(Topic ID: 129141)

Pinball Ball Quality


By talspach

3 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 35 posts
  • 23 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 9 months ago by pinballinreno
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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    #1 3 years ago

    I've seen a few posts from other Pinsiders stating things like "the balls that ship with NIB Sterns are junk" and "using low quality balls is bad for your pin".

    Can anyone clarify what is meant by ball quality, and what pinballs are better than others?

    Pinball life sells "regular" 1-1/16" pinballs and also Premium Ultra Gloss 1-1/16" Pinballs. Are both of these better than the balls that are included with NIB Stern games? Are there other, better pinballs I should be using?

    What makes a ball higher quality/better than other ones?

    Note that it is ridiculously hard to search for this topic here or via Google, thanks to the balls that are inside pinball machines being commonly called "pinballs".

    #2 3 years ago

    Great question!
    The ones that sometimes come in Stern's have been known to be rusty.

    Basically they need to be as shiny as possible, with a clear and even gloss. Don't get cheapo ones. Rusty or scratched balls...well, think about a ball of sandpaper rolling around on your nice playfield!

    The pinball life balls are great...oh so shiny!

    People have their own preferences, but those are my go-to. Also be sure to inspect and swap them out periodically. Like oil in your car. They wear and break down.

    #3 3 years ago

    I typically get balls from PBResource when I order other parts. Are those balls fine, or are other sources/balls preferred?

    #4 3 years ago

    Pinball Rehab has an article comparing fancy balls: http://www.pinballrehab.com/1-articles/tools-and-supplies/245-premium-pinballs

    I think PBL's Ultra Gloss balls are great, I mainly use them because I put in a ton of orders there anyway.

    #5 3 years ago

    Thanks for the link, DefaultGen. So, do many people actually change their pinballs out as often as the article suggests (every 100 games)? My NIB Star Trek Premium arrives tomorrow (SO EXCITED), and I expect to easily have 100 plays before the week is up.

    I've previously owned a TZ and Xenon, and never changed the balls on them, 'cause I just didn't know better.

    #6 3 years ago

    I don't necessarily swap in new balls every 100 plays. I just check them every 100 games or so, and if they lose any of their shine or look blemished at all, I swap them out.

    #7 3 years ago

    Same, after I initially replace them I just check them. Batteries is the only thing I do on a yearly clock no matter what. Some people say they do a full teardown shop job on each of their games yearly, but I like to actually play my games instead of constantly have them in pieces

    #8 3 years ago

    Under normal use in a home, replacing the balls twice a year should suffice.

    #9 3 years ago
    Quoted from Captain_Kirk:

    Under normal use in a home, replacing the balls twice a year should suffice.

    i play my game frequently, but i do not change the balls that often. once a year... maybe. more likely it is once every 2 years or so.

    #10 3 years ago

    Just remember ( I never knew) that silver jets hold magnetism. If your game doesn't have magnets there great - if it does not so much!

    #11 3 years ago

    I never need to replace them, but from time to time I just re buff them myself. 6" cotton wheel and a little bit of grey then white bar polish and they look great and the surface is sealed to keep in the free iron, something that a tumbler doesn't do.
    It's actually quite easy and no, not dangerous at all if you're smart and careful. I just roll them in my fingers against the wheel for a short while until the entire surface is done.
    I've owned a metal polishing shop for 35+ years and with 70+ machines, that's what works for me.

    #12 3 years ago
    Quoted from waltrr:

    I never need to replace them, but from time to time I just re buff them myself. 6" cotton wheel and a little bit of grey then white bar polish and they look great and the surface is sealed to keep in the free iron, something that a tumbler doesn't do.
    It's actually quite easy and no, not dangerous at all if you're smart and careful. I just roll them in my fingers against the wheel for a short while until the entire surface is done.
    I've owned a metal polishing shop for 35+ years and with 70+ machines, that's what works for me.

    Seems like too much time and effort for something that costs around $1.

    #13 3 years ago

    Every 100 games?!!?

    Holy smeg, I'd be changing balls on my games like 20 times a year, including 6 times just at TPF!

    F------ that!

    #14 3 years ago

    There is no real rule as to when to replace them aside from "when they need it"

    Pulling out a ball that's still in fantastic shape won't accomplish anything.

