(Topic ID: 245574)

Preparing for an STTNG PF Swap


By Osric

8 months ago



Topic Stats

  • 21 posts
  • 12 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 months ago by Osric
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider

You

Linked Games

Topic Gallery

There have been 2 images uploaded to this topic. (View topic image gallery).

B406E301-7C83-4401-A557-986948A9181D (resized).jpeg
image (resized).jpg

#1 8 months ago

One of my kids got me an STTNG Mirco playfield to replace the PF in my STTNG machine which is in need of a professional restorer's skill.

So, I plan to swap the playfield as as summer project with him that'll probably take us until Christmas . But I have the space, and would rather take my time and get it right.

I am seeking opinions on prep work before I even start the swap itself. Here are my current questions:

1- is it worth it to seal the wood on the back of the playfield before starting? I've seen this recommended but am no master woodworker and might fear getting finish into the inserts or causing other harm.

2- should I add extra glue to the back of all the inserts? As it's a new playfield, there is no guarantee that the inserts will stay perfectly flat as they are now; but again it seems error prone and possibly overkill.

3- I expect the project to take us a long time, so I wasn't going to give the PF time to cure further. Is there a way to tell the manufacture date on a Mirco PF? If there's a chance we'll be done by September, will I regret not aging it first?

4- Drilling out the holes a bit from the topside to avoid cracks in the clear seems recommended, but inspecting them it looks to me like it's already been done by the manufacturer. Anyone know for sure if this step is needed on a Mirco PF?

5- What questions am I not asking that I should be?

Thanks!
Osric

#2 8 months ago

Have you tried contacting Mirco? I would imagine they could address most, if not all of your questions.

#3 8 months ago
Quoted from Osric:

is it worth it to seal the wood on the back of the playfield before starting?

No, there's no reason to. Plus, I've never seen anyone else do it much outside of the EM days. The bottom of the playfield is a working surface, not a finished surface that's on display.

#4 8 months ago
Quoted from frunch:

Have you tried contacting Mirco? I would imagine they could address most, if not all of your questions.

I assumed that as the vendor they'd be keen to reassure me that it's a quality product, and all this extra prep that pinball enthusiasts insist on is not really necessary. But it can't hurt to contact them, so I might as well!

Quoted from ForceFlow:

No, there's no reason to. Plus, I've never seen anyone else do it much outside of the EM days. The bottom of the playfield is a working surface, not a finished surface that's on display.

Thanks. This is in the stickied playfield swap post but I haven't seen it anywhere else and it's nice to know that it's probably unnecessary.

#5 8 months ago
Quoted from Osric:

One of my kids got me an STTNG Mirco playfield to replace the PF in my STTNG machine which is in need of a professional restorer's skill.
So, I plan to swap the playfield as as summer project with him that'll probably take us until Christmas . But I have the space, and would rather take my time and get it right.
I am seeking opinions on prep work before I even start the swap itself. Here are my current questions:
1- is it worth it to seal the wood on the back of the playfield before starting? I've seen this recommended but am no master woodworker and might fear getting finish into the inserts or causing other harm.

Nope.

Quoted from Osric:

2- should I add extra glue to the back of all the inserts? As it's a new playfield, there is no guarantee that the inserts will stay perfectly flat as they are now; but again it seems error prone and possibly overkill.

No need.

Quoted from Osric:

3- I expect the project to take us a long time, so I wasn't going to give the PF time to cure further. Is there a way to tell the manufacture date on a Mirco PF? If there's a chance we'll be done by September, will I regret not aging it first?

Maybe. My rule of thumb is to give a new playfield at least 6 months to cure in open air (take it out of the box). You'll never regret waiting, but you might regret not waiting.

Quoted from Osric:

4- Drilling out the holes a bit from the topside to avoid cracks in the clear seems recommended, but inspecting them it looks to me like it's already been done by the manufacturer. Anyone know for sure if this step is needed on a Mirco PF?

No opinion. I've never done this on my 6 month+ aged playfields and never had an issue. YMMV.

Quoted from Osric:

5- What questions am I not asking that I should be?

How hard is STTNG to do a swap on? HARD. It's the worst one I ever did. SO MANY subways and diverters and things. Take it slow and take a LOT of pictures from many angles top and bottom as you strip it. When you think you've taken too many pics, you've only taken half as many as you should have.

Should I use a rotisserie? I never have, but for this particular one it would make it a LOT easier.

How can I get the best-looking ball guides? Invest in a buffing wheel and some rouge. Something like this:

https://www.harborfreight.com/8-inch-bench-grinder-39798.html

Take off the grinding wheels and use buffing pads instead:
https://www.harborfreight.com/3-piece-8-inch-buffing-wheel-set-46262.html

Put red rouge on one wheel and white on the other. Polish with the red, then finish to a shine with the white.

You can use this to polish posts, too. I use a drill turning the opposite direction of the buffing wheel and use the drill to turn the part as the wheel buffs. Cleans each one to a mirror finish in seconds. You can literally make the ball guides look like mirrors that reflect the playfield, too, and they will resist ball wear better. Note, you MUST wear good leather gloves and eye protection when doing this - the parts get hot and the lane guides can tear your hands up if you catch an edge and the wheel rips it out of your hand. Even with gloves, if that happens LET GO! Do not try to hold on.

