Pinball Refurbish – Cleopatra part4 4

I thought I would include what I’ve been using to do most of my work.. The headgear is a must.

I bought a cheap Harbor Freight Airbrush for $20 and the thinner is from Testors.

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I finally finished the outhole graphics and should now be ready for water slide decals. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to print them on white backed paper of I’m going to see if I get someone to help me print them on an Alps printer. The only concern about the Alps is color matching… I’ll see this weekend.

I’ve also sanded all the inserts, starting with 400 grit then 600 then 1200 they came out nice and smooth no longer cupped. I need to re-glue them but I think I’m going to spray the lime green on the playfield, there’s just too much wear to ignore, no sense in coming this far and quitting..


Since I can’t print my images on a clear decal and the white backed decal when trimmed flakes and leaves a white edge around the image – I’m left trying to find alternatives and other solutions.

So I think I’ve come up with an idea that might work, using 2 decals, one on top of the other. The white backed decal for the color and the clear decal for the keylines.

I can think of 1 problem that arises with this concept – positioning the base decal (white backed) how do I get it centered on the PF…

I attached a picture of a white backed decal I quickly trimmed and the other has the keylines on top, it looks good to me…

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I began the test today of trying to lay 2 layers of water slide decals on top of each other on a box top, it had a nice clean polyurethane top and was handy… :>)

Anyway, I cleaned the top with a little magic eraser and alcohol to prep it.

I trimmed the color decal by basically cutting the outer keyline in half I hope this will allow the top decal to cover the imperfections and white edge when I lay it on top.

The decals I have (Papillio) say to use hot water – so I heated some up and tanked the decal, slid it of the backing and applied it to the top.

I didn’t buy any solvent solution but I might consider getting some, not sure what it helps with since the water allows the decal to slide around for positioning. I did buy some setting solution (Micro-Sol), not sure if this is a “Setting” and “Solvent” solution wrapped into a single product…

Anyway, after the application of the decal I had to blot it dry and gently work out some bubbles, then I let it dry. Against all my instincts shortly after the solvent had dried I sprayed a heavy coat of Water based Polyurethane.. see pics. As you can see the keylines didn’t print to well on this image but the top decal should cover all of that.

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At this point the base coat of polyurethane needs a light sanding due to some dirt, then the real test, the top decal. It will have to wait until the weekend.. the Turkey is calling.

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The clear dried and I lightly sanded it with 600 grit, wiped it off and applied the keylines then some more clear when it was dry, a heavy coat.

I also accidentally ripped the decal when removing it from the backing, the water hadn’t separated them yet, because this was a test I just positioned it as close as possible and went on with it..

The results are attached.

Even though it’s not perfect it’s light years ahead of where it was. The keylines I’m using must not be from the same “colored” image since they don’t fit 100%, only around the head and upper shoulder area so I’ll go back and take a look at that other than that this is a very promising solution and frankly I think looks great on my sample, now for the real thing…

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I went ahead and airbrushed the Lime Green on the playfield as it was pretty beat up and I needed to touch up some areas anyway. I don’t like the color match but what can you do, I simply failed at mixing and matching… arrgh!!!

Since I sprayed the majority of the Lime Green color I hope it won’t be too noticeable.

After the paint has had a couple of days to set I give it a light sand to get rid of the edges from the frisket and then I’ll re-install the inserts and get ready for some clear.

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I reinstalled all the inserts today using some thick CA and a flat flat piece of steel to seat them with.

I had to repaint the key lines around the center image and I simply just masked that off and hand painted it. With all the extensive repair to the center image I’m not surprised but since I was this far into the project I figured I might as well.

I also lightly sanded the entire playfield to get rid of the edges caused by the Frisket when peeled up..

I’m going to try and shoot some clear on it tomorrow so that I can lay the color water slide decals on the out holes.. getting closer to finishing this project.

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Well I finally shot some clear last night…. I can see the finish line. I’m using Water Based Varathane, I had to order it from the West Coast as I couldn’t find any locally, so I bought a case of it.

The only real prep was to wipe the surface lightly with some Naptha and then to make sure I had plugged all the light socket holes (I used foam ear plugs) and taped off the other holes. I also took the old rollover stars and inverted them in the rollover insert on the PF so that they wouldn’t get clogged up with clear, I removed them after spraying, don’t leave them in the PF while drying.

I laid the first coat actually pretty heavy since I knew I was going to be doing some sanding to level the surface. I also wanted a good base coat for the decals to stick like my sample work that I had done before. I can see I’m going to need a few coats of clear…

I’ll let that sit a day or so and then I’ll lay on the colored decals.

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The first coat of clear has dried, so I broke out my sanding block. I used a rubber block to try and start leveling the play field.

With the paint edges that were created from the frisket and touch ups quite frankly the quantity of paint, leveling the PF should be interesting. I just don’t know how much clear will be needed to create a “glass” surface..

I started with some 320 and sanded it dry avoiding getting any buildup on the surface of the PF by wiping it frequently with a rag and making sure the sand paper didn’t get clogged up. I bought some Norton sand paper as was suggested somewhere else that I read (Home Depot) on the web. After the 320 I hit it with some 600, all the time I was careful not to “break” through the clear, mostly I wanted to make sure the dirt, and other junk in the clear got removed and to leave some clear and a good surface for the color decals.

