COIN OPERATED ARCADE TECHNICAL GAME TIPS AND HOW TO'S.
Pinball Medic is in Austin, Texas. We Sell, Buy Restore and Repair Coin-Op arcade game equipment including Pinball Games, Video Arcades and
Crane and Electromechanical Gun Games
Very bad things can happen without the information offered in these technical, game operation and preservation tips.
Tech Question Submission
Tech Tip Questions 21-34 page.
35 - 38 Q and A Tech Tips page.
Find out how bad hacked repair can get on the Coin-Op Disasters page. Main Page Home Site Links - Contact Us - Pinball Machine Sales - Video Game Sales
Yellow Jacket Pinball Dolly - We BUY Arcade Games - Arcade Game Service - Service Area
Arcade Machine Parts - Playfield Ring Kits - New Circuit Boards - New Pinball Game Balls
Many more free tech tips "Play Pin" Coin Operated Arcade Game Wiki
| 1. #44 Light Bulb to #47 Light Bulb Replacement to help prevent playfield plastics warping and scoreboard ink flaking. |
Bulb Image Chart Arcade Lamp and Bulb Chart
3. Pinball Playfield Steel Game Ball Replacement Schedule
New replacement Laser brand Pinball Game Balls
5. Monitor Burn-In Image problems
7. Pinball System Board Identification and Game Name Listings Charts
9. Video Monitor Capacitor Replacement Kits. (Re-Cap kits)
11. Game batteries and battery acid damage
13. Should Spike Arrestors or Power Strips be used on a Coin Operated Arcade Game?
15. How to Determine Whether to Repair or Replace a Pinball Circuit Board
17. Coin-Op game shipping Methods and Costs
See Shipping and Yellow Jacket pinball Dolly pages.
19. What brand of AA sized battery is best for my coin-op arcade game? Is it OK to use a rechargeable battery and what is the purpose of these batteries?
More Amusement game technical info and tips
| 2. How to Brighten up old Gottlieb Displays |
4. Matching Paint Colors on Pinball Side Art
6. Wide Body Playfield Glass Replacement and some playfield glass diminsions.
8. What is the Playfield Rubber Ring Replacement schedule?
10. Pinball Circuit Board Capacitor Kit
12. Solenoid Coil Part Numbers Explained
See also Solenoid Coil Charts
14. How often should plastic and EM Pinball Parts be Greased
16. Why is my Coin-Op Game Resetting During Game Play
18. Why does solenoid, flasher bulbs and other high current draw components affect the five volt game logic power supply line causing game resets?
20. What is the difference between the terms 'Shopped', 'Refurbished' or 'Restored' when referring to a game's condition?
Did you find the information you needed?
If not, ask our Technician and get an E-mailed answer.
Pinball and Video Game Coin Operated Amusement Tech Tips
| 1. Should I replace my number 44 light bulbs for number 47 ones as a way to protect my playfield plastics? |
It's a good idea to replace your G.I. backbox (scoreboard box) and playfield lamps \ lights with the cooler running, but slightly dimmer, #47 bulb. High bulb heat tends to produce flaking on the score board glass, especially on Electromechanical (EM) pinball games and arcades.
G.I.=General Illumination (always turned on lights).
New Replacement light bulbs and other game hardware page.
Note: An old ball shooter rod rubber tip or a link of 1/4 vacuum hose can make a state of the art bulb removal tool.
The ball shooter rubber tip is an indispensable tool to remove and install deeply recessed light bulbs in backboxes and playfields. It is also included in our rubber ring kits
Note: A needle nose pliers can be used to remove a broken bulb from its socket. Make sure the power is removed from the game before attempting this method and use safty glasses when removing any bulb from a game..
See "Pinball Matters" newsletter, bulb chart or Tech Question 21 for more detailed information on bulbs and what damage a high heat producing bulb can cause.
Note: Pinball Medic will not perform a #44 socket to #555 wedge socket conversion when doing game refurbishments unless:
A) The specialized original bulb socket is corroded beyond glass bead cleaning.
B) The customer requested this procedure be done.
| NUMBER 44 TO 47 BULB REPLACEMENT |
Pinball games and other coin operated arcade equipment were manufactured and came equipped with the number 44 light bulb for general illumination on playfields and scoreboard glasses.
The number 47 light bulb produces about 40% less heat and draws less Amperage then the stock number 44 light bulb. These #47 bulb benefits will help prevent playfield plastics from warping if the game is left powered on for long periods of time. Expecially if the pinball is kept in a hot garage (not recommended).
Heat can build up inside enclosed areas under an (often hard to find a replacement) Thumper Bumper top cap and other game specific plastic parts causing them to become brittle, cracked or burnt.
Substitute white light LED bulbs can be used in Thumper Bumpers to greatly reduce the build up of heat. They don't suffer from vibration shorting their life spans and the bulb socket type will not have to be changed to use a L.E.D. bulb. Special non-spotting LEDs should be used for this purpose.
Most game collectors however would not like the narrow cone shaped band of light a G.I. LED produces under a Pop bumper cap. This really doesn't look good on an EM pinball. Neather should a LED be used for G.I. on an Electromechanical pinball.
NOTE: The #555 style bulb was only used (by pinball manufactures) inside Thumper Bumpers or Pop Bumpers in most modern (1990 and newer) pinball games. This replacement bulb type requires a new 'wedge' style light bulb socket, soldering and complete 'Pop bumper' mechanism disassembly to replace the often corroded original specialized #44 bulb socket.
Vibration caused by the activation of Pop bumpers has often caused a new #555 bulb to break its filament and go out in just a few minutes of game play when using a cheaply manufactured bulb. There are replacement bulbs that claim to be vibration hardened and their price reflects this. See our large bulb chart for more information on these bulbs.
| 2. How do I brighten up or rejuvenate old Gottlieb displays?
The display should be removed from the game before rejuvenation is done.
Note: Never remove or install a display with the game powered on.
This procedure assumes the dim displays are not caused by an improperly functioning display power supply, bad grounding, low line voltage or any other game related problem.
Caution: If you are using too high of a voltage, the wires will turn white hot and will burn out in a short time. The most important thing to remember is you only get one chance to do the display rejuvenation the right way.
You might have to repeat this procedure once a year to keep the displays bright.
NOTE: Proper voltages to use: 6 to 12 Volts DC for 6 digit displays. A 9 Volt battery will work. 6-9 Volts DC for 4 digit displays.
A battery bank works best for a direct current source. A plugged in car battery charger puts out too much voltage (14 volts for a car battery charger).
See this "Pinball Matters" newsletter for more detailed information.
Do NOT connect the battery to the display's printed circuit board connector pins. Attach the clip leads to the display tube's wires as shown in the above photo.
| GOTTLIEB SYSTEM 1 & 80 DISPLAY TUBE RESTORATION |
Rejuvenation of old, dim Gottlieb System 1 or System 80 displays is relatively easy. With the display tube facing toward you, attach the ground(-) side of a battery using an alligator clip lead to the left most pin of the display tube. The positive(+) side of the battery using another alligator clip lead to the right most pin of the Display Tube for about 7-20 seconds.
The horizontal wires inside the display tube should become dimly
See photo on left for proper alligator clip lead connection.
A few game technicians like to use Alternating Current (AC) to do the display tube refurbishment. The voltage source usually comes from a powered on pinball game's transformer or a General Illumination light socket and the voltage used is usually 6.3 volts.
