Building the custom Dukes of Hazzard pinball machine
by Jake Danzig
Early on into buying pins, one of the first things I did was to search around and find out if a Dukes of Hazzard pinball machine was ever manufactured. To my surprise there wasn’t one. There were a few toy pinball games but not the real thing. It was a surprise then and it is still surprising to me to this day. The Dukes of Hazzard in its heyday was a licensing juggernaut; they licensed out almost everything you can imagine from lunch boxes to board games, and even Underoos, but alas no pin was ever created.
So, through the years of collecting, buying, selling, restoring, and promoting pinball, I started to collect photos of re-themed and fully custom built pinball machines, which eventually led me to creating the Strictly Custom Pinball Machines group on Facebook. Once the group started growing and I saw so many other fantastic custom pins and gathered so many ideas, knowledge, and contacts, it was time to start my own project.
I started calling some friends that have made other custom games to get their input and gather more insight, and spoke to several artists. I decided to go with Stu Wright of Mad Voodoo as he’s a friend and local. I then had to acquire a donor game, a Bally Paragon, even though there’s not much left of the original game. It was important to have a base to start with. I then asked friends Kaydee and Olivia Helm of Outpost Kodelia if they’d like to be a part of this project. Their role was quite more simplistic than what I had in mind but I’m thrilled that they took my ideas way up to the next level. Next was the cabinet prep. I had another friend Chris Spaseff of Arizona Pinball Restoration on board for that part, but he got backlogged with work and couldn’t get to it in time. Thankfully Kaydee and Olivia took it upon themselves to do all the cabinet work as well. One interesting note is that they did find an excellent match of orange paint for the General Lee, the Dodge Charger in the show. It wasn’t a simple task, since despite what anyone might tell you, there is actually no specific color code for the paint on that car.
Now that I had my team lined up, there were some back and forth trips and phone calls I had to make. It’s important that the game rules and artwork lineup with each other, so we hashed out all the ideas for the game rules and let Stu do his thing with the art. There were just a few changes I requested along the way to get it where I wanted. An interesting side note is that although I gave Stu a list of all A then B level assets that I wanted in the artwork, I somehow forgot to write down one of the #1 characters that had to be on there, Waylon Jennings the “Balladeer” of the show. Thankfully he knew to include him despite my forgetting to list him. Waylon strumming his guitar is depicted on the left outlane just as he appeared in the opening of every episode of the show, and since it was such a pleasant surprise to me it’s actually kind of my own personal Easter egg.
Once I gave the final approval for all the art assets, the files for the playfield, backglass, and plastics were all sent to Classic Playfield Reproductions (CPR) and they proceeded to manufacture all of those items brand new from scratch. The playfield decals and cabinet art was produced by local Phoenix sign store. Once I received all the items from CPR and the decals I then got all of it over to Outpost Kodelia. They had already ordered a CobraPin controller and had started programming it with Mission Pinball Framework (MPF). During their coding and cabinet prep process I made many trips over to them, checking on progress and giving approvals. Every time I went over or called they always asked if they could do something new, and I always approved it as I saw everything they were doing was absolutely fantastic and I loved it. Much to Kaydee & Olivia’s credit, they asked me up front if they could change out the control system entirely and I was against it, it just wasn’t part of my plan since I originally only planned for them to change the audio. They kept twisting my arm and telling me how much more they could do with a brand new system with modern hardware and software. I reluctantly gave in, but it’s the best thing that could’ve happened.
I did have just one requirement when I agreed with Kaydee & Olivia. I said if we’re going to go that far with it, then we at least have to make the game easier and more fun to play. Each time I visited them I saw something, and was blown away every time. Eventually, to speed up the build process, I called them up and told them that I was extremely impressed with everything, so from that moment on they had full carte blanche to do whatever they wanted if they thought it would make the game awesome. As the months went on, my work life just got busier, so it didn’t look like I was going to be able to do the assembly myself. Thankfully Kaydee & Olivia filled in for that role as well. One thing I could manage during that time was to watch every single episode of all 7 seasons of the Dukes of Hazzard, plus the two made for TV movies as well, and log all the best call outs. We got quite a lot of them in there, and of course it has my beloved Dukes of Hazzard theme song that plays if you make it to the “Race to the Boars Nest” wizard mode. Side note, if you happen to actually beat the wizard mode it will play the music that’s played during the credits of the show. And of course it wouldn’t be the Dukes of Hazzard if you didn’t have the Dixie horn, that will play if you manage to start the “Escape from Rosco” mode.
The code is all custom, with 2 separate multi-ball modes, a three ball wizard mode. The modes are stackable for a total of having a 4 ball multi-ball game going. All dialog comes directly from the series, with one or two callouts coming from the Dukes of Hazzard Reunion movie. The theme song included was a studio cut from Waylon Jennings, and various other in-game music was actually pulled from a Dukes of Hazzard PlayStation game. After the build there was basically nothing really left from the donor game except for the cabinet. Most of the parts were either bought new or newly manufactured, including 16 custom 3-D printed parts. Some of those custom made parts were essential to make the in-line drop targets have self knockdown capability. They are also coded for memory and to prevent lock or ball stealing by other players. All lamp sockets were either replaced with new ones or removed altogether and replaced with custom LED boards making for much tidier cable management. One very noteworthy feature is the custom pop bumper lighting. They’re orange in normal mode, but during the “Escape from Rosco” mode the top two pop bumpers will have red and blue lights rotating to simulate police car lights. Even the displays were custom made orange alphanumeric by Outpost Kodelia. An awesome feature that was added was Wi-Fi capability for system updates, and then a very nice speaker system was installed along with an amp. To make game adjustments much easier, a small LCD screen was installed behind the coin door. All armor was powder coated with a black hammer coat. Finishing it off with black leg bolts and leg levelers.
I had never intended to build this game with taking it to shows in mind, but Outpost Kodelia was really wanting an opportunity to show off their work so we took it to The Electric Bat Arcade for a public reveal. I was shocked at its reception. Everybody really loved it. I honestly didn’t really think anyone would care, especially alongside such modern games with all their ramps and mechs and such. Since it had such an amazing reception we took it to Starfighters Pinball Festival, then Zapcon, then Pinball Expo in Chicago where it got played almost non-stop. Our next journey will be to the Texas Pinball Festival, and after that it’s likely going into retirement at my personal arcade “JD’s Command Center.”
It’s been quite an experience making this dream theme come true. It certainly was not the easiest thing to do, but it’s been well worth it, so much so that other custom pins with unique themes that haven’t been done are definitely in the future, so stay tuned.
- 167 fully controllable RGB LED’s
- 10 custom PCBs for lighting
- Custom PCB for score displays
- 700+ feet of all-new wiring
- 1,300+ wires crimped
- 23 driver coils
- 48 switches
- 16 custom 3D printed parts
- 137 voice clips, taken directly from the TV show
- 800 lines of custom code
- 26,000 lines of game configuration
For more pics info on custom pins please visit the Strictly Custom Pinball Machines group on Facebook.
To see more by Kaydee & Olivia Helm go to their Facebook page Outpost Kodelia
To see more by the artist Stu Write visit Madvoodoo Pinball on Facebook
And you can also see the Dukes of Hazzard build and info on its Pinside thread The Dukes of Hazzard custom pin official thread | Homebrew pinball | Pinside.com
And to see what current games I have for sale go to Pinball Investments on Facebook.