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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Topic index (key posts)

142 key posts have been marked in this topic, showing the first 20

Post #7 Playfield damage assessment. Posted by vid1900 (5 years ago)

Post #8 Insert damage assessment. Posted by vid1900 (5 years ago)

Post #34 How to sand your new inserts flat. Posted by vid1900 (5 years ago)

Post #35 Cleaning old glue out of the insert holes. Posted by vid1900 (5 years ago)

Post #38 Prime the insert with 3M Plastic Primer before gluing. Posted by vid1900 (5 years ago)

Post #60 Repairing Insert Ghosting - fill, clean, remove bubbles, cover. Posted by vid1900 (5 years ago)

Post #61 Repairing Insert Ghosting - clamp overnight. Posted by vid1900 (5 years ago)

Post #76 Source for needles - Posted by rancegt (5 years ago)

Post #84 Air brush information. Posted by vid1900 (5 years ago)

Topic indices are generated from key posts and maintained by Pinside Editors. For more information, or to become an editor yourself read this post!

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#1380 3 years ago

What are the options for dealing with white text on a large coloured area? I have a Williams Gay 90's with a few of these areas. See for instance with the "Change" and "100" text. My playfield is fairly worn and I think I'll be repainting it.

I know it is suggested to use a decal printing service that prints with white ink. I've seen a few sites with decal printing services and they are all very expensive per page!

Can the Silhouette Cameo Cutter cut accurately enough to create a mask for text?

Is it possible to hand colour the white and then lay a decal on top with the black outline? I saw that the Molotow paint markers are available with white ink.

2 weeks later
#1490 3 years ago

I bought an Iwata airbrush kit with a gravity fed gun. The cup holds 1/3 oz.
How much coverage do you get from 1/3 oz with Createx opaque paint? I have no idea how much paint to mix once the time comes to start painting my playfield.

1 week later
#1572 3 years ago
Quoted from PinStef:

Following up on the marker from many pages ago...
I am restoring my T2 playfield following this very useful guide. Most of the touchups needed are limited to fixing the black around inserts. I have been using a liquitex acrylic marker as I couldn't easily source the Molotow. That made doing the fixes really easy.
I am now at the point where I need to thoroughly clean the playfield before doing the clearcoat but the Naphtha seems to be eating the black from the marker (painted a week ago). Has anybody had any similar experience? I am wondering if I am going a bit too hard on the Naphtha as I am paranoid about fisheyes. BTW I am using Ronsonol, perhaps this isnt exactly the same as the Naphtha you guys use (I can't get it here). There was a post somewhere stating it was the same thing. 99% Alcohol doesn't seem to affect it as much. Can I use this instead?
My other worry is that if Naphtha is eating the marker, is it going to bleed in the clear coat? I plan on using Spraymax and do 2 very light mist coats first to minimize this risk.

You can order the Molotow markers from Curry's in Toronto.

I found a place in Canada where it seems you can order Naphtha:

1 month later
#1682 3 years ago

Hi Vid, I'm attempting my first restoration with a Williams Gay 90s. I've removed the old inserts and sanded the new ones as per your guide. How tight should inserts be? If I put them in the holes they'll go to about 2mm above the playfield. At that point I'd have to force or tap them in with a block to flush. Expected or are they too tight?

9 months later
#2504 2 years ago

See if your laser printer has toner density settings -- it makes a big difference. Also ensure it is set to best quality.

1 month later
#2626 2 years ago

Can I get some steps on applying Createx?

I know that thin coats are recommended.

I apply a thin coat, how long do I wait until the next thin coat? Is it a timing thing, visual thing, or what?

Supposing I have applied enough thin coats to cover opaquely (about how many should that be?), do I remove the frisket/mask before heat setting or after?

If I am using a hair dryer, about how long do I need to apply heat to set it? Is there a visual indicator that it is set or . . . ?

How far away to hold the dryer while applying heat?


#2627 2 years ago


2 weeks later
#2695 2 years ago

Hi Vid, I am planning on completely repainting my Gay 90's playfield as it has quite a bit of paint loss and is mostly angular pointy people so it should be feasible. I have scanned the entire playfield and have vectorized everything so I can cut masks with my Silhouette Cameo cutter (or print waterslide decals as needed). All inserts are removed to be replaced except 2 yellow triangles which seem to be unavailable so I left them in.

