Arcade Collecting > Miscellaneous Arcade Talk

Any of you guys ever fixed up a pinball machine?


Was wondering if any of you guys ever bought a broken/beatup pinball machine and fixed it up to working order again?

Are parts for pinball machines expensive?  Any suggestions on where I might be able to pick up cheap parts?

If it wouldnt be super expensive, this is something I would like to do-- who wouldnt want a pinball machine at their house!?

I never have myself but have several freinds that are into that. You can check here  they are all pinball fanatics there (myself included).  

If you're not electrically COMPETENT (and by competent, I mean following schematic diagrams and debugging/repairing digital logic) I'd recommend AGAINST this route.

You'd need to be extremely lucky to get a beat pin that doesn't need some sort of work to the circuit boards.  matrix lines blow (ic/diode replacement), bridge rectifiers fry or short (and toast fuses in the process), and power transistors are VERY prone to blow (toasting fuses and coils).  

if you already have all the tools (multimeter, soldering iron etc. and a Tracker is VERY useful for dealing with PCB problems), you can expect to pay between $100-$500 for parts, depending on the condition, assuming that there isn't any "special" playfield items that you need to outright replace.  expect to spend between 3-24 hours diagnosing and making repairs, (once again if you are competent).

Finally, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE SCHEMATICS!  If you are not sure of your abilities, then for god's sake DO NOT TRY TO FIX IT!!  You will make the repair take longer when you do drag it to someone who knows what they're doing.

If you're buying a 2nd-hand, nonserviced pinball, you can pretty much guarantee that you're going to have to replace a pile of lamps, and probably some flashers too. 1st thing- Replace every non-lighting lamp with a KNOWN GOOD or BRAND NEW LAMP to make sure that they're all good. (flashers on the playfield ARE going to be a pain in the butt as they often require you to disassemble large portions of it to reach them).  If large sections of lights are out, check the fuses, then the playfield connector at the lamp control board.

Plan on making some switch actuator adjustments, maybe replacing switches (sometimes the wires actually fall off of the switches, and need to be resoldered).

Not uncommon for coils to melt, either - they need to be replaced, then the end-of-stroke switch (if present) should be adjusted.

Score display panels are usually an all-or-nothing affair.  If any segment lights up, it's probably ok, and any problems are going to be in the display driver circuit board (again, competent electronic tech required for repair, unless you feel like replacing each and every IC until it works). If nothing lights up AT ALL, either the display panel is dead or the display power supply is dead or the fuse is blown.  Checkthe fuse, then check for + and -100v at the display power supply to determine if its the power supply.  Odds are that it is the display though.  Dot-matrix displays need to have the whole unit replaced (including the PCB).  Alpha/numeric displays  can be unsoldered from their PCB and replaced.  Neither display is cheap, though.  

If either (1) coils remain on all the time or (2)lights do not turn on or off via the service menu, then the control boards in the head need service.  For (1) its usually a shorted power transistor.  For (2) its usually a 74XX-IC used for row/column control (make sure you check fuses first!).


That is exactly the type of response I was looking to get-- I really appreciate it!


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