(Topic ID: 132053)

Future Spa Backglass Restoration Adventure!

By radium

3 years ago

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  • 24 posts
  • 6 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 years ago by radium
  • Topic is favorited by 6 Pinsiders


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#1 3 years ago

So I scored a $200 Future Spa a while back. Beautiful machine... except for the backglass. It has typical Bally delamination, flaking, and bubbling along the bottom quarter. I am in the mood for pain and figured this would be a good time to attempt backglass restoration!

This is going to be a slow-moving project. I'll work on it a half hour here and there, and update this thread with progress and pics as I go. The goal is not perfection, but merely to look good enough that you don't notice it was damaged.

Before I start, there is one thing I have to get out of the way first...


I've always wanted to do that. Ok, now we can proceed with the repair!

Here is what we have to work with...


I found a lot of the flaked-off art in the backbox, but I do not have all of it. I'll reattach as much original art as I can. Other parts will have to be repaired by other means.

I have absolutely no idea how this will turn out. Enjoy!

#2 3 years ago

First thing to do is glue the giant chunks of art flakes back onto the glass as best I can. I'm using plain old superglue for this, which from what I've read seems to be about the only option.


The plan is to flood the area with plenty of glue, position the art, then try to keep the thing in place and work out the excess glue. This is not going to be fun. Superglue sticks to skin better than anything, so you basically have to do this without using your fingers (??). I'm using a set of picks to press the glue out from under the positioned art, then quickly soak up the glue with Q-tips or paper towels.


So ok, yeah, this is hard as hell so far. It's really hard to get the piece to glue down totally flat without it sticking to the tools (or fingers). Here's an edge I glued down.


After I'm done with all the pieces I'll have to clean up all the excess dried glue.

Also you can see in this picture that a lot of the mirroring is intact, even where the art fell off. So that's good.

Looks like several more hours of gluing left, but it's a good start.

#3 3 years ago

One other thing I'll mention tonight. When I knocked the bottom channel trim off the backglass, I noticed the screened ink was under a lot of tension underneath. The art directly above the trim was wavy and rippled, like it was being tugged on. You can sort of see this in the pic below by the red arrow.

I wanted to release the tension off the ink in this area, so I took a razor blade and sawed thru the ink horizontally to free it (under the top of where the trim goes). This will let me get the art glued down flatter, and prevent the trim from pulling so hard on it when I'm done. Hopefully this was a good idea. I'm making this crap up as I go.


#4 3 years ago

I'd be quite interested to see how the super glue turns out on the front side of the glass.

#5 3 years ago

I can't possibly see how this is going to turn out well, but I will tune in....
And good luck.

#6 3 years ago

It might be better to use Triple Thick and some Saran wrap. That super glue will not give you any chance to re-position the flakes once they touch the glue.

#7 3 years ago
Quoted from PinballHelp:

It might be better to use Triple Thick and some Saran wrap. That super glue will not give you any chance to re-position the flakes once they touch the glue.

Triple thick doesn't work well for positioning the flakes because it's too sticky and the flakes end up sticking to whatever you're using to reposition them.

#8 3 years ago

If your game is really nice and the back glass repair does not come out like your liking, I have an excellent glass that I would sell for $175 shipped!

#9 3 years ago

Lots of time spent carefully gluing things. It's coming along fairly well.

I did have a couple of blunders, as expected. The worst one was the letter "T" had some air trapped under it and dried quicker than I wanted. I panicked and tried to correct it with my finger, resulting in a red letter "T" on my finger. The good news is this is an easy fix later, since the "T" has mirrored border and that is still on the glass.

Gluing done. Here's how it looks from the back so far.


I have some pretty big chunks missing, and lots of small areas to repair.

#10 3 years ago

I am very happy with how the glued areas came out when viewed from the front. They are crystal clear.

There are a few spots that I just could not work all of the air out, and those areas will have to be scraped clean and repaired with paint.

The plan at this point is to do cleanup on the glued art. For the areas with fine cracks, I will use an Exacto blade and scrape out the dried glue. This will prevent having a white foggy edge along these areas. Then I will paint these areas and blend away the crack.

Part of the reason I decided to try repairing this glass is so much of the damage is contained in gradient areas. It's much easier to hide a repair in the mixtures of colors and stroke patterns versus a large solid area of one precise color.

#11 3 years ago

Here is a full shot from the front...


#12 3 years ago

Here's a shot of the left side. Most of the repair is transparent, except edges. The edges will get scraped away to bare glass so it can be repaired.


Most of the work is going to be on this area on the right. The good news is this is just simple gradients of thick brush strokes. Most of this is opaque, except the top part. I'm nervous about that part.


The biggest "trouble spot" is probably the "GAME OVER" light text. It is cracked pretty badly and looks sloppy. I've considered scraping the entire area and repairing the opacity with a stencil. Not sure yet. Will decide after I see how other areas come out.

#13 3 years ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

Triple thick doesn't work well for positioning the flakes because it's too sticky and the flakes end up sticking to whatever you're using to reposition them.

Yeah I have a trashed NGS backglass that I did a lot of experimentation on before trying this repair. The superglue is hard to handle, but seems to be the best last ditch effort I tried. The thing is, after you glue something, you have to do additional cleanup. It's never a perfect repair on its own and will need touchup after. It is working well for me on the large areas though.

Quoted from Pbpins:

If your game is really nice and the back glass repair does not come out like your liking, I have an excellent glass that I would sell for $175 shipped!

That is a very tempting offer, will keep this in mind, thanks!

