Coin Operated arcade game repair mistakes, hacked shop-outs and operation horror stories and explantation
Pinball Medic's
 Coin-Op Catastrophe Collection
 We'll try and end the madness, hopefully amuse some and perhaps stop or prevent further destruction of any classic coin operated amusement game.

 We're doing more with this collection of bad repair and even worst coin operated game restoration photographs and stories then just relieving/revealing some of our frustrations. We intend to show the world just how out of control things can get with inexperienced game collectors / restorers, route people and even hack game restoration shops.  This page will be built by Pinball Medic, world wide coin-op collectors, hobbyist communities and coin operated game route people.

 These really oddball coin operated arcade horror stories will include photographs of hacked, poorly installed or repaired and even destroyed arcades and games parts.
 If you have a picture or even just a story about a really unique repair or game restoration technique, please send us a CONTACT page or send all the details to our E-mail address.
  Don't forget to include any photos with your tell. We will add them to this page as soon as we can and give credit for the information (assuming you want credit).

  We will feature in the 'What's Weak this Week' section pictures of what we see inside of games during our daily arcade game repair and restorations with related stories.
 Also, if we see a particularly bad tell on a coin-op forum, We'll post all the horrible details in this section.

  'The Lame List' will record events and works that are very wrong and should be corrected in the fields of coin-op servicing, aftermarket manufactured parts or just tech questions that take way too long to answer.

  Other sections and information will be added about specific parts and games as the need arises. Including some amusing background stories, what was hopefully learned by the mistake or hack repair and even what we think about all the mind numbing coin-op disasters we hear about or see first hand.

Horse Piss beer award The "HPB award for unbounded incompetence in workmanship, coin-op repair or game restoration" will be awarded to the year's finest of quack repair/refurbishment. The award will include labeling the dirty deed with this real Kentucky Horse Piss beer's image.

 All poster's personal contact info is kept completely confidential. We will only post the first or last name and/or the state/country were the submission originated (when given permission).

  Note:(except for PM's)
Postings and stories about auction companies can't legally be posted here and therefore can't be accepted. The number of stories would be too numerous anyway.

 PBM does collect horror stories about other businesses related to Coin-Op. We use this information when recommending other business, but will not post this information on this page.

 Abbreviations - PBM or PM = A Pinball Medic submission.    Coin-Op=Coin Operated. BG=Backbox Glass/Score Board.
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On This Page
    Main Sections
- Coin-Op Catastrophe
- What's Weak this Week
- The Lame List
- Hack Archive
- W W W W W

  Custom Creative Crap
- JIVE TIME Flipper Crime
- Allen Key Alternative
  Second HPB award
- Powerful Pinball Powder
- Stuck with Stickers
- Screwed Too Long
- Foil For Fuse
- Route Wrongs
- Fraudulent Flipper Fixing
- PIN-BOTched
- Protective Dirt
- Power Pushbutton Problem
- Optional Bong Attachment
  First HPB award
- What is Wrong with this Score Reel
- Matching the Ridiculously Absurd
- Original or Extra Crispy Pinball
- Classic Mind Beguilers
Enjoy The Coin-Op Chaos
Glued on Transistor!  GLUED!!!!
 Yes, this photo shows what you think it does. An incompetent repair shop owner has glued a transistor to a circuit board!    (This was not Pinball Medic's work.)
  The transistor is soldered in and does work this way. However, this is construction glue used to hold up a non original and not needed heat sink and a transistor.
  The driver resistor for this transistor and the coil diode can't be replaced (at least not without doing damage to the circuit board). This unique "repair" would probably start flaming if this transistor ever gets too hot!

  We can't name him, but this looks like the work of a local repairman/shop we know.
  Customers really need to look inside of their arcades when ever someone works on the game. Even people who don't know anything about electronics could till this is a hacked repair job (at least it made us laugh).
   Submitted by PBM - Austin, Texas.
  A plumber, while replacing a water heater ventilation duct, misstep and fell through the ceiling in this freakish accident. Thankfully, he only fell on the replaceable standard sized playfield glass on this wood rail flipperless pinball. There would have been no way to find a good scoreboard glass for this rare 'Bally Reserve' pinball game.  No one was hurt in this accident. Only the playfield glass will "Rest In Pieces".
Plumber falls through celling What a mess this caused all over the game owner's antiques, including a mechanical 5 cent slot machine on the right.

 PM - We're kind of hoping the diameter of the ceiling hole does not match the plumber's.
 (Insert your own plumber's crack or hole jokes here.)
Bally Reserve pinball with broken playfield glass Luckily, it was just the playfield glass and not the scoreboard glass.

  Photos and story where submitted by an Austin, Texas customer.
Bally Reserve broken glass Close up view of the damage.

