BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO BUYING A PINBALL MACHINE

BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BUYING A PINBALL MACHINE

THE PINBALL MACHINE, A COLLECTOR’S ITEM IN GAMING ROOMS

Go back to the 90s with new pinball machines, emblematic brands like Bally, Gottlieb, Stern Pinball, or even Williams, which made the bars and cafes of yesteryear so successful.

Whether you like the snap of a automatic pinball machine or the automated gadgets of newer pinballs, come and discover our most beautiful arcade games like AC / DC, The Walking Dead, or even Medieval Madness.

Individuals and nostalgic collectors are the first fans of cafe games and are often looking for a bread machine in good condition to acquire. Today, the electric billiard table has become a collector’s item that we proudly display at home, in a game room or a relaxation area at work.

A HUGE STOCK OF PINBALL AT Amazon

Amazon offers more than a hundred new pinball machines with or without coin acceptors to come and play in the store for all ages, tastes, and desires.

Most pinball machines are used, repaired, and restored by a professional team. Only Stern Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball, and Chicago Gaming continue to produce new pinball games.

Amazon is an official seller of the American brand Stern Pinball. Discover themed pinball machines on mythical music groups like Aerosmith, Metallica, or Kiss, TV series with Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, and even on successful films like Star Wars or GhostBusters.

When a new model is released, Amazon has each type of Stern Pro, Premium or Limited Edition pinball machine, and sometimes LED Pro, Vault, or Super Limited Edition when the version is available.

MAINTENANCE, AND REPAIR OF MACHINES

The Lyon Flipper team dust, restore, and repair your automatic, electronic, alphanumeric, or dot matrix display pinball, subject to a quote. You can call us on 04 78 28 28 38 (the price of a local call) or contact us by form via the Contact page for troubleshooting, servicing/maintenance, or repair.

Read Also: Chase Bliss Dark World

NEED A SPARE PART?

When you own a boules machine bought from Lyon Flipper, you benefit from a stock of spare parts from the brand and its network that are often rare to find and valuable advice for the maintenance of the board and fragile parts. (chromed steel ball, bumpers, kickers, ramble, printed circuit connectors, etc.) of your electro-automatic pinball machine .

BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BUYING A PINBALL MACHINE

Buying a pinball machine should be experienced as quite a pleasant event. This machine designates a fun game that often generates pleasure. Some people choose the cheap pinball machine because of its decorative aspect. 

Pinball machines have a paradox. They are, at the same time, identical but all different. The purchase becomes less easy for beginners. What are the different types of pinball machines? What are the selection criteria? Which pinball machine to buy to enjoy the game?

THE DIFFERENT POSSIBLE CHOICES OF PINBALL MACHINES

The first models are the automatic pinball machine. They are distinguished by their counters which are not electroluminescent displays. They are rollers. Automatic pinball machines were the first to be marketed until 1976. They had stunning front mirrors. 

They also make an exquisite automatic sound as well as mechanical xylophone or bell sounds. You have to pay between 300 and 500 euros to have one on hand. Pinball machines in collectors or rare condition cost between 800 and 1000 euros.

The second category of pinball machines is said to be electronic. They followed the automatic pinball machines and date from 1977. They have segment displays that only display numbers. The most famous worldwide are the Williams, Gottlieb, Stern, Bally, Zaccaria, and Data East branded pinball machines. 

At first, they were just adaptations of the automatic pinball machines. You can buy these pinball machines in good condition, between 400 and 600 euros depending on their situation. They have a fragile electronic system which often causes breakdowns. It is certainly possible to replace the electronics with cards redone by professionals.

Alphanumeric pinball machines are pinball machines that display letters and numbers. They flooded the market in the late 80s and early 90s. The best-known brands are Williams, Bally, and Gottlieb. 

BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO BUYING A PINBALL MACHINE
BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BUYING A PINBALL MACHINE

These pinball machines are much more reliable than digital pinball machines. They are very recent and better designed electronically. Pinball machines with dot matrix displays are modern pinball machines. 

