Comet restoration project

(Topic ID: 208217)

Comet restoration project


By pinheadpierre

10 months ago



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  • Latest reply 53 days ago by vid1900
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#1 10 months ago

Let’s start out by clearing the air on the word “restoration”. There are many threads here discussing the various meanings of the term. I do not subscribe to one definition as it relates to pinball. I use it as a fluid term to describe massively significant improvement resulting from an equally massive effort. Here’s the official definition that comes up if you google the word:

res·to·ra·tion

1.
the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.
"the restoration of Andrew's sight"
synonyms: repair, repairing, fixing, mending, refurbishment, reconditioning, rehabilitation, rebuilding, reconstruction, overhaul, redevelopment, renovation

I do not subscribe to the opinion that to qualify as a restoration that a machine must present the illusion that it was never touched by time. To me, a pinball restoration is an act of bringing a machine back to a level of operational quality and visual beauty far above and beyond what the game was before the project started.

This particular “restoration” is going to be a process which is a lot deeper than a thorough shop job but it’s not going to be a HEP Comet either. I figure, there are LOTS of worn out Comets in the world and most folks can’t afford 10k for a restored Comet. I hope this project makes the pinball world a teency tiny bit better for having a mechanically solid, fast-playing, good-looking Comet out there where before there was a worn out, inoperative hunk of almost junk.

This game came to me as part of a group of derelict machines. It did not work and was heavily worn. Comet is a wonderful game, but it is not quite my cup of tea. I do not plan on keeping it. I will play it a bit after I am done, mostly to make sure that everything is working really well and dialed in. Then I will put it on the market, so it can go to someone who really digs Comet.

My goal is to make the playfield MUCH better than how I found it. I’m not trying to recreate a NOS playfield, just make a really good-looking example of Comet without using an overlay. I’ve only done a couple other machines and they were much simpler designs. Honestly, I am mostly interested in the challenge of seeing if I can pull off making the majority of the planking disappear. This means repainting ALL of the gray fields surrounding the hundreds of tiny little figures as well as all of the significant white fields. I’ll repaint some other stuff, too.

I know, crazy for a machine that I don’t plan to keep. But hey – how else am I going to learn except by doing?
So here we go! I am hoping that folks will chime in with ideas, tips and suggestions for how to do things better if they see room for improvement or glaring mistakes.

Oh yeah – the beginning of this thread is not in real time. I’m playing catch up as I’ve been documenting with the camera but haven’t had time to write and post until now. We’ll be in real time soon enough.

Here are a few pictures from teardown that give a general idea of the initial condition of the playfield.

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#2 10 months ago

I chose not to strip the bottom of the playfield. Instead, I tied everything up that was loose so that it was not dangling and stressing wires and solder joints. Then I bagged it all up. The plastic "bag" is taped all around the perimeter of the playfield and rotisserie. All of the holes and slots in the playfield are taped over on the underside. I have moved my rotisserie onto a pair of sawhorses in my shop and draped temporary plastic walls/ceiling over the area to contain spray mist and to reduce dust. There is a cutout in the plastic which is strategically placed near a window with a box fan for ventilation. Nothing fancy. Not sealed to the floor. Not sealed at the corners. No air intake filter. It just isn't necessary in my limited experience.

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#3 10 months ago

Once I was all set up in my "spray booth", I finished cleaning as much crud off as possible with magic eraser and 91% rubbing alcohol. I removed a feakish amount of ick but it still looked really bad. Way to much dirt/coil dust deep down in all of those planking cracks. When I was satisfied that I was not going to improve it any further by cleaning, I sprayed a light lock down coat of clear in preparation for stenciling. Usually, I will shoot a coat of clear late morning and then come back and block sand it with 600 or 800 grit paper early the next morning.

By the way, have you ever played "telephone"? It's that game where one person whispers a short story into someone's ear. The listener then becomes the teller, whispering the same story into the ear of the next person as accurately as they can remember. This goes on for as many people as you have in the group until the last person has heard the story. Then the last person tells the story out loud to the group, followed finally by the first person retelling the story to the group. The two versions of the story are almost never the same. Typically, they are wildly different in significant ways.

This is thread is kind of like vid1900 telephone. Nearly everything practiced here comes straight from his playfield restoration thread. It's an epic amount of great tips and information. Thank you, Vid! I hope I am not warping the story too much in practice here. Fingers crossed.

