47 Things You Need to Know

  about your

PINBALL MACHINE

Originated by:

  Tim Arnold
  702 - "IFIXPIN" (434-9746)
  2620 S. Maryland PKY. #241
  Las Vegas NV 89109
  Member: Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club

Originally Recorded at Pinball Expo by:

  Russ Jensen

Copied from the web site at: http://www.spy.net/~white/pinball/index.html
I'm not sure whose site this is, because there are no credits on it, but it went down enough that I thought I would mirror this list on my site. Thanks! to whoever put the original site together!

Note: Tim's original "writing" has been captured in .pdf format here.


WARNING!!!!!
LEAD

METAL OF DEATH!

Soldering wires on Pinballs is SO easy! You do it all the time!!! But medical evidence is pointing more and more to the dangers of ingested and inhaled lead! Don't take Chances! The government has outlawed paint that has a lead content of 3/10th of 1 percent lead!!! Electronic solder is 60% lead! Here are some simple tips!

Don't be a dead dork! Wise up and get with the plan! The Clue Bus is coming into your stop! Be on it!!!


  1. Don't use metal tools on solid state games with the power on!!!
    If you learn nothing else from this seminar, this is the most important! 75% of the boards I repair have been blown up this way! The coils run at nominal voltages as high as 70V.D.C!!! One careless slip of a screwdriver sends this voltage up a switch or lamp line right to the control board!! I've seen the tops blown right off chips!! It takes only seconds to flip the on-off switch, saving hours of needless board repairs!!

  2. Don't ignore your ball!

    The ball is half the game!!! A smooth waxed playfield with a pitted gray ball is much slower! An unpolished ball will also cause playfield "pits"! Look at your balls often! Fondle them! If they are rusted or pitted, just throw them out! If they are just "gray" polish them! Get a high speed bench grinder! A gem shop will have cloth wheels! I like 1" surface 6" dia. with 1/2" hole for my 9600 R.P.M. 1/2 horse Milwaukee! Gem stores also have stainless steel or chrome jewelers rouge! It's the green stuff! Avoid the big brick, get the handy tube! Dope up your cloth wheel often, don't press into the wheel, let the rouge do the work! A better than new mirror surface takes only a couple minutes! Caution! Don't be a blind schmuck with burned lungs and fingers! Wear safety glasses and a dust mask! Cloth or welders gloves keep your fingers safe from the heat!

  3. Spray contact cleaner is EVIL!
    I don't care what your uncle told you! I don't care that the label says "Safe- leaves no residue"! They are false! This is a lazy fools fix! it is a chemical solution to a mechanical problem! 95% of the dirt can be removed by wiping with a soft cloth! This is all you should do to a digital games gold plated heads! Electro-Mechanical games and all flipper switches are made of silver or a hard alloy! These should be filed flat and smooth! While fileing, if the head is loose, replace the whole blade! After both contacts are clean and/or filed, adjust for self cleaning by having the 2 overwipe on contact! This lack of overwhiping is why the contacts got dirty in the first place! A properly adjusted contact should never get dirty! Also, bakelight spacers dry out, leaving loose switch stacks! Tighten both screws before adjusting! Forward screws 1st!

  4. Do not use tape to bundle legs together!
    It pulls the paint or chrome off! Old rubber rings are O.K. for short term storage! I use scrap wire from old harnesses! Gottlieb legs look like new with "No 7." brand chrome polish from any auto store! Rinse well, towel dry! New footies are a must! All the parts houses have 'em! Dab grease into the threads to prevent rust before you screw 'em in! I also polish the front leg bolts (see
    Item #2) to a mirror finish! Slick! Check the legbolt mounting plates on the inside of the cabinet! They are held in place only with nails! If they are loose, replace with screws! If the holes are stripped, don't mess around-- just shitcan and replace with new ones!

  5. Do not ship your game with the balls in it!
    It will break drop targets, bumper caps and wear a deep groove in the top arch! Be a high-class hauler! Pop the ball into a bag with the leg bolts and stash securely in the cash box!

