(Topic ID: 285326)

What useful skills have you learned from your Pinball hobby

By Black_Knight

2 years ago

Topic Heartbeat

Topic Stats

  • 38 posts
  • 36 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by EJS
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders


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    #1 2 years ago

    My parents had a couple of rental properties, so I was always the handyman's helper growing up. I learned basic electrical work, plumbing and sweating pipes, carpentry, tile work etc. So I've always been pretty handy around my own house. But I never would have fixed this one without pinball repair experience!

    We had a pretty expensive commercial style range go out this weekend (about the cost of a premium machine). No display, no oven controls. I researched the issue online and everyone ended up replacing the expensive computer controls, anywhere from $300-800+ depending on the issue. So I bit the bullet and called a repairman, as I wanted confirmation before ordering expensive parts.

    Well I had 2 separate techs poke around for a bit and then say they didn't know what was wrong and would have to tear it apart to figure it out, requiring several hours of diagnosis before (probably) having to track down a computer that is NLA anyway. So I sent them away to decide what to do, neither of them asked for payment thank goodness.

    So while I was stewing over it I started searching online for more info, fixes, part manuals, and lo and behold I ran across a Wiring Schematic. Hey, I know how to read those! Look, there are actually 2 thermal fuses that control the power (I had only tested the oven fuse in the back).

    Grabbed my DMM and got the front panel off in 5 minutes. It tested bad. I jumpered it and everything came to life. So a $50 part and 30 minutes of my time, I'm back up and running. But I never would have figured it out without reading those schematics.

    Now if I was a true Pinball nerd, I would have just left the jumpers on and let the next owner post it in a worst hack thread on some appliance blog.

    I fix pinball machines
    I fixed my expensive oven because I had to learn to read wiring schematics
    I wanted to brag about it

    What new things have you been able to do because of pinball?

    #2 2 years ago

    I used my Stair Climber to lug out my old furnace from the basement and I don't have to use those stupid flimsy tools to put together Ikea furniture anymore.

    Note to self: learn how to read schematics.

    #3 2 years ago

    I've gone from a desk-jockey to a guy who can "fix anything" around the house -- thanks to all the practice fixing pinball machines. Gotta love pinball.


    #4 2 years ago

    i learned how to burn money

    #5 2 years ago

    learned you must continue to buy more pins or you’re collection will become boring.

    #6 2 years ago

    I can solder like a mother fucker

    #7 2 years ago

    Well... things happened the other way in reverse for me. I started out in this world as a young adult as a mechanic. Went to a big shot mechanic school and (long story short here) ended up playing around with Porsche, Audi and BMW for a few years til I started wondering how the little black boxes that controlled everything worked. Went back to college at night for awhile then went full time. Got Electronics and Electromechanical Degrees and jumped into Automated Train Systems. That's when I bought my first machine. Now how I ended up in the Excavation and Mountain Residential Site development, well, that's a story for another time. But I will tell ya, I did not learn that from a pinball machine!

    #8 2 years ago

    Learned how to make a rotisserie, which I can also use for furniture restoration and other things.
    Used my first airbrush to re-paint a play field and now paint other things.
    Learned enough to get a good soldering system now I solder everything instead of wire nuts, black tape) on tractors, cars.

    #9 2 years ago

    My usage of foul language has drastically improved due quick drains on plunge, missing a multiple ball on last ball, or dropping those long lost screws in washers inside a machine and searching for it for 20 min.

    #10 2 years ago

    My electrical skills have improved

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    #11 2 years ago

    I learned that by restoring a $500 machine, I can add about $4000 worth of parts to it and make it a $1500 machine!

    #13 2 years ago

    I learned how to cuss quieter if everyone is asleep.

    Quoted from Black_Knight:

    I fix pinball machines

    I may eventually need to hire you! Thankfully everything is ok at the moment.

    #14 2 years ago

    My mother in law asked me to replace her iPhone battery given my pinball repair experience.

    Swapped that battery out like a Boss and topped off my son in law meter in the process!

    Thanks Pinball!!!

    #15 2 years ago


    I can now throw things farther than I used to. Especially tools.

    LTG : )

    #16 2 years ago

    Patience both during restorations and finding pins.

    #17 2 years ago

    I used my Novus and Carnauba on my kids sleds and sent them zipping down the hill like in National Lampoon.

    I cleaned the shower last week, but the faucet handle wouldn’t clean up. Grabbed my Mother’s Mag Polish and shined it right up.

    #18 2 years ago

    My wood working skills have improved since I have been restoring my cabinets.

    My electronics skills have improved, but electronics are my weakest skillset. I am slowly, ever so slowly, learning to read schematics from some of the help I have had on pinside. When you have to fix things yourself, you learn how to do so.

    My soldier skills have improved.

