How to Install a CPO

This page is a quick guide to the installation of a Control Panel Overlay (CPO).  This particular CPO was installed on a metal control panel (CP) as part of a game conversion.  I started with a generic cabinet running the JAMMA game Sky Shark.  The cabinet will remain JAMMA but with a Multi-Game board.  All pictures are clickable to open a larger version of the image.

As shown in the images below the CP has 2 bends.  The top of the CP has an approximately 45 degree bend up where the CP meets the monitor plex.  This bend is acts as the retainer to hold the plex in place.  The bottom/front (closest to the player) of the CP has an approximately 90 degree bend down to meet the front panel of the cabinet.  This installation is, more or less, a worse case scenario due to the bends.  These steps can, however, be easily adapted and/or used as a general guide for any CP be it wood or metal, flat or with a bend.

Here is the CP, complete with Sky Shark art, as it was on the cabinet.

 

As part of the conversion I wanted to fit 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 CP, 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 CP 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 CP over and rested the plex on the plywood then, as mentioned, drilled through the plex and into 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 CP 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 slow 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 CP 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!!

 

At this point the original CPO was removed.  In this case I peeled it back with the use of a heat gun then took it for sand blasting to remove the residue.  I have had great success in the past using Goo Gone.  The old adhesive was a bear on this particular CP 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 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 CP up for the pic?) and popped out 6 of the hole plugs.  I used JB Weld to secure them to the underside of the CP to cover the holes.  After that dried for a day I flipped over the CP and used more JB Weld to fill the holes from the top.  A day latter 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.

 

Now to start fitting the CPO.  I had 2 bends to deal with.  I decided to start 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 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 CP 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 CP.  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 very 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. 

 

I have begun to slowly peel back and stick down the overlay.  At this point I am about half way down.  To get the bend I peeled back about a 1/2 inch (after the initial inch) then ran my thumb up and down the bend to stick the CP 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.

 

The CPO is a little more that 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 CP.  Using my hand, cushioned by the towel, I ran this bend back and fourth several times for a good bubble and crease free application.

 

At this point the CPO is fully applied to my CP.  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 our all the holes.  I did this from the back side of the CP using the holes in the CP as a guide.

 

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.

 

The final game.  A matching MAME 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.