EM Bowler fire cause by contact cleanercontact cleaner in flames   FUN WITH FLAMES - Note: He is not one of our employees.
  The left side photo shows a repairman holding a can of contact cleaner. He used it to clean the bowling pin contacts on an EM bowler.
 An electrical spark from a contact switch caused the plastic bowling pins to catch on fire while the game was being tested. Luckily the bowling alley wood was not damaged and the plastic bowling pins can be replaced.
  The other photo shows contact cleaner in flames. WD-40 and contact cleaner are both very flammable and should never be used in or kept inside a game repair shop.
  There is also a tell of someone spraying down the whole relay board inside of a good condition, but not functioning, electromechanical pinball game to the point were all of the relay contacts were dripping with WD-40 (scoreboard parts are also often hosed down with contact cleaner or WD-40).
 The game was later brought to a refurbishment shop and could not be repaired. It was simply too hard to clean off all of the WD-40.  After all, you can't use contact cleaner to clean up after WD-40 has been applied. Contact cleaner also has the added ability of eating up plastic parts like score reels, relay parts and playfield plastics. So does Goof-Off.

   A short history lesson.
  WD-40 stands for Water Displacement formula number 40. It was developed as a rocket fuel addictive. Its function was to remove (displace) water from the liquid rocket fuel. It is not a lubricant or even a cleaning solution.

  People can't help but use WD-40 or contact cleaner to wash down a stepper unit or relay contact switch. Both contact cleaner and especially WD 40 will leave a dielectric film on contacts that may be impossible to clean off. Eventually, these two hazardous chemicals will cause relay and slide contacts to stop making contact when they are closed.

 All PM likes about WD-40 is its smell. We don't use it or recommend it for any purpose other then rocket fuel testing.
 The above photos were not taken by us. They are classic photos.
 Submitted by PBM - Austin, Texas

transformer poo   YUCK!
  What, were you raised in a barn?  This pinball game was.

  A pinball was delivered to our shop with a live mouse inside!  We could not keep her still enough to take a photo. We took the backbox cover door off and she was peering out at us through the wire whole at the bottom of the bolted on backbox. Her name is now Pinney (because 'pin' is short for pinball).
  Sadly, the mouse is no longer with us, however, she was thoughtful enough to leave a game completely covered in her poop as shown.   We will now be telling our customers to not bother bring in a game in this condition.

 Side Note: We have also bought an EM gun game with a live snake inside. It seemed to like curling around the score reels. It was a harmless garden snake, so it was set free in the back yard and no, we didn't feed Pinney to the snake.

  If your curios, get the scoop on all the poop photos:  Poo Photo1    Poo Photo2    Poo_Photo3
  Welcome to the glamorous world of coin-op game repair.
 We bet these high def pictures will end up scraped on 'G' for everyone to enjoy.
 Submitted by PBM - Austin, Texas  -  Unfortunately, this game was refurbished. However, we will never try to get a game this dirty working and clean again.

PBM Bad game wiring  Fry by Wire!
 The wire at the bottom of this photo shows a very thin  #18 gauge wire used to connect two  large #14 gauge wires used on the high current General Illumination circuit on an Eight Ball Deluxe Limited Edition pinball game. The bridging wire is way too small to carry the current load of the G. I. circuit and got so hot you could not touch the wire when the game was turned on. Even worse, the small jumper wire was merely wrapped around the two wires near the transformer and was not wire nutted, soldered in or even taped. Whomever did this put a loose splice (wire nut) in the middle of the way too long jumper wire that ended up hanging right above the fuses to other game circuits (jumper moved to take photo).

  This situation could have either caused a fire in the computer server room where this machine was located or at the very least shorted out the transformer or even the game boards.

  We are surely going to find more of this unique wiring method inside of this game and others we field service.   Submitted by PBM - Austin, Texas

HP beer bottle awardallen key connector jumper wireallen key connector hack The Allen Key Alternative
 Unbelievable! This connector hack was found on a Monday Night Football pinball transformer's main connector.

  By all means, don't simply repair a connector with 5 cents worth of new parts. Just stick something into it and jumper around the connector with a dollar's worth of what ever junk is on the arcade's floor.

 HPB award hack of the year! (12/2012). Due to the utter lack of knowhow or concern for electrical safety.

   PM - This connector hack just blew our minds. It's a Fire, Shock Hazard (if the Allen comes loose and connects to the game's ground wire or you touch the key when the game is powered on) and it's not a pretty hack job either. It's going to vibrate loose during game play.

using too long of a screw  SCREWED TOO LONG
  We are always finding the wrong part installed in a game. In this case, the use of too long of a screw. This sling shot should have had a rivet mounted plastic lever arm used to activate the scoring switch. The three inch long screw used (instead of a plastic lever arm) will move with each solenoid activation and can cause damage to other near-by parts and wires. However, this is not the main issue with this hack. The conductive metal screw can short between the solenoid and switch matrix power supplies and drive circuits. This situation will cause major damage to both circuits.   Submitted by PM

Foil for Fuse  FOIL FOR FUSE
  This is way too common a find when doing field service. The game's owner took a chance that nothing other then an old weak fuse was the problem. Covering a fuse with aluminum foil defeats the fuse's purpose. This can cause fires, burnt coils, transformer and relay coil failure (because this was an EM pinball).