    #15 3 years ago

    This is a topic I had been wondering about. Ever since becoming an owner, I've switched out to the Silver Jets . . . but they can't be the only good balls on the market. (No magnets here, so far.) A visual inspection on these things does not immediately show me much. One SJ ball put in fairly recently has started to make some noises that concern me, as it rolls around a vintage EM playfield. I'd like to have a better guide on what needs replacing and when. The five balls in my manual loader EM have probably been in there for years and years, but could be hard to get to (?). They still look O.K., at a casual glance.

    #16 3 years ago

    ST has a magnet under the Vengeance, so I'll need to go with the Pinball Life Ultra Gloss balls then. Thanks to everyone for your insights!

    #17 3 years ago

    I only replace as necessary. Even at $1.50 per ball I'd have $175 just for balls every year.

    EM games they seem to last forever. Newer games with metal ball guides and magnets seem to dull them down more than others. I wouldn't go by some number of games or time frame rule. Just keep an eye on them and change as required.

    #18 3 years ago

    FWIW....

    I spent more on the 'ultra premium' (or whatever tag the seller is using) and had those balls show just as much wear as the standard balls in the same amount of time. No way I am paying 3.4 per ball when I have 7 games that all need a min of 3 balls. The 1.50 ones do just as well.

    What I do: Buy the balls, tumble em. Play the games, and keep an eye on them. I don't buy the every hundred games either. That could be twice in a weekend sometimes.

    #19 3 years ago
    Quoted from talspach:

    ST has a magnet under the Vengeance, so I'll need to go with the Pinball Life Ultra Gloss balls then. Thanks to everyone for your insights!

    I put those in my ST and no magnet problems. The ones that came with ST didn't look like junk to me but whatever. Everyone advises to replace them and it didn't cost much so I did.

    #20 3 years ago

    I can tell you a true story. I kind of lost interest in playing for a while. Then one day, my kid comes up and says that he noticed my IJ had what appeared to be some rust showing on the balls. Sure enough they did. Not only that, the play field was all scratched up. Luckily I had it cleared years earlier.

    Had to do a complete strip and shop afterwards.

    Lesson learned? I simply by a ton of pinballs at the show every year. Keep them oiled up in their casings. Then swap them out religiously. Because my machines don't get that much use, I swap them out every six months. Every ball for five machines. I could probably rebuff them, but too much time.

    Bottom line is change them out folks. These collections are worth thousands. Hard to justify pushing it until the last minute. Kind of like pushing brakes to the point where you have to buy rotors again....so preventable.

    2 years later
    #21 11 months ago

    Alright, so I know that it's been 2 years since the last post here and I apologize in advance for bringing up an old thread. But 2 years is a long time and quality either has improved or gotten worse with specific ball manufacturers. So the question is, who now in 2018 are say the top manufacturers or sellers of balls in you guys opinions??

    #22 11 months ago

    Ball baron Ninja is subjectively the best.

    1 month later
    #23 10 months ago
    Quoted from supermoot:

    Ball baron Ninja is subjectively the best.

    I don't think I've ever seen any by that name being sold, anywhere . . . ?

    #24 10 months ago
    Quoted from iamabearsfan:

    I can tell you a true story. I kind of lost interest in playing for a while. Then one day, my kid comes up and says that he noticed my IJ had what appeared to be some rust showing on the balls. Sure enough they did. Not only that, the play field was all scratched up. Luckily I had it cleared years earlier.
    Had to do a complete strip and shop afterwards.
    Lesson learned? I simply by a ton of pinballs at the show every year. Keep them oiled up in their casings. Then swap them out religiously. Because my machines don't get that much use, I swap them out every six months. Every ball for five machines. I could probably rebuff them, but too much time.
    Bottom line is change them out folks. These collections are worth thousands. Hard to justify pushing it until the last minute. Kind of like pushing brakes to the point where you have to buy rotors again....so preventable.

    I hear you, and I'm sure you must be right, but then I can't explain the case of my Cross Town, whose 5 balls must have been in there for WHO KNOWS HOW MANY YEARS at the time that I bought it. And I still can't see anything wrong with them ! But I suppose I could change them out anyway. That pin is in storage for now, and so has not gotten much play.

