(Topic ID: 163803)

New Pinball Owner Here: #$*@!!! REALLY???


By MEuRaH

3 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 47 posts
  • 39 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 years ago by woody24
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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#1 3 years ago

First of all, let me say how much that I love this community. I've been a member here for a while, never posted or responded before, but I have read up on tons of threads. I did it for research, and did it so I knew what kind of a time & work commitment I would need to have in order to be a competent owner. I wanted to buy a pin so that I could practice and be a part of the local league. Pinheads are some of the nicest people I have met in my entire life, and I just want to be a part of that.

I bought my first pin a few days ago; Jurassic Park. I dragged it out of a 3rd floor apartment, put it on a trailer, drove it across a few towns, dragged it into my house, set it up and had it running within minutes. My wife and I had been playing it non-stop for 2-3 days, staying up late and getting up early, and we loved every second of it.

While my wife was playing, I was looking at the T-Rex and saw that one of the lights that shines on it had blown. I opened it up and pulled the bulb, and in doing so I saw a 2nd light that had also blown, but access appeared to be under the playfield. I lifted the playfield and looked at where the light goes to get a better idea of what I would need to buy to replace it. No problem, right?

I made the purchases online and put it back together, and then one of the pop bumpers stopped working............ ok........ The diagnostics checks out, it just didn't work when a ball hit it. I see some awesome pinside member here, vid1900, made a huge tutorial about how to fix it, with one of the comments about checking the gap. OK, I can do that.

I lifted the playfield and looked at the pop bumper. The gap appears fine, but I did notice a wire that reaches the pop bumper is not attached to the mechanism itself. It looks as if it used to be attached, so that's probably the issue. WHEW..... I can fix that, right?

I put the playfield down, turned it back on....... NO SOUND.

"FFFFFFFFFFFFFF..................!!! WTF? I dragged this thing out of an apartment, across town on a bouncy trailer, then into my house. Zero issues. I life up the playfield and TWO ISSUES? WHY AND HOW AND OMG!" Now I'm in panic mode.

I vaguely remember the seller telling me that he had sound issues too, and whenever that happened, just to jiggle the ground wire in the back cabinet. I do that, and boom, I have sound again, but it's not perfect. Sometimes the extreme sound effects kill the music. I think that wire needs to be replaced.

So I'm probably right.... right? ..... Re-attach the wire to the pop bumper, replace the ground wire, and that'll fix those two issues....... right?

My serious question is: Does this bs happen all the time? I'm legit afraid to open it up again. Remember, I purchased bulbs online prior to these issues coming up, and when they come in they might just sit there in the bag because I'm too scared to do any work on it. I'm not the worrying type, but my stomach has been in knots over this, and I slept maybe 5 hours last night, thinking/assuming that this is going to be a daily or weekly thing, or worse yet, I'll be unable to fix any of these issues, or unable to fix future ones.

Thanks for any and all replies, even if they don't answer the question(s) I pose(d). Any advice is appreciated. Before you ask because I know it's coming; I do not own a soldering gun. Ugh....

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#2 3 years ago

Well first of all welcome to the pinball owners' club!

To answer your questions: yes this does happen all the time. Stuff breaks about once every 2 weeks on average. Usually it's a bulb - easy.

However when you bring home a new pin, it hasn't been played very often of late, and a lot of things will break. Sounds like your generally still works and is playable which is great.

Also, buy a good soldering gun. Seriously. If you're not into that, I'll give you $1k for your pin

#3 3 years ago

I go through the same thing every time I buy a used pin. I find a lot of people don't keep them maintained well and the trip from their place to mine always jiggles a few more things loose. I am very picky and want my machines to be 100% correct, so I spend quite a bit of time testing and correcting issues. Pretty normal types of issues you describe.

#4 3 years ago

@Rdoyle: Once every 2 weeks? Hmmm... ok. Usually a bulb? OK not bad. 1k? Sure, I'll give you half of it.

