To Hardtop or Not to Hardtop?


By sawbill

5 months ago


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  • 34 posts
  • 18 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 months ago by Skypilot
  • Topic is favorited by 7 Pinsiders

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#1 5 months ago

I’ve seen in person just how fantastic these Hardtops look and play. I have a Taxi with some typical PF wear (see pics). And I am having such a difficult time making the commitment to do the destructive installation. I’m not afraid of screwing up the install, but rather I feel like I would be destroying / erasing original art, and I’m having a really hard time getting over that. I very much value the opinion of this community. Please let me know what you think.

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#2 5 months ago

See if you can get your hands on a spare that's blown out.

#3 5 months ago

That playfield is not that bad compared to a lot of Taxis I've seen. In lieu of the hardtop with the art on it (and having to sand down the original art for installation), have you considered a clear playfield protector? The clear playfield protector would smooth out any minor playfield imperfections and protect what's left of the original artwork.

#4 5 months ago

All these new machines have made people forget what a bad playfield actually looks like.

That Taxi's fine. Go play the heck out of it.

#5 5 months ago

NO way would I hardtop that.

1. That is actually an average condition Taxi
2. LOTS of work and nothing plays as nice as wood original
3. If doing a pf swap on a keeper then I would rather find an original to restore and clearcoat as it looks and plays better than anything else. Again, if doing a swap then why cut corners on doing something beside original art.
4. Not a fan of a destructive process on a game with average or better original. If you want to hardtop and completely ruin a pf forever, then do it on a completely blown out example.

#6 5 months ago

I own a hardtop Space Shuttle and I'm a fan. It restores the game beautifully and plays way more consistent than what I had before. I disagree with Whysnow that nothing would place as nice as the original or that it is lots of work, but I do agree about being reluctant to permanently change a playfield.

Here are some shots of my SS: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/space-shuttle-crew-members-club-prepare-for-liftoff/page/34#post-4118933

For the amount of work that would need to go into your field to make it look new, I would rather go the hardtop route. That said, to me your playfield isn't that bad and you could just keep playing it and look for a more blown out field to do the hardtop on.

11
#7 5 months ago

Sand that Bitch!

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#8 5 months ago

OOOHHH, Shiny

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#9 5 months ago

Thank you all for all the good advice. I do happen to already have a want ad posted for a Taxi PF https://pinside.com/pinball/market/classifieds/ad/57101. I'm hoping to find one that would be a good sacrificial candidate for a hard top. My wife also does not think I should hardtop my existing PF. So I have made up my mind not to sand that bitch of a PF of mine.

Regarding clear PF protectors, so far I'm not a big fan. I put one on my Black Knight several months ago, and it is actually rubbing off the key lines to bare wood around the round inserts going up the middle of the PF. Wood dust is accumulating above the concaved inserts. I think the protector shifts around very slightly and rubs against the PF, especially affecting vulnerable areas around inserts. I also think that in general debris just collects under the protector. At some point in the not to distant future I'm going to pull off that protector, clean and re-wax, and eventually clear coat the BK.

#10 5 months ago

HARDTOP!

#11 5 months ago
Quoted from AMBoggs:

I own a hardtop Space Shuttle and I'm a fan.

Any chance you're bringing that to Louisville Arcade Expo this year? I'd love to see and play it. I heard Mata Hari is on their short list and would love to check out a Hard Top in person before buying one.

-Steve

#12 5 months ago
Quoted from VDrums2112:

Any chance you're bringing that to Louisville Arcade Expo this year? I'd love to see and play it. I heard Mata Hari is on their short list and would love to check out a Hard Top in person before buying one.
-Steve

Going to try.

#13 5 months ago
Quoted from Skypilot:

Sand that Bitch!

Yes sand that bitch! My wife said the same thing, "oh don't ruin that original playfield!". Well after I did the Hardtop she agreed it was the right thing to do. Can you believe that, I was right and SHE was wrong!

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#14 5 months ago
Quoted from sawbill:

Regarding clear PF protectors, so far I'm not a big fan. I put one on my Black Knight several months ago, and it is actually rubbing off the key lines to bare wood around the round inserts going up the middle of the PF. Wood dust is accumulating above the concaved inserts. I think the protector shifts around very slightly and rubs against the PF, especially affecting vulnerable areas around inserts. I also think that in general debris just collects under the protector. At some point in the not to distant future I'm going to pull off that protector, clean and re-wax, and eventually clear coat the BK.

I can't speak to a play field protector rubbing off key lines as I have not had that experience with my protectors.

Regarding wood dust accumulating above the concave inserts, I had junk and dust accumulate underneath my protector until I finally got it all vaccumed out. It is kind of like sweeping and mopping a kitchen floor. You can sweep and mop and then sweep again and still sweep up all kinds of small trash. It took me 3 or 4 attempts to finally get years of accumulated crap of off my play field. After that, I don't have any kind of problem with junk getting under my protector.

#15 5 months ago

Man that’s a nice sander set up you got there Johnny!

#16 5 months ago
Quoted from heni1977:

Man that’s a nice sander set up you got there Johnny!