The voltage potential must be checked with a volt meter to make sure it is in the proper voltage range. It is most important to remember you only get one chance to do the display rejuvenation. If done the wrong way or with too high a voltage, you will be looking for a replacement display.
The theory is: AC potentially offers better cleaning then a DC source as the AC source's polarity is reversed over and over again during the procedure. Dirt and other junk stuck to the heated wire may not come off using DC if it has an ionized bond to the wire. Reversing the voltage source's polarity can brake this bond and remove more of the contaminates on the wire. This polarity change can be simulated with the battery pack by simply reversing the polarity of the jumper wires halfway through the procedure.
The AC method can be done when a battery is not available. However, because the game (or any other source of AC) has to be plugged in and powered on, this adds another level of safety issues as both the display circuit board and the tech doing this process needs to be isolated from the power supply source or any other potential shock hazard. If not isolated, the display or power supply can become shorted or the technician can receive a shock or electrical burn from the power source or from other energized circuits nearby. Also, the playfield would need to be propped up to connect to a power source and a good flat surface provided so the displays can be rejuvenated safely.
| 3. How often should I replace the game balls in my pinball machine? |
PINBALL GAME BALL REPLACEMENT SCHEDULE
About once a year, or when the game balls get tarnished. A rusty, scratched or just dented by multi-ball collisions game ball is like rolling sandpaper to a playfield. Old or rusty playfield balls (and/or a dirty playfield and ball) will quickly remove playfield artwork ink. Even a "Diamond Plated"(tm) playfield will develop ball tracks in it over time.
At a cost of only $2.00 to $8.00 each (depending on if you want a highly polished ball), this is a cheap preventive measure and will help save a game worth thousands.
| 4. How do I match colors on my pinball side-art? |
Return to Tip Index
| TOUCH UP COLOR MATCHING |
Although we do not recommend that a novice try to do touch up. We will provide this simple, old color chart
| 5. Is there anything I can do about the game monitor burn-in image?|
Monitor Burn-In -- A faint shadow image left on the monitor screen after the power is removed from the game. Can also be seen during game play as a dark shadow image that does not move around the screen on a Cathode Ray Tube or monitor screen.
A new style of CRT less monitors called LCD displays have come on the market for Arcade games. CRT monitors are no longer being manufactured due to their high lead content in the glass picture tube/CRT.
NOTE: A monitor capacitor kit can improve the picture quality but can not do anything about a burned in image on the screen.
| VIDEO SCREEN BURN-IN |
Burn-in can not be fixed without replacing the picture tube (also called a CRT).
This picture tube or CRT can cost as much as a new monitor and requires some technical knowledge to install and adjust for chromatic alignment. A monitor replacement is the only option in most cases. Some types of monitors can't be replaced with a new one (For example, Color Vector X-Y monitors) because they are not manufactured anymore.
See our Cap. Kits Tech Tips Question or the monitor capacitor kits parts page for more information regarding monitor capacitor replacements.
C.R.T.=Cathode Ray Tube or Picture Tube (monitor's screen is part of the CRT).
| 6. I broke my wide body playfield glass! How do I get another one? |
There are approximately three sizes of wide body playfield glass depending on the game's manufacturer. You will have to measure the game as different pinball manufactures made different widths and lengths for their wide body pinball playfields.
NOTE: Tempered glass normally comes with a "TEMPERED" seal etched into the glass. Always request this seal not be put on the glass during manufacturing. The seal tends to detract from the appearance of the game and is not present on stock/original playfield glass.
Standard (non-wide body) Williams sized playfield glass is a 3/16" thick tempered glass measuring 21 inches wide x 43 inches long.
See Tech Tip 35 for other widebody playfield glass sizes by game manufacturer.
Nerdy Note: Glass is manufactured using powered silica spread over a melted hot lead bath. A lead bath has an inherently flat surface and is the easiest way to melt and make clear flat glass sheets.
Leaded glass has lead added to it during the silica melting process and does not get the lead from the lead bath. Lead is added to glass to block ultra violet rays.
| PLAYFIELD GLASS REPLACEMENT |
Most pinball parts supply houses carry standard size pinball playfield glass (some have you order two at a time). Wide body pinball games are a few inches wider and longer then a Williams standard PF glass.
Be sure to specify 3/16 inch (double thick) tempered glass with ground edges. You must order a tempered piece of glass as non tempered window pane glass will break when hit by the metal pinball. Also, tell them to not put the tempered glass etched "mark" as this distraction is not on an original playfield glass.
Ball to glass hits are a common occurrence on many modern overly powerful flipper equipped pinball games. We have all heard the "POP" cause by this ball to glass interaction.
NOTE: Tempered glass has been surfaced hardened by reheating the surface of the glass and letting it cool slowly. This step also releases the surface contraction stresses built up inside of the glass during the first cooling period making the glass harder to break.
Tempered glass can not be cut with a glass cutter and has to be manufactured to the size needed. A hard surfaced glass is also the reason edge grounding is one of the more expensive processes to order for tempered glass.
See Question 36 for glass sizes.
| 7. How can I identify the circuit boards in my pinball game? |
Game Board Identification & Game List
NEW Replacement Pinball Boards
Pinball Medic sells the following replacement boards:
Williams System 3,4,6 - System 7,9 & System 11 power supply boards
WPC89 & WPC-S Power Supply and Solenoid Driver board
Data East Pinball Power Supply boards
Alphanumeric Display Pinball Games Only power supply board
Dot Matrix Display (DMD) Pinball Games Only power supply board
Bally/Williams Type 2 Pinball Flipper board
Gottlieb System 1 & 80 Power Supply board
| PINBALL CIRCUIT BOARD GENERATIONS Return to Tip Index |
Often boards of a different system generation are substituted for the boards that came with the game. For example, Williams System 6 can be substituted for the System 4 boards as long as the ROM Jumpers are changed to the correct size of game PROM installed on the MPU board.
Changing game EPROM(s) out is a common practice in commercial arcade game rooms. At some time in the past, the game's read only memory (ROM) has lost its data, burnt board connectors, bad chip sockets or battery acid damage can cause the route person or game operator to replace the game's board set with a deferent board generation.
Used and restored games are often sold with older generation boards installed in them. As long as the game boards are in excellent condition they will not have to be replaced. Newer board generations offer more memory and are capable of using larger PROM IC's, but, for the most part, are not faster or better then the previous board generation. If your game is working and the boards are in good repair, the wrong generation board set should in most cases not give the owner of the game a problem.
Look at our Game Board Identification and Game List for more detailed information.
| 8. How often should playfield rubber rings be replaced? |
Also see Pinball Medic Amusements's Playfield Rubber Ring Kits
New replacement pinball game Circuit Boards
To Convert between Pinball Manufacturer rubber ring part numbers - see our Rubber Ring Kits page.
See 'Laser' pinball Game Balls and our Bulbs and small hardware Parts pages. These parts need to be replaced on a regular basis.
Ring Technical Note: Black playfield rings offer the ability to "hide" black solenoid dust and playfield dirt that makes white rings look dirty and can 'appear' to last longer as a result. They are also made from a harder material and provide less "bounce" then white rubber rings.
Most of the late model pinball games (1990 and newer) have black rubber rings installed on them, however, white rings will work on modern pinball games and provide more ball bounce and may protect playfield plastices from damage (See ring commandment rule 5).
