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Table of Contents
1a. Getting Started: Necessary Tools and Parts
You can get Novus at many places (my local grocery store sells it), or from any good pinball vendor. I don't recommend MillWax, but others like it (mostly because they have been around for a long time and are used to them). Don't buy any Wildcat products as they react with plastic. A good paste wax like Trewax or Meguires Carnauba Wax you can get at Kmart or the local hardware store. For the lubricant, I like the Radio Shack Teflon grease. It has Teflon in it, dirt tries to slide right off and does not stick to the grease. It works great.
Typical Restoration Parts Used:
You can get all this stuff from one of the sources on the suggested parts & repair sources web page.
1b. Getting Started: Making a Buffer
Your buffer could be as simple as a drill with a small chuck mounted wheel (see picture below, one is laying on the table). This works, but is not optimal. I got a drill mounted wheel at the local production tool supply house for about $5. It's 2" wide and 1" thick.
Another alternative is to use a bench grinder with 6" wheels. Remove one of the grinding wheels and replace it with two or three 6" by 1/2" sewed buffing wheels. Since bench grinders operate at such high speed, you'll also need a foot operated power switch. Again, you can get this at a local production tool supply house. This foot power switch will allow you to turn the power off and on easily and in spurts to limit RPM's.
I made a "real" buffer from a table and motor I got at a garage sale (see picture). The rest of the parts I purchases at a good hardware store. This included the metal rod (which I threaded on the ends with a 3/8"-16 die, available at a hardware store), the bushing blocks, the rod collars, the pully and belt, a couple washers and nuts. It works quite well.
The key to power buffing is the white rouge. It is fine enough to give a great shine, but will cut pretty well too. I got this product in stick form at the local production tool supply house.
well). These are 8" diameter and 1/2" wide (shown mounted and unmounted).
Also available in 6" and 10" versions. Can use 6" version on a bench
grinder, but must use a foot power switch to manually limit RPM. Can also
use a drill mounted 2" diameter by 1" wide buffer wheel (shown). Use white rouge buffing compound in stick form (shown).
1c. Getting Started: Vibration Parts Polisher & Rock Tumblers
How It All Started (Short Tumbling History).
I knew there had to be a better way to polish small parts than using a buffing wheel. The wheel method is good for large parts, but just sucked for small parts. Not being rejected by Tim's rock tumbler comments, I visited the local hobby shop and checked them out. Sure enough, they sold rock tumblers and the compound used to polish rocks. And as Tim had stated, this was a "wet" process using water and compound to polish the rocks. I told the salemen what I was trying to do, and that I needed a "dry" method of tumbling. He suggested I go to the local gun shop and talk to them.
Detroit is filled with gun shops, so a quick drive later I was talking to a gun salesmen. Sure enough, gun "loaders" polish the brass shells before reloading them with gun powder. They indeed do this "dry" using a vibration tumbler. The compound of choice was either crushed walnut shells (for really dirty shells), or treated corn cobb media for a high shine. I purchased both products there at the gun shop, and then returned to the hobby shop and bought a rock tumbler (the gun shop did not sell tumblers).
Some quick experiments at home found "tumbling" the ideal way to polish small and irregularly shaped pinball parts! Any strange shaped object that isn't flat can best be polished with a rock tumbler. This worked GREAT for those Gottlieb nickel plated metal playfield posts used from 1964 to 1967. I also threw all my playfield screws and acorn nuts into the tumbler to polish them too. I was absolutely thrilled with the results.
I spread the word of my discovery, and largely got rejected. Tim Arnold refused to believe it worked (he is stuborn). Steve Young also seemed less than impressed. Fortunately some of my other friends liked the idea, but didn't like the $100+ price for a good quality rock tumbler. So one of my friends did a web search, and found gun supply shops selling vibration tumblers for around $50. This was much more palettible to the cheap pinheads (but even at $50 it took them a while to actually buy one).
I stuck with my rock tumbler (the money was already spent!) for awhile, and then finally broke down and bought *two* Berry vibration tumblers. I loaned one to Tim Arnold, along with some crushed walnut shells. That was in 2000. Tim refuses to return my tumbler, as he loves polishing leg bolts in it. I guess I changed his mind.
