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I'm New, I want a Pinball Machine
and I have no idea where to start! Help!!!!

Well, you’ve come to the right place. If your new to pinball purchasing, owning, or just an all around newbie, this article is for you. Look below at the table of contents for this article. Choose a link to jump to, or read this article in its entirety.

 

 

 What “kind” of machine do I want?

You probably already have a good idea of what ‘kind” of pinball machine you want. Perhaps it’s one you recall as a child or teen. Maybe it’s one you’ve played in the last 10 years. It could even be one that is brand new on the market. Basically pinball machines fall into two main categories. Electro-mechanical (EM) and solid-state (SS). You can determine an EM game from a SS game quickly by looking at the way it scores points. EM games use scoring reels that spin (usually accompanied by bells ringing) or light up scoring values on the backglass. Those that light up scores on a backglass are older than those with spinning reels. Some popular EM titles include Wizard, Capt. Fantastic, Fireball, (using scoring reels)  and older titles like Slick Chick and Queen of Diamonds that use backglass lighting to indicate the score. By 1978, all major manufacturers were doing away with EM parts and building computer controlled SS machines. You can quickly identify a SS machine by looking at the backglass scoring. All SS machines use LED style scoring – like that of an alarm clock. The rest of this article can pertain to EM machines in some aspects but the focus will be on SS machines.

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Above, 3 examples of Solid State machines, scoring is obviously digital.
Below is an example of an electro-mechanical machine's scoring via score reels.

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A very little history

SS machines have varied from the late 70’s up to the present. Late 70’s and very early 80’s games had very rudimentary sound that simulated chimes (bells) or in fact had chimes (bells). Most used 6 digit scoring so your maximum score could only go as high as 999,999. This usually didn’t matter since scoring was kept low by design. But soon all of these elements would change.

By 1981, SS games were developing into more complex machines. More complex sounds were added including background moans and groans – speeding up or getting higher in pitch as you played longer (Gorgar, Meteor, Flash).  Speech was added (Gorgar first) and multiball (Firepower first), even other gimmicks were added like Magna-Save (Black Knight) that used magnets that you actually controlled. Multi-level playfield games were introduced as the competition drove out more advanced and usually better machines (Black Knight, Black Hole, Haunted House, Electra, Vector). Scoring popped over the 1 million mark with 7 digit displays (Seawitch, Medusa, Black Knight). There were a ton of advancements from 1980-1984.

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Above, This alpahumeric display has plenty of room for large scores and text (Bride of Pinbot).

In 1984, pinball took a conservative turn like traditional video games. The industry had suffered quite a blow and arcades were shutting down everywhere. Pinball was getting lower production and cost cuts in design. There were a few designed with no multi-ball and no speech. Still some fabulous pins were made between 1984 and 1988 like Space Station, Fire, Space Shuttle, Strange Science and Pinbot. Plastic and wireform ramps were making a strong presence on the playfield and cabinets were built deeper and deeper to contain all of the paths and passages. Alphanumeric displays arrived – helping pass useful information to the player and allowing high scorers to enter their initials.  

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Notice cabinet height increasing to encompass the mass of ramps, wireforms, and playfield toys. Firepower (right circa 1980) Bride of Pinbot (left circa 1991)

A new contender entered the market in the late 80’s and into the 90’s. Data East brought stereo sound into the pinball pool. Bally was absorbed by Williams and Gottlieb finally let go of their System 80 style computer architecture.  Data East brought several great things to pinball including some great dot-matrix (DMD) graphical art into the new display of the 90’s. Starting with a small display and eventually growing into a monster sized DMD, the industry finally settled on the standard sized display - what we commonly call the DMD. This allowed players to interact with event’s not only on the playfield but also on the display. Data East did this well with events that would “pop up” on the display and require you to perform a non-flipper event to earn points (Lethal Weapon 3, Jurassic Park). Some very “deep” games were created with Pat Lawlor of Williams being one of the well known masterminds behind them (Addams Family, Twilight Zone). A couple of other companies were born and later buried (Alvin G, Capcom) making only a few titles – all with DMD displays and some very neat innovations. Multiball, speech, and very game specific interactive devices were created with almost all machines produced in this era.

Finally we are up to the last few years of pinball. Gottlieb has long passed away, Bally/Williams has sold off their assets to Illinois Pinball with only the selling of Bally/Williams parts still alive, and only one manufacturer is still standing. What was Data East became Sega and ended up today as Stern Pinball (www.sternpinball.com). Many of us were very concerned with the demise of Williams but it appears that the quality of pinball coming out on the market today is as good as ever. Pat Lawlor (PLD) working with Stern Pinball created a couple of fantastic machines (Monopoly, Roller Coaster Tycoon) with more to come.

