A Guide to Pinball Machine refurbishing, work shopping. How we do it!
Pinball Machine Refurbishing.
Pinball machines are collectable. They are an appreciating commodity.Do it properly!
All too often people think of the old scrappy dirty machines they find in the corner of an amusement arcade or pub with an "out of order" sign on them.
Poor pinball machine! Not when we are around. We can rebuild your pinball (post 1990 models only)
This is our guide to buying a pinball machine, then restoring it to its former glory.
Start with a reasonable condition machine, not something that has been left in the garden for years with woodwork swollen etc, these are just firewood!
*Upper playfield stripped and polished, toys removed etc.
By reasonable condition i mean restorable. Look for major playfield wear especially in front of flippers, around lamp lenses etc. Even if stinking dirty the machine should be complete, especially all metalwork as this is virtually impossible to find for out of production machines. Plastics (game unique printed plastics) can usually still be found by surfing the net for most recent games although sometimes these wont be nos (new old stock) and you will have to do with reproductions if available, usually for the more popular williams and bally games only.
Start by thoroughly checking the machine out and hunting for faults, write a to do list!
Next each part of the top of the playfield should be stripped enough for cleaning and access to rubbers, toys etc below. This can be a time consuming job especially as each part has to be catalogued ready for re assembly. When your playfield is accessible the cleaning can begin. Be careful here as there are different playfield coatings, those with diamond plate and those without!
*Lower playfield stripped and polished
Never use thinners or other strong solvents, be warned if these get under lamp inserts and cracks in the playfield inks, your playfield is going to be firewood!
We use a spray foaming cleaner to take the original "gunk" off the table surface. This leaves just the heavier steel deposits left by the ball. This is best gently polished off using a very fine cutting/polishing agent (we use automotive g3) but t cut works nearly as well. Remember gently does it, you don't use cutting paste or you'll be through the playfield in no time!
*TOYS REMOVED & POLISHED
When the playfield is buffed with a clean cloth you'll see how well it can come up....some results are amazing! Some show that the playfield has more wear than you expected.....doh!
Next a really good coat of wax is applied, we use pinball wax but there are some good automotive waxes we have tried too..eg. MER.
Again, buff and re coat, buff and re coat then repeat again, its worth it! The playfield takes a bashing from that ball! Final polishing should be done when the wax has dried completely, cleaning any hard to get to places with a toothbrush..white deposits tight to metals etc look awful!
Next all plastics need cleaning. We use the foam cleaner again for this as it dissolves nicotine, smoke and metal dust quickly and can then be buffed clean with a soft cloth. Plastic polish can be used to take out scratching to non printed side, these usually polish up nicely.
All ramps etc should be treated the same way including polishing out "ball tracks"
The toys may need repairing including looking for ham fisted repairs done by "don't know what they are doing arcade engineers" check for wires twisted together and other bodge jobs including ugly wood screws etc. You would not believe some of the bodges i've come across.
Next the rebuild process can begin,use new shiny fasteners where possible.
Metal parts can be cleaned in a vibrating polisher which does give great results, we would say that as we stock them!
to be continued when my fingers stop aching!
Final test and pinball diagnostics:
*Addams family restored playfield, new clear ramp fitted.See the playfield shine! This is a pinball to be proud of. (no we don't write mercury leisure over it, that's a picture watermark to stop others infringing our copyright)
(thanks to pooh for page read and correcting all my speeling mystaykes)