(Topic ID: 249285)

Hardtop on a High Speed


By cjchand

3 months ago



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  • 32 posts
  • 12 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 months ago by jaytrem
  • Topic is favorited by 7 Pinsiders

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#1 3 months ago

About 6 months ago, I picked up a High Speed that was playable, but needed alot of work. Typical stuff like getting the proper coils (one burnt original coil, two mismatched and underpowered ones on the other flippers), adjustments, and overall TLC. But, it did have some niceties like PinScore displays, NVRAM battery eliminator, and freeplay40's kick ass clear ramp.

But, the backbox was trashed (and literally held together with Handy Dan brackets, so have to presume it's a pre-90s casualty) and it clearly was routed based on shooter lane wear and, you know, the gaming registration stickers adorning the front of the cabinet.

She was definitely playable, but the uneven inserts, bubbling Mylar, and typical playfield wear kept nagging me. I - along with half of Pinside, apparently - patiently waited for the Outside Edge folks to release their Hardtop for High Speed. I jumped in on it the day they started taking orders.

Here's what she looked like prior to the Hardtop.
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#2 3 months ago

After reading Vid's post on installing a Hardtop on a Comet (https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/vids-guide-hardtop-restoration-comet) about 10 times and placing orders with PBL for parts, I dove in.

First step: Document the hell out of the current state. You can take a look at my photo and video dump here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/KRYbiBPNPxKGKuEs6. I opted primarily to take 4k/60 FPS video, rather than trying to get every angle in a photo. In hindsight, this was a good idea, as sometimes you need to see things in perspective of the playfield as a whole.

With that out of the way, I proceeded to depopulate the topside.

One thing I didn't anticipate was the amount of desoldering required here. It's obvious in hindsight, but any mechs that live topside need to be desoldered. On this pin, that's the two getaways, the ramp dirverter, the two ramp switches, and... the pop bumper GI. More on this later.

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#3 3 months ago

I told myself "Hey, this will be a great opportunity to practice Mylar removal." After seeing how easily it came up when my buddy zaphx started to peel the top half, I just opted to rip it up. I'll probably regret that in a future resto, but for now, "No Ragrets".

While it looked really cloudy when you put it on top of something, it actually wasn't as bad as it seemed.
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#4 3 months ago

Now comes the sanding.

Remember how I didn't regret removing the Mylar properly? Well, here's where I started to regret it. I thought that I'd just sand off all the adhesive and know that I'd go through a few sanding discs. Little did I know just how many discs I'd use and how much time that added due to it sanding well to start, but become a gummed up mess in a minute or so.

One thing I'm *really* glad I did was buy a shop vac. That kept all the dust out of the underside of the playfield.

Likely made the respirator I bought moot, but better safe than sorry.

Ultimately, this took care of my raised insert problem. I did get some slight peaking on the inserts in the tachometer, as evidenced by the paint remaining between the, but it was basically flat (verified by using a laser pointer). I opted to leave it be rather than run the risk of making that section lower than the rest of the playfield.

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#5 3 months ago

Cool. I just picked up a high speed that had a newer playfield installed. It’s in like new condition-Built in early 90s

#6 3 months ago
Quoted from Coz:

Cool. I just picked up a high speed that had a newer playfield installed. It’s in like new condition-Built in early 90s

Supposedly CPR's working on repro playfields. I *might* have opted to go that route, but given how much this pin goes for, it would likely be too spendy to be justifiable.

#7 3 months ago

All of the posts about installing a Hardtop tell you to clearcoat the inserts. But, there's also people who have had ghosting after their Hardtop was laid down. Once installed, you can't get the Hardtop off without ruining it - and the playfield.

Given this, the large number of people getting fisheyes in their clear, my never having cleared anything before, and my laziness of not wanting to build a paint booth, I opted to sand them down.

I started with 1000, then 3000, then a couple rounds of Novus 3-2-1. While not perfect, it definitely got it pretty close. One downside to the Hardtop is that the inserts are going to look a little "off" since you're looking through 30mills of PETG to see them. It's only perceptible when the inserts are not on - and when you're an OCD, picky person like me

Note the difference in this pic between the left- and right-side hotdogs. The left one is as-is after sanding the entire playfield with 220. The right one is after one Novus 3-2-1 round.

