F.A.Q.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why did you decide to launch this site and do the videos?

I thought it might be a helpful way to share my experience with other people.  I spend way too much time messing with pinball machines and this is one more excuse I can use to justify it.. well I have to now ’cause I have this web site and three people are depending on me!

  • Why don’t you edit the videos?

Short answer: I’m lazy.  Long answer: I figure if I “professionally” produced the videos they’d take a lot longer to do, and I’d do less of them, then I’d be doing more “video production” and less “pinball help.” 

  • It seems like your videos are sloppy and ill-prepared sometimes

Make that most of the time.  Although I might argue any time you videotape something that isn’t pre-rehearsed, this is what you’re going to get, but via the magic of editing, most people aren’t subject to the gaffs, mistakes and awkward pauses that represent real life.

  • How long have you been playing and working with pinball machines?  Do you have any formal training in this field?

I’ve been playing games for many decades since I was a kid.  They’ve always held a special place in my history.  Like most enthusiasts, my “affliction” started when I bought my first game, and at the time I didn’t know squat about repair. I’ve dabbled a little bit in electronics and other types of engineering, but basically I’m a layperson, learning on-the-fly, and I’m not pretending otherwise.

  • In video X you did Y and that was the wrong thing to do, don’t you know that?

I am not claiming to be a master pinball restorer, nor an electrical engineer.  I am just representing me, a dude who likes to fiddle with the games and wants to share his experience (note I said “experience” and not “knowledge” although if I can do that I will too).  Sometimes I make mistakes, even the best of them do this, but since I’m not editing the videos sometimes those warts show up publicly.  If you have a criticism with something I’ve done, please let me know – I do endeavor to have the videos contain accurate and reliable advice. 

In many cases, by the time I’ve finished the video I realize I could re-shoot it and do it 10x better.  But well, it’s all about the games and hopefully there is some niche for a fumbling pinball enthusiast who sometimes makes mistakes and isn’t afraid to admit it.  That’s how we all learn.  I’m just goofy enough to document the process sometimes.  Doh!

  • What’s your favorite pinball-related activity?

I really like “the hunt” for new machines, getting good deals and bringing machines back from the dead.  I’ve never bought a machine that was fully-working.  That’s one reason why I shoot a lot of these “first look” videos.  I want to capture the very first look at a game, the “before” and document what I do to it.  Quite often I forget how much work I put into these things, plus I think it’s kind of cool to give people a first-hand perspective of what it’s like to salvage a pinball game.  I’ve seen some videos where they find a warehouse full of games but they don’t really follow any single game from the barn to the gameroom, and that’s what I try to do.

  • What’s your favorite type of games?

This is a tough one.  I really like all types of pinballs.  I’ve got games from the 1940s to the most modern ones in my collection.  I love both EMs and fast and deep DMDs.  I have a special place in my heart for funky games that didn’t fit the mold, hybrid or experimental designs like Spectrum, Baby Pac Man, Joust, Safecracker, Who?Dunnit, RFM, and other games that tried to do a lot more than their contemporaries.  As far as a personal favorite, it changes constantly.

  • Can you help me with a specific game?

You can ask.  I can try.  But if you’re really in a bind, there are numerous other places where you can solicit groups of enthusiasts to help, such as rec.games.pinball and pinside.com and arcade-museum.com’s forums.

  • Do you do on-site repairs?

If you’re in my area (Louisiana), I may be able to help if the issue is something I’m comfortable doing.  Drop me an e-mail to mike followed by the at sign and then pinballhelp.com.  Also, if you live in Hawaii, Vail, Machupichu or the Swiss alps and need repair and will cover transportation, I’ll do my best to help!  ; )

If you have a question for me to add to the F.A.Q., feel free to leave a comment.

 

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24 thoughts on “F.A.Q.

  1. I have an older game, Hollywood Heat, and cannot purchase one of the plastic pieces on the playing field. The problem is it is warped. Warped just enough to stop the ball when it passes under it. Do you know of a way to flatten a piece of plastic with harming it?

    Thanks for any help,

    Dale

    • You could try flatting the plastic between two things and placing it in the oven on low heat and seeing how that works – just be careful. I haven’t tried this before but I think if you use the right materials that won’t stick to the plastic you can flatten it out. You could also try hitting it with a heat gun then flattening it out a bit.

