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Table of Contents
2i. The Cabinet: Touch-up the Playfield
Right: After the touch-up. The green was the hardest to match.
Much of this wear could have been prevented. Keeping your game well waxed with a good hard paste wax (like Trewax or an automotive Carnauba wax) will do wonders to prevent playfield wear. But if the damage is done, there isn't a lot you can do about it at this point but hope your color matching skills are good.
Right: After the touch-up.
The initial factor that causes playfield wear is dirt and grime. As games are played, and dirt accumulates on the playfield (from ball collision with rubber and solenoid dust), the ball has to "plow through" the dirt. This pushes the dirt around, acting like sandpaper. It also accumulates on the ball, and scratches the ball. This turns the ball into fine sandpaper too.
Once you have a "spot" worn in the playfield, this spot can contribute to further playfield wear (even if you keep the playfield cleaned and waxed). As the ball rolls over the lower worn spot on the playfield, it collides with the edge of the wear spot. This collision causes additional wear, and cause the ball to "jump" slightly as it goes over the edge of the wear. As the ball lands, this too wears more paint.
Acrylic Paint Touch-Ups.
Note there are higher quality Acrylics paints available that will give better results than the $1/bottle craft store paints. These are known as "artists acrylics" and are available at art supply stores. They are more expensive, but the colors are more vibrant and often easier to mix and match to the original playfield colors. The brand of artist quality acrylics most people seem to like best is by Liquitex.
There are some other brands of hobby store $1 acrylics that are better. You will have to experiment. For example, I don't like the Apple Barrel brand of colors at all, as the pigment (color) seems weak to me. Americana is pretty good, but the color selection is not a vibrant as I would like. Delta Creamcoats are pretty good and have a lot of color selection, but again not real vibrant. My favorite $1 acrylic brand is Palmer, as the color are very strong and bright (just I wish they had more colors available). But again the best acrylics are the artist quality types like Liquitex, available at art supply stores, but these are more expensive and not as convenient to buy. So I usually end up with Americana and Palmer as my weapons of touchup.
Left: A wide array of water-based acyrlic colors are available.
There are some products available for water-based acyrlics called "retarders". These increase the drying time of the paint. This allows the paint to lie down more and dry smoother, with less brush strokes. I would recommend using this product when touching up playfields. Liquitex makes a good retarder. This can also be used to thin paint for an airbrush, or to make a color more translucent (for backglass work).
Clean PF Before Starting Touch Ups.
The Melamine Foam is the key trick here, as it will get ground in dirt out of the tiny cracks of the playfield. Just don't go nuts with the MF as it will remove paint if you are too agressive (Melamine foam is like sanding with 2000 grit sand paper). Always use Iso Alcohol (92% preferred) as the wetting agent for the foam. Melamine foam will also often remove *some* of the yellowing of the white areas of the playfield. But don't go too nuts with it, or you'll end up doing more touchup as the foam will remove finish.
The reason I prefer Novus2 to other playfield cleaners is because Novus2 is "paintable". That is, it has no wax or silicon. Many cleaners have wax or silicon and this will cause problems if you are going to clearcoat the touchups. NEVER EVER use Millwax! It contains silicon, and will totally screw up any touchups or clearcoat you try and apply.
If you are ultimately going to clearcoat the playfield, after it is cleaned, it's a good idea to gently sand the whole playfield with 600 or1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper (dry, no water). If you are *not* going to clearcoat, then do NOT sand it. The sanding provides a "tooth" for the clearcoat to bite, and removes the gloss. It increases the surface area of the playfield, allowing the clearcoat to have better adhesion. But to be honest, after the Melamine Foam and the Novus2, I rarely sand (it just makes me nervous, as it's rather agressive). Mostly because it's easier for me to see contrasts in touched-up areas, if there's a slight amount of gloss to the virgin areas.
Filling Divots and Fixing Woodgrain.
A better approach is to use U-Pol "High Viscosity Dolphin Glaze" (#BAGDOLHV). This is an auto body product, and works great for filling imperfections in a playfield surface. The HV Dolphin is two-part Polyester putty which dries quickly, is very easy to sand, ultra smooth, tack free and is stain free. Mix a small amount (exact mixing ratio is not critical, although over or under catalyzation may affect the gel time), and apply with a putty knife or rubber spreader. Dries in about 5 minutes and is ready for sanding in 30 minutes. It's extremely smooth and easy to apply, like a smoother and softer version of body filler. Note Dolphin also comes in a liquid paintbrush-appliable version, but you don't want that, get the High Viscosity Dolphin. This type of repair is shown here (but uses a different product than Dolphin).
