Pinball Medics is constantly asked by new Pinball owners what we recommend they purchase to get going in the hobby, so we have created this, the First Time Pinball Owners Parts and Tools Checklist!
Pinball Ownership can seem like a daunting prospect for the uninitiated, and this article is our way of shedding some light on the basic parts, tools, and supplies that even the newest and least experienced first time Pinball Owner can use to succeed as a first time Pinball Technician!
The first thing most people change on an old game is the “Rubbers”. These are the rubber rings that wrap around the playfield posts, as well as the flippers, and the shooter tip. We sell kits for every game made from 1970 forward. Select the manufacturer from our Rubber Ring Kit Category Page, and all the selected manufacturers games will be listed alphabetically.
If you can’t find your game on our list because it predates 1970, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will try to find the details for your game and add the kit to our site and reply with a link, so you can add it to your cart and purchase it.
The next things that should always be changed are the inner shooter spring and the outer shooter spring. This is the “Pin” in Pinball, and a good strong smooth launch is critical for plunger skill shots.
We offer both LED and Incandescent bulbs.
Original Incandescent: These come in two types, Bayonet base, oft referred to as #47 base, and Wedge base, or #555 base. Flasher bulbs are also available in Bayonet (#89 base), or Wedge (#906 base).They are the original bulbs used on games made before 2014 give or take, and are the most economical alternative.
LED bulbs are the single biggest upgrade in the pinball scene today, and they offer many advantages over incandescent beyond energy savings.
Using so much less power means the wiring, connectors, power supplies, etc. also work much less, and as some of the most common sources of failure in Pinball, this alone is a great reason to spend the extra $100 or so for the upgrade.
As well as using a fraction of the electricity, they also produce only a fraction of the heat, saving the artwork on your game, from the backglass paint peeling, to insert and plastic warping, and avoiding the intense heat generated in the head of the game taxing all the electronics and even mechanical systems.
Beyond all that however, the mean reason everyone goes LED, is they look awesome. There really is no bigger bang for your buck, making a newer game look like new again, and making the classics look better than they ever did!
We are the Canadian distributor for Comet Pinball, and recommend the Comet 2SMD for most applications. This is the same bulb used in newer Stern Pinball Machines, made in the same factory, and are currently on sale for $1.00 a bulb. Stern uses the clear lens as standard, however we strongly recommend using the frosted lens, which is chosen over clear 90% of the time by pinball fans everywhere.
Cleaning products and wax are basic but important parts of restoring and maintaining the appearance and smooth “feel” of you machine. Some or all of these products will eventually be needed, most sooner than later.
Wax: Blitz Wax One Grand 100% Carnauba wax, the best product in the business. Not cheap, but will last for a _really_ long time
Cleaner and wax: Millwax offers a good basic inexpensive option that will get the job done on a budget
Rubber Cleaner: Keep the new rubber clean with this product from Pinguard.
Playfield glass can be cleaned with basic glass cleaner a paper towel. Foaming spray glass cleaner is streak free and better to work with. Avoid glass cleaning products with ammonia as it can damage the artwork on your cabinet, plastics, playfield, or the back side (the side the art is printed on) of the backglass.
Levelers / Casters: Typically seized, torn, and rusty, new levelers allow you to easily adjust the level of your game, and don’t scratch your floor or tear your carpet!
Leg Bolts: Often stripped, incorrect (they should have a rounded acorn head), or just crusty and rusty, new ones are cheap and last a lifetime in home use.
Leg bolt receiver plate: Often stripped, sometimes you will find a nut on the inside of the cabinet holding the bolt in place, requiring 2 wrenches and 3 arms to get the game apart. With a new plate, the leg comes on and off easily with one wrench and one hand, and the leg is secure and wobble free.
Legs: If your legs are bent, twisted, rusty, or just plain trashed, brand new replacement legs make a massive difference in not just appearance, but to the sturdiness of the game, adding greatly to playability and enjoyment.
Balls: New balls are a must. Not just because they are nice and shiny, but any pitting or rust acts like sandpaper on the artwork of the playing surface, and after use and time, the metal surface deteriorates to the point that it is destructive.
Flipper Rebuild Kits: The flippers are the only part of the game the player controls, and as such are the most important feature, allowing the “Human” to interphase with the “Machine”. We have flipper kits for most games ever made. Just like the rubber kits, in the Flipper Rebuild Kit Product Category, select the manufacturer, and all that manufacturers flipper kits will be listed.
Socket Cleaner: This is used to clean the old lamp sockets so they make good contact with the bulbs
Switch Adjuster: This is used to adjust the switch contacts, and is a must have when tweaking gaps of 1/8″ or less as required!
Soldering & de-soldering: A good kit is a must have, as sooner or later, a broken wire will magically appear one day!
Fuses: It is always good to have some fuses on hand, like this kit.
Beyond the parts, a bit of know how is required, and there is probably nothing better for reference and instruction than the pin-wiki website. Here you will find what you need to know.
Also, you must check out Pinside which is collector forum where you can search their vast library of repair information, and even post questions to the members if needed.
We will add to this list as time goes on, and welcome any feedback and suggestions that you think would be of help from and for beginners and experts alike!