5/24/2015, Adventures with Auto Clear

So Friday I picked up the newest print of the overlay for the playfield.  Yeah, somebody finally printed it properly.  Early in the week, I went to a local place to get it printed.  The first print they they made, was too large (eerily similar to the size that I got from banner buzz).  Luckily now they were local, and it was very easy working with them.  After a couple of emails back and forth, it was determined that they had simply printed it incorrectly.  We were never able to figure out why their program increased the size, but it was probably some default setting.  After talking to them on Thursday, they promised me that the new print would be done on Friday so I could work on clear coating this weekend.  Super!  The next print was also free since they admitted it was their mistake.  (Something that banner buzz never did.)  Signs 123 in Chelmsford, MA was the local place that I got it printed.  It is nice to have a local person to deal with when things such as size are critical.

If I was printing the playfield overlay again, this is how I would make sure that it is the correct size:  I would change the canvas on the image to a whole number of inches, so when entering the size in the banner buzz website, it is exact.  It doesn’t matter if the edges are blank, it should simply be printed clear.  Adding a little area around the edge is also helpful, so when installing the overlay, you have a good location to hold the overlay without getting oils from your fingers on the glue.

Once again, used the wet method.  I tried using two people to line it up, (which worked well for the side cabinet art), but was not necessary for the playfield.  After wetting the playfield, and the back of the overlay with soapy water, I would try and line up the overlay by myself.  Trying to do it with two people was too stressful, and probably caused the artwork not be square by a degree or two.  It is noticeable, but I ended up using acrylic black paint to cover the most noticeable of the areas.

Saturday, it was time to start auto clear coating the playfield.  I used Clay’s directions on this link.  Any information that Clay provides is a godsend.  He is the original god of the internet on how to repair pinball machines, and please donate to him if you find his information useful.

So I don’t want the fumes in the house so I set up a tent outside to do the auto clear.  The tent has mesh to minimize the amount of pollen that can get onto playfield.  After finishing two coats, I feel that it is a good option for brushing on auto clear.

Paint Tent

Paint Tent

Playfield in Tent

Playfield in Tent

So Clay says when spreading the auto clear to go from the shooter lane to the left side of the playfield, and then turn the brush over and spread from the left side of the playfield back to the shooter lane.  I found that skipping the shooter lane entirely and doing it at the end after finishing the rest of the playfield worked best for me.  (If I hit the shooter lane low point with a full brush, it would drop a lot of the clear coat into the ditch.  I had to clean that out with the brush at the end anyway, so just avoiding it worked out better).  The second thing I found was that even if Clay says to not got over it again, if you see a bubble, you should make sure that you fix it with the brush using a full stroke across the playfield.  In that way I first did the flat section of the playfield starting just to the left of the shooter lane.  Then at the end, I went straight down the shooter lane to clean the extra clear coat that was deposited when I started the brush to the left of the shooter lane. In that way, I didn’t get any starting/ending brush strokes.

Brushing on clear coat is definitely not going to be as flat as spraying it.  I believe that it will be good enough to play well, but there are definitely going to be some waviness that the ball will ride over.  Spraying simply gives you a much more even application of the clear coat.

Next week is going to be spent repopulating the playfield.  Hopefully next weekend another big update will happen.

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One response to “5/24/2015, Adventures with Auto Clear

  1. Very exciting to see progress. Won’t be long before you’ve got everything back together again and playing on art. The tent was a good idea for a quick paint booth. I assume that’s going to only be used for such things.

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