#14 3 years ago

Cool, glad to see it turned out reasonably well

What kind/brand of glue did you end up using?

#15 3 years ago
Quoted from ForceFlow:

Cool, glad to see it turned out reasonably well
What kind/brand of glue did you end up using?

Just cheap stuff. A big pack from harbor freight and some of that HDX or whatever brand Home Depot sells. I haven't tried the gel kind... wonder if that would be better or worse.

#16 3 years ago

Making some progress. I scraped all the dried glue away from the areas to be painted, then sanded with 600 grit and 1000 grit to knock down the edges. This was a less-scary process than I thought and worked really well. If I would have left a sharp ridge on the edge, the paint would pool there and make the repair visible. The sanding let me blend it.

Here is the finished left area. The cracked area blended really well and you can hardly find it. I mixed four different shades of purple and brushed on varying amounts in random areas along the cracks. The randomness of the different colors hides the seams.

Also notice the repaired letter "T" here. The mirrored border was mostly still on the glass. I reinforced it with some metallic silver paint, mostly to prevent the red paint from seeping under it.



#17 3 years ago

Some important things I've learned...

1) I'm painting directly onto the glass. I decided to paint FIRST and triple thick LAST to seal it up. I did this because I find the perfectly-flat glass to be a forgiving medium. You can paint an area and let it dry... don't like it? Scrape it clean and start over.

2) For getting gradient effects with brush strokes, dab paint colors on at the edges and let it thicken up for a few minutes, then take a coarse-haired brush and stroke the colors into each other. It will tend to keep the streaky look without the paints totally blending. You can kind of shove the paint around till it looks right. Took some practice.

#18 3 years ago

awesome post!
I know it is hard to photo while working but please show some in-progress shots.. how are you masking, airbrush versus paintbrush, how are you keeping the sanding from removing too much, "scraping with a razor blade??!!!" sound horribly scary

#19 3 years ago
Quoted from Pbpins:

I have an excellent glass that I would sell for $175 shipped!

....at least that would be my thought......

#20 3 years ago

Been getting a lot done on this. I've spent a lot of time this week mixing paint and filling in a lot of the fine cracks.

Here's one of the worse areas with hair-line cracks all over. I backlit it to show how bad it is...


And here is the top of that same area after repair...


And here's what the glass looks like at this point. There's a couple of large areas patched up in this picture that are just trial attempts of different techniques I'm trying. I've worked out a good way to patch that giant blank area, will post more about that next time.

Right now the only area that is really scaring me is the backlit "GAME OVER". Not sure what I'll do there yet.


#21 3 years ago

Lots of trial and error, and I'm still figuring out helpful things along the way.

1) Always test colors on the BACK of the glass. Many colors I mixed look drastically different when viewed thru the glass. I guess this makes sense since most glass has some green tint to it unless it is low-iron glass. Use the area inside a score window if you don't have a large enough area to test.

2) Number your mixed colors. I had to mix so many different shades so far, I was losing track of what each color looked like when it dried. I use these little paint container strips from Hobby Lobby, and assign letters to each strip. When I mix a color that works, I dab some on the back of the glass (usually in a score window) and label it with a sharpie (so "A4" would be fourth color on strip "A"). I build up a swatch for the area I'm working on. Really helps since you need to work fast.

3) Use BRUSH SHAPER. I love this stuff. I have a lot of tiny fine-tipped brushes I use for detail painting, and once they get frayed they are worthless. If you clean your brushes well and use shaper it can make these brushes last MUCH longer. Use a good brush cleaning soap first, dry the brush, then dip it in the shaper and use your fingers to pinch the brush tip back to whatever shape you want. It will dry stiff like new.



#22 3 years ago

So I figured out a good method to repair the giant chunk of missing art under the player-4 display. It took a lot of failed attempts to find this, because that area has a lot of halftone effect from the screen printing process. Blocks of solid color or even streaks stuck out like a sore thumb.

What DID work was to use a stiff coarse brush to dab on small dots of paint. I tried to identify which colors were "on top" (closest to the glass) and did those colors first, then work on filling in the other colors layers using the same brush technique to create dots.

I have a few pictures, but they're pretty crappy. There's also failed repairs mixed in with the good in these pictures... those will be cleaned out and fixed next, probably with this same dot technique. If you want to know what went wrong in a specific area just ask.

So here's my first experiment where I was dotting on colors, trying to see what effect it had.


This seemed promising, so I kept going. I'd dot on paint, let it dry, then use an Exacto blade to adjust areas and get the effect I wanted. It's very easy to "erase" things off the glass, so I've been using that to my advantage. I think this is the one thing about backglass repair that is easier than playfield repair. Just keep trying things.



The top picture was taken about 2 inches away from the camera lens.

You can see in those last two pictures my previous epic fail at the bottom. Too much green in that paint (because I tested it on the front of the glass), plus it set up before I could blend that area. It actually looks fine from a couple feet away, but it bothers me.

Below, I scraped out that area and started repairing it with dots. This picture was taken about 2 feet away.


I need to mix a couple new colors tonight to continue, but I am now confident I will be able to fix this entire area.

#23 3 years ago

that is amazing! are you doing each individual dot or "splatter"?

#24 3 years ago
Quoted from mark532011:

that is amazing! are you doing each individual dot or "splatter"?

Thanks! I'm using a chunky coarse brush to dab on those dots. I use brush shaper to stiffen the bristles to get smaller dots.

Now if I could just match this damn purple I need to finish...

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