  6. Don't use water based or abrasive playfield cleaner!
    There are some pinheads that advocate a one time cleaning with an abrasive cleaner! I do not and will not agree! Abrasives make the paint look newer by stripping away the protective hard-coat! It's like pissing your pants in the winter to keep warm! Short term, everything is great! But long term, you lose! At no time should any water based cleaner be used! It seeps into the wood and causes it to swell, pulling the paint apart (cracks)! It also weakens the adhering of the paint to the wood! All I have ever used for 15 years is creamy car wax! I like pink Excalibur or KIT-sprint! Handy squeeze bottles, cheep, available everywhere! Avoid runny wax like turtle wax, too easy to get it in where it doesn't belong! Paste wax is more work! Any car wax is ok, as long as it's not "Car Wash"! carnauba is a plus! I also like Johnson Paste wax!

  7. Don't pry open coin doors!
    If you get a game in with no keys, pick it open! Most locksmith shops sell pick sets! If not this, drill out the lock! A good bit goes right up the middle of most extruded brass (Ace) or Bi-metal (Fort, TuffGuard) and out the other end! Back doors on EM games can be popped open with a quick stroke of a large screwdriver without much damage! Reach thru hole in bottom of head with a dime and undo screw!

  8. Brace score reels when cleaning!
    Gottlieb "Decagon" units (1967-1979) have a spring-steel blade as a detent pawl (hold in on forward stroke) that will become bent back and useless if you force plastic dial backwards during routine cleaning! Clean with one hand, brace with the other! This is also a good habit to get into with bally, Will, etc dials, all of which were designed not to be forced in this way! To work fast and true, these units had to be designed with tolerances of only 1-2 grams! Be gentle! I have always used creamy car wax on score dials, and never had ink come off! Water will! Chicago coin dials with translucent plastic reels will be wiped off with car wax! If cleaning a Chi-Coin game, test a small spot first and work carefully! When I'm rebuilding a high mileage game, I like to rotate the highly worn parts from 1 and 10 dials to 100 and 1000 dials! On digital games, I recommend stocking up now on gas discharge tubes! They will someday stop making them! Mazzco has 6 digit tubes for $6.00!

  9. Solder lamp sockets shut to stop dimming!

    Lamp sockets are two pieces, a socket and a bracket that are press fit together! As air works into press fit surfaces over the years, they corrode! A drop of solder should be melted between the 2! This is easy and quick if you first prep the metal with liquid solder flux or a small file! (5% hydrochloric acid) this fixes 90% of dim bulbs! The other 10% is dirty inner socket surface! Clean with Dremel tool or Steve Young's cleaning sticks! If the problem is in the bulb, I clean the bulb base with a green pad and or solder a new tit onto the bottom of the bulb! Finally, wipe the oil from your fingers off the bulb top, heat will build up there!

  10. Be careful with solder!!
    Do not believe it is a safe proven product! Work in a well ventilated room! Do not eat while soldering! Do not smoke! Do not leave beverages near job site! Do not tough your face while soldering! Even if you are very hungry, do not pick your nose! Wash your hands as soon as you are done! Do not use a high head (over 700) Iron! Lead builds up over time in your body! Be careful! To protect your eyes, wear glasses!

  11. Don't buy cheap solder!
    I can always recommend "Kester" or other American made 60-40 rosin solder! Radio shack is another good bet! Avoid "Otey" or any solder from the orient or in an unmarked container! Expect to pay $6-$10 per lb! Buy 18 A.W.G. for big jobs, and 22 A.W.G. for board work!

  12. Strap a board over backglass when shipping head!
    Luan or Cheap-o thin plywood could save your backglass! Large rubber bands or cloth straps will hold in place, don't use tape, it will take the paint off the cabinet when you pull it off! Use plastic steelband to hold head and body to shipping pallet! Get to know a carpet guy! He will give you all the scraps you want! Pad everything! If you have to ship or store a playfield, go to a bicycle store and get free bicycle boxes, perfect size! When moving heads in the cold, remember the #1 killer of backglass paint, rapid Temp. Change! Move outside in stages, inside, porch, outside, truck! Always wait an hour before turning on a cold from the outside game!

  13. Replace thin-flange flipper bushings!
    Drill #5 hole (1/8 bit) countersink!


    Polish flipper shaft to reduce friction! (see #2)






    Steve Young has 'em Wilco, Mayfair, Mazzco! Even if your old style bushings look ok, shitcan 'em! New style has a slight buildup which keeps flipper up away from wood! Don't screw 'em in, bolt them thru!

