(Topic ID: 352182)

Lets Talk Reliability

By JD58337

4 months ago


Topic Heartbeat

Topic Stats

You

Linked Games

No games have been linked to this topic.

    Topic Gallery

    View topic image gallery

    brian-baumgartner-badumtss.gif
    #1 4 months ago

    I imagine some of you took one look at this title and ran the other direction, I’m not talking relationships, I’m asking for thoughts about where you think the hobby stands on reliability of pins today and how it looks for new people coming in. We all know pins will break, it’s not an issue of if, it’s when…. Having come to terms with that it can still be daunting to invest so much money into a hobby with the threat of something breaking constantly hanging over your head.

    Having been bit by the bug less than 6 months ago, having bought my first pin about 2 months ago (#Star Trek Pro) and starting to think about my second, I thought I would ask about how people went through the thought process on choosing a pin, of balancing pin reliability (ie how susceptible a certain pin is to breaking) and how fun a certain pin is. Let me give an example: I tried Labyrinth for the first time yesterday and while I’m not a fan of the theme, the table was surprisingly a ton of fun. While I don’t think this will be one I’d own I couldn’t help think of the nightmare it would be to actually try and repair it with SO many moving parts. Am I correct in this thinking?

    What pins that have been released in the past 15 years do you consider to be some of the most reliable yet still very fun? I do think the more experience I get with the hobby the more I’m willing to try fixing major issues myself but I want to slowly wade into those waters, not jump in to the deep end.

    #2 4 months ago

    Bottom line is, you either learn to fix them, or pay someone else to.

    Sometimes pins look super complicated with too many moving parts, but if they were put together with thought to repairs they aren't too bad. JJP Pirates looks wild to work on, but the ship is actually not too difficult to work on because the designer thought about how to repair breaks.

    #3 4 months ago

    Hadn’t thought about that. Does JJP have a better reputation for reliability than Stern?

    #5 4 months ago
    Quoted from JD58337:

    Hadn’t thought about that. Does JJP have a better reputation for reliability than Stern?

    No, Stern is the most reliable manufacturer on the market. I was speaking specifically to thought gone into repairs.

    #6 4 months ago

    The worrying thing about Sterns is proprietary node boards. Is chip shortage shit limiting supply of those?

    #7 4 months ago

    From what I read CGC remakes are the most solid.

    #8 4 months ago

    The cool thing is you can fix almost any problem with almost every pin made thanks to the Pinside community and some basic hand tools. Everyone has an opinion on who is most reliable, and you’re probably safe sticking with stern pros as there’s less to break with them. I wouldn’t sweat reliability, just get what you really like!

    #9 4 months ago

    I can fix just about any pin up to Spike. Node boards are just out of my wheelhouse. The normal pops and flipper stuff is fine, it's just the boards in these Spike games.

    That said, I don't decide what to buy based on whether or not I can fix it. I do have Spike games, but I do question if it's going to have a non-fixable issue.

    Looking at all my games, it's interesting to note that my 1967 Subway that I've had for 20 years I don't think I've ever opened up to fix anything. Amazing quality back then.

    #10 4 months ago

    At first I always had a tech do work but as the hobby popularity increased wait time went from 2-3 weeks to 3-6 months and that was just too long to have a game in need of attention. There is so much help available on Pinside and YouTube that you will find %90 of repairs or maintenance can be done on your own. In fact learning to repair things is pretty much a requirement for this hobby and opens up the door to a whole new realm of enjoyment. I went from being scared to lift the playfield to scanning games constantly for reason to take the glass off and tweak things. I think this is true of everyone in the hobby. I will never be repairing old cpu boards but I''m no longer afraid of soldering (though I still suck at it). Now your question is "what about reliability" and IMHO I don't see a lot of difference between games. I have spent equal time on Addams Family (1991) and TSPP (2003). Rush needed a new board and the scoop protector and that was NIB. Ultraman (kinda notorious for needing work) has required fixes but no more than any other pin. No manufacturer is perfect and even if they have an amazing reputation any game will eventually need a fix. I have never even played Labyrinth but I bet despite all the parts on there you could do most of the work. I agree with the previous post - get what you want - in the long run that will be the most important aspect of your enjoyment.

