If you click this you'll see a special thing I've made

I have started restoring the playfield on a Gottlieb Class of 1812. Everything else is done. Plays great. This is my first attempt at something like this although I have had hobby experience in porcelain restoration, owned a furniture factory and have done lots of other things that should help a bit. I intend to add to the notes on this project as I learn a few thing the hard way.
I notice all nearly all info on playfield restoration is USA based, using products unknown to us  Downunder. My intention is to use products available here and list their performance.
There is no real order to my ravings. Some a mentioned as they occur to me. Other are my ideas. They may work or not. Most will be based on my experiences. They will be posted as inspiration strikes me.
I will repeat myself occasionally but I don't want to edit much.
More to come ...............

I hope it will be interest and assistance to those that my consider working on a playfield

    What I have to start with......


1. Turpenine is pretty good on play fields for cleaning. I see on the net that use a thing called Naptha. I reckon that’s Turps because on the the tin it says it’s used for thinning enamel paints. Always test first. Removes wax and lots of other shit.. Wash after with detergent to remove any oil residue. Don’t use Metylated Spirits (Ethanol). Can strip some paints and stickers. I learnt that the hard way.

2. Tried an experiment last night. The busted playfield from a 1991 Gottlieb pinnie was treated with the following and the results were…In order of my perceived solvent power…
Water……..no effect
Ethanol (metho)…….no effect
Turpentine …..no effect
Lacquer thinners…..no effect
Ethyle Acetate (Nail Polish remover) …..no effect
Chloroform (usually does the trick)…..no effect
MEK Methyl Ethyl Ketone (Very strong plastic and paint solvent Melts everything. The mother of all solvents. Nasty stuff. Treat with care)…..no effect. I reckon a long soak might do something but the vapour would kill you.
MEK peroxide….(father of ALL solvents)….. didn’t have any.
Conclusion….It has to be Polyurethane. I was using 2 pack polyurethane commercially in the late 70’s so I reckon most playfields from the 70’s are sealed with it.

3. Liquid latex (Art Supplies) makes a good mask for spraying. Sand before doing anything. If the latex beads or balls up then the paint won’t stick either. Sand again.

4. Leave Black outlines to last, to hide overspray and other sins. ‘Posca’ Liquid paint pens(Art Supplies) are great for this. Make sure paint underneath is thoroughly dry before use.

5. Selleys ‘Polyglaze’ cut and polish for cars does an adequate job for polishing Mylar, play fields and plastics. I like to use turps on the playfield afterwards to remove any of the wax in the polish. Carnauba wax after. Very hard.

6. If you are using brushes for touch up, use the longest hair brush you can find. The longer the hair the less your shakes are going to show up. You get a MUCH smoother long line. It’s a sign writers trick. The bristle has to be very soft as well. No stiffness when wet. Not easy to find but well worth it. Mine’s 30mm long and only ½ a match thickness.

7. Colour matching is a bitch. Colour matching is a bitch. Colour matching is a bitch. No tricks except stare at the colour and think about what you want to achieve. Very Zen. Acrylics are lighter when wet. You have to compensate. Colour matching is a bitch.

8. If you make a mistake, don’t try to fix up the mistake. Remove the mistake and start again. It’s usually quicker and always better. Colour matching is a bitch.

9. I use Chromacryl  artist acrylic paint in tubes and a gloss acrylic varnish as a thinner for the paint. Mainly I use an air brush. Sand surface before use otherwise the paint will not stick.

MY AIR BRUSH STUFF AND A hidden large compressor with MUST HAVE water trap

10. I found after a lot of trials, the best way to approach the restoration is to clean sand and remove all the crap you can. You must sand. I used 400 grit wet and dry. No water.( I USE A AIR BRUSH AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE). Then spray the area you’re working on with a clear water base. That stabilizes the next phase. Everything including lines and dents become smoother. Lifting paint stops lifting and you have a much more uniform surface to work with.  Let it dry then sand it lightly. You can also ad a bit of extra clear to fill some of the imperfections.