  14. Shitcan Skanky Feet! Grease Your Feet!
    Old Feet ruins floors & Carpets! Steal them out of Pac Man machines! All parts houses have 'em! Coat the threads with a greese to prevent rust! Bally Lube-In-A-Tube (Moly Greese) Lithium Grease (Sears).

  15. Cheap Super Glue is no bargain!
    I use Super Glue a lot! The only one worth a shit is Bordens Crazy Glue in the tube! The pen is worthless! Cyanide glue will hurt your eyes! One time, 2 frat boys passed out on the back stairs of the arcade! We took off their shoes and superglued their hands to feet! Much funny! Same goes for tape! Scotch # 33 or 35 is the only kind to use!

  16. Tempered Glass! Learn it! Love it! Live It!
    Mazzco sells it for $8.00 a sheet (You pick up, Chicago) Plate Glass is not very strong and breaks very sharp! On any glass, remember the 10" rule! Lift to your feet, then the floor! Go to Builders Square and get foam weatherstrip & Beer seal! Look for Glass mfg. seal of "Float marks" or ping edge of glass with finger and listen.

  17. Store your games on free pallets!
    If you leave your machines sitting up on end in a basement, garage, or store-it, you must put them up on pallets! Many pinheads have tales of sudden broken pipes or freak floods that left the backs of their games swelled up and useless! Go out behind auto parts stores, drug store, or supermarkets and get free pallets! Then it can flood up to 3" and your games stay dry! While out on pallet runs, also look for old store displays and shelving they are throwing out! All my parts are stored on old copper-tone displays and movie store shelves!

  18. Screw 2nd key into game bottom
    New Locks come with 2 keys! Grab a #6 X 1/4" wood screw and mount the spare to the bottom of the game! I also screw into the cashbox area, the spare back door key!

  19. Prepare to replace "Fish Glue"
    Pinball cabinets are made with a low quality organic glue! After about 20 years, at random, some cabinets just come apart! I love to buy games cheap with sprung cabinets, it's such an easy fix! All the mitered joints still line up, just smear Elmer's Yellow Wood Glue in the joint, Pipe Clamp together, wipe excess glue off, and wait overnight! Good as new! The 2 easiest cab panels to replace just happen to be the 2 easiest to remake! Bottom light ply sheet and back panel!

  20. 22 Gauge flipper jump wire has gotta go!
    The wires between flipper End-of-stroke switch and coil are not big enough. 95% of Williams games from 60's and 70's use dinky 22 A.W.G. jump wires! Remember, for each 4 wire gauges you go up or down, you double or cut in half wire diameter! So if you have some old 18 gauge heavy duty zip cord around, use that! Also check the wire going from transformer lug to coil voltage fuse! I always replace it with double strand of 18 A.W.G (14 A.W.G.) zip cord! Also replace any Bally Fuse clip they made themselves (mounted on flimsy bakelite) with nice Little-fuse or Buss fuse holder!

  21. Tighten Coin Door Hinge!
    Operators don't! Check both where hinge mounts into wood with #8 X 3/8" wood screw and where door shell mounts to hinge with machine screw! Williams games with Tiwan Coin doors (Taxi & Forward) are always loose!

  22. Let Your Game warm up!
    see #12.

  23. Modify Gottlieb Sys 1 Power Supply!
    If -12 Voltage stops, all the coils in the whole game pull in! Boom! Instant fried board! The jive ass heat sink arrangement should be replace with the +5 pass transistor being moved to a small remote heat sink! The -12 reg. legs should be checked for insulation and all solder joints on headers need to be refloated! Extra Hint! Gottlieb System 80 Bumper driver boards need a new cap! 90% of "Flapping" Bumpers, coil burnouts, blown fuses, can be traced to this 47 mfd Cap!

