If you’ve owned a pinball machine for any length of time, you’ll eventually notice that the game seems to be playing slower and the playfield is looking kind of dirty.  What happens is dust from solenoids and rubbers in the game start to cling to the playfield and the ball kind of just grounds the dirt in.  Luckily, it’s pretty easy to clean a pinball machine.  If you have a 90’s or newer game, you need Novus 2 to clean it up, pictured below:

Novus 2 pinball cleaner
The #1 pinball cleaner for newer games, Novus 2

It can be used to clean the playfield or plastics, it’s good for both.  If your game is older than 1990, then things get a little more interesting.  Depending on your playfield, people use:

  • Novus 1 (easier on playfield, not as abrasive)
  • Novus 2 (this is typically what I use to start, although if the playfield is in bad shape it may not be the best
  • Magic Eraser + 90% or better alcohol (be careful, it can act like sandpaper if used too hard)

On earlier games, going slow and carefully is the rule for sure.

Below are a couple before and after pictures on X-Men pinball.

X-Men pinball machine before cleaning
X-Men pinball machine before cleaning
X-Men pinball machine after cleaning
X-Men pinball machine after cleaning

Besides dirt on the playfield, the other two common things that can happen are rubber rings breaking and lights burning out.  Rubbers are typically various size of rings all the way from tiny circles up to 4″ circles.  White or black is typically used, with white being bouncier.  Most modern games come with black installed for one reason or another, it doesn’t show dirt as bad but at the same time it produces more dirt than white rubber.

I typically by my rubber at Pinball Life in bulk here:

http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=486

Most pinball light bulbs are size 44 or 555 bulbs.  44 have a small round base, and 555 have a wedge base.  These bulbs are typically cheap, at around a $1 a box if you buy them at the correct place.  I’d recommend Pinball Life for bulbs too, with 44’s being found here:

http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=1680

and 555’s being found here:

http://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=31

If you have bulbs burning out, it’s pretty likely have you incandescent bulbs like the ones I linked above.  A lot of newer games or restored games have LED’s in place of incandescent bulbs due to brighter light, less heat, and longer life.  Some people don’t like them because sometimes they’re a little too bright and sometimes they ruin some lighting effects, but for the most part I like them a lot better than incandescent bulbs.

Btw, here’s the cleaning rag at the end, lot of dirt, eh?

Cleaning paper towel afterwards
Cleaning paper towel afterwards

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