Lightly block sanding dry with 1200 grit.
You'll need to mix some paint to match colors on the playfield. This is the most difficult part of the entire procedure. Your ability to match colors will give the best outcome. I would highly suggest you have someone help you with this. A second pair of eyes and perception always helps.
The best approach is to buy the right color of paint, so you don't have to mix paints! This is not always possible, but often you can get pretty darn close with paint "out of the bottle". The craft store touchup paints are usually a $1 a bottle, so don't be shy and buy a bunch of colors. I use a Pantone color guide to match the color, and then bring the color guide to the store. This sure is a lot easier than hauling a playfield around. I have bought every color that Americana sells in their craft acrylic paint line. Yes it cost me over $200, but it's well worth the cost to me.
These can be bought on Epay, just type in "pantone" into their search engine. There's a bunch of choices, but you don't need a brand new guide, used is fine. Pantone issues new guides every year, because they claim the colors in the guides fade (which may be true, but I have not found that to happen). But basically Pantone guides come five ways: solid coated, solid uncoated, solid matte, "solid to process", and 4-color (there's also a metallic color guide, but you would never need that for playfield/backglass work). Solid colors is how pantone inks are mixed (by formula which key to the guide), and are used in silkscreening. If you are doing general work, solid coated is the best/cheapest, it shows the colors in gloss format. That is, it shows the Pantone ink with a clear topcoat over it (which is really what happens in a playfield). So I find the solid coated guide to be most useful. If you are trying to match colors to your computer, the "solid to process" is the one to get (as this gives a Pantone color that inkjet printers can duplicate, and you can type the Pantone color number into Photoshop). The 4-color guide is obviously used for those doing 4-color process. Some Pantone guides are combo guides, and these are more expensive, as they may include both the coated and uncoated colors (and even the matte) all in one guide. These are nice to have, but more expensive. Personally I use the coated guide for most work, and the solid-to-process guide when I'm trying to duplicate a playfield color on the computer's printer (so I have and use two different Pantone color guides). The solid-to-process guide has two side-by-side color chips for each color. You match the solid color, and next to it is how the computer will duplicate that color (using inkjet 4-color processing).
Mix the paint on a piece of acyrlic plastic. 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.
off the playfield, and buying the right color at the craft store.
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. 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.
Let the Paint Dry Before Evaluating the Color Match.
Often I will force-dry a freshly painted surface using a hair dryer (*not* a heat gun!) This can make your touchup work go faster as the dry time/color evaluation step goes faster. This works really well, especially if you are paint the colors with thin coats. Painting a spare wood block, then hit it with the hair dryer, makes matching playfield colors a lot quicker.
Another color matching tip is to use a digital camera. Take a few pictures of the touch-ups to make sure they're matched correctly. Cameras pick up nuances in the colors that you may or may not see in regular light. The camera does not lie. If the color is not right, dab a small artists brush with Goof-off, remove to touchup, and try again.
Yellows and Reds.
Matching Wood Color.
Laying down the Wrong Color.
Dealing with Darkening Colors after Clearcoat.
There are some other techniques that can be used to deal with the darkening problem. First, paint the entire color area. That is, say you have a blue wear spot the size of a dime. Match the blue color and paint the wear spot. But overpaint the area so the entire section of blue is painted. go right up to the black keylines. this way the exact color match is far less critical.
Now sometimes this technique is not possible. Instead you have spent a lot of time matching the color perfectly. But will it stay perfectly matched after the clearcoat? The solution is to touchup the area and let it dry overnight. Then take some water and lightly put it over the touched up area. The water will simulate a top clearcoat, and the darkening effect will be shown. If the color does not match, you can use Naptha to remove the acrylic touchup and start over.
After the Paint Dries and the Color Match is Good.
Personally if you are not going to clearcoat, a better type of paint to use is Testor's Enamels. There are less colors to choose and it's more expensive, but the Testor Enamel is very durable and does not have to be clearcoated. Acrylics paints are too soft and will need some sort of clearcoat to last. Hence using Testor's Enamels for small touchup areas can save you from having to clearcoat an entire playfield.
