Repairs Tips Mentioned on Facebook

I have been posting Repair Tips and games for sale on Facebook as another way to "push" information to people. I have copied my tips below to my web site so I can own my own content on my own web site.

MARCH 27, 2020

I enjoy adding mods to my pinballs. Sometimes I simply stick small items onto the plastics. I use and highly recommend Quake Hold! It does an excellent job on flat surfaces. I tried to attach this lightweight plane (USB drive) to a plastic at a 60 degree angle. Over a few days it starts to slide off. I will have to come p with another solution but still works great on flat surfaces.

Above is an example of where the putty works nicely on flat surfaces.

Above I added the aircraft onto the plastic picture at a 45 degree angle. It looks great at first...

Anything attached with this Quakehold putt not on a flat surface will start to sllide immediately.

February 26, 2020

Repair tip: a customer called with an issue where a second ball would be placed in the plunger lane on a TZ. I had him remove balls and go to T1 Switch Edges test. Nothing went off. Then tested trough switches since that appeared the logical place to start. Placed a ceramic ball in outhole. It registered. Pushed it to trough. The switches moved by quickly but showed last switch 17 right trough. Put in the second ball and pushed through. All switches in row 6 went off with last switch showing as 86 which is not used. This is the problem. I told customer to look at diodes on all switches in row 6 or if any touching another metal. One diode was touching metal. He moved it and the game worked correctly and no longer registered multiple switches and shooting out an extra ball.

November 8, 2019

Repair tip: Bally Theatre of Magic right flipper gets weak. The fliptronics board looked good, the flipper button board looked good, and the coil looked good. Flipper was moving around like the plastic shaft was worn or something. When I took off the flipper assembly, the shaft that aligns the flipper fell on the floor. I replaced the shaft and the flipper worked fine.

October 21, 2019

Repair Tip: Controlled lights were not working on a Bally Rolling Stones. I pulled out the wire from the J3 connector to the lamp board associated with lights not lighting. As shown below, the loop of the top broke off so there was no contact between the wire and connector. I replaced the connector at the end of the wire with the new tip shown at the lower end of my hand. The lights worked.

september 16, 2019

Ghostbusters lockup during boot: A pinside posted that their game starts to boot up but locks on the Stern logo screen. We looked at the CPU and the 5V and 48V leds were lit but no other leds. 

I asked him to reseat all connectors. This did not help. Later he took out the battery and it was low and the game rebooted. He called Stern this morning and they said removing the battery (Spike 1 board) is like a reset. So you should be able to replace the battery and the game should work. I’m not sure if this is similar on a Spike 2 game.

August 6, 2019

LED Lighting Tip: I replaced the lamps in the back box with LEDs. In attract mode, I noticed they were flickering. I asked Comet Pinball about this. Gregory recommended changing the two settings shown below. The lights are now not flickering and look great. I have been working on Pinballs for 20 years and have ignored these setting all along. Now I won’t.

A1 25 Allow Dim Illum should be set to NO

A1 29 GI Power Saver should be set to OFF

june 2, 2019

Repair Tip: looked at a White Water. All switches working except for the two opto switches in column 8 for bigfoot. I “assumed” since only two switches not working in entire game , the big foot opto board or optos were bad. Incorrect. Looking at switch matrix, there are only two switches in column 8 which are the two optos. I should have looked. The cpu board chips controlling column 8 (and only 8 ) were bad based on corrosion.

May 20, 2019

Repair tip: on a Theatre of Magic game, it was constantly calling out multiball and the game was unplayable. 

I told the owner that an opto switch was probably bad. 

We went into switch test mode. Within a few seconds, switch 36 subway opto was constantly going off and not stopping registering. 

Before resorting to changing boards or optos, I first checked that both small opto boards were tightly screwed in. They were. 

I then removed the trunk rubber to open up more space and carefully placed a Q-tip with alcohol over the transmitter to clean. The Q-tip came back incredibly dirty. I repeated the process until the Q-tip was clean. I then cleaned the receiver opto in the same manner. 

I went back into switch test mode. Switch 36 did not appear. 

We played the game perfectly. It was the first time in two years the owner got to play his game.

March 28, 2019

And now for your protection.... Do not solder anything in a pinball machine with the power turned on...

(I did not do this in case you were going to reply... posting for a friend.)

january 30, 2019

Repair Tip: Data East Jurassic Park dinosaur not swallowing. I could not figure out how to get the dinosaur to swallow the ball after he picked it up. He was not tipping his head back far enough to allow the ball to roll back and fall. I tried lowering the pitch from 6 to 4 degrees. This helped but not always. I spoke to Chas at Stern. He suggested I change a set screw. I couldn’t find a set screw but finally realized that a limit switch on the dinosaur that sets how far he goes back could be adjusted. I played with several locations. Placing the switch all the way down meant the mechanism didn’t register the switch and it failed. Raising the switch up from the bottom a little at a time, I finally found the right position (with the game at 4 degrees) that the ball was swallowed. The first photo shows the set screw for the switch above top middle in the track. The third photo shows the switch lowered to below middle of the track. I set the pitch back to 6 and it worked nicely.

Note that the nut and bolt are in a small track that allows the bolt to be adjusted. In the above picture it is almost all the way up. In the picture below, I adjusted it so it is almost in the middle of the track.

