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.
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,
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.
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?
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!!
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.
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?
search here – I have a video on how to drill out locks
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.
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!
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?
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?
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?
Always a good idea to refurbish those monitors if they’re old and haven’t been serviced in awhile.
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.
It depends upon what fuse it is – but best to check coils or whatever the fuse is protecting.
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 ?
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.
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.
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.
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.
What type of solder is best to use for repair? Thanks, Ray
I have a question on your coin stamping machine that you posted a video recently on. I am looking to see if you have or know where to purchase a solenoid for the machine as the one I have does not currently work any longer.
I think you can probably use a solenoid from a pinball machine, as long as it fits. Also try visiting http://www.Metaltyperrestoration.com
Dear all, My White Water Williams is going back to factory settings automatically , any suggestions?Thanks
Check the batteries.
i have a 1976 space mission game. Im trying to get it in free play mode, because i believe the coin mech does not work. any help would be awesome thanks in advance
Recently bought a Genco Victory machine from 1941. It’s missing the front coin door (technical name). Are there any sites that sell replacements, or details on the dimensions so I could build my own? Thanks!
hello I have an Independence Day pinball machine.
everything works but when the ball shoots into the game stays engaged and blows the 250 fuse.
the condition is good lights and everything thing else is working.
what would you think a start point for selling?
That’s a tough one to diagnose given the limited information. But I would look at the coil that handles the ball eject and see if there’s a loose wire. As far as selling, it will depend upon the condition. I don’t necessarily like to post comments with prices because over time all those things change.
Hello, I have a Gottlieb 300, and watched your video on how your machine/300 would not play multi player, however, my machine when you press one player, you get one player, but when you press two players, you actually get three players (only two players light up on the back board player selection, however, all three score counters are in activation), instead. the other two selections work as they should, three and four players. So I am curious as to how to press for two players and only play two players in a game, rather than the machine showing two players but plays three.
Any ideas on what I could do to fix this problem.
This is likely the result of the player/ball stepper unit or the relay that controls it. The stepper units are a common problem in terms of eventually misbehaving after awhile because they are lubricated with grease that tends to harden over time. I’ve done some videos on working on those units.
Mike I was watching a video you did on a Gottlieb System 80 about repining. I have a Black Hole and need to re-pin all my connectors. I’ve ordered the Pascal PI-80 and want new connectors. Can you provide me a part number for the connectors? Just one, I can order the right PIN number I need, just can’t seem to find the right connector. The right pins to use and crimper part numbers would be greatly appreciated. You mentioned Great Plains, but I can’t locate the connectors.
Crimp terminal – bifurcated .156″ #08-03-0304
Get them here: http://www.pbresource.com/molex.html
Split face (bifurcated) crimp terminal for use in circuit board edge connectors with .156″ spacing.
Material is tin plated brass and accomodates 18-24 AWG size wires.
Typically found in black double sided edge connectors used on Gottlieb System 80 interconnect wiring harnesses. Used between the CPU board and the driver board and labeled as A1-J4 on the CPU board and A3-J1 on the Lamp & Solenoid Driver board.
08-03-0303 reel strip
Thanks Mike. I’m looking to replace all the connectors (white) Not the double sided black one. Can you provide a part number for the edge connectors that will connect to the Pascal board? I can then get all the different sizes I need. just need to get the right connector . Thanks I now have the pins from above email.
Try Ed at Great Plains Electronics: https://www.greatplainselectronics.com/products.asp?cat=77
Thanks for the info, Ed is sold out of most connectors. I bought what he had (3) but leaves me short on most. still hunting for them. Thanks Again
I have a 1984 Space Shutter E&M pinball machine. The flippers do not work? I checked the electrical prints and found that there is a fuse that needs to be checked. The problem that I have is how does one get to check this fuse?
It appears to be at the back of the main body, where I cannot reach it. Is there another way to get to the fuse?
Mike. I found you on YouTube. Thanks for the videos. I have an Gottlieb Super Spin that I cannot get the glass hold down bar to release. I see people just pull down on the handle and it releases the slide, but mine seems locked in place. Do you happen to have any suggestions getting it freed up so I can remove the glass? Thanks, Jonathan.
Sometimes the glass can get stuck.. you’ll just have to as carefully as you can un-stick it. I don’t envy trying to do that with an old piece of glass. It could be possible to try and put something that vibrates on the glass while you try to pull it – maybe get some suction cups that are used to carrying plate glass to get a good grip on it.
My kids presented me with a Williams Black Knight (1980, System 7) for xmas. It hasn’t taken much play for me to discover issues with existing game play and quirks in extant programming. I’ve begun to itemize a growing list of tweaks to game logic and sound, and add a few sensible physical playfield modifications. The fact that you have customized your Bally Silverball Mania suggests it may be possible to do the same with my Williams Black Knight.
I have a Sega Southpark pinball that just started doing endless multiball, it continues to eject balls into the playing field during game play. Is that possible the Opto from your video that needs replacing? Thanks!
Yes, usually when balls start going into the shooter lane unexpectedly, it’s because the ball trough optos are dirty or malfunctioning.
What documentation is available online for people who want to use the Arduino daughter board and BSOS for programming the game play? Are their users groups as well?