(Topic ID: 247362)

A Pecos Experiment: Touching Up a Playfield Without Clearcoat


By Pecos

10 months ago



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  • 16 posts
  • 10 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 months ago by clodpole
  • Topic is favorited by 10 Pinsiders

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#1 10 months ago

I have always recommended clearcoating a playfield after touching up a playfield with acrylic paints. But it got me to wondering if the advice was any good. What would happen if I didn't clearcoat after a touch-up? Clear coating a playfield is a laborious process and unless you are going to do a two part automotive type of clearcoat, there are no perfect options that I have found. If I could skip the clearcoat step, I would be more inclined to make a playfield look better by doing just the touch-ups.

Since I had some games on route, I knew this was the perfect environment to test how well touch-ups with acrylic paint would last. The touched-up pins got lots of play!

Pinsiders recommend Createx and I finally broke down and bought some on eBay. Createx paints mix well and dry to a hard finish.


Here are the steps I used to touch-up a Williams Travel Time and a Bally Wizard!:

  • Clean the playfield thoroughly and multiple times with 91% Isopropyl alcohol. WARNING! Using any chemical on a playfield can damage the playfield. Test all chemicals in an inconspicuous spot on the playfield before going whole hog using it. Pinsiders swear by Novus 2 and that might work as well, but I have no experience with it. 99% Isopropyl alcohol is better if you have areas that have been worn down to the wood.
  • Mix the Createx paints until you get the right color.
  • Put the paint down. Some colors, like white, yellow and orange may require multiple coats. Let the paint dry before putting on another coat of paint. If you make a mistake, and you will, you can easily remove the acrylic paint while still wet. I use my fingers or a damp Q-Tip.
  • Normally, if you are going to clear coat, you would have to test the dried paint with Naptha VMP (Varnish Makers and Painters). Some colors will be darker after applying the Naptha. This is how the color will look if the playfield is clearcoated. But I haven't noticed an appreciable change in paint color after waxing so you can skip the Naptha test.
  • After the paint has thoroughly dried, wax the playfield. I use Mother's Carnauba wax. Let the wax dry completely, usually at least an hour. Remove the dried wax with a clean cotton pad and apply a second coat of wax.

That's all there is to it.

Problems

There have been a few issues that have been discovered. The biggest problem noted occurred on the white sections of Travel Time. To get proper coverage using white, I had to put down three or four coats of white. Some of the white paint was chipping off near the pop bumpers. I vaguely remember, thinking that I was done, waxing the playfield and then deciding to add another coat of white paint to some of the white sections. That might be why some of the white paint chipped off. I have had no paint chipping problems on any of the other pins I have used this method on.

I used this method also on Firepower and Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man. The dark colors, especially black, would leave some wax in the nooks and crannies of the touch-up. I used a brush to put on my paint and this left small crevices where wax could hide. After drying, wax is white, so bits of white wax in black areas stood out like a sore thumb. I pressed harder to remove the wax in the nooks, crannies and miniature gorges. After multiple coats, the small canyons in the paint smoothed out and I no longer have this problem when rewaxing the playfield. You shouldn't have this problem is you are air-brushing the paint on.

Maintenance

Here's the catch. There's always a catch when you take a shortcut. It's one of the universal laws!

  • I haven't tried any cleaners, but I wouldn't dare try water, Isopropyl alcohol or other cleaners on the touched-up areas. I have only put more wax on top of the touched-up areas. The good news is that if I put a good amount of Mother's Carnauba Wax on a cotton pad, use a little bit of elbow grease and repeat with more wax and another clean cotton pad, I was able to clean up the ball dirt and grime on the playfield, leaving the touch-ups untouched!
  • You will need to wax more often. The Createx paint, when dried, is hard and stands up well to pinball abuse, but keep the playfield waxed, every 500 plays or so, to keep the touch-ups protected.
  • Keep a fresh, bright and shiny pinball in the game. When you begin to see nicks in the pinball, it is past time to replace it!
  • There hasn't been tens of thousands of games played on my touched-up pins, so long term wear is unknown.

The Bottom Line

These results have really surprised me. I am going to continue to use this method because it allows me to get games out on route to be played instead of sitting in my Project Pin queue waiting to be cleared. If you are doing only one or two pins and want the protection that a clear coat offers, then, absolutely go ahead with the playfield clear. A good playfield touch-up and clear is the gold standard. This method I am presenting is, what, the copper standard? The lead standard? It's NOT the gold standard!