The above picture shows loosening the nut to adjust the angle. It took several tries to get it right.

january 30, 2019

Repair Tip: My left flipper on my Star Trek Next Generation was not staying up if you held the flipper button in. I thought that could mean that a wire that powered the low power hold circuit on the flipper coil was broke and in fact it was as shown in the photo (the orange wire on the right). I resoldered the wire and the flipper works perfectly.

Above you can see that the orange/blue wire on the right lug is not connected.

november 15, 2018

Stern HD glass. It actually looks better in person. I actually see the reflection as shown in left photo. I don’t see the slight glare in the photo on the right side when standing in front. This game is directly below an led florescent light. The new glass is great. I’ll have some for sale locally if anyone is interested for $235 (including sales tax). The glass is a bit thicker when placing it back onto the game.

The above photos is with regular glass. The photo below is with Stern HD Glass. THe reflection near the flippers shows in the photo but is not visible in person. So it looks much better in person.

october 7, 2018

Moving Tip: I restored a pinball for a customer. They took it home on a flat trailer hitched to their SUV. It probably bounced off of every bump it encountered. I told them to ensure all connectors tight. They played a few games. Came back later and played again then game went crazy. 

All opto switches out. I asked them to check the 12 volt secondary led on driver board. It was not lit. 

I asked them to lift playfield and look for a short. They found a switch that disconnected from a 
Drop target assembly(on Bram Stoker Dracula) and it touched a coil. We replaced opto board and driver board. We reattached switch. Game works fine. 

I recommended they move the game inside the SUV next time.

july 30, 2018

Repair Tip: Demolition Man (but can be generalized to other games): when switch 57 was pressed, switch test beeped for both 57 and 67. 67 is the elevator switch which is hard to see and get to. There is a connection onto the circuit board of the elevator mechanism. It was crooked and not fully connected. I pushed it in and better centered it. Switch 57 no longer engaged 67 as well. Obviously a better solution would have been to take all the ramps off to take off the elevator mechanism but not a very good choice at a customer’s house. So the customer may just need to adjust every 6 months or so. 

Similar issues occur on every game with a connector into a board, especially when pointing straight down. So check all your connectors.

may 29, 2018

Repair Tip: Ground Short Row 1: Working on a Willians Demolition Man. The right handle flipper button not working. Opened the handle and adjusted the switch to work. Put back together and turned on Pinball. Ground Short Row 1 appeared on the screen. Took apart the handle and noticed the white wire was stripped as it made a sharp turn around a metal guide and was shorting to the metal handle. Wrapped in electrical tape. But back together and it worked. 

A ground Short on a row or column with an opto board could cause the board to short as happened on a World Cup Soccer. Look at my web page repair chronicles for that repair.

may 28, 2018

Repair Tip: cold solder joint. First, what is a cold solder joint? It is a crack around the solder. The pin is not getting an electrical connection. Look at the right pin in the first photo. You can see the crack along the top and right. (Both photos taken at 3.4x magnification.). Second, what happens when there is a cold solder joint? In this case it is a controlled light. The light didn’t work. Replaced with known working light and still didn’t work. Put non working light into another socket and it worked. I leaned on the connector and it worked. Usually a good indication of a cold solder joint. Re flowed solder as shown in second photo and light worked.

The above picture shows a cold solder joint on the right pin. Note the crack in the solder around the top right. The photo below shows where I reflowed the solder and it works great now.

April 11, 2018

Repair tip: mostly for Bally/Williams but applies to any game with a ribbon cable. If you are having strange switch problems, lamp problems, and/or coil problems, the issue may be the 3” ribbon cable between the MPU and the driver board. 

While repairing an Addams Family for a customer, we replaced the MPU but problems still persisted (switches are controlled on MPU). The game had a Rottendog driver board. I replaced with an original driver board and all issues went away. We sent in the Rottendog for repair but nothing was wrong. The tech had similar issues in a T2 game where the issues were fixed by changing the 3” ribbon cable. The tech believed that the pins were just a little smaller on the Rottendog so replacing the board with an original board just had slightly bigger pins.

So buy a few ribbon cables to have. I may replace these in all future repairs as preventative maintenance.

march 29, 2018

Repair Tip: Many games including Williams System 9-11 and Gottlieb and Data East (I think), require the correct number of balls inserted into the game. If the balls are not there, the start button will not start a game. If too many balls, the game may eject a second ball into play. 

If you have the correct number of balls placed in the area under the flippers and the game still does not work, then test your switches. The switches in the trough area have to sense and count the balls. If one or more trough switches are not working, then the game will not start.

March 17, 2018

Two repair tips in one:
1.if you disconnect the head in a system 3 to system 9 game, ensure that you correctly put the two large rectangle connectors back based on wire color. Usually black goes to black connector and white goes to white. But as a sanity check, ensure wires match. Otherwise this is an expensive board repair. 
2. When disconnecting connectors, take photos and note pins that have no connectors. Also use a sharpie or labels to label connectors to match pins or male and female connectors. I usually also label in such a way to know clearly which way is up and or right.

december 20, 2017

Repair Tip: Bally/Stern 1977-1985 boardset. If your lights turn on but nothing else happens, the first thing to do is check the 4amp fuse at F3 on the power rectifier board. This is the 12 volt circuit that provides 5 volts to the MPU. Without this power, nothing will work on the game. (The general illumination lights are basically tied to the on/off switch like lights in your house. If the game is getting power to the on/off switch, the GI lights will turn on.)

november 13, 2017

See what happens when you replace a part and don’t pay attention to the wires. They block the ball path.