    #11 4 months ago

    Best thing to do is make friends with other pinheads that are smarter than you, that will help you fix shit.

    #12 4 months ago

    Stern pro's are extremely reliable as there's barely anything in them.

    brian-baumgartner-badumtss.gifbrian-baumgartner-badumtss.gif

    #13 4 months ago

    I'll take this one & run in another direction...it's not the games; the people owning them are far less reliable in the last decade.

    #14 4 months ago

    I'm not sure I've noticed one being more reliable than another. My newest game is ST Pro, all others are mostly 90's, I do have some EMs. I've had some games where it seemed something broke almost every time I played for a while and then all is good with the world and it will go quite a while without issue. Others go and go and need little work. It's hard to recall exactly which ones need more attention though.

    My comment might be irrelevant since you're asking about games in the past 15 years.

    Quoted from mountaingamer:

    The cool thing is you can fix almost any problem with almost every pin made thanks to the Pinside community and some basic hand tools. Everyone has an opinion on who is most reliable, and you’re probably safe sticking with stern pros as there’s less to break with them. I wouldn’t sweat reliability, just get what you really like!

    I agree and get what you like. You will be able to find how to fix it when the time comes.

    #15 4 months ago
    Quoted from JD58337:

    I thought I would ask about how people went through the thought process on choosing a pin, of balancing pin reliability (ie how susceptible a certain pin is to breaking) and how fun a certain pin is.

    Nobody does that. Just buy what you like. Every game “breaks” and every game needs maintenance and cleaning of some sort. Does not matter who makes it.

    Quoted from JD58337:

    What pins that have been released in the past 15 years do you consider to be some of the most reliable yet still very fun?

    Ask this question instead: What game is so good that 15 years later you still own it? It does not matter what game you buy, if you want to be in this for the long haul, you better start learning the basics. All games are equally built to last a year or two without major issues. If you think you will still be around in two years, you should find some local pinball friends and be social. They will know who can help you repair your games and not rip you off.

    #16 4 months ago
    Quoted from PanzerFreak:

    Stern pro's are extremely reliable as there's barely anything in them.
    [quoted image]

    For better or worse, this is accurate in my limited experience. My first pin was IMDN Premium. All the premium mechs (ramp, sarcophagus lock, and rear diverter) required troubleshooting and maintenance, some from day 1 and others after a month or more. The ramp had a loose wire, sarcophagus had issues with the part that was supposed to trigger the position switches, and the diverter was misaligned so that the metal tab and the bottom was missing the slot and smashing into the base of the ramp.

    I've had my Foo Pro for 8 months now, and I've never had to open it up due to anything related to the Stern design & build. That shouldn't be an excuse for having absolutely nothing decorative that isn't flat plastic, though.

    I ended up with Rush LE as my third purchase, and the hand on the drum clock wouldn't turn until I took it apart and fixed whatever what jamming the stepper motor.

    #17 4 months ago

    With youtube at everyone's disposal, just about everything becomes relatively easy.

    #18 4 months ago

    Pinballs break. They break a lot. Usually they break in ways that are simple and easy to fix. Frequently they need specialty or hard to obtain parts. Rarely, but often enough that you should take note, they break in ways that require a technician to fix.

    All pinballs break.

    For people entering the hobby, they shouldn't be buying new in the box. Hundreds of posts here about their bad experiences when they didn't have the dealer/distributor pull the game, do the final quality check/inspection and fix what was obviously wrong.

    (I'm a dealer, OF COURSE I'm going to say that, but I believe it also...)

    Pinball as a hobby dies when machines hit landfills.