#4 10 months ago

Oh yeah, before I shot the first layer of clear, I scanned the whole playfield section by section. After the scans are complete I used them to make stencils with my Silhouette Cameo.

I like to choose a color and do it all at once, if practical. Since the gray seems like the biggest challenge I am starting with it.

I open a scan in Photoshop and use the magic wand tool to select all of the areas with whatever color I am working on. Usually this works pretty well with the tool set to a tolerance of about 50-70 depending on the color, the surrounding colors, and defects that might be similar in color or value. Sometimes, I’ve got to turn it down to a narrower band like 25 or 30. Once I’ve got the color all selected, I white it all out with the brush tool. Then I inverse the selection and black out the rest of the scan. There's almost always some (sometimes a lot) of manual touchup to do to get rid of defects. Once I'm satisfied, I save as a JPG and open it up in Silouette Studio to make a cut file for the stencil.

This seems to work pretty well in terms of not having to redraw everything as vectors while being reasonably accurate. Here are the first few stencils placed on the playfield.

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#5 10 months ago

I'm using Oramask 813 stencil material. At first, I had all kinds of trouble using it. It can be a bit persnickety. The key learning points for me were to not press too hard when applying the stencil. Run a finger around the edges just firmly enough to make sure that it is laying flat. The other was learning to not leave it on too long. I plan on having everything ready for a painting session such that I can paint and remove the mask within a couple hours of laying it down. It seems to bond more aggressively to its substrate with time, increasing the chances of ripping up paint and clear upon removal. Once the stencils are down and all of the surrounding areas protected, I will airbrush LIGHT coats of paint, allowing each layer to dry (usually a few minutes is enough if the layer was a light one) before spraying the next.

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#6 10 months ago

Once the area looks like it has good coverage, I walk away. I'll go have lunch, run some errands, whatever. Anything to get me away from the stencils and the temptation to remove them to see how it looks underneath. Peeling off the stencils too soon can tear the edges of the paint. When I'm sure the paint is dry, I carefully remove the stencils. I like to start with a corner and slowly peel until I can flex the removed part of the stencil on about a 30 degree angle in the direction that I am peeling. That way, I am peeling more directionally rather than up. It seems to help keep the edges from lifting or tearing. Once I peel to a point where there is a void I will use an exacto knife to slice the stencil and peel just one of the resulting "handles" so that I am only lifting one edge at a time.

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#7 10 months ago

A trick for peeling up tiny little bits that I have had ample opportunity to practice on this project (thanks to the hundreds of little amusement park characters) is to very carefully catch the edge of the stencil material with an exacto blade and just barely get it underneath. Keep the blade low, almost parallel to the playfield to reduce chances of poking or gouging. Once it isunder, slowly and carefully run the blade BACKWARDS (towards the unsharp side) to continue lifting the stencil until you can pinch it to the blade with a finger and peel. Running the blade backwards prevents cutting the stencil material which would make it more difficult to peel off in one piece.

#8 10 months ago

I was happy enough with the results of my first test area that I went ahead and did the rest of the bottom half of the playfield. I didn't have time to do it all at once so I broke the bottom half into thirds and did a little chunk per day. Here is the middle part all masked off and a detail of the mask to show how it lines up.

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#9 10 months ago

Here's a detail of how that area turned out.

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#10 10 months ago

And here is all of the gray on the bottom of the playfield done. Whew!

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#11 10 months ago

The stencils for the gray on the top half were pretty big. P1178609 (resized).JPG Bigger than I wanted to place in one piece. There was just too much to align all at once, so I decided to cut them into more manageable pieces like so....P1178613 (resized).JPGI covered the seams with scotch tape after they were in place.P1178614 (resized).JPG Since the gray for the top half is basically one giant continuous field, I did not have the luxury of doing it in little chunks. I had to wait until I had a day with enough free time to do it all at once. It took about two hours to lay the stencils and get the rest of this area masked off. P1178616 (resized).JPGPainting went smoothly and a couple hours later I was ready to remove the stencils.P1178618 (resized).JPGThe big pieces came off cleanly and easily.P1178622 (resized).JPGBut look at that those big gray voids. Deep breath. How many little people do I have to reveal one by one? Take a guess!