Word spread fast of the $50 vibration tumbler and my experience with polishing parts. This even evolved into a business for some people. I know of one guy that buys the Berry vibration tumblers, puts his own label on it, and then resells it (along with tumbling media). Go figure. But I would like to think I was the one that got the ball rolling on this "cottage industry", even though I never profited from it.
quart sized tumbler jars.
Rotation tumblers are available from any decent hobby shop. Buy a good one (around $100), not the cheap "kiddie" tumbler (about $30). The best/cheapest one I found was $90, and had a single quart sized rubber tumbler jar. For another $10, I was able to get this double tumbler with two quart sized rubber jars. For the extra $10, this was definately worth it. They also make a tumbler with a much bigger single jar, for tumbling larger objects.
It's huge with a 12.5 quart basin!
There are also vibration style parts rock tumblers. Otherwise known as a "vibration parts polisher", these work great for polishing parts too, and are cheaper. For example, check out Berry's Manufacturing which sells tumblers at www.berrysmfg.com, in the Accessories-Cleaning part of their web site. Their model 400 tumbler has a 4 quart bowl (part #965-555) and at $53 seems to be a good deal. They also sell walnut shell media (required for any tumbler), part #775-221, eight pounds for $15.99. Another company that sells tumblers is dillonprecision.com. Their CV-500 model basically the same as the Berry model 400, but more expensive. Dillion Precision also sells a CV-2001 for about $160 which is HUGE, holding 12.5 quarts of walnut shells (compared to the Berry 400 with a 4 quart bowl), and has a much bigger commercial style motor. The CV-2001 is definately the top-end of the vibrating polishers. Both the Berry 400 and the Dillion Precision CV-500 models have a large capacity bowl, big enough to polish an entire ball plunger assembly. The Dillion CV-2001 will polish multiple shooter rods at one time and just about any odd sized or large pinball part you have!
Which is Better, Rotating or Vibrating?
Metal Tumbling (Polishing) Media.
Often walnut shell media does not have any polish added to it (unlike corn cob media). To polish better, just put a squirt of Novus3 in the walnut shells. This works really well. Just squirt some in the bowl before turning it on. There are also commercial products that do the same thing like "Flitz". Personally I just use Novus3 as I already have the Novus.
How long do you Tumble?
The only downside to Tumbling.
2a. The Cabinet: Replacing the Bottom Panel
Left: With the back panel removed, use a radial hand saw
to cut the bottom panel right down the middle. BE CAREFUL! Do not
cut too deep or you will cut the lower cross struts in the
cabinet. Notice how the bottom panel has delaminated, and the water
damage at the back panel.
Putting glue in the front and side chanels, and siding the new
Using weights and clamps to set the new
2b. The Cabinet: Checking a Re-Painted Cabinet for Original Paint
Note Goof Off is also available in a 'generic' form called Xylene. This is available at any hardware, and is much less expensive than Goof Off. But Xylene does not work as well as Goof Off. There are some additional ingredients in Goof Off (Methanol and Ethanol) that make Goof Off much more affective at removing old paint than straight Xylene.
in a sick green Latex paint. I got it all off
except for the front panel around the coin door,
which was painted with an Enamel. To repaint the
front area, Kyrlon Antique White was used to match
the original yellowed cabinet paint on the sides.
The wire brush hanging from the ball loader was
used to apply the splatter paint. Flipper Parade
has no stencil designs on the front, luckily.
If the cabinet was not repainted with Latex paint, the Goof Off won't have any effect on Enamel or Lacquer paints. Sometimes using a heat gun and a paint scraper can get these finishes off the cabinet. But often the paint is just stuck too well to the cabinet, and won't come off without destroying the original finish beneath it, if it's even there.
I've also had some luck using "whimpy" paint strippers. The more organic and water-safe paint stripper will sometimes take off a top coat of consumer applied paint, and leave the original factory finish largely untouched underneath. It doesn't always works, but often it does enough where you can at least see the original paint designs, and make tracings of them for a re-paint.
2c. The Cabinet: Repainting a Cabinet.
Repainting a cabinet is an ugly, big job. But if someone already stripped all the original paint off the cabinet, there isn't much choice. If there is any way to save the original finish, I always try. To me, a scratched, original cabinet is better than a mint, perfectly refinished one. Because original is original - once originality is gone, the time capsule of history is gone and there's no going back (a repainted cabinet can always be repainted again).
A common thing to see is a partial repaint. Often, the front of the cabinet where the coin door is mounted is the only part repainted. This is good and bad news; many Gottlieb games don't have any stencil designs here, so repainting this area alone is pretty easy.