So hopefully that has helped you think of different generations of pinball machines but there is still more to consider.

Themes, elements, rules, & the player

Pinball themes might be important to you. For example, festive themes like theme parks are popular (Comet, Cyclone, Hurricane, Roller Coaster Tycoon) and very family friendly. There are tons of movie themed machines (Last Action Hero, Terminator 2, The Flintstones, X-Files, tons more) that hit and miss as a good representation of the film. How about the ever popular pinball themes of cards (poker) or billiards? The game theme could be very important to you.

As described before – pinball elements differed through the years. For example, you might want a game with more than 2 flippers, more than just the main playfield (multi-level), lot’s of sound and speech, or a ramp infested game (like No Fear). Generally, late 70's and early 80's games had no ramps, mid-80's had a couple, and newer games were loaded down with them.

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Here you see 2 very different playfieds. 8 Ball on the left is an example of an early solid state game. A billiard's theme with no ramps, no wireforms, very straight forward. On the right is Big Hurt, a baseball themed game loaded with "layers" of ramps and wireforms. The ball goes airborne on a regular basis in this game. Larger pictures of both of these games are available from the Ultimate Index.

Rules and strategy are an often overlooked element of pinball when buying a game. Deeper rulesets didn’t always work well when these games were originally released, yet increase the longevity of the game at home. For example, Twilight Zone was one of the most complicated games ever produced. It confused a lot of players with multiple modes interacting with unique toys on the playfield (gumball machine, the Power mini-pf) yet this game is one of the most popular home buyer games. Most think that deeper rules make for a longer play value for a home game. Don’t think that only modern 90’s games contain challenging rules. Play Gottlieb’s 1981 Black Hole game a few times and see if you have mastered the rules. I truly doubt you will.

Who will this game be for? Just you? Your entire family? Your spouse? Make sure you find out that they are interested in if it’s not for you. Looking at pictures on Popbumper, eBay, or other web sites will be helpful in determining what themes to look for. Obviously you will not want a Playboy machine where you might be entertaining your Sunday School class. And you probably will not want to make Gorgar available to small children (backglass art even scares me sometimes).

Money – it’s probably the most important. Pinball machines are expensive. Be prepared to spend some money. How much? Many older SS titles can be found in good working order for under $500 – but not often less than that. The 85-90 non-DMD games reach ever closer to $1000. Post 1990 games reach up to $1500 on a regular basis, and the even newer or more popular games run well over $2000. By the way, brand new in-the-box (NIB) machines cost around $3700 and often cheaper. Don’t let anyone fool you on that fact. Go to www.sternpinball.com and look at their distributor list. Call 2 or 3 in your area and I bet you’ll get varying price quotes.

Do you have your list ready yet? A list??? Yes – a list. You should create a list of several games that will work for you. Seeking out just one game will work but might take a year or two to find. Seeking out any on your “wanted” list will work a lot faster – increasing your odds in finding a game to put in your house.


How do I find a machine for sale?

I remember asking myself that same question years ago. Once upon a time there was no eBay. And now that there is, I certainly don’t recommend that as the best means of purchasing a game. Since a pinball machine is a complex device, you should really find one locally – within driving distance. To do that, you will have to study the local “Trader” ad magazines and newspaper classifieds. The web will still be a wonderful guide especially if you live in a more metro area. Look up the Mr. Pinball Classifieds (www.xmission.com/~daina/classified) and search areas near you. If that still doesn’t work, go to the yellow pages and look at the listings for Amusement Devices. These folks are real venders (called operators) that put these machines out in public places. Often times they are not interested in selling equipment to the public, mainly due to the customers desire to contact them with every little problem that exists with the complex pinball machine. So, if you do choose to go to an operator, make sure to tell them that you will not bother them with problems. That sometimes makes a big difference in their attitude in selling. Remember that the goal here is to physically look at the machine and play it. But, if that doesn’t work, consider pinball on the web. There are reputable pinball resellers on the web but they are incredibly expensive (often double retail book values). Then there is Mr. Pinball (usually expensive but often less than dealers), and then eBay (usually the going prices, sometimes higher). Make sure to get plenty of pictures and ask lots of questions. Be careful, be paranoid, be conservative. Consider joining the rec.games.pinball newsgroup and ask questions about the history of some sellers. That group would be the best place to ask about any reseller on the web – and at times a good buy is found there too.


