(Topic ID: 286028)

Playfield bows in the middle. How to fix?

By jorant

9 months ago


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  • 43 posts
  • 24 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 9 months ago by Onwallst
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    #1 9 months ago

    So my playfield bows right down the middle. It is a convex bow, which makes the balls on either side want to go straight to the outlane like magic. Is there a way to fix this? I currently have a 25 pound weight on a towel sitting in the middle of the game to hopefully counter it?

    At the moment to try and counter it, I have the game at an extreme pitch. Sorta helps but it is obvious the outlanes are still gobbling up every ball that goes near them. Again, looks almost like magic.

    In case you're wondering, it is a fully populated game that just came from stern this year. Any advice or am I screwed?

    #2 9 months ago

    This is my pathetic attempt to fix it.

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    #3 9 months ago

    you need to add 5 lbs ! lol just kiddin , is the game level side to side ?

    #4 9 months ago

    Did you put a straight edge on it?
    How far out is it from side to side?

    #5 9 months ago

    Game is level. It literally bows in the middle upward.

    I did put a straight edge across it. It wobbles back and forth. Not sure by how much, but the outlanes slurp the balls up. The trajectory clearly heads towards them when you test it out. Ball goes sideways at a noticable angle instead of straight down, both sides.

    #6 9 months ago
    Quoted from jorant:

    This is my pathetic attempt to fix it.
    [quoted image]

    That won’t work.
    The only real way would be to strip it
    Mist the open face (underside) lightly with water and reverse the bow under tension where you actually bow it the opposite direction for a period of time. If you could put it in a sauna under reverse tension that would be even better but trying to get wood perfectly flat is hard to do for the manufacturers or even yourself. It’s really unpredictable.
    If you ever watch the process where they try make wooden wagon wheels you can get a good appreciation of what it takes to alter the properties of wood in this way.

    #7 9 months ago
    Quoted from jorant:

    In case you're wondering, it is a fully populated game that just came from stern this year. Any advice or am I screwed?

    Contact your distributor to see if you can get a replacement playfield.

    #8 9 months ago
    Quoted from PinballManiac40:

    Contact your distributor to see if you can get a replacement playfield.

    That's a terrific idea. One small problem: I bought it from someone second hand. Build date is march 2020, but I'm not the original buyer.

    #9 9 months ago
    Quoted from jorant:

    That's a terrific idea. Ine small problem: I bought it from someone second hand. Build date is march 2020, but I'm not the original buyer.

    If you know who the original owner bought it from, ask anyway.

    #10 9 months ago

    My brand new Led Zeppelin has the same issue...its really bad. Stern will not replace it (already got shot down)

    #11 9 months ago
    Quoted from Max_Badazz:

    My brand new Led Zeppelin has the same issue...its really bad. Stern will not replace it (already got shot down)

    Wow, I can't believe they won't replace. That's bad business decision. I'd keep trying because that's an unacceptable product

    #12 9 months ago
    Quoted from Max_Badazz:

    My brand new Led Zeppelin has the same issue...its really bad. Stern will not replace it (already got shot down)

    distributor needs to make right then.

    #13 9 months ago

    It has to be a warranty issue right? Defective product

    #14 9 months ago
    Quoted from Max_Badazz:

    My brand new Led Zeppelin has the same issue...its really bad. Stern will not replace it (already got shot down)

    You went direct to Stern with the question or your distributor?

    #15 9 months ago
    Quoted from woody76:

    distributor needs to make right then.

    The distributor? How do they fit into a defective product or manufacturing problem? Not the distributor's issue and if you think that's the answer for a problem, nobody would be a distributor if they were liable for the product they sell. Has to be the manufacturer who corrects this.

    #16 9 months ago
    Quoted from Hayfarmer:

    I'd keep trying because that's an unacceptable product

    I know DeadFlip was reading a script from Stern's Marketing dept. during the V-expo tour, but there were certainly some head scratchers in there.


    I mean we had ghosting inserts, cracking cabinets, pitted balls, chipping clear, pooling, poor art printing, and now warped playfields. Perhaps some of what we saw in the tour has rectified some of those issues, but some are still very prevalent. You can't say "all 3500 parts are inspected by hand, to make sure you get the quality you expect out of a Stern pinball machine" and then have these persistent and repeating issues". Straight up Marketing fluff.

    #17 9 months ago

    Keep going up the chain of command untill you get a replacement. This seems like such a simple warranty issue, crazy that they don't want to help you

    #18 9 months ago
    Quoted from pbwizard14:

    The distributor? How do they fit into a defective product or manufacturing problem? Not the distributor's issue and if you think that's the answer for a problem, nobody would be a distributor if they were liable for the product they sell. Has to be the manufacturer who corrects this.

    damn straight. I know of at least one distributor that takes back defective games and then he deals with Stern. This is the way it should be.