I have done some playfield touch-ups with clear coats and gotten good results. Here are the Web pages showing how I did a playfield touch-up and a clear coat afterwards:

http://www.pecospinball.com/my_first_full_pinball_restore.shtml
http://www.pecospinball.com/aztec_playfield_restoration.shtml

Well, there it is. What you do with this information is entirely up to you. I am not recommending this method nor am I trying to steer anyone away from a good touch-up and clear coat. There is no substitution for a good touch-up and clear, but this method is a viable alternative. Worst case, if you don't like the results, you can remove the wax and acrylic paint and start over and finish with a nice, beautiful coat of clear.

Bally Wizard! before touch-ups.

before_upper_playfield (resized).jpg

Bally Wizard! after touch-ups.

DSCF3672 (resized).JPG

Bally Wizard! after approximately 700 plays

DSCF4336 (resized).JPG

Williams Travel Time before touch-ups.

DSCF2384 (resized).JPG

DSCF2429 (resized).JPG

Williams Travel Time after touch-ups.

DSCF3801 (resized).JPG

Williams Travel Time after approximately 2500 plays. Please note that the scratches in the image are from scratches in the playfield glass.

playfield_upper_after_2500_plays (resized).jpg

#2 10 months ago

I like it. While the standard/norm is to clear a touchup/pf, I am lazy as fuck and plan to go this very route on my creech. Thanks for the research and results

#3 10 months ago

Good report, although I'd give it the rattle can for sure!

#4 10 months ago
Quoted from Pecos:

I have always recommended clearcoating a playfield after touching up a playfield with acrylic paints. But it got me to wondering if the advice was any good. What would happen if I didn't clearcoat after a touch-up? Clear coating a playfield is a laborious process and unless you are going to do a two part automotive type of clearcoat, there are no perfect options that I have found. If I could skip the clearcoat step, I would be more inclined to make a playfield look better by doing just the touch-ups.
Since I had some games on route, I knew this was the perfect environment to test how well touch-ups with acrylic paint would last. The touched-up pins got lots of play!
Pinsiders recommend Createx and I finally broke down and bought some on eBay. Createx paints mix well and dry to a hard finish.

Here are the steps I used to touch-up a Williams Travel Time and a Bally Wizard!:

Clean the playfield thoroughly and multiple times with 91% Isopropyl alcohol. WARNING! Using any chemical on a playfield can damage the playfield. Test all chemicals in an inconspicuous spot on the playfield before going whole hog using it. Pinsiders swear by Novus 2 and that might work as well, but I have no experience with it. 99% Isopropyl alcohol is better if you have areas that have been worn down to the wood.
Mix the Createx paints until you get the right color.
Put the paint down. Some colors, like white, yellow and orange may require multiple coats. Let the paint dry before putting on another coat of paint. If you make a mistake, and you will, you can easily remove the acrylic paint while still wet. I use my fingers or a damp Q-Tip.
Normally, if you are going to clear coat, you would have to test the dried paint with Naptha VMP (Varnish Makers and Painters). Some colors will be darker after applying the Naptha. This is how the color will look if the playfield is clearcoated. But I haven't noticed an appreciable change in paint color after waxing so you can skip the Naptha test.
After the paint has thoroughly dried, wax the playfield. I use Mother's Carnauba wax. Let the wax dry completely, usually at least an hour. Remove the dried wax with a clean cotton pad and apply a second coat of wax.

That's all there is to it.

Problems

There have been a few issues that have been discovered. The biggest problem noted occurred on the white sections of Travel Time. To get proper coverage using white, I had to put down three or four coats of white. Some of the white paint was chipping off near the pop bumpers. I vaguely remember, thinking that I was done, waxing the playfield and then deciding to add another coat of white paint to some of the white sections. That might be why some of the white paint chipped off. I have had no paint chipping problems on any of the other pins I have used this method on.
I used this method also on Firepower and Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man. The dark colors, especially black, would leave some wax in the nooks and crannies of the touch-up. I used a brush to put on my paint and this left small crevices where wax could hide. After drying, wax is white, so bits of white wax in black areas stood out like a sore thumb. I pressed harder to remove the wax in the nooks, crannies and miniature gorges. After multiple coats, the small canyons in the paint smoothed out and I no longer have this problem when rewaxing the playfield. You shouldn't have this problem is you are air-brushing the paint on.

Maintenance

Here's the catch. There's always a catch when you take a shortcut. It's one of the universal laws!

I haven't tried any cleaners, but I wouldn't dare try water, Isopropyl alcohol or other cleaners on the touched-up areas. I have only put more wax on top of the touched-up areas. The good news is that if I put a good amount of Mother's Carnauba Wax on a cotton pad, use a little bit of elbow grease and repeat with more wax and another clean cotton pad, I was able to clean up the ball dirt and grime on the playfield, leaving the touch-ups untouched!
You will need to wax more often. The Createx paint, when dried, is hard and stands up well to pinball abuse, but keep the playfield waxed, every 500 plays or so, to keep the touch-ups protected.
Keep a fresh, bright and shiny pinball in the game. When you begin to see nicks in the pinball, it is past time to replace it!
There hasn't been tens of thousands of games played on my touched-up pins, so long term wear is unknown.