Left: These white dots in the red area can be easily and nearly invisibly touched up. Just dap
paint liberially over the entire area. Then wipe off the paint with a rag. The paint will remain in the
recessed white dots, and will be removed from the higher surfaces with the rag.
In solid color areas of your playfield, often you'll see many white pinhead dots in the color. This is the start of playfield wear, and are very easy to fix. Just match the main color as usually, and sloppily brush on some paint over the white dots. Then take a clean dry rag, and immediately wipe off the paint you just applied. The paint will stay in the recessed dots, covering them. The remainder of the paint is wiped off. This works amazing well.
Right: Use a pencil and go around the black lines on the light inserts too, then paint them.
You'll need this circle template for doing the
After you have leveled the paint by block sanding, touch up the black accent lines. Plastic light inserts often show the most black wear, and are very easy to touch up with circle template (available at most office supply store). You will use the 1" and 1 1/4" circle template sizes the most. Use a pencil to draw the new circle, then fill it in with black paint. If you get too much paint on the insert, use an exacto blade to scrape off the excess.
When doing the key lines, do NOT use Sharpie pens, as the color thickness is just not the same as paint. The inks can cause problems when clearcoating. And the Sharpie ink is not durable at all to stand up to game play without a coating. I much prefer to use either acrylics, Testor's Enamels, or even black lacquer when doing black Key lines.
Drawing the circles with a circle-maker (office supply store) and a pencil.
Both inner and outer lines have been drawn with a pencil.
The inner area is painted. Color match is not critical, since the entire area was painted.
Applying blue pinstripe tape as a paint mask.
Two layers of blue pinstripe tape are applied, awaiting the new red paint.
Paint is applied with ease, since the blue tape masks well.
Any stray paint can be removed with an exacto knife, and any stray pencil marks can
To see more info on playfield touchups, check out these pages. Each of the pages shows different problems and solutions to playfield touchups and restoration techniques.
2j. The Cabinet: Clear Coating a Playfield ("Diamond Plating").
The Smithsonian Restoration Principle.
Lacquer Properties: the Original Finish on your Playfield.
Lacquer is known as a "hot" paint. That is, when you spray a coat of lacquer, its solvents soften the previous layer(s) of lacquer (no matter how old), and physically bind to it. The newest top coat becomes one with the previous layer(s). Enamels and newer urethanes don't work this way. These coating can only chemically bind to an older, previous coating (though you can get a binding effect with these coatings if spraying multiple coats, and the last coat is sprayed before the previous coat fully cures).
For example, take a cloth and wet it with lacquer thinner. Now wipe it on your playfield in a small inconspicuous area under the lower ball arch. Notice the original finish becomes very soft. This is lacquer. If you do the same thing to the cabinet finish, you'll notice it doesn't turn this paint soft; it has no effect on it. That's because the cabinet is painted with Enamel. Even if you use Enamel reducer (which isn't as "hot" as lacquer thinner) and try this, the same thing will happen; the old Enamel won't soften. After Enamel or urethane is fully cured, solvents generally don't effect them.
This is why GM and other car manufacturers used lacquer paint until as late as the 1980's; it was extremely easy to apply and to repair. If you wanted to do a spot repair, and you had a good color match, the spot repair could be done and not seen (because of the binding properties of lacquer). Enamel and urethane paints don't allow spot repairs; the repaired paint doesn't blend in well with the original finish, leaving a "shadow" where the new paint meets the old.
What Clear Product to Use on a Playfield.
The only problem with using a urethane over a lacquer playfield is potential binding problems. Though not a problem for manufacturers (who are painting in a controlled environment), putting a urethane down on an existing playfield in your garage can be tricky (especially compared to clear coating with lacquer). The big advantage to urethane is it has far better wear resistance than many other products.
Using acyrlic lacquer to clear coat a playfield is probably the easiest product to use. Mistakes can be easily corrected, and the end result will be good. The problem with acyrlic lacquer is its the same material already on your playfield; this means it will wear just as easily as regular playfield paint (just you'll have an increased film thickness to protect it longer). Do not use nitrocellulose (furniture) lacquer! It yellows signicantly with time. Only use acyrlic lacquer if you choose to use a lacquer product.
