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.
On many pinball machines like early solid state Bally and Stern games, you’ll often see little capacitors on most of the playfield switches. Sometimes they’re there but a leg is cut off. Why are they there? What do they do? And are they important? We’ll talk about that.
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.
I’ve run into this problem at least 3-4 times in the last month with different early Bally/Stern solid state games: The game boots and appears to work but you can’t start a game and/or many switches/buttons don’t seem to work? Before you dive deep, try this simple, easy trick.
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This is a common problem that happens with old electro-mechanical pinball machines. One minute it’s playing fine, then the next there’s a loud buzz and/or the scoring runs continuously or doesn’t score properly. What’s the deal with that? I’m going to show you one of the most common causes.