What do I need to look for when buying a machine?

Does it work? Does it look nice? Are the electronics all there? Are the fuses wrapped with tin foil? Has someone with the artistic ability of a 3 year old attempted playfield touch-up? Is it clean enough to eat off of or does it look like someone just rebuilt a transmission on top of it?  Consider all of this when looking over a machine. And expect to pay top dollar for a clean, perfectly working machine.

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Two examples of superb looking playfields. These are glossy clean with no crackling in the the paint (no apparent raised wood grain) all new rubber, looking good enough to eat off of. The one on the left is a Getaway ('92 Williams) the one on the right is an older machine - Close Encounters ('78 Gottlieb) making this condition all that harder to find. These are top dollar machines!

Look at the playfield closely. Pay close attention to the finish. Is there any paint missing? Look around popbumpers and slingshots for wear. Inspect the top arch on older machines, where every plunged ball travels. The older the game, the more wear to expect. Newer clear coated games should only have hints of wear and no paint missing. Look around flippers. There should not be any marks where flippers have “bottomed out” and have scared the playfield’s finish.  Also look for playfield touch-up work. If you can’t find it than it’s good enough. But you might find ugly blotches of paint here and there from poor touch up jobs.

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Bally Night Rider. Notice the playfield paint is cracking, major wear in the teal paint and around the first (bottom) red lamp socket. Also notice the half circle areas right in front of the slingshots (right above the flippers to the right and left). Mylar was placed over the playfield wood in these areas to protect against high ball traffic wear. Still, this machine could be cleaned up, waxed, and quite fun to play. But, good playfield condition is important to most people - and this one doesn't look that good Touching up the paint is possible, but more harm than good can easily be the result.

 

Backglasses are expensive. Some backglasses have been sealed to keep paint cracks and crazes from increasing. Some haven't. This is important since just moving one of these glasses can cause major paint peel. Others are beyond repair, with entire portions of the paint bubbled and flaked off. Newer games have a translite that doesn’t suffer from any of these problems. If a backglass is flaked badly or has large cracks missing in the art – expect to have to search for a backglass and shell out big bucks. Most NOS (new – never used, original stock) glasses are gone and those that are left usually cost well over $150. Still, I wouldn’t expect an early 80’s game to have a perfect glass. Consider yourself lucky if you do get one with a perfect glass. Translites are usually available so if you run into a game that has a translite with wear or perhaps a rip, you can probably find another one on eBay for $30 – 50.

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This is a glass that looks pretty rough from the backside, Gorgar looks more like Aquaman from the front . Through years of hot and cold storage, the expansion and contraction of paint on the backglass has created this effect of crackling or crazing. Sealing this glass is important, but doesn't fix the problem - just helps to prevent it from getting worse. Even worse, this glass could have had the paint flaking off as is the case in many of this age. A replacement Gorgar backglass for this machine is almost non-existant - so decide what you can live with.

Does the game work? Don’t fall for the “lites up but doesn’t start a game” line. All older SS games will “light up” with no CPU installed at all. That’s because their general illumination runs directly from the transformer and is not CPU controlled at all. You want to look for the machine to actually start a game and keep running after your game is over. A resetting game indicates problems. To go deeper, look at all of the blinking lights. Do all lights really turn off and on at some point? If not, it might be more than a lamp but rather a bad transistor on the driver board. Same goes for coils. Do all popbumper’s pop? Do all other “popping” devices “pop”? Very important. If not, you could have a minor switch adjustment – or you might have a bad coil on the driver board requiring bench work to replace. Displays should be bright with no missing digits – DMDs should not have any missing rows or columns and no cloudiness after being on for 20 minutes. The absolute best thing you can do is run through the diagnostics on the game. Every game’s manual describes the diagnostic routines and how to start them. Popbumper is a good place to find a particular game manual. If you are looking at a specific game now and have no idea how to run diagnostics, pull that manual or pull one that was manufactured around the same time. Read up on the diagnostics and electronic architecture. You’ll go into this with a lot more knowledge which is very useful when making a deal.

Manual? Yep – you want a manual. If the game doesn’t have one, you can order from most all pinball parts suppliers. Or pull one from here and print it out. Expect to pay as much as $30 for a manual. Or be patient and buy it on eBay for as little as $10 + shipping.


