Pinball machines are simple to use, fun to play, and look great as part of any retro collection, but the cost to fix one can vary dramatically. Whether you’re a wannabe arcade owner or have a machine in your games room, it’s handy to learn how much it costs to fix a pinball machine.
It can cost anywhere from a few dollars to thousands of dollars to fix a pinball machine depending on what is broken. Damaged parts could range from a simple lamp to a new playfield or an entirely new cabinet. In some cases, your pinball machine may just need a good clean.
Understanding the costs of repairing a pinball machine may influence your decision on whether to buy one in the first place. Below, we discuss just how much it really costs to fix a pinball machine, where to buy parts, and in what circumstances you may or may not want to repair your machine.
How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Pinball machine?
The cost to fix a pinball machine varies depending on the part that needs fixing, the price range swings from as little as $5 to upwards of $1,500 depending on which part(s) you need. It will also depend on where you source the parts, and whether you repair it yourself or not.
Another thing to consider is the cost of your time. Some of the tricker repairs may have you stripping the entire pinball machine down into its component parts, potentially a very long-winded job, or be as quick as screwing in a new lightbulb.
The Cost Of Restoration
For restoration only, the cost to fix a pinball machine could be as little as $5 for a plastic polish kit, and with careful cleaning, an old machine could look as good as new. For replacement parts, you might find a pack of 20 light bulbs online for around $10, and many other smaller parts on there, like ball shooters or coin mechanisms.
Overlays for playfields that cannot be restored can be found for closer to $170, but make sure your overlay is placed exactly as it should be or you may have issues in the future. Internally, if your pinball machine needs a new MPU board or lamp driver board, prices vary from around $75 for a lamp board up to roughly $200 for a new MPU board.
More Expensive Parts
When it comes to cabinets, the price rises drastically. An unfinished cabinet can cost around $750, while a fully trimmed and glossed cabinet can be upwards of $1,350. A much cheaper option than a new cabinet could be new decalsto stick on, which cost as little as $30 to $50, and they could give your old cabinet a new lease of life.
Where Can You Find Parts For Your Pinball Machine?
You can find parts for your pinball machine at multiple retailers online, and there is a thriving community around pinball machines and their upkeep. While general retailers do have a solid range of the more common spare parts, when it comes to more specific parts, you may need to find a specialist.
Virtuapin.net has an impressive range of new cabinets and backboxes and offers replacement cabinets with the correct cut-outs for a multitude of pinball games.
For replacement boards, shuffle alleys, electrical parts, and many other parts that may be required, Steve Young’s “The Pinball Resource” site, which has been servicing the pinball world since 1977, is a great resource. With allegedly 10 million spare parts available, the site offers everything from parts, books, and technical support, up to repair guides and servicing.
PinballLife.com is another excellent resource for finding the parts that you may need and is another example of a resilient network of retailers that you can find online.
Other resources to check out include:
Are Pinball Machines Easy To Repair?
Pinball machines can be easy to repair if you have the right tools and information to hand, but can be very complicated for beginners to get to grips with. Essentially, pinball machine repairs fall into two categories: restoration or replacement. Restoration is often easier than replacement.
Restoration is usually the cheaper of the two options, especially if you take the time to restore your pinball machine yourself, as you can reduce costs and learn more about your machine if you do it yourself. The difficulty of restoration varies depending on what you are restoring. Putting decals on the sides of an old cabinet should be simple enough, and it can give new life to your machine.
Taking out an entire playfield and cleaning it with the correct products is much more complex, yet still doable, and extremely rewarding. Outsourcing your restoration work, however, can be costly.
Repairing your pinball machine can be truly rewarding, but it can be a tough process. Gather any literature you can find on your specific machine, check the specifications, and use the correct parts that need replacing.
Making your own pinball machine repairs could be as simple as changing a lightbulb or a fuse, or it could be as complex as completely stripping the machine and installing a new board. Using your judgment on what you feel comfortable with should help decide if a job is for you, or the professionals.
As with outsourcing restoration work, paying for someone to repair your pinball machine can be costly. You are not only paying for parts and labor, but you are also paying for expertise in a very niche skill.
Are Pinball Machines Expensive To Maintain?
Pinball machines do not have to be expensive to maintain provided they have been looked after, but there are several factors to take into consideration. The age of your machine matters, as does its general condition and how often it is used.
The amount of use you expect your pinball machine to see is a big factor in its maintenance. A mint condition pinball machine could be used as part of the decor of a room, and be used sparingly, or in a rec room that has multiple players every day. How often the machine is used will influence how often it needs maintained. However, it’s usually just a case of keeping it clean.
Who Pays For It?
Obviously, parts sometimes fail, and should an internal board burn out, then the cost of maintaining a working pinball machine will shoot up briefly, and if the machine is not for public use and therefore not bringing in revenue, then that cost is yours alone.
For a pinball machine that is actively used by customers, then providing it is used responsibly and fairly often, any maintenance costs could be absorbed by the paying public.
A pinball machine in need of serious work could be costly to maintain initially, but once repaired or refurbished, it should be cheap to maintain, needing little more than a cleaning every 6 months or so. A little bit of work on a regular basis can ensure your pinball machine maintenance costs are kept as low as possible.
It can cost a few dollars to repair a pinball machine, or it can cost thousands. Depending on what part of the machine needs repaired, costs can be small in terms of both money and time, but some parts may need extensive and expensive repairs. Regular care and maintenance will limit these costs.