Replacing white rubbers with black rubbers is possible, but not recommended, the harder black rings can break playfield plastics, posts, etc. on older games because they offer less shock absorbing properties then the white rubber rings. Keep in mind that an old EM pinball will not look and play right with black rubber rings installed and no Electromechanical pinball was ever factory equiped with black rings.
Most modern pins with black rings can be exchanged for white rings without doing any damage to the playfield or how the game plays.
Order a game specific rubber ring kit
See our Playfield Rubber Ring Kits Pinball Game Balls and Electronic Game Parts pages for new replacement pinball game consumable parts (Light bulbs, circuit board screws, capacitors and transistors, game balls)
Some pinball games used non-standard size game balls. See Tech Tip question 22 for more information on pinball game balls sizes.
Ring Size 'Rules of Thumb'Mini-posts with pointed top ends take either 27/64" (common size) or the smaller outer diameter 23/64". The rare 23/64" size is for tight spaces where the normal size is too large.
Mini-posts with a short flat top takes either a white or black Gottlieb #962 style T-rubber.
This size is very hard to find so most people put two mini-post round rings on instead.
T-rubber is considered obsolete and can be hard to find. Can substitute on or two of the 27/64 or 23/64 inch mini-post rubber in most cases.
Most single plastic playfield posts take 5/16" on most every EM game but can also be 7/16" on more modern SS pinball games. Some even take the slightly larger 3/8" rubber. Most times with single post size rings, it is possible to measure the old ring on our printable chart because there are numerous single posts with measurable rings still on their posts. All plastic single posts should use the same size ring for the entire game.
Narrow cylinder-style single playfield posts take 3/16".
Bally mushroom bumpers take 7/16".
Two normal playfield posts nearly touching will take 3/4". Post distance to ring size chart coming soon.
Flipper Ring Sizes and
Judging ring size by the distance between two playfield posts
Gottlieb and some Bally 2" flippers take one 1" stacked on top of a 1-1/4" ring. That's two rings per flipper. The 1" ring goes in the normal flipper rubber groove at the top of the plastic flipper. The 1-1/4" ring goes under the smaller diameter ring.
3" flippers by all but Gottlieb take 1/2" x 1-1/2" flipper rubbers, but can take 3/8" x 1-1/2".
3" Gottlieb flippers can take 1/2" (thick) x 1-1/2" flipper rubber, but have a better fit with the 3/8" x 1-1/2" flipper rubbers.
Ring color can affect ball bounce. For more info on ring sizes and types, see our Ring Kit page.
Ring Hacker's Note: The rumor is 'super glue' (Borden's brand only) can be used to splice two rings or two parts of the same ring together to make one large or a custom sized ring.
Pinball Medic has not tried this "method" as we have been lucky enough to have had the proper sized ring in stock.
| PINBALL PLAYFIELD RUBBER RING REPLACEMENT GUIDELINES |
Many variables are involved in determining when the rubbers should be replaced on a playfield. Certainly when the rubber rings start to look dirty and dried out. Also when the bounce they provide becomes inadequate.
While waiting too long can cause damage to plastic parts in close proximity to the rubber rings (playfield plastics,posts,GI light bulbs, etc.) replacing the rings too soon is just a waste of time and money. Using personal preference and playfield condition (How dirty or old are the playfield and rings?) are the best determinates in most cases.
Ten Playfield Ring Commandments
Pinball Medic normally follows these simple rules.
Replace all of the playfield rubber rings if some of them look to be dry, dirty or crumbly. If a rubber ring holds its shape when removed (does not go back to being round) then it is way past its expiration date.
2. Always replace every rubber ring at the same time.
Old rubber rings left on the playfield can cause new rubber to become dirty looking in just 10 games. See ring commandment number 4.
3. Rubber rings that are known to be older then 1 year need replacement.
If the old rings do not go back to being round when removed or if the game is played lightly and in home only, then nine months to a year is adequate. Commercial game play requires the rings be changed more frequently (see technical note on black rubber rings). Games that have been in storage for a long time will require a new ring kit even if they have not been played for a long time.
Pinball Medic has often replaced rubber that had the consistency of a marshmallow or as hard a a rock because of their age.
Old ball shooter rod cap rubber make great light bulb extraction tools.
4. Always clean and perhaps wax the playfield before replacing the rubber rings.
The silver ball can easily pick up dirt from both an old rubber ring or the playfield and transfer it to a new rubber ring. This is especially true with white rubber rings. (See Technical Note on the left)
5. Replace the rubber rings with the same color ring as what came off the playfield.
This rule assumes the right color rings were put on in the first place. Because of the hardness and decreased ball bounce offered by black rings, white rings should be considered for most games. The majority of pinball games including modern pinball games where designed for white rings with few exceptions.
To "hide" dirt and even signs of ring age, manufacturers started to put factory installed black rings on all their playfields instead of the white rings. This was done to "help" the servicemen with his laziness.
It is better to replace black rings with white equivalents then it is to replace white rings with black rings unless the game requires a very fast moving ball without much in the way of ball to ring interaction. With modern day games (1990 and newer), the ring color can be considered more of a game owner preference then a set absolute rule. Pinball Medic likes to use nothing but white rings because of their improved bounce over black rings.
Absolutely NO EM (Electro-Mechanical) pinball was ever made with black rubber rings installed at the factory. Use ONLY white rings on EM pinball games.
6. Replace the standard sized 1 1/16 inch metal pinball game ball(s) when installing a rubber ring kit or cleaning the playfield to insure long playfield and rubber ring life spans.
7. Rubber Ring cleaning should only be done to new rings that have been smudged by a dirty hand while applying the ring to a game. Pinball Medic uses a paper towel or all cotton cloth to get solenoid dust off of a new ring. No chemical cleaner should ever be used to clean a rubber ring because whatever is used will be transferred to the game ball and will be spread all over the playfield.
Also, if the rubber rings look dirty then see rule 1 and 3.
8. The right ring size must be used. Not all rubber ring sizes are still being made (especially the larger then 5 inch rings and the ID+1/4" sizes). Very large rings were used mostly in older EM pinballs and sometimes can be replaced by more then one smaller rings as the playfield posts are already mounted to the playfield (in order to make a large ring the right shape for the game). Be careful with substituting smaller rings for one large ring as the round shape caused by the end of a rubber ring and the start of the next ring in the series can cause the ball to bounce off at a strange angle or get stuck at the junction between rings. This can make the game much harder to play.
Using the next larger ring size can cause the ball to break a light bulb that is mounted near the ring or cause the ring to block a critical ball shoot on the playfield. Too short of a ring can cause the plastic playfield posts to break or be pulled loose from the playfield. It is normally better to use a smaller ring then a too large of a size as the ball can get stuck between the two sides of the ring or go under the ring and break plastic playfield parts and bulbs.
9. Pinball playfield and game refurbishment always requires a rubber ring kit and new pinball game balls . This isn't always done by other repair or refurbishment shops. We have found old rusty balls with only a few new rings on may "shopped out" games people have bought from on the web auction sites and our competition.
10. Cleaning old or dirty rings is possible. However, cleaning solutions are normally based on flammable solvents. These hazardous chemicals should not be used around a pinball game due to the extreme risk of damaging plastics and even the playfield. Don't be this guy and have to look for a new playfield.
Ring kits are cheap for most games (under $25). They should be installed on a regular bases to keep the game clean and provide a good ball bounce.