What is the "Webbing" or "Splatter" on Cabinets all about?
Using less stencils and less colors saved money. The stencils were less complicated to make, and used less colors (saved paint and time). But this meant the cabinet's base color was much more pronouned.
Because of this, a "webbing" or "splatter" design was added to the cabinet right after the base color (white) was painted. The webbing broke up the large white areas, making defects in the paint and wood less noticible. The job of the webbing/splatter was to basically introduce artifical defects to the paint, thus making the "natural" defects far less pronouced! Also large areas of unstenciled white just looked better.
Did my Early 1960s Gottlieb Cabinet use Black Webbing or Silver Splatter?
black webbing paint, and the blue and orange stencil paint
is OVER the black webbing.
Doing a partial repaint on the coin door area of a Gottlieb wedgehead.
After the first coat of Krylon Antique White has been sprayed. The
Creating a Krylon color swatch. This is very helpful when trying
The cabinet after three coats of Krylon Antique White.
Adding the silver splatter after the Antique White has dried.
My new paint surrounding a taped off original paint
Black webbing paint from a can. I stood three feet from this
The Kemper splatter brush.
Gottlieb originally did splatter with a compressor and gun. If you have the equipment, this works too. Same black lacquer paint is used (again I like the Pratt-Lambert black lacquer, but automotive black lacquer will work too, just it's more expensive).
Again you will have to experiment. But here's basically how it works: Set the compressor to around 40 to 60 PSI. Open the cup on the sprayer and pour in some unthinned black lacquer. Get the nozzle on sprayer fairly open. Practice spraying. That's about it. The unthinned paint should splatter fairly well.
The type of gun does matter, and the cheap production touch-up guns seem to work well for this. You want an "old school" style gun designed for higher pressure and lots of overspray. These small touchup style guns seems to work well, and are fairly inexpensive. Do not get a HVLP gun.
Most games use a stenciled color pattern somewhere on the cabinet. To do a good re-paint job, you must re-create these patterns. Some people think the webbing is done after the stencils. From the above picture of the 1965 Central Park you can clearly see the stencils go over the webbing, and the stencils are the last step.
After the webbing paint is dry, then do your stencils. Do NOT tape off the cabinet and paint the designs! That's not how cabinet designs were painted (remember the designs are called "stencils", and not "tape offs"). The idea is to recreate the original process and look of the cabinet, and taping off designs was not have the cabinet was originally painted.
If want to do a quick repaint, use posterboard for the actual stencils, one piece of poster board for each color. Or use .050" thick picture frame matte (available from picture framing shops) for stencils. You can usually get this matte large enough for the entire side of a cabinet. The thicker .050" matte means the stencil won't curl when painted. Originally original manufacturers used thin brass stencils. Using posterboard or framing matte is much less expensive, and easier to cut. The downside to using posterboard is it warps after a single use, making it much harder to use a second time. This happens because as the oversprayed paint dries on the posterboard, it changes the surface tension. Keep this in mind if multiple cabinets are to be sprayed, and use the thicker .050" thick matte to prevent it.
Before starting to cut the stencils, note the order of the colors. On many cabinets, it does matter which color stencil pattern is sprayed first. And this can affect how the second and third template should be drawn.
#7020 repositionable adhesive.
Spraying the Stencil Colors.
After the stencil is secured to the cabinet, LIGHTLY spray the designs with some sort of spray paint. Spray just enough paint to cover, and no more. A common problem is spraying too much paint, and the paint pools at the edge of the stencil. Then when you pull the stencil off, the edge line is distorted from the pooled paint. Also several light coats is better than one heavy coat.
When pulling the stencil off the cabinet, be careful not to smear the freshly sprayed paint. I personally like to remove the stencil when the stencil paint is still wet, otherwise the stencil can get stuck to the cabinet by the drying stencil paint.
front stencil patterns are straight, I used thin and straight
wood laminates as stencils (instead of cutting out stencils).
The laminates are put in place, and weighted with some blocks.
Then the paint is lightly sprayed, and the stencils immediately
(and carefully!) removed. After this stencil paint dries, the
next stencil area is painted.
The Cross Town cabinet with the new repainted front. Note the Krylon
2d. The Cabinet: Legs and Coin Door (rust removal)
Untreated raw rusted leg on left, treated shiny leg on right.