11. A further thought on colour matching.  I worked out the reason water base acrylic goes darker when it dries. If  you look at clear acrylic it’s milky and dries clear. Obvious really. So if your matching colours, the trick is to match the colour you need whilst wet, THEN add a little, again, a LITTLE white. Problem solvered. Colour matching is still bitch but a smaller bitch.

12. I found old film canisters ideal for mixing and storing paint. Just watch you don’t let dried paint crud fall into the paint, ESPECIALLY if you are using an air brush. Always mix more than you need because you invariably need more than you think.

All the colours I'll need plus black and white

13. If you are sanding and the paper doesn’t produce dust and is a little difficult, THE PAINT IS NOT DRY. There is not a lot you can do but wait and maybe introduce a 100 watt spotlight which I’ve done. Wait till summer, maybe.

14. To thin the artist acrylic I use, I use an artist clear gloss acrylic varnish ( It watery compared to others). This thins the paint enough for the air brush. Works a treat and sticks like shit to a blanket. Don’t make the mistake of using to much. You would be surprised how thick a paint an air brush can handle. If you use to much thinner you loose colour strength and have to apply a thicker layer. This can cause ridges in your work after you remove your masking agent.

15. Like I said I use liquid artist latex for masking those none regular lines but I use the gentlest painters masking tape on as much as I can . I use washers and coins to help cut out circles in the tape. You can always reuse this sort of tape a few times.

16. I though this project would take a month. I reckon it’s 2, now. If you are a pinnie addict have 2 machines. One to play and one to work on. I miss my pinnie.

17. I reckon there are 2 ways to restore a playfield. You can try for 100% but I don’t think that’s possible except maybe with a huge effort. The second is to get it back to 90%-95%. This is possible without the huge amount on time necessary for that extra 5%. Of course this all depends on the original condition of the playfield. The one I’m doing needs a fair bit of TLC.

18. Made a stuff up with an acrylic paint job? I found Metho does a good job of stripping it off.

19. Black is a shit to sand. It gets into the other colour and is difficult to get rid of. My intention, now, is to finish all the colour work, sand it smooth, then clear coat with a thin layer of water based acrylic. Then use black paint pens to do the black. outlines etc. That way if you need to wash away your black, it does not effect the colour. Then another water base acrylic coat. Then wait till its REALLY dry. A good sand with 800 grit. Then a final clear coat of thinners based acrylic, car duco stuff, for that hard polished finish. Then polish with a cut and polish car compound (polyglaze) The reason  for the water based clear coat on the black is so the solvents in the final duco coat won’t  start effecting the black. AND it will because I’ve experimented. Piece of cake. Yeah…sure.

20. Did some experiment on  coating with solvent base acrylic. Bad news. First it does not effect Posca paint pens much. OK. It does effect other paint pen inks. Worst of all it effects my water base clear and coloured acrylic. So my idea of clear coating water base acrylic with solvent base (much harder) is not looking so good. I will try a fine piss coat of solvent base and see if it dries before affecting the water base paint. Most probably be OK if I start with a very very light coat.

21. I’m getting close to finishing of my first section of the play field. I haven’t been able to get rid of some of the dark ball tracks and swirls without serious sandin. BUT I found that if you just give the a “blush” of colour from the air brush, it does not completely hide these marks but does brighten the colour and bring back the “eye candy”. I believe the industry call these a “piss coat”. Because you only use a fine mist, colour matching doesn’t enter the equation as long as the colour is close.

I though I was ready for a clear coat and BLACK OUTLINE. I was wrong.

22. Bit worried with the final clear top coat as I’ve just been told I may experience some darkening of my colours. Keeping my fingers crossed. Will keep you informed.

23. As I have said before I use Chromacryl student acrylic paints in tubes. They come in a set of 10 if you want to save money. Cold Blue, yellow and red, Warm Blue, yellow and red, Black and white, brown and yellow ochre. The last 2 are pretty useless but the others allow you to create any colour of the rainbow. I think I paid $26 from Premier Art Supply SA for the set. Available separately. There are many others but a lot dearer. Apparently the colour a reasonably fast as long as you don’t expose the to sunlight for to long. Plenty of pigment in them so the colours are strong. I don’t skimp when I make up the colours. I reckon I’ll use up most of them by the time I finish. If I can’t get a colour right I start again so there is a lot of wastage.