@WackyBrakke: The last owner had fully shopped it when he purchased it about 18 months ago. I suspect that it had been sitting around for the last 3 months not being played. Normal issues? I take comfort in that, thank you.

#5 3 years ago

Welcome,

I get the question is if it's normal for a pinball machine to break down. Yes and no. I am not good at working on my pins and so when I had a collection of older pins they would be in a state of half-working. It'd be nice if you could meet up with some local guys who can help you fix pins. I did this and have been much better as a result.

Now, I find with my pins in a home environment that things tend to stay working (with my pins) as they are generally new. I had my PotC for 9 years ish and it's not given me one bit of problem except for the typical burned out light here or there. Other pins like IMVE no trouble since new.

STLE had to fix the drop target wouldn't stay up common problem.

AcDc premium had numerous issues but was able to fix with the help of Stern and my friends.

Tron one issue was a loose wire needed to be soldered.

So in general, new pins should be more trouble free (not completely trouble free but in my experience a 20+ year old former routed pin is 90% likely to have issues every so often, a new or near new pin may have 10-20% chance of having problems).

16
#6 3 years ago

For some people fixing this stuff is more fun than playing...

12
#7 3 years ago

Welcome to the community.....if it aint broke it aint pinball

#8 3 years ago

This happens all the time. Buy a newer stern and less to worry about. Jurassic park was my first pin too and taught me how to fix on machines a bit. You will learn to either enjoy repair more than playing or will hate fixing and buy a newer or huo machine.

#9 3 years ago

Welcome to pin ownership. Pins are mechanical and electronic machines, and unfortunately things break. Fortunately, they're not terribly complicated designs, and they are relatively easy to repair with simple tools that are not too expensive.

For fixing broken wires and replacing switches/coils (i.e., common repairs), you will need a good soldering iron. I use a Weller WP25 Professional 25Watts/120V Soldering Iron, which comes in handy for typical soldering repairs.

amazon.com link »

Enjoy your new pin!

#10 3 years ago

I was in your shoes when I started,

but you have to remember, how old is your game? 25-35 years? do you have a tv that old?
doubt it. It's pretty amazing that something this old still works, isn't it! One of the things I had to learned was this isn't just a game to play, but a hobby..

Yes sometimes painful, sometimes exciting, but what a great chance learn something new, and have fun at the same time.

#11 3 years ago

Think i seen you post on reddit.

I had a getaway for about a year.never gave any trouble.
sold it to a guy as his first,
its breaking his heart.
Once you get them settled I find the glass stays on.
but the first few weeks the glass stays off!
(well for me anyways,I've never bought from a collector,just ops)

#12 3 years ago

Pinball machines don't like to move.

With DE, the audio is very finicky, especially with the grounding cable. Go to pinballlife and order a few feet of grounding cable. It's like $1 a foot or something. Replace all the grounding cable and make sure the grounding connection is secure.

True story: When I was reassembling my TFTC, the audio screwed up and I couldn't figure out why. The sound was totally jacked up. Turns out my buddy caught the fact that I forgot to install one of the grounding cables. Fixed it and the audio was fine. Sounds like you may have a break in that chain.

Anyway, good luck and remember to have fun.

#13 3 years ago

Welcome to the madness! Believe it or not, best advice is to buy another pin or two. It's nerve racking when your single pin is down and you have no pinball to play. It definitely gets frustrating dealing with one issue after another. Older games can be made reliable but that's usually the result of working out all the issues of neglect and dodgy repairs of the past. New Stern games are far more reliable but more expensive.

Get a solder iron and multimeter and try to tackle one problem at a time. It's intimidating at first but the best way to learn is to jump right in. Most common problems are easy to fix - broken wire, loose connector, bad fuse, bad switch, etc. Get familiar with the test features in the menu to check switches, coils, and lights. That helps to narrow problems down to one part. Just make sure to turn off power before doing any work.

