(Topic ID: 2174)

Might get a new Stern, need newbie advice

By Gusphan

10 years ago

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  • 17 posts
  • 8 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 10 years ago by SealClubber
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    #1 10 years ago

    Hi all,

    I'm new here and to pinball and really appreciate this site!

    So to my question: I hope in the next couple of months to purchase my first machine. The plan would be to buy a NIB Stern. What I'm wondering is, what do I need to know before doing so? For instance, how many people does it take to setup a machine (lifting it)? Do I need to set it on something to attach the legs? Should I wax or clean the surface before playing it? Any preventive measures to take to ensure it lasts long? Any other tips?

    Thanks in advance!

    #2 10 years ago

    Egad, I wouldn't get a NIB stern as a first pin. I'd start with a $1500 range Bally/Williams like fish tales, BSD, Etc... to give myself a chance to get used to maintenance/operation and make sure I really wanted to continue in this hobby.

    Frankly I don't think any of the new sterns are worth that kind of $$$, maybe except LOTR if you can find one.

    #3 10 years ago

    If a was a newbie, I would buy a Williams/Bally from a friend at fair price. Otherwise i would buy a new Stern for the piece of mind.

    #4 10 years ago

    You need two people to set one up......unless you have some type of lift. I built a simple scissor lift myself with small bottle jack and scrap wood. Cost around 40.00. I use that if I want to take off legs. I have skates which cost around 100.00, and I can easily move all my pins by myself across carpet. I don't have any Sterns, but my Williams / Ballys' weigh around 300 lbs.

    #5 10 years ago

    Hey- if you've got the funds, I think NIB ain't a bad way to go. No maintenance issues or repair issues right off the bat! It depends on how many people are delivering the machine to calculate how many friends you'll need to help set it up. They weigh about 250#. Some companies just drop it off in your garage. If this is the case you'll need a way to get it in the house. It usually requires an appliance dolly or transmission lifter type dolly and two people. Never lift by the shooter rod. Put it on the appliance dolly with the back box still strapped down. Foot of dolly goes under back end/under side of machine. When you get to set up area, put it down upright on it's back end and put front legs on. Stand it up on the front legs (prop it or have a big guy lift it) put on back legs. Put back box up and lock into place with a turn of it's Allen wrench. Make sure its secure! Use key to open coin door and pull that lever you see in there on the right side to the left to release the lock down bar. After it's off you can gently slide the glass out. Don't put glass on concrete floor. Put somewhere safe. Now you can lift play field and get manual and goody bag out. Put the playfield down. Before you put glass back in wipe the balls and drop gently in. They'll rolldown to trough. No need to clean a new playfield. Some may tell you to wax it. But won't hurt to play a few games first and make sure everythings working!

    #6 10 years ago

    I see your point NovArcade and thought about this. My concern with buying an older used one is that repairs will happen quicker and more frequently than a new one. This might really kill my enthusiasm for pinball if I spend more time fixing and repairing than playing. Plus, I don't have a friend who owns a machine, so I run the risk of buying a lemon and paying too much.

    To pickles point, buying a new one will give me the piece of mind that, although I will have to do maintenance, I'll at least be able to enjoy the machine with no worries for quite some time.

    #7 10 years ago

    Is that what you wanted to know? I didn't go into much detail .... Leveling etc..... You can see Chris Bucci setting up a newer stern in his family guy review on YouTube somewhat. Heck. There might even be a YouTube on how to set up a machine if you search it.....

    #8 10 years ago

    That's perfect, thanks seanymph!

    #9 10 years ago

    P.s. Plug it into a good siege protector.

    #10 10 years ago

    Uh..... I mean surge protector.

    #11 10 years ago

    It takes two people to move a pin up and down stairs. One person can set it up no problem though. I use saw horses when I work on my pins so I can do it myself. With a set of the small wheeled furniture casters
    you can buy at Lowes and two saw horses, I can actually unload a pin from my Pick up truck, install the legs, and wheel it into the garage by myself. Or around my basement.
    If you live in a cold environment, make sure you let the pin thaw out before you actually turn it on. Condensation can form on the metal circuit board components when you bring it in from the cold truck into the warm house. This condensation you might not be able to see and will cause an expensive short. I let mine thaw/dry for at least a day before I plug it in. I know the wait is a killer.
    The reason you wipe down the balls is to get the protective shipping oil off them.

    #12 10 years ago

    For your first ever pin, though, don't you think it's good to have a buddy there? Makes it so much easier. Plus you have to take pictures of your NIB machine being unwrapped. Not everyday you get a package like that delivered!

    #13 10 years ago

    Stern has a great series of instructional videos that show you how to properly unpack and set up a new machine. Here's a link:


    #14 10 years ago

    I guess getting a NIB pin would be great for peace of mind but what got me into the hobby is actually tinkering on them. Trying to make it look a little better and playing a little better. I have more fun shopping them than I do playing them actually. Im certainly not electronic oriented but have only found just a few issues that I havent been able to browse a few guides and get it going. When I cant find the info I need, I go to the forums and beg help from people much smarter than I! Either way, good luck on the first pin purchase!! Great hobby and if and when you do get that clunker, just have fun getting it going! Or, do like allot of others and get the already overhauled or newer ones and just play it. Good luck!

    #15 10 years ago

    Thanks everyone for the helpful comments...now I just have to get the thing!

    #16 10 years ago

    Getting a new pin for the simple fact of not wanting to work on them is a pretty stupid idea IMO. Even on new sterns stuff can break, bulbs will burn out, plastics can break, flippers can come loose, wires can break loose underneath requiring you to resolder, fuses may pop, switches will go bad, diodes can short or open etc...there's just to many variables to hope for no issues. If you're not willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, this hobby is not for you.

    I'd rather cut my pinball teeth on a cheap Williams, then freak out when my 5K stern stops working properly. you're going to have to learn sooner or later how to fix them. Unless of course you want to spend a small fortune paying someone to come out and fix them.

    #17 10 years ago

    Yes, but a new machine, if purchased from a reputable, local, dealer, will have a warranty. However, a used machine purchased from a reputable dealer will have a warranty also, though usually not for as long. The downside is this will charge a lot more than book value for that used pin, you have to find a reputable dealer with a good track record of doing quality work, and ensure their warranty covers parts and labor.

    If you have the money, and are not mechanically inclined, don't buy a pin off craigslist.

    Whichever route you go, make sure you purchase a pin that you like and will hold its value in case you want to sell it in the future. The further you go from the top 20 the less they tend to hold their value. With a few exceptions of course.

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