Collector’s Guide

Purchase

Purchase a Pinball Machine:

PAPA does not currently sell pinball machines, but we have purchased from a variety of sources. When buying a new machine, we recommend going through authorized distributors. When purchasing older machines, there is no single strategy to acquire them. The best advice we can offer is to do your research, ask questions, and stay within your budget. PAPA offers the list of distributors below as a service to pinball players, not as an endorsement. If you are an authorized reseller and would like your name to be included, please contact us with your information.

CompanyContactTelephoneEmailNotes
Tilt AmusementsTrent Augenstein740-803-2276trent@midohio.netStern Pinball Distributor & Used Games
Pinball StarJoe Newhart570-357-0042sales@pinballstar.comJersey Jack Pinball Distributor
Liberty GamesStuart Kerr0800 612 8180stuart@libertygames.co.ukStern Pinball Distributor

Used Game Prices:

Placing a value on used pinball machines is a difficult process.  The value of used games can vary by thousands of dollars based on condition.  If you are new to the market, seek out an experienced pinball collector or player and ask questions prior to buying. The best way to find a starting point for evaluating game pricing is by consulting one of the resources available.

Pinball Price Guide

Mr Pinball Price Guide

Boston Pinball Price Guide

Basic Maintenance

Basic Maintenance

Basic pinball maintenance is a crucial skill for any pinball collector. Fixing flippers and most switch problems are simple tasks that will keep your games running well. PAPA appreciates the hard work of others in the hobby who have already produced the following technical resources. We offer the information below as a way to help the original authors reach a wider audience.

If you have a complicated problem or would just like to peruse the inner-workings of a pinball machine, we recommend you visit the Pinwiki or the PinRepair Guides.

Vid’s Pinball Maintenance Guides

The following guides were originally located on Pinside and have been reproduced here with permission of the original author, vid1900. The Pinside forum has proven to be an influential and helpful resource for the pinball community, and PAPA recommends all new players sign up in the forum to join in the conversation with other like-minded pinheads.

Rebuild Flippers

USUAL-SUSPECTS

Upgrading & Rebuilding Flippers

The original guide can be found here.

Rebuilding Flippers: First, what is going to be wrong with your flippers? If you never rebuilt them, probably everything! The plunger will be worn, mushroomed at the tip, and have a lot of play in the links. Your return spring will be limp (or if it is a Sys 11, probably broken). Your EOS (End Of Stroke) switch will be pitted and corroded. Your Coil Stop will be concave, causing the plunger to become mushroomed. Your Coil Sleeve will be cracked or worn. Your coils might well be the incorrect ones.

PLUNGER

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 1: The Coil Plunger needs to be smooth so it does not drag in the Coil Sleeve. A common problem is that the tip will mushroom and bind in the sleeve. Sorry, I looked through my junk box and could not find a mushroomed tip to photograph. I’ll add that photo next time I see one. Another problem is that if the Coil Bracket ever became loose, or a plunger spring ever broke, it can chew up the Plunger. This of course leads to the Coil Sleeve becoming chewed up.

PITTED-SWITCH

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 2: The EOS Switch needs to make solid electrical contact, or the flipper will be very weak.If the contacts are all pitted and corroded, you can’t get good contact.If the gap between the contacts is not correct, you will have weak flippers (more on this latter).

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 3: The Coil Stop takes a constant beating. As the plunger hammers away, it becomes concave and helps shape the plunger into the dreaded mushroom shape.

BUSHING

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 4: So, how do we fix all these common problems? We throw all that junk away and get a rebuild kit. I know, there are people who file the mushroomed tips, clean dirty sleeves and re-stretch springs, but the flippers are the most important part of the whole game. You spent thousands of dollars on your game and now you are going to try and save $20 on a kit??? Your game deserves to play at factory (or better) condition.You can get a kit from Pinball Life, or any other mail order place. Don’t expect to get a genuine Bally/Williams kit in the little plastic box. Nowadays, the patents have run out, so you get an overseas made kit.