Above notice that I did not pay attention to putting the wire out of the way of the ball. Below, the wire has been moved out of the ball path.

NovembeR 5, 2017

Repair Tip: balls do not get recognized when they fall into scoop. Kicking them out is also very weak. This was on a Data East Star Wars. Coils worked, switches worked. Issue with both plungers was the pivot point was greased in the past and the plunger would not freely move. We cleaned the entire plunger and pivot including inside the coil and the shaft. Plunger moved freely. Balls recognized and shot out strongly.

september 15, 2017

Repair Tip: What is wrong with the first picture? Look at the white/red wire going to the switch next to yellow wire. 

The wire is not connected. It looks connected but when I tug it you can see it is not connected. 

I'll post a longer explanation on my web site tonight.

Above shows the wire/red wire looking like it was connected. I thought I had a photo of when I tugged on the wire, but can't find it. I gently pulled the wire and clearly not connected. so below the wire is soldily connected.

August 24, 2017

Repair Tip: I have been adding the daughter boards to all my Bally/Williams games for a few years now and recommend them. If your 5volt circuit drops occasionally, this board ensures the game does not reset. (If your 5 volts drops all the time like when pressing both flippers it usually signals a problem on the driver board.) For the Theatre of Magic I just picked up, the game would reset when the ball hit the switch for either ramp. Rob, the designer of the board, told me my 18 volts was having the issue. In test mode the game reset when all lights were turned on. I replaced the driver board and the game consistently provides 18 volts. Very nice to have the board to isolate a problem I didn't even know I have. 

Below you can see the board. It goes into J210 on the MPU then the Connector goes into the board.

june 15, 2017

Repair tips: Here are two fixes I performed yesterday. Both for free so ensure you pay it forward...

The first was a quick stop between office buildings. Sound was not working on a Stern Stars pinball. Turns out screw came out of one of the metal plate chimes. The rubber fell off and the chime was crooked under the next chime. We put back the rubber and screwed it back in and the sounds worked correctly. Had to adjust the screw to not be so tight. 

The second fix was a Gottlieb Silver Slugger. The left flipper was no longer working. I had a feeling the EOS switch was not touching and didn't want to go to their house and charge them to file a switch. Using FaceTime, I told them how to remove lock bar and glass and raise play field. Left EOS switch was corroded so that only corrosion was touching. They filed down the nibs between the leafs of the switch and the flipper worked perfectly.

april 27, 2017

Repair Tip: I received a call from Indiana today. A pinball I helped a customer pack up a few months ago was being set up by its new owners. The game did not boot correctly. The blanking circuit did not start (as indicated by the blinking led). I suggested reseating all connectors. This did not help. I suggested reseating all Transistors. This solved the problem. Moral of the story after a move: reseat all connectors and transistors before turning on the game.

march 31, 2017

Flipper Tip: About a year ago I restored my Star Trek Next Generation. I replaced the flipper assemblies but the game never felt right. The shots were not solid like I remembered. I felt like the flippers were wimpy. A few days ago I realized that although the flippers looked like they were at the correct angle, they may not be. I wanted them higher up to get better shots. I changed them from what is shown in the first picture to the second picture. The results were great. I feel like my favorite pinball is no longer letting me down. I feel like the shots are solid and I can now make them all.

march 31, 2017

Repair/Maintenance Tip: When I lifted my Hobbit play field to fix the flipper spring, I noticed the wires below were broken and not connected. This occurred since the wires were not tied down and rubbed between the play field and cabinet. I took off the plastic to see that a connector pulled out of a flasher board and the other wire broke. I put the wire back into the Connector and soldered the other wire. I put back the plastic. I tied the wires closer to others so they can no longer get caught.

The above photo shows where the wire broke as the play field went out and down and broker it at the wood corner. I soldered this wire back together.

Above shows a wire that was discoonected from the flasher lamp board. Below I added a wire to put into the connector.

Then below I soldered the wires together and covered them.

March 31, 2017

Repair Tip: Was enjoying my Hobbit pinball but then the upper flipper would rest as shown below. The flipper worked but just would not go back to the resting position. I was able to move the flipper freely. The second photo shows that the spring simply sheared off on one end. A new spring will do the trick.

february 3, 2017

Maintenance Tip: Clear rubbers and clean balls help keep your pinball play field clean. White rubbers get visibly dirty and can be cleaned with alcohol. Black rubbers also get dirty but don't show it. Balls track dirt around the play field and subways if appropriate. You should clean the play field regularly. There are many good cleaners. I used 91% alcohol. Sometimes wax. Balls should be replaced every few years especially if they have spots. You can polish. But new balls are faster to get ready. If you are adventurous, you should also clean the subways.