  24. Playfield Screws!
    When rebuilding playfields, I run #6" Studs through the playfield from the bottom! Then I put the post and plastic on top of that and firmly nut each! Now I can endlessly take it apart to change rubber or bulbs and never wear out hole! Start with a hand held screwdriver with a #5 bit (1/8)! Drill a #5 hole from the Top Down where the original hole was! Do not use a high speed twist drill, it will burst out the bottom and chew up a wire bundle! Then use same hand held screwdriver to feed into #5 hole a 2" #6 bolt from the bottom up! Place the post on the stud, nut it with an ordinary #6 nut, put the rollover guide apron or plastic screen card on top, and elastic nut in place! If you encounter a relay or step unit in the way of your hole, just use a panhead bolt and countersink so it lays flush with the wood! Try it on one game and you'll never go back! Buy large quantities of hardware from "Fastener Supplies" in Yellow Pages or from Electronic Surplus in Dayton for $1.25 a pound!
    6-32 X 2 Newark P.N. 31F2195 $5.76 per 100
    6-32 nut Newark P.N. 31F2209 $4.45 per 100
    6-32 Acorn nut Newark P.N. 50N^486 $16.95 per 100

  25. A.C. Parts-D.C. Parts!
    Magnet coils on EM games contain a brass or copper cladding that retains the magnetic field thru the 0 cycle of the A.C. Wave! If this comes loose or wears out, relay will start to hum! Replace coil! A Phone call to Steve Young or myself can cross 95% of all coils! D.C. Coils contain no such copper slug, but do have a diode across the winding! As the magnetic field collapses, a "spike" of reverse voltage comes out of the coil! The diode suppresses this! Don't ignore this! On most relays, there is a brass or copper washer between the coil and the relay frame! This, along with the brass screw keeps the frame isolated magnetically! Important! As relays on Gottlieb games need only to have coil removed, cleaned, de-magged and the strike plate wear spot covered with mylar! Do not attempt to take stepping part of relay apart!

  26. Remove Batteries
    Solid state games have batt-trees to hold in memory overnight! Left alone for long periods they will leak and corrode! Pop 'em out or break them off and take them to be recycled or hold them, do not throw batteries in garbage! I use AA Nicads to replace High priced "Data Sentry" or long Bally Batt-trees!

  27. Prop sticks are Bad!
    when working on playfields, don't use the prop stick! Pull the game to a solid service position! Playfield flex causes paint cracking!

  28. Don't make fun of Wayne Newton!
    He is a god in Vegas! If we find you doing this, we will kick your ass!

  29. Coil Siation
    Solenoid coils must have a ferrous plunger inside them or they draw 2-3 times the current! Magnetic field is produced at 20-100% of siation! If plunger is worn, replace! Plated plungers shed less carbon! Polished plungers have less friction! New sleeves (nylon) even less!

  30. Coil Modification
    Bally-Williams and Chi-coil coils all have the wire gauge and # of turns on the wrapper! Gottlieb coils only have drawing # but can be crossed with chart in newer parts manuals! For more power, smaller A.W.G. or less turns! Most coils are measured with Ohms, but keep in mind that this is for comparison only, inductance is not measured in Ohms and Ohms law can not be used to figure inductive loads! The simplest thing to do is lop of 20%, no more, of the wire, bare paint off the end, and resolder to lug!

  31. Replace flipper links with Nylon or steel!
    Flipper links are made of bakelite, a soft, cheap, low grade plastic! The factories claimed they used it due to it's high resistance to heat, but the real reason is was it's low coast! I buy sheet nylon from a plastic house or use old prop sticks as steel stock! Shape on bench grinder, coat holes with cyanide glue! Heat plunger, knock out roll pin with a punch, cradled in a vice! Warning! Steel links have a different feel than plastic! For true original, use plastic!

  32. Equalize Grounds!
    Digital Gottlieb games were the worst! The grounds all terminated on a strip in the bottom of the game! Clip off press lugs and solder them on! Strap the ground of the Gottlieb power supplies to the metal liner of the cabinet! On all digital games, connect all grounds at all times! Screw in place all boards! Floating grounds cause many "phantom" problems that drive you crazy!

  33. Toothbrush your posts!
    Williams posts from late 70's early 80's with deep horizontal ruts and Gottlieb metal posts of mid 60's are a snap to clean with an old toothbrush! Polish 'em up - see #2!

  34. Keep your game out of sun!
    It fades the paint! It melts the plastic! It weakens adhering of paint to wood! Cover your games with old sheets! When transporting your game in sunlight, put white butcher paper or newspaper below glass!

  35. Nice Knockers!
    As a kid, I lived for the sound of the free play knocker! But now, when I get a game in, it isn't as loud as I remembered! What has happened, the knocker is no longer being held tightly to the side of the cabinet! Tighten the screws, or even better yet: Bold it thru! Lop off 20% of the wire (see #30) and it sounds like Detroit on a Saturday night!

