Vid's Guide to Ultimate Playfield Restoration

(Topic ID: 33446)

Vid's Guide to Ultimate Playfield Restoration


By vid1900

5 years ago



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#851 4 years ago
Quoted from Robotoes:

1) Should the mylar actually come up because its in such bad shape in this area, and much less worse in a couple others?

That playfield looks flaky, I'd probably leave the Mylar alone.

Quoted from Robotoes:

2) Is it possible and/or advisable to remove just the troubled section of mylar, decal the terrible section of the PF, and re-mylar?

If there is a bubble in the Mylar that is deflecting ball travel, you could cut it out; but seeing how that playfield looks under the posts, I don't think you are going to be able to pull up any Mylar.

Wax the worn area, put down some Mylar so it does not get worse, play the game and forget about the wear.

If you end up loving the game, one day when CPR gets a $1500 wide body sander, you can get a new playfield.

#852 4 years ago

Thanks.

Quoted from vid1900:

If you end up loving the game, one day when CPR gets a $1500 wide body sander, you can get a new playfield.

And yes, fingers crossed. I'm assuming that's only one of a few factors why it hasn't been done yet.

#853 4 years ago

SHOOTER LANE REPAINTING
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sometimes you would have to sand 1/16" of wood out of the Shooter Lane to get all the dirty, dark gray wood fibers out.

Or sometimes there is some strange defect in one of the plys of the wood that distracts the eye.

If you have to sand too much wood, you mess up the way the ball lays and launches. The ball needs to be CENTERED in the shooter lane, and it will be too low if you sand too much.

What do we do? We paint.

1. Fill in any soft spots or wear holes/dents with wood filler and sand smooth.

2. Cover entire shooter lane with Frisket.

3. Follow the layer of the existing plys with an Xacto knife.

4. Mix some translucent Brown, maybe with some lighter Sand color, and maybe few drops of Red. You need this mix to be transparent, but darker than the existing layer.

You want to still see the detail of the underlying wood.

IMG_9249.jpg

transparent brown.jpg

#854 4 years ago

Spray light coats and dry with a hair dryer.

Don't make it too dark.

Make it an attractive contrast.

Don't over analyze it.

If you peel off the Frisket and it looks odd, wash it off and try again - nothing is permanent until you clear coat.

Spray a fine mist of Sand color transparent paint on the lighter layer of wood to cover and lighten any dark spots. Wipe if off with a rag if you put it on too heavy and try again.

Some guys try to "draw" on new wood grain, but it is way faster to just use a light, transparent touch and let some of the old, dirty grain show through.

IMG_9282.jpg

sand trans.jpg

#855 4 years ago

Vid, my greatest thanks for the wealth of information in this thread. I'm about to embark on my first "real" playfield restoration (not just spot painting / clearing), so this information is invaluable.

As a quick break-down of the entire process, this is how I understand it. Please correct me if I am wrong:

1. Remove mylar (if applicable) & repair/fill any physical playfield damage with epoxy wood putty or bondo. Replace inserts if desired.
2. Apply light coat of clear to seal in wood fibers and physical damage repairs and lightly sand afterward
3. Airbrush/paint touch-up and application of waterslide decals
4. Apply final coats of clear

#856 4 years ago

You've got it.

Take your time and ask questions if you have them.

#857 4 years ago

What grit and type of sanding block do you use to sand with in between coats?

#858 4 years ago

I've clear coated a few playfields but still picked up a few tips in this thread, so thank you vid!

Was wondering what recommendations you might have for a roll on clear/lacquer for cabinets? I find clearing a cabinet with the spray gun to be a real pain especially with all the masking required when parts are still in the machine. I'm looking for something that can be rolled on, in a thin coat, which can then be buffed.

#859 4 years ago
Quoted from PeteB:

clearing a cabinet with the spray gun to be a real pain especially with all the masking required when parts are still in the machine. I'm looking for something that can be rolled on, in a thin coat, which can then be buffed.

Nothing that rolls on is ever going to give a nice finish as a spray.

Efficient masking with .31 mil plastic that painters cover windows with ( not the expensive 9 mil "drop cloth" stuff) is what you need.