#14 3 years ago

Yup, like wdennie says. Jurassic Park came out in 1993, so your machine is now 23 years old. If you drive a car that old, you're likely to be tinkering fairly often. Bulb flickering somewhere in the dash of the car? Well give it a slap in the right place and it'll light up fine. For a while. But easier than taking it apart to replace the bulb or fix the dodgy socket. Radio a bit crackly? Give it a wiggle and it clears up. Most of the time.

Pinball is like that. Generally speaking it'll work, but there will always be things that could be adjusted/fixed/improved. And if anything stops working or you have questions, there are heaps of people on this forum that will help you get sorted.

Welcome!

#15 3 years ago

Wow, you guys are great! I read everything twice.

@Razorbak86: Thanks for that. I was looking at options and there are so many out there, which makes it tougher to choose just one. I will buy the very one you have listed, thank you.

@urbanledge: Yes you did.

@Mudflaps: This is the other thing I was looking for... without asking it lol. Ground cables aren't terribly expensive, whew. Thanks for your advice. Knowing you had a similar solved problem on another DE machine makes me feel better.

Many of you referenced older vs newer machines.... yep. I get it. 23 years old is OLD for any electronic device. I gotta have some patience.

#16 3 years ago
Quoted from MEuRaH:

Wow, you guys are great! I read everything twice.
@Razorbak86: Thanks for that. I was looking at options and there are so many out there, which makes it tougher to choose just one. I will buy the very one you have listed, thank you.

You're welcome.

While people often criticize Pinside for the same kind of drama found on other web forums, one of the inherent strengths of the Pinside community is the breadth and depth of its technical knowledge, and the community's willingness to offer helpful technical support.

#17 3 years ago

Like a lot of others have said, half the fun is in the Fixin!

I cannot explain the rush I get when I actually diagnose, and fix a problem myself- without having to consult these fine people. They've always been extremely willing to help! It pleases me that I actually learned from the things they taught me before about diodes, leaf switches, grounding cables, relays, and all manner of things electo-mechanical.

It's a culmination of everything I've learned about electronics, pinball, physics, and engineering fixes to problems that are NOT jury rigged!! The way I look at it, "This thing worked when it left the factory, what do I have to do to either re-achieve that state, or have the process come as close as possible?"

But overall, I come at it from a doctor's perspective, do no harm. Leave it at least as good shape as I found it. Put it back together correctly!! Use drawings, or take pictures before disassembling the thing. Putting things together incorrectly, or worse, completely hacking out something that is not working correctly- are the biggest offenses I see in getting 3rd hand games.

That is a particular pet peeve of mine, "oh the coil on the knocker, , so I'll just cut the wire!! Problem fixed!!"

People make the analogy of pinballs and car collectors. There are a lot of similarities, right down to waxing! Of course the tilt switch on a 72 Firebird is in a different spot, but it's all still a lot of fun!! With the way prices are going with the newer, and more collectible titles, there is even MORE in common! For me personally, I just can't see spending 10k on a pinball. I can't see spending 45k on a car either- But that's me.. Maybe you're in a more lucrative profession than mine.

#18 3 years ago

Yes, breakdowns are the normal, that is why sites like pinside exist.
Either a quick search, or start a thread and an awesome pinside will help out

-1
#19 3 years ago
#20 3 years ago

Once a pin is properly dialed in it should be good-to-go for a while. It's not uncommon to go months, or even years, without having to do anything other than regular cleaning, replacing an occasional rubber band, replacing the batteries, replacing a bulb or two and maybe adjusting a leaf switch or two.

#21 3 years ago
Quoted from NorCalRealtor:

Once a pin is properly dialed in it should be good-to-go for a while. It's not uncommon to go months, or even years, without having to do anything other than regular cleaning, replacing an occasional rubber band, replacing the batteries, replacing a bulb or two and maybe adjusting a leaf switch or two.

Speaking of batteries:

To the OP: REPLACE THE BATTERIES NOW! (if you haven't since acquiring the machine)

You don't know how long they've been in there, and damage from battery leakage is the #1 killer of pinball machine electronics.

