Fast Draw

A client brought in a Gottlieb Fast Draw for refurbushment. He said he'd been hunting for one for years and finally found a battered one. The good thing was that it still worked. Once the switches were cleaned it reset and played. The bad thing was the overall state of the cabinet and playfield. The playfield had the bottom left corner cut out of it where, I suspect, the flipper coil caught fire and was patched with a piece of wood and some screws.




The playfield had a sticker on it that didn't line up at all with the inserts and was done by someone who had difficulty distinguishing between green and blue. Quite a common thing in men I believe. I was hoping that the sticker was applied over some semblance of the original graphics but when it was peeled off I discovered that the playfield had been sanded clean. This meant I could not "touch it up" with the airbrush and had to resort to plan B of making a new stick on graphic from scratch.

After many attempts to make a template that lined up with the existing board I realised that I couldn't possibly ever compensate for measurement errors, scanning nonlinearities and the calibration errors in the print shop. Even A 1% scaling error would mean a 10mm offset at the top when the bottom lines up. 

Plan C kicked in with the realisation that a new playfield had to be made. On previous jobs I had Birch plywood cut by a CNC router and it gave pretty good results. (I still had small scaling discrepancies between the CNC router and the printer.) This time I had the cutting template and the final graphic printed on the same machine and would cut the board by hand.

After cutting the board off the template using tools like a track saw, a dremel and a router the colour layer fit was millimeter perfect.

Before the colour sticker was applied I fit plexiglass inserts and filled the small gaps and cracks. The board was treated and sanded perfectly flat to give the sticker maximum adhesion and to ensure a smooth playfield. I then applied a few coats of automotive clear to protect the sticker and smooth out the ridges at the edges of the sticker.





I couldn't find a set of NOS plastics so I had to make a set. The old ones were scanned and touched up (redrawn). Graphics were applied to the bottom of 3mm polycarbonate sheets which were then hand trimmed to the final shape. A thin, even layer of white was applied as well as a protective layer of clear.




The backglass received the same treatment as the plastics except for the window cutouts and the masking layer. I've recently been fortunate enough to be given custody of my friend Pauls old laser cutter (the first ever Yueming machine in the country) and I find that it doubles very nicely as a vinyl cutter for masking stencils. The results were very satisfying and it saved me a good deal of time.



The cabinet was stripped completely except for the side rails. It was coming apart at the joints so a day was spent glueing and clamping. The graphics were then traced for reference before tha cabinet was sanded, filled and sanded again. A thick layer of primer was also sanded before the base coat was applied. I don't like the spatter effect used by the original makers so my base coat has to be near flawless. The graphics were then retraced on to low tack vinyl and cut by hand according to colour once applied to the cabinet.

A final layer of clear was applied to protect the graphics.





The cabinet is refitted with legs, main board and the chime unit The coin door, lockbar, plunger, legs and coin slots were buffed before refitting. The main board was degreased, cleaned and serviced on the bench before refitting it to the cabinet.

Second order of business is to get all the mechanics, lamps and wiring back on to the bottom of the playfield. I drill new pilot holes for every screw cause it saves time and frustration in the long run.

By this time the new spares had arrived from the States and the clear on the playfield had cured hard enough for me to start mounting the posts, wire guides, lane guides and thumpers. A new set of drop targets was also fitted.

The score reels were serviced and the backglass and the score reel board was remounted in the backbox.





I then spend a day  doing nothing but smoking one cigarette after another just checking everyting over and over before gathering enough courage to turn it on for the first time. If there's no smoke you're smiling, if it resets properly you're lauging. (That's never happened.) Another day or two is spent just sorting out stuck switches, adjusting flippers, saucer springs, plunger positions, thumper switches, switch clearances and lamp sockets.

Before sending out the invoice the machine has to be tested properly so Paul, who had his first game of pinball in the '60s, gets invited to an evening of meat, beer and pinball. On a night like that final debugging is sorted and the tilt sensitivity is optimised for maximum joy.


Final thoughts

I've fallen in love with the Fast Draw and I'm definitely going to make customs based on the layout of this machine. It has a game in two parts much like Bally's See Saw, another favourite of mine.

The short game is a high-risk-high-reward game of shooting down the drop targets for bonus accumilation requiring quick reactions. The long game requires accurate shots to the thumpers to get the ball into the saucers. A back hand to just the right spot on the thumper is a tricky and rewarding shot.

The absence of slingshots gives enough space for two return lanes in a standard size machine and encourages the art of nudging. I'm sure the "Pat Bottom" has its roots in machines like this.





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