You can mask off a cabinet in 15 minutes and be ready to shoot.

#860 4 years ago

OUTGASSING and INSERT BLOOMING
======================================================

Every beginner just thinks if they pick up a 1960-1990 NOS playfield, they can clearcoat it and it will be ready to go.

Of course that is never the case.

These NOS playfields DO have to be clearcoated, or they will quickly wear out, even in home use.

The old playfield's topcoats have become brittle, and the paint beneath it often turns into a chalky consistency.

Beginners are often alarmed how fast wear develops and chips are created, even with fresh balls and thorough waxings on NOS playfields. That is because the old, used playfields had the wood fibers compressed by the ball while the paint was still fresh and soft. The NOS playfields get their wood fibers compressed, but now the paint is brittle and chalky.

So we know we have to protect NOS playfields, what exactly is the problem then?

Outgassing.

The old topcoat on these NOS playfields seems to react somehow with the plastic inserts and the new clearcoat.

The "heat" from the new clearcoat's solvents can create "insert blooming" or "outgassing". Literally, the solvents in the clear have no where to go against the inserts, so they melt the old topcoat and create a pattern of large or little light colored spots.

Worse yet, the Insert Blooming does not happen instantly, it usually appears a few days latter when you assume the clear has cured.

Here is a playfield cleared by one of those guys who are always spamming the forums:

1-612.jpg

#861 4 years ago

Q: Does this happen with all playfields?
A: Once DiamondPlate coatings started to be used in the 1990s, Outgassing was not as much of a problem. The DiamondPlate is much more compatible.

Q: Why is it more of a problem with NOS playfields, rather than all playfields of that era?
A: Usually the factory topcoat is already worn off, or mostly worn off on well used playfields. If you scrape the old lettering off, and replace it with a decal, there is no topcoat to react with anyway.

Q: Does it matter what clearcoat I use?
A: Yes, the slower the cure time, the more chance of Outgassing. Always use the fastest hardener for your first coat over a NOS playfield. Never use DiamondPlate clear on old NOS playfields, it is WAY TOO HOT and ALWAYS creates Insert Blooming.

Q: Could I protect the insert with a water based clear first to guard it from the 2PAC.
A: No, I've tried that, and it does not work at all.

Q: Does it always happen?
A: No, it is hit and miss. You can test an insert near the back of the playfield and check it in a week .

#862 4 years ago

Insert Blooming seems to be a bigger problem over yellow or white opaque inserts, although you sometimes see it even on red and clear.

I suspect that it is more common than we think on clear inserts, but the jeweling provides more of a distraction to the eye.

2.jpg

#863 4 years ago

So what can we do?

I know some restorers spray and pray - then grind out the outgassing. But I'm going to teach you to preemptively strike, saving massive time and energy.

We are going to quickly and efficiently clean off the old topcoat, so there is nothing for the 2PAC to react with.

How do we do this without chipping up the Keylining surrounding the insert?

With an Acrylic Template with various sized holes.

A 1/4" thick piece of acrylic is ideal. You can see through it for alignment, and it drills cleanly with Forstner bits.

Make one with a bunch of common insert sizes.

3.jpg

#864 4 years ago

Center the template over the insert and clamp securely.

We don't want the template moving around. It needs to be tight to the playfield so it does not end up chipping the Keylining.

4.jpg

#865 4 years ago

The tool of choice, way faster than a Dremel, is a SHARP Chisel.

We use the chisel completely vertically, not at an angle like you would normally chisel wood.

Get a Diamond Hone and constantly re-sharpen your chisel. Using it vertically quickly kills the edge.

A sharp chisel works so fast, you won't believe it . A few seconds and you are on to the next insert. It will take you longer to move the template than it will to clean out the old topcoat.

5.jpg

#866 4 years ago

Oh man. Your leaving me hanging here. Lol

#867 4 years ago

Your sharp chisel quickly makes large flakes.

You will get a feel for the crunchiness of the topcoat, the insert itself will feel like slippery plastic.

6.jpg

#868 4 years ago

Once you make your way into the center of the playfield, it's time to use your 12" C-Clamp to hold the template.