    They hit landfills when people can't get them repaired.

    There are vanishingly small numbers of qualified technicians willing to fix a pinball in someone's house, and the number drops every year.
    From my point of view, the lack of qualified service technicians to keep the machines in good repair is the number one problem in pinball today.

    All the manufacturers are in the same boat, it's not really helpful to say 'my Honda Accord requires less service than your Chevrolet Malibu) (Cargument), when you can't find someone to change your oil, and it hasn't been presented to you that you'll need regular maintenance.

    All pinballs break. They all will need repair, and it isn't the fault of the manufacturers, it's the reality of the complexity of the machine and the manufacturing environment.

    #19 4 months ago
    Quoted from Jagrmaister:

    With youtube at everyone's disposal, just about everything becomes relatively easy.

    Hehe. I've got a F14 Tomcat problem that would beg to differ with you...

    Not all things are easy, even for service technicians with decades of experience.

    #20 4 months ago

    Speaking of spike systems. I'm totally cool with throw away boards IF they are cheap like it was intended. The nodes are getting closer to being an acceptable price, just have to worry about smd light boards.

    #21 4 months ago

    Any moving part in a machine will fail one day. Guranteed.

    Learn to fix, it aint hard.

    #22 4 months ago
    Quoted from RyanStl:

    The worrying thing about Sterns is proprietary node boards. Is chip shortage shit limiting supply of those?

    I really doubt they are using any chips that are in shortage, maybe two years ago it was tough but on the bottom end of chips there is no issues of availability. The fact does remain however that boards are eventually going to no longer be re-made etc...its just a matter of when, and time has shown that since we've got a will we can figure out a way around that as a community so I would not loose sleep over node boards.

    #23 4 months ago
    Quoted from JD58337:

    I imagine some of you took one look at this title and ran the other direction, I’m not talking relationships, I’m asking for thoughts about where you think the hobby stands on reliability of pins today and how it looks for new people coming in. We all know pins will break, it’s not an issue of if, it’s when…. Having come to terms with that it can still be daunting to invest so much money into a hobby with the threat of something breaking constantly hanging over your head.
    Having been bit by the bug less than 6 months ago, having bought my first pin about 2 months ago (#Star Trek Pro) and starting to think about my second, I thought I would ask about how people went through the thought process on choosing a pin, of balancing pin reliability (ie how susceptible a certain pin is to breaking) and how fun a certain pin is. Let me give an example: I tried Labyrinth for the first time yesterday and while I’m not a fan of the theme, the table was surprisingly a ton of fun. While I don’t think this will be one I’d own I couldn’t help think of the nightmare it would be to actually try and repair it with SO many moving parts. Am I correct in this thinking?
    What pins that have been released in the past 15 years do you consider to be some of the most reliable yet still very fun? I do think the more experience I get with the hobby the more I’m willing to try fixing major issues myself but I want to slowly wade into those waters, not jump in to the deep end.

    There are 2 types of reliability when I look at pins... component reliability due to complexity and reliability due to hardware. I am confident buying any CGC game that it will be built like a tank and any Stern Pin that it will be without issue after dialing it in for a week. Yes there have been a few specific games with board issues (looking at you Rush) but by and large its been solid. Other manufacturers I won't touch unless there are a number of pins out in the wild. The Spooky games I had had some computer issues on rare occasions. I've never had a Stern or CGC crash, but I've had Spooky and Multimorphic crash on me. I'm leary of anything that has a off the shelf computer instead of a specialized board in it (looking at you JJP). If people don't want to route the games... due to reliability... thats a huge red flag to me.

    As to buying older games... Anything electro mechanical is fairly reliable once you get it fully working. Anything early solid state from 1977ish to 1981ish is reliable and has replacement new boards available if things happen. 1986 to present as well. I'm very leary of games from 1982ish to 1985ish as there are not as many parts available. I had to move a Barracora because I couldn't fix the MPU board 100% and no one makes replacements. The only older games I'd be scared of are ones with toms of optos and auxilliary boards. Some of the Superpins, namely STTNG are notoriously hard to keep going. I have a STTNG and its the second most time I've put into a pin.

