(Topic ID: 196619)

(Rant) The Nightmare of Cleatcoating my Gottlieb Hot Shot

By KingofKoopas

2 years ago

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  • 16 posts
  • 13 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by boydsc331
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#1 2 years ago

I'm not sure why I"m posting this other then the fact I'm 200% Done and want to share this "experience" with literally anyone. I'm posting this here cause I don't feel it belongs in the "restoration" sub. That and I feel bad enough about what happened that I don't feel like being called scum by more seasoned restorers.

So a few months back I acquired a nice Gottlieb Hot Shot. After getting it set up in my shop and stripping the playfield I got to work on cleaning/touching up. Bear in mind this was my third machine, and third time touching up and clearcoating a playfield. I had the basic theory down and was looking to get this one one near perfect. So after a week of cleaning and touching up I got my clearcoat ready. I was using varathane like many EM guys use mostly because I lack the space to use autoclear. If I knew what was going to happen I would have made the room though........

I first layed down a bunch of clear in the inserts to get them leveled. In the past I didn't use enough so the inserts were still sometimes low, so I used way more with the theory of sanding them down later. This ended up coming back to haunt me.

After some drying I layed down my first few coats of clear and went to bed, looking forward to sanding and spraying again.

I woke up to what was prob the most shocked I've EVER woken up to. A BUNCH of things apparently went wrong over night.

1: Molting EVERYWHERE. The reds on the table were going orange at some points. Any black that was layered over red was going yellow, (from the original silkscreen process) my red touchups which looks GREAT under naptha went purple. Some of the blue was going slightly yellowish as well.
2: All the colors were darkened by a lot. I'm aware varathane does this, but it was never THIS bad.
3: I realized I applied WAY too much varathane to the inserts, so it looked like an overgrown mass.

Now I was pissed, if I was smart I would have taken a step back for a few days and come up with a solution. However in a fit of anger I literally peeled the clearcoat off the playfield as it was still wet. I hoped that it would fix the colors, but no for whatever reason the varthane had reacted to the original clearcoat itself and molted everything. It ended up making everything worse and screwed up the inserts which didn't need any touching up. So I ended up spending a day or 2 anger re-painting. Again if I stepped away and took my time I may have been able to do better but I rushed everything to try and salvage my playfield.

I had to repainted ALL the red which if I took my time to do would have turned out better. I looks alright now but there's spots I missed with my frisket. The lettering also didn't turn out great as I had to handpaint around the letters.

So after anger repainting I started clearing again. Good no red molting and my black touchups were covering the yellowed black. However at coat 4 I realized how HORRIBLE the inserts looked. It was rushed, poorly color matched (which happened with most of the colors due to trying to rush it) and looked pretty horrible. So I decided to go to waterslide to try and salvage SOMETHING. It took 2 weeks and me almost throwing my printer out the window but I got some decent looking decals down. When you shine a light through you can still see where I hand touched up the inserts but at least they looked better unlit. There was a little edge bleeding as well, but at this point I couldn't care enough. I did the best I could.

So I started the clearcoating up again (after fighting to find a can of varathane that wasn't bricked). After 2 coats and sanding to try and get those decals leveled out I realized that areas I touched up slightly molting AGAIN despite painting. Not sure if they're areas I sanded to hard on or what but I tried to fix some of them as I went.

And now today I'm spraying my final heavy coat for final level and FOR SOME REASON there's a section of the table where the varathane seems to be pooling and not leveling despite the fact I"VE LITERALLY CHANGED NOTHING AND DONE NOTHING DIFFERENT. I'm currently waiting for tomorrow so I can sand and try to fix any uneven areas.

This playfield turned into a nightmare and it was in such good shape when I got it. I honestly feel horrible that despite my best efforts to preserve one of my favorite EMs it's turned out as shody as it has. I just needed to get that out in hopes that someone learns from my mistakes. TAKE YOUR TIME and don't rush things out of anger. If I did that, it might have turned out better......

#2 2 years ago

Man sorry to hear this, but thank you for sharing. One day I hope to get the courage to try playfield restorations myself. Very thankful for information on here to help.

#3 2 years ago

I know how you feel. I had it happen to me too with an overlay, which in the end can be redone but still the frustration was there and all the time and effort spent just to have it all ruined.

#4 2 years ago

Did you use canned clear coat before? It has solvents. Automotive clear coat would be dry in minutes.