My question -- what should I do with the bare wood areas? They do have ball trails or wear/discolouration from age and use -- around the arch at the top and in the flipper area. Is it crazy to think of sanding the entire playfield clean before repainting it? Or just leave it and consider it charm.

You can see a picture of the lower playfield here:;3FEC22D8-DDE0-432B-887C-6F8F8B754506
(The scrap is showing what Zissner amber shellac from Home Depot looks like.)

Generally what approach to take on an older EM that has this kind of wear in the wood.

I have even thought of possibly CNC cutting a new playfield, not sure how expensive that is to take to a CNC place to cut. This $50 pinball machine is going to be four figures when I am done!

#2729 2 years ago

Hi Vid -- I sanded down the discoloured wood areas on my Gay 90's playfield with a random orbital sander, it did the job nicely.

Now I have a further preliminary question before I can start repainting. This playfield has a lot of paint loss down to the wood.

If I just paint on top of that I suspect that the paint will not fill in the chipped out areas? How should I prepare this before painting? I could see priming and then sanding it smooth, or even just sanding the entire playfield down to the bare wood. I do have scans of the entire playfield so I suppose this is a possibility although it might make things more tricky. Advice?


1 month later
#2806 2 years ago

I am looking to repaint one of my EM playfields. This will involve laying down multiple colours of paint as I work through it.
I watched a video on applying Createx and the speaker said the paint is fragile, shows fingerprints etc. and recommended putting a protective clear on immediately after a coat to avoid messing up existing coats with masks and so on.

In your experience with properly heat cured Createx is this a concern? Can I safely apply frisket/mask on a previously painted layer or is it just asking for trouble.

#2821 2 years ago

I am going to use the Createx Auto Air paint line. No heat cure required and it is designed to be taped over. Createx tech support recommended this to me. You can read the Hard Surface Application Guide here:

#2824 2 years ago

Yes only semi-opaque. Over a matched sealer they say 2-3 coats provides full coverage. From what I can tell, Wicked and AutoAir are the same paint, just a different palette. These paints are used to paint cars so they can do the job.

5 months later
#3389 2 years ago

Hi Vid, I am working on a 1954 Williams Spitfire! At some point it seems like someone sprayed a solvent on the playfield that partly dissolved the lacquer topcoat. It is all bumpy/splotchy and I think it has to be removed (there is also a massive amount of grunge embedded in it). It looks normal under the apron but bad on the playfield itself. Otherwise this playfield is in nice shape.

Is 90% isopropyl alcohol + cloth a safe way to remove it without affecting the underlying artwork?

Assuming I get the topcoat removed, are the next steps:

- level inserts
- lightly sand 600 grit
- naphtha
- clear coat (SprayMax 2K for me)

#3391 2 years ago
Quoted from vid1900:

Let's see some CLEAR pictures of what you have.

Hope these give some idea of the playfield condition -- the mottled/bumpy surface the exposed areas of the playfield has.

It's more like a spray effect on the lower playfield and rougher on the upper.

Purple oval is where I tried some IPA and a cloth.


#3397 2 years ago
Quoted from dr_nybble:

Hi Vid, I am working on a 1954 Williams Spitfire! At some point it seems like someone sprayed a solvent on the playfield that partly dissolved the lacquer topcoat. It is all bumpy/splotchy and I think it has to be removed (there is also a massive amount of grunge embedded in it). It looks normal under the apron but bad on the playfield itself. Otherwise this playfield is in nice shape.
Is 90% isopropyl alcohol + cloth a safe way to remove it without affecting the underlying artwork?
Assuming I get the topcoat removed, are the next steps:
- level inserts
- lightly sand 600 grit
- naphtha
- clear coat (SprayMax 2K for me)

Well I went ahead and removed the top coat with paper towels saturated in 95% isopropyl alcohol. I am pretty sure now that someone sprayed "extra" all over this playfield. When I removed some ball guides they appeared to have a coating on top but not underneath like something had been sprayed down on them.

There is some stubborn gunk that I was unable to remove with solvent (well except Goof Off which also readily removes ink so no good). I found that lightly going over with 600 grit sandpaper + alcohol was able to remove it. Magic eraser didn't work.

1 week later
#3433 1 year ago

Hi Vid, I am working on a 1954 Williams Spitfire. I have removed the topcoat with alcohol and am left with a pretty decent playfield, but it exhibits a lot of pitting in the ink in wear areas:


What technique do you suggest to fill these pits? I don't really want to repaint entire areas on this old machine.