We do so many solenoid coil and ring replacements that we have to wear gloves when we work with the playfield rubber rings. This is a good idea if you don't want to wash your hands too often or dirty a new ring.
| 9. What does an Arcade Monitor Recap Kit do? |
Monitor Capacitor Replacement Kits
Coin Op Game Monitor Repair and
Other commonly used names for monitor cap kitsMonitor Cap Kit
Cap Kit - can also refer to circuit board cap kits (See next Q&A)
Monitor Rebuild Kit - usually this kit has more then just caps Monitor Capacitor Rebuild Kit
Horizontal & Vertical Height Rebuild Kit - These kits usually have only the horizontal and/or Vertical section capacitors only, but can also include the horizontal width coil.
Power Supply Capacitor Note: Monitor power supplies can also effect vertical & horizontal size, H or V sync and can cause wavy screens. These large high voltage capacitors used in the power supply section are NOT part of a normal monitor cap kit and have to be purchased separately. Try installing a cap kit first as the power supply capacitors rarely go bad, are expensive and hard to find.
Note: Picture quality issues can be caused by a bad flyback transformer, monitor power supplies, HV transistors, control rheostats, video output signal from the game's circuit boards, etc. Be aware that a monitor recap kit will not solve every form of video quality problem. Just the ones caused by old and failing electrolytic capacitors. Capacitor kits are usually the first repair done to an old monitor. However, sometimes they are not the last repair done to a monitor.
| MONITOR CAPACITOR REBUILD KITS |
A recap kit is the first line of defense in monitor repair, it replaces the electrolytic capacitors on the monitor's chassis. These capacitors control most of the functions of the monitor and are the most common cause of picture quality distortions such as pincushion, missing traces, wavy sides of picture, jail bars, bright or dim intensity, vertical or horizontal width and hold issues, and a host of other video monitor image quality problems.
Modern Electrolytic Capacitors are designed to last 3 to 5 years. Most video arcade game monitors are over twenty years old and have never had a new cap kit installed.
Some monitors are not made anymore, so these kits offer a good lifeline to many monitors that otherwise can't be replaced (any type of x-y vector monitor or special inverted input and built in sound amplifier monitor like those in Donkey Kong, DKjr and Popeye video games.) with a new monitor.
An added benefit is cap kits are inexpensive starting at $10.
SAFTY NOTE: You must remember to safely discharge the large power supply capacitors and the CRT BEFORE you start to work on a monitor. The stored energy in a CRT/picture tube can kill!
See our Video Arcade Monitor Repair / Replacement page for more information on our monitor repair, Coin-Op Game Parts page or Monitor ReCap Kits to order a Monitor Capacitor Kit.
Our Arcade Tech Forum named "Play Pin" will have a lot more info about monitor repair and adjustment. Including how to identify a monitor chassis.
| 10. Is there a Pinball Capacitor Kit I can buy, like there are for Video Arcade Monitors? |
Pinball Recap / Get Well Kits
Pinball Medic sells a replacement capacitor for the 11000 to 18000 uF used on many pinball and video game power supply and driver boards.
Our replacement part is in the form of a 15000 uF 35 volt radial lead capacitor that can be ordered from the Amusement Game and Pinball Parts or the Coin-Op Electronic Components pages.
Using new Replacement Circuit Boards will also solve old capacitor problems and update all the electronics. Eliminating all the original board design problems at the same time.
Gottlieb, Bally, Stern and even Williams pinball games have badly designed ground paths and board tracing to connector routing. Grounding and poor power return path problems cause sound hum, random game resets or can even shock you when playing the game.
| PINBALL CAPACITOR KITS Return to Tip Index |
Pinball Medic is gathering the information in preparation to produce Pinball Recap or "Get Well Kits". Kits will contain all the large electrolytic capacitors found in pinball games including the impossible to find replacement for the 11000 uF cap used in Williams, Bally, Gottlieb, Stern, Chicago Coin, Data East/Saga solid state pinball control systems.
Large electrolytic capacitors in pinball games are made to last ten years in a game and can leak causing circuit board damage (the batteries for the backed up memory can leak too).
These capacitors are typically more then 20 years old and are critically important components to replace while doing a pinball repair or refurbishment.
Bad capacitors on the power supply board can cause noise on sound amplifiers, erratic game play behavior, random game resets, dim displays, and shortened circuit board life spans. It is also advantageous to use a reset circuit "Get Well Kit" as this is also a common problem caused by capacitor and battery acid leaks.
See our Second Q&A Page's question number 30 for more information on circuit board grounding. Also see our New replacement boards page for more info.
| 11. What function do the batteries onboard the MPU board perform and how do I repair the battery acid damage after they leak? |
Most pinball games use non rechargeable AA size batteries. These use a basic compound alkali. Some early Gottlieb (system 1 to 80), Bally (-35) and Stern games used three volt rechargeable batteries containing an acid. A 50/50 solution of baking soda and water must be used to neutralize the acid from these rechargeable NiCd batteries.
To further reduce the possibility of battery leakage damage to the CPU board, relocate the battery holder off the circuit board and reconnected it using extended wires or replace the batteries with an onboard MEMORY CAPACITOR These capacitors never need replacement and do not leak. Soldering, removing and jumpering out of the anti-charge blocking diode is required to install a memory capacitor in most games.
A good brand of battery to use in games is Duracell (Ultra, Digital Camera, etc type of batteries). They tend to be not as prone to leaking unlike the 'Bunny' battery brand. 'Bunny' brand batteries tend to keep on leaking and leaking, all over the circuit boards. Avoid these if possible.
See Tech Question 19 for more battery info.
| BATTERY ACID DAMAGE REPAIR |
The batteries on a pinball's Micro Processor Unit board supply power to a memory chip after the game is either turned off or unplugged. This memory saves all the top scores, game audits, playfield switch operational status, etc. When the game is turned on, it reloads this information and makes the necessary adjustments to game play, keeping your top scores from resetting to factory defaults. These batteries need to be changed about once every six months or more often if the game is operated in a humid area. This is seldom done and can lead to the alkali in the batteries leaking out and causing damage to the MPU board traces, chip sockets, connectors and electronic components. Also, a Pinball Game and some Video Arcade Games should never be stored for long periods of time with these batteries installed. Leaking batteries is the most common cause of most MPU board issues.
Neutralizing the battery alkali is the most important step in repairing the damage to the MPU. Basic chemistry states "an acid can neutralize a base". A 50 to 75% mixture of white vinegar (a weak acid) to water is used on all acid damaged circuit traces, solder pads and other metal components affected by the battery acid leak.
A soft clean toothbrush can now be used to rid the board of the black or white colored oxides on the circuit board traces. However, corrosion under chips and their sockets can not be reached by this method. These components must be unsoldered, and replaced. After neutralization, the board is thoroughly rinsed with de-ionized water or distilled water (tap water carries too many dissolved impurities to use). You must avoid all of the electrolytic capacitors. They can absorb water if old and will fail in the long term (a Pinball Cap Kit can be used to replace the caps on this board). The last step is to rinse the board with 100% alcohol to evaporate the remaining water. Any other board repair can now be completed at this time.
Note: Most new replacement Pinball MPU boards don't require on board batteries. Updated new boards use modern non-voilitle memory (flash, magnetic, etc) that keeps it's data even when the power is removed from the game.
| 12. What do Pinball machine solenoid coil part numbers indicate? |
On Williams Pinball, Inc's solenoid coil part numbers, the first two letters if present indicate: "AL" has lugs on the left and middle, "AE" has lugs on left and right (both corners), "AR" has lugs on the right and middle of the coil's base.