    How in the hell do you not think a distributor should not be involved? You can't buy direct from Stern. I purchased a very expensive espresso machine from best buy around Christmas and it started acting crazy a week later. I took the thing back to best buy (the distributor) and let them deal with Breville.

    #19 9 months ago

    I see you got it second hand now. I wonder if the original buyer new about it? pretty crappy if he did

    #20 9 months ago

    Distributor is involved. He's really good and I trust him 100%.

    #21 9 months ago
    Quoted from Yoko2una:

    I know deadflip was reading a script from Stern's Marketing dept. during the V-expo tour, but there were certainly some head scratchers in there.

    I mean we had ghosting inserts, cracking cabinets, pitted balls, chipping clear, pooling, poor art printing, and now warped playfields. Perhaps some of what we saw in the tour has rectified some of those issues, but some are still very prevalent. You can't say "all 3500 parts are inspected by hand, to make sure you get the quality you expect out of a Stern pinball machine" and then have these persistent and repeating issues". Straight up Marketing fluff.

    I've fallen out of my love for jack. I used to adore the man, but now I see him for what he is.

    Anyhow, I dont think the man I bought it from knew. I won't say who he was, but he was super wonderful. I'm going to make an attempt to fix it by bracing it from below with steel. If i break it, I'll replace the playfield.

    And here come the downvotes. Sorry for being honest, how rude of me.

    #22 9 months ago
    Quoted from jorant:

    I did put a straight edge across it. It wobbles back and forth. Not sure by how much, but the outlanes slurp the balls up.

    If you’re hoping for some remediation assistance from Stern some objective data would help you make your case. Put the straight edge on the table. Have your assistant hold it down on the far left or right. Measure the distance from the pf to the bottom of the other end of the straight edge. Then switch sides with your assistant and measure the other end.

    An electronic level might give you the same information. In a perfect world the pf would be perfectly level L-R. As a practical exercise that’s fairly hard to measure since any deviation from horizontal puts one end of the level lower than the other so you’re measuring part of the normal downward slope.

    #23 9 months ago

    HEP is correct about steam bending wood, I've bent many a rail during wooden boat restoration. The problem is this material is plywood which may respond differently when wet heat is applied (not in a good way.)
    Dry heat must be of sufficient temperature to soften the glue but not melt anything, a difficult prospect.
    When I fastened flat ply to a bow cap it eventually formed to the curve, taking off the old 50 year old bow cap it had a permanent bend.
    So what you need is a jig, holding it in perfect position after forcing it flat. Then leaving it awhile. Could be done if you are handy.

    1 week later
    #24 9 months ago
    Quoted from jorant:

    I've fallen out of my love for jack. I used to adore the man, but now I see him for what he is.
    Anyhow, I dont think the man I bought it from knew. I won't say who he was, but he was super wonderful. I'm going to make an attempt to fix it by bracing it from below with steel. If i break it, I'll replace the playfield.
    And here come the downvotes. Sorry for being honest, how rude of me.

    Hey if it means anything, I still adore you. Stern helps me, I help Stern.
    I also help all the other manufacturers as well.

    12
    #25 9 months ago

    Side note, if there is anything I can reasonably help with (and this goes for anyone), my DMs are always open if you need a last resort.

    #26 9 months ago

    The usual warped playfield is with old wide body playfields with the opposite warp, a sag in the middle. An aluminum angle screwed the bottom of the playfield was used to flatten out the problem. Finding clear real estate under the playfield is a problem resulting in angular placement of the angle brace. Severe warps were pulled flat over a period of time.

    -1
    #27 9 months ago

    Here is this guys solution.

    5227773F-467F-4E4D-BF2F-3B79D5899186 (resized).jpeg
    #28 9 months ago
    Quoted from jorant:

    Anyhow, I dont think the man I bought it from knew. I won't say who he was, but he was super wonderful.

    He had to have known about the issue. Even a first time pinball machine owner would notice that.

    #29 9 months ago
    Quoted from bssbllr:

    Here is this guys solution.
    [quoted image]

    Its only stupid if it doesnt work...

    #30 9 months ago

    Still waiting to hear back from their quality team.... like.... wtf are we waiting on?

    #31 9 months ago

    Could humidity or lack of have anything to do with it? Plastic inserts do not shrink but wood does. Find out how humid your environment is.

    #32 9 months ago
    Quoted from Max_Badazz:My brand new Led Zeppelin has the same issue...its really bad. Stern will not replace it (already got shot down)

    wow crazy! that's what keeps me from from buying new in box, it wouldn't take a few seconds to run a straight edge over a playfield before you start populating it, I would have a hard time believing it warped that much sitting in the box.