They display on a large screen “dot matrix,” which shows animations, tiny dots, and others. They are sold from 700 to 3000 euros.

THE PARTICULARITY OF CHILDREN’S PINBALL MACHINES

The children’s pinball machine is an invaluable gift for the youngest who have not experienced the joys of pinball machines. It is a great way to pass the time during these times of confinement. This pinball machine allows wild family games with the children and, of course, mini-contests at home. 

There are models reserved for the youngest who are new to the game of pinball. Children are aged three can use it. It is a mini pinball machine that uses sound effects and LED lighting to enhance the game. 

Children love the reactivity of the ball’s skates which ensures a better rendering of the game. It has tiny adjustable feet for an optimal adjustment to children’s height. It is easy to handle, especially if it is a used pinball machine.

POINTS TO CHECK BEFORE PURCHASING A PINBALL MACHINE

It would help if you considered specific criteria before purchasing a pinball machine.

  1. The state of the board: The board is the first selection criterion. It is necessary to check its general wear, the condition of the paint, and the wood. The plate must be, in principle, nickel. A tray lined with mylar, even worn, is in good condition. It is often the case with the used pinball machine.
  2. The state of the board elements: These are the elements such as the ramps, the decorations, the balls, and the rubbers. Ramps should not be cracked or broken as they are hard to find. The balls must be in perfect condition at the risk of damaging the plate. It is necessary to prefer the pinball machines having white or black rubbers but never of the mixture. Particular emphasis should be placed on lighting to buy a pinball machine.
  3. The condition of the body: A careful study must take into account the shape of the angles, the feet, the decals, the angles of the pediment, the pediment painting, the door as well as the locks. The corners of the pediment and the body must be in a clean condition. The paint is preferably black. Discolored body decals are better than red ones.
  4. The condition of the electronic boards: Are the connectors burnt? Are there electronic hacks? What is the state of the CPU? These are the crucial questions to check the condition of the electronics of the machine. The inexpensive pinball machine often has an excellent electronic system. The connectors reserved for general lighting must be in perfect condition. Make sure that the batteries have not leaked onto the CPU. This situation has severe consequences for the electronic system. The fuses must not be tampered with or over-calibrated.
  5. The state of the DOT: The DMD must be examined from the first seconds of switching on the machine. A cold check of the state of the DMD is essential. The visual quality of the DMD is consistent, and no line should be missing.
  6. State of the game: During the machine test, it is recommended to launch the “test” mode to make a list of theoretical breakdowns.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BUY A PINBALL MACHINE?

Owning a pinball machine doesn’t have to be expensive. Depending on the type of machine and how much work you are willing to do on your own, you can own a machine for as little as $ 200 – $ 500 for an older machine. A more typical price range is between € 500 and € 2,000 for a reliable used machine. A new machine with a warranty will cost between € 4,500 and € 6,000.

Machines tend to hold their value well. That said, investing $ 200 worth of repairs in a $ 200 machine does not usually purchase a $ 400 machine. There are high-end restorations on many machines that regularly sell for $ 8,000 or more.

Many people list their machines as “rare,” but there are very few scarce pinball machines. Many machines had production runs of less than 300. “The Addams Family,” the most mass-produced game, continues to be of value. Other great value games are “Medieval Madness,” “Big Bang Bar,” and “Cactus Canyon.”

It is generally assumed that you will be doing your essential maintenance. It is unlikely that you will find local repairers. At a minimum, you’ll want to be able to replace lamps and rubber rings. Help is available to guide you through repairs. For stainless steel machines, can send cards for repair.

WHAT KIND OF MACHINE DO YOU WANT?

There are three generations of pinball machines.

  1. Electromechanical machines (EM) – Relay machines controlled by a stepping motor and a stepping motor. Includes machines until around 1978.
  2. Semiconductor machines (SS) – Electronically controlled machines (microprocessor). Covers machines from the late 1970s to circa 1990.
  3. Dot Matrix Display (DMD) – Semiconductor machines with a display used for both scoring and low-resolution video. Covers machines since approx 1990.