#12 10 months ago

One hour and fifteen minutes later....the final 179 little people are walking around on clean new concrete!P1178624 (resized).JPGHere's the whole thing, gray complete!P1178623 (resized).JPGI decided that the big red areas on the right were easily doable without hurting the gray by placing masking on fresh paint. Yellow Frog Tape is great for isolating new paint from masking as a precaution. Just lift it off slowly and with the same sideways (not upwards) movement as for stencils. I hand cut frisket film for these areas. It's a little faster for me to hand cut large simple shapes like this than to run a scan through photoshop and make a vinyl stencil. The tack of the frisket is also less than that of the Oramask 813 so there's less concern about collateral damage.P1188626 (resized).JPGOkay - time for an isolation coat of clear before moving on.P1198628 (resized).JPG

#13 10 months ago

Here's a picture of my preferred tool for deglossing low areas. It's a fiberglass pen. All those little people are for the moment a tad lower than the surrounding gray. The clear does not fill that in for awhile. It takes a few coats being block sanded, recoated, block sanded, recoated, etc for them to build up. I could use an eyedropper to fill them in (and may still yet, we'll see how it's looking after the next couple coats). I'm just hoping to avoid that because there are so darn many of them. In the meantime, it's relatively quick work to go around to all the low spots and give them a little scuff with the ol'scratch pen.

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#14 10 months ago

Time to tackle the white. All of the big simple stuff I did in one shot with a bunch of frisket film. The more complicated areas like the pop bumper area and the lower center area with the flames and inserts were done using vinyl stencils. P1228630 (resized).JPGP1228631 (resized).JPG

#15 10 months ago

Looking great!

#16 10 months ago

Impressive!

#17 10 months ago

I was originally going to do the train tracks as a separate layer after an isolation layer of clear but decided that it was easy enough to just protect the adjacent white with frog tape. These areas are complicated so I let the computer do the cutting for me again. I learned that I can have the vinyl cutter cut images in overlapping sections so that I don't have to slice and dice my stencils or have any seams to cover with tape. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture before I layed them down. Here's the fresh, delicate adjacent white protected with frog tape.P1238632 (resized).JPGSome of the details on this were just too darn small to weed. Some details "self-weeded" on the cutter. Some of those little blue dots around the train just wouldn't hang on.P1238633 (resized).JPGFor stuff like this I have been laying the stencil without those tiny details and then going back and covering them with "liquid frisket".P1238635 (resized).JPGAs far as I can tell, this stuff is just latex. Put it on, let it dry, paint, let paint dry, rub off with finger. For larger areas, I have a dedicated brush for it. For tiny stuff like these dots, I apply it with a sewing needle.P1238634 (resized).JPGAll masked and ready to paint. All aboard!P1238637 (resized).JPGAaaaand it's time for another layer of clear. White gets dirty way too easily. Time to protect my hard won spanky clean white.P1238638 (resized).JPGAnd that gets me all caught up. Now we are in real time, waiting until tomorrow morning to block sand the clearcoat.

#18 10 months ago
Quoted from jaytrem:

Looking great!

Thanks!

#19 10 months ago

Awesome job on the playfield what would the cost to have someone restore a playfield on comet?

Thanks

#20 10 months ago

While I was waiting for the workshop to warm up enough to shoot clear this morning I mixed up my next colors. I thought I had gotten super lucky with the orange as a stock color right out of the bottle. Look how close it looks.P1248640 (resized).JPGAlas, it was too red and too dark. Acrylic based paints always dry darker due to the fact that the acrylic resin is milky white as a fluid but clear when dry. Adding a few squirts of yellow did the trick.P1248642 (resized).JPGI really like these little glass airbrush jars. They clean up well between colors and have so far proven durable. I put those little black condoms on the outlet tube for storage so I can keep the color around for the duration of the project without paint drying in the dip tube.P1248643 (resized).JPGWhen I am matching a color, I will mix it right in the glass airbrush jar. At first I just set the glass jar on the area I'm trying to match to see if I'm getting closer. For dialing the color in perfectly I dip a fine tipped brush just barely into the paint and lay down a smooth stroke of it on the field I am trying to match. Since it's going to dry darker and I don't like standing around waiting for paint to dry, I hit it with a hairdryer WITHOUT HEAT. I picked up this hairdryer for four bucks from the thrift store. Its got several toggle switches so that you can run it hot, medium or flat cold. You could just use a small fan to achieve the same result, but I like this because it is focused and I can also use it to heat set paint when I feel that it is necessary.P1248641 (resized).JPGDon't dry your test swatches with heat unless you like struggling to remove them. I've been using the Createx Wicked paints rather than the Opaque line. I think they stick better than the opaque line and they have a nice selection of colors. They are a bit harder to get off once dry, but not too bad. Usually I can wipe it off with a damp paper towel. If not, a water dampened scrap of magic eraser does the trick.

