How to level inserts in old pinball machine playfields

Nowadays, it’s hard to find any pinball machine made before 1980 that don’t have certain issues with the plastic inserts in the playfield, shrinking and becoming concave and affecting gameplay. Almost all electro-mechanical games suffer from this, as the forces of time, heat and other factors have caused the plastic inserts to change shape. In this series of videos I go over a process of fixing this to make your playfield level and play like new. In this case working with a Gottlieb Jet Spin (aka “Super Spin”)

First step is safely removing the inserts:

Now that they’re out, let’s go over what’s involved in getting them smoothed over:

While the inserts are out, now is the time to touch up parts of the playfield and the black rings around the inserts:

Now we are ready to put the inserts back in the playfield:

And here’s a look at the end result:

3 thoughts on “How to level inserts in old pinball machine playfields

  1. Nice set of videos! I’m just about to start a restoration of a Gottlieb Bronco, which is of the same vintage as your Jetspin. I notice in the videos that the bottom corners of the two lower plastics are broken off, just like on my Bronco. I guess you decided not to repair these, and just put washers there instead?

  2. Great Videos.. Thank you. One piece you skipped on your machine was leveling the inserts with lettering. After watching your videos, I can handle the solid inserts, but I have a few with lettering I want to preserve, and I can’t leave them like you did in the video. What type of clearcoat should I use? You mentioned automotive clearcoat and I’ve seen different discussions on clearcoating playfields, but I don’t want to buy a lot of clear to do a few inserts. Like you did with the game in your video, I’m trying to make my game playable, not restored.

    • I wish I had more experience with clearcoating, but at this point I don’t. I will have to reserve any recommendations until I can offer more wisdom on that.

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