A playfield replacement is where the original wooden playfield, with the artwork, is replaced by moving all of the electronics and mechanical parts to a new playfield. One of the most common reasons for doing this is the paint may have worn off portions of the original playfield.
The customer’s machine was originally shipped to Germany where it was played heavily and not maintained well until being re-imported into the US. While all of the paint was still on it, there was a mylar (clear film) that was bubbling up over the inserts (the colored plastic windows for the lights). The ball would not roll down the playfield without encountering one of these bumps, changing the direction of it.
I’ve done about a half-dozen playfield replacements. The basic and generic steps are as follows:
- Take many photos of the top side, both close and from further back, and from different angles.
- Remove the playfield plastics and ramps (if any) and retake photos.
- Continue to remove everything from the top side of the playfield, clean all of the parts and set aside. Determine which items you’d like to replace such as pop bumper caps, plastic ramps, etc.
- Flip the playfield over and take many photos from different angles.
- Continue to detach everything from the bottom side. The goal is to slide the entire mess of wires, coils, lights and mechs onto a temporary surface such as a large piece of cardboard (I use plexiglass). Label each light socket and playfield switch. Leave everything soldered with the exception of pop bumper lights and outhole kickout solenoid (and any other wires going to the top side of the playfield). Remove all staples from any wires. Slide everything off the playfield onto another surface.
- Do any hammering next. If there are pop bumpers you will have to carefully hammer out the captive screws without bending them. Then you will hammer them into the new playfield. Remove the wooden edge pieces and back panel from the old playfield and install on the new playfield.
- On the topside, install pop bumper housings and light sockets. This is done now because the ends of the light sockets will usually need to be stapled on the bottom side. You’ll have to use a dremel tool with a small sanding drum to remove the clear coat from the center holes.
- On the bottom side, slide the mess of wires and mechs onto the new playfield. Do any stapling first while you can still move things around to get access with the staple gun.
- Install the screws for the remaining items on the bottom side. Sometimes the switches need precise placement and it’s best to drill pilot holes for the screws. On slingshots and eject holes, the arms and the solenoids are mounted separately. The alignment is important to keep things from binding. Use the original playfield as a guideline.
- After everything is installed on the bottom side, flip the playfield over and install all of the remaining items on the top side.
Before installing the playfield into the machine, mirror blades were added to the sides of the cabinet. When it was all done, it looked like a brand new pinball machine. Just beautiful!