Shop Your Pinball Machine – Introduction

Shop Your Pinball Machine
A. Clearing the Playfield

  1. Supplies Needed
  2. Preparation
  3. Clearing the Playfield
  4. Removing the Ramps
  5. Removing the Pop Bumpers
     – Removing the Sling Shots
B. Cleaning the Playfield
  6. Cleaning the Playfield
C. Repairing the Playfield (optional)
  7. Playfield Repair
  8. Fixing Inserts
  9. Sealing Your Work
C. Rebuilding and Adjusting
  10. Rebuilding the Mechanicals
  11. Switches and Reassembly
  12. Final Testing

About This 12 Step Process on How to Shop a Pinball Machine

This is a far more involved set of steps, and more work writing, than we had planned on doing.   IT IS, however, what we do when we thoroughly overhaul a game. 

Most people do not do all of this.  And there are some games that we don’t always do either, if the playfield is in great shape.  When reading, the steps (usually 7 – 9 and part of 5) that can be skipped.

Please give us feedback on what you think.  We would appreciate it.


“This machine was just shopped.”  What does that mean?   How hard is it to do?

Unfortunately, for some people, a pinball machine is ‘shopped’ if it is waxed and burned out bulbs replaced.  Don’t believe it.

Shopping a pinball machine is poorly defined. All shopped machines should include:

* Clearing the entire playfield, including ramps.  Removing the pop bumpers above the playfield is not easy and could be skipped.  
* The playfield is then cleaned, and waxed.  
* Playfield plastic posts are cleaned and metal ones are shined.
* The below playfield solenoids (pop bumpers and slingshots and anything else with a coil) should be removed, cleaned, parts replaced as needed.  Clean or replace the sleeve.
* Rubber rings replaced.
* Flippers rebuilt.  If the owner does not know when they were rebuilt, then they need rebuilding. 
* Switches cleaned and adjusted.
* Batteries Replaced.
* Burned bulbs replaced and checked.  Or upgraded to LED.

A Thoroughly Shopped Pinball Machine

If that is what you want to do, then skip steps:

Plays perfectly

5. Removing the Pop Bumpers – above the playfield.  Always rebuild the mechanism below the playfield.
7. Playfield Repair – don’t try any touchups or heavy cleaning with Magic Erasure.
8. Fixing Inserts – hopefully there are no issues with the inserts.
9. Sealing Your Work – if no playfield repairs, there is nothing to seal.

Skipping those steps will save you many hours of work.  The playfield in this photo is scarred with ball swirls.  And someone did a terrible touch up.  But after we are done shopping, it will play great, and be loads of fun. 

Do Everything

If you want a near perfect machine, then include steps 5, 7, 8 and 9.  But that is beyond shopping a pinball machine.  With the playfield touchup and re-sealing, you have moved onto restoration.


Next: Part 1 – Supplies Needed

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