January 14, 2017

I just helped a customer fix three pinball machines. Two of them had so much battery corrosion, they needed new MPU boards. This is a reminder to check your computer boards on your pinball and replace AA batteries every few years. Some of the web sites sell wooden dowels sized to AA batteries that connect to external battery packs to move the batteries off the board and protect your game.

september 27, 2016

Coil Quiz with a hint: Why is this coil stuck in?

Screw came loose and blocked path.

Note the screw to the left of the plunger is raised and blocking the path. I simply screwed it back in and it worked.

july 9, 2016

Repair Tip: Bally 1977-1985 Power Rectifier: I replaced a Power Rectifier board on a Playboy. J1 connector on original board is 8 pins. On the new Rottendog board, it is 9 pins. I assumed they were all the same size connectors and replaced J1 but actually lined it up with pins 2-9 rather than 1-8 and leaving pin 9 empty. (Since the board is sideways in the cabinet, it is not easy to see that the connectors were different sizes.) I blew two fuses. I checked the manual to the Rottendog schematic to ensure that I should use pins 1-8. The game then worked great.

Moral of the story: check connector sizes to ensure they match. If not assume pin 1 is always used but VERIFY with schematics.

july 4, 2016

Repair tip: Removing posts. Sometimes when removing posts, the outer piece that is attached to the bottom of the play field falls out. Be careful to ensure it does not get caught up in wires then fall into a board such as the opto board.
'My index finger is pointing to the sling post hole where the piece fell out. My middle finger is pointing to the piece resting on the wires. It could have fallen into the opto board below and shorted something.'

'This is the piece that fell off the cabinet.'

October 21, 2013

Repair Tip: Fun with Flippers. On a Bally/Williams game if the flipper flutters or buzzes when the flipper button is held in, the most likely cause is a bad opto on the flipper button board inside the cabinet on the other side of the flipper. The opto could be replaced or better yet just replace the board for $20. In T1 Switches Edges test, if you press the flipper button, you will see that the opto is turning in and off quickly.

october 20, 2013

Repair Tip: Star Trek The Next Generation. During start up testing, the left cannon was moving back and forth and not stopping in the home position. I originally thought it was the two switches below the playfield. They worked great. In test mode, the cannon worked great. I finally realized that the plunger was not going back into the housing. It was blocking the opto switch. The cannon thought there was a ball and would rotate the cannon, the plunger would fire again (at this point it would usually click back into place) and the process would repeat itself. I finally realized that a slight electro magnet was being generated between the flat base of the plunger and the bracket. I added electrical tape around the bracket, the plunger now smoothly retracts after each firing and the cannon goes to home on the first try.

October 14, 2013

Repair Tip: Williams System 11 flipper blowing fuse. The left and right flipper are fused on the auxiliary board at f6 and f5 as 2 amp slow blow fuses. If the fuse is blowing, most likely the EOS (end of stroke) switch is not adjusted properly or broken in some way that it remains closed. On my Riverboat Gambler, the EOS switch was opening but was still touching at the tip of the contact point (the round contact points). I adjusted the switch such that when the flipper was fully engaged, the leafs were separated enough that the contact points were not touching. The fuse no longer blew.

october 9, 2013

Repair Tip: Testing Motors. A simple way to test a motor is to hook up a 9 volt battery to both sides of the motor. I usually clip a wire with alligator clips to one side of the battery. I touch the other end to one side of the motor and touch the other lug of the motor with the wire.

On my World Cup Soccer, my ball was not spinning in test mode. I even tried to short the transistor on the driver board to test. This did not work. The LED on the motor board was lit and looked good. I then used the battery to test motor. Nothing happened. Luckily on this game, the goalie also has a motor. I tested that motor and it worked. My soccer ball motor (as usual) is bad.

september 27, 2013

Repair Tip: Slings Not Engaging. Slings usually have two switches with the coil lever in between. If the switches are not working, there can be several reasons:
1. Wire disconnected from switch or some upstream switch. Look for a clearly disconnected wire. If connected, determine wire color and find another switch with same wire color (or find it in switch matrix in manual). Check continuity. If it works, try another switch. If not, ensure wires are connected and one wire in daisy chain is not dangling.
2. One or both switches can be incorrectly in the closed position. Test by moving rubber and spreading apart switch leafs for both switches then touch one together. If it works then bend the inside leaf back away from the front leaf that moves on one or both of switches as appropriate.

september 27, 2013

Repair Tip: Drop Targets: On a Pinball Magic, the M drop target was leaning sideways like a tooth partially behind another tooth. This usually means two things. 1. The spring was missing. 2. The shaft of the drop target was broken and did not extend down into the guiding hole. The solution is to by correct replacement drop targets and springs. I recommended to the customer to buy 10 drop targets so I can replace the 5. 5 will be spares. And the 4 remaining used ones can also be spares. I also told him to buy extra springs and decals.

september 27, 2013

Repair Tip: Trough opto switches. On a judge dredd, the trough opto switch 83 was not working. In the past, I would have soldered the appropriate receiver opto on the front board and retested. In this instance it would have been a waste of time. Luckily now I have spare boards to replace the potential issue. I replaced the board and the issue continued. I was going to test and replace the harder to reach transmitter board. I pulled out the connector and noticed a wire was disconnected from the connector. I confirmed the switch matrix that one of the wires leading to switch 83 was white/orange. I used a screwdriver to push the wire back into the connector and tested. The switch worked. I put the original receiver board back in and continued to work. The game is no longer shooting balls out randomly.