For more coil related info, see our SOLENOID COIL CHARTS or click on the coil photo.
Gottlieb being the maverick of the U.S. pinball industry, decided to go their own way with coil part numbers. Gottlieb coil part numbers usually start with the letter 'A' and do not indicate any useful information about how the coil was constructed.
Why they did this no one seems to know. Given the fact that even a small pinball company such as Zaccaria used a predictable schemed part number that can be used to deduce an equivalent standard Williams solenoid coil part number.
The only way to estimate what the Williams/Bally coil equivalent would be on a Gottlieb pinball is to use the coil's ohmage (if the coil is good) or a chart showing what coil is used on what typical playfield mechanism. Only after having all this information can one make an educated guess as to what coil should be used.
NOTE: Use caution when installing a coil with a lower number of turns on it then the one it replaces. Stronger solenoids could damage surrounding playfield plastics and tend to burn-up much easier then a coil with more turns and larger diameter wire on it.
Also, strong coils can pull much more current through the driver transistor or activation switch causing both the coil and its driver to heat up and destroy themselves over long periods of coil activation and game play.
| PINBALL PLAYFIELD SOLENOID COIL PART NUMBER |
Solenoid coil part numbers usually indicate how the coil was constructed. The first one or two letters indicate where the coil lugs are located. This is followed by the gauge of wire used to construct the coil and by the number of turns of wire that was wrapped around the coil's plastic form. Indirectly, this info also indicates how strong the solenoid will be when it is energized. A good rule of thumb is the lower the number of turns of wire on a coil the stronger the "strength" of the solenoid will be. An "AE 23-850" coil is much stronger then a "AE 26-1200" coil.
Example: Coil Part Number AE 24-850DC made by Williams Pinball, Inc. indicates a coil with 850 turns of number 24 gauge wire. The letters "DC" on a coil tells us that this coil is made to operate on Direct Current instead of Alternating Current used in most of the Electromechanical Pinball Machines. This coil type should have a diode across its terminals and are referenced in on this Tech Tips page as a Direct Current Solenoid coil. Direct Current Solenoid coils have a hook-up wire polarity that must be observed! If the solenoid wires are connected in a reverse fashion, the solenoid fuse will blow when the coil is energized and can destroy the coil's driver and pre-driver transistors on an electronic pinball.
Just to add some complexity to all these coil part numbers, older model flipper coils contain two coils of wire on the same coil form. One for moving the flipper and one to keep it at its most upright position indefinitely without burning out the coil. Because of this, older flipper coils have two sets of wire sizes and numbers of turns. EX. AE 24-550/26-1000
Newer model solid state pinball machines use flipper coils that have only one coil wound on their cores. Their pull-in strength is indicated by the color of the coil's paper wrapper and usually have just one number on them (FL11629).
See this ISSUE of our Pinball Matters newsletter to find out more about flipper coils and the difference between serial and parallel wound flipper coils.
Most pinball manufactures use the common William's coil part number scheme and most coils can be interchanged with a dissimilar coil manufacture and similar part number. For a list of potential coil substitutes and other coil information refer to
Pinball Medic's Coil Cross Reference Charts. COIL CHARTS
| 13. Should I use a spike protector / absorber or power strip on my Arcade Game? |
Photo Shows a destroyed varistor (center of photo) inside of an EM pinball.
The fuse at the top is blown because the varistor has permanently shorted due to a large voltage spike. MOV (varistor) destruction is common and will prevent a pinball or other arcade from showing any signs of life.
The silver box the MOV is connected to (not shown in this photo) is a RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) filter for the game and must be grounded properly to function. Otherwise, a shock can be felt when touching metal game parts and static noise on sound systems can be caused by not grounding a game. Cutting off the third lug (grounding lug) on a power cord is never a good idea.
SAFTY NOTE: Always check the ground wire on games and the grounding lug on power cords to protect yourself from sixty cycle (fifty cycles for European game owners) buzzing sounds on speakers and electrical shock hazards on coin doors, lock down bars and other metal surfaces.
MOV - Metal Oxide Varistor - used in most power strips as a spike absorber. A MOV will conduct and short out when a specific voltage level is exceeded and become open when the voltage decreases below the trigger voltage of this devise. Large spikes can destroy this component resulting in a blown fuse or tripped house breaker. This condition leaves the game completely nonfunctional.
See the second Coin Operated Game Tech-Tips page's
"How do I wire/replace a Power Cord" Question & Answer.
| SPIKE PROTECTORS AND WALL PLUG SAFTY |
A typical problem with power stripes is they are built with CHEAP electrical parts.
Most power stripes have a device called a MOV installed in them. This MOV "absorbs" the Extreme High Voltage spike caused by a lightning strike or any other power utility "issue". A MOV will conduct and short out when a specific voltage level is reached (greater then the normal 120 volts that a typical Arcade game operates on) causing the main power cord to "Short" and not pass the High Voltage spike into the game's electronics. The MOV will trigger itself exactly ONE time during a large voltage spike before heating up and destroying itself.
A MOV in a power strip is insufficient to handle a true lightning strike. It leaves a great potential for the spike to get to the game's sensitive electronics and destroy them.
All Coin-Op Arcade games come with a MOV installed rendering the power strip's protection ineffectual or redundant at best. The only service a power strip provides is the ability to plug more devices into a wall outlet. It is also a convenient on/off switch for multiple Coin-Op games.
SAFTY NOTE: Overloading a power strip or wall plug can cause FIRES! Power strips usually can not carry the full 15 Amps that a wall plug can and are therefore much more likely to overheat and cause fires. Remember, a wall plug is rated at 15 amps (for a short time only!). A typical arcade game consumes between 3 and 5 amps and for some wide screen versions 6 amps and higher (electromechanical games usually draw more power then purely electronic arcades). A wall plug should have no more then three Coin-Op games plugged into it and powered on at the same time. Most homes have more then one plug supplied by the same wire circuit, so all loads on the same circuit (or house fuse) must be accounted for when calculating how many games can be safely plugged into a single wall outlet.
The only spike protection Pinball Medic can recommend is an industrial quality spike arrestor that is installed inside the circuit breaker box of the home. It usually looks and installs just like an ordinary double wide resettable fuse (plus a grounded wire).
This protection costs about $50 and is available at most electrical supply houses.
A breaker box type of spike protection has the added benefit of protecting the whole house from lighting strikes and not just one arcade game.
| 14. How often should plastic and EM pinball parts be greased? |
Both this 'trick question' and people greasing parts are "Pet Peeves" for Pinball Medic.
WD-40 is NOT a lubricant and is extremely flammable.
It also dries into a sticky mess and will jam up mechanical devices. It can also cause slide contacts on stepper units to not make contact. It also attacks plastic parts.
Historical Note: WD-40 was developed as a rocket fuel additive to reduce the amount of water in the fuel (displace the water). It's name is an abbreviation for Water Displacement formula number 40. This stuff was never designed to be used for lubrication and should never be used on a coin operated arcade game.
It was also once used to make military smoke screens and can take spots and dried gum out of carpet (when a steam vacuum is used to clean up the WD-40).
No part in an electro-mechanical or solid state pinball needs lubrication except for the use of a thin oil based liquid lubricant on the felt that is mounted on the side of motor gearboxes (Index Cam, Score and Swinging Target motors) and on pinball leg levelers. Only rarely should this be done.
| GREASEY PINBALL PARTS Return to Tip Index |
Grease, oil or graphite on plastic parts pinball does NOT provide any benefit. In fact, on plastic parts, grease WILL cause swelling, jamming and make the part prematurely brittle.