I noticed him and sawbill both have Festool.

My journey in drinking their green kool-aid was getting the track saw. It is glorious.

1 week later
#17 4 months ago
Quoted from johnnypinball:

Yes sand that bitch! My wife said the same thing, "oh don't ruin that original playfield!". Well after I did the Hardtop she agreed it was the right thing to do. Can you believe that, I was right and SHE was wrong!

Lots of questions:

Do you have any pics of the hardtop before installation?
Do you have any closeup pics of the hardtop where the switches poke through? I'm wondering if the overlay is obvious in those area
How thick is it?
How was it packaged?
How well did it line up with the inserts?
Any negatives you can think of with the quality of the overlay?

2 weeks later
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#18 4 months ago

I’m delighted to announce that I did indeed install a Hardtop. However, thanks to this awesome community, I was able to find a playfield not worth while to preserve/restore. So I sanded that bitch and laid down that shiny Hardtop. Every thing transferred over just fine. Taxi now plays so super smooth and fast.

Outside Edge has created a great product.

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2 weeks later
#19 3 months ago

Those hardtops sure do look nice. I'm curious to see how they hold up over time, though there's no reason to imagine they'd hold up any *less* well than a regular playfield, seems they should do better in fact. If I were Stern I'd be looking into changing how we make playfields.

I hope Outside Edge is having good success; only a small selection of hartops now available, but it opens up a lot of options on old beater games once you have this option.

#20 3 months ago

I've been working on a TAXI, adding a hardtop.

So far so good!

I ended up replacing all of the inserts due to most of them being cracked or sagging.

I'll be posting pics soon in another thread. I don't want to hijack this one.

#21 3 months ago
Quoted from SarverSystems:

I ended up replacing all of the inserts due to most of them being cracked or sagging.

It is not necessary to replace inserts that sag/cup FYI

#22 3 months ago
Quoted from sethbenjamin:

only a small selection of hartops now available,

Many more to come!

#23 3 months ago
Quoted from Skypilot:

It is not necessary to replace inserts that sag/cup FYI

Oh, I know.

My OCD is to blame for the bulk of them.

Figured I'd take this as an opportunity to swap to all clear so he could LED it with whatever colors he wanted and not be locked into the color of the old insert.

The same is true for sanding the entire playfield, but I did it anyway.

2 weeks later
#24 3 months ago

I am interested in using a hardtop as well but I have a question - do the drop target targets, and anything else that comes through from the bottom of the playfield, look strange or work differently as the playfield has essentially been raised up by a few mm's?

#25 3 months ago
Quoted from abendix:

I am interested in using a hardtop as well but I have a question - do the drop target targets, and anything else that comes through from the bottom of the playfield, look strange or work differently as the playfield has essentially been raised up by a few mm's?

I don’t feel it looks strange.

Some switches may need adjustment since the travel of the switch is now reduced.

#27 3 months ago

Star rollovers are going to be the most difficult part with installing a hardtop.

TAXI doesn't have any, but my understanding is to remove the star rollover insert, apply the hardcover, cut the hole to the right size and position, then reinstall a new star rollover so it sits flush with the new surface.

#28 3 months ago

The hardtop for Taxi is 1mm thick. Keep in mind that you are removing old clear coat and paint which has some thickness to it. Heck I’ve seen restored playfields with way too much clear coat sprayed down that’s certainly getting in the 1mm range.

Taxi drop targets stand ~25mm above the surface of the PF. So a change of <1mm overall PF thickness is really negligible. Also, no switches needed adjusting.

#29 3 months ago

I don't think the question was regarding how tall the drops sit above the playfield, rather when they are dropped they now sit an additional 1mm lower. Causing a larger gap between the top of the dropped drop target and the top of the playfield. Probably not a problem for most width-line? side-by-side drops? (I actually don't know the term for drop targets spread out width-wise) banks, but I would be interested what happens for in-line drops. Probably enough adjustment in the drop target mechs, but will be interesting to see if there are more hangups as a result. Don't take this as a warning or complaint, as I think this is a great product intended to be an economical restoration solution for games that normally would not be justifiable in spending 800+ dollars on a new playfield. I would buy a paragon today if available.

#30 3 months ago
Quoted from Apex:

but I would be interested what happens for in-line drops. Probably enough adjustment in the drop target mechs, but will be interesting to see if there are more hangups as a result.

I just went through this issue with my Frontier Hard Top. The 3 bank needed no adjustment, but the 3 in-line targets definitely caused hang ups and ball bounce. Luckily the in-line target assembly allows for small adjustments, so I was able to raise the in-lines enough to make them flush with the playing surface and it is all good now,

#31 3 months ago

When in Doubt.....HARDTOP!

#32 3 months ago
Quoted from freddy:

When in Doubt.....HARDTOP!

Was that Plato or Lincoln?

#33 3 months ago
Quoted from Skypilot:

Was that Plato or Lincoln?

outsidedge!

#34 3 months ago
Quoted from freddy:

outsidedge!

No ,pretty sure it was Lincoln.

Four scores and seven Hardtops ago.

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