The Bottom Line

These results have really surprised me. I am going to continue to use this method because it allows me to get games out on route to be played instead of sitting in my Project Pin queue waiting to be cleared. If you are doing only one or two pins and want the protection that a clear coat offers, then, absolutely go ahead with the playfield clear. A good playfield touch-up and clear is the gold standard. This method I am presenting is, what, the copper standard? The lead standard? It's NOT the gold standard!
I have done some playfield touch-ups with clear coats and gotten good results. Here are the Web pages showing how I did a playfield touch-up and a clear coat afterwards:
http://www.pecospinball.com/my_first_full_pinball_restore.shtml
http://www.pecospinball.com/aztec_playfield_restoration.shtml
Well, there it is. What you do with this information is entirely up to you. I am not recommending this method nor am I trying to steer anyone away from a good touch-up and clear coat. There is no substitution for a good touch-up and clear, but this method is a viable alternative. Worst case, if you don't like the results, you can remove the wax and acrylic paint and start over and finish with a nice, beautiful coat of clear.
Bally Wizard! before touch-ups.
[quoted image]
Bally Wizard! after touch-ups.
[quoted image]
Bally Wizard! after approximately 700 plays
[quoted image]
Williams Travel Time before touch-ups.
[quoted image]
[quoted image]
Williams Travel Time after touch-ups.
[quoted image]
Williams Travel Time after approximately 2500 plays. Please note that the scratches in the image are from scratches in the playfield glass.
[quoted image]

Nice. FYI, Createx also makes a "balancing clear" (4030) that is for use either alone as a base or topcoat as well as being mixed into their paint to improve flow, dry times and durability. You may want to try using that to make it even better. Mix a little into the paint then do a clear-only top coat. Doesn't add much time, but may improve the results further.

EDIT: https://createxcolors.com/wicked-airbrush-colors/additives-cleaners-clears/4030.html

#5 10 months ago
Quoted from ktownhero:

Nice. FYI, Createx also makes a "balancing clear" (4030) that is for use either alone as a base or topcoat as well as being mixed into their paint to improve flow, dry times and durability. You may want to try using that to make it even better. Mix a little into the paint then do a clear-only top coat. Doesn't add much time, but may improve the results further.

Thanks for the tip, ktownhero. I will have to look into that and check it out. I want to try mixing that in to see the results when dry.

Also, I have been looking for something in a bottle that could be used as as a clearcoat, something better than Varathane or nail polish!

Boy oh boy, this 'hobby' sure is expensive!

#6 10 months ago

I never dared not to protect the touch ups, minimum for me was to protect with mylar.
Always thought the paint would come right off with the balls.
Might try this, have a few small touch up to do on my WCS, will do it this way as a try.

#7 10 months ago

First time I tried to get away with leaving touch-ups unprotected, the act of waxing alone removed much of the paint. I too had used Createx, which itself had dried over several days. Not all of it came up, but enough color was on the wax rag to forcibly change my mind.

For really complex, high-wear, and/or high-visibility areas I like the mylar patch idea at minimum.

Still, it's pretty neat to see your success. But have you tried this on faster SS games?

#8 10 months ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

First time I tried to get away with leaving touch-ups unprotected, the act of waxing alone removed much of the paint.

It sounds like it might have been the wax you were using that removed the Createx acrylic paint.

This is a good time to mention that you have to be careful when buying Mother's Carnauba Wax. There are two types - one with a cleaner and the other without. You want to buy the wax without the cleaner.

#9 10 months ago

Thank you for sharing this thread. I am about to do some touch ups on a pin, so i appreciate it.

What do you suggest for the best clear coat option? (I do plan on clearcoating)

#10 10 months ago
Quoted from Daditude:

What do you suggest for the best clear coat option? (I do plan on clearcoating)

I did some research on the three different types of clearcoat most often discussed on Pinside before doing my first clear. These are my opinions and are not entirely based on experience.

Two-Part Automotive Clear - 2PAC

There are two options here, have a professional do the clear or do it yourself with Spraymax 2K Clear.

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/the-spraymax-2k-auto-clear-in-a-can-club

Two-Part Automotive Clear dries to a shiny hard surface and hold up well over time. Both options use extremely toxic isocyanate, not something I would be messing around with myself.

The professional option is better, but you pay more for a professional to do it.

2PAC looks out of place on an EM because it is so shiny.