NO GREASE SHOULD EVER BE APPLIED TO ANY PART INSIDE, ON THE OUTSIDE OR UNDERNEATH A PINBALL MACHINE!
The process of generously globing gooey gummy grease on pinball mechanisms is usually done by incompetent game repair shops (and game retailers) that want to "fix" a problem so they can quickly sell the game before the problem resurfaces. For some reason, it is liberally applied to stepper units and score reels in an attempt to "insure" they zero out or reset at the start of a game.
REPAIR NOTE: Simply installing new springs and cleaning the unit would have permanently repaired these devices.
Stepper and score reel units happen to be some of the most difficult to get to and repair mechanical mechanisms on an electro-mechanical pinball and can take over an one hour each to disassemble, repair and clean.
Pinball Medic has had to redo the "other guy's" game refurbishment on countless pinball games due to game "repair/for sale" shops greasing of everything from ball kicker assemblies to solenoid coil sleeves. If the coil sleeves are greased it can cause jamming (due to sleeve swelling) and even FIRES if the solenoid jams and then over-heats.
Important information on what type of oil to use on the very few arcade game parts that need lubrication.
| 15. How to determine whether to repair or replace a pinball circuit board. |
Pinball Medic Amusements sells new reproductions of Williams,Bally,Gottlieb and Data East and Stern pinball replacement electronic circuit boards.
Pinball Medic now offers new replacement Williams System 3,4,6,7 & 9 Power Supply boards, Data East, Stern, Gottlieb System 1 and 80 Power Supply board. Two versions of the WPC MPU board and a Williams and Bally Type 2 Flipper Button board (Flipper O. C. board).
See Pinball System Boards or pinball circuit board charts and Used game parts for more information.
| REPAIR OR REPLACE? See our New Pinball Circuit Boards page for more info. |
Old obsolete electronics, board connections, battery acid damage and board design flaws will eventually render the original pinball circuit boards unusable. New replacement pinball circuit boards offer a way to remove these problems and in the case of the boards Pinball Medic sells, removes the use of batteries.
Determining what to do is usually based on cost and the game's value (emotional or market value after refurbishment). A typical board repair will cost between $45 and $95 and up on labor plus parts. This is usually about half the cost of a new board. See Pinball Board Repair
A new replacement board can cost up to twice as much as a typical board repair. However, a new replacement board should last another 20 years inside a game without any need for board repair. Unfortunately, all circuit boards will have to be replaced in the long run to keep the game playable. We will leave it to the customer to decide which way will benefit them the most.
| 16. Why does my Pinball or Arcade Game Reset (reboot) right in the middle of a game? |
Bad Power supply capacitors, corroded board connectors, missing ground plug on power cord and even low line voltage (Twilight Zones have trouble with low line voltage) can all cause this problem.
Pinball Medic sells replacement large electrolytic capacitors, reset circuit and battery damage repair kits. See question 11 or question 19 for more info on batteries and their use inside of arcade games.
NOTE: If your game resets every time both flipper buttons are pressed then you probably have old power supply capacitors, a bad bridge rectifier on the power supply board and/or a malfunctioning voltage regulator. Low line voltage can also cause this.
Twilight Zones are notorious for resetting during multi-ball modes and flipper activations.
We now offer a WPC system deluxe cap and BR2 repair/replacement kit to help solve this common problem.
Photo is one of our high temp radial lead electrolytic 15,000 micro Farad (uF) power supply filter capacitors.
NOTE: New replacement pinball system boards do not require replacement capacitors except for the cabinet capacitor used on Gottlieb pinball games. The 15k uF capacitor we sell will work to replace the 10k uF cap inside of the Gottlieb system 1 and 80 games. This new capacitor is much smaller in size. The original capacitor mounting hardware will have to be modified or replaced to use this capacitor on Gottlieb games.
| RANDOM GAME REBOOTING Return to Tip Index |
All Coin-Op Solid State (SS) Pinball machines and potentially all Video games are built with a power supply voltage monitoring circuit. This circuit, when the game is first turned on, keeps the Central Processing Unit (CPU) on the MPU board in a reset condition until the positive five volt power supply reaches a specified voltage (low supply voltages can cause the game to not boot up at all). This circuit will also reset or reboot the MPU board if the +5 volt supply drops below a specified voltage at any time the game is power on. This is an instantaneous triggered reset of the game meaning there is no time delay between the voltage dropping and the game's reset.
Large electrolytic capacitors are used on the power supply board to keep the supply voltages high enough for the game to function normally. Old capacitors act like loads on power supplies dropping their voltage (burnt or loose board connectors can create high ohmage contacts and produce the same results).
When the game is played, the playfield solenoids, motors and other large current draws can cause the five volt power supply to drop below the set threshold and cause a game reset. Usually this happens during Multi-Ball mode on pinball games because more heavy current draw mechanisms are involved.
Number of 15k uF capacitors used by system board
Five on the WPC, WPC-S pinball power supply and solenoid driver board charts These boards require circuit trace wire jumpers to be installed after the capacitors are renewed to insure proper connection.
See NOTE for Gottlieb games and new replacement pinball system boards.
Only one capacitor is needed for the following
old electronic (SS) pinball power supply boards:
Bally, Stern and Williams systems 3,4,6,7 (On the older Williams pinball systems - the large cap in the backbox is a 30k uF and shouldn't be replaced by the capacitor shown on the left.)
Gottlieb system 1 and 80 Capacitor is located on the bottom of the playfield cabinet (6800 uF) and is not mounted on the power supply board.
On Gottlieb system 80b games like Jacks Open with two orange capacitors wired together, these two can be replaced with one single 15,000 uF capacitor.
| 17. Coin Operated game shipping costs. |
Usually, shipping a heavy arcade game by truck is the 'cheapest' method.
Often the game must be padded with cardboard and/or crated, strapped to a pallet, insured for shipping damage (this has to be done) and then shipped door to door. Most companies give you a slight discount for shipping business to business or like most domestic small package delivery companies, limit the maximum weight that can be shipped to an individual.
Shipping by a truck seems to be the only way to ship a heavy arcade game. If you plan on buying or shipping two games at the same time this can save on shipping as some trucking companies charge the same amount up to 500lbs. This is why other retail shops advertise a special shipping discount price if you buy two of their games. This 'ship two games for the price of one' is a sales gimmick. They really aren't giving you a shipping discount. They are simply shipping two games that weigh less then a total of 500lbs.
We have to admit; Coin-Op game shipping is not for the meek. Due to possible game damage, long shipping cost tables, game preparation and insurance - shipping can be a very stressful and time consuming process. Two-way shipping plus repair or restoration and parts costs can also add up to more then the retail value of a game, so take this into account before shipping an arcade game.
Note: Pinball Medic can't find a local repair/restoration shop for you. This is a time consuming process and we lack the expensive labor to carry out this service.
See our Coin-Op game Shipping page for more information.
Note: Most shipping damage is caused by the middle school dropout fork lift operator with thick glasses plowing the forks though the sides of games or knocking them over. Lots of padding, strapping down the game and a wood box game coverings are highly recommended.
| GAME SHIPPING Return to Tip Index |
Pinball Medic often gets coin-op game repair or restoration requested from out of state (Texas) and even out of country locations. We thought it would be helpful to give some estimated on-way shipping costs by shipping method and company as a Tech Tip.