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Ditto for these two:
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Oh, and I did a round of Naptha after the Novus, just to make sure there wasn't anything left to jack with the Hardtop's adhesive.
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I also tried to sand out the shooter lane, but I was just making it progressively worse. So, I took most of the obvious wear out of it, poly'd it, and called it a day. Ditto with the saucer. It's not perfect, but good enough - especially given that you can't really see the darned thing.

Note: When you poly this, make sure you poly all the way up to where the gate on the shooter lane. I missed this initially, but caught it before I did my Hardtop install. I did miss, however, a small spot of bare wood over by the ramp entrance.

#8 3 months ago

Next came the moment of truth: Installation. I was nervous as hell, but all those re-reads of Vid's Hardtop thread, thecapn 's awesome series on Hardtop'ing a Black Knight, and others prepped me for this moment. No pics here, as I was 100% in the moment and - while dumb in hindsight - doing this on my own.

Prior to install, I Novus 2-1'd the insert portions, as there looked to be some kind of residue on them. It was all streaked top to bottom and on all inserts. Guessing something in the printing process, but that's just a guess. Hoping that was limited to just mine, but make sure your insert portions of the Hardtop are as clear as possible!

Per the collective knowledge above, there's a few things I did:

1) Shop vac'd the entire garage 3x the night before
2) Shop vac'd myself just prior to the install
3) Tack clothed the thing... twice... with two different tack cloths (I did mention I'm OCD and picky, right?)
4) Double-clamped the lower part of the playfield (which will be under the apron, anyway, should it get dents/dimples)
5) Took off the backing paper from the top half (having a 2nd person here would have been a *huge* help)
6) Laid the top half down and smoothed it in
7) Took off the clamps and did the same with the bottom half

Ultimately, all the prep work made the install really a non-event.

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#9 3 months ago

Separate note about alignment. Ultimately, this thing isn't going to 100% align to your playfield. So, you align to get the best coverage of the inserts. You can drill out any holes you need.

I did have to black around some of the inserts at the top of the playfield, as splitting the difference - especially on those inserts closest to the player - requires compromises. Again, if you have to make something less accurate, make it the inserts at the top of the playfield. A little Sharpie/paint around the inserts works wonders

Ultimately, there were very few holes I had to widen - and none I had to drill new holes for.

#10 3 months ago

I opted to take last Friday off, which was my birthday. I told myself getting this thing playable again would be my birthday gift to me. I figured if I got up early and kept at it all day, I'd have it done by evening. Holy cow was I wrong!

Most of the reassembly went off without any issues. I replaced things like spoons on pops and coil sleeves (for the coils I touched - tried to limit the "blast radius" of my changed). That said, there were facepalm moments:

1) GI wiring for pops is insane. It's a crazy mix of bare stranded wire, giant solder balls on the underside of the playfield working as junctions, and is stapled to the playfield about every 2mm (or so it seemed). I ultimately ended up reverse engineering the wiring from my videos and just wired it up using my own wire. But, I lost *alot* of time, primarily because I had to "Zapruder film" my video of the pops. Really didn't get underneath them nor get a wide angle shot. I should have taken the coils and brackets off and taken pics/vids then.
2) Order matters: I had to pull a few things off when I forgot that "thing A" had to go on before "thing B".
3) This playfield in particular is a bit goofy with all the stuff hanging off the back (dirverter, ramp, etc), so made working with it in my redneck rotisserie a bit challenging.

Keeping with the "humans suck at estimation" theme, it ultimately took me a full day and a half to get everything back on the playfield.

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#11 3 months ago

In closing, I'm *really* glad I did this. It played well before, but it plays like a dream now. The orbits are so smooth, the kickback is super consistent, and without all those raised inserts + Mylar, no more surprise diversions when the ball is rolling slowly.

Regarding the product itself, it's great. Ultra smooth surface that stood up to my occasional tool drop. Honesly, I don't see why manufacturers don't go with this model for their playfields. You'd never need Mylar, touchups, etc again.