Another question is about spray can polyurethanes seen at the Home Depot type stores. Avoid these products as they often contain linseed oil (which causes the finish to yellow with time). Here's a description of these consumer spray polyurethanes, taken from a manufacturer's web site:
The remainder of this section will describe how to clear coat a playfield using the "Varathane" brand of urethane. Although slightly harder to apply than lacquer, it will give the best wear resistance. Most (if not all) of the steps and tips given below will apply to clear coating with lacquer too, if you choose to use that instead.
Varathane Usage Warnings and Cautions.
Should you Clear Coat your Playfield?
A Note About Your Touched-up Areas.
Before you clear coat the playfield, make sure your touched-up areas are level. If they aren't level (still divots), clear coating them will make the divots more obvious. You can fill these divots with clear coat and block sand them level. But I would recommend filling the divots with the touched-up color instead (as described above) and leveling them before applying the clear coat.
Which brand of Urethane?
Other Urethane Alternatives to Varathane.
Spraying or Brushing Varathane?
What you Need.
Varathane Elite comes in three finishes. I recommend using the "gloss" variety. If you are doing some spot repair and not the whole playfield, the "semi-gloss" may match the existing finish better. But for overall playfield clear coating, the gloss finish seems to provide better looking results.
How Far Away do you Spray? How Fast do you Move the Spray Can?
Have the playfield sitting flat and level. The best approach to film thickness is this: start with thin coats, especially the first coat (if you are using Sharpies, this is really important). Then as you get a few coats layed down, slow the movement of the spray can so the coats get wetter and thicker. After a couple coats have been applied, you can spray thicker and wetter coats. If the Varathane clouds up a bit, that's a good indication that is about as thick as you should spray (the cloudiness will disappear as the Varathane dries).
Shake your Varathane Spray Can WELL!
The first thing you will need to do is strip the playfield of all parts. Remove all the stuff you can; it will only get in the way. I was able to get everything off the playfield except for the metal lane guides. They lifted the playfield paint when I tried to remove them; I should have tried heating them gently with a soldering iron, and then tried removing them; the soldering iron would soften the surrounding paint and wood without damaging it. Another thing I do is use the handle of a rubber gripped pliers to get under the metal guides and to lift. The rubber handle pads the metal and the playfield from damage.
Remove the entire pop bumper assemblies too (you're gonna rebuild them anyway, as described below). Remove the upper and lower ball arches. Remove any lamp sockets or switches that stick up through the playfield. Trust me on this; the more you remove the easier and better results you will get. It's well worth the time to remove as much as you can. Sanding around parts is much harder work (and doesn't give good results) than removing the parts in the first place.
If the game has round rollover buttons or star rollover buttons, remove these. Pinball Resource sells new ones, so don't worry about damaging the buttons.
You can also remove the wooden side rails from the playfield too. This is a lot easier than it looks, and makes clear coating the playfield MUCH easier. There are usually three wooden side rails: two for the shooter lane, and one on the opposite side of the playfield from the shooter lane. On Gottlieb playfields, these are attached with nails (and sometimes a couple of screws). From the bottom of the playfield look for any screws, and remove them. Then from the top of the playfield, you can pry the wood rails loose and remove them. Then hammer the nails sticking through the playfield down through the bottom of the playfield. You will have to remove these nails completely or the playfield will not lay flat.
Place all the parts on a table in their prospective positions to simplify the re-assembly process. If you're not confident you can put all the parts back correctly, take pictures or videos of the playfield before you strip it.
Right: All the removed playfield parts, in their corresponding playfield positions.
If your playfield has mylar or those dumb woodgrain pop bumper trim rings, you'll need to remove it. This can be done easily using one of the three mylar removal methods: a hair dryer and naptha, "freeze spray", or an orange-based solvent remover.
The first method I use for mylar removal is Freeze Spray (cold in a can). I always try this method first, as it provides the best mylar removal results with the least amount of playfield paint lift. The cheapest source for Freeze Spray is an office supply store. Buy the compressed air/dust removal cans. Then turn the can upside-down, and instant freeze spray! Now generously spray the edge of the mylar. It may take 5 or so seconds of spraying, but the mylar should easily delaminate from the playfield. The hardest part is getting an edge started, but once it starts to lift it should almost fall off. After the mylar starts to delaminate, freeze spray the rest of the mylar (in three or four square inch increments), and the entire mylar covering should come off the playfield with little to no effort. Be careful not to spray your fingers as this stuff is cold!