  Submitted by PM

wrong coil stop screws
Flagrantly Flippant Flipper Fixing Failures
We intend to start a section on nothing but fraudulent flipper fixing.
 Our first game for this section is this Captain Fantastic, Why is it so hard for people and repair shops to refurbish a flipper correctly?

  In this case, the wrong type and length of screws were used to mount the flipper coil stop. Both screws are going through both the flipper's base and the playfield wood. Luckily, these wood screws were hidden by the playfield apron and didn't do any visible topside damage. The flipper did produce a playfield flipper scrape.
  The flipper unit was completely destroyed. The coil was allowed by the bad coil stop and its mounting method to flop all over the place. Allowing the flipper linkage to mal-align, causing both the flipper bushing and the coil sleeve to wear out quickly. We could not save even the flipper coil as the solenoid core had eaten past the coil sleeve and into the coil wires. We also hope this idiot game repairer learns how to solder.
  The lesson here is if you don't know what you are doing, you shouldn't try the repair.
 Submitted by PM - Austin, Texas before we replaced the flipper unit.

flipper pawl swap A "JIVE TIME" FLIPPER CRIME.

  In the game buyer's own words
  "I bought a Jive Time from a very nice woman who I shall call Mrs. Tink. She said it had some problems her husband couldn't figure out, and she told me he was a, 'tinkerer'. That should have been a warning. However, the backglass and playfield were in pretty good shape and she only wanted $50, so I bought it."

  One problem: The flipper coils were overheating. If you look at the picture, you can tell Mr. Tink was struggling with this problem, because pretty much every wire to each flipper coil and EOS switch had been cut and resoldered. I moved the flippers by hand, and the flipper pawl flange that opens the EOS switch was not even in the right neighborhood. In fact, it was smashing into the stop bracket.
  After looking at this for a few seconds, I realized the pawls were swapped from the left side to the right and vise versa! Poor Mr. Tink must have taken both flippers (and pawls) off at the same time. When he put things back together again, he got the pawls on the wrong side flipper unit. They look the same, but there is a left pawl and a right pawl. The swapped parts are going to make three things happen:
  (1) The pawl is going to smash in to the stop bracket (This eventually busted the bracket off the playfield, a problem Mr. Tink fixed by adding more screws).
  (2) The stress of smashing into the stop is going to break the flipper bushing. You can see this on the left side of the picture.
  (3) The EOS switch is not going to open, and the flipper coils are going to roast.

  I wonder how many hours this guy spent trying to fix a problem he created when he put the wrong pawls on each flipper unit?
  Submitted by Gary in Minnesota.
PM slightly edited this submission and cropped/combined the supplied photos to speed the loading of this page. Also, some people call the part that was swapped a "flipper pawl". Other part sources sometimes call the part a "flipper crank". Also, Gary called the problem a "reversing" of the pawls when technically they were "swapped" from left to right and from right to left. It is possible to reverse a pawl by simply installing it upside down on to the flipper bat shaft. We realize that the change from 'reversed' to 'swapped' is simply minor semantics and greatly appreciate Gary for taking the time to submit this tinkerer tell.

   PM's comments: We wonder how much the game would have sold for if the owner (Mr. Tink) hadn't tried to repair it. This hack was good for Gary as he seems to have bought a great game for a cheap price. However, destroying game parts and wiring due to the inexperience of Tink (we keep thinking about Tinker Bell for some reason.) is not so good.
  Remember there are just two parts of a typical flipper mechanism that can only fit on a left side or right side flipper unit. These are the flipper pawl and the flipper mount or flipper body bracket There are some flipper bats with words embed in them that will only fit a left or right flipper unit.
  We are thankful that Gary submitted his experiences and was able to do the repair himself. He probably saved a pinball game!
  PM has ordered in the past some flipper rebuild kits that came erroneously with two left or two right flipper cranks. This still would not explain the swapped pawls as it should have been obvious that these flipper parts were not installed correctly. They would have never operated the E.O.S. switch and burnt out the flipper coils in a short period of time.

screwed on flipper unit   Here is a quote from a real route person.
  "I worked for a route op from August '79 to June '85. Pinball was big for a good portion of that time. When a service tech had a call, the rule was to get the game up and running bringing in quarters. We all carried drywall screws, nuts & bolts, drills and taps etc. We would bypass burnt connectors soldering jumpers to the rectifier board test points splicing into the wiring near the burnt connectors. Heck, Bernie Powers of Bally Field Service mentioned how a jumper to a test point or ground will keep a game earning if you did not have connectors and terminal pins with you. Remember, these machines were designed and developed to make money for operators. Tournament play, home collectors and long term durability for a home collector were not high on the priority list.
 We had separate (coin) collectors. They did not perform repairs other than clearing coin jams. Bypassed burnt connectors were not considered for follow-up repairs."

