(Topic ID: 125390)

Clear coat - affect on game play?


By wayout440

4 years ago



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  • 38 posts
  • 19 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 years ago by zizzlemeplease
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    2001.JPG

    #1 4 years ago

    We're seeing a lot of hobbyist opting for clear coats on restoration work these days. I certainly understand the benefits it provides in regards to wear, preservation, and eye appeal of a table. I was wondering the positive or negative effects this has as far as the ball travel and feel of a table, especially as you start to add extremely thick/slick clear coats to older pins.

    Is there ever a time, let's say in the restoration of an older table where you might even choose to not clear coat it purely because of the changes in play characteristics? If the game play becomes too fast (in a negative way), are you finding you have to lower the incline, for an example? Or...maybe are there are no negatives and they always play better in your opinion?

    #2 4 years ago

    You only play on the surface. so as long as the CC is hard all they way through the thickness has little to do with play changes. Thickness really only has a bearing on the longevity of the clear. the amount of "slickness" is also dependent on the level of polish on the final surface. the smoother it is the faster and less traction there will be.

    #3 4 years ago
    #4 4 years ago

    Depends on what era you are talking about? Since the early 90s all games have come with clear coat. Adding clear to those just makes it a little smoother. Earlier games and especially EMs will play differently with a nice smooth playfield as opposed to the uneven surface, especially when you factor in insert cupping.

    #5 4 years ago

    I've had it both ways. The CPR Space Shuttle just felt WEIRD to me...after playing on a beat up playfield for so long and listening to it, the almost silent ball roll on a CPR playfield and the slightly different placement of the bits and pieces just seemed to throw it slightly "off" for me....and there's no way I would have known that until everything was back together.

    However...

    After repainting and having Crescendo cleared, I freakin' LOVE it. To be honest, I never got to play the game before we did all the work, so I have no clue how it would have played on straight wood. The playfield we repainted was in playable condition, I can't imagine with wax it would've been "slow" by 2" EM flipper standards after everything was rebuilt. We also put the glo-ball in there, and the plastic covered ball on the clearcoat....that thing is smoking fast when it really gets going in the lower pop bumpers. I'm VERY happy with the clear on this one.

    Jackbot, after having it cleared...it was just like "This must be what the game was supposed to play like." It's not that the gameplay was substantially different, but the feel and look and the smooth roll of the ball...pfft.

    #6 4 years ago
    Quoted from JonH123:

    Clear coat vs no clear coat plays the same to me.

    Same here. I think cleared play fields get less dirty than non cleared ones. My cleared ones go 3 times as long before the white rubbers start getting dirty.

    #7 4 years ago

    They definitely sound different and play faster. I like my solid state pins CPR'ed, but I would not want a clearcoated EM playfield.

    #8 4 years ago
    Quoted from Frax:

    The CPR Space Shuttle just felt WEIRD to me.

    Quoted from swampfire:

    They definitely sound different and play faster. I like my solid state pins CPR'ed, but I would not want a clearcoated EM playfield.

    Kind of what I was thinking, rolling around a ball on an fifties EM with the glass off - there's a distinctive sound and feel there, and I was imagining what it might do if that surface was mirror smooth and the ball was sliding a lot more.

    #9 4 years ago

    Even those old EM playfields were cleared originally.

    If you wanted a "low sheen" clearcoat that matched those old EMs, you can easily "knock down" the high gloss of a 2PAC clear with Rottenstone. You will still have all the protection and color pop of 2PAC, but without the high gloss.

    #10 4 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Even those old EM playfields were cleared originally.
    If you wanted a "low sheen" clearcoat that matched those old EMs, you can easily "knock down" the high gloss of a 2PAC clear with Rottenstone. You will still have all the protection and color pop of 2PAC, but without the high gloss.

    If the clearcoat is thick, won't that "blur" the artwork underneath? I like what you're saying, but I'm afraid to try it.

    #11 4 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    you can easily "knock down" the high gloss of a 2PAC clear with Rottenstone. You will still have all the protection and color pop of 2PAC, but without the high gloss.

    2PAC, 3PAC, whatever it takes.