september 27, 2013

Repair Tip: connectors. Lately I have noticed that coils, lights, or switches are not working. I ensure wires daisy chained from other coils, lights, or switches with same color did not get desoldered. I am now seeing more cases where the wire has fallen out or broken offa connector. Simply reattach (or you may need to build a new female connector) and the issue should be resolved.

september 14, 2013

Repair Tip: On a Bally/Williams game, the flippers are not working. I replaced the fliptronics board and they worked fine. But a few days later just stopped. I wiggled the cable between the CPU and fliptronics and the switches for the flipper optos on the cabinet worked for a second. I replaced the large cable that goes from the CPU to the fliptronics board to the sound board to the display driver, and the flippers worked again. (I probably broke a wire in the ribbon while replacing the fliptronics cable last week. Or actually, I didn't break it, it just happened to break when I was working on it.)

september 14, 2013

Repair Tip: On a Bally/Williams game, coils 9-16 do not work in game play or test mode. I shorted the transistor to several of these coils in attract mode and the coils did fire. (If you need to know how to do this, email me.) I realized that if the coils do not work in game mode (controlled by the CPU) but work when grounded (directly forcing them to work), the issue is the communication line between the CPU and the driver board has been severed. Specifically, this means that the 3" cable that sends signals to the driver board has a broken wire in the cable. I replaced the 3" cable and the coils worked fine.

september 14, 2013

Repair Tip: Star Trek Next Generation: Balls are constantly launched from plunger lane to stage balls under playfield but keep getting released from left VUK.

I ensured all optos under the playfield were working. I then tested that the diverters on the subway were working. The diverter that is supposed to send the ball to the right cannon was actually trapping the ball rather than diverting. The picture below shows the manual adjustment to set the diverter so that it does not trap the ball.

Left is before. Right is after. Note that the diverter is moved slightly to the left as shown by the screw head underneath it.

september 7, 2013

Repair tip: on my Attack From Mars, the left gate assembly was not staying up when the coil was engaged. I looked at the spring (which is the rod from the coil to the gate), it was messed up. I bought a new one. This didn't help. I then thought the gate assembly was out of sorts. A new one didn't help. Then I thought a new coil would do trick. It didn't work. I looked closely. The spring's movement was not engaging gate. The spring needed to be adjusted down. I took off the coil assembly and carefully bent the spring holder away from the gate to give more length and this solved the problem.

August 28, 2013

Repair tip: scoring for no reason. On my Cleopatra, the game scores when you press the flipper or gently shake the game. First determine how many points are being scored. In my example, 500. This rules out any switch that doesn't score 500. On this game, most switches score 500. So one of the switches that scores 500 needs to be adjusted since the leafs are too lose together. I visually looked at all switches under the play field. Didn't see the culprit. So I put a piece of paper in each switch one at a time and it still scored. Then I looked at all the perpendicular switches coming up through the play field. The one on the left looked really close together. I put a piece if paper between the leafs and the game no longer scored phantom 500 points. I adjusted the leafs if the switches so they were further apart and the game works great.

august 26, 2013

Repair tip: Flippers slow on the return (and maybe even on the main stroke). If the coil is strong and the spring in place, I have suggested cleaning the plunger that goes into the coil. This is a good habit and an easy way to make any coil work smoother. I did this on a flipper but it was still sluggish. I tried adding a spring and increasing spring tension. This did not help. I realized I needed to check the shaft from the flipper assembly to the flipper. Although a pain to take apart, the shaft was incredible dirty and had sticky stuff on it. I cleaned with rubbing alcohol and reassembled and the flipper now works great.

August 26, 2013

Repair tip: Sluggish drop targets. Do you have drop targets that fall half way or in slow motion? The most likely cause are the old decals that are no longer securely attached. The bottom of the decal is probably pulled away from the target and brushing against the play field. Remove the decals and the targets should drop like new. Then look online to buy replacement decals.

june 7, 2013

Repair tip: corrosion. If you lose a row or column of switches (focusing on Bally/Williams) it could be that an lm339 or uln2803a chip on mpu board is bad. But it can also be corrosion caused by the AA batteries that are directly about the circuitry and connectors on these games

For example, someone emailed and said that their service switch button was begin engaged in the middle of game play. I suggested corrosion. I said to remove dedicated switch connector on mpu and ensure test switches do not work (since disconnected). Play the game. Since game was recording these switches there was corrosion on the mpu board.

june 7, 2013

Repair Tip: focusing on Bally/Williams: if balls are kicked out for no reason during a game, most likely one or more opto switches is bad or a connector needs to be reconnected more securely. When this happens, stop playing game, open door and go to t1 switch test. Switches should be engaging for no reason. Note switches and fix (or call me and I can help). If nothing is happening shake machine to simulate game play.

