When I first started out in the hobby I was lucky enough to get a Gay 90's from a local collector for $50.
I got a machine that was fully intact but reeked of years of smoke. The playfield had planking and major paint loss. The backglass had some flaking but not terrible. I managed, with the help of Clay's guides, to get it 100% functional. Then I tore it down and had to do the fabled "degreaser and pour hot water on it" to finally purge it of the deathly stench.
Maybe I should have left the flaking damaged paint but not knowing better at the time and perhaps being too ambitious, I scanned it with the HP 4600 Scanjet and then sanded all the ink off. There it sat for a few years, while I gained more experience at touchups and airbrushing.
Finally this summer I returned to the project. I repainted the cabinet, and then moved onto the playfield. I'll take you through how I did it...hopefully if anyone tries to tackle something like this they can learn from what I did and avoid any mistakes I made.
The starting point was a sanded playfield. After sanding, I glued in the inserts (all new except for the clear orange that I reused) slightly proud. Then I sanded the inserts flush to the playfield. I sealed the bare wood with Createx 4050 UVLS gloss clear. Then the repaint process was to start.