Most likely your game will have some rust on the legs, coin door, and coin entry panel. If not too extreme, you can get the rust off. If excessively rusted, you'll have to replace these parts. Luckily, they are available from Pinball Resource, but are a bit expensive.
For the legs first remove the old leg levelers and throw them away.
To remove the rust, I recommend Lightning Rust Remover. It's available from Real Products, Ney Ohio, 800-659-2459, at $25 per gallon. Shipping is an extra $5. This stuff works great. I use a combo sponge with green pad on the back of the sponge to apply the remover. Just keep the surface wet for about 5 minutes, and ocassionally scrub with the green pad side of the sponge. Or just scrub with a regular Scotchbrite green pad. Wash off with water and dry.
If the coin door or legs are excessively rusty and Lightning didn't get all the rust off, you can also sand off the rust 340 grit wet/dry sandpaper (using it "wet" with water). Then follow this by buffing the parts on a buffing wheel.
2e. The Cabinet: Put the Legs On (stripped threads)
A 3/8"-16 tap and die. Note the tap handle (above
Note you can also buy new leg plates too. In many cases, re-tapping the leg plates just will not work. They often need to be replaced. These are available from Pinball Resource for about $1 each.
If you do keep your original leg bolts, polish each bolt head on the buffer. Makes them look a lot better.
2f. The Cabinet: Clean the Outside
Using a cleaner called "Mean Green" and a
After the legs are on and the game is set up, clean the outside of the cabinet. WARNING: before using any cleaning product on the cabinet, try it in a small unnoticed area first (like the cabinet paint under where the legs bolt.
I personally like Mean Green for most cabinet cleaning chores (Mean Green is not the same as Simple Green by the way). Mean Green is available from most dollar stores, Meijers, and other grocery stores (my local grocery sells it). The stuff works great on old EM cabinets to new 1990s game cabinets.
On EM games, the cabinet is often yellowed (look at the cabinet paint under the legs and compare). My general approach is to spray the Mean Green onto the cabinet, wait ten seconds, and then wipe it off with a paper towel. Right after doing this, examine the paper towel. Make sure there's no cabinet paint on the towel! Usually the paper towel will have a sick brown sludge. This is good. I usually apply one or two more applications of Mean Green, until the paper towel no longer shows any yellowish/brown crude. At this point STOP. If Mean Green is over applied, cabinet paint could start to soften and come off on to the paper towel. Mean Green works great, but it can remove cabinet paint on some older games. This does not seem to be a problem with newer games.
2g. The Cabinet: Save the Backglass (Krylon Triple Thick)
The start of backglass delamination. Arrest this
The backglass and the clear used to save it.
Left: Krylon's Triple Thick Crystal Clear.
The first commercial product used to save delaminating backglasses was "Cover Your Glass" (CYG). Cover Your Glass was applied by actually pouring it on the backside of a backglass while it was lying flat, and allowing it to dry in a very thick entombing layer. This worked well for glasses that were really delaminating and partically beyond saving, since the paint chips would not blow off since CYG was not sprayed. Steve Young's Pinball Resource owned the formula to CYG, so he was actively pushing that product (though Tim Arnold and others had warned him of CYG's problems).
CYG has been around for a long time and came in two formulas, "regular" and "light". The light version was better, but overall Cover Your Glass sucked. It is a polyester product and cracks, especially if there is any sudden temperature changes (much like the original backglass paint you're trying to save). The cracking was so bad in some cases it made the CYG'ed backglass useless. For this reason most people abondoned it. Also CYG goes on so thick, it really made any backglass touch up impossible after it was applied.
The other product often used is Krylon's "Crystal Clear". Though Crystal Clear is a good acyrlic lacquer type product, it's film thickness is just way too thin for backglass preservation. For it to be used affectively, at least five (or more) good coats need to be applied. But be careful, don't apply it too wet or it can bleed the backglass inks. For this reason it's just not a practical product to use in backglass restoration (though I do use it for other purposes in pinball repair, like putting a thin coating on sanded/polished metal to prevent rust). But many people used Crystal Clear because it really was the only "decent" product available (other than CYG) for a long time.
Mylar and Shipping Tape.
I use the shipping tape/mylar technique when I go buy a game from someone where the backglass ink/paint is falling off as I move the game (at this point I *know* I'll be looking for a new glass anyway, so there's not much to lose). It allows me to save at least some of the backglass graphics before I move the game (and all the ink/paint falls off!)
