(Topic ID: 244956)

Owning a Pin


By ChiTownPinHead

4 months ago



Topic Stats

  • 35 posts
  • 34 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 months ago by spinal
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders

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    #1 4 months ago

    I've been struggling with the decision of purchasing a Pin for my home and keep revisiting one important aspect of owning a machine. Maintenance. After visiting a few different Barcades in my area, one thing has become quite clear. They will ALL eventually fail. Out of five different machines at one place, each one had an issue that affected normal gameplay. Metallica's multiball didn't automatically shoot the balls, Medieval Madness had a troll that wouldn't pop, Attack from Mars was completely down, Pabst Can Crusher wouldn't take tokens, etc.

    Living in the Chicago burbs, there are a lot of great Barcades around. Galloping Ghost in Brookfield is expanding their pinball room. Logan Arcade in Chicago has a ton of machines and a great selection of beer. All can be played without the concern for having to make repairs when something goes wrong.

    Are my concerns of costly maintenance invalid? My experience with electronics are limited to building a few computers and making repairs to my washing machine on occasion. I am not afraid of tinkering but I do admit, opening a pinball machine and seeing all those boards and wiring is a bit overwhelming. Older machines are apparently more "service friendly" while newer releases and remakes seem to be made like everything else nowadays, disposable. Buy an older machine and get ready to start making repairs. Buy a new machine and play, but after the warranty expires, good luck!

    Any advice or insight on the costs of maintaining a pin at home? My interests are machines from the 90's on up to current releases. Appreciate any help.

    Tim

    12
    #2 4 months ago

    Costs aren’t too bad especially for a newer machine that has parts available and aftermarket solutions. Older has plenty of documentation for repairs.

    I wouldn’t sweat repair costs. Lots of support here. Sweat that you’ll buy more pins.

    #3 4 months ago
    Quoted from ChiTownPinHead:

    I've been struggling with the decision of purchasing a Pin for my home and keep revisiting one important aspect of owning a machine. Maintenance. After visiting a few different Barcades in my area, one thing has become quite clear. They will ALL eventually fail. Out of five different machines at one place, each one had an issue that affected normal gameplay. Metallica's multiball didn't automatically shoot the balls, Medieval Madness had a troll that wouldn't pop, Attack from Mars was completely down, Pabst Can Crusher wouldn't take tokens, etc.
    Living in the Chicago burbs, there are a lot of great Barcades around. Galloping Ghost in Brookfield is expanding their pinball room. Logan Arcade in Chicago has a ton of machines and a great selection of beer. All can be played without the concern for having to make repairs when something goes wrong.
    Are my concerns of costly maintenance invalid? My experience with electronics are limited to building a few computers and making repairs to my washing machine on occasion. I am not afraid of tinkering but I do admit, opening a pinball machine and seeing all those boards and wiring is a bit overwhelming. Older machines are apparently more "service friendly" while newer releases and remakes seem to be made like everything else nowadays, disposable. Buy an older machine and get ready to start making repairs. Buy a new machine and play, but after the warranty expires, good luck!
    Any advice or insight on the costs of maintaining a pin at home? My interests are machines from the 90's on up to current releases. Appreciate any help.
    Tim

    Yes. They will have issues. Yes, you will need to learn how to fix them in order to get the most out of your experience. You also live in an area which is going to have a lot of techs who can come out and fix stuff for you (for a cost!). You can also ask questions on pinside - which is how many of us learned! This site is invaluable for that.

    Newer machines have just as many issues you'll need to be familiar with - most of the mechanical parts that fail are the same regardless of whether the machine is 20+ years old, or brand new. The electronics are a bit different - but with a new game from Stern or JJP, you can get support from them too. Really, it doesn't matter - acknowledge that you will have to get used to repairing them to some degree. There is certainly LESS to deal with on a new game at first, but not nothing.

    #4 4 months ago

    They are all going to have issues. Stuff is going to break, need adjustment, etc. Some repairs are a few cents and some thousands of dollars. It's probably not as catastrophic as you are thinking. The route machines see way more issues than ones in the home. It's like anything else you own at home or drive...it's going to need maintenance. Hard to put a price tag on what it costs per year, as it varies.

