Friday, May 22, 2015

How to shop out a pinball machine

Cleaning and restoring games is my favorite part of the pinball hobby. I normally spend a few weeks on each game (Most places estimate a good shop job to be 30-40 hours but I've never kept track. I'd guess more because I'm slow). I don't think a real shop job is something that can be done on a Saturday afternoon, nor is it something you can reasonably pay someone to do right. Techs would give you a basic shop job, restoration guys will charge many thousands of dollars to make your games perfect. I personally bring my games somewhere in between those two.

A big point of contention in the pinball community is what constitutes a shop job. You'll see all ends of the spectrum from shady sellers who consider a quick wipe down and rubber/bulb replacements "shopped" to people who don't consider a game shopped unless it's been fully restored with new cabinet decals and playfields. It's been debated to death, I don't need to go over the merits of the debate, but here's what I do to my games when I'm shopping them out.

If you're looking for a more step-by-step guide on how to do most of this, check out or For a list of tools required check here.

Tool kit for pinball restoration and maintenance

I used to wonder what parts and tools I should have when I first got into pinball. You might as well as "What tools should I have to work on my house?" because it depends what you need to do. My kit has been built up based on need and as I've started going more in depth into working on games. Basically everyone needs a good soldering iron, 1/4" nut driver, and 0.156" crimp stuff. I think an ultrasonic cleaner is a very nice thing to have, but you can somehow live without it. A rivet press really isn't the most essential tool. I don't think I've ever seen a tabulated dump of someone's main kit, so in case someone new to the hobby is wondering what kind of tools are used, here's what I have on hand for working on games and how important I think each is.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Soundproofing a pinball machine

When I first got into pinball I lived in an apartment. I actually moved into a house because of pinball. Apartments are far from ideal places to have a machine. You think pinball machines are loud until you move it into a small quiet room surrounded by neighbors. Then you discover pinball machines, specifically solenoids, are very loud. Naturally, being a respectful neighbor, I went on a quest to soundproof my machines at the time using Terminator 2 as a test subject.

If you want the short answer:

Nothing I did dampened the sound to a level I was comfortable with playing my machines at 3am short of building a fort of acoustic blankets around them.

At the time I worked until 9pm or so and would frequently play after midnight, so dealing with sleeping neighbors was important. If you found this blog post, I assume you've already found the other bits of Usenet information, this article, this article, and years old forum posts as I have. Here's my experience.

Solid state Dixieland bingo notes

These machines are obviously out there, it's obviously Dixieland of some sort, but I can't find any real information on them. It's not a fully electro-mechanical bingo, it has a solid state PCB that controls the game logic, so it has to be late 70s or early 80s. It doesn't say Bally, Sirmo, or even Dixieland anywhere, so is it a knock-off of some sort? I've seen parts and even PCBs for this out there, so someone knows exactly what this is and it can't be super rare. If there is an IPDB or page for it, I couldn't find it and would be interested.