#6 8 months ago
Quoted from Osric:5- What questions am I not asking that I should be?
Thanks!
Osric

I highly recommend making a rotisserie for this project, especially for a wide body playfield. There are several threads here on pinside to help you. Even though this may be your only swap ever, having a rotisserie will cut your work by half.

Mirco playfields are very good so very little drilling is needed, but occasionally there may be a hole or dimple that doesn’t line up quite right. DO NOT predrill all the holes and dimples before test fitting the pieces. You will find many mechs under the playfield will not align exactly and you may have to make adjustments to the holes or dimples to make them fit correctly.

Lastly, this is a great time to clean and polish everything. I use a variety of cleaning products and polishing compounds but there are a few that will get you the best results. My go to for cleaning everything is Simple Green. It is cheap and works great. For getting rid of rust and corrosion I use Evaporust. All my metal pieces including screws, nuts, etc go into a bowl of this stuff. It will make old rusty or corroded parts look new again. And for polishing I use Flitz. This is amazing stuff for bringing out the shine on metal parts. I take all my stand up posts, wire forms, screw heads, and other metal parts that show on the top of the playfield, and polish them. All the metal posts I put in a drill and run it through a rag with a dab of Flitz. In a matter of seconds, you will have a super polished metal posts or screw heads that will look better than new.

#7 8 months ago
Quoted from vireland:

Nope.

No need.

Maybe. My rule of thumb is to give a new playfield at least 6 months to cure in open air (take it out of the box). You'll never regret waiting, but you might regret not waiting.

No opinion. I've never done this on my 6 month+ aged playfields and never had an issue. YMMV.

How hard is STTNG to do a swap on? HARD. It's the worst one I ever did. SO MANY subways and diverters and things. Take it slow and take a LOT of pictures from many angles top and bottom as you strip it. When you think you've taken too many pics, you've only taken half as many as you should have.

This is 1000% spot on, especially with regard to doing the actual swap. TZ was the hardest one I ever did, and STTNG seems to have at least 30% more stuff on both sides. I would say the rotisserie is basically a MUST, and I find it helpful to have a work surface larger than the PF right next to it, so that I can lay the pieces down in the same location as they go on the PF. Even if you follow Victor's advice about taking photos, there will ALWAYS be one you need, and just didn't get the right angle or whatever. It really helps to have the parts, even small ones, in the approximate location so you can deduce what goes where.

I do also agree about letting it cure for a while. The clear is (usually? always? ) sprayed on in multiple layers; the lower layers take longer to cure apparently, so in letting it cure longer you have a more stable foundation and the soft lower layers won't cause a section to 'sink' lower. But if it's a Mirco, it's probably already been sitting for quite a while, so IMO you don't really need to go crazy on that.

Pre-drilling the clear is really helpful if you've had it re-cleared by Ron Kruzman, say - his clear is VERY thick, and you really do need to pre-drill - but again, Mirco isn't Kruzman, so you'd probably be ok. However, I would still do it just to be on the safe side. Most holes are fine, but occasionally you'll get one that has a lot of the clear dripped into it, and when you put your screw in, it puts lateral pressure on the wood and can cause it to split a tiny bit. Obviously you don't want that.

The last thing I'll say is to inspect areas of the game where something needs to fit in a routed out area, where the wood has been routed down and the clear sprayed on top. The routing is roughly square, and the mech would expect this, but the clear will cause that area to become rounded a bit, and the mech won't fit as precisely. You'll want to gently re-rout those so that the mech is sitting square. Not sure if that made sense or not..

#8 8 months ago

Would it be best to have 2 rotisserie’s to make it easier to transfer parts from the old pf to the new pf?

#9 8 months ago
Quoted from Pinless:

Would it be best to have 2 rotisserie’s to make it easier to transfer parts from the old pf to the new pf?

Not necessary. You will most likely leave the original in the machine and the rotisserie with the new playfield right next to it. Transfer from one to the other that way.

#10 8 months ago

Dishwasher the loom!

#11 8 months ago
Quoted from Pinless:

Would it be best to have 2 rotisserie’s to make it easier to transfer parts from the old pf to the new pf?

This is simply not possible, in MANY cases during the swapout, the parts that are removed last have to be installed first. The best thing you can do is take LOTS of pictures and use them in reverse order so you don't install parts that then have to be removed because they block the installation of other parts.

Quoted from Scoot:

Lastly, this is a great time to clean and polish everything. I use a variety of cleaning products and polishing compounds but there are a few that will get you the best results. My go to for cleaning everything is Simple Green. It is cheap and works great. For getting rid of rust and corrosion I use Evaporust. All my metal pieces including screws, nuts, etc go into a bowl of this stuff. It will make old rusty or corroded parts look new again. And for polishing I use Flitz. This is amazing stuff for bringing out the shine on metal parts. I take all my stand up posts, wire forms, screw heads, and other metal parts that show on the top of the playfield, and polish them. All the metal posts I put in a drill and run it through a rag with a dab of Flitz. In a matter of seconds, you will have a super polished metal posts or screw heads that will look better than new.