    Essentially in terms of reliability I'd say:

    Platinum Tier:
    CGC
    Gold Tier:
    Stern
    System 11 - WPC95 Bally/Williams Pins
    American Pinball
    Already working electro mechanical
    Silver Tier:
    Barrels of Fun (no history)
    Dutch
    77-81 B/W
    Data East
    Sega
    Bronze:
    Multimorphic (great customer support though)
    Spooky
    80s-90s Gottilieb
    82-85 B/W
    Wooden Duck Award:
    Pinball Adventures
    Atari

    I'll go hide now before I get shot.

    #24 4 months ago

    Talk to Rush premium owners, node 10 boards with staggering failure rates.

    #25 4 months ago
    Quoted from SantaEatsCheese:

    There are 2 types of reliability when I look at pins... component reliability due to complexity and reliability due to hardware. I am confident buying any CGC game that it will be built like a tank and any Stern Pin that it will be without issue after dialing it in for a week. Yes there have been a few specific games with board issues (looking at you Rush) but by and large its been solid. Other manufacturers I won't touch unless there are a number of pins out in the wild. The Spooky games I had had some computer issues on rare occasions. I've never had a Stern or CGC crash, but I've had Spooky and Multimorphic crash on me. I'm leary of anything that has a off the shelf computer instead of a specialized board in it (looking at you JJP). If people don't want to route the games... due to reliability... thats a huge red flag to me.
    As to buying older games... Anything electro mechanical is fairly reliable once you get it fully working. Anything early solid state from 1977ish to 1981ish is reliable and has replacement new boards available if things happen. 1986 to present as well. I'm very leary of games from 1982ish to 1985ish as there are not as many parts available. I had to move a Barracora because I couldn't fix the MPU board 100% and no one makes replacements. The only older games I'd be scared of are ones with toms of optos and auxilliary boards. Some of the Superpins, namely STTNG are notoriously hard to keep going. I have a STTNG and its the second most time I've put into a pin.
    Essentially in terms of reliability I'd say:
    Platinum Tier:
    CGC
    Gold Tier:
    Stern
    System 11 - WPC95 Bally/Williams Pins
    American Pinball
    Already working electro mechanical
    Silver Tier:
    Barrels of Fun (no history)
    Dutch
    77-81 B/W
    Data East
    Sega
    Bronze:
    Multimorphic (great customer support though)
    Spooky
    80s-90s Gottilieb
    82-85 B/W
    Wooden Duck Award:
    Pinball Adventures
    Atari
    I'll go hide now before I get shot.

    Sterns crash still. It is less than it was last summer where just about every game would reboot once a day, but Spike and Spike 2 still has rebooting issues.

    #26 4 months ago
    Quoted from SantaEatsCheese:

    There are 2 types of reliability when I look at pins... component reliability due to complexity and reliability due to hardware. I am confident buying any CGC game that it will be built like a tank and any Stern Pin that it will be without issue after dialing it in for a week. Yes there have been a few specific games with board issues (looking at you Rush) but by and large its been solid. Other manufacturers I won't touch unless there are a number of pins out in the wild. The Spooky games I had had some computer issues on rare occasions. I've never had a Stern or CGC crash, but I've had Spooky and Multimorphic crash on me. I'm leary of anything that has a off the shelf computer instead of a specialized board in it (looking at you JJP). If people don't want to route the games... due to reliability... thats a huge red flag to me.
    As to buying older games... Anything electro mechanical is fairly reliable once you get it fully working. Anything early solid state from 1977ish to 1981ish is reliable and has replacement new boards available if things happen. 1986 to present as well. I'm very leary of games from 1982ish to 1985ish as there are not as many parts available. I had to move a Barracora because I couldn't fix the MPU board 100% and no one makes replacements. The only older games I'd be scared of are ones with toms of optos and auxilliary boards. Some of the Superpins, namely STTNG are notoriously hard to keep going. I have a STTNG and its the second most time I've put into a pin.
    Essentially in terms of reliability I'd say:
    Platinum Tier:
    CGC
    Gold Tier:
    Stern
    System 11 - WPC95 Bally/Williams Pins
    American Pinball
    Already working electro mechanical
    Silver Tier:
    Barrels of Fun (no history)
    Dutch
    77-81 B/W
    Data East
    Sega
    Bronze:
    Multimorphic (great customer support though)
    Spooky
    80s-90s Gottilieb
    82-85 B/W
    Wooden Duck Award:
    Pinball Adventures
    Atari
    I'll go hide now before I get shot.