    #5 4 months ago

    If you buy a solid working game, financial parts costs should be pretty low, but if you are new you will likely spend some time and effort on diagnosis and repair time.

    That said, depending on what you already have at home there are some tools you'll want to have that will obviously cost money (multimeter with continuity tone, soldering iron, and "general" tools such as screwdrivers, socket set, wire strippers, etc.).

    Like everyone else has said, there will at a bare minimum be basic adjustments and repairs like a switch needed realigned, wire came loose, etc. as you are launching a metal ball into plastic, mechanical, and electrical parts...that's just the cost of doing business .

    I dont think most people (myself included) knew much if anything about maintenance and repair but there are so many resources out there that if you have the willingness and desire to learn, you'll be comfortable and on helping others in no time. I was scared to even change a bulb when I got my first game 3 years ago and last year I finished putting a Taxi back together that was literally in boxes and had 3 partially working MPUs that I needed to combine into one. If you are willing to learn you'll be just fine. Patience is key!

    #6 4 months ago

    My recommendation would be not buying one. These damn things multiply like rabbits!

    It's not the cost of maintenance that's going to kill you, it's the fact that you're going to buy more games that kills the bank account.

    As for maintenance, things are pretty straight forward. Most of what I end up fixing is broken wires, switches that need adjusted, screws that fell out, etc.

    #7 4 months ago

    The one thing that kept me from buying my first pin was maintenance having collected vids. Most maintenance items are just small adjustments or a wire coming unsoldered. Cleaning and waxing is about all you need to do once you have a game working 100%.

    10
    #8 4 months ago

    On location pinball is great but nothing beats playing a game that you own in your home, whenever you want, in as good of condition as you want, and actually being able to hear the game clearly versus muffled due to bar noise. There will be minor issues but it's more then worth it.

    #9 4 months ago

    And remember, the games at a barcades;
    these people playing them don't know or care how expensive the games cost.
    You as a private owner will not treat your games like they would.

    #10 4 months ago

    I was the same way before I got my first pin. Looking at all the wires, circuit boards, and mech under the playfield is intimidating at first. One thing to keep in mind is that location pins are played heavily and hard all day. Home pins see only a fraction of the use so typically much less problematic. Most problems you will see are very easy to fix like a loose wire or something that needs adjusting. I used to hate working on pins but find it much more enjoyable now. It's pretty satisfying to fix a bunch of problems and get a pin looking far better than what you started with. Most things are really not that complicated. Pins have built in diagnostic functions that really help and well documented.

    Best to just jump in and start learning as you go. Don't buy a pin that needs a lot of work, though. Find something that flips good and everything works. Buying a new pin typically means little to no maintenance for quite a while but very expensive.

    #11 4 months ago

    I have learned a lot at this site:
    http://www.pinrepair.com/

    Knows his stuff. If you can fix washing machines, you can maintain pinball machines.

    #12 4 months ago

    As mentioned, they will multiply.

    #13 4 months ago

    Buy a pinball now. Time on earth is limited.

    #14 4 months ago

    Wouldn’t worry about it. As mentioned — location machines get so much more play than at home. It’s a different experience to take the loud bar music away and actually hear the game. Although sometimes that bar atmosphere can be nice too. Newer games can/will still have problems but generally I’d expect more maintenance type stuff of adjustment nature or a board failing that needs replacement vs something that might be more involved if you get an older pin. Plenty of help here as well for all these issues.

    #15 4 months ago
    Quoted from jawjaw:

    It's pretty satisfying to fix a bunch of problems and get a pin looking far better than what you started with.

    I’ve found that one of my favorite parts of this hobby is diagnosing and fixing problems, as well as improving looks and playability. I’ve got all EMs, but I think a lot of SS guys also feel the same way. You learn and keep improving. (I wish my playing skills were like that!) What now seems like a negative may actually be a positive.

    Also, I’ve found that once I get a pin working well during my break-in period with it, the maintenance issues generally get fewer and less frequent.

    #16 4 months ago

    Just buy it and try to have fun. I get stressed with maintenance because I want things to work right and I get scared that Ill break something else. But its also an awesome feeling when I fix my pin. I mean yes I could be outside doing something else, maybe saving the world, or learning judo or something, but fixing that damn broken light on my pinball machine makes me feel pretty damn good, time well spent. Look at my list of things to fix, there will always be issues, but they are fixable.