    #12 4 years ago

    thumbs up to the law, for the 'mr. mom' reference.

    #13 4 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Even those old EM playfields were cleared originally.

    ^^^^ Exactly

    My question is....if you had a NOS playfield that was freshly cleared using whatever was available at the time vs. a playfield that was cleared with 2PAC, would you REALLY notice that much difference?

    #14 4 years ago

    I always laugh when someone calls a pinball machine a table. It makes them sound like a member of the Grey Poupon set.

    #15 4 years ago
    Quoted from dothedoo:

    ^^^^ Exactly
    My question is....if you had a NOS playfield that was freshly cleared using whatever was available at the time vs. a playfield that was cleared with 2PAC, would you REALLY notice that much difference?

    It was a thin coat of lacquer, not at all the same as automotive clears that are being used today.

    #16 4 years ago
    Quoted from swampfire:

    If the clearcoat is thick, won't that "blur" the artwork underneath? I like what you're saying, but I'm afraid to try it.

    not really if its laid down well as its clear, I window does not blur things either unless its bad glass. It can change the colors a bit though as you do have an additional layer for the light to pass through. though thats very dependent on the clear used.

    #17 4 years ago
    Quoted from EMsInKC:

    It was a thin coat of lacquer, not at all the same as automotive clears that are being used today.

    So is a coat of wax, but it does speed up ball movement. Yes, auto clear is much more durable long term, but say you had one machine with a perfect playfield that was just cleared with lacquer, not sitting in a box for 40+ years where it could plank, craze, oxidize or whatever, and another machine with a freshly cleared 2PAC playfield. If you played the first game on each playfield would you notice much difference?

    #18 4 years ago
    Quoted from dothedoo:

    So is a coat of wax, but it does speed up ball movement. Yes, auto clear is much more durable long term, but say you had one machine with a perfect playfield that was just cleared with lacquer, not sitting in a box for 40+ years where it could plank, craze, oxidize or whatever, and another machine with a freshly cleared 2PAC playfield. If you played the first game on each playfield would you notice much difference?

    I'm not sure where you're going trying to equate wax with clearing, but the answer is, if the playfield is almost perfectly smooth, you're probably not going to notice a whole lot of difference regardless of what was used to clear it.

    If you know where there's an EM that has the qualities you described there, let me know, because I'm going to buy it.

    Clearing really isn't an attempt to change the play of the machine. It has that effect, but that's not really the purpose at all.

    If you make substantial touchups to a playfield, you pretty well have to do it just to save what you've done. Otherwise, as long as the playfield is in good shape and the touchups, if any, are minor, I'd just leave it alone. Waxing it occasionally and replacing the ball is generally enough.

    #19 4 years ago
    Quoted from swampfire:

    If the clearcoat is thick, won't that "blur" the artwork underneath? I like what you're saying, but I'm afraid to try it.

    You don't want it thick, you just want to protect the game from wear.

    BUT, I always fill in cupped inserts with 2PAC (thus many times thicker than a playfield clearcoat), and it does not blur the underlying artwork at all.

    In fact, auto 2PAC is so clear that it makes the colors pop, where water based clear dulls the colors.

    #20 4 years ago
    Quoted from dothedoo:

    So is a coat of wax, but it does speed up ball movement. Yes, auto clear is much more durable long term, but say you had one machine with a perfect playfield that was just cleared with lacquer, not sitting in a box for 40+ years where it could plank, craze, oxidize or whatever, and another machine with a freshly cleared 2PAC playfield. If you played the first game on each playfield would you notice much difference?

    It's a more complex issue, but bear with me:

    The topcoat lacquer back then was silkscreened on, not sprayed. So it had a different surface.

    If you sprayed a coat of lacquer on, it indeed would play like a modern 2PAC (just look how shiny a showcar is with lacquer finish!).

    A 2PAC clear is REALLY clear, whereas a lacquer clear turns yellow/brown.

    #21 4 years ago
    Quoted from EMsInKC:

    if the playfield is almost perfectly smooth, you're probably not going to notice a whole lot of difference regardless of what was used to clear it.

