Pinball Machine Repair

Pinball Machine Mechanics – A Beginner’s Guide To Pinball Machine Repair

January 9, 2024

New pinball owners often need help with how hard it will be to repair their games. Many problems are easy to troubleshoot and can be fixed without special tools.

Before opening any machine, turning off the power and unplugging it is important. If not, dangerous voltage may remain in the machine after unplugging.


Many parts of a pinball machine use coils. These include the pop bumper, flipper, and EOS (end of stroke) switches. Coils also power the one-point relay, a normally closed switch that opens and de-energizes a ball release coil when a game scores a point.

The diameter of a coil wire, or gauge, affects its inductance. The higher the gauge, the more current it can carry.

Beginners can get bogged down trying to replace coils or rebuild switches before checking if a fuse is blown, a wire broke off, or a connector wasn’t plugged in. Always inspect a game before plugging in, especially after it’s moved, to ensure nothing is shaking loose and might cause a short consult an Austin pinball repair services.


Switches are a critical component of any pinball machine. They comprise 2 (rarely 4) leaf switches, which complete a circuit when pushed closed by some mechanical device. They are usually made from phosphor bronze for conductivity, resilience to form, and ease of soldering. The proper gap on these switches is extremely important to the game operation.

A good example is the ninth-position switch on a score reel in an EM game. When this switch closes, it signals the next higher-value score reel to advance. This switch controls the sequence of switching relays in a score motor, and its correct operation is crucial to scoring. The same applies to other score reel positions and relay switches in a pinball game.


Pinball machines have many different types of motors (for example, the servo motor that moves the flippers). It is essential to identify the type of motor used in your machine. This will help you order the correct replacement part from your parts supplier. Depending on the era of your machine, the motors may be easy to replace or involve some pretty sleuthing.

Turning off the power before inspecting or removing any components is essential when working on a pinball machine. Doing this can save you from destroying the circuit board of your pinball machine.


Most modern pinball games require fresh batteries to maintain their memory, retaining settings and high scores. These are located in the backbox behind the translate or flippers and must be replaced annually.

While many new owners reach for lubrication when their game seems stuck, it can cause more problems than it solves. Pinball parts are designed to run “dry,” and common household lubricants like WD-40 can gum up moving metal-to-metal parts.

The most important thing is to remember that a pinball machine contains lethal voltages and should always be unplugged when cleaning, working on, or adjusting anything. You must access the playfield four or six times a year to consult a pinball machine repair in Austin to maintain your pinball machine. To accomplish this, slide the switch at the upper right to left to open the coin entrance. This will make things right enough to remove the lock-down bar.  Always use a screwdriver designed for electrical work, with most parts insulated and only the tip exposed. This is particularly true for EM games with less protection around their transformers.


A solenoid is an electromagnetic coil that, when energized, produces an outside field of magnetic attraction similar to a bar magnet. It draws electricity into its core to shift the armature, open and close switches, or turn electrical current into mechanical motion and force.

Like other magnets, solenoids have north and south poles that attract and repel objects based on their relative strength. Iron increases the magnetic force of a solenoid and concentrates its power into its core while increasing its inductance.

After power leaves the rectifier board, it goes to the voltage regulator/solenoid driver board, where the +5 volt logic circuit is smoothed by a filter capacitor (C23). These devices wear out and can cause game problems.

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