 Note: Keep in mind, (good or bad) route operators were trained to "think" hack repairs are OK! Hack repairs were justified to keep the game earning money. Keeping a game somewhat playable was their ONLY consideration.
 PM - Ultimately, the lack of good quality repair and upkeep was part of the collapse of the pinball industry. This is one reason you only see one, two or no pinball machines in an arcade. Some pinball machines had only one flipper working and the playfield had not been cleaned and re-rubbered in years. People would stop playing nonfunctional or very dirty pinball games. Without quarters being dropped into a pinball, there was no incentive to buy new machines. This is one reason Williams stopped manufacturing new pinball machines because orders stopped coming in. Now most people can only enjoy a pinball if it is in someone's collection.

'What's Weak this Week'

We received an E-mail and both laughed and cried at the game owner's situation. The E-mail read:
 Silver ball mania (Siverball Mania pinball), Service Requested = Field Service Call, Game Symptoms = "Glass broken in machine by wife - tried to destroy it - need cleaned out and gone through - looking for price - divorce attorney need numbers ".
Protective Dirt
 PM - The first thing the wife went for was his metal balls! Ouch!
 For obvious reasons, Pinball Medic will not provide a damage repair cost estimate for either insurance or wife caused game damage. We did provide links to game prices and some basic game and part supplier information. We suspect it was the playfield glass and not the scoreboard glass.

 "Protective Dirt" - This dirty playfield image is an example of why to leave the playfield glass on a game when stored. It shows what PM has termed "Protective Dirt" (c)

  Protective Dirt
is defined by Pinball Medic as any dry dirt layer(s) that protects the ink artwork or playfield wood from moister caused wood rot, stuff piled on top of the exposed playfield and ultra violet light.  True Protective Dirt can be removed (often with great effort) and does no harm to the playfield.

 Note: Sunshine contains UV light that can fade the cabinet and playfield artwork. You should never store a pinball beside a window without either the window or pinball being covered.

trailer pinbot fall off accident  (6-15-14)  "PIN-BOTched" (TM)
 Think you've secured your mint Pin-Bot? Think again!  This otherwise nice looking pinball met its fate by falling off a trailer. Only a few of the game parts could be rescued from a busy interstate highway.

 Pinball Medic uses nothing but 3 inch wide ratcheting holding straps. One inch wide tie-down straps can't hold a 350 pound plus pinball. A double axle trailer will help keep the game from bouncing around so much.
 Also, never transport a pinball with the legs still on it. The game will be too top heavy and will fall over even when strapped down.

 Always remove any game balls before moving a pinball.

 The best pinball transportation is either a spacious car or pick-up truck. They both use springs and shock absorbers to keep the game stable during moving operations.
 This is a classic RGP post that we just found again (this week).

mysterious broken backglass  This Police Force pinball backglass mysteriously shattered just after the game's owner stepped out of the room.
 The backglass was not loose or installed incorrectly.

 PM - Backglass are just like tempered playfield glass. Earlier glass damage, over a long time period, can break tempered glass because of the build up of stress in the damaged area. This also happens on auto glass when it is hit by a small rock or other debris causing a chip in the windshield. This damaged area can grow whenever the car hits a pothole and over time the glass can crack or break. What we think happen here is sometimes invisible damage can cause the glass to shatter at unpredictable times.
 Other theories - A bird or other animal flew into or jumped onto this pinball though the opened garage door and struck the glass.
 A defective backglass lock-in mechanism can weakened the glass because it applies to much hold force. Also, damage can be caused by defective glass hold-in lever arms on this mechanism. At least this pinball uses a translite instead of an ink screened glass. Only the glass will need to be replaced.
 Submission - This is from a popular forum post. This pinball was not owned or worked on by Pinball Medic.
 This isn't a hack or anything too weird, however, as we spell check this and other pages (We do spell check. Although we don't catch every word and our grammar may need some help.).
 We noticed results that are uncannily accurate, but still incorrect.
"Spelling Checker"
Word in DocumentSpell Checker Results'Lame' Comments
Coin-OpCoupon Coin-Op is short for Coin Operated. Coin-op arcades do give out a lot of coupons and tickets.
ElectromechanicalElectro-Mechanical What ever version of this word we use the opposite spelling is presented as the correct form. We now mostly use the EM abbreviation.
Lots of common "coupon" words seem to be only used in the coin operated game industry
Playfieldplay fieldbackglass or backbox=back glass or back box
Outholeout holePinballs (used as the plural form of pinball)=pin balls
Pinheadspin headsThese are the progenitors of the pinball collecting/playing/repair hobby.
S.C.R. Scars These are special voltage controlled rectifiers, not scars. Although if you touch an over heated one it can cause a scar.
Manufactured Matches
AtariEateryNo idea how you get Eatery from Atari.
BallyAlly Bally was taken to the back ally by Williams after their buyout.
GencoJunco Way too close to "Junk 0". Although their EM gun games can't be considered junk.
GottliebGoatlikeThis would explain why some of these games eat so many parts. Just like a goat.
Segasea Well, Sega did drown Data East in a sea of bureaucracy, just after buying the company.
PachinkoesPackinghouseInsert your own lame comment.

