The part of the cabinet redesign that was keeping Dennis up at night (writer embellishment) was the ball-serve mechanism and the related trough that had been originally factory-routed into the side of the cabinet. For those less familiar with earlier woodrail pinball games like Continental Cafe, once you sent your coin into the slot to play the game, you, the player, were responsible for getting the ball up to the plunger. Modern games take care of that for you by automatically feeding the ball via a push from a solenoid. But back in 1957, there was a small push-rod below the plunger that, when pushed forward, smoothly delivered the ball to its resting point in front of the plunger tip.
Once Dennis had made the decision to cut the main cabinet across the top to be parallel with the bottom (to look more like a real crate and not so much like a pinball cabinet), this created the need for an adjustment to the ball-serve routed trough and the placement of the related mechanical parts, because the original trough was truncated in the process of cutting off the top of the cabinet.
If you're still following this amazing non-truncated tale, the next step was to call Jimmy John's. After lunch, Dr. Dennis formulated a plan of action and started to rectify the situation. The first step in this surgical procedure was to painstakingly fill the original trough with a perfectly formed piece of wood, shaped somewhat like a banana...or a Kielbasa. (I can't wait to get back to talking about Melons).
Before creating the new groove, Dennis had to order a new bit for his plunge router. It set him back about $54 but there was no other way to get 'er done. The day arrived...and he took the plunge. As Dennis recounted the episode, he started with..."Everything was going really well, the new bit was doing exactly what it was designed to do."
Unfortunately, the depth adjustment wasn't locked on the router and...
...the bit changed the groove to a hole in a nanosecond. Doh!
Knowing Dennis, I'm sure he kept his cool and knew exactly what he would do next. Within a few minutes (writer's embellishment #2), Dennis had the hole plugged with wood, made sure the router depth was locked, and created the perfect finished trough.
Dennis double-checked the mechanism and the trough location and put all the parts back together to test the lift.
It all worked as planned and another angst-ridden phase of the project was completed. Dennis followed up with the Lock-down mechanism to make sure the new hand rail would seat properly.
The old metal parts were wire-brushed and clear coated to aesthetic perfection.
Somebody fetch my shades...
Did I mention the new hand-rail is made from maple and provides the needed comfort for the long hours of play this game will endure someday? (Writer embellishment #3 or just a stab at some positive PR.)
Dennis also spent some time on the front of the cabinet filling holes left by coin-mechs, coin returns, start buttons, etc. Since the game will never be used on location again, the coin mechs won't be needed. Eventually the recessed area of the front will get covered with a decal as well, including the old coin door. And also note the original serial number for the Continental Cafe game has been left intact in the center of the cabinet front...M50874CC. But soon to be known as WNBJM #1. Below is a quick study of the revised cabinet front compared to the original. (Note: The cabinet front used in this "before" picture is actually CC Game 2,thus the difference in serial numbers.)
Our next step was to spend some time thinking about the backglass layout as it relates to the backbox insert panel (the piece of wood that holds the scoring reels and all the lights to illuminate the backglass.) At this point we were thinking about changing the game to a one player game because of some playfield design changes Dennis wanted to try.
Until then, always remember...a banana shaped trough is never as easy as it looks.
G & D
All art, sketches, or photos related directly to "Whizbang Pinball" or "Whoa Nellie (Brand) Big Juicy Melons" or "Whoa Nellie (Brand) Sweet Juicy Melons" are TM and Copyright 2009 WhizBang Pinball, Greg Freres, and Dennis Nordman.
All photos on this post by G.Freres and D. Nordman