7.jpg

#869 4 years ago

On Arrows or other inserts that you don't have a template for, lightly cut just inside of the Keyline with an Xacto knife, so that you don't accidentally take a chip of keylining out along with the topcoat. You will feel the Xacto cut with the tip of your chisel.

On inserts with lettering, weigh the risk of trimming around the letter, with the risk of Insert Blooming. Test the 2PAC on an insert near the back if in doubt.

Small scratches from the chisel can be left alone, they actually give the clearcoat more tooth and will fill in just fine once cleared.

#870 4 years ago

Checking in so I can find this post again. A

#871 4 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

First scan the area with a hand scanner or one of those HP 4670 scanners.

Vid, can you recommend a hand scanner

#872 4 years ago

Every hand scanner I've tried is pretty janky.

If there is a good one out there, I have not tried it.

Get the HP 4670 from ebay for 30-75 bucks if you want my 2 cents.

#873 4 years ago

I agree with vid on the scanner. That thing is great for what we do.

#875 4 years ago

I've been working on my D&D machine for a couple months now after re-reading your thread, I'm a little unsure of my next step now. I pulled everything off the field front and back and proceeded to clean (simple green) the PF then took ME and alcohol to it and leveled all the inserts. I'm debating on using water slide or just painting the lettering and key lines back in. From what I'm reading now, I should shoot it in a light coat of clear either way and then start the repairs or should I paint the couple spots of burn thru and the launch track in the lane and then shoot a light coat of clear. I'm a little confused on this point. I was also wondering about spot repairs on the PF if I'm clearing the whole thing anyway. Like I said, I have one spot of burn thru and would like to just color match a spot and thin down some paint with some extender to clean it up and the shoot it. Your saying no brushes at all and mask everything?

I'm open to input and would love to hear suggestions. I have a really good airbrush and compressor so I'm willing to mask and go but it seem extreme for something I could match and have done in 20 seconds (did warhammer 40k for years so my painting ability is pretty damn good).

image-619.jpgimage.jpgimage-419.jpg

#876 4 years ago

Good pics to show where you are at!

1. Sand out the shooter lane and see if it can be cleaned up.

2. Sand out the ball trail that is in the natural wood before it enters the black field and wizard's cape. Either sand all the surrounding wood, or tone the repair to match the old wood.

3. Spray a light coat of clear to lock down any loose wood fibers.

4. Touch up where the paint is worn through. Do it any way you feel comfortable.

5. Scan and make up some waterslide decals to replace text on inserts.

6. Keep updating us on your progress.

#877 4 years ago

Vid,
If you use water slide decals for the insert text, wont the black be washed out when a light is on?

Thanks

#878 4 years ago

You ever get over in my neck of the woods Vid, you better check in. My liquor cabinet might need a little bullet proofing too.

#879 4 years ago
Quoted from Lonzo:

Vid,
If you use water slide decals for the insert text, wont the black be washed out when a light is on?
Thanks

You can turn the "darkness" knob on the inside of the laser printer up as dark as you want.

#880 4 years ago

I've pounded down screw 'mounds' like show above, but there is still some variability in the smoothness those areas.
When clear coating is it like filling a swimming pool where the top is an even layer regardless of the bumpiness below?

Also should I 600 grit sand, then fill cupped inserts with 2PAC before the light coat prior to color touch-ups?
Or is the pre-touchup light coat put on before any insert filling?

Regardless the next step would be to 600 grit to give tooth to whatever is next right?

Getting close to clearing time and want everything right

#881 4 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

You can turn the "darkness" knob on the inside of the laser printer up as dark as you want.

Ok. I have only used Inkjet. Any transparent decal paper has always had transparent ink once the white paper was gone. I will have to research the laser. I have used black vinyl several times with good results.

#882 4 years ago
Quoted from Lonzo:

Ok. I have only used Inkjet. Any transparent decal paper has always had transparent ink once the white paper was gone. I will have to research the laser. I have used black vinyl several times with good results.

I am going to check out local print/copy and hobby shops for any decal I need printed.

Vid said earlier in this guide that laser printer is the only way to go, and that most hobby shops will print things for you for a fee.