Why Us  Top list of ridicules tech and how-to questions we've been asked.
  We only ask this. Think before asking or sending an E-mail about what you can do to answer your own question.

  1. My pinball is broken. What could cause that to happen? (no other info is provided. Not even the game's name or a description of what is not working).
  A. Oh, about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 things can cause 'that' to happen. Is the game even plugged in?

  2. The game's lights come on when I turn on the game. However, the game doesn't play when I push the start button. This is probably an easy fix, right?
  A. See number 1's answer on this list. Also, don't count the general illumination lights (G.I. Lights) on the playfield or backbox as a way to tell if the game is working (MPU is booted and running a program, EM game has reset and is ready to play).
The G.I. lights are always on and don't indicate anything about how the game is functioning.
  This situation is like the saying; 'The lights are on, but nobody is home'. The G.I. lights come on when the game's power is turned on and are not usually controlled by a relay or electronic circuit (see note). Check the simple things first, if the displays are working/displaying scores, if there is a credit on the game or in some cases a missing game ball before jumping to conclusions.
  NOTE: On some EM games, the G.I. lights will not come on until the left flipper or credit button is pushed in (activated). This is normal operation and only seals in the 'lock relay'. The General Illumination. lights still don't indicate the operational status of the game. In fact, if the lock relay has a burnt contact switch on an EM pinball, the G.I. lights may never come on, however, the game still starts and is playable. About the only info you might gleam from General Illumination is that the game is plugged in and is powered on.

  3. I'm selling three pinball games at a garage sale this Saturday. Each of these mint machines will cost $50 and are very rare collectible pinball games. Will you come out and buy them from me?
  A. Please, don't tempt us with a cheap price on a pinball game when you are actually selling Pachinkoes. We really don't like driving a long distance to find someone mistaking a Pachinko or a 'home use only' game for a coin operated true pinball machine. A Pachinko is not a Pinball Machine!
  Flipperless Pinball did branch from a game with a playfield covered in 'pins' (nails). A Pachinko does use pins and balls, however, no one should mistake this type of coin-op for a real pinball game with flippers. Pachinko are not worth anything to us.
  Don't waste our time trying to sell us a Pachinko. We don't work on these or even try and sell them. Skill Slots are another game we don't need.
  See our coin-op game buying page for more info on what games we need.

Williams Speed Wagon  4. It's Christmas day. Can you send someone out to fix my game?
  A. NO, it's Christmas. You've waited for a major holiday to try and get your game fixed? We will not even do a 'code blue' service call on a major holiday. We are on vacation in New Mexico sliding down snow covered hills (now just mud hills due to the heat) in our custom designed pinball cabinet sled.

  5. Can I borrow a paint chip off a playfield or backglass? I can get the color matched at a hardware shop's paint matching machine.
  A. NO, we will not take the time to destroy a perfectly good game so you can start messing up yours.
  Paint matching is both a science and an art form. You can't use a gloss house paint to replace flat ink screened artwork. House paint is not compatible with ink.
  Even the most skilled playfield restorer leaves a patch that doesn't match perfectly due to the ink's type and age. This can be seen by simply tilting your head and using the available defused light to see the difference in color and/or shininess of the patched artwork.
  Pinball Medic no longer does playfield artwork refurbishment because of the time involved.

  6.   "I am replacing a 5195 coil and the sleeve I received from another parts site. However, the new coil is shorter than the original (Gottlieb's Joker Poker pinball). Will this work or do I need a longer coil sleeve?"   This was the actual wording of the question. (Pinball Medic did not supply these parts)
  A. We don't usually mind being asked technical questions. However, this one was "Weak" because without photos of the part and mechanism, a Gottlieb parts book from the year the game was made or having the game in our shop, there isn't any way to reliably answer this question. We didn't even know what mechanism the coil was installed in or the game's title.
 This question is like asking a blind man "What color are my shoes?" Why would the blind man care about the color of your shoes or bother trying to find out? Please ask the parts supplier that shipped you the part and not us.  The same solenoid coil can often be used in different mechanisms and can use different sleeves for each mechanism. Special coil sleeves can be ordered separately and every repair shop or person should keep a variety of coil sleeve types around so they can match an old sleeve.

