Pinball Rehab

pinball repair and restoration

Removing Cabinet Scuff Marks Removing Cabinet Scuff Marks Hot

It's not uncommon to find scuff marks on your pinball cabinet where paint from a doorway or chair or a brunette with a bad dye job (don't ask) has rubbed off on the cabinet.  In many cases you can remove the unwanted paint without damaging the cabinet paint.  The key is to go with a mild cleaner.

The first step is to evaluate your chances of success.  Rub your finger across the scuff mark and you should feel a slightly raised area.  If you don't, or you feel gouges when running  your fingernail across the area, it is likely the cabinet decal or paint has been scratched or damaged.  While you still may want to continue, be aware you may find bare wood as you remove the scuff mark.

This approach will work on stenciled cabinets or cabinets with decals, but should not be used on cabinets with flaking or raised paint.

I usually use Mean Green, although you can also use Simple Green.  If you're going to use Simple Green test it on the paint under a leg because it will sometimes remove cabinet paint.  In addition you will need a white cloth or white paper towels which will allow you to monitor how much cabinet paint, if any, is being removed.

In image 1 you can see a black scuff mark running horizontal below and to the right of the upper half of the setting sun on a Data East Hook pinball. Take your cloth and wrap it around your hand with one finger extended and close your fist to tighten up the material.  By doing this you can work a very small area and avoid as much of the cabinet paint as possible.

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Removing Cabinet Scuff Marks
Removing Cabinet Scuff Marks
Removing Cabinet Scuff Marks
Removing Cabinet Scuff Marks
Removing Cabinet Scuff Marks
Removing Cabinet Scuff Marks

Spray some cleaner on the rag and begin rubbing along the scuff mark.  Since we're relying on friction more than chemicals to remove the scuff this will take a few minutes.  Check the rag frequently to see how much of the original paint you are removing.  Also compare the color and brightness of the area you are working on to the adjacent untouched area.  If you see any signs of discoloration or fading, quit immediately.

In image 2 you can see the scuff mark after about 10 minutes work.  The scuff is gone and although my rag did show slight signs of the red paint coming off there is no noticeable discoloration in the area I was working on.

Image 3 provides another example with black scuff marks near the skeleton's elbow and white marks around the bottom edge of the backbox.  Image 4 shows the results after a few minutes work.  In this case some of the black marks could not be removed because the paint was scratched into the surface.  Not perfect, but much better than when I started and easier than trying to match cabinet paint.

If this approach does not work, you can go with a slightly stronger cleaning agent: denatured alcohol.  Note: Always test under a cabinet leg first to see if the cabinet paint is being removed.  Use the same method as describe above.  Image 5 is the cabinet on a Baywatch with a scuff mark before cleaning.  In Image 6 you can see the finished product after using denatured alcohol.