Pinball Machine Parts

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Most arcade junkies never stop to think about the sheer number of pinball machine parts that work together to create their favorite games. But if you own an arcade yourself, or maybe just have a pinball machine in your home, you're all too familiar with the maintenance they require. An understanding of electrical circuitry, woodworking, and lock-picking are just a few abilities that can help you keep a pinball machine functioning.

While some home remedies work, especially when applied by those with mechanical skill, it's often necessary to bring aboard a professional to restore order. If you're deriving significant revenues from your pinball machines, you can ill-afford to let them languish in various states of disrepair. Having a serviceman on call is therefore a fantastic luxury, albeit one not every owner can afford.

Handling Broken Arcade Games

If you can't have someone come out for an on-site inspection at the drop of a hat, and you're unable to repair your pinball machine parts yourself, the next best option is a reputable repair company. In some cases, these companies can walk you through the steps necessary to fix your machine. In other cases they'll be able to furnish you with the appropriate pinball machine parts. If the repair is simple, all it takes is a day or two for the parts to ship. Then you're back in business.

Pinball machine parts can break for a number of reasons. The most common is simple wear and tear. Fuses blow, lamps and bulbs burn out, flippers break--these are just the realities of owning a pinball machine. Then there are cases of abuse; kids (and often adults) can grow furious at a tilt, a lost ball, or any other pinball hazard, and give the machine a swift kick, a sharp knee, or an elbow. All of these are terrific ways to break even more pinball machine parts.

The Anatomy of a Pinball Machine

To better understand what can go wrong with your pinball machine, a working knowledge of its anatomy is crucial. You may want to learn all about the construction and mechanics of arcade machines, which should give you, at the very least, an idea of what you can fix and what requires the help of a pro. Even though many pinball machines were built in the '70s and '80s, their infrastructure is still sophisticated enough to keep amateurs from cracking open backboxes and tugging at wires and circuits.

The backbox portion of the pinball machine is the "brain" that keeps everything moving. Its job is to house the game's electronic components including the ROM, or Read-Only Memory, which amounts to the game's blueprint. Some machines include up to a mile of bundled wiring that ties the playfield to the electromechanical parts in the backbox portion. This is the locus of nearly any electrical problem you might encounter.

Broken Pinball Machine Parts on the Playfield

In other situations you'll need to replace a broken bumper, ramp, target, or some other pinball machine parts on the playfield. Most of these parts are fashioned from plastic and wood and attach to the playfield with simple glue. Hence, it's easy for an overly vigorous player to dislodge one or several of these smaller parts.

The world of pinball repair can be a daunting one, especially to the technically disinclined. Perhaps you're an enthusiast who would like information on everything from coin-operated doors to joysticks, the standard controller on most arcade games. While arcade repair and pinball maintenance are two different things, they're closely related enough that an understanding of one can often apply to the other.


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