Earthshaker – System 11 Playfield Preperation

The new playfield I received is in much better shape than the current one in the game. Don’t forget you can follow my entire Earthshaker Pinball Project right from the start. So if I am going to do a full playfield swap, this one will need correct preparation. This has a lot of the usual system 11 playfield preparation that is required – but I will start with the first three steps of when I got the new playfield.

  • Removing the Mylar
  • Removing the Mylar Glue
  • Cleaning the Playfield

Initial Inspection of Playfield

Initial Review of Playfield

The playfield on first inspection looked much better than the one currently in my game. The colours are much brighter. There is no cracking on the clear coat and there is not as much wear. This stands in a much better position and is the perfect playfield to swap. The fact that it is already stripped made it a much easier decision to start the playfield preparation.

Removing the Mylar

This playfield, like pretty much every System 11 playfield, came with factory fitted mylar. This needs to be removed before proper cleaning, airbrushing and clear coating can take place. There are two main methods used in pinball restoration to do this. The freeze method, where you use compressed air to freeze the glue and pull the mylar. The other method and the one I use is the hot air method. With the hot air method I simply

To start pulling any mylar, find an edge and with a sharp blade, preferably an exacto blade, take a small piece of the mylar up. I then use a heat gun applying heat in small doses to the mylar. Lifting as I apply the heat, then pulling back to remove the heat to not burn my hands. I have a short video of me removing a section of the mylar here for a visual of it happening in action. You can see how quickly the mylar moves when heat is applied.

This was just one piece of the mylar on the playfield, this, like from the system 11 days had many patches applied. My favourite being the centre piece on this Earthshaker. Still, using the heat method, it came up just as easily.

Centre mylar piece, Earthshaker System 11 Playfield

Removing the Mylar Glue

Removing the glue left behind by the mylar is the next step in restoring the playfield. There are many methods discussed to do this. Some people use Goo Gone, some certain forms of thinners, but all need to be bought specially for this application. Most will have both flour and isopropyl alcohol to hand when restoring a pinball (and having general supplies). So this is the method I use.

I apply a layer of flour over the glue, ensuring it covers all the areas. The good thing is that the glue makes the flour stick, so you can see where it is. After a small dusting, spray over a little isopropyl, then a little more flour. It will turn to a bit of a gloop, that’s when you know it is working. From that point, I start to slide the flour around the playfield, applying more friction on the more stubborn areas. The consistency of the flour will change to dry once again once it has pulled up the glue. Making it easy to pick up with the hoover, just be careful with the playfield – not to scratch it. There is a good video of the flour technique in action right here.

Cleaning the Playfield

To clean the playfield, I use Novus 2. It is available from most of the U.K. pinball suppliers and really is great stuff. Simply apply a coat of Novus 2 on the playfield, and allow it to dry. The playfield will turn to a slight haze, meaning that the Novus can be removed. I use a clean cloth to remove the Novus, leaving a nice bright shine behind. It is classified as a fine scratch remover, so technically is slightly abrasive. Luckily – it is safe to use on machines for applications such as this, or removing old wax before applying another coat.

The Results

The results of the playfield preparation are very positive. Considering there is still work to done with the airbrush. As well as work on the inserts and the insert decals. I am hopeful that this playfield will be much better than the one currently on the game.

New System 11 Playfield - Earthshaker

Which when you look at the old one, isn’t that difficult.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this breakdown of preparing a system 11 playfield. If you have any tips or comments, please let me know in the comments box below.

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