Question 11/12 in Pinball Questions? FAQs

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Question:

What is a pinball "Shop-Out?

Answer:

The phrase "Shop-out" as it relates to pinball machines is a relative term at best.  Different repair shops have different ideas of the amount of work, time and money to put into a pinball machine to achieve a certain level of repair.  Our belief is everything must work, and we mean everything.  Everything must be cleaned and protected with wax or lubricant or whatever the factory intended the machine to have when new.  The game must be brought to as close to factory fresh as possible without painting or otherwise destroying the true patina or hiding the true nature of the game and it's history.  Further we believe the electronic and mechanical parts must have the required preventive maintenance procedures completed such as flipper rebuilds, sleeves replaced on coils, solder joints re-worked, low voltage capacitors replaced, burnt connectors replaced or any other items that would likely break and cause a malfunction if not addressed. 

We believe the original manufacturer recommendations are not sufficient for machines 30 years old or more.  You will see other shops on the internet insist no grease or other lubricants should be used on motors and stepper units.  We disagree with this position.  Most pinball games were designed for 5 years of operation and they had excellent parts suppliers that made good money selling replacement parts.   With no sources for new parts every wear item in the game must be protected.

In the 80's we did a much shorter version of a "shop-out".  We generally charged $175 to clean and fix everything on and under the playfield.  Our primary customer was the "coin machine operator".   An operator would sell a game if the electronics started to give too much trouble.  To operators, it's business math, the number of service calls to pay for versus the game's net income.  These days the "operator" does not operate pinball games.  The price of new pinballs has reached "collector" status (over $5000) and the number of skilled technicians has dwindled. These days the pinballs we see are in such a horrible state of disrepair.  What used to take a day now takes 5 days or more to repair.  Today there are no easy jobs on old pinballs.

In summary, our shop-out is part repair and part restoration.  We flat-rate the labor on electronic or electromechanical types, include rubbers and light bulbs, and many small parts needed but not all.  For pricing see "How Much Does it Cost to Repair My Pinball Machine" FAQ.

Please note that pinball machines can take a long time to get repaired.  Some repairs can take months.  This depends on parts availability and our current shop workload.  If you are in a hurry please tell us so we can try to accommodate you.

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