#12 3 months ago

Nice job!!

#13 3 months ago
Quoted from chad:

Nice job!!

Thanks!

#14 3 months ago

Excellent job and description of what you did. I have a comet that needs a hard top for it.

#15 3 months ago

Looks great!

Quoted from hawkeyexx:

Excellent job and description of what you did. I have a comet that needs a hard top for it.

Go for it! My Hardtopped Comet still looks perfect, I think it's been about a year.

#16 3 months ago
Quoted from jaytrem:

Looks great!

Go for it! My Hardtopped Comet still looks perfect, I think it's been about a year.

Thanks for sharing this with me

#17 3 months ago

Nice write up, and congrats on getting it done! What, if anything did you do about the rollovers in the left and right orbits? Remove and re-level?

#18 3 months ago

Good read, nice documentation of the process, thanks for sharing the photos.

#19 3 months ago

Congrats!

My hardtop is down but I haven't gotten too far with reassembly. I echo your summation - It is a long process...and you probably made the right call with your inserts.

I needed three separate rounds of sanding, rattle-can clearing and waiting to get them clear.

But she's a beaut Clark!

Can't wait to catch up to you and get playing!

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#20 3 months ago
Quoted from MRudowsky:

What, if anything did you do about the rollovers in the left and right orbits? Remove and re-level?

Dremel the holes wide enough on the hardtop and install new rollovers. My buddy and his steady hands helped me do mine!!

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#21 3 months ago
Quoted from zh2oson:

Congrats!
My hardtop is down but I haven't gotten too far with reassembly. I echo your summation - It is a long process...and you probably made the right call with your inserts.
I needed three separate rounds of sanding, rattle-can clearing and waiting to get them clear.
But she's a beaut Clark!
Can't wait to catch up to you and get playing![quoted image]

This was always my issue...motivation.
I still regret selling my flash gordon that was torn down

#22 3 months ago

Thanks for all the photos! I have mine but won't likely be working on it until next month.

I've been seeing alot of mention about the benefit of taking black paint and painting around all the inserts. Would you guys recommend that as well? Seems like that would make any slight misalignments look better.

#23 3 months ago
Quoted from MikeVarney:

Thanks for all the photos! I have mine but won't likely be working on it until next month.
I've been seeing alot of mention about the benefit of taking black paint and painting around all the inserts. Would you guys recommend that as well? Seems like that would make any slight misalignments look better.

No problem! Just trying to give back, as alot of folks have helped me here. Karma and whatnot.

I would say blacking around all the inserts would be overkill. Ultimately, I maybe needed to do 5 or 6 of them - and some were only really visible at extreme angles that would only be visible if you had the playfield out of the machine. Again, I'm more picky than most.

I would recommend you dry fit yours once sanded down (after tack cloth, so you don't scratch the insert portions of the Hardtop) and see if you need to do any at all.

On that note, make sure to spend alot of time playing around with the fit. It's all about the best alignment with the inserts, which may mean "cheating" a bit in one area to provide the best overall results. In my case, I had to slide it just a tad higher than I'd like. If you really look hard, you can see some of the insert light bleeding through at the bottom of some of the areas. Really hard to see unless you're looking for it though.

Another important note: In Vid's thread, he mentioned using a 4' light under the playfield when getting the alignment setup. Highly recommend this - or something close to it - so you can take in more than just an insert or two at a time. I used an LCD floodlight which got half the playfield at a time.

#24 3 months ago
Quoted from MRudowsky:

Nice write up, and congrats on getting it done! What, if anything did you do about the rollovers in the left and right orbits? Remove and re-level?

Like zh2oson mentioned, you have to Dremel these out. The areas with rollovers will have only a small hole in them (see attached pic). You Dremel these holes out to fit where your actual holes are. I (lightly) used the inside edge of the hole for the rollover for guidance. If you look in the pics, you'll see that the red area around the rollovers isn't centered to the rollover itself. That's all part of the "fun" of the variances in these playfields over time.

Once you make the hole, then you glue and insert the rollover. I used a socket wrench to push up on the backside of the rollover to ensure it was flush to the Hardtop *and* level. Leveling it was the harder part, as I kept the fit *very* tight.

