Author Topic: Project Pinballs - A Warning !  (Read 965 times)

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Offline Strangeways

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Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« on: July 09, 2014, 08:59:00 AM »

I have recently seen several "project pinballs" in my workshop that have been safety hazards. I keep a log of all games that are sent to me for repairs, but recently I received a game that "exploded" once the customer brought the game home and plugged it in. I've been repairing pinballs for many years, and technically, I have a process I undertake prior to even plugging a game into the wall socket - regardless of where it came from (country of original) or where it was bought from (private or dealer).

Here's a quick checklist of what is needed when buying a Project Game ;

1 - All fuses removed, checked for proper rating and then re inserted

Common problem from imported games is that the mains fuse is rated higher for the USA, and the game will still have that fuse. It needs to be removed. The other issue is that previous operators always "over fuse" games to hide the real issues with the game. As long as the coin mech works, it will be ok !

2 - Check the power jumpers

This is where you need the manual for your game. If you are buying a project game from a dealer, DEMAND the manual be included with the game, and not placed on eBay separately ! Depending on the game, you may need to rewire the transformer, or set jumpers on a connector. NEVER EVER rely on the seller.

3 - Replace the line cord

Easy on some games - just change the "kettle" plug style cord. On older games, you will need an electrician or a qualified person to cut out the old cord and replace it with a new cord. I would consider changing the EMI Filter at this stage, and if the game is from the USA, you will need to change the Varistor.

4 - Mains Fuse holder

Common for these to be fatigued and troublesome. These can be changed as part of the process of replacing the varistor and EMI filter.

5 - Tag and Test

After this work is completed, it does not hurt to have the game checked for electrical issues even after the above is undertaken

PRIOR to buying ANY project game, disregard any information given to the buyer by the seller. They just want your $. So when you hear statements like "It came from a collection in country X", "It came from a collection in country Y" - Don't believe it ! DON'T go home and plug the game in expecting it to be electrically safe ! I have seen games described as being "from Germany" (220VAC) that were really from the USA (110VAC).. You can only guess what happens when the unsuspecting buyer uses their bunnings power converter and plugs it in the wall socket ! YES - It HAS happened - and the repair was costly for the buyer.

Part of the hobby is education. The Electrical side of a pinball can be lethal. Please be careful !

Also, when buying a project pinball, always ask for a receipt. If it is not provided, don't buy the game. There's no recourse when things go wrong.
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Offline Homepin

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2014, 09:17:43 AM »
All very sound advice and something that certainly should be done BEFORE any repair work to the actual game. You don't want your new machine to kill you or WORSE, someone else!!!
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Offline Boots

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2014, 09:47:03 AM »

I have recently seen several "project pinballs" in my workshop that have been safety hazards. I keep a log of all games that are sent to me for repairs, but recently I received a game that "exploded" once the customer brought the game home and plugged it in. I've been repairing pinballs for many years, and technically, I have a process I undertake prior to even plugging a game into the wall socket - regardless of where it came from (country of original) or where it was bought from (private or dealer).


I think all project machines are safety hazards, or at the very least should be treated as that.
There have been a lot of these machines for sale on ebay recently and they have been fetching good prices, a bonus for sellers who don't want to over commit on a lesser valued title.
We are in the age of the handyman and everyone thinks they can fix anything.

There is also the issue where machines appear to be missing a relatively small part but this turns out to be a part that is extremely rare and in some cases the machine won't work without it.

Offline robm

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2014, 10:15:32 AM »
Great advice Nino.  One other thing i have started to check with some of the projects i have, is continuity of earth strap - sometimes this has been ripped off by a playfield being lifted or similar, and much of the machine's metal parts are not earthed.

Offline ddstoys

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2014, 11:11:19 AM »
Project machines are an issue along with that friends mate from down the road who is an electrician.

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Offline Mr Pinbologist

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2014, 11:42:30 AM »
All good advice Nino.. especially after what i found this morning on a Gtb Surfer i'm doing at the moment for a member here.

I hope you dont mind Nino but i've attached a couple of pics that will illustrate exactly the kind of thing you're talking about!

These pics are of what i found when i removed the bottom relay panel!! Yes that is the GROUND wire twisted around the power switch terminal ^&^ Now the twisted red & black wires aren't connected to the switch in these pics but you can clearly see that they had been twisted onto the opposite (i assume) switch terminal!! I was quite horrified when i found this had been done.. especially as (and i'm a bit ashamed to admit this) i had had this game powered up testing the rest of the game  !@)

This mess was hidden under the black power switch cover so i didnt find it until i had removed the relay panel, the  rest of the game was VERY tidy and with no other visible hack repairs, i had no reason to suspect anything was wrong... i could have very easily ended up VERY DEAD!!!!

The person who did this needs his ARSE KICKED until it bleeds  ^.^ ^.^

EDIT; i wanted to point out that this game was bought and put into storage (never powered up)  by the owner before bringing it to me so it wasn't him who wired the switch this way  *.* *.*
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 11:51:15 AM by Mr Pinbologist »

Offline pinnies4me

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2014, 12:24:10 PM »


Great advice Nino - I am always wary of project games and treat them as "wired and fused wrong until proven otherwise".