I would not suggest using mylar (which is much better than shipping tape) unless the backglass is in really bad condition. If the flakes are very loose, spraying a coating without blowing the flakes off is difficult. Therefore mylar is really the only option. Mylar does work quite well, and is very permanent. I really don't suggest shipping tape because it will eventually delaminate (as it's not designed for long-term hold).
Introducing Krylon's Triple Thick Cyrstal Clear.
As a test of Triple Thick, in 1997 I applied two wet coats to a 1978 Bally "Strikes and Spares" backglass and to a 1973 Williams "Upper Deck" backglass. These backglasses were starting to delaminate, and had about 10% to 20% ink/paint loss. After I sprayed the backglasses, I left them in my garage year round. I live in Michigan, and there is plenty of temperature change between the seasons (it gets pretty cold here in the winter!) To date (over five years later), the backglasses are in the same condition as the day I sealed them in 1997 with Triple Thick. No additional ink/paint delamination has occurred, and the Triple Thick has not cracked (like Cover Your Glass).
To my knowledge, I was the first to use Triple Thick for pinball backglasses, and I attempted to introduced it to the pinball world. The first people I told about the product was Tim Arnold and Steve Young. Tim was looking to find a product to save delaminating backglasses (at the time he was using Krylon Crystal Clear, and was somewhat happy with the results). Steve Young was using/selling "Cover Your Glass". Since Steve had a financial interest in CYG, he was not overly thrilled with my Triple Thick discovery.
It took Tim Arnold and some others a while to accept the new Triple Thick product. But after one use, I don't know anyone that doesn't like it. The establishment of Triple Thick as the "pinball backglass standard" forced the sales of CYG to nearly nothing, and Pinball Resource no longer sells it to my knowledge.
Triple Thick is available at Kmart, Walmart, Sherwin Williams paint stores, or any decent crafts store like Micheals Crafts. Both the Kyron and Illinois Bronze products are the same, just marketed differently in different areas. They also have a web site at www.krylon.com/product/op_craft.asp where you can click on "Triple Thick" for more information. I find Triple Thick locally at Kmart/Walmart, Michael's Crafts, or even some Ace Hardware stores. Home Depot and most other hardware store do not seem to sell it.
Alternatives to Triple Thick.
If You Can't Spray Paint, Please Do Not Attempt to "Triple Thick"!
I have probably Triple Thick'ed 100 backglasses, and have never had a problem. But I get emails from people that just can not do this even once without having issues. They either put the Triple Thick on too heavy or too thin, and just make a mess out of an other good condition backglass. If you can't put a good professional looking finish on a piece of flat metal using a rattle can, then you have no business applying Triple Thick to a pinball backglass.
After applying Triple Thick, the coating on the back of a score glass should be shiny, glossy, and smooth. There should be no overspray misting or separation of the backglass film. It should look good! Practice on a junk backglass first if you have any doubts.
Preparing the Backglass for Triple Thick.
To clean the painted side of the backglass, take a paper towel and spray the paper towel with Windex (don't soak it!) Never spray Windex directly on the backglass. Spray the Windex on the paper towel. Now gently wipe the score windows and credit window. After doing those, *gently* wipe any other "solid" (not delaminating) sections of the backglass. Remember, don't go nuts and cause more problems. "The enemy of good is better" is something that should be repeated while doing this chore. Examine the paper towel for crud or potential paint loss. See all the dirt on the paper towel? Removal of this crud really helps the Triple Thick "stick" to the backglass ink/paint.
On backglasses with score reel windows, a business card can be cut and layed over the clear score reel windows. Use a penny or a nickle to hold the card down. This is optional (often I just spray over the score windows completely).
Left: Score the score windows with a razor blade.
After the glass is dry from cleaning, it is time to spray the Triple Thick. Put the backglass flat on a solid surface. If the backglass ink/paint is really delaminating, I spray the first coat of Triple Thick about 18 inches from the glass, and move the can very quickly. This will provide a "misting" coat to get the delaminating paint to stay in place. Then let this coat dry a minimum of 30 minutes. A repeat of this quick and distant application may be required. If the backglass is not delaminating, my first coat is about 12 inches from the glass, and I move more slowly, applying more clear in a "wet" overlapping coat.
If the backglass is heavily peeling, please skip down to the secition below, Saving a Severely Peeling & Flaking Backglass.