    To do list:

    Alien LE - fix right back egg lights
    WoZ - replace both head decals, fix shaking noise with tape on playfield glass, replace legs (too many scratches)
    Star Trek LE - fix ball trough and missing light right flasher (done!)
    TWD LE - fix well walker switch and lower intensity shaker motor
    Simpsons - Fix buzzing noise both flippers
    Star Wars - replace decal left back box

    I already took care of 3 items in the past 2 days!

    #17 4 months ago

    Just buy one. Everything else will work out.

    #18 4 months ago

    I haven't had many issues at all with any of the pins I've owned. Maybe I've been lucky.

    #19 4 months ago

    Buy one!!! It doesn’t have to be the “best” pin or the most expensive. Find one you enjoy and take it home to enjoy. No better feeling than having friends and family over to play your game.

    #20 4 months ago

    I find that figuring out how they work and getting them up and running is actually half the fun of owning them. They are like puzzles, but with repair information on Pinside and the web readily available.

    #21 4 months ago
    Quoted from ChiTownPinHead:

    Any advice or insight on the costs of maintaining a pin at home? My interests are machines from the 90's on up to current releases. Appreciate any help.
    Tim

    Here's the flowchart.

    You get a machine and you have fun and it's a fine time.
    Then something goes wrong, you SEARCH for it on pinside and probably find the answer real quick.
    You buy a couple tools and some parts and you slowly learn how to fix the basic things, wear items, common problems etc
    All of a sudden a year has gone by and you know know your way around the machine a lot better and there aren't as many surprises and you keep leveling up.
    It's USUALLY not something major. Maybe a board blows and you spend a couple hundy in a rare instance.
    Nothing to worry aboot. Pretty standard around here people buying & learning as we go.

    #22 4 months ago
    Quoted from ChiTownPinHead:

    My experience with electronics are limited to building a few computers and making repairs to my washing machine

    Usually you do this stuff after you own a pinball and learn about fixing it. If you can do that stuff, you'll do fine with a pinball machine, with the possible exception of board repairs, which you can learn too.

    You get a pin. Ball moving around hitting stuff. Sooner or later you'll need to clean or fix something.

    Fortunately you have great resources available. Pinside, Youtube, Google, Pinballnews.com, new pinball friends, distributors, and manufacturers, Pinwiki, etc. etc.

    You have an issue. Post here. Lots of help to guide you. Cross one bridge at a time armed with the help available, and the knowledge you'll succeed. Don't be afraid. You'll be glad you did.

    Only thing I'd ask. Is that as you gain in knowledge and experience. Help the next person. So pinball grows and grows.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of pinball !

    LTG : )

    #23 4 months ago

    Half the fun for me buying a pin is actually to clean and tinker with it to get it properly working and looking great. Usually I spend most evenings for 3-4 weeks fixing it before even actually playing it.

    My routine includes changing all coil sleeves, changing all Star posts, machine polish all metal parts like Lane guides and ramps, waxing, take apart all mechanical assemblies and clean them plus lots more and all this gives me a huge enjoyment seeing the pin getting better and better. About a year ago I bought my first pin knowing nothing about maintaining them and now I own five.

    I say take the plunge and dont worry too much about repairs, you will learn what you need over time.

    #24 4 months ago

    It's usually just a fuse.

    #25 4 months ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    Here's the flowchart.
    You get a machine and you have fun and it's a fine time.
    Then something goes wrong, you SEARCH for it on pinside and probably find the answer real quick.
    You buy a couple tools and some parts and you slowly learn how to fix the basic things, wear items, common problems etc
    All of a sudden a year has gone by and you know know your way around the machine a lot better and there aren't as many surprises and you keep leveling up.
    It's USUALLY not something major. Maybe a board blows and you spend a couple hundy in a rare instance.
    Nothing to worry aboot. Pretty standard around here people buying & learning as we go.

    Accurate....except, you forgot to add "buy another machine" about 12 different places in your flowchart

    #26 4 months ago
    Quoted from hAbO:

    The one thing that kept me from buying my first pin was maintenance.

    Says the guy who now owns 7 pins. Once you buy your first pin there is no turning back!