If you have a System 11 game, get the newer (Williams reference #A-13524-8) kit anyway. It will have the much desired stronger return spring, and only requires a small (one time) modification to install it. Also get a pair of high voltage EOS switches ( Williams reference #03-7811) as the ones included in the kit are for low voltage games:

http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=983&parent=172
http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=262&parent=58

Before you order, check page 2 of your owner’s manual and make sure that the correct flipper coils required for your game are installed. 50% chance if your game was once on route, at least one of them will be wrong. Sometimes the wrong coils were installed at the factory (like many F-14 Tomcats), so you really need to check this.

Finally, you need to order some flipper bushings. These are very important if you want to keep the flippers from cutting into your playfield, or creating unnecessary airballs. They don’t come in the rebuild kits, but you absolutely need them for a rebuild.

http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=270&parent=60

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 5: Start by labeling the wires that go to the flippers. Then label the coils themselves. Now you can put the game back together again without blowing anything up. Unsolder your now clearly marked wires with a 25w soldering iron. If you don’t have one yet, your going to need one constantly to maintain a pinball game. Don’t buy one for less than $20, trust me on this. If there are any “lane change” switches and wires ganged up with the EOS switch, label and unsolder those too.

Loosen the flipper nut, and carefully pull the flipper bat out from the top of the playfield.

Next, get out a 1/4″ nut driver and remove the hex head screws from around the flipper bracket. Take the whole assembly out of the game and onto a well lit workbench covered with newspapers. If you don’t cover your workbench, you will soon be sorry as the whole bracket will be covered with black carbon and iron dust.

The dust comes from the metal on metal pounding between the Plunger and Coil Stop. Some more dust comes from the spark that occurs at the EOS Switch. It’s filthy.

Unsolder the EOS Switch Capacitor, and put it aside.

Take the old Coil Sleeve out and discard it. If the sleeve is tight, press evenly on the bench to get it out. If it is absolutely stuck, the coil may have overheated at some point. Replace the coil, they are only $10.

Discard the old Coil Stop, the Spring, the Plunger/Link assembly, the Bushing, and the EOS Switch. No reason to save them as spares, because once you play on a game with new flipper mechs, set up correctly, you will never even think of reusing that old junk.

Take the saved parts to the sink and scrub with Fantastic cleaner (or any other degreaser) and a toothbrush. Don’t get the coil label wet or it will fall off. Just use the damp toothbrush and clean the coil inside and out.

Don’t put the metal parts in a tumbler. The parts are zinc plated and the tumbler could remove this protective plating. When you see restored games where the hardware is completely covered with white corrosion, you know somebody tumbled off all the coatings. If you, or someone before you already did this, tumble again and spray with a light coating of clear Polyurethane.

BRACKET-HOLE

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 6: System 11 owners update: Unless someone really took care of your game before you, you have the awful, conical spring that rides around the outside of the plunger. This spring is usually weak, broken and corroded. It is simply a poor design choice as it chews up the Plunger Link and sometimes the Plunger itself. No doubt you have noticed the “snap” of the newer Fliptronic games and now you can have their superior snappiness too.

You will need to drill a 1/16″ (1.5mm) hole in the Capacitor Bracket. Don’t drill through the Capacitor itself (you removed it in the last step, yes?).

Measure from the picture below. Use a punch to keep the drill bit from walking around. Once you drill the hole, file off any sharp edges on both the front and back.

SPRING-TAB

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 7: System 11 owners update part 2: You will note that your new “Fliptronic” arms have spring tabs on them. Never again will they suffer with conical springs.

COIL-SLEEVE

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 8: Now it is time to reassemble. Put the new Bushing in the flipper bracket. All three nuts on the topside have to be tight, or your playfield can become damaged.Put the new Coil Sleeve in the coil. This is where it helps to have a bag of Sleeves, because sometimes one will fit where none of the others will. If none of them fit, the coil may have overheated and really (I know, you don’t want to spend another $10) should be replaced.

The Coil Sleeve protrudes from the Diode side of the coil. Don’t put it in backwards.