    #25 10 months ago

    The Ninja Balls from Ball Baron ( https://ballbaron.com/product/ninja-super-shiny-chrome-pinball-g10/ ) are my favorite. Only 50 cents more than a usual ball from Marco, and it looks a hell of a lot better.

    #26 10 months ago
    Quoted from talspach:

    Thanks for the link, DefaultGen. So, do many people actually change their pinballs out as often as the article suggests (every 100 games)? My NIB Star Trek Premium arrives tomorrow (SO EXCITED), and I expect to easily have 100 plays before the week is up.
    I've previously owned a TZ and Xenon, and never changed the balls on them, 'cause I just didn't know better.

    Wow, my family put over 2500 plays on my Cyclone in 6 months, thats a lot of balls. Of course an imamaculate Baywatch only needs new balls every other year.

    #27 10 months ago
    Quoted from mrossman5:

    The Ninja Balls from Ball Baron ( https://ballbaron.com/product/ninja-super-shiny-chrome-pinball-g10/ ) are my favorite. Only 50 cents more than a usual ball from Marco, and it looks a hell of a lot bett2er.

    Never use chrome on pinballs.

    Never use any type of plating.

    It flat out won't wear well enough.

    Use a 1 1/16" highly polished lower magnetism carbon steel ball.

    It will be good for all applications.

    Change the balls on modern games every 350 to 500 plays.

    Wax the playfield with blitz or p21s pure carnauba.

    More expensive balls will cause you to not throw them away as often as is needed.

    Buy good quality balls from a good seller.

    #28 10 months ago
    Quoted from pinballinreno:

    Never use chrome on pinballs.
    Never use any type of plating.
    It flat out won't wear well enough.
    Use a 1 1/16" highly polished lower magnetism carbon steel ball.
    It will be good for all applications.
    Change the balls on modern games every 350 to 500 plays.
    Wax the playfield with blitz or p21s pure carnauba.
    More expensive balls will cause you to not throw them away as often as is needed.
    Buy good quality balls from a good seller.

    Any ideas on a seller?

    #29 10 months ago

    Stick with ball baron. Seriously, you won't find anyone who provides better customer service, nor someone who knows more about just about any sort of round metal objects. And his standard for what is acceptable for him to sell is REALLY high. Before the ninjas, he didn't have anything like that in stock for a while because his suppliers couldn't meet his standards. That's the kind of guy you want to buy from in my opinion.

    He sells ultra-shiny carbon steel balls too (pretty much required for most newer games since carbon steel doesn't retain magnetism very much). Last I saw, he was targeting July 4th to have them back in-stock. And his prices for those are the best you'll find on top of it all.

    #30 10 months ago
    Quoted from mrossman5:

    Any ideas on a seller?

    Pinball life or Marco.

    Super shiny ones look nice but as with all pinballs they dull and need to be thrown away anyways.

    So why bother really.

    Just get good pinballs in bulk oiled tubes and your good to go, like marco sells.

    #31 10 months ago

    Pinball life must be out of the super shiny, not on their website.

    #32 10 months ago

    Get a cheap loupe (jeweler's magnifier). Check your balls 1-2 times a year. Scratches: chuck 'em. Haze: Overnight in the tumbler.

    Don C.

    #33 10 months ago

    Excellent answers here!!! Thanks guy's. I was already using what Ball baron has so I guess I'll stick with him.

    #34 9 months ago

    So just want to make sure I’m looking at this correctly, in terms of ninja pinballs:

    Woz- no
    Hobbit - yes
    DI - no
    Alien - no
    Star Wars - yes

    I don’t put a big amount of plays on these pins, so if 500+ plays might magnetize a pinball, I’m not as worried about that.

    #35 9 months ago
    Quoted from JoinTheCirqus:

    So just want to make sure I’m looking at this correctly, in terms of ninja pinballs:
    Woz- no
    Hobbit - yes
    DI - no
    Alien - no
    Star Wars - yes
    I don’t put a big amount of plays on these pins, so if 500+ plays might magnetize a pinball, I’m not as worried about that.

    Ninja Chrome pinballs?

    Hobbit - no
    Star Wars - no

    Basically anything with a magnet - no

    But they do have regular pinballs at a good price, cheaper than Marco but no plastic storage tube.
    I would just get their regular pinballs if you want to support them at $0.95 they are a good price for sure.

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