I applied some decal setting solution right before I applied the color decals and that seemed to work better than applying it after wards. After the decals had a chance to dry I shot another coat of clear, I probably could have used some Naptha again but just used a tack cloth to wipe the surface before spraying.

I’ll wait another day and sand the surface then apply the key lines to the color decals and other parts of the play field before really trying to level the PF.

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I’m finding that the decals adhere better to clear than just the plywood surface. I didn’t want to chance laying two decals on top of each other so it needed a layer of clear in between the two.

The other thing is that it looks like the PF is going to need a few layers to smooth it out, so the extra clear isn’t a bad thing just more time.

Every time I lay down a decal, it looks like it needs about 2 layers to level out to the thickness of the decal..

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I did a light sanding today only with 600 and then applied the key lines to the out holes and to the center graphics as well as some of the numbering, etc. on the PF that I had airbrushed over.

When they were dry I shot another heavy coat of clear.. it was milky white when I was done spraying.

The key lines look great, better than I expected, the more I laid the more comfortable I’ve become with the process. Using setting solution before applying the decal is a good process to follow, also making sure the decal is “ready” to slide of the paper backing, I’ve had to wait a little while for the larger decals. If you go to soon they tear…

There are a few later pictures that have some white underneath the decals, I got a little worried but they came out when cleared. I think it may have come from the setting solution?

I need to create and print some key lines for the inserts. Since I’m spraying the PF I might as well use decals instead of painting them so I’m kind of on hold at the moment as I ran out of decal paper.  I ordered some Bel’s decal paper and wasn’t very happy with it. I printed some graphics on them and the toner literally wiped off in my hands, since I’ve used Papilio (Papilio Laser Clear Bake On Waterslide Decal Paper / Papilio Laser White Bake On Waterslide Decal Paper) decals that’s all I can attest to.

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Well I’ve got some disappointment.

Somehow the clear has reacted with the decals, I guess? Check out the first pic there is some kind of pinkish color around the “500’s”, I have no idea where it came from. It’s also in other areas where there were black key lines used but the “500’s” seem to have gotten it the worst or maybe they just stick out the most.

I’ve got to say I’m not very impressed with the aerosol clear as it just doesn’t lay down a thick enough coat, evaporation is a big problem. It seems to go down thick but evaporates/dries much thinner. Since I’m trying to build up the surface to level the PF it’s going to take forever! I think I’m going to try and sponge some clear and see how that comes out… I think the ultimate would be to pour it on and let it level itself but there would be a large amount of waste..

I had purchased some Polycrylic clear for leveling the inserts but since I had pulled them from the PF and sanded them I didn’t need to try and fill, its also water based so there shouldn’t be a problem mixing them. (see pic)

I’ll post some pics after the sponged clear dries and see how that goes. Al I know is there will be bunch of clear on this PF.

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I went ahead and tried a foam brush with conflicting results. The layer laid down much heavier and thicker, yeah, but it left stoke marks, boo…!!

As you can see from the pics I went ahead and started sanding to try and level the surface and actually that was going well, better than I was able to achieve with the sprayed on finish. The area around the drain chutes (green) shows the best of the leveling but also an attempt to fix a spot that I messed up when trying to add more clear after it had already started to setup. Note to self: do not attempt to add clear after it has started setting up…

So, I went ahead and sanded the entire play field and since it had some imperfections I thought I would add another layer of spray, big mistake.. The last coat of Varathane I sprayed had a bunch, I mean a bunch of pin holes in the cured surface. I had to basically sand it off and am waiting on the decal paper to show up before I try and finish this thing up, I’ve still got the actual one to do.. The last layer I sprayed forced me to sand the entire play field and I think it leveled out nicely, I think that was mostly in part in due to the foam brush laying it on thicker than the spray. I’m going to try that again but with a wider brush to eliminate the stole marks, we’ll see.

The decals around the out holes are completely level, nice! the center graphic is much closer and the inserts are getting closer to being flat. If re-gluing the inserts again in the future I will remember to leave them just a hair under the surface so that they can be filled with clear.

The Aerosol Varathane does seem to be pretty tough and dries rather quickly but still the “shrinkage” is considerable and the uncertainty is concerning.

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The playfield touch-up continues…

Pinball Refurbish – Cleopatra part5

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4 thoughts on “Pinball Refurbish – Cleopatra part4

  • Kreig

    Good idea on the ear plugs. Looks like fisheye where the clear mottled. Sand, wipe with naptha and re clear. How or where did you get the decals for the middle pharoahs ?. My middle was worn and I sanded, repainted but need to do decals now. My first time with decals. Thanks

    • Post author

      I must admit I stole the ear plugs idea from another guy who was doing a restore so I can’t take credit for the idea.

      As for the center graphic I had to draw them, I used inkscape mostly and bought the decal paper online it should be in guide somewhere. Let me know if you would like some samples I think I still have them. I think I even have a partially restored playing field as well as the plastic templates for the head and body of the machine.

      Good luck!

      • Kreig

        Samples would be great. I was going to invest in Photoshop but not sure which version to buy. All that is new to me but computers are not. I’m willing to learn. I will have to look up inkscape. Thanks for the tip. How much do u want for your playfield?

    • Post author

      Kreig, I just realized that you had some unanswered questions in regard to the play field.

      I made the decals for the middle pharoah’s which is why I wrote this using water decals and a copier.

      As for the play field, I sold the machine and it went with it… I do have a partially finished spare hanging in my basement though.