    This is what I was getting at, and is exactly what I think too. Which means that all games played more or less like they had 2PAC when they came off the assembly line.

    Of course, the wear properties are different, some just totally sucked (*cough* System 9 *cough*). So the next question is, were older games designed to play just like they did off the line or did they expect a 'break in' period to calm down ball speed, sliding and spin?

    #22 4 years ago
    Quoted from dothedoo:

    This is what I was getting at, and is exactly what I think too. Which means that all games played more or less like they had 2PAC when they came off the assembly line.
    Of course, the wear properties are different, some just totally sucked (*cough* System 9 *cough*). So the next question is, were older games designed to play just like they did off the line or did they expect a 'break in' period to calm down ball speed, sliding and spin?

    To be honest, I doubt they cared. All they wanted was to get the games out and on location and make money, and make more games so they could sell them to the operators and the operators could toss the games they had on location once they were used up, and buy new ones to replace them.

    The manufacturers and operators never looked at games like we do as collectors. They were a commodity to be thrown away when their usefulness was done. If they wore out, they were thrown out. So I doubt they were very concerned over any of this stuff.

    #23 4 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    The topcoat lacquer back then was silkscreened on, not sprayed. So it had a different surface.

    That's interesting. So then to do an accurate restoration you would want to do as you suggested below.

    Quoted from vid1900:

    If you wanted a "low sheen" clearcoat that matched those old EMs, you can easily "knock down" the high gloss of a 2PAC clear with Rottenstone. You will still have all the protection and color pop of 2PAC, but without the high gloss.

    Personally, I like the speed offered by a smooth clearcoat, but that's just me. But I would do this if going for accuracy.

    Quoted from vid1900:

    A 2PAC clear is REALLY clear, whereas a lacquer clear turns yellow/brown.

    Why use anything but 2PAC? The life of the game originally was very short, certainly not long enough to consider yellowing/browning intentional. It should be crystal clear.

    #24 4 years ago
    Quoted from dothedoo:

    Personally, I like the speed offered by a smooth clearcoat, but that's just me. But I would do this if going for accuracy.

    You could try it both ways, mirror and knocked down finish.

    You would just repolish it or depolish it at anytime you wanted - the clear does not care.

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/vids-guide-to-ultimate-playfield-restoration/page/27#post-1986492

    #25 4 years ago
    Quoted from EMsInKC:

    To be honest, I doubt they cared. All they wanted was to get the games out and on location and make money, and make more games so they could sell them to the operators and the operators could toss the games they had on location once they were used up, and buy new ones to replace them.
    The manufacturers and operators never looked at games like we do as collectors. They were a commodity to be thrown away when their usefulness was done. If they wore out, they were thrown out. So I doubt they were very concerned over any of this stuff.

    I totally agree, except that I do think they cared about the clearcoat. Why else would they experiment with different coatings? They needed the playfield to last as long as the game was profitable -- they lost their appeal when they were worn to wood. But after that you're right, it was a throw away commodity.

    #26 4 years ago

    I've cleared 2 of my machines: Banzai Run and Lightning. Before that, I used mylar to protect my playfields. But I'm never going back to that. I think a good clearcoat makes any game play awesome. Yes, even an EM.

    For me, the key to a great playing clearcoat is to use the right stuff. The harder the clearcoat used and the better you polish it, the less grip the ball has. That's why I use a 2k clearcoat with a little bit of elasticity. The elasticity makes the ball grip perfect to me. If used on an EM or early solid state, just polish it less or even give it a final wet sanding with some high grit sanding paper.

    I've used this stuff on my machines: amazon.com link »

    #27 4 years ago

    IMO aftermarket clear feels a little more "floaty" - like the ball skids over the PF compared to the used original version. Definitely faster.

    1 month later
    #28 3 years ago
    Quoted from Frax:

    After repainting and having Crescendo cleared, I freakin' LOVE it. To be honest, I never got to play the game before we did all the work, so I have no clue how it would have played on straight wood. The playfield we repainted was in playable condition, I can't imagine with wax it would've been "slow" by 2" EM flipper standards after everything was rebuilt. We also put the glo-ball in there, and the plastic covered ball on the clearcoat....that thing is smoking fast when it really gets going in the lower pop bumpers. I'm VERY happy with the clear on this one.