2 weeks later
#3472 1 year ago
Quoted from heypat:

anyone in the shelby township / Utica area in Michigan that is good at matching paint. I have my first coat of clear down and cannot match the paint on the man and women on my jungle lord. its driving me nuts!

Do you have a scan?

2 weeks later
#3509 1 year ago
Quoted from Mr_Tantrum:

When you refer to "Mylar", are you using the term in a generic sense to refer to some self-adhesive clear sheet, or are you referring to a particular product? Either way, what exactly do you recommend: material, thickness, finish (gloss or matte), etc., and where are the best places to acquire it?
I was looking for "Mylar" this weekend and struck out at two different large chain hobby/craft stores and the leading office supply store.

Look for mylar here:

1 month later
#3585 1 year ago

KBS Diamond Finish -- others have used it, use the search to find posts about it.
You can get SprayMax 2K from Maple Airbrush in Edmonton.

2 months later
#3813 1 year ago
Quoted from dkeruza:

For my experience, if you don't clamp them when you apply glue, they usually raise again. I also use Epoxy, not super glue as suggested by Vid1900.
Talking about inserts, I am fixing the Spirit Ring insert in my ToM with a waterslide decal. The problem I have is that the decal printed on clear in RED color is too transparent.
Is there any way to print more opaque with a laser printer? or is there any other way to do those letters?
I was thinking on using this EZScreenprint kit.
» YouTube video

If you have an SVG of this text I can cut a paint mask for you on the Silhouette Cameo and you can airbrush it. Let me know.

On my Canon laser printer you have to dink in the print properties to bump up the toner density, no nice physical knob to do it. But yeah it is not as saturated as one would like.

#3815 1 year ago
Quoted from dkeruza:

I didn't know about this really nice machine. I think I am going to buy one myself.
If I don't, I'll let you know.

Christmas is coming, you can buy it for the wife or girlfriend

#3823 1 year ago
Quoted from PinballAir:

I am going to get that.
Results are beautiful.
"honey, i know what I want for christmas !!"

Done with GerberMask Ultra and transparent transfer tape. Great job for your first restore Fred, inspiring!

1 month later
#3924 1 year ago

Don't forget to check locally for a 4600 or 4670 ScanJet, I got lucky and snagged one for $35 CDN the very day I checked my local classifieds. The Doxie Flip is pretty nice and very convenient (no wires).

1 month later
#4089 1 year ago
Quoted from Walamab:

Here's a question for you guys with considerably more experience with restoration than me.
Is it possible to create a playfield insert using some sort of liquid plastic and a mold made from another insert?
I'm hitting brick walls trying to find teal hotdog inserts for my STTNG.
Thanks in advance for your opinions.

Have a look at this thread:

He has successfully made inserts for people.

2 months later
#4383 1 year ago
Quoted from No_Skill:

Just be aware that the Wicked colors (at least the red I used) seem to be much more transparent than the standard opaque colors. In order to get good coverage, I had to put the mixture I made using Wicked red on much thicker than my other standard colors.
I think next time I'll lay a base of white down first to provide a more even starting point.

Createx has a sealer line for their AutoAir semi-opaques that they recommend you put down first. As far as I can tell, Wicked & AutoAir are the same paint.

3 months later
#4753 10 months ago
Quoted from jwilson:

I'm airbrushing a playfield using vinyl stencils and Createx, but I'm finding it difficult to get perfectly sharp lines with them - it's mostly fine but not "screenprinting" perfect - so now that I'm on the black layer, I'm considering options for the lettering.
Either use a very thin vinyl I can cut on my cutter, or decals. The issue is, I'll be using a roll-on clearcoat (KBS Diamond Clear) because I can't spray in my space. So I haven't been clearing between colours or anything. So, since it's an uneven surface, will decals even work?
Since it's a roll-on, I'm not sure how thin a layer I could get, so I'm concerned about it being visibly on a different layer. I could maybe use Rustoleum clear in a can to get a thin lock-in layer but then I'm concerned about incompatibility with my final clear. The issue with vinyl letters is the thickness of the vinyl - not sure how thin I can get. I know I can cut it very small, though.
So, thoughts?