  Simply installing the new coil with the new coil sleeve (without de-soldering the old coil) would show you if the coil and the sleeve are the right ones (this assumes the right coil part number was ordered).
  Check the movement of the coil plunger to see if the plunger's linkage hits the coil sleeve. If it does, the coil sleeve is too long. If the coil falls out after being placed into the mechanism without the coil plunger, then the coil sleeve is too short.
  There can be a small difference in sleeve length when replacing a metal coil sleeve with the better plastic sleeve type. Coil sleeves can be bought separately from the solenoid coil and cost in most cases under a dollar (Ball popper rod and flipper coil sleeves will cost more). You might not find the exact replacement sleeve without trying the one that came with the new coil or trying some spare coil sleeves to get the best fit. Hopefully you can get the sleeve out of the old coil to compare it with its new replacement. Some coils include the sleeve type in their part number prefix or suffix. However, most coil part numbers are "generic" and don't include sleeve information.

  Update: We received another E-mail (after asking for more info) stating that this coil was used in a knocker unit. Knocker coils will normally come with a sleeve that has an extra bit of sleeve tube after the sleeve's flange so that the plunger can slide almost totally out of the coil sleeve when the solenoid is not activated. The sleeve should stick out of both ends of the coil on knocker units. Check out this sleeve chart for more information.

  7. I've played pinball my whole life. Doesn't that qualify me to work and do refurbishment on other people's games?
This question was included in the conclusion part of a resume we received.
  A. No, it does not.   Would you ask someone to fix your car who only knows how to drive one?

  It's true that most qualified game repairmen either have or had a large game hobby/collection. This, along with a degree that includes electronics, a formal coin operated repair education and a lot of repair practice on there own games, is why he/she started to repair other people's arcades.
  However, It also takes many years of professional education in electronics, mechanics, carpentry, painting/touch-up and learning about what not to do to an arcade game. Mistakes are very valuable learning occasions, however, one can't afford to learn using this method on a customer's game.

   Note: There is someone local to us with only a degree in "marketing" that does what they call "coin-op repair and refurbishment". He keeps our repair shop full with all the games he has done. Even after the customer has paid for a service contract with this joker. He has started to drive all the way to Dallas or Houston to get new customers that don't know him and his work. Hopefully, he will be out of everyone's hair shortly.
  This situation wastes a large amount of our time repairing these hacks. This is why we posted this question to try and avoid having to repair someone's hacked repair job.

<start gripe>
  Just one more gripe. We don't have the time to answer a large number of questions for free. We are most likely the only shop left that even tries to answer at least a few technical questions for people who are not our customers. We have so many 'weak questions' now to make this a top 20 list.
 </end gripe>

HP beer bottle award
'Hack Archive'
 The first HPB was awarded on 12/2011. We did an in-home service call in 2008 on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video arcade game.
 The controls were not working and when we went to remove the control panel we found beer cans (metal cans, bottles and paper six pack cartons) laying on top of the plugged in power supply at the bottom of the game (A major fire hazard)!
  We also found two used home made Bongs for smoking weed made out of plastic vacuum cleaner attachments that included the original floor lint inside each attachment. This was all removed in front of a very embarrassed game owner.  We probably got his kid grounded forever.

  We wished we had taken some photos of the Bongs. Does floor dust and lint add to the BUZZ you get from smoking marijuana?
 Submitted by PBM - Austin, Texas

High Speed pinball after fireHigh speed pinball playfield before fire  How do you take your pinball?
Original or Extra Crispy!

  This game owner tried to do some playfield Mylar removal using the "hot" or in this case the "way too hot" method on a good looking High Speed Black LE pinball, no less.
  He took no time to do this the right way.  After using a hair dryer and some Goo-Gone to remove the Mylar and glue (This technique is a lost art form), he switched to a PROPANE torch!

  While this guy has no brains at all, it took a really big pair of game balls to post these photos and admit to doing this to his nice pinball machine.  We solute him for showing the world the worst technique for Mylar removal.
 Learning how to remove playfield mylar can be costly. Now, only a replacement playfield can fix this disaster.
 Submission - This is from a 'classic' R.G.P. post.

 Read the actual game owner's side of this story in his own words.
  Note: We have edited his quote to shorten it. Also, Pinball Medic can't recommend using Goof Off on the playfield or any other part of a pinball machine. Naphtha and even old glue, as you can see, are very flammable.