This is likely your best and only opportunity to do this. An emery flap wheel will do wonders at removing all of the ball marks from your stainless steel ball guides.

You also may want to take a look at the STTNG owners forum https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/forum/clubs-members-only there is a lot of good information here as well as some game mods you may want to be interested in performing during the reassembly; for example, if you are even thinking of changing your pop bumper color, this is the best time to do this as the lighting connectors run through every part of the pop bumper assembly and are stapled to the underside of the playfield. When I did mine, I just purchased new pop bumper assemblies https://www.pinballlife.com/williamsbally-pop-bumper-assembly.html in the color I wanted for $47 each rather than spending my time rebuilding them.

#12 8 months ago

http://www.robertwinter.com/pinball/restorations/sttng/teardown/index.html

Great site that I used to supplant pictures I took when I did a swapout several years ago.

STTNG isn't as hard as some other games.... I remember Taxi being a PITA as you had to slide the ramps into the machine from either side at the same time, but that's probably because I didn't remove the PF from the machine, and the posts are all very similar heights. (shop out only not a swap)

#13 8 months ago
Quoted from slochar:

STTNG isn't as hard as some other games.... I remember Taxi being a PITA as you had to slide the ramps into the machine from either side at the same time, but that's probably because I didn't remove the PF from the machine, and the posts are all very similar heights. (shop out only not a swap)

Have you done a playfield swap on a STTNG?

#14 8 months ago

I should be covering this game this week coming up it will utilize a Mirco replacement that I already perfected but the pictures and process should be universal and helpful
image (resized).jpg

B406E301-7C83-4401-A557-986948A9181D (resized).jpeg
#15 8 months ago
Quoted from vireland:

Should I use a rotisserie? I never have, but for this particular one it would make it a LOT easier.

IMO ... You would be insane to do this without one. If you only look at soldering ALL if the coil harness wires to the coils its worth it. You can build your own in an hour or so using only parts that are available at Lowes or Home Depot. There is really no excuse not to do this; this post contains more information on how to build your own https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/playfield-swap-without-rotissary/page/2#post-2901464 as well as Vids https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/vids-quick-and-dirty-rotisserie-guide

#16 8 months ago
Quoted from Osric:

4- Drilling out the holes a bit from the topside to avoid cracks in the clear seems recommended, but inspecting them it looks to me like it's already been done by the manufacturer. Anyone know for sure if this step is needed on a Mirco PF?

Thanks!
Osric

I did a Mirco Funhouse last year, and I had to drill out a lot of the holes on the playfield to get things to fit correctly. You may want to have a good set of new drill bits on hand when you do the swap.

#17 8 months ago

This was my first post swap post covering mods I perfored during the swap...may be good to know info

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/sttng-owners-club/page/4#post-2885291

#18 8 months ago

If you ignore every post and link I made so far .... please do yourself a favor and replace this left orbit opto set.
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/sttng-owners-club/page/10#post-3149626

#19 8 months ago
Quoted from Pin_Guy:

IMO ... You would be insane to do this without one. If you only look at soldering ALL if the coil harness wires to the coils its worth it. You can build your own in an hour or so using only parts that are available at Lowes or Home Depot. There is really no excuse not to do this; this post contains more information on how to build your own https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/playfield-swap-without-rotissary/page/2#post-2901464 as well as Vids https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/vids-quick-and-dirty-rotisserie-guide

I did it. It sucked. No argument there. Worst playfield swap experience I've ever done. I'm generally meh on rotisseries, but for this one, I can totally get behind recommending one.

#20 8 months ago
Quoted from slochar:

http://www.robertwinter.com/pinball/restorations/sttng/teardown/index.html
Great site that I used to supplant pictures I took when I did a swapout several years ago.

Quoted from Pin_Guy:

Have you done a playfield swap on a STTNG?

Yes.

All WPC era games that are mostly lamp boards underneath are cake compared to the mess that is densely populated with individual lamp sockets interwoven with mechs and wiring harnesses that are 1982-1984 Bally and Williams games. Centaur was terrible since everything had to be perfect or it just wouldn't play right, and CPR's playfield spotting was way off down in the trough area.

#21 7 months ago

Thanks to everyone for lots of helpful responses!

I was planning to build two rotisseries and bought the parts for the first one tonight ... but it sounds like maybe one is all I'll need.

I will take my time and follow all the links given.

High_End_Pins - I am in awe of your work, Chris, and will watch your posts on STTNG with interest! I have spent hours reading through your restore threads.

Osric

Promoted items from the Pinside Marketplace
$ 399.95
Lighting - Led
Pin Stadium Pinball LEDs
$ 79.99
Cabinet - Armor And Blades
PinGraffix Pinside Shop
Trade
Machine - For Trade
Massapequa, NY

Hey there! Got a moment?

Great to see you're enjoying Pinside! Did you know Pinside is able to run thanks to donations from our visitors? Please donate to Pinside, support the site and get anext to your username to show for it! Donate to Pinside