Why are your lines not crisp? Are you getting leakage under the stencil mask? It should be superior to silk screening. If you want to try Gerbermask send me a PM and I can send you some.

You could also contact Drano and ask about transferable silk screened text. He got these done for white text, not cheap though. My understanding is that silk screening is done on a transfer paper and they are rubbed on. Expensive since it needs a screen burned etc. Google dry transfer for info. I also found decalprofx which looks like an interesting system.

Here is a Canadian place that does it:

1 month later
#4938 9 months ago
Quoted from TaterTot:

Another quick question... What is everyone doing about a Playfield scanner? The HP 4600 are over $100 on eBay (and that is for the ones missing the cords). Is there another decent alternative yet? (Other than Cruze)

The only alternative I am aware of is the Doxie Flip. It runs on batteries, very convenient but it does have a small scan bed which makes stitching large scans a pain. It is not as high resolution as the HP and is not cheaper either. But it is nice to just slap it down without that gaggle of wires to worry about. I have both, got lucky and found a cheap HP locally.

1 month later
#5270 7 months ago
Quoted from pinzrfun:

Spraymax high gloss, 2 pack 33.00 and free shipping on amazon. Got mine yesterday, it's the real deal. CTI Industrial is the seller if you don't want to go thru Amazon, still free shipping according to the advertisement came with the spray. link »

I've read quite a bit about using half mask respirator with 2PAC. The conclusion I read about why it is not recommended is because the mask can stop being effective at levels you cannot detect. So the lesson for those of us who cannot buy a supplied air respirator is use a NEW respirator only and pitch it when done:

I had success with SprayMax2K. I sprayed quite close (4-5") as per the directions on the SprayMax website (which seems to contradict the can), you can lay down a whole can in one session.

I used the Porter-Cable DA buffer and got good results, surprised at how much buffing I had to do though to get 3000 grit wet sanding scratches out.

#5272 7 months ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

For 3000 grit? Then you weren't using nearly an aggressive enough cut. You should start with a compound on a rotary... and then work your way up to a polish on a DA
3000 is very high... should have been able to remove those marks quickly. Start with a lesser cut and if you don't knock it down, move to the next level of cut... repeat until you remove the scratches and then start jumping up the scale to less aggressive.

I was using Meguiars M105 -- seems pretty aggressive? Maybe I let the clear cure for too long before I compounded it.

#5276 7 months ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

My guess then would the speed and applicator. That's the highest cut compound so that's more than enough.
I was using 1500 and 2000 grit paper... and the PF looked like glass after the very first pass of m04 which is less aggressive than m105.
Compounds use high speed rotary and a foam pad (or wool if you are a pro). Polishes can use a Dual action...
I just use a drill mounted pad for the rotary... and my da for polishing. In my case I went 1500, 2000, then m04 compound, then m02 compound as a fine cut... then the polish. But honestly the finish looked great even after the first compound.
On a old tz diamond coat field... everyone asked me if it was a clearcoated repo the finish looked so nice.

OK good to know. I bought the Porter Cable DA + orange foam pad since I read you were much less likely to mess things up with a DA system.
I too didn't bother with polish and stopped at the compound step. I had it on "5" speed and I had to do about 20-30 seconds over an area to get the scratches out.

1 month later
#5427 6 months ago
Quoted from xsvtoys:

You probably will have to go to Gimp if you want the features of Photoshop for free. I also use Photoshop so I haven't tried Gimp, but from what I understand it has all of the powerful features you will need. The interface may take some work to figure out though. Then again, Photoshop can be a bit of work as well when you are starting out with it. I get Photoshop paid for from work. If that day ends, I'll probably head for Gimp. I like free stuff.

You can also try something like if you are on Windows. I have a hard time using GIMP. Inkscape, on the other hand, is good for vector work.

2 weeks later
#5451 5 months ago
Quoted from sohchx:

What based paint would I ask for that is safe to have 2k laid down over it and that can be airbrushed? I'm so used to using Createx on everything that I have no experience airbrushing any othrr types of paint on fields.

Look at Createx Auto Air. The line has a dark green.

4 weeks later
#5565 4 months ago

I have a Doxie, the fact that it is battery powered is very convenient.

If you are systematic abount scanning and overlap you can stitch large areas but not as convenient as the 4670 which I also have. But for convenience it can't be beat.

I am able to scan with the 4670 on Windows 10.

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