 I want a machine that has already been “gone through”

Good choice if your not into the “electronics” thing. Most first time pinball buyers prefer to buy a game that is “shopped” and tested. When I sell a game, I sell it with a warrantee also. The warrantee only covers the electronic circuit boards in the back – and lasts for a month. This is something I only do for a local sell – so most people that ship a game to you will not warrantee it. This makes sense for them because shipping methods are not always ideal for something like a pinball machine. You might receive your game without any damage to the crate, but in transport, things get jostled around. There really aren’t too many people willing to guarantee a shipped game. A good reason to buy locally. Here’s another one. Cost of transport. Expect to pay about $150 – 250 for the seller to crate your game and pay for the shipping. You won’t ever get a complete pinball machine via USPS, UPS, or Fedex. Only LTL carriers will ship something like this. Forward Air is the one I use most because of a lower cost, but there are many out there that will do just as good or better. (Fedex and UPS provide a service version of LTL)

Now, back to your “already gone through” game. The most important thing about a “already gone through game” is the foundation. It really doesn’t matter how clean a machine is if the playfield paint is missing in large quantity and the lamp inserts are sticking up inch too high. Rotten cabinets and messed up heads are also deterrents. And they will always drive the price down. But let’s assume that you are looking at a game with a nice quality playfield. You will be paying a premium for a game that has had everything removed and cleaned, all mechanical parts tested and adjusted, new lamps installed, new rubber everywhere, new balls, slick shiny playfield, all switches adjusted, any electrical situations modified or “bullet-proofed”, touch up on cabinet scrapes and scratches, coin door re-painted and/or cleaned, etc. If I were to sell a game that was in this condition, it would be somewhat expensive. For example, in Feb, 2003, a Terminator 2 in this condition would probably go for $1200-$1500 or even higher from a dealer. From an individual, maybe $1100-$1300.  I would expect anything less as a bargain for a game in this condition.

Don't be fooled by anyone. Just about everyone can pitch a good line to you. I've been fooled before by getting into a hurry. Don't rush it. Look it over closely, play it a dozen times, ask about anything you see that isn't looking right. Ask to see behind the backglass, or under the playfield. Don't get too concerned about dust in the cabinet. Be concerned if you find all kinds of odd things laying inside, like broken glass, nuts and bolts, taped up wiring, and swelled wood - the result of water damage.

Operators (those that vend these machines) are rarely the type of folks that offer shopped games. They might try to tell you it's clean, working, and ready for their route. And they are probably correct. Most of the operators I know don't have a passion for pinball - they have a passion for money. What is clean and working to you might not be clean and working to them. They are providing a service at public locations, not tweaking little issues here and there. So, if a flipper isn't broken, it will probably remain dirty and out of adjustment. There are exceptions to this rule too - still, keep this in mind.

As you can see, a “already gone through” game is not that cheap. But the benefits are huge if you want to simply plug in a game and play.


Not me, I want to save money and fix & clean it myself.

There are 3 main types of machines that fall into this category. Those that need electronics work, those that work electronically buy are filthy, and those that need both a good cleaning and electronic help (aka project pinballs).

Cleaning a pinball machine (or shopping one out) is a time consuming process if done correctly. You will need lot’s of cleaning stuff like Novus 2, a caruba wax, windex, metal polish, lots of rags, lost of patience, lots of time. The newer the game, the more difficult it is to shop. Early 80’s games like Cleopatra, Meteor, and Eight Ball are all fairly easy to shop. Multi-level games like Black Knight and Lightning take more time. Haunted House and Black Hole take even more time since they have independent large lower playfields. More modern machines with wireforms and ramps take even longer, like Jurassic Park, Judge Dredd, Addams Family, and Twilight Zone. There are often several layers to remove before you even see plywood. No Fear is one of the worst games to shop, taking a lot of time and careful attention to the order of items removed. If you’ve never shopped out a pinball machine, you really have no idea how time consuming it can be. But you can certainly save money and the rewarding experience is well worth it. The scope of this document does not include in-depth information on shopping a game but is well documented elsewhere on the web.

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No Fear, the left picture shows the game stripped almost completely down. There was still more work to do there, like remove the metal ball guides around the top, and the flippers! On the right you see the end result. It took me well over one week of evenings to thorougly clean and shop this game - and the reults were certinaly worth it!

Electronic issues are also another consideration. There have been machines sold at auctions that don’t have all of their PCB’s installed. Sometimes, the unaware buyer thinks that it is something minor (remember that general illumination comes directly from the transformer on older SS machines) when indeed the problem is quite severe. Occasionally you get lucky, but that's not the norm.