    We need to hang out together... that list is PERFECT.

    #27 4 months ago
    Quoted from SantaEatsCheese:

    Multimorphic (great customer support though)
    Spooky
    80s-90s Gottilieb

    The way you throw gottlieb sys3 under the bus there with the 80a-80'bs!

    #28 4 months ago
    Quoted from Whistles:

    The way you throw gottlieb sys3 under the bus there with the 80a-80'bs!

    But is he wrong?!? Not by my experience.

    #29 4 months ago
    Quoted from Bublehead:

    But is he wrong?!? Not by my experience.

    I mean, I get it many of these you've likely played in the past years were heavily routed hacked together games, and sure they don't play great. But in their prime they were just always available to play, and were more reliable than their WPC counterparts, now sure you can say those always got more play. But when he was mentioning games crashing and I had to think back to when the last time it had happened to me and it was WPC for sure back in the 90's. Several games came out with bad boards etc for them in their original run. Maybe I'm just lucky to have a survivor that has remained unhacked, since the reliability has been solid.

    #30 4 months ago

    Gottliebs are fucking tanks.

    #31 4 months ago
    Quoted from chuckwurt:

    Gottliebs are fucking tanks.

    If you are talking 70's electromechanicals, Yup.

    If you are talking system 3's, or black hole, they do well in the home market because they never earned enough money to be played to death. They generally hit the home market in great repair... because nobody liked to play them, or, in the case of Black Hole, they just broke so badly (unreliable grounding) that they never got route play at all.

    I know system 3 Gottliebs have their advocates. I think they are Ok, but not great.

    #32 4 months ago

    Gottlieb system 3 games mostly stink but I have found them to be very reliable when I've owned them.

    the only real pain in the ass is changing the battery.

    #33 4 months ago

    Buy Stern Pinball with confidence is the way I see it they have amazing tech service if you need it! They don’t break down that often overall a safe buy minimal maintenance out of box or used!

    #34 4 months ago

    For newer pins

    #35 4 months ago
    Quoted from PinRetail:

    If you are talking 70's electromechanicals, Yup.
    If you are talking system 3's, or black hole, they do well in the home market because they never earned enough money to be played to death. They generally hit the home market in great repair... because nobody liked to play them, or, in the case of Black Hole, they just broke so badly (unreliable grounding) that they never got route play at all.
    I know system 3 Gottliebs have their advocates. I think they are Ok, but not great.

    Exclude haunted house and black hole as I have never worked on them. But every gottlieb from the 80s I’ve gone through and done the work for, literally are set it and forget it after that.

    My system 3 knowledge is limited, but the reports I get are they are rock solid for reliability too.

    It’s also extremely rare you have to rebuild gottlieb flippers too. At least up until system 3.

    #36 4 months ago
    Quoted from Gamingrulin:

    Buy Stern Pinball with confidence is the way I see it they have amazing tech service if you need it! They don’t break down that often overall a safe buy minimal maintenance out of box or used!

    (Grins)

    As a Dealer, I appreciate your viewpoint!

