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Tip Archive

Repair Tips Archives The current repair tip can be found on the Pinball Update page by clicking HERE. Below you will find past Pinball Repair Tips.

Repair/Restore Tip Archive

Pinball Tip #5-- When was the last time you examined the ball (or balls) in your machine? Are any of them pitted? Rusty? Chipped? A damaged ball is like a rolling piece of sandpaper, grating harshly and destructively on what was a beautiful playfield. Check the balls. A new ball is only a couple bucks from any pinball supplier. If you live near a store that sells bearings, a 1-1/16" grade #25 chrome steel bearing should work fine. Grade #25 is considered high quality.

TIP #4-- Free Play, Part Two. Setting a machine for free play means you no longer have to have a roll of quarters handy, you no longer have to stick your finger in the coin slot and operate the little wire switch. In Part One, we covered electronic machines. Part Two is for electro-mechanical machines.   Free play requires a little experimenting, but it is not difficult. In the backbox is the credit unit, the large white reel with the number of games on it: 1, 2, 3, etc. up to maybe 25. When the games (credits) show zero on the credit window in the backglass, the wheel opens a stack of two or three switches mounted on the unit. One of those switches is the "zero credit" switch. When that switch is open (when you have 0 credits), the game will not start. Locate that switch by closing one switch at a time (use a jumper wire), and see if the game starts. Trial and error is okay, you won't harm the machine. Once you've located the zero-credit switch, close that switch with the jumper wire, or by bending the switch blades so they touch. You will have now free play.

TIP #3-- "Free Play" part one. When you drop a quarter in the slot, it falls onto a wire switch that closes from the weight of the quarter and starts a new game. People, not having a quarter handy, open the coin door and operate the switch by hand. Pretty soon that switch wire is all bent up, jammed and won't operate.

There's a better way. Set your machine for free play. Setting a machine for free play is quite easy for many machines, a bit more work for some and downright difficult for a few. Here I will cover electronic (solid state) machines Part Two will cover electro-mechanicals.

Most newer electronic machines have an operator adjustment that allows free play. Inside the coin door is a set of push button switches, sometimes two switches, usually three. The game manual has instructions how to set the free play adjustment. It just takes a minute.

If there isn't a free play setting on your electronic machine, try this: Go to the maximum credit adjustment settings, and set the maximum at 00. This often works on Williams and some other machines from the 1980s.

For some 1970s digital machines, there is no free play setting. Some people rewire the coin switch so it is activated when you push the Start button, which does the trick. But if you don't know what you're doing, you're probably better off just getting a roll of quarters.

TIP #2-- “Backglass Problems" part two. If your old backglass paint is already peeling, You can’t “unpeel” the paint that is flaking or bubbling. Minimizing vibration and movement and exposure to light, moisture and temperature variations may help, but sooner or later the paint will fall off. You can most likely save the remaining paint by spraying the painted side of the backglass with a fixative such as Krylon Crystal Clear or Krylon Triple Thick acrylic spray, available at most art supply stores. However, be warned that the spray will immediately remove any paint that is already peeling or starting to peel. Make sure you won’t be making a bad problem even worse. Also be warned that the spray is toxic and flammable. Use outdoors and don’t breathe the stuff.

TIP #1-- "Backglass Problems" part one. The most visible, and most valuable, part of your pinball machine is the backglass. Moisture and bright (hot) lights can damage the paint, cause it to fade, cause it to bubble up and fall off. Don't store a machine where humidity and weather can get to it. If the machine is in direct sunlight, keep a sheet or blanket over it. Replace the old hot-burning #44 lamps with cooler #47 lamps. Most important, do not turn on the game if the temperature in the room is cold. The sudden change from a cold glass to a hot-lit one is a major cause of peeling paint. Next Time: What you can do to help already peeling backglasses.


Presented by B.B. Kamoroff, author of "Pinball Machine Care and Maintenance: How to Purchase, Maintain, Adjust and Repair Your Own Pinball Machine," now in its 14th printing. This book is available from the PGJ, click HERE for info OR Click HERE to visit the author's site!



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