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#25 3 months ago

What poly did you use on the shooter lane and how did you apply it? I am to this particular step in the process and I have never been more confused about what to do.

Quoted from cjchand:

All of the posts about installing a Hardtop tell you to clearcoat the inserts. But, there's also people who have had ghosting after their Hardtop was laid down. Once installed, you can't get the Hardtop off without ruining it - and the playfield.
Given this, the large number of people getting fisheyes in their clear, my never having cleared anything before, and my laziness of not wanting to build a paint booth, I opted to sand them down.
I started with 1000, then 3000, then a couple rounds of Novus 3-2-1. While not perfect, it definitely got it pretty close. One downside to the Hardtop is that the inserts are going to look a little "off" since you're looking through 30mills of PETG to see them. It's only perceptible when the inserts are not on - and when you're an OCD, picky person like me
Note the difference in this pic between the left- and right-side hotdogs. The left one is as-is after sanding the entire playfield with 220. The right one is after one Novus 3-2-1 round.
[quoted image]
Ditto for these two:
[quoted image][quoted image]
Oh, and I did a round of Naptha after the Novus, just to make sure there wasn't anything left to jack with the Hardtop's adhesive.
[quoted image][quoted image][quoted image][quoted image]
I also tried to sand out the shooter lane, but I was just making it progressively worse. So, I took most of the obvious wear out of it, poly'd it, and called it a day. Ditto with the saucer. It's not perfect, but good enough - especially given that you can't really see the darned thing.
Note: When you poly this, make sure you poly all the way up to where the gate on the shooter lane. I missed this initially, but caught it before I did my Hardtop install. I did miss, however, a small spot of bare wood over by the ramp entrance.

#26 3 months ago
Quoted from cjchand:

Leveling it was the harder part, as I kept the fit *very* tight.

When you glue the roll-overs in, set the playfield on its side. then push the rollover flush and walk away.

#27 3 months ago

Just used Varathane water-based poly. In the paint section of Home Depot.

Just brushed it on with a small, fine bristle brush. As long as you don’t go heavy, I will self-level for the most part. I did one sanding with 1000 (I think) prior to one last coat. Maybe 5 coats in total.

#28 3 months ago

What adhesive is used in to reglue the rollover insert?

#29 3 months ago
Quoted from detroitzoran:

What adhesive is used in to reglue the rollover insert?

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#30 3 months ago
Quoted from MikeVarney:

I've been seeing alot of mention about the benefit of taking black paint and painting around all the inserts. Would you guys recommend that as well? Seems like that would make any slight misalignments look better.

We ended up doing black outlines around a few inserts, but doing so around all inserts would be overkill.

Again, as others have said, play around with the fit - there will probably be a few areas where things don't line up perfectly, so you want to split the difference as much as possible and black around the occasional misalignments. On mine, the one slight area of bare wood showing is under the "extra ball" insert because I had to sacrifice a bit of ground there to make stuff line up properly in the lower section of the play field...and blacking around the edge of that insert would have obscured the "ball" lettering. Had I preemptively blacked every insert edge, the "ball" wouldn't show on the final run.

By the way, I'm really grateful to have had a second pair of hands to help with the alignment. I stood at the top and my buddy was at the bottom so we just took turns gently pulling each way until we achieved the best-case-scenario. It wasn't totally necessary, but it made the process easier.

#31 3 months ago
Quoted from detroitzoran:

What adhesive is used in to reglue the rollover insert?

And take a look at Vid's Comet Hardtop install thread I linked. He shows in there how to use a brush to apply it from the underside. This is helps avoid things squeezing out onto the playfield.

#32 3 months ago

One other thing to note. While the star rollover is probably the scariest part of the install, the hardtop doesn't grind away as quickly as I expected. So one little slip won't destroy the whole area. I was also able to get some practice in on the side of the hardtop since mine hung over the side a bit when properly aligned. After the practice I was feeling much more confident. I also kept the fit very tight. I don't recall the leveling being difficult, I think I just pushed down on it with something flat. Been a while, so memory might be a bit off.

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