#22 3 years ago

Don't be afraid to get in there! It's the only way you're going to learn... Keeping it closed up and worrying about it solves nothing.
You're on the right path. Keep reading guides for repairs, there are lots of resources out there.
Here is a good one:
email: cfh@provide.net
he has an entire library of common problems for all types of games. Look, yours is on the list...

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#23 3 years ago

A local tutor is best...

#24 3 years ago

Congrats welcome to the disease!!

Find local Pinsider that has a good reputation for quality work and treat him well. If your out of your elements.

Now start reading or creating more posts on equipment if you don't have like meter crimpers, irons etc.

My first machine I bought working as well played great for one week then dead. 5101 ram chip died. I was able to fix with help of the good old RGP guys.

As others have said address batteries and take your time and enjoy it.
I too rarely have anything more than a switch adjustment(screw loosen), bulb, or cleaning to do.

I enjoy working on as much as playing which may seem odd to you now but give it time.

Stay safe!

#25 3 years ago

I'm new to this myself. I've had similar problems with a JP and a LW3. I've somehow broken wires off while working on something else under the play field etc. Moving machines shakes things loose. If there's a shaker motor in you JP, tune in down to lower shaking. Overall, it DOES settle down once you've fixed those first few inevitable problems, and you will go months at a time without having to pull the glass for repairs.

#26 3 years ago

God damn, Stern!
I'll never buy a NIB pin from them again, until they sort sh!t like this out once and for all!

#27 3 years ago

Welcome and yes it's normal pinball well break down at times. Most of time when you transport a pinball things well get knocked out of wack. So best thing to do once you get it set up inspect all the wire connections ect. I think every pin i have gotten has small issues when 1st set up. Even new pins can have this issue.

#28 3 years ago

Data East pins like to break. Years ago I did a complete shop job/repair on a Jurassic Park...it played great afterwards! The second I put it up for sale, all hell started to break loose with it. Oh well, welcome to pinball!

#29 3 years ago
Quoted from Chambahz:

God damn, Stern!
I'll never buy a NIB pin from them again, until they sort sh!t like this out once and for all!

I think you're posting in the wrong thread.

#30 3 years ago
Quoted from Rarehero:

Data East pins like to break. Years ago I did a complete shop job/repair on a Jurassic Park...it played great afterwards! The second I put it up for sale, all hell started to break loose with it. Oh well, welcome to pinball!

You know, I've heard that about DE pins but the ones I've had were super reliable. I have the Royal Rumble on location that hasn't had a single issue. It's a tank.

#31 3 years ago
Quoted from NorCalRealtor:

You know, I've heard that about DE pins but the ones I've had were super reliable. I have the Royal Rumble on location that hasn't had a single issue. It's a tank.

Yeah, it's pinball...it's a crapshoot. My Tommy was a tank, too. But my JP was evil. EVIL!!!!

#32 3 years ago

Is your DMD working? Or did you just happen to snap a picture when it wasn't displaying anything?

#33 3 years ago

This is the reason any time i buy a new pin it gets totally stripped and redone.... plus once i sell it the next owners are happy for years to come.. (example) still stripping and cleaning and not your typical shopout job 20160708_194426_(resized).jpg

#34 3 years ago

@bdPinball: You made it sound so much fun that it actually gave me confidence to open it up again and take another look. I was able to fix the ground cable... it had simply come undone... so the sound now works to perfection. So thanks for that!

@themadman: Yeah I got some batteries. After I send this message I'll do just that. Thanks for looking out for me!

@brenna98: Oh wow.... look at that! 9 common problems? Yikes...... ok well I better get researching on those asap. That's a great resource, thank you.

@sulakd: The shaking is my favorite part! "Feed The T-Rex.. THUMP..... THUMP.... THUMP". But.... if it'll help it last longer, I will do just that.

@ChadH: Whoa.... it's THE Chad H! You made the mod for the JP that I'm currently using. It's awesome! Anyway, the DMD does work. Just happened to be off when I snapped that photo.

@bigd1979: Yeah this machine was taken apart fully, cleaned, and then reassembled just over a year ago by the previous owner. I'm hoping that'll factor into the machine lasting a little bit longer and better.