#883 4 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Good pics to show where you are at!
1. Sand out the shooter lane and see if it can be cleaned up.
2. Sand out the ball trail that is in the natural wood before it enters the black field and wizard's cape. Either sand all the surrounding wood, or tone the repair to match the old wood.
3. Spray a light coat of clear to lock down any loose wood fibers.
4. Touch up where the paint is worn through. Do it any way you feel comfortable.
5. Scan and make up some waterslide decals to replace text on inserts.
6. Keep updating us on your progress.

Hey Vid, what about the ball trail in the paint? How would you handle that?

#884 4 years ago

what do you do about stained mouse pee inside a ball trail:
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/0-okggGR88QuXid0rOWGU9MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=directlink

just paint 'natural' or try to stain it or bleach maybe? Note, it's way more cleaned up than this now but there's a pee stain throughout the ball groove. Unfortunately I have a lot of dirty pictures from a few years ago, but not clean ones.

I am starting to get motivated by your thread to go from functional to actually start fixing up the art.. but hard to get over the "natural" stained wood along the top

full album: https://picasaweb.google.com/117581941678787378666/KickOffPinballRehab?authuser=0&feat=directlink

#885 4 years ago
Quoted from Lonzo:

Ok. I have only used Inkjet. Any transparent decal paper has always had transparent ink once the white paper was gone.

Inkjet fades really fast.

Laser you will find is the way to go.

#886 4 years ago
Quoted from KloggMonkey:

I've pounded down screw 'mounds' like show above, but there is still some variability in the smoothness those areas.
When clear coating is it like filling a swimming pool where the top is an even layer regardless of the bumpiness below?

You will never get everything totally flat, pound the best you can.

Clear tends to mound around holes, rather than waterfall over them.

#887 4 years ago
Quoted from KloggMonkey:

Also should I 600 grit sand, then fill cupped inserts with 2PAC before the light coat prior to color touch-ups?

I tend to fill inserts before the first coat.

#888 4 years ago
Quoted from sed6:

Hey Vid, what about the ball trail in the paint? How would you handle that?

spray down a light coat of clear to lock down wood fibers, then start the repair.

#889 4 years ago
Quoted from sd_tom:

what do you do about stained mouse pee inside a ball trail:

wow, that's bad!

I'd sand down to solid wood and see what you have to work with.

You could always veneer a new slice of Maple, if you have router skills.

#890 4 years ago

and if the entire paint on the playfield is kind of cracked.. so like "advanced" ball swirls.. but the paint is actually holding on pretty good.. sand off anyway or try to fill cracks with matching paint; as there is no way i can get the dirt out. I will get some closeups soon.. I figure it is a great project is that there is no way i could possibly devalue this thing anymore (I got it for free)

#891 4 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Inkjet fades really fast.
Laser you will find is the way to go.

Will the inkjet still fade under Auto clear? I thought it had UV protection. I have a playfield with inkjet decals on it that was auto cleared a couple of years ago and still looks as good as the day I did it. Of course all machines are in a pretty dark room as well. I am still going to look in to a Laser printer for future decals.

#892 4 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

spray down a light coat of clear to lock down wood fibers, then start the repair.

Hey Vid, I didn't mean to let you off so easy. I don't think that you've covered a gouge in the PF yet, which the ball track basically is. So I'm thinking clear to lock the fibers down, touch up the paint, then level the track (gouge) with clear from an eyedropper? Or would you level it first then paint? I'd imagine frisket (and tape) for paint masking would perform best on a smooth surface? Will the eyedropper trick even work for this like it does for leveling PF inserts? Inquiring minds want to know.

Thanks Vid!

#893 4 years ago
Quoted from Lonzo:

Will the inkjet still fade under Auto clear? I thought it had UV protection. I have a playfield with inkjet decals on it that was auto cleared a couple of years ago and still looks as good as the day I did it. Of course all machines are in a pretty dark room as well. I am still going to look in to a Laser printer for future decals.

Someone told me that genuine Epsom inks don't fade because they are pigmented rather than dye based.

2PAC is good for UV protection, but I've seen inkjet fade anyway.