March 27, 2013

Repair Tip: Watch for coil brackets missing rubber grommets. An electro magnet can be created between the plunger and bracket and cause the coil not to fire. This is especially true on coils that are purposefully weak, such as the lock kick out coil on Twilight Zone (#15). In my case, the balls were going to the lock. But in multiball, the balls did not get kicked out and the coil did not work. But with the power off or the plunger not engaged, the plunger moved freely. The plunger was magnetically connected to the bracket. I added electrical tape and this solved the problem.

march 4, 2013

Repair Tip: Coils. Ensure that the lugs of a coil are not touching metal. The orientation of the coil must be correct. For example, under the apron the lugs should be parallel to the playfield. When there is play in the coil movement, ensure that the lugs will not touch against the bracket or any metal. Also ensure that the metal circles in the base if the coil do not touch against the bracket. If so, the coil needs to rotate 90 degrees.

March 1, 2013

Repair Tip: Williams System X games. If you have reset issues or other strange issues, there is probably a grounding issue on the game. Check the bare wires on the under playfield, the lugs where the wires connect, and the coin door. Wires are usually cut at the coin door. Ensure the end of EVERY cut wire is protected with electrical tape. Otherwise the end will short against the door. Look here for more info:

January 15, 2013

Repair Tip: Williams System 3-11. Not sure which subset but this tip should help. If your game is blowing the 2.5 amp slow blow solenoid fuse and your coils are not pulling in when the game turns on or starts, the lost likely culprit is one if the bridge rectifiers attached directly to the ground plate in the back box. I would just replace both of them to be on the safe side. These bridge rectifiers use lugs for legs rather than wires. The 35 volt bridge rectifier or treater should work.

january 12, 2013

Stern Tip: if you turn on the game and it says "Open The Door", this means the batteries need to be changed. (Wouldn't a message of "Change Batteries" be clearer?) you will need to go onto adjustments and reset your settings. You may also need to reset the volume.

If this does not work, you may need to replace the battery holder or have corrossion on your board.

january 12, 2013

Safety Tip: most pinballs have a latch on the back to temporarily secure the back box in the upright position. (Stern pinballs use a really nice locking mechanism so they are fine.) you should ensure wing bolts (at least one) are secured inside the back box to permanently keep the back box in place. If you need any help with this, call or email me.

October 3, 2012

Repair Tip: Bally/Williams of the 1990s: If the volume cannot be controlled by the test switch buttons inside the coin door, this most likely means that the X9503 digital pot chip is bad (usually in U5). It appears that several games are starting to have this problem. The solution is to remove the chip, add a socket, and install a new chip. Click on the link below and scroll up one story to see a more detailed description and photos.

September 7, 2012

Battery Check: If you have not checked your batteries on your pinball machine within the past 3 to 5 years, now is a good time to replace your AA batteries. The batteries are behind the back glass. Change the batteries with the power off. You will lose your high scores and need to reset your settings such as Free Play and number of balls per game. If you have any questions, please call me. Some of the boards I have been replacing recently have lithium batteries. These do not leak but will still need to be replaced when you get an "Adjust Failure", "Open Door", or "Factory Reset" error.

September 4, 2012

Repair Tip: Stern Pirates of the Caribbean: The post in the ship area was not going down when it should. It turned out the weight of the ball leaning against the post did not overcome the weak spring installed under the playfield. I replaced the spring with a little more powerful spring and the post drops down on cue as expected and works great.

September 3, 2012

Repair Tip: All Flashers not working. This usually means the fuse that controls the flashers (such as F111 on a Bally/Williams game from 1990 -1995) has blown. The problem is most likely the tabs on a flasher are either touching each other or are touching another exposed electrical surface. Take the balls out of the game and lift the playfield to check flashers underneath as well as checking on the playfield for flashers that a ball could have hit. Electrical tape, strategically placed, can stop an issue from re-occurring.

August 31, 2012

Repair Tip: Working on changing all lights on the Junkyard to LEDs and thought that I was short on General Illumination (GI) lights. But realized when going through the controlled lights that the slings were actually controlled lights rather than GI. Normally, slings are GI. But on Junkyard, they are controlled. I should have realized they were controlled lights because they have diodes on them (since they are in the lamp matrix) and GI lights do not need diodes. So you may be asking, why do GI lights not need diodes, but controlled lights need diodes. Controlled lights are in an 8x8 matrix. 64 lights would normally need 128 wires to control each one. In a matrix, 8 lights are daisy chained (share a wire) along the row and along the column. This allows 64 lights to be controlled by 16 wires (8 for the rows; 8 for the columns). The diodes are added to each lamp to stop "back flow" of the electricity so the correct lamp is turned on and only that lamp.

August 29, 2012

Flipper Tips: 1. If flipper turns on when machine is turned on then the transistor is shorted and needs to be replaced. If the coil has been fatigued it should be replaced too. Turn off the game immediately and fix. 2. If flipper turns on when game starts, this could mean that the flipper switch needs attention. If it is an opto switch, the board should be replaced. If a regular switch, the leafs are probably stuck together and should be filed. 3. If flipper gets weak during play, this usually means that the opto flipper switch is turning on and off rapidly causing the coil to get hot. Replace the opto switch. 4. In game play, if the flipper goes up and doesn't come back down when you let go of the button, then the flipper components need to be adjusted. The EOS switch could be sticking the flipper, or there could be other stuff out of alignment. Rebuilding the flipper and replacing the coil is always good to get fresh flippers. The above assumes a previously working flipper. On a game that is new to you, you should check the diodes and ensure wired correctly.