After the first coat(s) of Triple Thick is down and dry for at least 30 minutes, I spray one or two more "wet" coats. The first coat of Triple Thick should have all the backglass paint solid and in place. So the "wet" coats can be applied with the spray can much closer to the glass, laying down much more Triple Thick again in a "wet" coat. Spray the coats in perpendicular directions if possible. That is, spray left to right on the first coat, and then up and down on the second. I find that at least 30 minutes of dry time between coats is needed.
A common question is, "how much Triple Thick do I need to apply?" Generally speaking, two wet coats is all that is needed. Do not go wild and apply more than that. Too much Triple Thick can be a bad thing (but also too little Triple Thick does not really protect the backglass).
On backglasses with score reel windows, if they were not masked before spraying, they can be razor bladed to remove the Triple Thick. Note if the proper amount of Triple Thick was applied (not too much!) and the windows were clean, I often leave the score windows with the Triple Thick on them. If you did a nice job spraying, usually the Triple Thick can not be seen. If this is not the case, after 30 minutes of drying time on the last coat, use a razor blade or exacto knife and score the outside edges of the score reel windows. Do this about 1/8" on the inside edge of the paint. This allows the new finish to overlap the backglass paint. If you allow the paint to fully dry before scoring it (not recommended!), heat your razor blade or exacto blade so it is hot, then score the paint. The heated blade will cut the clear coat much better.
After scoring the new finish, scrap/peel the clear from the windows. Use the razor blade for this job (or a razor blade broken in half). I usually do *not* razor the credit window. When complete, let the glass dry overnight. Then use Novus#2 on the score windows to remove the "edge" from razor blade scraping.
Saving a Severely Peeling & Flaking Backglass.
The problem with flaking backglass ink/paint is the loose paint chips tend to curl up. Spraying Triple Thick usually will not make the paint chips 'lay down'. So we need some techinque to get them flat, so they will re-attach to the backglass.
The trick here is to use "plastic wrap" (I have found the Glad brand "ClingWrap" to work best). The plastic wrap will act as a barrier between you and the wet Triple Thick. The trick is to spray a "wet" coat of Triple Thick on the backglass. Then right after the Triple Thick has been sprayed onto the backglass, put a layer of ClingWrap over the wet Triple Thick in the areas where the backglass ink/paint is peeling. The ClingWrap doesn't have to be stretched tight, and it only needs to be applied in the areas of peeling paint. Try and apply the clear wrap with no creases if possible. The reason for this is simple: if Triple Thick gets inside a crease, the clear wrap will have a harder time coming off the backglass after the Triple Thick dries.
After the Cling Wrap is on top of the wet Triple Thick, press the clear wrap down with your fingers in any area where the backglass ink/paint is peeling. Actually push down the peeling paint. Paint chips can even be shifted and moved slightly if you are careful. The ClingWrap will keep your fingers separated from the wet Triple Thick. After all the paint is pushed down and into place, leave the glass alone (do *not* try and remove the ClingWrap!)
Now let the Triple Thick dry overnight. This is very important! The Triple Thick must fully dry before proceeding. After drying, the ClingWrap should peel off the backglass very easily, without bringing any paint with it! It should come off so easy, the ClingWrap should almost fall off. If it doesn't, the Triple Thick is either not dry, or there are creases in the Cling Wrap, which have trapped the Triple Thick, making it difficult to remove. Leave it alone let it dry longer. If the ClingWrap still won't let go from the backglass, sometimes a quick spray of 'cold freeze' (spray cold in a can, often used to remove mylar and to test electronic components) will release it. But be careful, as you don't want to get the backglass so cold that it delaminates the ink! (That would kind of defeat the whole purpose of this exercise.) If the ClingWrap still won't come up (rare, but I have heard of it happening), don't force it. Just trim off what you can with a razor blade and leave it alone. Note I have tried other products, but ClingWrap seems to work the best. And no, wax paper should not be used. The solvent in Triple Thick reacts with the wax, and makes a big mess (the Triple Thick doesn't dry well because of the wax).
Note there is some "texture" to the Triple Thick where the ClingWrap was removed. Don't worry about it, that is to be expected. After the Cling Wrap is removed, apply a second "wet" layer of Triple Thick to the backglass. Spray this second coat perpendicular to the first coat. The "texture" will go down a bit with this step, and the second coat locks the peeling ink/paint down even better. After the second coat is dry, the backglass is ready for touchup!
