THE GREAT PRETENDERS
There are a bunch of products that claim to be ultimate protection, superior protection, polymer protection, personal protection, or whatever. No matter how fancy the box is, no matter how tough a picture of an anvil protecting your car looks, no matter how deep "guaranteed deepest shine" is, the only thing that is important is how well does the wax protect the playfield from wear.
One thing we always want to try and avoid is liquid silicone. Silicone soaks into cracks and pores and is almost impossible to remove. If someone ever tries to repair or clearcoat the playfield, it will be filled with fisheye defects. If someone ever sands the playfield, the dust with the silicone can infect the entire shop. Silicone does make the playfield slippery, but the effect is very short lived compared to real wax.
Another thing we want to avoid is abrasives. "Deep Cleaning" products will contain abrasives. We sure don't want that.
Let's take a look at products we DON'T want on our playfields - The Great Pretenders:
Cleaner Wax contains extra strong solvents and abrasive particles used to try and scrub down to fresh paint on a dull, faded automobile.
Since we want to wax our games often, this means we are wearing away our playfields every time we wax.
This is the Used Cat Lot's secret weapon. You put liquid silicone on a rag, wipe in on a porous, weathered paint job, and the car looks shiny with deep color restored; for about 5 days.
This makes your playfield play crazy fast for a week and then seems to evaporate like it does on a car, leaving you without protection. As a bonus, it's silicone, so if your playfield ever needs repair, it will be fisheye city.
You can find this as a can of liquid, or as an aerosal spray.
If your grandma had a pinball machine, this is what she would use to clean it.
Pledge is a mixture of Paraffin Wax and silicone. Paraffin is a super soft wax and offers no actual protection. Just like at your grandma's house, Pledge looks wet and shiny for a few days, then it evaporates all by itself (so your grandma is forced to use it every week).
When you go to look at a game for sale and it smells like chemical lemons, automatically deduct $500 from your offer.
All those Liquid Waxes that you simply "wipe on - wipe off" are just silicone, fast evaporating solvents and a tiny suspension of paraffin wax. Leaves a very dusty residue after it dries, so you have lot's of mess to clean up.
You are paying for a lot of nothing, and getting a ton of silicone to boot.
"100% Carnauba Wax"
Carnauba Wax in it's 100% state is harder than concrete.
There is no way you could spread it on a playfield. It would simply grind off all the paint; same as if you rubbed a brick all over it.
I called Meguiars, and they said that the highest percentage of Carnauba you could possibly make spreadable with some heat would be 50%, or at room temperature, 35%.
Anytime you see a wax make crazy statements like "100% Carnauba Wax", they are lying, or at best, being VERY deceptive.
This mixture of super strong petroleum distillates and silicone, used to be recommend by Bally in their manuals.
The strong solvents would soften the topcoat allowing the cloth to free ground-in coil dust.
The strong solvents will cloud your plastic ramps should it accidentally come in contact with them. Don't EVER allow Wildcat to touch anything plastic.
Never use Wildcat on a modern pinball playfield with automotive clear coat.
Williams issued a warning bulletin about using cleaners like Wildcat and Millwax in 1989. They said it causes Mylar to lift, but you can't help but think it also was an early warning for the auto clearcoats that were just on the horizon.
Similar to Wildcat, Millwax is a liquid silicone and does not actually contain wax. If you have ever seen the white liquid residue that has run down all the playfield holes and onto the backside, Millwax is what it was.
It tends to fill playfield cracks with white residue, and you should keep it away from many plastics.
It make the playfield play fast for a few days, and then like other silicone products, it fades away.
Here is the warning letter from Williams about not using the above products with petroleum distillates any longer: