Thursday, December 24, 2015

Job 11: Repopulate the Playfield

Before clearcoating I had removed everything from the top of the playfield and taped it securely to the back. Now it's time to put everything back. This is meticulous and time-consuming work.  First, the standup targets and rollover switches went back into place, along with the flippers.

It was easier to put the flipper rubber on while they were detached.

Here's what the back of the playfield looks like now:

The pop bumpers are a tricky assembly. But first, I noticed that the right bumper's switch was broken. I had to replace it and re-solder the wires.

After that was done, I re-assembled the pops and soldered the light sockets into place.

Looking good!  Then, I went ahead and added the top arch and lower apron. Here's where we stand now:

Next, I added the light reflectors behind each of the standup targets as well as the wire ball guides and light bulbs.

Before going any further, I thought it would be a good idea to stand the machine up on its feet and attach the head...

... and see if it lights up.

Success! Well, mostly. That tens reel will need to be looked at and there are about six bulbs that aren't lighting.  And one that mysteriously is but shouldn't be.

Rubber rings went on next, along with some of the plastics. I discovered that I had mis-ordered rings and got the wrong sizes for some of the areas. That will set me back a few days, but I can use that time to troubleshoot.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Job 10: Finishing the Playfield

It's now 5 weeks later and the clearcoat should be fully cured.  The next step is to finish the playfield. As I mentioned in the previous post, the last layer of clearcoat went on  with a rough, bumpy texture for some reason, so I started with a 320 grit sandpaper and sanding block to take out the bumps.  I was careful not to go too deep, though. The result was a much better, if hazy surface.

Next, I went over the playfield again with increasingly finer papers: 600, 1000, 1200, 1500, and 2000. For the last three I lightly sprayed the playfield  with water and sanded wet, which made the process faster and less messy.

Then, I got out the rotating buffer and gave the playfield three more passes with liquid polishes.  The result is a near-mirror finish!

Before I went any further, I needed to apply protective mylar to the playfield. I got pre-made circles for under the pop bumpers but also made custom shapes for key areas: between the pops and the row of six targets and between those six targets and the top rollovers. These were the mot-damaged areas on the playfield when I first started.

First, I cut out a shape in plain paper.

Once it looked right, I traced it onto the back of the mylar.

Then I secured it into place with tape and used the "hinge" method to adhere once side at a time to the playfield.

The top of the playfield is now protected in key areas.

Finally, it was time to give everything a coat of wax...

... and buff it to a high shine.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Job 9: Clearcoating

At last, we come to the most stressful part of the restoration.  Clearcoating is expensive, toxic and time-consuming and can go wrong at every turn, which it did. I gathered my supplies, cleaned everything to the best of my ability and got started. First, I propped up the playfield and leveled it using an app on my iPad.

Then I suited up and sprayed the first, very light coat. A few hours later, once it was dry, I went back and touched up some of the black areas - the acidic clearcoat compound easily eats through the decals, so you have to barely mist it at first. 

The second coat went on a bit thicker, but my gun was clogged and I had to get a new one.

The third coat went on thick, but something else went wrong and the finish was marred by a few dozen pockmarks, caused by moisture or dust or something in either the compound or the air line.  I immediately filled the divots with an eyedropper and they turned out okay.

Finally, I had enough stuff left for a light topcoat and this one yielded thousands of pockmarks - an evenly pebbled surface. I hereby concede that I am terrible at clearcoating and will avoid it in the future at all costs.  I can sand the pebbling down when I reach the polishing phase, so it's not a big deal.

For now, though, the results are too embarrassing to post in photos and the clearcoat requires several weeks to cure before I can sand or polish.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Job 8: Decals

The painting is done, but there are some parts of the playfield art that take a different approach. Namely, the black circles around the inserts and the six scoring labels that I repainted.  That's where we use waterslide decals - the same kind that come with model car and airplane kits.

First, I created a graphic with the text and shapes that I need and printed it on special decal paper in four colors (even though it's all black) on a laser jet printer.  Then, I cut out the shapes, soaked them one at a time in water, placed them on the playfield and slid the backing paper out gently.  Here's the work in progress:

The L and P have decals and the A and I do not.  Two down, 22 to go.  Here's that same part of the playfield an hour later:

Just for comparison, here's the whole playfield before decals...

... and after:

A vast improvement, I'd say.