 of the way to being in place.  Again, a clean dry towel is a good cushion to use when applying pressure to the CPO.  In this picture, I have just walked the CPO over the downward bend at the bottom/front of the Control Panel.  Using my hand, cushioned by the towel, I ran this bend back and forth several times for a good bubble and crease-free application. webp to jpg 6

At this point, the CPO is fully applied to my Control Panel.  In this case, I actually measured long in that the CPO was longer than required.  I used a sharp razor blade to run the bottom edge and trim the excess.  I then used (not pictured) a razor knife and a smaller hobby knife to cut all the holes.  I did this from the back side of the Control Panel using the holes in the Control Panel as a guide.

Control panel overlay applied

The CP on the game.  It’s been treated to new Happ buttons, a Happ Super Joystick, and the new plex.  The original smooth-top carriage bolts were also sanded, painted, and reused. webp to jpg 8

The final game.  A matching Marquees marquee has been added and the Sky Shark monitor bezel was swapped out for a nice black one to give the game a simple, uncluttered look.

If you like this artwork, check it out here

How to install a Control Panel Overlay – 4 Easy steps!

How To Install A Control Panel Overlay - 4 Easy Steps!


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