BACKWARDS-COIL

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 9: Make sure the coil gets installed the correct direction. The Diodes or even the Coil Tabs tend to break if you put them next to the Coil Stop.

CORRECT-COIL

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 10: This is the correct installation of the Coil; Diodes safely away from the Coil Stop. It matters, do it right.Some Coils were installed backwards at the factory, so you may have to pull a little slack wire from the harnesses to reach the proper position. Don’t worry if you have to clip a few nylon Zip Ties to produce the slack you need.

COIL-INSTALL

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 11: When installing the Coil, squeeze the brackets towards each other as you tighten the cap head bolts. You don’t want the coil moving around robbing your game of power. Tight is what you want, no play, no slop.

ZIP-TIE

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 12: It’s not in your kit, but remember to zip-tie your Capacitor to the bracket.Now solder the Capacitor to the new EOS switch. The Capacitor has no polarity, that is a fancy way of saying that either lead can go to either terminal of the switch. The Capacitor helps keep the switch from pitting as much. Yes, you should use it.

EOS-CLOSED

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 13: Now for the section that strikes fear into the nubies hearts = setting the EOS Switch gap!!! When the flipper is not energized (in its relaxed state), the EOS Switch needs to have solid contact. So gently bend the leafs of the switch so that they are nicely sprung together. Not just barely together, but actually making good contact.

EOS-OPEN

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 14: Now when the flipper is energized (the plunger all the way into the coil), we need the EOS Switch to open or the coil will overheat. Press the plunger down all the way till it stops with your finger, and make sure the switch gap opens to EXACTLY 1/8″ (3.2 mm). Not more, not less.You may have to fiddle with the leafs to get them touching when relaxed and 1/8″ gap when plunged, but it is a lot easier to do on the bench than installed in the game. You will get the hang of it, take your time and get this exactly right.

A Leaf Adjuster tool makes setting switch gaps and tension a breeze. If you own a pinball game, you should have one in your tool box:

http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=1518&parent=0

GAP-TOOL

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 15: In your goody bag, you got a little Gap Tool (sometimes called a fork or by Williams official name “Flipper shaft end play spacing gauge”). Many people do not even know why they have it. I’m not sure anyone sells them anymore, but the Williams part number was 03-8194.I measured a few of them and they are consistently .7mm, so maybe someone wants to make a knockoff.

After you put the flipper mechs back on the playfield, you need to set the gap between the Flipper Bat and the top of the Flipper Bushing.

GAP

Rebuilding Flippers – Step 16: I’m showing the Gap Tool on the Flipper Bushing NOT installed in the playfield, just for clarity. I can hear some of you moaning that you did not get a tool with your game. Lucky for us, most credit cards are about .7mm thick. Cut a notch in your card and make your own. Don’t cut through the magnetic strip or the embossed numbers, if you ever want to use the card again. The original Williams instructions show the tool being used between the Crank and the Flipper Bushing. It is much easier to put the tool above the playfield, between the Flipper and the Bushing. That way the tool is far from the under playfield clutter. If it is your first time adjusting flippers, you can rubber-band the tool to the flipper so you don’t have to worry about it falling off.

Rebuild Pop Bumpers

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers

The original guide was written by vid1900 and can be found here.

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers: The only thing that strikes more fear into a new pinball owner’s heart than setting the EOS Gap is rebuilding their Pop Bumpers.

There are always posts about how hard it is, but it really isn’t hard at all. Like most complex tasks, rebuilding pops is quite easy, if you break it down into small steps. A good machine needs strong Pops for fast action. I know I’ve been many months late getting this guide done, but I’m fixing machines damaged by Hurricane Sandy and finally have some time to kill in my hotel.

1

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 1:First label your wires. I know you can look it up in the manual, or even remember the wiring, but sometimes you get back to things much later than you think you will. Nobody ever complained that they took too many pictures or labeled everything too well. Next unsolder the coil wires at the top of the bracket, and the lamp wires on the underside of the playfield.