24. You need to thin these colours. I you an artist clear acrylic gloss varnish. I reckon it makes the colours stick better.

25. Another problem.. Previously I said to be careful and not thin the paint to much. Well my red was to thin and to achieve the depth of colour I put it on to thick. Looking at it I could see that no matter what I did I would have a ridge on the finished surface. No point in trying to fix it. Summoning up the courage I managed to lift a corner and actually pulled it of the wooden surface. Looked like a dried red balloon skin. A few slivers of wood where stuck to it and needed a bit of pulling to get it off. Next time I paint bare wood I think I’ll wet the wood so it can swell a bit and then the acrylic should soak in and grab much better. Still, I’m pretty impressed how tough the acrylic was.

26. When I pulled the paint layer of it also lifted the clear undercoat  acrylic with it. That mean that acrylic to acrylic paint bonds very well. Sand in between of course.

27. Don’t worry about wasting paint. Relative to the money and time spent on your machine, a small amount of wasted paint is nothing. If the colour isn’t working chuck it out and start again.

28. A word on Posca paint pen. Available in a large range of colours and tip sizes except for really fine. It’s a shame because the paint is very good and is nit affected by many thinners. Black is strong and great for outlines. I get mine from Premier Art Supplies (in Adelaide) like a lot of other supplies. $5 to $12 each. Don’t expect the colours to be that useful as they seem to have a lot of white pigment in them but they do cover well. Get a couple of different size blacks and a fine whit at least.

29. Tested solvent base acrylic clear coat on assorted paints pens, textas  and water base acrylic paint. Pleased to find that the solvent base acrylic clear coat did not seem to have any effect on any of the paints used. I still would always test first but it looks like I shouldn’t have any concerns.

30. Selleys Polyglaze seems to polish acrylic paint just fine.
31. Getting somewhere finally. Green, yellow, 2 blues and green done previously

Masked  and sprayed red for second time.........................................................................................Much better

Finishing the red by masking with tape and liquid rubber......................................................................................................................Airbrushed red

Mask removed.................................................................................................................................................................................Masked purple and sprayed..

30. Selleys Polyglaze seems to polish acrylic paint just fine.

31. The stages for restoring a play field
• Clean surface of wax, dust , grit etc with appropriate solvents. Test first
• Pick off any loose paint. Use masking tape to help lift loose paint and shit
• A good sand with about 300 grit wet and dry sand paper
• Clear coat with acrylic water base paint.
• Wait till paint is fully dry.
• Another good sand
• Mask and air brush or hand brush colours by whatever means you see fit.
• Fine sand. Say 800 grit
• Another thin water base clear coat
• Use black pens or whatever to do black outlines and hide overlaps. Letraset lines are great for this.
• Do not sand but clear coat with water base acrylic.
• Fine sand with 800 grit.
• Clear coat with Solvent base clear acrylic. Car duco. Maybe 2 coats, sand between
• Let dry for a week.
• Fine sand with 1200 and 2000 grit. Polish with Polyglaze or Novus etc.
• Done.

32.  I have collected a large amount of concentric ( assorted sizes )coins of the world. They are excellent guides for using to draw circles and curves. Washers don’t give you enough range. A bit of ‘blue tack’ keeps them of the surface and in place.

33.  Letraset lines are fantastic for giving very straight professional black lines. I have some, but difficult to find. Well worth a hunt. The old fashion Letraset letters stick very well for professional looking print but not much is available any more and the range is getting small. Pity.

34. When I am clear coating I always spray the low areas or dents and dings or areas where colours meet, first. Let dry for a bit then clear coat. You will fill and smooth the playfield a lot more by doing this.

35. When sanding flat, I have found an old match box makes a pretty good sanding block.


  Letraset letters and lines were used for some of the black.

36. I use rolled up paper to make tubes to mask all the bulb and other holes in the playfield.

37. Colour matching is still a bitch