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How to clean a pinball machine

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Creature from the Black Lagoon Pinball
Creature from the Black Lagoon Pinball

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

How to clean your Chexx Bubble Hockey

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Novus 2 and Pledge, used to clean Chexx and other bubble hockey machines

If you buy a chexx bubble hockey, at some point it’s going to get dirty from all the playing or collect some dust on top of the bubble.  Nothing plays better than a clean bubble hockey!  In order to fix this, you’re going to need some cleaning supplies like these:

Novus 2 and Pledge, used to clean Chexx and other bubble hockey machines
Novus 2 and Pledge, used to clean Chexx and other bubble hockey machines

Novus 2 is used to clean the clear bubble over the table.  It’s great at taking out fine scratches and other marks, but won’t help with really deep scratches.  It’s also good at cleaning a lot of other arcade things like pinball machines, but that’s another story.  For really deep scratches you’ll either have to replace the bubble (which can be very expensive at $400) or use a process called flame polishing which can sometimes work but is risky.  I’ve flame polished some pinball ramps before and you have to be very careful not to melt things too much.  You can buy Novus 2 through our Amazon affiliate link here:

NOVUS 2 Plastic Fine Scratch Remover – 8 oz.

For the playfield, the best thing to use is Pledge.  It cleans the surface plus makes it slick for the puck to slide on, making the gameplay a lot faster.  I typically only screw in one of the bubble screws instead the 15 or so you normally use because that way I have easy access for cleaning and other things.  There’s no reason at home to have that many bolts put into it.  You can get pledge about anywhere, but if you want to order it online, you can get it through our Amazon affiliate link here:

Pledge Lemon Clean Furniture Spray – 9.7 oz(pack of 1)
Hopefully this helps the first time your game gets dirty!  You’ll have a nice clean bubble hockey the next time your friends come over to play.

There’s a lot more bubble hockey/chexx information in my Bubble Hockey buying guide which has mods, buying advice, adding names and numbers, etc.

Will this pinball machine fit in my vehicle?

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Black Knight Pinball Machine in a home arcade

This question comes up all the time, I’ve got this SUV and will this pinball machine fit into it?  Well luckily, the owners of a lot of these vehicles have pooled their information together onto a wiki page here:

http://pinwiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=Vehicles_for_Moving_Pinball_Machines

It’s a great resource to figure out whether that game will fit.  If your game isn’t on the list, you might try posting on the pinside forum to see if anyone there might know.  My last pinball hauler was a Toyota Sienna, and you could easily fit two pinball machines in it by taking out the second and third rows.  The first game would go in sideways through the sliding doors (or in through the back and rotated) and then the second game would be rotated.  If the games had removable heads, you could actually fit three pinball machines in the back, which I did twice in it.

Usually the general rule is:

minivans can hold 2, maybe 3 games

large suv’s can hold 1

a small suv can hold 1 if they’re not too short in the back and if the machine isn’t a taller one like Gottlieb system 3

A trailer is a good option if you’ve got a hitch, usually those can hold quite a few.

PAC-MAN arcade LED clock

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Pac-man clock ghosts moving through
pac-man ghosts moving through

I just picked this up today, it’s probably the coolest arcade clock I’ve seen, a pac-man clock.  Pictures are definitely better than words in this case:

pacman clock normal time
pacman clock normal time
pacman ghosts moving through
pacman ghosts moving through
pacman clock with ghosts to be eaten
pacman clock with ghosts to be eaten

It’s pretty sweet the way the ghosts chase pac-man across the screen and then he chases them back the other way.  The clock is actually on sale right now at Amazon here through my affiliate link:

Amazon PAC-MAN clock Link

Hard to imagine a more ‘game room’ clock than this one.  I also made a video on youtube of the clock here:

The clock is pretty bright in a dark room, so if you’re planning on putting it in a place where you sleep hopefully bright lights don’t bother you.  It keeps track of the month and day as well but never displays them as far as I know, so I don’t know why they’re even there.  It uses a standard AC/DC adapter for power, so if you’re using an outlet make sure you have room for a bigger plug like it has.  If you have any questions on the pac-man clock, feel free to email me.

 

Common Chexx Bubble Hockey parts

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Original Chexx Bubble Hockey USA Goalie

One of the things I had problems with when I was fixing up my original Chexx was trying to track down all the parts I needed from ICE’s website, which isn’t exactly the easiest to navigate.  I’ve tried to make a list below of the common chexx bubble hockey parts that you might need to try and help out some.

Chexx Bubble Hockey Parts

Here are some affiliate links below for parts that you might need for your Chexx or Super Chexx:

Dome Bolt Kit

NHL ICE and decal kit

Hockey Goal Net

Bubble Hockey Dome

Gear Box

Chexx Hockey Rod Grip

New side decal

Super Chexx Puck

Chexx Puck Ejector Assembly

There are some other packages you can pick that have different groups of items, but the ones I listed above are the most common.  I bought a new dome, new ice, players, grips, and puck for my game.  If I had to do it again, I’d buy all the stuff all over again, totally worth it to make the game look like new again.