I would like to share my experience preparing the play field and then applying the hardtop. I have not repopulated the play field on top or bottom yet, but look forward to doing so soon. Also, if any savvy Pinsider can inform me of how to shrink the images in my topic, I would appreciate the information. I could not find a FAQ on the subject. Hopefully the image size will not impede reading this topic : )
Big thanks to the Pinside forum community, particularly vid1900 for the wonderful guide to pinball restoration that I studied before attempting to prep my play field: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/vids-guide-to-ultimate-playfield-restoration
My first step was to, of course, completely strip the play field top and bottom.
As you can see, the planking of paint and lifting of some protective Mylar meant that this play field was in need of restoration and protection. The hardtop solution seemed the best to me, and thanks to the great Adam Curry I was put in touch with Outside Edge for this project.
After stripping the play field of all toys and electronics, it was time to remove any Mylar.
Once the Mylar was gone, it was time to sand the artwork away. Instead of leaving any bits that could have impeded adhesion of the hardtop, I simply sanded everything. I ensured that my sawhorses kept the table level as I do not yet have a rotisserie.
I used 100 grit, 200, and 400 on the play field wood. For the inserts, I went all the way to 3000 grit before clear coating them. I used 2 Part Auto Clear for this project.
All of my inserts were in fair, level condition, except for the Cycle Jump inserts. Those had cupped considerably over the decades. Now, it is true that hardtops deal with cupped inserts with no problem. However, I felt the need to level these inserts out with clear coat before applying the hardtop. My results were fair, although I can still detect a small dip beneath the hardtop when pressing in that area. I do not believe this will be a major impediment to good game play, but time will tell.
Comet has a fairly simple layout, and thus I only needed to remove one star rollover before applying the hardtop. It was a simple process of using a hair dryer, rubber mallet, and a nut driver covered with a piece of cloth. I look forward to installing the new star rollover I purchased from Pinball Life.
The kickout saucers were not in great shape. I was not aware of any place I could buy new ones, so I elected to do my best to repair and preserve what I had. I cleaned up the saucers and used JB Plastic Weld to help repair and protect the plastics. I then elected to clear coat the saucers. I did not know of any reason not to, and now they shine nicely.
Furthermore, there was considerable wear on the wood going to the right saucer. I used wood epoxy and my best efforts to approximate the shape of the wood edge. I then sanded and clear coated that area. I do hope that my work will stand up over time.
Throughout this process I used Naptha to clean the exposed wood and preview what clear coating would look like in certain areas not covered by the hardtop. I made sure to clearcoat those areas of wood that would be exposed, although upon final inspection of installation I found a few small areas that could have used clear. Ah well!
The pop bumper removal also left the screw holes in rough shape. I used the wood epoxy to fill those areas in so that the pop bumper re-installation would go smoothly and stay secure.
The shooter lane received rehabilitation. I do not mind the grit that leaves the dark coloration. I actually enjoy that look, so I sanded the shooter lane up to 1000 grit before cleaning with Naptha, and tack cloth, and then clear coating. I sanded the shooter lane again with 1000 grit before clearing a second time. This process was repeated a third and final time to help maximize the protection of the shooter lane for the future.
Once I completed my play field preparation, I laid the hardtop down without removing the protective layer that covered the adhesive. At first, the fit had issues around the Corkscrew ramp inserts, but Outside Edge helped me out greatly and we were able to adjust the hardtop and the fit became outstanding. It is important to note that hardtops will not always fit perfectly as each play field has gone through different environments, as well as the tendency for variance in the consistency of original manufacturing. Some filing/sanding will be needed for the hardtop to accommodate all electronics and toys. Outside Edge provides helpful instructions and notifications for installation with every hardtop.
Installation was a breeze. I aligned the hardtop on the play field after a final Naphtha cleaning and tack cloth wipe down of the play field. I also made sure to clean out the insert areas, which are clear, on the hardtop itself. I wanted to minimize any chances for getting dust or other debris permanently stuck below the hardtop. I succeeded in this task except for the adhesive that holds down the hardtop around the shooter lane. It is not very noticeable, but there is some dust stuck to the adhesive in that area. So, please be more careful than I was when applying your hardtop!
The alignment of the hardtop was kept firm by using painter's tape across the width of the play field. Apologies for not taking a picture of this, but I'm sure you can imagine the details well enough.
I very carefully removed the backing of the adhesive and then VERY carefully pressed the hardtop adhesive down to the bare wood of the play field. All the while I kept close attention to the alignment of my inserts, sling shot holes, and pop bumper holes. It is best to do the application process with one other person to assist. That assistant can hold the hardtop up while the adhesive backing is removed. My wife assisted me, and the extra pair of hands helped minimize the chances of a slip that would have resulted in a bad alignment of the hardtop.
Below you can see the final results of the hardtop installation! Again, BIG thanks to Outside Edge. Thanks again to Adam Curry and vid1900. My next project will be putting this Comet back together and then play testing this absolutely dazzling hardtop product.