  "I was doing a mylar removal on my day one mylar High Speed, this thing was friggin' beautiful, I was going to take it to Expo this year! I use the hot air gun and it comes up like a dream, colors are even brighter than I hoped!! Unfortunately, it leaves the regular tough glue on the playfield and I do the goo gone with the paper towel thing and then move on to VM&P Naptha and finally on to goof off! Nothing is working on this machine! I finally decide to heat up the playfield a little to soften up the glue, hopefully. I take the PROPANE torch, don't ask me why, I don't know.....(why didn't I use the hot air gun, I did it because it wasn't working fast enough, but it was working) Well needless to say I got about 30 seconds of heating it up and POOF!!!!! HOLY CRAP!!!! Black smoke rising, tripping over the dog, and grabbing the bucket of soapy water that I used yesterday to wipe down the cabinet and throwing it all over the playfield only caused the flame to roll to the underside of the playfiled! Now I'm dousing it out with a rag trying to blow out the remains of the flames and the fuel slick accumulating in the bottom by the coin tray. Aired the house out, friggin' freezing now! Stripped the playfield bare in the hopes of doing an overlay or who knows anybody have a playfield for sale? God I'm stupid! Lets just say at this point Jesus wouldn't be playing my High Speed! I wonder if home-owners insurance will cover this? I hope I don't have a 'dummy clause'. Excuse me I have to go to bed now and cry myself to sleep."

black rings on an EM pinball playfieldshorted out by wire power switch  Power Push-Button Problem
 We found this twisted bare wired power switch on a nice looking Centigrade 37 EM Pinball. This "work" was done by a now out of business coin-op distributer. The game had been greased (stepper units), had various shorted together wafer switches and It had homemade non-insulated score motor cam switches that randomly shorted through the metal mechanism.
 This caused the game to randomly go "crazy" during game play but allowed the game to reset perfectly every time the credit button was pushed.
 We suspect the score motor cam switches were hacked first and then to let the game reset, many other switches were permanently shorted to compensate for the bad cam switches.
 This game came into our shop because the ball would no longer come out into the shooter lane. The Outhole shooter mechanism wasn't even part of the problem.
 We had to increase both our initial repair bid and the service level to a complete refurbishment on this pinball because of all the hidden and nonlogical hacks done to this really nice looking pinball.
 If we were to ever sabotage the next repair technician that worked on one of our pinball games, this machine showed PM how to do it. It took us three weeks to go through the game and find all of the hidden problems. Many were both mechanical and at the same time electrical issues. The game's schematic could not help with the repair of these hacks because some of them were underneath the mechanical mechanisms. Including one that was at the lowest level of the score motor cam switches. These cam switches were also making connection to other score motor cam switches through the metal cams do to improper switch isolation. That's something you can't find on a schematic. Every part on this game was taken apart to find these switch "issues" and to remove grease.
 Other problems we found on this Centigrade pinball.
 We hold no malice toward whom ever installed black rubber rings on this electrical mechanical pinball. We know that a black rubber ring kit was sent from another ring supplier and they obviously didn't check the pinball type. Black rubber or the wrong size of ring can cause damage to playfield posts, G.I. lights and playfield plastics. As you can see, black rings look really ugly on an EM pinball and don't provide the ball bounce needed by EM pinball machines.
 - Submitted by PM

pin powder  Powerfull Pinball Powder
  We have no idea what this white powdery substance is. We'd have made more money on this refurbishment if it had been an illegal substance (not really). Unfortunately, it's most likely detergent or really old baking soda.

     Submitted by PM

 What's Wrong with this Picture?
 While doing a routine game refurbishment, we took off the back box cover and immediately knew we had an addition to this page.
 Other then being out of focus, can you spot the problem in this photo? What's wrong with this?
 Click on the photo to reveal the problem or go here for a closer view

 This game was "shopped out" by a large coin-op retailer from Chicago. The birth place of pinball!
 This issue was running on the game for years and for some reason didn't short out! We just can't justify this kind of "repair".
 Yet another reason to believe the term "shopped out" should never be associated with the term refurbished or even repaired
  Submitted by PBM - Austin, Texas
 In this section, we will show photos of tax tags, warning and coin-op repair advertising stickers that are permanently attached to the game in the worse locations imaginable. Stickers are one of our biggest pet peeves next to people applying grease to everything inside of a game.

