How to Efficiently Ask for Pinball Repair Help
There are a bunch of Pinsiders who are glad to help others get their games working again.
To efficiently get your game diagnosed, you need to give these pintechs some solid information about the current state of the game.
We "Can't see it from here", so you need to be our eyes and ears (and nose) on the ground.
NAME OF GAME, MANUFACTURER AND YEAR:
We need to know the EXACT game , the year of production and the Maker.
Why the maker? A common title like "Time Machine" could be from Data East or Zaccaria. Four different companies made a pin called "Space Shuttle"
Why the year? Gottlieb "Hot Shots" could be the 1973 version, or it could be the 1989 version (Wow you say, I did not know there was a 1989 version…). Bally Fireball could be the 1972, 1978, or 1985 version.
DID IT EVER WORK IN YOUR POSSESSION?
It is important to know if the game was working yesterday, or did you buy it broken?
DID YOU RUN THE DIAGNOSTICS?
Every electronic game has built in Diagnostics. Were you able to run any of them?:
Lamp Test: Flashes all the computer controlled lamps
Switch Test: You press each switch and it reads it's switch identification number on the displays
Coil Test: Each game coil fires one by one
Sound Test: Plays all the sounds and samples
WHERE DID THE GAME COME FROM?
Did the game come from a pinball collector, from the side of the road, or from an operator who put every bad board he had into one "it probably needs a fuse" carcass?
HAVE NEEDED MODIFICATIONS BEEN DONE?
Certain games need important modifications done to ensure bulletproof operation. So if you KNOW the Bally "Grounding Mods" have been done, or that the connectors have all been repined, please state that fact.
This will prevent needless advice instructing you to "do the mods", if they have already been done.
ARE THERE ANY AFTERMARKET BOARDS INSTALLED?
If your Bally game is not booting for instance, it is important to know if you have the OEM MPU board, or an aftermarket MPU like the Alltek.
Are your displays stock or aftermarket LED?
Did you install any under cabinet flashers, LCD Screens, or Strip Lighting?
LED OR INCANDESCENT LIGHTING?
LEDs can cause flickering or make nearby Opto switches malfunction. Let us know.
WHAT WAS THE LAST SERVICE YOU PERFORMED?
It can be a huge timesaver to know what the last service you (or anyone else) performed on the game.
If your F14 is blowing the Solenoid fuse, did you recently install additional flashers? If your Slingshot is machinegun firing, did you recently install new rubbers?
Leaky batteries have killed more pinball machines than any other cause.
How does the area around the battery look? Note any blackened, gray, or white areas.
What fuse? Fuses usually have a designation printed near the socket, something like F2, F8…
What Location? On the rectifier board, in the backbox, under the playfield?
What Value? Did someone put a 1A fuse in a 10A socket?
Burnt or Corroded Fuse Clips? Good Fuse Clips are shiny metal, not black or pitted. How do yours look?
Although occasionally you see a "burned up fuse", most fuses require a meter to verify they are in proper working order. You have to remove the fuse from the clips to test it.
Does the game smell like burnt electronics?
Literally put your head in the backbox or under the playfield and track down what board/coil/area smells burnt.
OBVIOUS PAST WORK PERFORMED:
Are there wires with electrical tape?
Are there board repairs?
Do the boards have a bunch of jumper wires soldered on the back?
Is one pop bumper mech not like the others?
Are the Bridge Rectifiers remotely mounted?
Are a bunch of mounting screws missing?
It's normal for an old pinball game to have been serviced, but we need to know what has been done.
DO YOU HAVE A VOLT METER:
Some very simple tests with a $15 Volt Meter can quickly diagnose a game problem.
Do you have one? What kind? Do you know how to use it, or do you need detailed instructions?
CAN YOU SOLDER?
Many pinball repairs require soldering. We need to know if you are able to do it.
Many times a local Pinsider can fix a game in minutes that would take many days of online posting.
If your profile does not list your location - list it in your post!
I'm typing this in 2015.
Every phone takes good pictures. Everyone owns some kind of digital camera. Post good pictures.
Good pictures means:
1. Well lit: bring an extra lamp into the room and light the game up. You can't work on a game in the dark, and you can't take pictures of a game in the dark either.
2. Focus: if you took a picture, and it's out of focus -TAKE ANOTHER PICTURE! It does not cost anything to do it until you get it right. Don't try to hold the camera at arms length, lock your elbows close to you body and steady yourself.
3. Lift the playfield all the way up: Many nubies don't know that instead of using the Prop Rod, you can pull the playfield forward and lean it against the backbox. THAT'S how you take a good under playfield picture.
PROPER TITLE FOR HELP:
If you don't post a good descriptive title, don't expect that any of the good techs on Pinside will ever read it.
"Can't Figure Out Problem"
"Help a Nube Out"
Generally, DON'T PM or EMAIL TECHS DIRECTLY !
If you get help in the forum, the dialog and answers help EVERYONE in the future.
Don't be selfish, post your problems.
Once you fix the game, BE SURE to update your post with the resolution, even if the solution was to send a board out for professional repair or calling in the local pintech.