There's an excellent tutorial posted in another thread by Rat about playfield cleaning and waxing:
Quoted from Rat_Tomago:
So do I keep it on there hardened for 24 hours before I wipe it off? I am confused.
Anyways...I just wiped off the first coat and OMG! AWESOME is an understatement! This playfield GLEAMS like a 400k Italian sports car.
So here is my final order....
1. 91% alcohol on Magic Eraser for ball swirls. Ring out the Magic Eraser so it is just slightly damp. Work slow 3 inch by 3 inch areas with very light pressure. Do this for no more than 5 seconds on an inconspicuous area first. Check for any paint loss. Work 3 inch by 3 inch circles for no more than 10 seconds. Immediately use a dry clean microfiber cloth to soak and dry the area just wiped. Repeat until desired results are reached and entire playfield is clean and ball swirl free. I can't emphasize this enough....Go slow as a turtle...This is not a race. If you see a yellowing lacquer on the Magic Eraser then immediately stop. If you see small chips of paint or any paint...STOP.
2. Use a microfiber applicator and pour light amounts of Novus #2. Use this to rub down the playfield and it does a nice job of cleaning up white residue from the alcohol along with any surface ball swirls you might have missed. After it dries and hazes up use another (different) clean microfiber cloth and wipe off the dried up Novus #2.
3. Grab a bottle of Millwax and use a clean microfiber applicator and apply liberal amounts to the playfield. Let it dry about 15-20 minutes and wipe off. You should notice a HUGE difference in the shine of your playfield. Apply a second coat of Millwax. Again wait for it to dry and haze up and then wipe off. Your playfield should be very clean and shiny.
4. Grab a container of Blitz "One Grand" wax and a "blitz applicator sponge" they are yellow and cost a buck a piece (both available at Pinball Life's web site) Let it dry and haze up and then wipe off.
This is as far as I have gotten and my results are beyond amazing! Don't believe me? Try it yourself on a moderately ball swirled playfield that is moderately dirty from a normal 500 plays. Everybody has what works for them but I really went the extra mile testing all this stuff out. I must of spent a week asking people what they though of all the different products
I do like Johnson's paste wax and I would give it a B+ but Blitz is OMG an A++++ worth every penny. To quote Odin "It is The Shit"
I would have to assume that the painted surface on your 1949 United machine is reasonably close to what I have on my 1952 Genco, and 1948 Gottlieb. The point is that a 60+ year old playfield is going to require gentle care and the fact that you report it as in good condition, suggests that you do not have to get too aggressive. Plenty of products are discussed on these forums as being kind and won't remove paint. So go slow and easy.
I personally agree with most everything that Rat suggests, but I have found some products to be preferable (not necessarily better) and this is to be expected because we all have different expectations and tastes.
Definitely isopropyl alcohol and ME. For a few cents more, I tend to use the 95% vs. 91% alcohol, but not a big deal. I would also suggest that you use the least aggressive ME. There are "stronger" ME products out now...no need to get that aggressive.
You can use Naphtha or Novus2 for cleaning up the white residue and it gives the surface another swipe at cleaning
You can use the Millwax for the next step, or, I find Gel Gloss to be a little better (in my hands). I would think that these products are very similar, anyway, that they both have cleaners and wax in them, but I find Millwax has a tendency to dry and leave a residue on a post or bracket and it is a little difficult to remove (use a tooth brush). Gel Gloss doesn't leave a residue. And, to me, it's wipe on, let sit for a few minutes, wipe off and does an impressive job in cleaning and shining.
At this point, playfield should be nice for the final touch of a good carnuba wax and I, too, give Blitz wax a big thumbs up. It was the wax I used for many years...until 2005, when I found P21S, which has become my favorite for my cars and for my pinball machines.
Differences? Both Blitz and P21S are high quality carnuba and give spectacular shine. I prefer P21S for these reasons:
- softer and easier to apply.
- it does not need a cure time. Blitz, ideally, should cure between coats. P21S is wipe on, let haze, wipe off.
- it does not stain plastic or rubber. Blitz used to be a problem for me, particularly if I was detailing a black car and it got on some of the bumper trim. I do not know if the formulation is the same today, but I would be curious if it does still have the tendency to stain.
- it does not attract dust the same way as Blitz. This was very noticeable on a black car, even if it was garaged, but P21S almost "repels" dust. At least on cars. On a playfield under glass it may be a moot point.
- I think the P21S has a "wet" look, compared to Blitz. Maybe just how my eyes see it.