#21 10 months ago

Newbie / space case light bulb tip:

If you have opted to restore a playfield without stripping everything off the bottom and are using lightbulbs to protect the sockets, consider this. When I go around and put bulbs in all the sockets prior to shooting that first layer of clear I triple check EVERY hole. Some of those holes with deeply recessed sockets can read like a target or switch hole if you are in a hurry. Skip it and then you have a clearcoated lamp socket to deal with. After I have put all the bulbs in, shot my clear, let it set and am ready to remove the bulbs, I put them in their own special cup all by themselves. Don't mix them back in with your other spare junk bulbs. If you are spacey like me, you want to have a dedicated cup of bulbs for the duration of the project. If not for this technique, I would have definitely shot clear into the socket with the red bulb in the picture below.P1248644 (resized).JPG I had just that one red bulb left to put in and I had to look at the playfield for a solid minute before I realized which hole I had missed. If I had been pulling bulbs out of a larger collection I would've missed it.

#22 10 months ago

Wow! Looking amazing. Thanks for including us!

#23 10 months ago

How are you isolating the areas for the cut template? Did you find a somewhat quick way to manipulate your playfield scans?

#24 10 months ago

What a great documentation, I wish you were not now "live" I was enjoying how fast you worked! Great stuff !
Thanks for doing this on pinside.

#25 10 months ago

How did you “reveal” your little people??

#26 10 months ago
Quoted from hawkeyexx:

Awesome job on the playfield what would the cost to have someone restore a playfield on comet?
Thanks

Thanks! I really don't know what it would cost to pay for a restored Comet playfield. I suppose it would largely depend on the starting point. I think Chris Kruger joemamma did one within the last year. You could reach out to him or one of the other pros like captainneo. If you are asking me what I would charge I recommend waiting and asking again via PM when this is done. I could screw this up yet!

#27 10 months ago
Quoted from mrossman5:

Wow! Looking amazing. Thanks for including us!

Thank you!

Quoted from lordloss:

How are you isolating the areas for the cut template? Did you find a somewhat quick way to manipulate your playfield scans?

I'm not quite sure what you are asking. What do you mean by "isolating the areas for the cut template"?

Quoted from Atari_Daze:

What a great documentation, I wish you were not now "live" I was enjoying how fast you worked! Great stuff !
Thanks for doing this on pinside.

Thank you! I kind of wish I wasn't "live" now, too. That was a good three weeks of work (not all day, every day mind you but still lots of effort in large fairly consistent blocks of time). Happy to do this on Pinside. Heck, if it wasn't for Pinside I wouldn't be doing this at all.

Quoted from La_Porta:

How did you “reveal” your little people??

Verrrrry carefully with an exacto blade (see above). I'll be doing some more stencil work tomorrow. I'll try to take a picture of the process if I can, though it might be difficult unless I can find my tripod.

#28 10 months ago

Yesterday started with some sanding to degloss the clearcoat. Here it is in its shiny fresh clearcoat glory prior to sanding.P1258665 (resized).JPGToday's goal is to sand the clear and repaint the long Orange area. There is significant ball wear in the upper portion, including grooves that had turned to gouges in the upper portion that I had filled with bondo back in the beginning stages of the project. There's also some obvious planking in the corkscrew text.P1258668 (resized).JPGAlso, down at the bottom there was highly visible dirty planking cracks where the mylar stopped just below the flippers.P1258667 (resized).JPGTheoretically I could mask off and touchup just these areas but I think it's probably cleaner and easier to paint the whole field.

First I used 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper on a 1/3 sheet sanding block. I then went over any depressions that remained glossy with my trusty fiberglass pen. Here is a low angle shot showing the clear after sanding. It's getting smoother with each coat.P1258675 (resized).JPGI'll use a combination of frisket and vinyl for this job. That means it's time for a fresh exacto blade!P1258673 (resized).JPGI buy them in bulk. It's less expensive and having a bunch of them creates an easy come easy go mindset that means I am never cutting with a slightly dull blade. It is surprising how quickly that brand new super sharp edge dull just enough to compromise the quality of a cut.P1258678 (resized).JPGAfter masking the perimeter with hand cut frisket (total time only about 10 minutes) I masked the roller coaster and inserts with computer cut vinyl. All ready for some fresh orange except....oops!P1258679 (resized).JPGIn my photoshop work I somehow forgot to include this little alignment circle. Liquid frisket to the rescue!P1258680 (resized).JPGSince orange is a really transparent color (at least in the createx world - red and yellow, hence orange, are super see through) I shot the area with white first. I shoot light coats until I can't see any underlying text or repairs. Here you can still see text through the first coat of white.P1258681 (resized).JPGI needed two light coats of white to cover everything well enough. If text and repairs are not covered well enough they can show like a faint ghostly shadow through the color coat. This makes replacing the text a nightmare because you have to line it up perfectly to not have a ghost shadow around the new text. Don't ask me how I know this. Grrrrr.P1258682 (resized).JPGNext I shot the first coat of orange. Despite trying to lay it down evenly, you can see where it is thicker. The yellowish areas are the thinner areas.P1258684 (resized).JPGThe next coat evened it all out but then something happened that I have not done before. I ran out of paint JUST BEFORE I FINISHED. It was like running out of gas ten feet from the pump. I tried to push my car to the pump but it just wouldn't go. I let it all dry and contemplated whether to leave it or mix more paint and do another light coat. Since the are in question was right above the flippers and therefore super visible, I opted for the latter. Fortunately, it was an easy color to remix. P1258686 (resized).JPGFinal coat shot, I left for lunch. That was more layers of paint than I would like. I'll probably ease the edge in a couple of days to remove the lip it will create. A couple hours later I removed the masks. Sorry, I tried but couldn't take pictures of that process without screwing it up.P1258688 (resized).JPGTomorrow or the next day I'll do the same thing next door for the yellow.

#29 10 months ago
Quoted from pinheadpierre:

Thank you!

I'm not quite sure what you are asking. What do you mean by "isolating the areas for the cut template"?

Thank you! I kind of wish I wasn't "live" now, too. That was a good three weeks of work (not all day, every day mind you but still lots of effort in large fairly consistent blocks of time). Happy to do this on Pinside. Heck, if it wasn't for Pinside I wouldn't be doing this at all.

Verrrrry carefully with an exacto blade (see above). I'll be doing some more stencil work tomorrow. I'll try to take a picture of the process if I can, though it might be difficult unless I can find my tripod.

Sorry, I thought you were scanning the playfield, then using a graphic editing software to isolate teh areas you wanted to paint. They make cutting machines that cut very very accurate painting masks.

#30 10 months ago
Quoted from lordloss:

Sorry, I thought you were scanning the playfield, then using a graphic editing software to isolate teh areas you wanted to paint. They make cutting machines that cut very very accurate painting masks.

That is what I am doing. I am using a cameo2 for the vinyl cutting. Are you asking how I get rid of the rest of the scan and leave only the forms I want to cut?

#31 10 months ago

Your restoration is looking great... My wife uses a Cameo2 as well for all of her crafty crafts.... I have not had the time to do a full restoration like this but I plan to in the next year or so.... I just picked up a Comet Saturday and spent last night working out all the technical issues, there are many of them but overall the machine is in good shape, once my new drivers show up I will have the game playing 100%. New ramps would be nice... I have a large Hi pressure vacuum press that I may take a stab at fabricating a center ramp... It would be a fun project. I am bummed that my corkscrew ramp is the black one, it is in great shape but I will be searching for that red one. Keep posting picks... very informative...
Here is the Machine as it was in its old home... Lots of re-wiring to do... The playfield is actually in pretty good shape....

One question:
What is missing in the annotated the image of the Flasher control board? 2 wires with terminations on them but just hanging loose... I am guessing it has something to do with the wire nuts next to it... It took me a long time to get the Flasher circuit to work!!!

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#32 10 months ago

I used the transparent Createx transparent orange on my SF2 playfield. However, to get mine to match, I had to undercoat with light gray. The one issue I had with this technique is that once the color is laid down, the paint is significantly thicker than the surrounding playfield. This isn't really a problem until you go to sand and level the playfield while clear coating. I ended up sanding into the paint in a few spots on my playfield. I'm curious to see how you address this issue.

#33 10 months ago

Really awesome play field restoration. The attention to detail is impressive.

#34 10 months ago

Amazing work, thanks for sharing

#35 10 months ago
Quoted from johnrezz:

One question:
What is missing in the annotated the image of the Flasher control board? 2 wires with terminations on them but just hanging loose... I am guessing it has something to do with the wire nuts next to it... It took me a long time to get the Flasher circuit to work!!!

Not sure - my cabinet is folded up behind some other stuff at the moment or I would check for you. Maybe post the question to the Comet club thread or just start at new tech thread for advice?

Quoted from uncivil_engineer:

I used the transparent Createx transparent orange on my SF2 playfield. However, to get mine to match, I had to undercoat with light gray. The one issue I had with this technique is that once the color is laid down, the paint is significantly thicker than the surrounding playfield. This isn't really a problem until you go to sand and level the playfield while clear coating. I ended up sanding into the paint in a few spots on my playfield. I'm curious to see how you address this issue.

That's a challenge, for sure! So far I have had good luck doing places like this where I expect the paint to be significantly proud of the rest of the playfield by addressing the area early in the process. That way there are numerous layers of clear that go on that gradually "catch up" to the height of the paint. You do have to be really careful not to sand down through into the high paint, though. In some cases, I have eased the edge with 1200 grit sandpaper but have not tried this with undercoats of a different color for fear that the undercoat would then show at the edges.

Quoted from Jason43:

Really awesome play field restoration. The attention to detail is impressive.

Quoted from cosmokramer:

Amazing work, thanks for sharing

Thanks for the kind words. It's nice to hear since I am constantly wracked with newbie fears and insecurities.

#36 10 months ago

A bit more of the same with the yellow lane yesterday. Mask, then white then yellow. It's basically the exact same process as the orange area so I didn't bother taking a bunch of pictures.P1298689 (resized).JPGP1298690 (resized).JPGI didn't have the stencil for the upper section of the flames ready yet.
I'll do it later. It's interesting to see how much more luminous the fresh yellow is compared to the aged stuff.P1298692 (resized).JPGI've been adding this to most of my paints. It makes them a bit tougher and improves adhesion. (I didn't put any in the yellow, though. It's so transparent, I didn't want to thin it any more.)P1298691 (resized).JPGI already had some stencils cut and paint mixed for the planked sections of the racetrack and I figured that the orange had cured enough and was tough enough to withstand some gently applied yellow tape to protect it from the Oracal, so I decided to take care of that as well. (I would never put Oracal on fresh paint. It tears is right off. Again, don't ask me how I know this!) P1298696 (resized).JPG

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#37 10 months ago

Looks awesome...fantastic work!! So many Comet playfields are always beat to hell.

#38 10 months ago

Am I reading this correctly? This is a hobby grade vinyl cutter? I'd like to see some more info on this, or maybe a separate tutorial thread. I'm guessing this needs some serious Photoshop skill as well, something else I'd like to see more info on here. Great job so far. Awesome game with great artwork. I miss mine, my kid still talks about it and I sold it over a year ago.

#39 10 months ago
Quoted from Shredso:

This is a hobby grade vinyl cutter? I'd like to see some more info on this, or maybe a separate tutorial thread.

Are you asking about the Cameo?

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/silhouette-cameo-pinball-restorers-club

#40 10 months ago

Yup - that's the thread that got me into the diy vinyl stencil thing.

#41 10 months ago

This is high-quality. On the edge of my seat to see more.

#42 10 months ago

You probably noticed that I've been painting over a lot of text. Time to replace some of it. Really small stuff has to be done with waterslides or rub on transfers but slightly larger stuff I've been doing with a vinyl mask. Maybe that will shift as I become more proficient with waterslides but for now I prefer using paint wherever I can. Williams used the Futura font on Comet. I had to type some of the letters in individually because the spacing was a custom layout. Typing something long like the words at the top of this playfield takes quite a bit longer but results in perfect layout per the original as you can move them around individually until they are where they should be.

Even fairly large type has small dots that are going to want to stray during the weeding process. I tend to leave them in place until the mask is on the playfield. I then firmly press on each little dot to make sure it is bonded with the playfield and then use the exacto knife to carefully weed out the surrounding material._1318699 (resized).JPGGo easy. Sometimes I have to attack a letter from numerous angles until I find the direction that lifts the best while leaving the little dot in place. It helps to cut an extra stencil so that you have spares in case you lose a dot or two._1318700 (resized).JPGI also included two of the inserts in the stencil cut as layout reference keys. I covered those cuts with liquid frisket so they wouldn't let paint through. I'll come back and do the keylines around those inserts later. I felt like it was asking too much to try to align those at the same time as the text given the width of the overall area._1318701 (resized).JPGNext I shot some REALLY thin, like dust thin layers of black. Black covers really well. It doesn't take much. Less is better in terms of clean stencil removal. For this I don't wait as long prior to removing the stencils as I do for other stuff because the paint is so thin and hence dries really quickly._1318702 (resized).JPGVoila!

#43 10 months ago

P.S. - I sort of panicked when I saw the last photo in my post above. The long line of text looks really crooked relative to the playfield edge. I immediately went out to look at the real thing. Thank goodness - it's okay. The apparent crookedness is just some sort of photographic lens distortion.

#44 10 months ago

I am thoroughly impressed! I have saved a few playfields that I want to restore (when i find time). This has been very encouraging.

#45 10 months ago

Looks indeed very good. Quite a complex drawing...

I wonder how you reproduced the text? Some letter shapes seem "rounded" compared to original. Is that due to Cameo?

#46 10 months ago
Quoted from g94:

Looks indeed very good. Quite a complex drawing...
I wonder how you reproduced the text? Some letter shapes seem "rounded" compared to original. Is that due to Cameo?

It's a mix of techniques. Mostly I have retyped it using the Futura font. That said, the Futura font group is large. There are many variants of Futura. Futura bold seems to have the closest match to the original playfield. Still, some elements are different enough that I manually redraw them - commas and quotation marks for example. And then there's the issue of resolution and print quality with the originals. If you've ever scanned a playfield at high resolution (1200 or 2400 dpi) and zoomed in on it in photoshop, you know how blurry and jagged the edges of everything really are. Looked at under that kind of magnification, the edges of things take on an almost impressionistic appearance. Hence, when you redo it, things tend to look a bit different at times.

In this case, when I retyped letter groups or individual letters (depending on spacing issues), I would move them into place and scale them if necessary until the edges of the original disappeared. I would double check the alignment by making the new layer of text in photoshop 50% transparent before moving on.

Honestly, I haven't gone back and printed out a scaled copy of the original to compare them. Maybe there are slight differences. If there are, I would mostly attribute it to the Cameo. To my eye, it's close enough in position and design spirit that I think most people would not notice if there were subtle differences when it's done. If I get a chance, maybe I'll scan the repair and superimpose it on the original scan and see how close they actually are.

2 weeks later
#47 9 months ago

Whew - that was a longer break than I expected. The flu ran through our house and then we got some unexpected employment changes (good but challenging). Needless to say, pinball projects take a back seat to health and work! Oh yeah, and Little League started up. Guess who's managing the team for the next three and a half months?

In the meantime, I was able to think about how far to go with this and make some decisions about how to proceed. I think the playfield touchups are nearing completion. I've got a few relatively minor color touchups left followed by some keylines and then waterslide decals for missing fine text.

I did manage to do a couple touchups and shoot another layer of clear yesterday.
_2218717 (resized).JPG

I also dug into the head a bit. I knew the power supply was funky and would need work or replacement but was not sure how I would proceed. Seeing as my available time for pinball projects as shrunk considerably, I decided to farm out the power board to a fellow pinsider. It has had some funkyness inflicted upon it by the previous owner and the GI section is toast.

Off it goes to Repairville!