August 27, 2012

Slot Machine Repair Tip: My Chrome Bell slot machine, which was working beautifully, just stopped spinning. I opened the back and immediately saw the large spring dangling and not connected to the bar. The cotter pin was broke. I replaced with a stronger cotter pin and it works great again. Pictures posted at and scroll down since I don't have the individual items tagged yet.

August 27, 2012

Repair Tip: Bally Corvette Pinball Race Track Error. Noticed that the left car was moving in test mode but the encoded number was not increasing. This meant the encoder opto was not working. Replaced the opto but also needed to fix the trace. See the pictures and description of the fix at BallyWilliamsRepairs.html#Corvette. Look at the last entry for Corvette (although all the others are interesting to.)

July 20, 2012

Slot Machine Repair Tip: if you take a Mills jackpot mechanism out of a game, you need to ensure that the reserve lever is property seated within the snake fork shape tongue lever or the reserve mechanism will not work. The lever is spring loaded and needs to be held in place as jackpot is placed on glass. I will create a slot machine repair page and post some pictures.

June 19, 2012

Stern Indiana Jones: I now understand why not many people have see the LEDs that flash on the swordsman, ark, and skull. There is a connector in the cabinet that connects the 18 volt power to these three auxiliary LEDs that gets disconnected when the back box is lowered. The male side has just the orange wires. The female side has the orange, red, black, and grey with red strip. They are four pin single row and do connect.

May 23, 2012

Repair Tip: Stern Monopoly Pinball: If your spinning flipper is not lifting the ball out of the utility hole, try two things. 1. lower the front of the flipper rubber so it can lift the ball out of the hole. 2. Lift the playfield (with the balls removed). The spinning flipper is connected to a disk. This disk rotates against the motor disk that has a 1" rubber on it. This rubber is probably flattened and not making contact with the flipper disk. Remove the rubber and replace with a new one. In Test mode, go to coil test 25 with the white door button pulled out and have someone press the button to turn the motor as you take the rubber off. Do this again to put the new rubber on.

May 16, 2012

Repair Tip: if a coil is not working and this is a new game to you then you need to do the usual: replace coil, fuse, and transistor. But before you turn on the game, actually when installing the new coil, check the schematics and ensure the wires are connected correctly. Otherwise the problem will occur again. (You don't need to do this on a game that was working since the wires would already have been right to work in the first place.)

April 20, 2012

Repair Tip: the Ultimate MPU (and also Ultimate Driver) are great replacement boards for Bally 1977-1985 era (and Stern) pinballs. I keep forgetting to reset all settings. After you install MPU board, hit the clear/reset button and then set all settings on the menu. Background music is defaulted to off and this should be on, for example.

April 20, 2012

Repair Tip: if wrong switches are registering, the likely culprit is a broken off or touching diode on the switch., or in the same row or column. Look at the switch matrix and find switches on the same row or column and check each diode. Ensure not disconnected or touching where it shouldn't If disconnected, resolder. If touching, gently move the wire and diode.

March 13, 2012

Repair Tip: Captain Fantastic and similar era games: if general illumination lights are out in the backglass, the middle fuse on the left side of the cabinet near flipper button needs to be replaced. If general illumination lights are put on the play field, the lower fuse on the left side needs to be replaced. If lights go on and off intermittently, the fuse holder(s) are bad and should be replaced.

March 5, 2012

Repair Tip: if all coils on a Williams/Bally game are not working, it is probably NOT the individual fuses that control 8 coils each. Especially if flashers work then it is not f103, f104, and f105 on the driver board. It is probably f112 (secondary coil fuse) at right. As a note, f111 is secondary flasher fuse. There is something usually wrong on the driver board near the same area that causes resets. This board needs to be repaired or replaced.

March 5, 2012

Repair Tip: Resets on Williams/Bally 1990s pinballs. The main problem is usually the bridge rectifiers at the top right (BR 1 and BR 2) and Capacitor 5. Replacing these or sending out the board for repair will solve most problems. If this isn't the problem , then ensure all connectors are correctly attached to the driver board, ensure the ribbon cables are tightly seated (pull out a bit and push in) and ensure screws to back box are tight (previous tip).

March 1, 2012

Repair Tip: General Illumination (GI) are the lights that are always turned on. On a Williams/Bally game from 1990s, the usual problem is connector J120 or J121 at bottom Left are burned and need to be replaced. There could also be a problem with J115 connector at left or the 5 triacs on the heat syncs at the bottom right if the driver board, but usually a burnt connector. On a Williams game from 1980s (and Data East) the burned connector is usually on the power board at the bottom right. The power board has the large heat sync on it.

February 13, 2012

Repair Tip: Gottlieb System 3 games. If you turn on the game and nothing happens (even if it just worked a few minutes ago) one or both of the fuse holders in the box in the cabinet probably broke. The easiest way to repair is to buy a replacement in line fuse holder from Radio Shack (thank goodness they still sell these). Unplug game. Unscrew metal box at bottom and carefully flip over. Solder or wire not in the new fuse holder with it sticking out of the hole. Look at my Gottlieb repair chronicles under Cue Ball Wizard for a picture.