2

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 2: Next pull the staples that hold down the Lamp leads. You can put a sharp Scratch Awl under the staples and give them a light tap. Pull the staples out completely with a pair of pliers. If you don’t have a pneumatic staple gun to put new staples in, carefully lift the staples just enough to pull the leads through. Then when you put everything back together, pass the leads under the staples, and tap the staples back down securely. If the staple breaks, be careful to pull out any remnants. There is usually a little piece of rubber or vinyl insulation that keeps the lamp from shorting against the bracket. You can reuse this, or use a piece of shrink tubing or even aquarium air line.

3

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 3: Next remove the two 5/16″ nuts (yellow handled nut wrench if you have a mechanic’s set) that hold the Ring. Be ready to catch the ring if you have the playfield upsidedown on a rotisserie, as it will drop away freely. Don’t lose the two small washers that are on the underside of the Metal Yoke.

4

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 4: Here is the Ring, washers and nuts. Can you tell what side of the ring the balls always hit on this particular game?

fin_shank5

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 5: Next remove the three 5/16″ nuts from the Bracket. If the whole screw shaft is turning freely in the wood, grab the shaft with Vise-Grips and turn the nut with an open ended wrench. Make note to fill hole with wood epoxy, redrill and pound in a new “Fin Shank Screw” – the fancy name for those screws. http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=240

6

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 6: The whole Bracket lifts off and you can see the Spoon, the Switch Stack and the Lamp leads.

7

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 7: From the topside of the playfield, remove the Pop Bumper Cap and remove the two screws at the bottom of the Pop Body. Gently lift the whole assembly out, don’t scratch the playfield with the Lamp leads.

9

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 8: Now that you have it out, it does not look that complicated, does it?

10

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 9: Now, let’s start the rebuild. Unless you want the look of yellowed plastic (don’t laugh, on older games it often looks best), I’m assuming most of these parts are going to be brand new. They are very inexpensive, so replace them if at all possible. First, put down the new Base into the Pop Bumper hole in the playfield. Rotate the Base so the large base holes line up with the playfield screw holes.

11

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 10: Next install the Skirt Spring, also referred to as the “Small Spring”.

12

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 11: Place the Skirt on the Spring. Note the the two widely spaced holes go over the large holes in the playfield. You can’t really mess this up once you look at it. The Ring rods travel through those holes.

13

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 12: Next the Body snaps into the Base. Note how the larger holes line up with the screw holes and not the Lamp lead holes. Again, you are not going to mess this up, but watch for it.

14

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 13: Here we slide in the Lamp holder through the small Lamp lead holes. Push it all the way to the bottom.

1719

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 14: If you somehow got stuck with the flexible wire lead Lamp Holders, you have now probably discovered that they won’t go down very far into the Body, and tend to fall to one side or another. You need to fix this with a Zip-tie so the Holder can go all the way down to the bottom of the body. Next time, make sure you buy the stiff wire leads, LOL.

15

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 15: Next you can install the bulb. If you are using a LED Lamp, don’t put the bulb in yet, as you may have to reverse the bulb to get the polarity right (depending on the game).

16

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 16: The cap goes on with two screws. Again, don’t put the cap on yet if you are using LEDs. Once you have the game powered up, THEN you will find if the bulb needs reversing (literally pull it out and replace it 180°). NOTE: Many System3-7 game where the pop bumper lamps are under CPU control (meaning that they are NOT part of the GI lighting circuit (on all the time)) won’t light up simple, single LEDs. You will need more complex LEDs with multiple lamps because they have the little, on board regulator in the base.

20

Rebuilding Pop Bumpers Step 17: Now that the topside of the bumper is completed, we go under the playfield to the Bracket assembly. First, take a look at the Coil and see if it is the correct model for your game (usually the required coils are listed on the inside cover of the manual). Don’t be surprised if you have a smorgasbord of mismatched coils, as most operators only cared about keeping the game working, not how well it played. Take the two screws off the back of the bracket and the whole assembly will come apart.