This article is from the Pinball FAQ, by Andy Oakland sao@REMOVETOREPLY.mit.edu with numerous contributions by others.
Playfields come in three flavors: Mylared, non-Mylared, and Williams'
"DiamondPlated" fields. Mylar is a sheet of clear plastic laid over
the playfield to protect it. Mylar can get grubby, and slows down play...
Some pinball purists remove the Mylar and keep their fields well waxed.
For Mylared playfields, you can use "Endust" or something similar. If
your game is already in good condition, it does just what you want, and
without that annoying waxy buildup!
Williams field service suggests cleaning DiamondPlate playfields with
Novus Plastic Polishes #'s 1 and 2. #1 to clean and repel dust, #2 to
remove fine scratches. Or you can simply wipe the field clean with a rag
and some glass cleaner. KIT carnauba wax is also reputed to be good.
Call Novus at (800) 548-6872 for a distributor in your area. Brady
Distributors (see bottom of FAQ) and some plastics supply houses carry Novus.
By the way, Williams does not recommend "Wildcat" wax on DiamondPlate
playfields, as it can seep under any mylar pieces and dissolve their
adhesive. It can also cloud clear ramps, with repeated use.
Maintaining your non-Mylar playfield is more complicated. There are special
waxes made for this, such as "Mills" and "Wildcat," which are available
at distributors or via mail-order. (See list of suppliers below) Wax
protects the playfield's paint, and provides a smooth, fast, surface for
the ball to roll on.
A dirty playfield should be "dry wiped" with a soft rag before the first
cleaner/wax application -- that much less dirt to get trapped in the wax.
Do NOT clean playfields with water! Lemon Pledge is reputed to be an
excellent general-purpose cleaner; you can also clean up the playfield
plastics with it, and use it to freshen up a game that's alread got a
good coat of wax.
If you want get ambitious and remove your Mylar, Brian Millham
offers the following advice:
"It turned out to be a BIG, MESSY job, but it was worth it!
The best method that I found was HEAT. I simply took a hair dryer
and heated up a portion of the Mylar, starting from an easy to get
to edge, and peeled it up. Once you get it started, the job is fairly
easy, but slow. Let the heat do its work. Don't overheat the
playfield, but also don't pull the Mylar up too fast. You don't want
to pull up any paint with it!
"Once you have removed the old Mylar, you are probably only half done
with the job. You now will need to remove the glue that was left
behind. This is the fun part :-) I ended up using Milwax and
lots of elbow grease. Once you start cleaning off
the glue, you will find that it looks like you are making a bigger
mess than you had. Don't worry, it will start coming clean.
Oh, did I mention to have LOTS of cloths to do this part?
"It played like a whole different machine! And it looked better too.
The Mylar leaves a dull finish. A waxed playfield looks nice and
Also, there are solvents available to dissolve the glue...I've seen these
work with magnificent results. Michael Knudsen reports:
"I just heard from a serious pin restorer that that Blue Stuff
(called CP-100 by Gemini Inc in Michigan) really dissolves that
gunky glue that holds down Mylar sheets. Not only cleans it up
in short order, but will even soak under the edge of a Mylar sheet
(like around a bumper or ramp) and loosen it right off the playfield!
So now The Blue Stuff has its special niche in pin work.
If you want to do playfield touchup, you can use Testor's paint. You'll
find this in the plastic model section of your local toy store. There
are some new Testor's paint pens on the market, too, which work well.
Lettering can be either retouched by hand, if there's enough to salvage, or
completely redone with rub-on letters. Art supply stores have the latter.
Before retouching the playfield, be certain to clean well and remove all
the old wax! Brian Casper has used grain alcohol with good results.
You can build up height in worn or chipped spots by using multiple coats
of paint. Be sure to allow plenty of time for each coat to dry, and finish
up with coats of polyurethane spray.
Deeper gouges and holes in your playfield can be patched with "Bondo," a
product typically used for repairing car bodies. Bondo should be applied
to the bare wood; beware of getting it on playfield plastics, as its
solvents may attack them. It is very hard after it cures, so you should do
as much shaping of the area as possible while it is still malleable. Once
it dries, you need to use a power sander to smooth it out.
To fill in stripped screw holes and the like, you can use "Plastic Wood"
to provide a new surface for the screws to grip. Another trick is to poke
a toothpick or two into the hole.