Shipping a heavy (250-350 lb.) arcade game can be more costly then the actual refurbishment and therefore definitely has to be carefully considered before a game refurbishment or restoration should be initiated.
Note: Most shipping companies have increased their prices due to gas prices and the increase in the number of game damage insurance claims. The following prices might not be accurate.
Arcade Game Shipping Companies:
NAVL=North American Van Lines $350-450 for door to door service.
Shipping comes with $1500 insurance.
Door to door shipping adds a great deal in fees and shipping costs (for the shipper) using this trucking company.
Rumor (as posted on R.G.P.) is this company no longer will ship a pinball machine because of all the insurance clams they have had recently (lost or damaged games). Check with them first before crating a machine to make sure this was just a rumor.
Ask for Michelle Bianchi at 800-959-8880 ext 9465. She seems to handle all of the coin-op amusement shipping and is the easiest person to get along with at NAVL. Also try 1- 630-691-9478. Her name is Nichole, she is Michelle's assistant.
Forward Air - $350+. The name implies this company ships by air - they are in fact another trucking company. They will ship door to door using a subcontracted carrier at the receiving end, but this is hard to set up. Normally, the customer must drop off or pick up the game at a terminal that might not be near by.
This company does seem to be slightly less expensive then NAVL, but, their terminal can be far away and you have to supply the game's delivery to and from their terminal.
NOTE: The above prices are just estimates and can be way off the mark depending on 'shipping zone' and other factors.
We will not try to get into the murky waters of out of country shipping logistics in this Tech Tip.
Check and then re-check the shipping prices and fees (door to door fee, local delivery, ect) BEFORE you try to ship a game. This can save you some money.
| 18. Why does solenoid, flasher bulbs and other high current draw components operating on a different supply voltage affect the five volt logic power supply line? |
See question 16 to find out why this problem can cause game resets.
Pinball Medic sells replacement capacitors for both Pinball machines and Video games.
See Electronic Components or coin-op game Parts pages to order replacement capacitors.
| POWER SUPPLY LINE LOADS and VOLTAGE VARIATION |
All voltage sources in Coin-Op arcades (non-switching power supplied games) have one component in common with each other, the game's transformer. One heavy pull-in solenoid can draw enough current to lower all the voltages sourced from this transformer.
The large power supply capacitor's main function is to smooth out the ripples in the supply's voltage. After 20 plus years, they can no longer perform this duty and have to be replaced.
Bad Power supply capacitors, corroded board connectors, missing ground plug on power cord and even low line voltage (Twilight Zones have trouble with low line voltage) can cause this problem.
Information on Low Line voltage will be covered in the future by one of our 'Play Pin' pay to view tech articles
| 19. What brand of battery is best for my coin-op arcade game and is it OK to use a rechargeable battery (Nickel Metal-Hydride or Cadmium)? |
Alkaline, Lithium and Rechargeable Battery Differences:
(AA size unless noted.)
Alkaline battery delivers 1.5 volts.
Nickel-Hydride battery delivers 1.2 volts (Rechargeable).
Cadmium 3 volt battery (Rechargeable).
Lithium button battery delivers 3 Volts
(Typical button sized Lithium battery voltage).
Charging a Lithium battery can cause it to explode!
NOTE: Most pinballs use a blocking diode to keep the batteries from charging when the game is powered on. This usually cheap quality blocking diode often shorts causing leaking batteries and acid damage to the circuit board.
Nickel Metal-Hydride, in particular, are made to deliver a high current for a short period of time (example, a digital camera's flash), while the Alkaline battery is made to deliver a lower current rate for a long period of time. This low but long battery current cycle is what the memory chip inside the arcade game needs. Alkaline batteries work the best compared to rechargeable batteries. Metal-Hydride batteries will self discharge on the shelf without being connected to a load, Alkaline batteries will not do this. Both battery types will leak over a long installation time so replace your game's batteries at least every six months.
A Blocking Diode is used between a battery pack and its load ( In this case a memory chip ) to keep the game's power supply voltage from charging the batteries when the game is powered on. It also keeps the battery from powering the MPU board when the game is powered off.
When the game is turned off, the battery voltage is used to backed-up a memory chip (Example: a 5101 memory I.C.) that holds the game's set-up information and high scores.
Note: There is always a "Blocking" diode placed near the battery holder to stop a powered on machine from charging Alkaline or Lithium button style batteries. Check or replace this diode whenever changing batteries or installing a remote battery holder.
If this diode is shorted, it will destroy (even if remote mounted) both the battery and its holder in a short time.
If this diode is open, there will not be any voltage going to the memory chip and the game usually resets to 'factory settings' or will not boot up.
Some arcades use a 3 volt Lithium button battery. If the game tries to charge a Lithium type of battery, it will not only leak, but will EXPLODE!
This is not fun for a game repairman. Also, some poor mailed in board repair shops substitute Lithium batteries for the chargeable batteries. This works for awhile, but, will take out the circuit board when the battery explodes. Good luck trying to use their repair warranty when this happens.
On Williams system 11 and WPC pinball systems, bad batteries can cause the game to display a "Factory Setting" or on DMD pinballs, "Factory Settings Restored" message when the game is powered up. This message indicates all of the game's adjustments and audits have been cleared and reset using the stored data in the game's ROM.
This error message can also signify that you have waited too long to change the game's batteries and battery acid damage to the MPU circuit board has resulted. Check the battery holder at the same time you change the batteries to detect this kind of damage and rectify any problems as soon as possible.
Historical Note: Because some video arcade game manufacturers (Capcom and Sega are the two major ones) didn't want any form of their games to be released in a different format or on another manufacture's equipment, they installed a really diabolical anti-hacking scheme. They combined the memory chip with its battery!
This memory and battery combination not only holds the game's settings, but a key to unlock the game code.
The game can now only be played on the system made by one manufacturer. When this non-replaceable battery died, so did the memory's data and the arcade! Most repairmen call this a suicide battery video game. The game commits suicide when the battery dies.
For more information on this and on what video games used these suicide batteries, do a web search on "The Dead Battery Society".
| BATTERIES IN ARCADE GAMES |
Does an arcade game require batteries?
This is a common question Pinball Medic hears from our customers and from Q&A E-mail (See question 11 for more info). Most game owners never change their game's batteries because they don't know an arcade uses batteries on its circuit boards. This one misconception causes 80% of the circuit board destruction we have to rectify while doing pinball and video game board repair.
Most arcades (video and pinball) require three AA sized batteries for memory backup. Using rechargeable AA batteries (x3) means there is a 0.9 volt deficiency when using fully charged batteries. This is just like installing half dead Alkaline batteries inside a game even when the rechargeable batteries are fully charged! They will also never charge inside of a game if the 'blocking' diode is working correctly.
A good brand of battery to use in a coin operated game is a Duracell (Ultra, Quantum, etc) or Energizer's "Industry" brand. These brands of batteries tend to not be as prone to leaking. Avoid cheap batteries and "Heavy Duty" non-Alkiline whenever possible.
Through the years, Pinball Medic has tried most commonly available brands of batteries inside all kinds of arcade games. We have come to the conclusion that Duracell batteries are the best general purpose Alkaline battery as far as battery leak prevention is concerned, if they are changed in a regularly scheduled fashion.
The photo to the left shows no battery will last forever.
All batteries will leak eventually if left inside a game for an extended period of time. This is a common occurrence when the game has been stored or in a high heat storage unit.