February 13, 2012

Repair Tip: Sega/Stern resets. If a Sega/Stern game constantly resets, the bridge rectifier labelled 21 in the middle of the driver board with the heat sync on it needs to be replaced. This needs a 35 amp 100 volt bridge rectifier that you can no longer find at Radio Shack (since they are now mini Best Buys). It is set for bridge rectifiers with lugs but will work find with thinner legs as long as you line up correctly. If you need help you can always contact me.

February 13, 2012

Repair Tip: opto switches work opposite regular switches. When a ball travels over a regular switch, the switch closes to tell game that switch was hit. Opto switches use a beam of light that the ball breaks when crossing. Therefore, regular switches are open and closed when engaged. Opto switches are closed and open when engaged. If an opto switch is not working it is usually a bad transmitter LED. This LED and the accompanying receiver LED are usually on an inch square board with two wires to each board set so ball travels between them. If not working you can clean LEDs, ensure both wires are connected to each board, or replace the transmitter (clear or pink) LED board and resolder wires.

February 1, 2012

Repair Tip: little felt adhesive circles are a must have when working with pinballs. These can be bought on sheets in various sizes from about 1/8"-1" from Home Depot. They can be strategically placed on the playfield to slow down a ball or stop it from rebounding back into a hole or where it came from. For example, on the Williams Indiana Jones saucer on left sometimes the ball will hit so hard and pop out. Place one on top area of the metal guide to slow ball and guide into hole. They can also be used when ball pops out to plunger so it doesn't fall back into trough. On Dr. Who I use them to ensure ball coming out of hole in mini play field does not drain between flippers.

January 17, 2012

Repair Tip: along with tightening screws under the playfield (as previously described) ensure that both wires to coils (3 on flipper coils) are connected. With vibration and use they can break off. Simply resolder or call me.

January 2, 2012

Repair Tip: after you move a pinball and every year or so, take out the balls and lift the play field and tighten everything under side of play field with the power off. Most items tighten with a 1/4" nut driver.

December 27, 2011

Repair tip: When replacing rubbers, especially on slings, ensure that new rubber is not causing switches to close. This can cause sling coils to rapid fire or fire when play field is shaken. It can also cause scoring to nit occur properly. You may have to separate switches slightly by adjusting the leaf that doesn't move (usually the back leaf).

December 20, 2011

Cleaning Tip: If you are adventurous, you can clean the underside of the controlled lights on the play field. Over time, they get dirty. After removing the glass and balls, lift the play field. Use a Q-Tip with 91% alcohol (with the game turned off) and clean the light inserts from under the play field. If you remove the light bulbs, you can clean better but takes more time.

December 20, 2011

Repair Tip: Bally/Williams games that have the 6 ball trough (such as Judge Dredd, Star Trek Next Generation, Theatre of Magic) sometimes have problems with shooting out too many balls on the play field because the balls are not aligned properly in the ball through. sells a Ball Trough Magnetic Jam Protector for $6.00 that solves this problem. Look at my Links page for more info.

December 20, 2011

Cleaning Tip: Novus #2 is probably the best cleaner for the playfield. It can be purchased from the links on my web site. 91% alcohol and a Mr Clean Magic Eraser also work nicely. If you do this, just wipe up immediately or white streaks may be left behind. If so, just re-wipe. Finally Q-Tips dipped in 91% alcohol can reach into hard to get places.

December 12, 2011

Repair Tip: if an entire set of coils (usually associated to a fuse) all turn on, it is probably a good indication that the cable (especially when a ribbon cable) has a broken wire between the CPU and Driver Board.

December 12, 2011

Repair Tip; if you take the circuit boards out to repair (or someone does it for you), ensure that all screws are tight. Otherwise the pinball can reset due to losing ground (through the screws).

December 4, 2011

Repair Tip: Switch Matrix/Lamp Matrix allows (usually) 64 switches or lamps to be controlled by 16 wires rather than 128 wires. The switches or lamps are conceptually arranged in an 8x8 matrix. This means that if several switches or lamps are not working, look at the manual to see if the switches or lamps are in a single row or column. This could mean that a wire detached along a "daisy chain" or the chip that controls the row or column is bad or the connector on the board to the wire is not getting connectivity.

November 30, 2011

Repair Tip: Take out the balls if you need to lift the play field to look at something. Otherwise the balls can ball and break plastics. With older games can get the ball out by pushing it from the out hole (between flippers) to the plunger lane. For new games, there is usually a menu selection to clear out balls.

November 29, 2011

Repair Tip: If you get an "Adjust Failure" on a Williams pinball machine, this means that the batteries need to be replaced. These games use 3 AA batteries. Look for corrosion on the battery holder and below it. If so, the board will need to be repaired or replaced. But most times you can change the batteries and be up and running. Batteries are behind the backglass.

November 29, 2011

Repair Tip: Pinball machines after around 1977 use computers and they use batteries. Batteries should be replaced every 3 - 5 years. If you have not changed your batteries, stop, drop what you are doing, and change them now! Most games use 3 AA batteries. Some use rechargeable batteries. If you are unsure, call us.

November 27, 2011

Repair Tip: If display is acting up, switch ribbon cable on BOTH sides to the display (from the display driver) WITH POWER OFF to see if the problem moves to another part of the display. If so, then the cable is probably bad so buy a new cable. Otherwise, the display and/or driver board need to be replaced (or repaired).