      • Hi Mike and Dale.

        I might be late to the party, but not to the toys!

        I’m wondering if there is such a thing as a 12-step program for people with pinball and/or arcade issues. If you add vintage slot machines to the mix then I will be the one doing a double take, too!

        So for the little warped plastic piece…you know guys at bike shops are always making repairs and replacing parts on all kinds of bikes…I bet they might know how to make, mold, fix, repair or custom order a part for that pinball.

        I’ve already learned a lot from your videos, Mike. Don’t sell yourself short. You should charge for some of your know-how.

  2. Hi. I have a chance to pick up a target pool machine for $250. Any thoughts. sounds aren’t working, no legs, lights only work on the back…how hard would the repair be for an amateur? also, if the field isn’t smooth, is there a way to fix it?

  3. I have a 1985 Eight Ball Champ pinball machine. I can turn it on and the lights will come on but it won’t fully power up. It keeps blowing the FU3 fuse on the power board upon power up. I’m not sure where to look to possible find the problem. Any advice would be great!!

  4. Hi, do you know how much the Atari Airborne Avenger retailed for new? I have a used one that I am getting ready to part with but would like to know how much they went for brand new.

  5. How do I open a lock on the back of a kingpin 1962 Williams without damaging anything? the same was as the locks on the front?

  6. I may have found a mata hari pinball machine that’s a em going to look at it. Saturday. If the guy who owns it known what it is. Been in storage for 3 years after his move. What is the around about prices I know it rare.

  7. Mike, like a couple of other guy’s, I too have a eight ball champ. I know nothing about electronics. The previous owner has messed with the keyboard and turned off the sound. Starting from turning on the machine, what do I do to turn it back on and then start playing. I am so glad I have found your site!

  8. I have a williams earthshaker pinball machine. It will not work. When I turn it on, the lights in the playing field will work but not the display board. Is there any help you can lend?

    Thanks

  9. Hi. I just got a Flash Gordon pinball machine and the flippers do not work. Do you know how to fix them? Also, does the top of the machine open so that I can access the electronics?

    Thank you,

  10. Cool site. I have a Tempest. Machine has great color. Screen bounces off and on. Any idea what this may be? Could it be the power supply? Do I need a monitor rebuild? What are your thoughts?

  11. Love your website! Just wonder if you ever make to Florida I am close to Panama City. I have a Funhouse fuse has blown twice and I fixed it by adjusting some switches and cant figure it out.

    Best Regards,
    Alan

  12. Dear,
    I look on Youtube one video “Mr.Ms Pacman Pinball” and the light RED MONSTER at the left of the Pacmaze is OFF. It’s the first time I look this OFF.
    On my pinball this light is always ON and many Pacman pinball are the same.
    What is the correction for a light correct driving ?
    Best regards.
    Serge

  13. I’ve just found you on YouTube. You helped me understand rebuilding several things already. Thank you!!

    I’ve got 2 machines, Firepower and T2, and I’m pretty new at this. Both have sluggish coils. They work but don’t pop the ball strong. Both have a piston of sorts that should just throw the ball out (i.e. save me from losing it.) How do I know if I need to replace the coil or if it’s something else? I’ve taken them apart and cleaned them but it didn’t help.

    • Check all the contacts and wiring to the coils. If there’s an end of stroke switch, make sure the contacts on it are clean. Look for any signs of heat damage on the coil, and check all the connectors between the coil and the boards in the head.

  14. I have a Twilight Zone pinball machine that has sat idle for a while. In starting it back up the display is not working. I replaced the batteries and it still does not work. Also, the start button does not light up and does not start the game when pushed. Is there a way to reset or???

    • I’d first try to re-seat all the connectors. There are a ton of things that could be causing this so there’s no easy way to diagnose.

  15. I have a Gottlieb Pioneer. Player 1 does not get the replay when the scores are reached. Player 2 works perfect. Can you let me know what to check? Thanks.

  16. i have a 1970 gottlieb ‘mini cycle’ 2 player machine, and it’s stuck in a loop in that it won’t reset to play. the motor just spins nonstop. I’m going crazy! please help!

    • That’s usually the result of a switch on the playfield being stuck closed, but it could be a few other things. The switches need to be cleaned.

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