Just so you know, I have read all messages and upvoted them so I remember that I have read them carefully... except the one that seems to be for another thread, haha.

Several of you guys have suggested a local pinsider or pinball group to help me out. Well there is a pinball co-op here in my city that I was looking to get into. I will have to check it out sometime soon.

This community has already calmed me down. Before I was thinking "I don't want to do this", but now I'm thinking "I can't wait to get started". That's a HUGE turn-around!

#35 3 years ago

I got into pins about two months ago. Although I generally like fixing things, there isn't anything that scares me on a pin now. I've replaced bulbs all the way to resoldering pins on a board. I've owned three pins, all had unique issues. I was able to fix all. My buddies got into it also and they all have pins we needed to tech. Get used to it. As long as it doesn't happen during a party I accept the challenges. Buy a little tool kit make up of tool from harbor freight. It is cheap and you don't need expensive strong tools for a pin. Number one advice, get magnetic tools. You will spend more time looking for dropped screws than fixing the actual issue. Youtube, "how to magnetize a screwdriver". Save some money doing it yourself. It takes ten seconds if you have a large magnet.

#36 3 years ago

Welcome to the world of owning pins. Frustrating at times? Yes. Rewarding when you fix the problem yourself w/the help of fellow Pinsiders. I was like you once. I have since learned to solder and fix things when they go wrong. You can do it. Once you get the issues solved, they will become less numerous. Congrats on the 1st pin. Nothing like it in the whole world.........

#37 3 years ago

I got my JP and it had leafs, bugs and dirt. Could not play. Tore. It down over 4 months, with help from my local pin tech, got it going. I have from that point tore down and shopped a few pins, one I Got paid to do, if you have any problems you can always come to Pinside for help. Don't be scared, you can fix it if you mess up (boards might cost more). It's all about the journey.

#38 3 years ago

I am a bit late to this party, but only 4 years in, I can DEFINITELY relate to how you feel. It can be overwhelming at first: what's a DMM, what exactly is continuity?, how do I read voltages??, what's a transistor?, how do diodes work??, what do you mean "there's a short somewhere under the playfield??", what do all the red lights on those boards back there mean??, why is this 5V but that is 12V??, etc.

Overwhelming at first. I know - it still gets me from time to time.

One thing at a time. Photos and videos are IMMENSELY helpful in assisting us to help you. I actually invested in a GoPro for "how to" videos as well as when putting a game up for sale, and whenever I am having issues, I can use both hands to play the game to be able to fully demonstrate a problem. Be ready to spend some decent money on hand tools/electrical diagnose tools/workshop stuff such as workbenches, lights to see, stools to sit with, soldering stations, etc. It's not about how much you spend; it is WHAT you spend - in other words - you don't need a Craftsman informercial style garage - you just need the tools to get the job done right. There are some fantastic threads here about tools everyone has, tools ppl have built, rigs people have made, and ways people have "MacGyvered" their own hardware.

2 years from now, you're going to feel like a pro and you'll be the one helping people down the road.

If I may make a polite suggestion (and hopefully this will not appear as pretentious) - go to my forum activity and look at my threads started. Find any of them that start with ** - FIXED -**, and read about my journeys. I purposefully left the threads fully intact so people looking for help could see the journey: the problem signs, the description, the diagnosis, the suggestions, the fix, and what I did to make the fix permanent (for the time being). It'll give you some insight, and it might help you down the road. Also, whenever you start a thread with a problem, and it gets fixed - please remember to change your thread title (doable by editing your original message that starts the whole thread) indicating that the problem has been FIXED. That way, people won't read 100+ posts hoping to see the answer, only to come to a dead-end with no resolution. That is probably in my top 5 Pinside pet peeves.

In fact, I think a couple of them are for JP....

Good luck, and welcome to a hobby that you won't be getting out of any time soon .