Another mylar removal method is using a Hair Dryer (I don't recommend this method on EM playfields, but it works good on later 1990s games). Heat the edge of the mylar, then gently pull the mylar off the playfield, as you heat it. Use Naptha under the mylar and around the edges to help. It is very easy to remove paint and lettering from the playfield when doing this, so do this slowly. Use lots of heat from the hair dryer (do NOT use a heat gun; these are too hot).
Last method is to just soaking the mylar with an orange-based solvent like Goo-Gone (NOT goof-off!) Soak the mylar and let it sit for 30 minutes, then use a plastic putty knife or credit card to get under the mylar and lift it.
After the mylar is removed, use the Naptha to remove the glue left behind on the playfield. You may have to scrub to get it off using an old credit card or plastic scraper. Pour some Naptha on a three or four square inch of playfield and let it sit for a few minutes. Then use a plastic scraper or old credit card to scrape up the mylar glue. Use lots of clean rags as the glue will get on the rags. If you used the freeze spray method to remove the mylar, there will be a considerable amount of glue left on the playfield (this is the disadvantage to the freeze spray method).
Another good product to try on the playfield for clean is Magic Eraser (Melamine foam) There is more information on this product here. I highly recommend this technique to remove fine ground in dirt and "ball swirl" dirt.
Once all the parts (and mylar) is removed, use Novus #2 to clean the playfield. Do NOT use any other product such as Millwax or something containing silicon. I only recommend Novus2 as it is very inert and contains no wax or silicon.
Step 3: Smooth and Level the Playfield.
If you are clear coating a NOS (new old stock) playfield, you must use 600 grit on it too. You won't need to do any leveling, as it will already be done (the playfield has never been used!). But you will need to "rough up" the surface with 600 grit before you apply the Varathane. Sanding increases the surface area, and gives more area for the new finish to "bite" in to.
Step 4: Wipe Down the Playfield.
Tape off any parts you didn't remove to prevent Varathane overspray from damaging them. Put rolled up tape in the lamp sockets, or use old burnt out light bulbs, or even old coil sleeves to prevent overspray getting into the lamp sockets. Make sure everything is removed that you can remove. This will only make the entire job of painting much eaiser. Also cover the sides of the game to prevent overspray. I paint the playfield as installed in the game, but with the playfield shifted slightly forward and resting on the front (to keep it more level). The cabinet provides the perfect place and position to paint a playfield. But you could easily remove the playfield from the cabinet too for painting.
Right: Use a Sharpie pen or a paint pen and go around the black lines on the plastic inserts too.
Before you apply the Varathane, you can touch up the black accent lines on the playfield. To do this, use a NEW Sharpie pen or a paint pen (available at art supply stores). Plastic light inserts often show the most black wear, and are very easy to touch up. If you get too much black on the insert, use an exacto blade to scrape off the excess. Major Sharpie mistakes can be removed with a clean rag dipped in alcohol and wiped over the area. Paint pens are less forgiving, but you may be able to wipe them off with a rag.
Step 7: Spraying the First Coat.
Right: The same area with no fish eyes. The area was wiped down again with naptha and re-sprayed. The finish has now laid down smoothly. Note the Sharpie pen's ink has still not bled, even after cleaning off the previous finish, wiping it down with naptha, and re-coating it with Varthane. Bleeding can be a problem if you apply coats too thick.
Since Varathane is water based, it may appear cloudy or milky when applied. Don't worry about this; the cloudiness will disappear as the finish dries. Don't apply too heavy a coat; If the finish is getting cloudy, you are applying it too heavy. Minimal clouding is OK, but it's best if you apply a "wet" coat with no clouding. The clouding will disappear as the Varathane dries. If the Varathane sprays "chunky", the propellant hasn't mixed well with the Varathane (you didn't shake the spray can enough, or you have a bad batch of Varathane).
Let the coat dry for 24 hours. Soak the spray nozzle in lacquer thinner between coats to prevent clogging.
Step 8: Do NOT Sand after the First Coat!
The first coat will be the roughest, worse looking coat. Don't be discouraged. After the second and third coat we'll try and sand the imperfections out of the finish.
Step 9: Spray the Second Coat.