    Very happy to hear that, Frax. I enjoyed playing your Crescendo at TPF. Looked and played great.

    I just installed a 2001 playfield with glossy auto clear. It's definitely faster, but not all that different from a freshly Novus'ed and waxed original. The colors and overall appearance is ASTOUNDING.

    I have several EM's which have been stripped and are awaiting similar treatment. At first it was a bit of a gamble to follow this route for my restorations but the result speaks for itself.

    My only concern for the future is how to deal with any scratches... though with such a smooth surface and a new ball, it should take a long time for that to become an issue.

    #29 3 years ago
    Quoted from NicoVolta:

    My only concern for the future is how to deal with any scratches... though with such a smooth surface and a new ball, it should take a long time for that to become an issue.

    You will get scratches from little nicks in the ball.

    Polish playfield with Novus to remove, then replace balls.

    #30 3 years ago

    I need a good DSLR... iPhone and glare isn't cutting the mustard. Pardon the lack of photo quality. Here's the latest cleared playfield with cabaret light mod installed:

    2001.JPG

    #31 3 years ago

    Regarding older games, I'm not a fan of automoive clear at all. It does certainly change the way a game plays. Although some prefer that "feel" you get on a auto-cleared EM, it certainly doesn't play how the company/designer ever play tested it back in the day. Knowing this, the shots, saucers, slings, spinners, scoops, ect. are ALL going to play different, since the speed and flow of the ball has now been "modified".

    Additionally, where were you ever going to play a game on location back in the 60's/70's with a clear coated play field? I would much rather play those vintage pinball games the was they existed on location, in the era of when they were manufactured. Adding things like LEDs and automotive clear certainly changes them in a way that differs from how they ever previsouly existed.

    Bad or good? That's an opinion. But it certainly does change the game. That is certain.

    #32 3 years ago

    i had an AFM with an automotive type clear on it and the ball would get some crazy spin on it. it certainly kept me on my toes. sold that to someone who swapped in a mirco and now my son has the old pf in his room. one of these days i need to follow though and make a desk with it. lol.

    #33 3 years ago
    Quoted from snyper2099:

    Regarding older games, I'm not a fan of automoive clear at all. It does certainly change the way a game plays. Although some prefer that "feel" you get on a auto-cleared EM, it certainly doesn't play how the company/designer ever play tested it back in the day.

    I would agree with that statement when you're comparing a restored playfield with automotive clear to a vintage used playfield. How do you know it felt different from the clear that was available back in the day? I bet it plays very similar to the way the designer play tested it. I don't think you'd notice much, if any, difference until after a few dozen games.

    Quoted from snyper2099:

    Additionally, where were you ever going to play a game on location back in the 60's/70's with a clear coated play field?

    They all had clear coating or the art would have started wearing off immediately.

    #34 3 years ago

    You know what I meant. People clear play fields today to make them look like glass and play on a "glass-like" surface. I want to actually hear the ball rolling on a vintage pinball machine. The reason you can hear it is friction. There is much less friction on said "glass-like" surfaces, hence the "ball floating" people describe.

    #35 3 years ago

    Won't the "friction" increase with wear though? After a few hundred plays, I'd think the clearcoat would wear a bit to add more friction and authentic feel.

    #36 3 years ago

    The rubber of today has more clay filler in it.

    The coil sleeves of today are nylon.

    The balls of today are better polished.

    So even a restored EM is not going to play exactly like when it was new, no matter what clearcoat you apply.

    #37 3 years ago

    I like them fast, so yes to clear coats and high/fine polish levels. I'll clean and wax a new ball too before putting it in cleaning and waxing the pf again and "wax the wax" with armorall's tire gel buffed in/on the wax because it's handy and pf rubber seems to like the stuff. helps keep the rubber from drying out and helps it repel dirt and quicker to wipe the dirt off with some.
    but hey this is me, I'm no genius..

    #38 3 years ago

    if you're semi OCD about cleaning waxing and polishing,
    all zip no grip and what's this wear stuff? (lol oops)

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