Anybody messing with pinball machines will undoubtedly encounter problems with flippers. Often they seem to get “stuck”, will stay up and not go back down or behave weird. We often instantly go to the flipper mechanism to look for a problem, but sometimes it’s not there.
What happens when one of your flippers seems “weak?” What could cause that? I investigate on m y 1979 Bally “Paragon” pinball. But the cause of this could happen on any game regardless of era. Let’s take a look at how the flipper works and the different things that can cause “weak” flippers.
This is a short video going over the steps to repair/rebuilt/refurbish early solid state pinball flipper assemblies, such as those on Stern and Bally games (but this also basically applies to most pinball machines). I go over the process specifically on a Stern Trident and show the specific style of plunger and assembly they’re using, but most games use similar parts. You can use these techniques to rebuild/refurbish pinball flippers on most games.
Also, there’s another thing I don’t cover on the video that may also be a cause for stuck/sticky flippers, and that’s crud around the flipper button. Sometimes the flipper button assembly can be dirty and the button may stick – that can also cause the flippers to not behave properly, so be sure to check and clean the flipper button regularly too!
Are you running into issues where the flipper in your pinball machine occasionally or regularly gets stuck? Here’s a quick trick to identify where the cause may be. The first step is to figure out if it’s an electrical or mechanical problem.
For the second installment of my Pinball Features series, I talk about the iconic element that makes pinball, pinball: The Flippers! How do they work? Has the design changed much? What is an end-of-stroke switch and how does that work? What are the parts of a flipper assembly?
As soon as I thought I had the game operational, I waxed the playfield and got ready to put it back together only to find out one of the flippers was out. This was a rather tricky issue that took a little bit to figure out — not your typical flipper problem, so I thought I’d do a video of it and go through the process of diagnosing why a flipper might not work (on a Bally-35 early solid state game).
Lately there’s been a bit of a hullabaloo (is that how it’s spelled?) regarding coil stops on newer Stern games. I had it happen to me as well, and I made a video to describe what’s happening. It appears whoever is manufacturing the coil stops for Stern has used inferior materials and they prematurely come apart. I’ve reported this to Stern and will let you all know what they are doing about it. I expect this supply issue to be resolved soon and if you encounter this problem, contact Stern support. They should be able to send out replacement coil stops.
The next day I returned with the right parts. Here are two videos covering the repair.