There's a lot going on recently with this thread: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/continued-playfield-issues-with-jjp-and-stern/ but I was hoping to distill the conversation with this post in the context of a new replacement playfield. (I did search via google of course for other relevant topics.)
So I'm going out on a limb to ask what is 'expected' and/vs. 'acceptable' as it relates to getting a Stern warranty (unpopulated) playfield replacement for a NIB game bought in Nov 2020.
For context: I reached out to Stern and they were very responsive in confirming my case of playfield pooling with chip damage. They sent out a hard coat kit in Dec, which I've applied. They also decided an unpopulated playfield was merited, which arrived today. I'm not here to argue about whether or not they should send a populated playfield, nor the state of affairs that led me to this situation.
I do have questions around what is reasonable to expect for a new playfield from stern. Feel free to answer any or all of them. I'm a sponge that wants to leverage the experience here:
1. How 'straight/flat' should a replacement playfield be? I'm seeing significant bowing in the middle. Luckily my straight edge indicates it's relatively flat Left-to-Right, but there's about 1/4"+ bowing along the length of the playfield. At what point would this bowing affect play? (I don't plan on installing anytime soon.)
2. I've read some (6+ year old) posts about buying rails for storing playfields. Is that still the recommendation?
3. Given it likely hasn't fully cured yet, is it possible that applying some weights to the center for many months could re-train the wood? Or is it simply going to bend back? Effectively, the 4 corners would be placed on 1/2" spacers, then 10-20 lbs of weight on a felt pad in the middle. I'd use a straight edge to confirm 'flatness' (and the amount of weight required.)
Oh, and is it normal to expect to see clear contaminant issues with a new playfield? (Perhaps it's harder to notice with all parts installed, but I have multiple areas where it's clear that dust or otherwise caused a 'boogie' in the clear coat.) It seems weird to ask for a warranty on my warranty replacement. I can't help to think that I got a playfield "second" here....
Last thing: I'm in Denver, so it's dry... (Granted, I have a whole house humidifier that applies during the heating season.) Figured that may be a variable in terms of initial and long term storage.
Appreciate the advice here.