Arcade Repair Tips – Cleaning A Pinball Machine (Part One)


Hi, welcome back to the Arcade Repair Tips
Video Series. Today we’re going to be looking at a pinball machine and we’re going to do
what’s called a shop on it. We’re going to replace a lot of the rubbers and the rings
and give it a good cleaning and some light bulbs. First thing we’re going to talk about though
is that in order to work on a pinball game, you’re going to need to know how to open it
up. No matter if they’re 30 years old or brand new, they all operate a lot of the same ways. Inside the front door is a lever. You pull
that over and that unlocks the lock bar, like this. So you move this lever and then this
comes up. To put it back in, you place it down and then move the lock bar back over.
So again, lever and then remove the lock bar. Once the lock bar is off, I usually put it
up under the machine so I don’t step on it several times. You can slide the playfield
glass off. If you’re ever replacing playfield glass, you want to make sure that you buy
or get tempered glass. You can get this locally, but if you’ll do a little research on the
net sometimes it’s cheaper buying it from some pinball guys and just having it shipped.
So a good thing to replace, make sure you use tempered glass. We’re also going to remove the back glass.
The way we do that is there’s a key on the side. On this particular model you turn the
key and then you lift up the back glass, like so, being very careful with this. We don’t
want to have to repair any more than we want to. Or have to, I should say. This allows us to get to the backbox. This
is where we find a lot of little bulbs. It doesn’t look like too many of these are out.
In a little bit, we’ll go into the test mode and turn all the lamps on so we’ll know exactly
which lights are out. Then you lift up the sides here. That gives
us access to the motherboards, power supply, and so forth. This one has been upgraded.
It has a newer board in it. But sometimes the game doesn’t come on, which is a very
common problem with these connectors up here. We’re going to recrimp and add a connector
to that, and add some new pins to that. Anyway, stay tuned and we’ll be right back. Ok, now that we’ve got the glass off we’re
ready to start the actual shopping. One of the very first things that we need to do is
to remove all of the plastic pieces. Number one, we’re going to clean those while they’re
off of here. The second thing is that a lot of the lights and stuff are underneath them
so that we can actually get to the bulbs. And then we can replace all of the rubber
rings. We bought our rubber ring kit from Pinball
Resource. They will make just about kind. All I did was told them the game and the manufacturer.
I need a Kiss pinball rubber ring set and they sent us a whole set that has all these
and it seems like everytime I get one from them it’s always complete, usually with an
extra or two. So thank you guys for doing that. So that’s what we’ll start with now is removing
all the plastics. If you’re not sure, this game is pretty simple. We’re going to be working
on a White Water this afternoon and it’s got a lot of plastics. One of the best things
to do is take a digital camera and take pictures of where everything was. Then you can bring
it up on your laptop or you can print out a page and then you can see. Also you can
go to the internet and look at another pinball game. But by all means, I don’t think we’ll
lose where this stuff is going. Also, keep up with all your little parts.
It’s handy to have a little bucket or something around to put all these parts in. That way,
we’re going to need some of them when we go to put it back on. Now these plastics are in pretty good shape.
They do reproduce a lot of the plastics. One thing I’ve seen a lot of times is they will
be warped. If you do a little research, it’s not really hard, you can actually put these
in the oven. I like it on some wax paper, about 300 degrees and it will take out some
of that warping. So cook them for a little bit. Now that we’ve got most of the plastics removed,
we can look underneath. There’s the light bulbs, here’s the rubber rings, and we’ll
bring out that stuff in our kit. Ok, now that we’ve got all the plastics off
and we removed lots of the old rubber rings, some of them looked ok and some of them just
fell apart. Just get rid of them. Throw away all of them. Lets just replace everything
while we’re in here. The next thing we’re going to do is go ahead
and clean it. There are a lot of different cleaners out there. I’ve tried many of them.
We’re going to highly recommend the brand Novus. You can get this from Happ Controls.
Just about all your pinball retailers sell this. You’re not going to find it much local
though, so you’re going to need to do some search on the internet. There are numbers on the Novus. This is a
Number 3. It’s for really heavy scratches. And this is a Number 2. I’m feeling the weight
of the bottles. We use Number 2 a lot. We will use a little bit of Number 3. Be careful
with it. This stuff is great for plexiglass also. They also make a Number 1, but to be
honest it’s basically a glass cleaner. It’s a lot cheaper to buy a can of cleaner at Dollar
General or Walmart or somewhere. So we just buy the 3 and the 2, and usually extra bottles
of the 2 because we’re going to use that the most. It’s pretty simple. All that you need to do
is put a little bit, kind of drip it on the playfield. Everywhere you see that, treat
this like a wax. On other words, you’re going to really push it in there. Maybe we’ll get
a close up here in a minute and you can see this area that I’ve cleaned. It’s kind of
a liquid, kind of gritty. But we’ll look in here, especially some of this area right here
in this black. Just really rub it in good and then it will dry and it will harden kind
of like a wax. You can come back and buff, but while it’s wet is a good time to just
generally do some scrubbing with it. I’m right now using a terry kind of cloth.
You can get this at Dollar General or just about any place. You don’t want a cloth with
a lot of strings or something that are going to get up in there. This terry cloth works
just fine for this. Another thing that we use a lot of is a Magic Eraser. If you’re
not familiar with Mr Clean’s Magic Eraser, let me tell you it will clean a playfield
almost too good at times. You have to watch that you’re not getting too hard on there.
Eventually you’ll start taking off paint. Remember this stuff will start to harden.
It kind of becomes like a wax. So you need to watch areas where it’s going into so that
it doesn’t get into the electronic parts and might make them stick and so forth. If you
can zoom in or look right here on the playfield where we cleaned this area right here. It’s
looking really black and really shiny, and then you look up here where it’s real dusty
and hasn’t been cleaned yet. Very good stuff to use. Like I said, we’ll
start off with the 3 and then we’re just going to clean part of the area right now. Then
we’ll come back with this 2. Then a lot of people use the Novus 1. I just found that
glass cleaner works just as well. When I get through I’ll come back and usually do that. When we get all through we’re going to put
a coat of wax, just like a carnauba wax or something like Turtle Wax. We’ll wax the playfield.
We’ll buff it. We’ll come back, wax it. We’ll usually do that about 3 or 4, sometimes 5
times depending on the playfield. Then it will play and look so much better. We’ll have
a clean game too, which always adds to the looks and the playability of the game.