2h. The Cabinet: Touch-up the Backglass
Rack-A-Ball (front): this backglass was worn by the backboard.
Rack-A-Ball (back): the same section as seen from the back. Fortunately,
How it was originally done.
Ideally, it would be great to use the original style inks to touch up a backglass. But in reality, this is impractical. The original Pantone Matching System (PMS) inks are very expensive, can only be bought in large quanities, and are hard to work with. Also once applied, there is no going back. They are not forgiving.
Opaque and Translucent areas: What's the difference?
a small paint brush, a black Sharpie marker, and some
small pieces of glass.
Instead of using inks to repair a backglass, I suggest you use craft supply acrylic paint. The advantages to using this material are:
The biggest advantage to these craft acrylics is the last point; they are water-based. This means if you apply them, and don't like the results, you can just wipe them off with a damp cloth. Since the backglass is coated with Triple-thick, you can do this many times without any damage. Triple-thick seals out the water.
What determines a "good" outcome?
Prelimary Analysis: Should you attempt fixing the Translucent areas?
Using Paint Retarder to Match Translucent Areas.
Using Cellephane Mask in Translucent Areas.
Making Touched-up Translucent areas Opaque.
Right: After the touch up, the entire translucent area that is touched up is back painted with opaque silver paint. This allows the touched up areas to match in color and translucency (which is now not transparent!). The Liberty statue in the center of the circle is not touched up, and is left translucent.
As a last resort, you can remove ALL the paint from a transparent area, and touch up the entire area. This allows you to touch-up the area without having to worry about how translucent your colors are. In order to do this, you'll have to chip-out ALL the current color in that area. Use a hot exacto blade and score the outside edges. Then scrape out all the color from this area with a razor blade. When you re-apply the color, it will be very easy. Color matching will be far less of an issue. When done, make sure you remove the back box light bulbs from this area as they are no longer needed. Though this situation is not ideal it does work.
For example, on one game I had, the white translucent areas in the words "Game Over" was completely delaminated. Using an Exacto knife, I chipped out any of the remaining white translucent paint from the "Game Over" letters, so they were completely clear (the black masked, non-translucent area around "Game Over" was fine). Then I Triple Thicked the backglass. After the Triple Thick was dry, I masked off the area around "Game Over", and sprayed a light coat of white Krylon spray paint over the clear "Game Over" letters. This worked amazingly well, and looked great even with the backlit #47 light bulbs on. But the catch was the letters were translucent white only with no color.
There are probably 100 different colors of craft acrylic paint available. Obviously, you won't buy them all. But it's always nice to have colors out-of-the-bottle that match as close as possible the colors you need. So here's some tips on buying colors:
But in reality, the more colors you buy, the better you'll be. In the end, I bought nearly ever color my local store had to offer. Heck they had a sale on the acrylic paints, so it really was not that expensive. And it makes backglass touchup a lot easier. Taking color out of a bottle is a lot easier than making your own colors.
matching backglass and playfield colors.
Step 2: the Black Key Lines.
lines the run between many colors.
into some green to darken it. This is done on a scrap
of cardboard, on the shiney side to minimize water absorbtion.
If you are attempting a major re-paint of a glass that is REALLY gone, here's a tip. Use your Sharpie pen, and draw in the backglass design's outlines on the FRONT of the glass! When done, flip the glass over, and fill in the missing areas with colored paint. It's kinda like painting-by-numbers now. After that dries, remove the black Sharpie lines from the front of the glass with some Windex.
Step 3: Mixing the paint.
Mix the paint on a piece of scrap cardboard or plastic. Note if you use porous cardboard, the paint may dry quicker on the pallet, as the cardboard absorbs the water from the paint. You can also use the top of an old margarine tub or mix the paint in a 35mm film container. Then just put the lid on, and the paint won't dry as quick.
Just squeeze out the colors from the bottles, and mix it with the end of your paint brush. Also have a glass of water and some paper towels nearby. When done mixing, wipe off the end of the brush on a paper towel.
I usually start with a darker color than I need. Then I add a touch of white or the same color pastel to lighten it. Alternatively, you can start with the light pastel color and add a dap of the deeper color or black to darken it. But be careful trying to darken a color with black. For example, adding a touch of black to green will make it darker, but it also makes the green "blacker" in the process, and not really "greener". It's much easier to darken a pastel with a deeper version of the same color. It's a lot easier to lighten a color doing the reverse. Add other colors as needed to change the overall shade of the color.