But printer manufacturers could change their formulas at any time, so YMMV for sure.

The Declaration of Independence is under UV glass, but it's still fading......

#894 4 years ago
Quoted from sed6:

Hey Vid, I didn't mean to let you off so easy. I don't think that you've covered a gouge in the PF yet, which the ball track basically is. So I'm thinking clear to lock the fibers down, touch up the paint, then level the track (gouge) with clear from an eyedropper? Or would you level it first then paint? I'd imagine frisket (and tape) for paint masking would perform best on a smooth surface? Will the eyedropper trick even work for this like it does for leveling PF inserts? Inquiring minds want to know.

Yes, you can fill gouges the same way you fill cupped inserts, with clearcoat.

Spray down a light coat of clear to lock the wood (or it might absorb the paint and make it a different color).

Lightly sand to give paint some tooth.

Do your touch-up painting.

Fill the gouge with clear.

#895 4 years ago
Quoted from sd_tom:

and if the entire paint on the playfield is kind of cracked.. so like "advanced" ball swirls.. but the paint is actually holding on pretty good.. sand off anyway or try to fill cracks with matching paint; as there is no way i can get the dirt out.

Lightly sand the paint and then put a thin clear over it.

If the cracks fill with clear and look good, you sometimes can just leave it without repainting.

#896 4 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Someone told me that genuine Epsom inks don't fade because they are pigmented rather than dye based.

Some Epson inks are pigment based and some are dye based. Ditto for Canon and HP (for example the Officejet 8500 uses pigmented inks). If in doubt, just google it or contact the manufacturer. The type of paper that is being printed on is also a critical factor in either type of ink fading. Nowadays it's not that hard to find an inkjet printer that uses pigmented inks.

#897 4 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

Hey vid, I went ahead and put down the first round of clear on a project today. Best way to learn is just to jump in sometimes! I'm using the Spray Max 2K 2 part rattle can, we'll see how it works. So far so good (and yes I'm using all the safety gear, respirator, sealed goggles, gloves).
Anyways, I put down a mist coat and then two full coats, and once it hardens up I'm going to start masking off and doing paint touchups. Looks good, just the expected orange peel from a sprayed coat.
I presume you sand before doing paint though right? My understanding is you need a little tooth to the clear to make a second round stick properly later after you take all the time to do touch up painting.
Is that how you do it? And if so, how much are you sanding? Knock it down with 600? How far do you go with moving on to finer grits to get it clear enough to match paint colors through but not so smooth the second round of clear won't take? And I guess it needs to be smooth enough to make the decals stick right too ... This is where it feels like there might be a balancing act.

How long did you wait before sanding, painting, and adding more coats? I have laid my initial coat down and next up is touch-up and filling in a low insert. The SprayMax website says it takes 12 hours to dry and the potlife of the can after activation is 48 hours. That puts me on a pretty tight schedule.

#898 4 years ago

Hi - have a question (think I know the answer too); I have an EM game that I am currently doing and the white inserts have yellowed some. Now I know about "retrobright", but the inserts have some art on them and not sure how that is going to affect it.

I am going to assume my choices are: remove the art, "retrobright", repaint (or water slide) art - or - buy new inserts and redo art; but checking if there is an alternative.

#899 4 years ago

If the art on those inserts is in good shape I would not personally remove it and replace it with something not original just because of some yellow inserts. The original art and, assuming, otherwise good condition of the playfield trumps yellowed inserts big time for me. You will just be creating a ton of unnecessary work for yourself.

DISCLAIMER: This is just my opinion and is assuming the playfield is in overall very good condition. If it's trashed and needs a bunch of other work anyway then I would go ahead with it.

#900 4 years ago
Quoted from LongJohns:

Hi - have a question (think I know the answer too); I have an EM game that I am currently doing and the white inserts have yellowed some. Now I know about "retrobright", but the inserts have some art on them and not sure how that is going to affect it.

I am going to assume my choices are: remove the art, "retrobright", repaint (or water slide) art - or - buy new inserts and redo art; but checking if there is an alternative.

If you put new, snow white inserts in, it would probably look terrible.

50 year old games naturally have off white inserts; that is usually what looks best.

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