3 weeks later
#48 8 months ago

Time for an update. I sent my power supply off to grumpy for a rebuild. Grumpy was reasonable, fast and did good tidy work with great communication the whole way through. I haven't tested yet but have no reason to doubt that it now works just swell. (Grumpy says he tested it out on his Pinbot.) I highly recommend him. Oh yeah, he was also kind enough to send along a new male connector for my GI output as mine was fried._3208751 (resized).JPG

I then hit that point in the project where perfectionism rears its ocd head and tells me to do things that I hadn't originally planned on. For instance, I decided that the large green fields were not quite as snappy compared to their recently repainted counterparts so....mask and paint with a custom mixed green._3108728 (resized).JPG

I've shied away from waterslides in my first two playfield projects but there was no way around it this time unless I wanted to try ordering a set of rub on transfers. Either way there are edge curling pitfall potentials that were the cause of my avoidance fear. I opted to make my own waterslide decals with a fancy scmancy inkjet printer I have that shoots archival ink guaranteed not to fade for about a hundred years. I know vid1900 recommends a laser printer for this stuff and for folks who do not have super high end printers handy that's probably the best route. I was really hoping that my fancy printer would work with one of these papers because it can print everything except white with exceptional saturation, clarity and lightfast stability. I tested a couple brands on a scrap of clearcoated plywood. Here is what they looked like on the wood prior to shooting them with a topcoat of clear._2278726 (resized).JPG

_2278726 (resized).JPG

I thought that the upper one would turn out better because it was clear to begin with but surprise - the bottom one turned out much better. It totally disappeared in the clear whereas the one that was initially clear was still visible as an outline after clearcoat. Lazertran wins._2288727 (resized).JPG

I printed out a half sheet of decals of the various bits of text I had painted over as well as some small details like the ball motion lines near the dummy dunk area and the motion lines for the bumper cars in the pop bumper area (which of course, I did not remember until I had already printed and cut the half sheet of text - arrrgh). I also printed an extra "cycle jump" decal and used it as a guinea pig for a second test on my scrap of plywood. I wanted to find out if I could get away with applying the decals to clearcoat after sanding the clear with 600 grit. Turns out that if I dried the decal with a hair dryer and gently heat set it, they stuck really well to the roughened clear. It worked fine. Now that I know I can do it this way I won't worry about the clear ghosting around the decals._3138730 (resized).JPG

_3148734 (resized).JPG

I then went through and tidied up a bunch of miscellaneous keylines with stencils and frisket. I also replaced some lost color in some of the tiny characters. I wanted to this in one layer and move on to my final coats of clear but I realized that the chicken midfield on the right needed both white and orange for its feathers. Experience has taught me not to mask over fresh paint in the same area. It's really best to isolate each color with coats of clear but since this was such a small area I decided to see how it would be to just cut two stencils where the second one would mask the first but be slightly separated by the thickness of the first. Here's the first stencil for the white feathers already applied and painted with the second stencil sitting at the ready above it._3158735 (resized).JPG

After the white had dried, I carefully placed the second stencil and shot the orange._3158736 (resized).JPG

Worked great. Here is a shot of the area post clearcoat._3208750 (resized).JPG

And there we are. Shot two more layers of clear to wrap it all together. Probably I will give it one more coat and then call it good. Almost time to reassemble and work on the cabinet._3208746 (resized).JPG

#49 8 months ago

Pleasure to follow. Looks good!
Good work on the decals.

-

Quoted from pinheadpierre:

Experience has taught me not to mask over fresh paint in the same area. It's really best to isolate each color with coats of clear

I used to think that as well, but nowadays I spray almost all colours one after another without intermittent layers of clearcoat: heat set and wait a day for the next colour works without any peeling (or other) issues. Personally I prefer to avoid too many layers of clear building up.

#50 8 months ago
Quoted from g94:

Pleasure to follow. Looks good!
Good work on the decals.
-

I used to think that as well, but nowadays I spray almost all colours one after another without intermittent layers of clearcoat: heat set and wait a day for the next colour works without any peeling (or other) issues. Personally I prefer to avoid too many layers of clear building up.

Interesting. I would like to reduce my total layers mainly because clear is a real time sink. I've tried heat setting and still had some stuff peel up. Maybe I didn't wait long enough after heat setting. Of course there are many other variables (paint brand/mix, time/temp of heat setting, roughness of surface being painted, etc ). What stencil material do you use? The oracal 813 is my favorite but the tradeoff for that smooth no-bleed cut is fairly strong adhesive that sometimes pulls up paint.

Thanks for letting me know that works for you. I'll definitely run some experiments on some scrap material.

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