The color on the left is the green straight from the bottle.
The color on the right is the same green with a touch of
black added to darken it.
When you think you have a color matched, apply some to your small test piece of glass. If you don't have a test glass, just apply the mixed color to the FRONT of the backglass. Using the front of the backglass or a test glass is the best way to match the color. Let your sample glass dry (a hair dryer can be used to make the paint dry faster). The biggest problem with these craft acyrlic paints is they dry darker. So let the sample dry, and then compare it to the backglass color.
Don't worry if your paint dries on the cardboard mixing pallet while you're waiting for your sample test glass to dry. Just dip your brush into some water, and put the brush on the dry paint. It will become liquid again as long as the paint has not dried for more than about 30 minutes.
To clean your sample test glass or the front of the backglass (for the next color), just use a paper towel dipped in some water.
touched up area? The two black dots give it away. They are
from not properly cleaning the damaged glass areas
before applying the Triple Thick. I probably should have
chipped them out with an exacto blade before applying the
green touch-up paint.
So you think you have the color matched correctly? Now is the time to apply it to the backglass itself. If you are unsure about where to paint the new color on the back of the backglass, use a black Sharpie on the *front* of the backglass to outline the area to touch up. Brush the new color on fairly thick, but try NOT to overlap the paint past the area it needs to go. Don't make a big mess here. Let the area dry and flip the glass over and check your color match.
Not Happy with your Work?
touch-ups and the black Sharpie line.
Right: the backglass after silver has been applied to the
touched-up areas. This makes the touch-ups less apparent
from the back, and makes the area less translucent.
This step is optional, but I recommend it if you are happy with your touch-up work. Nothing looks worse than inspecting the back of a backglass, and seeing all the touched-up areas. They stick out. Putting silver acyrlic over these opaque areas makes the touch-ups far less apparent from the back of the glass. Remember the original silver is the light mask, to keep light out of certain areas of the glass. It has some effect on the front of the glass, in colors that are hard to apply opaque (like yellows). Adding the silver can stop additional light pass through. Just dap some silver over the touched-up areas. Don't apply too much, and don't move the brush heavily while doing this. You don't want the silver to leach through the color applied before. Note older 1950s backglasses use black instead of silver for the light mask, and on these you should obviously use black paint instead of silver.
An Alternative BG "Touchup" Method for Translucent Areas.
But there is another less volatile way to do translucent backglass touchup. And it take a lot less time, is cheaper, and far less invassive. That's the good news. The bad news is it only works in the translucent areas of the backglass. For the non-translucent (opaque) areas, you will need to follow the steps outlined above using acrylic paints.
First step is to clearcoat the backglass with Krylon Triple Thick (if you have not done that already). This is *required*. The second thing is you much run #47 bulbs in the backglass (the #44 bulbs are too hot).
The next step is to go to Micheals and by some translucent colored cellophane. This comes in a 24" wide roll 1mill thickness, and in a variety of colors. Red and yellow are the most commonly used colors. Cost is about $6 per roll.
Another alternative to Micheals is to get some Rosco Gels (Roscolux.) These are basically the same as the Micheals stuff, but come is WAY more colors. You can buy a swatch of them for $7.50 to make color matching easier. They are available from http://www.rosco.com/sbreqs/index.cfm. Also available is a kit with all most of the colors offered for about $35 from here.
Next turn the backglass over (screened side up), and cut a length of the transparent cellophane. On the red you will need to 'double up' the cellophane, folding it in half (for less transparency). With yellow cellophane you have to go even further, using at least 4 layers if not 8 layers (the yellow is far more transparent than the red).
After the cellophane is cut to the approximate size you want, covering the area desired, just Scotch tape it in place. I use a quality 3m tape as it's more durable, but anything will work.
Now install the glass in the game and turn it on. If the lights are "too bright", I often remove a couple bulbs to decrease the amount the light. This often really helps. This is not a perfect solution, but it's easy and non-invassive. And if you want to reverse it just peel back the cellophane.
the translucent parts of the backglass. Note the backglass has been clearcoated
with Krylon Triple Thick. Pretty ugly, but it works well.
Here's the same backglass installed and with the game turned on.
Backglass Decal Touchup.