It has been said that you don’t have to have an electronic background to fix a pinball machine. What is not often enough said is that you must have a strong desire to learn electronics and enough motivation to stick with the learning process in order to be successful at fixing pinball machines. And you will be out some cash too. You will need at least a Digital Multi-Meter (DMM), soldering iron (not the trigger high wattage type), solder, a desoldering tool of some sort, various electronic components, etc. The ability to follow electronic schematics must be learned. All of this to be successful. Now someone out there is probably saying that this isn’t true. I’m telling you that if you want to find success in repairing electronic issues, you will at minimum have to do the things I have mentioned above. Not all problems with pinball machines are due to bad connections. Also, not fully understanding electronic problems causes people to make some very poor decisions – like cutting off connectors and soldering wires directly to pins, rigging up jumper wires to IC’s that they broke while removing them, jumping wires over fuses (causes things to catch on fire), and a whole lot more. The end result is someone else headache.

So, in summary, cleaning and fixing pinball machines of this caliber is something that is fun to learn– but very taxing on your time and wallet. If you plan to join the addict club, I highly recommend that you get a cheap fixer upper and go full tilt (pun intended). Learn everything you can about it. But, if you don’t see yourself with half a dozen games in the coming years, skip through the project pile of games at the next auction or visit to an operator.


OK, got a machine now what do I need to know about maintenance?

If you already have a machine or are buying an “already gone through” machine, you really don’t have too much to learn about keeping it up and running. A pinball machine is a fantastic invention. Lights blinking, cool sounds and light shows, DMD graphics, and a true interactive experience. There are many elements of a game that will need to be attended to from time to time. The topics covered in this section are cleaning, switch adjusting, replacing rubber, and replacing lamps.

A clean game is beautiful – and makes the playing experience more like what the original designers intended it to be. After a complete shopping and wax job, a pinball machine in home use will not need a complete tear-down and cleaning for a long long time. You will however need to keep it clean. My machines all get the full shop job, and then I periodically wipe off the playfield with Novus 2 and wax again. No, I do not remove everything. Instead, I clean up only the areas where the ball goes, and sometimes only the high traffic areas. Periodic cleaning is the way to go! Otherwise, you'll be tearing down the game again and cleaning everything. And when your waxing, less is more. Don't glob wax on plastic posts  - you will never get all of the wax out without removing the part and brushing it.

If everything was clean to begin with, how does it get dirty?  That’s somewhat debatable but you can be sure that your ball has a lot to do with it. Some games have under-playfield passages that accumulate a large amount of “black funk”. This “funk” must be cleaned off of these under pf passages, otherwise that “funk” will be tracked all over the playfield surface. It’s like having a child put on new shoes, then goes out and gets their feet muddy, then comes back in the house and tracks dirt all over the carpet. If you use a new clean ball on a clean playfield and skip the under-playfield passages, ball trough, or other hidden areas, you can be sure that your playfield will get dirty in short time. A good shop job will include all of those areas.

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Underneath side of Black Rose ('92 Williams/Bally). Notice the red arrow pointing to an under-playfield passage. Most of these are BLACK and have to be removed and cleaned up. Otherwise . . . black funk gets on the ball and is tracked all over the playfield.

Back to balls . .  A pitted up rusty pinball is one of the absolute worst things you can put on your playfield. You might as well have a mini-sanding block scooting around your plywood. I once looked at a Space Shuttle pinball machine that was for sale that had more bare wood showing than painted wood. Why? This machine was donated to a state agency and put in their break room. Absolutely no cleaning was ever done to this machine. For years, this nasty ball rolled around the playfield “sanding” it down. It was the worst playfield I had ever seen, and Space Shuttle isn’t that old. I pulled the playfield glass off and wiped my finger across the playfield and showed the blue dust on my finger to the business owner. I told him “that is why I won’t offer you more than $50 for this machine”. How do you fix this problem? Spend less than $2.00 each for new balls. Replace them once a year or so. But you don’t even have to do that. Remove them from time to time and clean them, use metal polish, then Novus 2, then carnauba wax. Even better - if you have a tumbler, let them shake for a day or so. Inspect them for pitting and replace them. You will be happy with the results every time.