#39 3 years ago

I prefer a 40watt radio shack cheapie iron for broken wires and stuff. For board work no. It brings a bit more heat to the work and some lugs and wires are a bit heavy for 25 watts. Also lay in a stock of 1n4007 diodes. About the same prices as the others in 4000 series perticularly in quantity, say 1000, and you can use them for rectifiers in Bally boards and other stuff. More durable, more uses, same price, no brainier.

#40 3 years ago
Quoted from MEuRaH:

I wanted to buy a pin so that I could practice and be a part of the local league.

Very cool. Please get in touch if you need any info about the pinball leagues we run here. There's pretty much always something going on. Highly recommended that you get started even before you feel like you've practiced enough. League is fun, and you'll definitely improve just by competing with other people and seeing how other people do things.

Sounds like you've done a bunch of research and reading, but just throwing out this link to our local clubhouse in case you haven't seen it:
www.pinballcoop.com

I'm sure you'll be able to get JP to a state where everything's working pretty well, and most or all of the maintenance will just be routine stuff.

3 weeks later
#41 3 years ago

this thread is why this forum is great

#42 3 years ago

MEuRaH, seems like you are off to a good start since you did your homework. Be glad your T-Rex works. If it gives you problems (which it may, they all do), you can always ask for help here. The ball trough is also a common issue on JP.

When buying a pin, you should try your best to learn all the ins and outs of how a game works by actually playing a good working one if possible. If not, youtube helps. Don't rely on the current owner to know the entire operation of the game. Chances are high that features are not working and never have, but they were none the wiser.

And almost all issues that crop up will be easily fixable by you. They just require a time commitment. But this community is great with helping out with any and all issues just about.

#43 3 years ago

And I would like to add, if you ever get freaked out or really frustrated trying to fix something. Don't sweat it, just walk away for a while or look at it in a day or two. So many times a fresh outlook on a new day and BAM! Nailed it! Found the problem! Frustration and repair don't mix so always remember, that bad boy isn't going anywhere and just put it away for a while and relax! Once dialed in a game like JP can work for months and months on end without any problems at all! I know mine did until I sold it... Damn I wish I kept it cause it's a great game! Did anyone mention you picked up one of the best games of all! DE I would say JP is their very best effort! Have fun!

Tom

#44 3 years ago
Quoted from homebrood:

And I would like to add, if you ever get freaked out or really frustrated trying to fix something. Don't sweat it, just walk away for a while or look at it in a day or two. So many times a fresh outlook on a new day and BAM! Nailed it! Found the problem! Frustration and repair don't mix so always remember, that bad boy isn't going anywhere and just put it away for a while and relax!
Tom

This is one of my big battles right now, especially learning how to solder properly. When I find myself yelling "why won't you melt!!" I know I should have walked away five minutes earlier

#45 3 years ago

Issues will always arise but when they do you need to actually properly diagnose and fix the problem and not just "jiggle" the wire. Any new game is usually going to have kinks but if you fix them properly the game will become more reliable and hopefully these surprises will become rare. It's frustrating at first but eventually becomes standard procedure anytime you buy a used pin. I usually tear a new game down and do a full shop job to make sure I catch anything before I start playing it heavily.

#46 3 years ago
Quoted from Kratogen:

When I find myself yelling "why won't you melt!!" I know I should have walked away five minutes earlier

Time for a better soldering iron!

#47 3 years ago

Bought a JP a year ago. My Grail Pin. It needed some work and tweaks. I stripped the entire playfield and cleaned the parts that could be cleaned, and replaced the parts that I could not get back to looking like Mint due to color fading, scuffs, and or other issues.

But in the process, I created a much larger issue for myself. I was trying to fix the VUK, but when putting the mech back together, I flipped the diode and screwed up a whole bunch of stuff on the boards. Being fairly handy, and not afraid to get my hands dirty, I started digging into learning all about the schematics. After about 2 weeks of trial and error and some help from this forum, I was able to track down and narrow my searching. In the end, I learned a whole lot about what makes a pin work, and not work.

The good thing is, I have no fear of not being able to fix something on it now.

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