#5 2 years ago

I just did two playfields last weekend with automotive clear. My buddy did the inserts on his while I filled mine. He overfilled his and didn't allow it to flow just past the insert. Mine turned out great at this point, but he had a few that didn't dry properly because they were so thick. It was a little annoying to have to redo a couple of them but not too bad since the automotive clear basically melts into itself so you can't tell. But he learned his lesson to not overfill his inserts.

Auto clear is great though. Not as great as the guy above me thinks though. It takes like 12 hours to dry enough to sand it, not minuyes. Even if you "bake it" at like 70 degrees Celsius you still have to wait a few hours. But you end up with a rock hard surface that you can sand perfectly smooth.

Sorry to hear your varathane didn't work out great. With anything that takes a decent time to dry, you want to keep the layers thin. And if you started by leveling the inserts, I would have left it for at least a day or 2 before I started adding more layers on to make sure those inserts were fully dry and I wouldn't be trapping any solvents under more layers.

#6 2 years ago

Don't feel bad.

I have 100s of emails in my inbox that have similar disasters. It's just something that happens with Varathane.

A guy even gave me a 50's Gibson guitar that he tried **restoring** with Varathane. It went from $10,000 to $100 in a single day.

I wish they would stop selling it.

#7 2 years ago

I've done two with Varathane...first one turned out great, but the 2nd one turned the pink on a jumping jack to a horrible orange. I'm going to also agree that it should be avoided. I've used Polycrylic on a pin that had horrible planking...I just wanted to level it out so that it played well. It turned out well, but after a couple years started to wear out near a couple rollovers.

#8 2 years ago

When it comes down to playfield swaps or clearcoating, I always have it professionally done. After all, that's not my expertise. Worth every penny. Sorry for your loss.

#9 2 years ago

I can't think of anything more frustrating than applying a final sealing coat only to watch a bunch of chemical reactions start. Bubbles forming, colors changing, createx wrinkling, fish eyes forming, old varnish reacting to new clear over the inserts, star rollovers gumming up, etc... Absolutely maddening! Thanks for sharing, I personally think just about every step (from removing mylar to the final coat of clear) feels like defusing a bomb!

#10 2 years ago

Nothing more frustrating than having to go back and re-do everything from scratch!


Had to sand this right back down to primer to fix it. But I learned a ton making all those mistakes. That's what you can take from it.

#11 2 years ago

Thanks for the support guys, glad to hear I'm not the only one.

Quoted from vid1900:

Don't feel bad.
I have 100s of emails in my inbox that have similar disasters. It's just something that happens with Varathane.
A guy even gave me a 50's Gibson guitar that he tried **restoring** with Varathane. It went from $10,000 to $100 in a single day.
I wish they would stop selling it.

From the big man himself. I was never aware that it was THIS prevalent considering I've seen dozens upon dozens of great results with varathane.

I'm trying to look at this with a glass half full prospective and take what I've learned here for the next one. It's funny really. I wanted to go with auto clear on this table initially, but my excitement to get the machine up and running made me go back to varathane. I have a small backyard and no garage, so setting up a spray booth so I wouldn't kill my family/neighbors was something I reluctant on. Again I guess me not taking my time came back to bite me again eh?

In case anyone is curious here's what it looks like right now. I still have to give it it's final sanding and buff it. As it stand it looks somewhat presentable when at player level, but once you get close a lot of the issues jet out. Still for how screwed everything became it could have come out MUCH worse. Trust me it looks much worse IRL. I won't post pictures of what it looked like when I got it, I'd rather just forget and move on.

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Ah well, on the plus side with any luck I'll have a slick playing game.

#12 2 years ago

Thanks for the heads up on Varathane. I'll make sure to not use it. I haven't done any restoring but with posts like this I will know what to stay away from if I want to make a restoration correctly.

1 week later
#13 2 years ago

Well I got around to buffing my playfield and it's honestly a shame. If it wasn't for all the molting (some of which happened after spraying the final coat) this might have been my best playfield yet. Still for EVERYTHING that went wrong I"m thankfully I at least got a nice glossy finish, and it isn't even waxed yet.

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You can't see it in the picture but the right inlane molted pretty badly from the varathane pooling on the last coat. If you look closely you can also see some of the yellowish molting on the black.

I just wanna say thanks again for the replies. I was so worried about being crucified by the pinball world that I was reluctant to ever attempt a playfield resto again. However I'm now looking forward to taking another shot at it with my next table, though I think I"m not gonna use varathane again.

#14 2 years ago

Have the same game, this was the anger repaint...

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#15 2 years ago

Thats hot.


2 weeks later
#16 2 years ago

Ya nice save !

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