(Topic ID: 109448)

Any ideas on how to flatten an insert?

By izzy

7 years ago

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  • 8 posts
  • 7 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 years ago by Dono
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#1 7 years ago

This is from a 1950 Genco South Pacific. Any ideas on how to flatten it without damaging it? Thought about between two sheets of PF glass and using a spotlight or possibly more aggressively with a heat gun. I welcome any suggestions.

insert2.jpg insert.jpg
#2 7 years ago

there is a thread for flattening playfield plastics that stated using an oven 150 F sandwiched between glass and weighted. I don't see that warming a play field insert would be much different.

but being 1950 machine could be impossible to replace if ruined so wait and see what others have to say.

I thought for sure to see a sagged concave insert not a twisted or humped like it looks in the picture. It will be interesting to see what you do. But i think a few hours at a nice warmth then just leave it alone for a several hour when it cools it will probably work.

#3 7 years ago

Since you live in Sac and we don't get rain around here any more, I would suggest starting by just using the sun (between two pieces of glass). Start with slow heat first, then increase the heat slowly (artificially) if needed.

You can watch your insert straightening while you BBQ in the backyard. d

#4 7 years ago

I would avoid sun as it might fade the colors

#5 7 years ago

Here's a method I used that worked great for me, first posted in the Firepower Club thread. I should note though that my inserts were warped the opposite of yours, curved up at the ends and lower at the center.

Quoted from jibmums:

Here's how I flattened mine once I had them out of the playfield. You'll need a heat gun this time, the same 1/4" socket driver, and a small cup of very cold water. Lay the insert face down on a clean, flat, heat-proof surface like a granite countertop. Keeping the heat gun 8" or so away, you want to heat the insert as if you were spray painting it. In other words, don't just hold the gun on it in a stationary position, because you'll surely deform or even melt it. Move the gun and make "passes" over the insert, just like it was a model car and you were spray painting the body.
You want the plastic heated to the point where it's warmed/softened enough that the pressure you're going to apply with the socket driver will force it down/flat, but not so warm that the vertical sides, usually the thinnest part of the insert, deform. That's why you want to go carefully with the heat until you develop your rhythm for how to heat the insert. After several passes, take your socket driver and gently but firmly press down in the center of the insert. When it's sufficiently heated, you'll see it flatten down from the pressure you apply with the socket driver. Move the driver around in the insert to flatten as much of the area as you can. Then position it in the middle and holding it firmly down, pour enough cold water on the insert to fill it and to create a small puddle around it. Keep pressing gently for a minute or so while the water cools and hardens the insert, then remove the driver and let the insert sit in the puddle for a couple minutes, then dry and move on to the next one.
This method worked very well for me, and it was the first time I'd ever tried it. I need to stress again though, make passes with the heat gun instead of holding it in one spot! While it doesn't make the inserts perfectly flat (only sanding would do that) it eliminates all/most of the banana shape. And if you do then sand them, you'll need to remove less material to flatten them entirely.

#6 7 years ago

With the age of the plastic, I would be afraid of doing any method to it.

#7 7 years ago

Maybe if I made a block similar in shape that might work. I'm afraid of the walls giving in like you stated. And yes I fear I'll ruin them no matter what I do,

#8 7 years ago

Agreed... playfield plastics from the 50s and earlier are impossible to flatten... I would be VERY CAREFUL, and just live with it... there are methods to leveling once you've re-glued it without having to do a full blown playfield clearcoat... I'm sure you can find applicable posts here on pinside.

Let us know what you decide prior to doing the work... most likely harder and more time consuming finding a replacment insert as opposed to the time it will take to leveling a re-glued insert.

Don O

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