Update time, another whopper.
Of all the parts needed for this cabinet T-moulding has been the biggest pain, again it is the old metric vs imperial problem but there are two parts to the problem. Firstly there is the width of the actual t-moulding itself, i.e. what width of panel it will fit. This machine was born in the California, so imperial measurements are everywhere, the sheets of particle board used throughout were 1/4" thick. However down under MDF seems to only come in 16mm or 18mm sheets, and even the 18mm is harder to get. I am sure there are suppliers somewhere that stock every variation but for people with day jobs that don't involve a van the options are limited. Even Bunnings only sell one sheet that is 18mm and it is a monster, I had to get it cut down multiple times just to get it all in the car.
So when you want to get t-moulding you could look for 18mm stock, except you never know whether what you are buying is actually 18mm, or 19.06mm badly measured, or something else entirely. It gets worse in that some seller sell t-moulding for 18mm but it is actually 20mm. They may or may not clearly state this in their listings and when asked they advise that yeh it is 20mm but you just use a knife to trim it, all 30 feet of it, sounds like a great plan. Some sellers in Oz have bought their stock from US suppliers so it will be 1/4", but they may sell it as 18mm or 20mm as it is kinda half way in between. Stock from non-US countries probably are made in metric measures, probably, possibly, who the hell knows?!!!
Then you have the second problem, what size slot should you cut for it. Am surprised how many online sellers do not state that critical fact, get it wrong and you will struggled to install it, risk splitting the edge of the panel, or have it so loose you need to tape or glue it in. In my searches I have found what seem to be a number of standards, most quoted in imperial but that map roughly to 1.4mm, 2.0mm or 2.4mm.
My problem was amplified by the fact that this cabinet now contains original US 1/4" (19mm) panels in good condition, my new 18mm panels, and areas of the superstructure that were 19mm before they got wet and are now actually 20mm. Clearly one size would not fit all, but if I get multiple types to cover all areas there is the issue of what slot I need in what areas, and also whether colour/finish will match between types.
A while ago I jumped the gun and bought some t-moulding locally so I knew what slots to cut in the edge panels, trouble was I then decided that that was far to glossy for this cabinet and that I needed matte black not mirror finish black. What I really needed was matte black in two sizes that looked identical, which meant from the same vendor so I could ask about the colour match, and also from a vendor who clearly stated the exact dimensions of the slots required for each. This really narrowed my choice of vendor down to being only t-molding.com in US, who were excellent in answering my crazy questions and also selling non-standard lengths on request. I had hoped to avoid overseas shipping costs but T-moulding is light and the whole lot was about $55 delivered.
In the end I decided to go for 1/4" inch for the front panel edges, the track side panels and the original rear edge of the CP which was an undamaged 1/4" panel. I will have 0.5mm over hang on the raw panels either side, but after priming and the finishing this is probably not a problem. The other size is 13/16, which is 20.6mm in new money and a decent fit for both the worn existing slots and the areas I need to cover, especially the front inner "toe" sections of the tracks. This was the area where colour matching was going to be the problem as the outer face of the tracks are my 18mm panels and the inner faces are the original, swollen, glued and clamped up panels which are now 20mm.
Buying from one vendor almost solved my problems, except the 1/4" stock for my 18mm panels from them needed 1/16" (1.6mm) slots, and all my panels had beautiful 3/32 (2.4mm) slots. Both sizes had perfect colour and profile matched, in fact its hard to tell them apart by eye, but my slots were far too big, the groove only lightly gripped the t-moulding and it would just ping out around the corners.
I had no interest in chucking these panels away and making new ones , even if I could be bothered I was left with the problem of alignment, these ones had the dowels glued in place to ensure the panels get installed in exactly the right spot. Those holes were now drilled and filled, so doing that all again wasn't an option.
Opinions online about this problem are varied, some people say just bondo the slots and cut new ones, this sounded reasonable except for the fact that bondo is not fun to work with and trying to shoe horn it into the grooves before it set was going to be an epic battle over the 6.6 meters of slot I needed to fill. I also didn't want to have to sand the edges on these panels as they were already perfectly straight. Any changes there would impact the alignment and if I broke that I might as well start again anyway. Also, one commenter on Klov said that bondo isn't ideal as the new grooves have edges like polished glass, and the t-moulding doesn't grip very well. Having met routed bondo on the training edges of the cabinet this sounded very plausible and a good enough reason to ditch that idea. Another option was to cut strips of cardboard, bent into V shape which you hammer into the groove along with the t-moulding. This probably would work, especially if the cardboard was covered in glue on the wood side. This just sounded a bit too bodgy for me and I can imagine it is hard to get the thickness right, and getting it all to go in straight is probably not as easy as it sounds, corners would be a nightmare. The other suggestion is to glue it in, with hot glue. This would take hours, plus I would have to find someway to hold it all in place perfectly while the glue set, plus any glue oozing out would make a mess and you only get one shot at this, try to remove a section and you would wreck the slot, the t-moulding and possibly the panel.
I needed a better solution, ideally what I needed to put back in the slots was actual wood, something I could route normally and have a nice rough surface for the t-moulding to grip, but where do you get long thin strips of wood for such a task? The answer is probably every supermarket and $2 shop in the country, introducing - Coffee Stirrers
By some fluke of good fortune, two coffee stirrers back to back are the perfect width for the slots I cut and two pairs side by side were the perfect width to fill the depth of slot to the original surface. Plus at $2 per pack it's by far the cheapest of all the options I discounted anyway. Of course with this project things are never quite that simple, because I had primed the edges, the primer filled the slot ever so slightly and now the coffee stirrers wouldn't fit any part that was painted. Scraping the primer helped a bit but the simplest option was to re-route the wrong sized slots with the bit I originally cut them with to restore their fully width.