  36. Reink bumper caps!
    Use a Sharpie or super sharpie!

  37. Beer Seal your glass!
    Go to Home Base and buy several widths and thicknesses of weather stripping and seal out beverages!

  38. Oil Metal Motor Gears!
    When you rebuild a game, check the motor! If it has no giver gears, drop some light machine oil on all exposed gears, but not on the armature of the motor! If at any time you have motor failure, don't waste your time trying to fix it! Take the model # stamped on the frame and call the mighty motor men at Multi-Products! In 3 days, for $28.00, you will have an exact replacement made new! Total Coolness!

  39. Coin Lockout Coils!
    Are not needed! Remove them and all the linkage parts on the door! Do not open a common and carefully tape off!

  40. Do not buy 32 Volt fuses! Only Buy 250 Volt fuses!
    Voltage rating on fuses is the highest Voltage fuse will "spring apart" and open! 32 volt fuses are cheaper but may not spring apart! They might melt into a puddle in the bottom of the fuse and continue to conduct!

  41. Buy Diodes with much higher P.I.V. than you need!
    R.M.S. Voltages true peak voltages are 25-40% higher than indicated! Use 1N4007 not 1n 4004 . Use 200 P.I.V. 35 or 50 Amp bridges, not 50 or 100 P.I.V.
    IMPORTANT!! Zener Diodes do not apply to above!!! Buy only listed voltage Zeners!

  42. Rotate Chime Parts
    Turn chime over to avoid wear! Clean black carbon goo off all metal parts! Replace grommets with new from electronics store! Wrap old flipper around plunger frame to replace cheep-o foam!

  43. Lower Bulb Voltage
    #44 Bulb life at 6.3 VAC= 4000 hrs, at 7 VAC = 500 hrs, at 5.8 VAC = 10000 hrs. Go to radio shack! Get a 35 amp bridge rectifier! Use 18 AWG wire to jump + to - and AC to AC! Like Elton John, you are now Bi-Conducting! Little electrons march into bridge, bounce around, march out about 1 volt lower! Extra volt is dissipated as heat, so be sure to mount the bridge to a heat sink or a metal plate!
    Note: This is the way that Tim drew the picture. I can't figure out what "connect here" is pointing to.

  44. Notch flipper links
    New Williams flippers (Firepower and up) Gottlieb flippers with slim bat (Bone Busters and up) should have all new parts installed when you get these games! As these parts wear, the link will get too close to the metal bracket holding flipper coil and will bash! use a bench grinder to cut a 5mm notch allowing more clearance!

  45. Zap Gottlieb Displays back to life!
    Many times Gottlieb "Blue" displays will get dim! On the schematic, find which pins of the glass tube provide filament voltage! Look it up every time! There were several suppliers of these tubes! It will say "4.2 VAC" (Less on small displays). Do not confuse with offset voltage that is D.C.!
    Remove the display from game! Get 2 jump wires! Jump the coin chute lights voltage 6.3 VAC on the front door to the filament voltage lines on tube! Turn the game on! Wait about 5 minutes for crud to be burned off filament! Reinstall in game!
    Note 1: I have used a similar but different procedure for doing this, which was documented by Clay Harrell here: http://www.marvin3m.com/sys80/index2.htm#display2. Three displays that I previously thought were dead came back to life. Nice!
    Note 2: Clay also makes note of Tim's procedure. After reading Clay's notes, I think I'll use the coin door 6.3 VAC next time. Note that Clay suggests leaving the display connected to the 6.3 VAC for 1-2 minutes. I'd try it 1-2 minutes first. If that doesn't work, give it another 1-2 minutes.

  46. Make your own master locks for free!
    Most pinballs feature "Fort" locks! Take the cylinder out of the lock and with a small file, take metal off each pin until it is flush with the cylinder! The original key will still work if you ever sell the game! Move non fort locks to head key locks!

  47. Clean Motor "Home"
    On every EM score motor is a NO contact that runs the motor back to the "home" position! The relay that started the motor drops out before the end of each cycle, leaving the motor "home" switch to handle the extreme voltage spike of the motor's magnetic field collapsing! It is easy to find, it's the dirty pitted one! If it's really bad, replace it! Clean only with a small file!