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Pinball Rehab

pinball repair and restoration

Removing Ball Swirl Marks with Magic Eraser Removing Ball Swirl Marks with Magic Eraser Hot

The best way to remove ball swirl marks is with a Magic Eraser and isopropyl alcohol.  The magic behind this method is the fact that melamine foam has a structure like fine fiberglass strands that gets down into cracks and removes dirt and grit.

The Magic Eraser approach provides a more effective, and safer, method than sanding or polishing.  With the latter approaches it is necessary to work the area until the crack has been (pretty much) completely removed.  At that point though you will more than likely have also removed playfield artwork.

Instead with the Magic Eraser approach the objective is to get the dirt and grit out of the cracks and then fill them using either a lacquer (older machines) or clear coat.  This approach results in a much lower chance of damaging playfield artwork.

Of course anytime you are attempting to remove ball swirl marks you risk damaging the artwork.  So constantly check the Magic Eraser for signs of paint removal as you work.

Note: This method can also be used when the damage has gotten down into the artwork, but will require doing touch-up paint (generally the brush and wipe technique works best) to restore any cosmetic damage.

Image Gallery

Removing Ball Swirl Marks with Magic Eraser
Removing Ball Swirl Marks with Magic Eraser
Removing Ball Swirl Marks with Magic Eraser
Removing Ball Swirl Marks with Magic Eraser
Removing Ball Swirl Marks with Magic Eraser

Magic Erasers are abrasive and should be used carefully.  The exact equivalent grit of ME's are not known, but generally estimated to be comparable to 2,000 to 3,000 wet/dry sandpaper.

In Image 1 you can see the playfield from a Taxi with extreme ball swirl marks.  After rubbing the area for about 30 seconds, with minimal pressure, using a Magic Eraser and 91% alcohol you can see the results in Image 2. 

In Image 3 you can see a cross section (using a surface profiler) of the previously cleaned area.  The thickness of the paint and clear was measured at 100 microns before using the magic eraser and 75 microns after cleaning.

You only need to lightly dampen the magic eraser.  Clean up any white goop (a combination of alcohol and melamine fibers) frequently.  The alcohol could soften the playfield paint and once the goop dries it is not easy to get off. 

If you're left with a haze or dullness to the playfield, clean with naptha and then use a finishing polish to shine it up.

For additional test information and photos see Restoring Playfield with Magic Eraser by Mark Clayton.

This method can also be used to repair major playfield planking (for minor planking see the references).  Although since planking commonly has a raised edge around the crack, a combination of sanding and ME will often work better.

See Images 4 and 5 for before and after pictures of a Bally Mata Hari that was cleaned up using this technique.

Contributors
Taxi example and photos provided by David Robinson (rancegt). Mata Hare photos provided by OTTOgd.