Pinbal project

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Solomin

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Feb 22, 2020
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Hello,

I am currently in the process of trying to find an easier way to fix a pinball playfield.

A pinball playfield has a partern painted on a piece of plywood. This is where the pinball rolls on it.

After time, sections of the playfield ware our out because the pinball acts like sand paper.

One solution to avoid this is to clear coat.

So here is what I would like to do and any advice would be appreciated:

Replacing a pinball playfield is a time consuming process. One can buy an overlay (a sticker) that goes on the playfield which in theory can then be clearcoated.

I would prefer to use a thin but strong piece of wood (the thinnest possible) for which I can either put a sticker on it or perhaps print directly to the wood.

The dimensions required are 36 inches x 18.50 inches.

I would put the patter on the wood, cut out all the holes, clearcoat and then glue it to the playfield (using something like contact cement, in a way similar to gluing laminate to a counter top.

The idea is to prepare a piece with the pattern (and clearcoat) so that all that remains to be done is to glue to the pinball playfield.

I would like to use wood that is thinner than 1/8 of an inch. Is aircraft type of plywood a viable option? Is it the same as balsa wood? I used to use balsa wood for my models and it would be too soft for this application. The wood has to be hard enough so that a bouncing metal pinball would not destroy it.


Can anyone recommend a type of wood that is hard and wood work for this project?

Thanks in advance.

Solomin
 

lr27

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Nov 3, 2007
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Most aircraft ply is birch. You can get it as thin as 1/64 of an inch, though when it's that thin it's rather flexible. You might want to fill any low slots on the old board before putting the new one on. You can also get thin veneer of various kinds of wood. Maybe even harder than birch. Sugar maple is a possibility. They use it for bowling alleys.
 

Solomin

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Feb 22, 2020
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Hello and thanks for the comment. Flexible is not an issue as long as it does not crack and remains solid (in the sense that pushing on it will not cause indentations).

I looked a veneer, but it seems to be very brittle and difficult to cut holes in it without the veneer breaking. I am also investigating laminate.
 

Geraldc

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You can get okoume or gaboon marine ply in 1/16 which is harder than birch and cheaper.
Finish with quality auto clear coat.
 

don january

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Not home built aircraft related at all but I will give you a suggestion on what may do the trick. At Home depot store you can get 1/8" x 2' x 4' piece of Tempered Hardboard that is amazingly strong and very dent resistant. This wood is used often in Toddler folding day bed for the base.
 

Dana

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How about a thin sheet of clear acrylic (plexiglass) over the top? The artwork would be protected underneath, and ball would roll very smoothly. Years ago I made a new acrylic top to replace the fiberboard one for one of those "labyrinth" games (the ball rolling in a maze with two knobs to tilt it and steer the ball). Not only did it look cool, the ball rolled a lot more smoothly.
 

Vigilant1

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I would consider using the laminate (trade name "Formica" or similar) that is used as a surface on countertops. It is resin-infused paper, inexpensive (compared to plywood), wear resistant (compared to wood or a vinyl sticker) and fairly resistant to common solvents (whic will be handy when the new sticker on it eventually wears out). I'd guess it is available almost worldwide and it isn't hard to work with. The common sheet sizes are fine for your application, no seams would be required on the playing surface. The very glossy/smooth type you'd want isn't quite as easy to find (anymore) as the matte finish is more popular, but it is out there. Use the "good stuff" as the cheaper lines have a thinner wear surface and the cost difference is not big in the grand scheme of things.
 

Solomin

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Feb 22, 2020
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Laminate might do the trick. Cost is an issue as I am trying to reduce expenses and make the idea I explained costed effective (i.e. < $150 Canadian / sheet)
 

Vigilant1

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You can try out the laminate idea very easily. Large home improvement stores in North America often stock a very small variety of patterns in store. Normally it will be available in various sizes alongside the rollers and contact cement used for these projects (covering a small counter, a pair of cabinet doors, etc). The very glossy stuff might not be stocked in store, it could be you'll need to special order a sheet or two. Custom cabinet shops would likely have small scraps/cutoffs you could buy or get free.
ETA:. Cost is usually less than $25 US for a 30" x 48" sheet of the high-end stuff.
 
Last edited:

poormansairforce

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To expand on the laminate idea, find a cabinet supply store, etc and see if they have any busted or partial sheets. You might get it for free. I have. You can also paint the back if needed.
 

Vigilant1

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BTW, to bring this back to homebuilt airplanes: I've read that builders have used Formica very successfully as a mold for composite vacuum bag forming. It makes simple (i.e 2D) curves well, the smooth stuff is as glossy as glass, it is inexpensive, and a bit easier to work with than sheet metal (IMO-- no bends, buckles, etc). It can be held nicely in a curve with occasional MDF or plywood formers.
 

BJC

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I have used a piece of scrap formica counter top, the cut-out for a sink, to lay up small flat tabs on. Works great with a little wax on it.


BJC
 

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