12 thoughts on “Arcade Repair Tips – Cleaning A Pinball Machine (Part One)

  1. n00bszpro,

    Yes, you can actually play without the glass but it's just very loud! Also, you have to watch out for the ball. You might have had an instance where the ball hit the glass well if the glass is not there you might want to watch out!

    We have also featured your question on episode 4 of our Q&A podcast. Please listen to it on our site for more of our thoughts on this question.

  2. That brings back memories, I don't know how many pinball machines I worked on when I worked for my uncle back in the mid 1980's.

    I can still smell the mineral spirits cleaner I used to clean the playfield and the rubber smell of the bumpers.

  3. Hey you tube fans if you have not already, make sure to check out the Arcade Repair Tips face book page.

  4. I got 3 pinball machines, they all need work, had them around 20 years, cool video, "Steeljaws game room"

  5. I love the massive volume of intermediate collectors and repair guys doing videos on the web. It makes me feel so much better about my own inabilities.

  6. If on a very flat clean surface (glass can be used) you can carefully use a heatgun to melt the playfield plastics flat and put a heavy nontextured object on until cooled (maybe 15-20 seconds). Works faster than baking, at least in my experiences.

  7. I'm going to bookmark this video. I'm in the hunt for a Twilgiht Zone pinball. Should be easy to find in Texas.

  8. first time pinball owner and u hepled me out a lot thanks! cant quite seem to lock the bar back down. the lock bar wont go back to the right after i push down into place the bar..

  9. go to amazon for the novus!! half price. thanks for the vid Go Cowboys!!

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