Clean your coin door. Most 8 year olds (and older) have all kinds of dirt and grime in their coin door. Disassembling your coin door, cleaning, and polishing doesn’t take that long to do and the results are certainly worth the time. Painted doors can be easily re-painted with a little masking tape and cheap Wal-Mart spray paint. Older SS machines like Stern pins (think Seawitch and Meteor) have a hammered metal finish. Rust-o-leum has a great looking hammered metal paint that is fairly inexpensive. The end result it very nice.

On cabinets I use Mean Green. There are other products that work equally as well. With some old T-shirts and elbow grease, you’ll be amazed at how much dirt and grime you can clean off you cabinet. Older machines find Mean Green to be a little harsh so practice in back areas to see how your paint will take it.

Switch adjusting is something you will have to do from time to time. Steve Young (Pinball Resource) sells a great switch adjustment tool. This little tool has a slit in it for your adjustment tab on switch stacks. Learn how to get to the switch testing function in your diagnostics and test your switches. Most newer games will let you know what switches are having trouble by sending you text messages across the display. You will probably notice that you have a switch problem while playing your game – some target is never registering a hit, or drop targets aren’t always resetting when they should. Even worse, a sink hole isn’t ejecting the ball. All of these problems could lie outside of a switch adjustment, but looking at your switches first is a good idea.

Unless you are looking at early SS switches like high voltage Gottlieb slingshots, contacts are gold plated. So you certainly don’t want to file them, or sand them. You want to clean them with a piece of paper or cardboard (business cards work well) by sliding the paper between the contacts as you compress them. You will probably see “black funk” on the paper. Then adjust them to be about 1/16” away from each other. Use the adjustment tool, not needle nose pliers. And adjust the adjustment tab – not the switch itself. You may run into the case where someone before you has bent the contacts in awkward positions causing the adjustment tab to be irrelevant. In those cases, do whatever you can to straighten things out. Some newer machines do not use contacts with gold plated points. Instead, they use microswitches that “click”. You might be able to adjust the way these switches are mounted to get more successful closures. But if you can not, replace it. Also, there are “optical switches” that register a closure as a ball breaks a light beam. These are used on modern machines for ball troughs, VUK’s (certical up-kickers), ramps, and other places. There isn’t much to adjust on an optic. Either it works or it doesn’t. Occasionally you will find that dirt and grime has caused the optic to always register a closed position. Or, one of the optics (transmitter / receiver) my be dead. You can clean these with a little windex on a Q-Tip, or in the case of a dead optic, replace it with a new one from the normal pinball supply shops. And finally, don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.

Replacing rubber is always fun. On older machines, this job is usually a quick one. Remove the plastics and start swapping rubber. Newer machines require layers of plastic and steel ramp removal first. If you are replacing all rubber, you should clean the game too. New rubber is one of the main points of shopping. So removing posts and cleaning them isn’t much more work. And cleaning/waxing a stripped playfield is much easier than one with 50 posts screwed into it. Ring kits can be had for under $20, with all the rings you need for your game.

Obviously this isn’t necessary if replacing one or two broken rubber rings. If you’ve had one break, hopefully it’s one that you can easily get to.

One question a lot of new folks ask is which rubber is better? Black or White? And if they should worry about certain brands of rubber. In a nutshell, black rubber is harder and doesn’t bounce as much as white rubber. Newer machines use a lot of black rubber, older ones normally have white rubber. I re-rubber all of my machines with white because I like the more lively return it gives to ball play. Black will hide dirt well and probably last longer. So the choice is yours. As for manufacturer, I haven’t run into any “bad” rubber. I’ve had rings break pre-maturely from all manufacturers – although I would always recommend buying American made rubber if possible.

Lamp’s should be replaced when they get that shiny black coating on the glass, or if their burnt out (of course). Always replace #44 lamps with #47’s. This will be easier on your plastics, lamp inserts, and other things affected by heat. And your power supply will not be as heavily loaded. #555 lamps are more common in newer machines and older Bally machines (Medusa). These too are cheap lamps that are fairly easy to replace and quite inexpensive. Flashlamps are those bigger lamps that create nice effects during gameplay. They come in many flavors (#1251, 63, 89 to name a few) and blow just like any other lamp. They are not cheap either. So, it’s a good idea to know what lamps you have in your game so you can buy some spares. All pinball shops sell lamps with #47’s and #555’s being less expensive than   flashlamps.


That's about it for now. Hopefully this document has helped you, the new pinball machine owner / potential owner. If it has, please drop me a line and let me know. Much time and effort is brought to all articles written for PopBumper.com and your feedback will only make them better.  - Rob C:>

 

Contact: tilt@popbumper.com with all comments, recommendations, and other feedback.

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