Bad placement of stickers on pinball playfield apron This apron photo and stickers indicate the game was "expertly reconditioned" by a repair shop and game sells company.
  This non local repair shop, in at least 16 years, could not comprehend the simple fact that putting permanent stickers on the non-replaceable playfield apron's artwork will both destroy the look of the game and lower its value.
  It's even questionable to staple a company's business card on the inside of the cabinet because the staple causes wood damage and the card will become dirty and ugly over time.
 Compared to this common repair shop practice, putting stickers that are not removable on a very visible place on the game is definitely not the correct way to advertise your business.
 Tax stickers were also installed on the inked side of backglasses by route or arcade owners. They scratched off the ink on the glass to place the sticker on. This destroyed the backglass to a large number of pinball games.
 This 'insanity' gives us a clue about how desperate this shop is for customers and how they are willing to do damage to a game to get some business. This instead leads to customers who will never do any business with them again.
  Another local repair shop started to do this same thing to every game they sell. We're guessing they have become desperate too.
  Also, what a "dynamite" reconditioning job they did on this Power Play pinball! We've had to redo this out of Texas company's refurbishment of this game.

  Here is what we found:  Everything from installing a MPU board with a new lithium battery attached to the circuit board (a lithium battery will not just leak like a Ni-Cad after years of use, but will explode during the normal charging of the battery when the game is powered on.), didn't replace the power supply board or at least refurbish its capacitors, painted the backbox bright white (used bright white, didn't match the rest of the cabinet), no new pop bumper parts (including burnt pop bumper caps), didn't clean the playfield or replace its rings, used wrong length playfield screws that went all the way through the playfield.
 We had a host of other issues with their refurbishment and had to do a total full refurbishment on this game to get it working again..
 They then decided to brag about how great they are with butt ugly permanent stickers.  Way to go!
 A game's owner/buyer must do his homework before they let someone work on or sell them a game.
      Submitted after we refurbished by PM, we had to leave the stickers on to prevent any further game damage - Austin, Texas

bonanza bumper stickers This game was found mounted to the ceiling of a popular restaurant surrounded by local rock and roll band posters. Who knows, the posters might have been worth more then the game, but why destroy a pinball to display them?

  We like unique bumper stickers on a car, but don't try and improve the side art of a pinball with them. Otherwise, this Bonanza EM pinball would have been a good game to restore.
 Submitted by PBM - Austin, Texas

Matching the Ridiculously Absurd
broken playfield posts PM bought a Capersville EM pinball a while back. We got it because it had a perfect backglass and playfield. It also had some unique side art. We don't have a good picture of this yet.
  Yes, someone tried to match the pinball with the most butt ugly wallpaper imaginable.  This stuff is woolly, looks and feels like a thick green shag rug!

  We're going to try and remove the wallpaper side-art. We will then find out if there is any good original side artwork left on this otherwise good looking game.
  Putting wallpaper on a game is just like putting a large sticker on a part that should never have one on it (aprons or the back side of a backglass).
  Don't wallpaper or paint your game even if the side-art is bad. It can be restored in most cases.
  Submitted by PM - Austin, Texas

"Classic Mind Beguilers"
 You'll go crazy if you stare at them too long!
GI Christmas
 This one takes a lot of staring to see.
 Hint: Think "Christmas G.I."
 It helps to click on the photo and view the larger image.

 Bottle Cap Flipper Switch Nut

 Bottle Cap used as a flipper button nut!
 On Route Repairs
wired fuses Williams Speed Wagon Speed Wagon! We've been asked if a Yellow Jacket dolly could be used like this?!?? No, it can't! It would be too hard to steer from the inside of the cabinet.
Classic fuse bypass with wrong fuse holder
 Classic Fuse Abuse!
Key Part
 "Key Parts"
This happens often.
Nailed to the Core
Nailed It a second time!
No coil stops What are flipper coil stops and who needs them?
 See Pinside for more of these photos.

Abstract Art! Home made system 80 reset boardHacked Gottlieb Reset Board
Wired Battery
  A Wired On Battery
 This guarantees they will leak.
Wonderfully Weard and Wrong Worldly Wonders
Not usually coin-op related but still worth viewing.
Be a pizzaDumbino's Posted on - Oct 23, 2018
This Austin sign shows the state of business management in America!
We drove past it the other day. It's inspiring transcendental message of "Be a pizza" just blew our minds?!??!
Who wouldn't want to join a team of sign editing zombies! Please, quit sniffing the powered cheese.

PM - We could understand this better if they were simply out of letters. However, whenever we doubt the intelligence or the management of people, we naturally blame a certain orange colored clown for creating the environment where this sign could happen and not be corrected.
Vote this jack-o'-lantern and all his democracy destroying cronies / party out ASAP!

  Pinball Medic Lost in Purgatory Bad Jokes!
What is a transistor?
 A) A Priest who wears Nun's clothing.

 Q) What do you call a lawyer who has gone bad?
 A) Senator.

  Lost in Purgatory -  While not exactly a coin-op catastrophe, this is certainly weak.

 We got so lost during a field service call we ended up in Purgatory.
  This Texas park is right next to Hell's Hills cemetery.
  This shows proof everything you can imagine has a town, lake, river or park named after it in Texas.

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