    Way to go!

    (Irony? Never heard of the word...)

    #37 4 months ago

    My background is as an IT guy. I tell people that if you know how to build a computer and solder, you have the skill set to repair 99% of the issues that come up on a home pinball machine. But, as other people have said, you WILL have issues, or at least something you need to do, there's no magic "it's just fine!" pinball machine, or at least not one I've seen.

    Most of the time, let's say 70%, it's just basic maintenance. Things like cleaning the machine, replacing rubbers and pinballs, etc.

    Another 28% are weird things or tweaks to keep the machine running well. Some of these can be playing with software settings, or noticing a ball always seems to jump and get stuck in a specific spot so you need to put in some deflectors, or you have some ghost flipping happening so you find you need to adjust the leaf switches a bit.

    The last two percent are larger issues, like node boards dying, power issues or some other big feature not working. If it's a new game, the tech support of the large companies tend to be fairly good at helping you diagnose stuff, or your distributor if you bought NiB. If it's an older game, there are a lot of people here on pinside who will help you as well.

    -2
    #38 4 months ago
    Quoted from Gamingrulin:

    Buy Stern Pinball with confidence is the way I see it they have amazing tech service if you need it! They don’t break down that often overall a safe buy minimal maintenance out of box or used!

    Not in my experience. They have the attitude that they sell every pin the can run off the line so screw you .

    It not always that way but Stern is retiring.

    #39 4 months ago
    Quoted from chuckwurt:

    Gottliebs are fucking tanks.

    I agree, up untill their try at SS... and we know the rest of that story. I own four 60's wedgeheads as my testiment to their tank-like performance.

    #40 4 months ago

    Ive never considered reliability in my purchase decisions. I think they’re all pretty good in a home use environment.

    I will say, that I’ve been rotating a pin into the gameroom of the company I work for since last June. So far: LZ, HWn, Mando, STrek, and Sharkey’s. LZ and Mando were problem free. The other three all required 2 repairs before I gave up and rotated the next one in.

    I’ve also gained additional appreciation for those that have to repair games ‘in the field’…pain in neck being away from my tool and misc part stockpiles when trying to troubleshoot something…inevitably I always need the tool or part I didnt bring with me.

    #41 4 months ago
    Quoted from Bublehead:

    I agree, up untill their try at SS... and we know the rest of that story. I own four 60's wedgeheads as my testiment to their tank-like performance.

    I guess I must be the best tech on earth then. Once they are gone through like any other 80s game, they are good forever.

    #42 4 months ago
    Quoted from chuckwurt:

    I guess I must be the best tech on earth then

    You can even change out rubbers???

    #43 4 months ago
    Quoted from centerflank:

    You can even change out rubbers???

    Sometimes. As long as it’s not a gottlieb. Those games are terrible.

    #44 4 months ago
    Quoted from Bublehead:

    I agree, up untill their try at SS... and we know the rest of that story. I own four 60's wedgeheads as my testiment to their tank-like performance.

    The 60's pins solid, once they started dicking around with player units and relay banks in the early to mid 70's it went south in a hurry.

    I now avoid 4 player 70's Gottliebs like my life depends on it. Every single other EM I have mastered but utterly loath keeping that vintage going.

    #45 4 months ago
    Quoted from chuckwurt:

    As long as it’s not a gottlieb

    I know a guy, he looks like spicoli

    Reply

    Wanna join the discussion? Please sign in to reply to this topic.

    Hey there! Welcome to Pinside!

    Donate to Pinside

    Great to see you're enjoying Pinside! Did you know Pinside is able to run without any 3rd-party banners or ads, thanks to the support from our visitors? Please consider a donation to Pinside and get anext to your username to show for it! Or better yet, subscribe to Pinside+!


    This page was printed from and we tried optimising it for printing. Some page elements may have been deliberately hidden.

    Scan the QR code on the left to jump to the URL this document was printed from.