    #33 9 months ago
    Quoted from crlush:

    wow crazy! that's what keeps me from from buying new in box, it wouldn't take a few seconds to run a straight edge over a playfield before you start populating it, I would have a hard time believing it warped that much sitting in the box.

    Also, based on this thread, definitely check when buying second hand as well.

    #34 9 months ago

    How much is it out when you put a straight edge over it?

    It may be a common problem unfortunately, overlooked by some. Here is a photo from a Metallica i had, doesn't seem like much but it was certainly enough to not get the side to side level set correctly, it would always be out at the flippers

    209 (resized).JPG226 (resized).JPG
    #35 9 months ago
    Quoted from RyanStl:

    Also, based on this thread, definitely check when buying second hand as well.

    great. something else we have to take a picture of when posting ads now.

    #36 9 months ago

    Maybe this is why when playing two games of the same title, one plays better than another.
    A pitch in favor of the player, or a pitch against the player.

    #37 9 months ago

    I wonder how many people checked their playfields with straight edges after reading this thread! I know I had to resist the urge myself...

    #38 9 months ago
    Quoted from whthrs166:

    I wonder how many people checked their playfields with straight edges after reading this thread! I know I had to resist the urge myself...

    Same. Looking for a reason besides I suck for all the outlane drains on my new Avengers pin. Must be bowed! =D

    #39 9 months ago

    It's harder to do on a crowded modern playfield, but a strip of 1/8" angle iron bolted across the underside can pull the center down dead flat.

    I can't tell you how many Genie, Stellar Wars and Playboys I've flattened that way.

    Years latter I removed the Angle Iron for service and the playfield springs right back up, so it's not ever going to go back to normal.

    You will need an Angle Grinder to notch around a few obstructions, and some creative planning to find and use existing bolt holes

    #40 9 months ago
    Quoted from whthrs166:

    I wonder how many people checked their playfields with straight edges after reading this thread! I know I had to resist the urge myself...

    I will not, but I get so many STDM shots I don't have to worry about outlanes. Sorry OP for your situation.

    #41 9 months ago

    People have laughed at me as I have seen this and really light planking many times on games. Both old and new. It depends on the environment of the game in its lifetime. I believe when stern installed it was correct. It warped after. If one has a high humidity house or really low humidity like we have in Colorado it happens. I have seen two months to two years. Storing in garage or storage space is the worst. No different than the sound board on a high end piano. Winter months are the worst. I did a high end steam humidifier trying to keep it constant all year long on my furnaces. Most humidifiers freeze if running with A/c. Many houses the humidity levels can be low single digits instead at times and in the summer the high humidity. 95 percent of time they warp low in the center. High in center usually low humidity newer in the games life. If you start putting a straight on games many will be discouraged. Just be careful on the Enviroment of the life of the game as it is a wood product. Wood burning stoves or fireplaces kill the humidity levels quickly. When you put kiln dryed wood floors in a new house the gold standard in dry climates is to put in new house and wait 6 months in that enviroment prior to install. Most skip the step as you can’t wait. I really try to only buy games from a dry climate anymore which I am. Even with a humidifier I am running it in the 34 per cent level but constant all year round. That is still low. A a/c unit removes humidity so in the summer I am flat also inside. Key is to avoid wide humidity movements. Warning don’t start measuring games or you will be disappointing.

    #42 9 months ago
    Quoted from Onwallst:

    People have laughed at me as I have seen this and really light planking many times on games. Both old and new. It depends on the environment of the game in its lifetime. I believe when stern installed it was correct. It warped after. If one has a high humidity house or really low humidity like we have in Colorado it happens. I have seen two months to two years. Storing in garage or storage space is the worst. No different than the sound board on a high end piano. Winter months are the worst. I did a high end steam humidifier trying to keep it constant all year long on my furnaces. Most humidifiers freeze if running with A/c. Many houses the humidity levels can be low single digits instead at times and in the summer the high humidity. 95 percent of time they warp low in the center. High in center usually low humidity newer in the games life. If you start putting a straight on games many will be discouraged. Just be careful on the Enviroment of the life of the game as it is a wood product. Wood burning stoves or fireplaces kill the humidity levels quickly. When you put kiln dryed wood floors in a new house the gold standard in dry climates is to put in new house and wait 6 months in that enviroment prior to install. Most skip the step as you can’t wait. I really try to only buy games from a dry climate anymore which I am. Even with a humidifier I am running it in the 34 per cent level but constant all year round. That is still low. A a/c unit removes humidity so in the summer I am flat also inside. Key is to avoid wide humidity movements. Warning don’t start measuring your games as you will be disappointed.

    #43 9 months ago
    Quoted from jorant:

    That's a terrific idea. One small problem: I bought it from someone second hand. Build date is march 2020, but I'm not the original buyer.

    I wasn’t aware they were still building Star Trek in 2020. Interesting.

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