Coils, lamps, and switches are common to all games. Newer SS machines use microswitches instead of reed switches.

The EM game tends to be more straightforward with easily explained objectives of hitting target sequences. SS machines added reliability by replacing relay logic with electronics and gradually broadened the purpose of the machine.

The complexity has increased over time with the addition of ramps, underpasses, and other specific themed elements to the point where newer DMD machines are sometimes referred to as pinball “games” due to the complexity of the gameplay sequences and patterns. Game modes.

At home, simpler games have the advantage of attracting new players. Visitors are often intimidated by the complexity of the new machines. On the other hand, more complex machines may have the benefit of offering a more varied game that may hold your interest for longer.

CONSIDERATIONS FOR HAVING A PINBALL MACHINE IN YOUR HOME

You’ve probably thought about it before, but a few points are worth highlighting.

  • Size – Pinball machines look bigger at home than outside. They measure approximately 32 ″ wide x 52 ″ deep x 70 ″ high. They take a bit of work to navigate through a 32 ″ interior door. EMs are easier to transport since the head is detached from the cabinet.
  • Weight – Pinball machines weigh 200 to 300 pounds.
  • Noise – Pinball machines are pretty loud since they are designed in a noisy bar or arcade environment. SS machines have the advantage here that they can reduce the volume.

BUY A PINBALL GAME

The best option is to buy a machine locally, but this is not an option in many areas and can significantly limit your options. eBay has been a good source of games for many years, but Ebay’s policy and fee changes have limited the number of machines available, and the games available tend to have premium prices.

Online pinball classifieds (www.mrpinball.com and www.pynball.com) are good options for placing a WTB (wanted to buy) post on the rec. Games. Pinball (RGP) newsgroup. There are also FS posts (for sale) quite regularly on RGP, but you need to follow the newsgroup to be notified. Usually, there are games for sale at pinball shows.

Most parts are available to repair a machine, and many of the repairs are pretty straightforward, so I emphasize cosmetics rather than function when buying a game. It is especially true on EM games. For SS and DMD games, a single coil that doesn’t work may only require a transistor to be replaced, but if you’re not ready to do it yourself, it could easily cost $ 100 to send the card for Repair.

INSPECTION OF A PINBALL MACHINE

There are only a few parts on a pinball machine that are difficult to replace and, in some cases, impossible. The rear window is the main one. Some reproductions are available, but if you’re not ready to live with what’s there, you’ll need to make sure you can find a replacement. Replacement backglasses cost around € 300.

Assuming this is your first pinball machine, the playing field inserts should be considered irreplaceable. The original inserts are installed on the playing field before being sanded and screen printed. Replacement inserts are not available but can repair some insert bulges.

Light shields in the playground are usually irreplaceable. If available, they will be offered as a complete set and will cost around $ 150. You can make a pretty good replacement for Lexan, so there are a few options on the plastics.

Any custom playground item should be considered irreplaceable. For some of the more popular games, reproduction parts may be available. Things like crash bumpers usually have aftermarket parts available, and you can at least find a different model that might work.

In general, any stainless steel electronics can be repaired or replaced. The exception is Gottlieb’s Series 1 SPIDER chips. Replacement board sets are available but should factor this cost into your decision.

FIND YOUR WAY

The on / off switch is located at the bottom of the cabinet 6-8 ″ behind the front right leg.

There are two keys, one for the coin door and one for the backbox. In some cases, the locks will use the same key.

Opening the coin door and sliding the lever at the top right to the left, the cabinet is accessed. The locking bar will then lift. Slide the glass out of the machine and set it down gently. It can now lift the playing field by grabbing the apron. Lift far enough that all of the material under the playing field clears the cabinet and slides the playing field towards you.

For older games, there is a support rod in the case on the right that can support the playing field upwards, but it’s usually best to slide it far enough to lean back against the box back. The playing field on the newer games is on a pivot and can turn it against the backbox.