Getting the bit alignment is the hardest part of using a router, but once set I buzzed along the grooves creating a fine mist of dust and not much else, but the slots were now ready for filling.
While the front panel was clamped to the workmate I also took the edge cutter bit to the lower section of the control panel, it was too tight at fit against the inner track edges. If the fit was tight now it would be impossible when there is vinyl on the track inner edge. I had sanded these sections down and re-primed them but I wasn't happy with the straightness of the edge. A piece of wood clamped as a guide let me trim it completely straight again, I think I was only 1mm out but it looked wonky before.
Coffee stirrer and PVA glue time, this is one of those jobs that you think will be quite quick, and on the straight sections it is, trouble is the angles and fiddly bits slow you to a crawl.
Corners are less of a problem as the spline gets cut away there to let the t-moulding bend to take the turn, so there is nothing needing anything to grip in those areas anyway.
All in all it took me about two and half hours to fill up the track edges and the front panel but the result is a very neat job. Some areas had small gaps that needed filling but I could cope with that small amount of bondo work. These needed a good few days drying time as lot of glue was used, so I got on with some other routing job.
I decided to do the coffee stirrer trick to the front inner track areas, these were originally badly water damaged and I was not totally convinced they would hold the t-moulding in place. After a rip through with the router it was clear that they will be a lot better after the coffee stirrer treatment than before.
While the router was out and set up I quickly re-cut the slot on the rear corner of the monitor shroud as that had been completely filled when that area was rebuilt.
Straight as an arrow!
A bit of a side story now!
A few weeks ago a thread popped up on AA with the title "Free Vindicators Cabinet", and I admit my heart sunk, I had visions of a perfect cabinet, complete with artwork, probably missing some of the electronics but available for free, and probably just down the road from me.
Actually it was in SA and it was a gutted shell, in far worse condition than my one had ever been.
I know how bad things can be on these cabs and still look mostly OK, but this one looked dreadful so was probably even worse, but between AA members Camaro and Phreak97 I was able to get some useful parts and some missing info that will help mine live again. Many thanks guys!!
Amazingly it was Serial number VIN1229, mine is VIN1222!!!
It is very likely that they rolled off the Sunnyvale production line on the very same day back in 1988. Sadly it was basically just the wooden shell, all the electronics, PSU, control panel and wiring was gone, in fact some of the doco suggests it was converted to a Pit Fighter, which was released in 1990, so this was probably only a vindicators for a couple of years.
It did still have some of the original grey t-moulding, which was great news as a section of mine is chewed up. The t-moulding on VIN1229 would have come from the same batch, probably the same roll in the factory, in fact probably within 10m of each other on the roll so the colour match will be guaranteed if I can splice some of it in. I was also able to get some photos of what remained of the rear lower fan grille, it was completely trashed, in fact am surprise it was still hanging on as they are usually missing on rescue cabs.
It sticks out too far so it gets knocked and bashed about, and crushed if the cabinet is ever laid on its back. Knowing what it should look like I was able to find a very good replacement with a bit of Google image hunting.
It fits the bill of being as close to the original style as I could get plus it has a similar looking cover and a foam filter to keep the spiders from moving back in.
It needs to be installed once I am past the point of laying the cabinet down, which means after the front panel is fitted, but now is the time to pre-drill the pilot holes for the screws while I can still get comfortable access to the area.
It looks huge but the screw holes line up with the originals so it is spot on.
All in all I got some grey t-moulding, the service instructions that live inside the machine, the serial stickers and a selection of the screws they used on these cabs as some of mine were missing and a few were rusted and snapped on removal.
With a free afternoon and nothing more I could do until all the coffee stirrers and glue set, I moved on to another one of the final items on the check list - the coin door.
This had been kicking around the toy room for 4 years and wasn't in great shape, I stupidly had taken it apart back in 2011 and then lost a few pieces, which I have slowly been finding again. It looks ok, a bit tired, with some chips and rusted bits. Not pretty enough!
When the cabinet arrived, the coin door looked like this, even worse...
The really rusty coin return flaps were quickly sanded back to metal, cleaned and then hit with primer.
The other parts were just hit with the spray can.
The monitor bezel had taken a couple of coats of primer to get an even finish in the previous week.
So it was propped up on the triangle off-cuts of the track panels, on one of the scrap ones for easy of transport, and given a light coat of black.
The rear power switch plate which was on its second painting attempt after a gust of wind caught the cardboard it was sat on last time, throwing the whole lot down the drive onto the concrete completely wrecking the pain job. That had to be sanded back to bare metal a second time due to all the chips and grit on it.
I hate spray painting, if you want to invoke wind and rain the best way seems to be to shake a spray can, suddenly the wind just appears. To avoid over-spray this was done down the far end of the driveway, and the parts were carried inside on individual planks of wood immediately after painting to fill the toy room with fumes, but to dry out of the wind and dust.
The only other parts needing attention were the collection of rusty screws that were destined to go back on the cabinet. A wire brush and a couple of hundred rpm in a drill soon sorts that out.
Before and after!
One the set was complete, the whole lot were primed...
...and half painted, I knew the spray can was nearly empty but it gave a final cough and died, about 4 seconds too early.
Another can needed to finish the job, and in fact everything got another coat anyway as the coverage on a couple of areas wasn't as good as I had hoped and also to ensure a colour match.
The final result was a much tidier kit...
...with all the original texture effects intact.