I picked up this blackout from isochronic_frost last year, originally documented in his thread: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/blackout-restore-or-part-out
A quick look when I picked it up showed a lot of mold around the playfield, so I took the playfield out and cleaned some of the worst bits off the sides and bottom with some bleach. The playfield had been partly cleaned, but it still had a thick layer of mystery stuff on it, so I left it next to my dehumidifier to be dealt with later. Last month, I took a quick look at it. I cleaned a test spot and was able to get it off, but was worried that, if the stuff on the playfield was mold, that it might come back, so I left it a while longer. Yesterday I finally got a chance to pull it out and look at it again. The test spot still seemed clean, so I figured it was hopefully safe to get to work on it. Here's a few pictures of the starting condition:
Tearing down the playfield revealed more mold
With the top side torn down, I began removing stuff from the bottom as well to clean it better
I removed everything sticking through the holes in the playfield, and all the lamp sockets, since there was a lot of mold in the insert holes, then went through all the holes with some vinegar and q-tips to clean them out. I think I got everything visible, at least. I'd like to take everything off the back of the playfield and give it a good wipe down, but that'd involve removing all the stapled GI braid, etc which is a pain. At some point I'll stick lights in all the GI sockets and hook up 6V to them, to see if the sockets are even usable. If I need to replace all the GI sockets then it'll probably be worth it to pull the GI wiring off and remove the whole wiring harness, but if they're usable I'll just attempt to clean around them as best I can. Will also need to test some of the insert sockets to see if they're savable or if I need to replace them too.
I flipped the playfield back over again and began cleaning it too. Staring with a vacuum to get all the loose bits of dust and mold off, then a pass with naptha, then four passes of novus 2, some hand buffing, got it looking alright:
There's a lot of ball swirl, which I can live with, but also a few other issues.
1. Bad inserts. All the arrow inserts have shrunk and bent over time, so the ends are now rising above the playfield. Many of the circle inserts have shrunk too and sunken. Plus, there's still mold in the gaps between the inserts and the wood.
With these issues, I think it'll have issues playing well. I'm thinking the easiest route here is to get a playfield protector, but I'll still need to deal with the raised arrows. I think I've seen some people remove them and flatten them? Or I can buy new ones, since there doesn't seem to be much art on them.
2. Some of the ball guides seem to be nailed into the side rails, so I haven't removed them yet. I'm used to newer williams that used small phillips heads here, and couldn't find a good way to pry out the nails so far. Will need to figure that out, or maybe just take the side rails off completely. There's still a bit of mold and dirt in the corners that I couldn't reach, and I'd like to clean and polish all the guides
3. Wear at the top arch.
4. Lots of flecks of missing paint in the center and left side. This is all showing white, which I feared was more mold. I think some of it was, since some of the white spots disappeared after some cleaning, but much of it remained, so I think that's a white base coat showing through. It's not visible much from some angles, but from the playing angle it's really apparent.
At first I hoped this playfield might be a good candidate for restoration, since I've already torn everything off, and most of the needed touch ups would be small spots that I figured would be quite forgiving. I've never done any touchup/etc before but have always been interested in giving it a try if the proper game came along. Sadly, talking to a friend who does restorations professionally, it sounded like it'd actually be on the harder end due to all the uneven holes, etc that would need to be filled in before clearing. I may check into how much that would cost to have done for me, especially if the sockets turn out to all be bad necessitating a full bottom side teardown which would also be required for sending it off.
If that doesn't turn out to be necessary though, I'm thinking I'll try to fix the inserts, then clean the playfield further with some magic eraser, etc to get the ball swirls removed. Usually I don't go that far since it'll damage the top coat, but if I'm going to get a playfield protector at a minimum, I don't need to worry about that. Then maybe I'll try my hand at some simple color matching and touchups of those white specks. Will need to find out what kind of paint to order, but excited to get a bit deeper into this playfield than I usually do.