Access in the head has several possibilities. On the EM, access is via a removable door at the rear of the machine. On newer machines, the key is on the side, top, or front. It can generally remove the rear or translucent glass from the show, and the light insert opens to access it.

There are 2 or 4 bolts that secure the head to the cabinet. Starting with the newer SS machines, the charge is articulated and folds back onto the cabinet. For older machines, the wire harness should be unplugged and the head removed.

Playground switches and coils are common to all machines. The EMs will have a control logic under the playing field, on the mechanical panel at the back of the cabinet, and in the head. SS & DMD machines will have most of the control logic in their heads.

MOVING A PINBALL MACHINE

The steps in moving a pinball machine are:

  1. Remove the balloon (s)

2. Remove or fold back and secure the head

2.1. For disassembly, there will be several cables that will need to be disconnected

2.2. If the head folds up, place padding on the cabinet before folding it down. You will need a strap to attach it.

3. Remove the rear legs, lay the rear of the cabinet down, and lift and rotate the cabinet to the rear.

4. Remove the front legs

Tools:

  • 5/8 ″ Foot Bolt Wrench
  • 9/16 ″ wrench for head bolts (newer Sterns use an 8mm Allen wrench)
  • Strap for securing the rear box

INSTALLING A PINBALL MACHINE

Initial assembly and commissioning are simply the reverses of the above. Once the machine is set, it needs to be leveled. Remove the glass from the playing field and use a trim level on the surface of the playing field to drop the machine from side to side.

The slope of the playing field is typically around 3.5 degrees for EM and 6.5 degrees for SS & DMD machines. Start with all the leg levelers set most of the time, and the grade should be pretty close. You can adjust the slope to preference. It is not uncommon for a machine to need minor repairs after it has been moved.

SHIPPING A PINBALL MACHINE

North American Van Lines (NAVL) or Precision Transport provide shipping for door-to-door pinball machines. The shipping costs depend on the distance, but they are usually around 350 €. They can ship it with or without the legs.

You will find strong opinions on both options, but either will work. Work with the sender to decide what’s best for you. Make sure the pickup and delivery points are on the ground floor to avoid additional charges.

REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE

Clean the playground with Novus # 2 cleaner or carnauba wax; do not use water on the playground. Novus # 1 and # 2 are good choices for cleaning plastics. Isopropyl alcohol is a good, safe option for cleaning most other rooms.

Always test in an inconspicuous place and start slowly. It’s hard to predict how old machines will tolerate cleaners. Be especially careful on painted metal parts like the playground apron on EMs; the paint comes off quickly.

Reed switches used on older machines may occasionally require cleaning and adjustment. Tighten the screws that hold the switch stack in place before adjusting. Adjust by bending the fixed blade near the fixed end (closest to the screws).

When the switch is set correctly, the gap should be approximately 1/8 ″ and, when actuated, the movable blade should deflect the stationary blade slightly. Work slowly with many minor adjustments.

To clean the contacts, you will need the following tools:

EM:

  • Contact adjuster
  • File Flexstone (fine sandpaper works but is more challenging)
  • Heavy tungsten contacts used on pendulum limit switches will need a metal file.

SS:

  • If the switch contacts are golden (typical on SS machines), do not rank the contacts. Clean up with a business card.

There are very few parts on a pinball machine that need lubrication. If something is not working well, it needs to be taken apart and cleaned. Over-lubrication causes many more problems than under-lubrication.

PARTS SEARCH

For Gottlieb machines, “The Pinball Resource” can supply any part you need. They also carry parts for other brands. They don’t list the pieces available on their website, but the most common ones are there. Drawings and manuals are available for almost all machines. Gottlieb schematics are not available online. Be sure to read the “How to Order” section, which links at the bottom of their home page.

“Marco Specialties” has a wide range of parts, diagrams, and manuals. Williams and Bally diagrams and manuals are often available online.

Many small retailers provide common parts.

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