File this under “seemed like such a good idea at the time.” And then never do it. Please don’t do it. Whatever you do, do not varnish or shellac your pinball machine instead of using clearcoat. Please.

This 1988 Williams Taxi came to our shop a few weeks ago for a full shop job. Our first task was to get the playfield stripped. As we pulled everything off, we couldn’t help but notice a certain yellowed, uneven surface to the playfield.
The big boss investigated and discovered that sure enough at some point in the life of this machine, someone decided to cover everything with a nice, thick layer of shellac.
While this might have looked shiny and good at the time, the effect most certainly didn’t last. Shellac always yellows with age. We were happy that a quick test of the old sealant showed it would come up easily with our putty knife.
It continued to come up, and up, and up. Luckily, the playfield wasn’t affected. Sometimes varnish can adhere to the ink and pull up chunks when removed.
Here’s the final pile. That was impressive. Now DO NOT DO THIS AGAIN, people. Use a clear coat product! Thank you.

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of Firebird Pinball. Thank you for restoring your machines responsibly.