    As far as language, I used to work on cars. There has been no change with the language other than sometimes it is worse, like when I cut the wrong wire

    And my flipper skills have improved greatly. I judge that from my times of stopping at Cactus Jack's in Oklahoma City. When I first started stopping and playing for the first time in years, I would go through my allotted roll of quarters in a quick hurry. Now, I sometimes walk out with some of the roll still in my pocket.

    #19 2 years ago

    I've installed a 2.0 light kit on my WOZ and felt like a major achiever ! I still brag about it

    #20 2 years ago
    Quoted from mof:

    I've gone from a desk-jockey to a guy who can "fix anything" around the house -- thanks to all the practice fixing pinball machines. Gotta love pinball.

    Me too! Before pinball was in my life, I never tried to fix anything around the house. Now I do most of it. Fixing pinball machines gave me the skills and confidence to attempt pretty much everything else. Turns out, it's usually pretty simple.

    #21 2 years ago

    For me it has kinda worked the other way around. My ex always called me a cross between Fred Sanford and MacGyver. I learned from my dad how to fix pretty much anything. He was the guy everyone in the hood came to when something broke. He almost always made us kids figure out how to fix or make whatever we broke or wanted.

    Pinball has helped me understand EM schematics better and use them better for troubleshooting... But I'm still a poke, a pinch and a prayer kinda guy...

    #22 2 years ago

    Things seem hard until you just start doing them.

    #23 2 years ago

    I really find pinball to be the best hobby. Off the top of my head when i restore i get to do:
    -Painting and artistic work
    -wood working
    -metal work (flattening dents, polishing, etc.)
    -Electronics (board work, soldering to replace several other pieces)
    -minor plastic work

    Outside of what I do theres game design and other skills done from the creation point (factory)

    All of these skills can be hobbies in their own right but pinball requires it all.


    #24 2 years ago

    Take photos before touching it.

    #25 2 years ago

    What I learned from pinball repairs

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    #26 2 years ago

    I've gathered a number of technical and tool-related skills as a result of working on pins. However, one less obvious non-technical item is regional geography. Before getting into pinball, I didn't really drive around too much outside the immediate area. But once I got into pinball, I drove pretty much all over the place within the region picking up games and going to shows. So, I became much more familiar with where things were and how to get there.

    #27 2 years ago

    Stoves, washing machines, pinballs etc - Always check the fuse first. Then loose cables.
    The answer is probably on YouTube. For pins, the answer is probably on Pinside or Wiki. But also YouTube.
    Pinsiders are a resourceful and skilled bunch. But also a sassy bunch as well (as many of the answers here will attest ).

    #28 2 years ago

    Recently, I rebuilt a wire harness on my truck that pack rats chewed threw threw using stuff from my pinball parts room.
    Also have replaced capacitors on various electronic items.

    #29 2 years ago

    I learned a lot about excavation and concrete work making a space for the games!

    #30 2 years ago

    Ive learned I never, ever wish to do retail sales as a Profession.

    #31 2 years ago

    I was always into computers but knew nothing really of electronic components. We had an EM pinball machine growing up so I liked pinball. In the last half of 2000s my interest in pinball picked up. I start buying broken games that where a good deal, but they all had bad circuit boards in them. I had a bad job and limited money to buy replacement circuit boards. Determined to play I figured out how to repair the circuit boards. Eventually I got very handy at fixing bally and WMS board sets.

    A few years later still had that crap job and got hard up for money. I realized I could fix boards for people and buy cheap junk boards, fix them and resell for profit. Then I wanted to use NVRAM but did not want to pay $40 or whatever they where. Got into doing PCB creation for NVRAM. Eventually started to not enjoy repairing originals (why are they all hacked on and battery leaked, not fun). So I then started to remake entire new circuit boards. I can sit on the computer in the CAD software and have 12 hours go by easy. I really enjoy it.

    Without pinball would not likely have gone down the path I am with electronics.

    #32 2 years ago

    How to sneak a new game into the game room without the wife noticing.

    #33 2 years ago

    How to document taking something apart and having pictures to put it back together.

    #34 2 years ago

    Oddly enough... my skills at detailing my car have vastly improved through cleaning pinballs. The details are the details and can’t be overlooked. How ocd can you be???

    #35 2 years ago

    Ive learned over the years how to become self sufficient to overcome the inherent mechanical nature of this hobby. To often I see people get into this hobby Assuming because they paid a lot that it should always be maintenance free and perfect. Not this hobby. Learn, read, research, and Listen and in time you will have a self appreciation for keeping these wonderful machines working. This learning investment Really pays off the more you collect. And what you pay for them based on your personal comfort level. Want pretty, you pay pretty prices!

    #36 2 years ago
    Quoted from Yelobird:

    This learning investment Really pays off the more you collect.

    And makes you appreciate and enjoy your games more.

    LTG : )

    #37 2 years ago

    I used to fix pinballs for a hobby, then I fixed them for a living. Now I fix other things for a living and back to fixing pinballs as a hobby.


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