If you own a pinball machine, you’ll know just how expensive they can be, and how much care you have to take to keep them in top condition. Whether you’re a new owner, or if you’ve had a machine for a while, it’s useful to know how to store a pinball machine safely for a long time.
To store a pinball machine safely for a long time, you first need to clean it properly and package it up securely. Then, make sure you have someone help you move it to where you want to store it, and ensure wherever you’re leaving it is cool, dry and out of direct sunlight.
These are the main criteria for storing a pinball machine for any length of time. Below, we’ll go through each of these steps in more detail, discuss why they’re so important, and answer a few other common questions about storing pinball machines for a long time.
Cleaning Your Pinball Machine Before Storage
Before you consider storing your pinball machine for a long time, you first need to prepare it for storage. The first thing you should do is give it a good clean. To do this, you’ll need to take the glass cover off the machine and give the playfield and all the different components a clean with a vacuum cleaner.
Using microfiber cloths and the right cleaning solutions, use light pressure and smooth rotation to give your pinball machine a thorough clean. Make sure you don’t rub too hard or use harsh chemicals as this can damage your machine.
Most components will benefit from a light vacuuming, but you may wish to use wax and various cleaners for the playfield, and a specific glass cleaner for any glass pieces like the outer cabinet case.
Repair Any Damage
This is also a good opportunity to replace any broken or faulty components while you have everything taken apart. If you want an in-depth guide on cleaning your pinball machine, check out our article all about that here.
Cleaning your pinball machine before storing it for a long time is essential. It minimizes the amount of dirt and dust that can build up in your machine while it’s in storage. But the next step to reduce this even further is to ensure you package your machine up correctly and securely.
How To Prepare Your Pinball Machine For Storage
First, you should remove the balls from the machine and tidy up any loose components or cables. Then, fold the head down if it’s a newer machine, or remove it if you have a machine that allows you to do so. Removing the legs is next, and then it’s a case of wrapping up your pinball machine securely with plenty of bubble wrap and other protective material.
Even if you’re only moving your pinball machine to another room, wrapping it up securely ensures nothing can fall out or get damaged in transit. Pinball machines are both heavy and awkward. So, make sure you have someone on hand to help you move your pinball machine.
Keep It Dry
You might also want to pack some silica gel or packets of moisture absorbing material in with the pinball machine. This will help keep everything dry, no matter where you’re storing it or how you’re transporting it. You can even put some inside the table under the glass – just remember to remove it later!
Now that you’ve prepared your pinball machine for storage, where should you store it?
How To Store A Pinball Machine Safely
Regardless of where you decide to store your pinball machine, how you store it is essential. You need to make sure, wherever you leave it, that the machine doesn’t have anything heavy leaning against it or on top of it. This could damage the machine over time, especially if you’re leaving it in storage for a very long time.
Likewise, ensure the machine isn’t leaning against anything either. If possible, store it horizontally, to minimize the strain on the components. If you need to store it vertically, ensure its standing securely upright with nothing on or around it that could damage it. Don’t leave it behind a door, or somewhere it could easily be knocked or moved.
Cool And Dry
In terms of where to store a pinball machine safely for a long time, the number one rule is to store it inside. Ideally, you should store your pinball machine inside your house. While this might not be possible, it provides the ideal cool, dry environment that’s best for storing most things.
However, the aspects of temperature and moisture are most important, regardless of where you decide to store your pinball machine. As long as the place is dry, and will remain dry, you should be okay. This means you shouldn’t store it anywhere vulnerable to flooding or damp, which might rule out your garage.
Moisture Is The Enemy
If you store your machine somewhere with a lot of moisture or humidity, you risk severely damaging the pinball machine. This risk increases the longer the machine is stored. Moisture can cause the wood to warp, metal components to rust or electrical components to fail.
But on top of that, you want to keep the machine somewhere cool. Too much heat can cause damage to pinball machines as well. Ideally, your chosen space should be fairly dust-free, but you can mitigate the problems caused by dust in the long term by wrapping your pinball machine up tightly and securely.
Direct sunlight is also best avoided, as this can damage the paintwork and coloring of the machine. Aside from that, it can also add extra heat, which isn’t good for the machine either.
If you can, use a climate control system where you plan to store your pinball machine. Think about using a heating system if it’s exceptionally cold and a cooling system like air conditioning if it’s going to get hot, and perhaps a dehumidifier if your chosen space is prone to excess moisture in the air.
You can opt to store your pinball machine in self-storage facilities, but you should still employ the same precautions. It often costs extra to store something in a climate-controlled storage unit. However, given the value of a pinball machine, it’s usually more than worth it for the peace of mind alone.
Other Precautions For Storing Pinball Machines
Before you store your pinball machine away for a long time, you should also consider a few other precautions.
Can You Keep A Pinball Machine In A Garage?
You can keep a pinball machine in a garage, as long as that garage has some sort of climate control. You just need to make sure the garage isn’t too warm, in direct sunlight, or liable to high levels of moisture, as all of these things can damage a pinball machine over time.
Should You Leave Your Pinball Machine On?
You shouldn’t leave your pinball machine on when storing it. This is unnecessary, and it could even damage your machine over time or lead to a fire. Leaving anything on for a long length of time comes with its own risks, and leaving your pinball machine plugged in is no exception.
Can Pinball Machines Freeze?
Pinball machines don’t freeze, but they can be damaged by temperature fluctuations. As long as your chosen storage area is free from moisture, you shouldn’t worry about your pinball machine freezing. Just don’t try to turn your pinball machine on at temperatures below freezing.
To store a pinball machine safely for a long time, you need to make sure to clean it and pack it up properly beforehand. Then, carefully move your pinball machine to where you want to store it, and ensure this place is cool, dry, and away from direct sunlight.