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Pinball Machine Repair and Maintenance Tips

Basic pinball machine repair and maintenance can be somewhat complicated for the novice owner, but we’ve included some easy to follow tips that can help to keep your pinball looking and working like new, without it costing you an arm and a leg. But before you dive in and get started, make sure you unplug the machine and work in a well-ventilated area, if you’re using any type of cleaning solvent.

Pinball machine repair and maintenance should be performed monthly if you have your machine in a public spot such as an arcade or your restaurant, and every three to six months if your machine is kept in the family room at home. Proper maintenance will help to keep your machine looking and working the way it should, while also helping to retain the machine’s resale value.

Keep on reading to learn how to keep your machine in tip-top shape and what components must be cleaned and replaced routinely to keep your machine’s resale value up.

Cabinet and Playfield

The average pinball can be divided into a couple of areas: the cabinet-playfield, and the head or backbox. There are also a couple of different types of pinball machines: electromechanical and solid state. Solid state models often come equipped with a large digital display that will light up when the machine is switched on. The electromechanical models use mechanical reels that will display the score.

But the maintenance for both types of pinball machines is pretty similar. But in terms of repairs, things can get complicated if you have an electromechanical machine, which uses switches, motors, and relays to operate the game. The solid state machines will rely on PCBs, or electronic circuit boards, in addition to computers, in order to control the game.

How to Get Started

colorful arcade machine

Before you get started with basic repair and maintenance, the first step is to identify the model and type of pinball machine you have. Go online and look up your specific type of pinball machine in order to determine what you’re working with.

While it’s always helpful to have the repair and operating manuals, it’s not always possible, especially if you have a vintage model.

If you’re having trouble with your machine and you’ve purchased a used model, then the chances are that a wrong fuse was installed. In some cases, this can cause significant damage to a machine, and may even result in a fire. Because of this, it’s very important to give your machine a once over whenever you’re dealing with a used model.

Basic Maintenance

Routine maintenance can keep your machine running smoothly while also helping to retain the machine’s resale value.

Most maintenance tasks can be accomplished using supplies you’ll find at your local hardware store. However, some tools may need to be ordered from a pinball supplier.

Now, let’s get started.

Replacing the Pinballs

A machine’s pinballs tend to go through plenty of wear and tear over the years. They can get worn down, chipped, and cracked. Damaged pinballs can also contribute to wear on the playfield. You should replace the machine’s pinballs regularly, as soon as any damage is noticed. Replacements are very cheap and can be obtained from a pinball parts supplier.

Playfield Care

The playfield’s condition is what can often determine a machine’s resale value and because of this, you should pay extra care to ensure it remains in pristine condition. A dirty playfield can also negatively impact gameplay and can slow down the ball. In order to access the playfield to clean it, you will need to open up the machine and remove the glass. Most playfields have a lacquer coating, which can become yellow over the years. Newer models of pinball machines will use a type of clear coat. To clean, use a soft, microfiber cloth and a mixture of 50:50 water and isopropyl alcohol.

The playfield should also be waxed regularly in order to cut down on wear and tear. You can use a paste wax or a hard wax, such as Treewax.

Wiping down and waxing the playfield should be done every three months or more frequently if the pinball machine is used daily.

Switches

The switches are what control the scoring of the game. Over time, they can bend or become too dirty, which will cause them to fail to activate the scoring. When cleaning, you never want to use contact cleaner. Some types of switches use high voltage, so obviously, any type of cleaner will not be suitable. Test out the switches before you clean them to ensure they’re working properly. If they’re in working order, carefully wipe down the switches using a dry microfiber cloth. The switches should be checked every three to six months or more frequently if you notice a change in the machine’s scoring response.

Flippers

flippers

Damaged flippers are simple to replace. During maintenance, check over the flippers and move them back and forth in order to ensure they don’t come into direct contact with the playfield, which can cause scratches. If the flipper is damaged, you can easily swap it out with a replacement for a few bucks and about ten minutes of your time.

Batteries

Solid state machines contain batteries that work to maintain the machine’s memory. Over time, these batteries can leak and can destroy important components on the circuit board. In order to prevent serious damage, make sure you change the batteries once a year. You can find the right battery through an online pinball parts retailer.

Related Questions

Can I Have a Professional Repair My Pinball Machine?

You can. But unfortunately, many of these repair companies charge a steep hourly fee to make simple repairs you can do yourself. Additionally, if you stay on top of the machine’s routine maintenance, many common repair problems can easily be prevented.

Do Reproduced Pac-Man Games Offer the Same Type of Classic Gameplay?

They do. Popular models, such as the Namco Pacman Party Cocktail Home Arcade Game offer the classic gameplay you loved as a kid, in an updated console that promotes user comfort and the arcade feel you love. To check out some great Pac-Man hacks, click here to read our article on How to win at Pac-Man.

Do They Make Both Mini and Full-Sized Arcade Games for Home Use?

Many manufacturers do! If you don’t have much space to work with in the home, then you can easily find scaled-down versions of your favorite classic arcade games, for less. To learn more, click here to read our guide on popular arcade games for sale.

Final Thoughts

Pinball machine repair and maintenance is an important part of pinball machine ownership. Without proper care, the resale value of your machine can dip significantly. You’ll also notice a major change in the machine’s performance, especially if it has been months since you’ve cleaned the flippers and playfield. If you have a pinball machine for private use, routine maintenance should occur every three to six months, depending on how often the machine is used. If you use your machine at your business and it gets played daily, then more frequent repairs and maintenance may be needed. In this type of environment, make sure you check on the condition of your machine once a month.

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Pinball Machine Repair and Maintenance Tips
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Pinball Machine Repair and Maintenance Tips
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Want to keep your pinball machine working properly and the resale value up? Then read on to check out our top pinball machine repair and maintenance tips.
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