Varathane

I've used this to fill in sunken inserts.

  • Dries clear, but not crystal clear.
  • It is viscous and I'm pretty sure that it cannot be sprayed on.
  • It is not a 'hot' paint, so it does no damage to the paint/ink below. Because it is not hot, it also peels off.
  • It does not store well. Mine turned from a liquid to a thick jell-o like consistency.
  • If I remember correctly, Isopropyl alcohol will remove it.

I liken Varathane to putting a condom on your playfield, far from perfect.

There are many kinds of Varathane. I used Gloss, No Odor, Spar Urethane, U.V. Protection Formula, Crystal Clear Varathane. If you use it, do your research and be sure you buy the right one.

Krylon Crystal Clear, Acrylic Coating #1303

If I must clear, this is what I use. You need to spray it on in thin coats and allow overnight drying before you put on another coat. How do I know? I learned this the hard way! Spray it on too thick or too quickly between coats and you are risking creating fish-eyes.

  • It is easy to find.
  • It is easy to use.
  • It is relatively non-toxic compared to 2PAC, but don't be spraying this clear indoors. A well ventilated garage should suffice.
  • It is inexpensive. You can get it at Michaels with a coupon for about six to seven dollars.
  • It can be sanded, after drying, and then covered with another coat to make it shiny again.
  • It is a hot paint and will not peel off.
  • Not as hard as 2PAC, but so far it has been holding up well on the games I have on route.
  • Isopropyl alcohol will MELT this clear and you have to warn anyone touching the playfield about this!! Other chemicals???
  • It looks out of place on an EM because it is shiny.

You might be able to sand it with a fine grit sandpaper to get a more realistic look, but haven't experimented with this. I have tried moving the spray can back a few more inches when spraying. This left a more realistic satin finish. See the 'Aztec' link in the first post for more information.

You will need two to three cans per playfield.

There are other clears and, no doubt, other opinions.

#11 10 months ago

Have you considered using enamel paints? One Shot or even Testors for model cars? Far more durable than acrylics. I’ve had uncleared touch ups last years on heavily played machines.
One Shot is durable enamel made for sign painting, I’ve had lettering on the side of my outdoor parked pickup truck for about a decade and the red is still vibrant so it definitely has UV inhibitors. Yes, they cost more than art store acrylics but I just buy the primary colors and mix my own custom colors so you’re only really buying a few pints.

#12 10 months ago
Quoted from MrArt2u:

Have you considered using enamel paints? One Shot or even Testors for model cars? Far more durable than acrylics. I’ve had uncleared touch ups last years on heavily played machines.
One Shot is durable enamel made for sign painting, I’ve had lettering on the side of my outdoor parked pickup truck for about a decade and the red is still vibrant so it definitely has UV inhibitors. Yes, they cost more than art store acrylics but I just buy the primary colors and mix my own custom colors so you’re only really buying a few pints.

I used Testors Enamel on my Bally Rocket playfield. Looks amazing and no clear coat. There is a caveat, it’s a flipperless game so it’s low speed and the ball traffic is gentle. However I think the enamel would hold up on regular (flippered games) if applied in light coats.

#13 10 months ago

I have at least one or two thousand plays on one particular game touched up with Testors enamel (and kept clean and waxed.) It still looks great.

#14 10 months ago
Quoted from MrArt2u:

Have you considered using enamel paints?

I have used Testors enamel paint.

I bought my first pin in the late 70s, OXO, and being my first and favorite pin, I wanted it to look nice. The only paint I knew about was Testors enamel paint, so that is what I used. I did some black touch-ups around the inserts. I noticed later that some of the black paint was ending up on other parts of the playfield, particularly near the flippers. I guessed that the pinball had picked up the paint and deposited some of it in other areas. I don't remember if I had waxed the playfield after the touch-up, probably not, and maybe that had something to do with what I was seeing. I haven't used enamel paints since.

It's good to hear that you have had better results.

I like acrylic paints for several reasons. It is easy to remove when I don't get it right, which is about 95% of the time! It mixes easily and it is relatively inexpensive. I can't see myself switching to enamel paints, but I am always willing to experiment!

#15 10 months ago
Quoted from goingincirclez:

But have you tried this on faster SS games?

I have tried this on Firepower, Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man and Stellar Wars with good results. They don't get any faster than Firepower!

5 months later
#16 5 months ago

I know it's not a current thread, but I'm doing this (acrylic touch-up followed by wax coat) on a Flash now. I've got a 3-year old touch-up and wax job going on a Sea Ray and after 2000 plays it looks fine. One advantage of waxing is that it doesn't try to pull up the playfield paint after thousands of hard ball hits, as clear coat eventually can.

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