After the second or even third coat is applied and dry, you may sand the playfield to remove imperfections. Sand lightly with dry 400 or 600 grit sandpaper to remove imperfections. Don't try and remove all the imperfections at this point. There isn't enough film thickness to do that. As you apply more coats, you can spray them thicker and sand more aggressively. When done sanding, lightly wipe down the playfield with a tack cloth. Soak the spray nozzle in lacquer thinner between coats to prevent clogging.
Important Sanding Note:
Important Coating Note:
Step 10: Apply more Coats, Lightly Sand between Coats.
When sanding between coats, allow the playfield to dry 24 hours between coats. Lightly sand with 400 or 600 grit between each coat. If you sand varathane that has dried less than 24 hours, you can rip the top layer as it hasn't fully cured. As you apply more coats, you can spray them a bit thicker, and sand more aggressively between coats. After sanding, use a tack cloth or wipe down the playfield with naptha. With each coat the finish will get smoother and better looking. Each coat should have less "orange peel" and generally look more level.
the different coats. See the edge of the film of
each coat? This shows how urethanes do NOT
melt into the previous coat like a lacquer does.
This makes urethanes hard to work with, as they
are less forgiving when repairing imperfections.
More coats are not necessarily better. Even though Varathane is clear, it's not perfectly clear. Having too many coats will dull the playfield art and change the colors slightly. Apply enough coats to get a good film thickness, but don't over do it. I would say five spray coats would be about right. Seven coats would be a maximum, and three coats a minimum. The number of coats is dependant on how heavy you spray the Varathane and how bad the playfield imperfections and playfield wear is. Use your judgement and remember the law of diminishing returns. If you are clear coating a NOS playfield, three or four coats should be plenty.
Step 11: Sanding After the Last Coat is Applied.
After the last coat is applied, let the playfield cure for at least two weeks, and perferably three or four weeks. The playfield will stop "smelling" when it is fully dried. Varathane needs at least two weeks to fully cure. After two weeks, sand LIGHTLY with 600 grit (dry), and then 1200 grit sandpaper. Always do this sanding "dry", without water. Sand just enough to remove any remaining "orange peel". Remember, you're not trying to remove major imperfections at this point! That should have been done in previous sandings. Starting with 1200 grit instead of 600 grit is the way to go, as sanding aggresively would be difficult with this finer grit.
Important! If after you first start sanding you "smell" the playfield, this means the playfield is NOT dry! The most outside layer of the playfield is dry, but when you start sanding it, you remove this dry layer and expose the underlying "wet" layers to the open air. If they are not dry, you will smell them. I would suggest you stop at this point and give the playfield another week to dry. Alternatively, you could LIGHTLY sand the top layer, and then let the playfield dry a week. This will make the Varathane cure faster (since you removed the top most layer). But don't go too far, and don't sand too hard, or you'll damage the "soft" Varathane below the hard outside layer. If your sandpaper gets clogged with chunks of Varathane that don't wash out with water, the playfield is too soft to sand.
of the sandpaper? This means the Varathane
is too soft to sand. The "dust" in the upper
right corner of the sandpaper is fine; that
will wash away with water. But the other
pore-clogging chunks won't wash away, and
signify the Varathane is too soft.
After the playfield is completely rubbed out, wax it with a paste wax. This will really bring out the shine. Now Re-assemble all the playfield parts back onto the playfield. And test your game. You'll be amazed at how "slick" and fast the game plays!
Right: The repair area after it has dried, been block sanded, and rubbed out. Can you see the "V" shaped repair?
Step 12: Fixing Mistakes and Low Spots.
Using the pipette, suck some Varathane from the can. Then squeeze it out onto the playfield in the desired area(s). Overlap the area just slightly, and build the lower repair spot up above the surrounding area. Try not to get any air bubbles in the Varathane when doing this. If you do, suck the air bubble back into another (empty) pipette. After the Varathane dries (at least a few days), block sand this area level with the surrounding area. The repaired area blends in fairly well (but not perfectly) if you get it level with the adjacent areas.
2k. Polishing a Playfield.
I usually start with a medium cut polish and a yellow foam pad. Have separate pads for each polish! That is use one pad for medium, another pad for fine, and another for the swirl remover. I use the yellow foam pad for heavy and medium compounds, and a black foam pad for fine compound and swirl remover. After you wash the pads they can be mixed up, but don't mix used pads. Do not apply too much pressure to the pad. Let it do the work. If you end with a quick and light pass using a dry (no compound) wool pad, this cleans the surface and brings out a nice shine.