    Quoted from Oneangrymo:

    Just buy it and try to have fun.

    Says the guy who notes that 6 of his own 13 pins are on his to-do list for repairs. I guess the key word here is "try" to have fun?

    Quoted from Spyderturbo007:

    My recommendation would be not buying one. It's buying more games that kills the bank account.

    Most of us can't stop until we're out of funds or out of space or both. (You can buy a nice car for the cost of 3 modern NIB games.)

    #27 4 months ago

    So long as you buy a fully working machine, you'll be just fine. I felt the same way about a year ago when I got my first machine (a World Cup Soccer 94). 1 year later I've gone through 8 machines and have 3 in my basement. Most things that break on a pin can be diagnosed with some logic, tracing wires, and finding the broken connector, scorched part, or blown fuse. Occasionally, there will be something wrong on a board you will have to diagnose. Odds are, there is a dark black mark around the part that is broken where it flared up.

    Older machines can be made more reliable by doing simple things like reducing the electrical load and heat load by changing out the bulbs to LEDs (easy!). If you get a new (to you) machine that fully works, replace all the rubbers and LEDs, you will have a very good idea about how the machine works. If you get stuck, you can always ask for help on pin side and 9/10 you will get a good answer. If you buy a used 90s pin for $3,000... say a Fish Tales or a Getaway, keep it for a year, then sell it, you will sell it for... about $3,000. Even if you somehow managed to create a small fire in the machine and had to sell it as a project, you'd probably get at least half of your money back. You will have fun tinkering with your pin. After you fully understand it, you will likely find yourself putting on small mods, custom instruction cards, maybe side art. It's a fun hobby. If you decide you don't want to play anymore, you can sell your pin. Good luck!

    #28 4 months ago

    I don't have many issues pop up with my games til yesterday. Started to notice a burning smell in the gameroom. (all the games were on) Started sniffing around and found that it was coming from Monster Bash. Uh Oh... pressed off a game, game started but no ball ejects from the trough. Shit... open the coin door and try to slap the eject plunger to see if it would throw out a ball manually. Plunger sticks half way through it's stroke. OK sniff the open coin door and yep this is definitely it. Removed the coil from the trough. Yep definite melt down. Damn thing must have locked on for awhile. Install a new coil (I happen to have one in my coil box). Start a new game... no ball eject... shit... Ok at this point I need the manual to check the solenoid table to find out what Transistor fires the Trough Coil. OK... here it is... Q44 (TIP 102) "famous for failing especially in short state" Remove power driver board... Yep Q44 is a crispy critter. Soldier in a TIP120 (much better transistor) Reinstall power driver board. (carefully making sure all plugs are installed correctly) fire up the game in test mode. Trough Coil fires properly! YAY! Play a couple of games, all is good! This is a typical failure that doesn't happen all that often. But with the right tools and a little experience you can make this repair just the same. The first time you can post it up on here and we will walk you through it. So go buy some pins!

    #29 4 months ago

    You’re no different then most of us when we first started out. Don’t be afraid of future Maintenance. Just do as others have said to buy a working one. You’ll learn as you go. You’re already on one of the best places to ask for help.

    #30 4 months ago

    I wouldn’t worry if you can’t fix it there are others in Chicago than can

    Enjoy well worth it

    #31 4 months ago

    The responses have been overwhelmingly supportive. Really appreciate everyone's posts!

    #32 4 months ago

    Same fears here but it is just so very wonderful being able to:
    1) have everything (almost) work properly
    2) sneak a game in before picking up/dropping off kids
    3) be able to have the kids play and/or watch and actually see and hear it (hard to find appropriate stools on location)
    4) hide my shame when I make a total bonehead mistake.

    #33 4 months ago

    Just go for it it's great and after owning one u will know how to fix things as you go along if not we are all here too help you though it happy flipping

    #34 4 months ago

    20 is a good round number of games to have.

    #35 4 months ago

    By playing it safe and not owning your own pin you will never have to worry about fixing or maintenance.

    You will also be missing out from all the joy that comes with really getting into this hobby not to mention all you will learn. You can tune your pin to play better than what you will generally find on location.

    So just do it but be smart about and take your time.

    My advice, as your first pin, buy a 100% working pin from a local collector that takes good care of his games.

    It’s a great hobby!

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