If the 'blocking' diode is shorted, then all non-rechargable batteries will start (in a short time) to leak no matter who manufactured the battery.
Many game boards have become unusable because of battery acid damage.
The operator or game owner needs to remember to remove the batteries before transporting or storing a game to prevent the kind of circuit board damage we see on a daily basis.
While memory capacitors are not considered a battery, they are installed in arcades and can be used to replace a battery pack and its holder. They also never leak.
The 'blocking' diode when used with a memory capacitor must be removed and shorted out with a jumper wire. A very small resistance resistor can also be used in parallel with the 'blocking' diode (47 to 100 Ohms 1 Watt) to slowly charge the memory capacitor when the game is powered on.
Old electronic Bally and Gameplan pinball games and some classic video arcades (Examples: Spy Hunter and Omega Race.) used Cadmium rechargeable batteries (usually one long white colored three volt Cadmium 3 volt battery). These and other rechargeable batteries were abandoned in late model arcade games because they use a strong acid. They will start to leak over a short period of time.
Rechargeable batteries were usually soldered directly onto the circuit board causing battery damage (soldering gun heat causing 'weak' batteries and early battery acid leakage). Rechargeables are continually charged in most of the older arcades. This can cause the battery to prematurely leak from over-charging.
If your Data East, Williams, early Stern pinball battery holder contacts look anything like these, replace the holder with a remote mounted one. Check the 'blocking diode' and for battery acid damage at the same time.
A replacement battery holder kit sometimes converts a normal three AA battery holder into a Lithium button battery holder. In this case, always replace the 'blocking' diode.
| 20. What is meant by the terms "SHOPPED", "REFURBISHED" and "RESTORED" when describing what has been done to an Arcade, Video Game or Pinball Machine? |
Short Definitions: (As defined by Pinball Medic)
REFURBISHED - All of the game's major components have been inspected, cleaned, repaired and/or replaced as necessary. The game has been brought up to playing 100%.
There are at least two levels of refurbishment and their definitions can change without notice.
Common Refurbishment Terms and Levels:
Pinball Medic repairs and cleans the game during a Cosmetic Refurbishment.
"Full Refurbishment" - Used to possibly indicated that every mechanism was taken apart, cleaned, adjusted and all warn out parts were replaced. The game is now 100% operational. This level of refurbishment is very close to a restoration without any cabinet wood work or side / playfield artwork restoration.
Pinball Medic goes through every mechanism during a full refurbishment.
RESTORED - Restoration usually occurs after a game refurbishment and corrects cosmetic and major details like artwork, cabinet condition, leg replacement or other large or one of a kind detail that maybe damaged, faded or missing. Restoration does not necessarily mean the game is in "mint" condition as some game specific parts can't be made or repaired. It just means the game had some major reconstruction work done on it.
For more information on how Pinball Medic does a game refurbishment or restoration:
Pinball game Refurbishment and Restoration Processes
Coin-Op Video game Refurbishment and Restoration Processes
NOTE: A Coin-Op Disasters page is now available. We will be attempting to show everyone just how bad things can get using poor repair procedures or having the game ruined by completely incompetent repair shops. Hopefully, some strange stories and fascinating photos will cause some laughter and keep anyone else from doing the same thing.
We have a photo of what's left of a board after ANOTHER local coin-op repair shop used a 100 watt soldering iron. It burnt a huge hole completely through the circuit board. They then told us that all of the boards in the game were completely refurbished and resellable! The board did function, oddly enough. This board will appear on this site as a warning to everyone. Not all repair shops are good or even competent.
Pinball Medic would never even consider selling a game board in this condition. The circuit board had a big enough hole that we could poke a few fingers through it. Capacitors and resistors were used to bridge the gap made by the hole! This was obviously a bad hack repair job.
Our fees and labor rates for refurbishment are on our Coin Operated Arcade Service page. Descriptions of our game refurbishment processes are on these pages:
| Definition of "SHOPPED", "REFURBISHED" and "RESTORED" |
If you want to start a really long thread on any arcade game news group or forum, ask for the definition of these three terms. Everyone has different opinion.
Note: You could also ask question number one on this Tech Tips page and get the same large number of results.
If a game seller says; "This game has been totally shopped out."
The terms 'SHOPPED' or 'SHOPPED OUT' are only being used as a game sells gimic or as a vague advertisement term. There isn't a Coin-Op industry standard definition of the term 'shopped' when referring to a game's condition. This term can not be used to infer how or if any refurbishment or repair was done.
A game that has been 'Shopped' could mean anything from - the playfield has been wiped down with a nasty, greasy and dirty rag (if that much) to the game is totally refurbished (only in vary rare cases).
If Pinball Medic ever were to use the term "shopped", we actually meant to say;
"This game has been refurbished the right way".
NOTE: Many an on-line or auction game buyer has experienced the fraud caused by the ambiguous term 'shopped', so buyer beware.
We will use our own definitions for the next three terms.
These definitions apply to Video, Arcade Games and Pinball Machines.
COSMETIC REFURBISHMENT - The playfield, score reels, relay board and coin door have been taken apart and cleaned, repaired and any obviously bad part replaced. This includes a new game ball and rubber ring kit installation. This level of refurbishment doesn't include every mechanical unit in the game or parts that are currently working but may need to be overhauled in the future. Only a full refurbishment would cover these parts. A cosmetic refurbishment gets the game working again and cost less then a full refurbishment. It usually takes between 8-14 hours of labor to do a cosmetic refurbishment with a good amount of the time spent disassembling/assembling the playfield for cleaning and consumable parts renewal.
Note: There isn't an industry standard for "Cosmetic" or "Shopped". These two terms don't have a level of "completeness". They can vary with most shops or sales people.
Also, game specific parts can't always be found for every game and the level of refurbishment has to be lowered. In this rare case, we try our best to make sure the game is 100% operational before we finish the refurbishment. We are not sure that all other shops would even try to finish the refurbishment in these cases. Some shops don't even replace the rusty game ball and call the game totally shopped out.
FULL REFURBISHMENT - Every part and mechanism of the game has been inspected, disassembled and cleaned, repaired and/or replaced as needed to bring the game up to the closest to 'like new' playability that can occur given the age of the game. No warn out or defective game parts remain inside of the game. This procedure does include all the game's consumable parts like rubber rings and light bulbs. This level of refurbishment may add another 10 or more hours of labor after the cosmetic refurbishment. The game should work for years after a full refurbishment has been done.
A full refurbishment would not mean every defect such as a faded cabinet artwork or slight flaking of the scoreboard glass was repaired or replaced, that would be part of a full game restoration. Any remaining issue after refurbishment would be stated on the game's 'For Sale' web page if we were selling the game to the general public or game collector.
RESTORATION - After a game has been refurbished, the game's owner or Pinball Medic might consider doing more to the game to essentially 'take the game back in time to a point that it looks and plays like it just came off the assembly line' (or at least as close to this condition as possible).
Cosmetic defects (side-art, coin door, game legs, marquees, game controls and control panels, playfield plastics, cabinet/playfield wear spots and cabinet color and wood damage) are touched up, repaired or replaced during a game restoration only.
Note: A 'like new' game condition can't be achieved for all coin operated games as some side-art and other game specific parts are no longer manufactured new and extensive playfield wear or dry cracking/water damaged wood can't be restored.
There are some new replica playfield plastics and playfields showing up on secondary part markets. They are usually clear coated and usually made only for the most classic solid state pinball machines.