I also heard of a US game claimed to be from a private collection in Europe. This game apparently was obviously US from the coin door and other US spec matters. The purchaser could so very easily have been killed - beggars belief that someone would be so desperate for a sale to allow that sort of risk.
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Offline Strangeways

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2014, 12:48:19 PM »


Great advice Nino - I am always wary of project games and treat them as "wired and fused wrong until proven otherwise".

I also heard of a US game claimed to be from a private collection in Europe. This game apparently was obviously US from the coin door and other US spec matters. The purchaser could so very easily have been killed - beggars belief that someone would be so desperate for a sale to allow that sort of risk.

Yes - I have seen a few of these recently. Definitely not from Europe, and definitely not from anyone's collection. I'll see if I have pictures to demonstrate the issue.

I have no issue with project pins being sold into the market, as it gives me at least a day's work per week to convert, repair and quote on the machines. It is disappointing that sellers hide behind the "project" title when they know games are missing MAJOR components such as entire drop target assemblies - yet advertise them as "complete". This is no safety issue, but the machines are misrepresented.
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Offline dealers choice

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2014, 01:10:59 PM »
Great advice Nino. To be honest, I never even thaught about looking at any of these issues on the first project pin I baught.
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Offline skywalker

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2014, 02:37:01 PM »
Sound advice Nino,
not worth the risk, after bringing in some pins from O/S was told its easy to convert Blah blah,
best to leave it to the experts  ^^^

Offline Strangeways

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2014, 05:04:52 PM »
Should start a poll on guessing what country this game came from. Here's a clue - The power supply was jumpered as exactly stated on the coin entrance plates.

The customer was told TWICE - "This machine was DEFINITELY imported from a Private Collection in Europe (exact country left out)". The unsuspecting customer bought his EURO adapter and plugged in the game. There was a loud bang, sparks and smoke.

Wonder why ?

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Offline pinnies4me

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2014, 05:58:12 PM »
Should start a poll on guessing what country this game came from. Here's a clue - The power supply was jumpered as exactly stated on the coin entrance plates.

The customer was told TWICE - "This machine was DEFINITELY imported from a Private Collection in Europe (exact country left out)". The unsuspecting customer bought his EURO adapter and plugged in the game. There was a loud bang, sparks and smoke.

Wonder why ?



Is there a possibility that the game did in fact come from a private collection in Europe, and the importer of the game just forgot to mention (or didn't know enough to realise) that despite having come from this European collection most recently, the game was previously imported to Europe from the US and had been run off a step down transformer in Europe?

Either way quite negligent if the seller was a "professional", but possibly just ignorance if it was a private "backyarder" importer.
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Offline ddstoys

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2014, 06:02:59 PM »
Sadly anyone thinks they can get rich can start importing pins sadly many of them have no idea just see some quick cash.

   Do your homework people !!

Offline Marty Machine

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2014, 06:05:00 PM »
An absolute "MUST CHECK LIST" as per Nino initial posting...

Notes:
It's actually legal to rewire a line cord/plug at home yourself, provided you KNOW which colour wire goes on which pin, it is legal.
Anyone can re-wire an appliance, and anything that plugs into a wall socket *IS* an appliance, pinball/arcade machines included.
It's only illegal to rewire fixed wiring, such as house wiring, fusebox etc etc. (except in New Zealand, where "anything goes", you can rewire your house or factory without electrical license).
This is why the general public you can still buy the plugs at their local hardware outlet, until the future revises electrical safety standards and removes cable & plugs from the public sector.

Anyone who has has completed a "test & tag" course (i have) will be taught these things.


Regarding "Test & Tag" of your pinny...
Under Australian Test & Tag electrical Standards "ALL exposed metals on an appliance MUST be securely wired to electrical earth, failure of any exposed metal part results in the machine being deemed unsafe and will be refused by the tester.
This will include coindoors, legs, side(hand)rails and any mounting bolt(heads) that protrude around the sides of the cabinet & headbox.
If just 1 of these items isn't earthed, the test & tag person will reject it.

It's currently not mandatory to have test/tagging on your personal household electricals (including pinnies), other than your own peace of mind that it is safe.
However, when you run a public business, hire out gear etc etc THEN it's mandatory to have the tests done, and re-done each year...no compliance attracts some very hefty fines/jail.

So, make sure you internal earthing braid connects everywhere as it should, for your own safety as well as attempting to get a tester to 'pass' it.

MM
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 06:13:12 PM by Marty Machine »

Offline Strangeways

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Re: Project Pinballs - A Warning !
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2014, 06:38:52 PM »
Should start a poll on guessing what country this game came from. Here's a clue - The power supply was jumpered as exactly stated on the coin entrance plates.

The customer was told TWICE - "This machine was DEFINITELY imported from a Private Collection in Europe (exact country left out)". The unsuspecting customer bought his EURO adapter and plugged in the game. There was a loud bang, sparks and smoke.

Wonder why ?



Is there a possibility that the game did in fact come from a private collection in Europe, and the importer of the game just forgot to mention (or didn't know enough to realise) that despite having come from this European collection most recently, the game was previously imported to Europe from the US and had been run off a step down transformer in Europe?

Either way quite negligent if the seller was a "professional", but possibly just ignorance if it was a private "backyarder" importer.

The game was USA spec. Definitely came from the USA. The original power cable was cut out by myself. It was operated in the USA as it had USA coin acceptors.

It was simply the common issue that the importer does not know the product being sold. This is not the first time, and won't be the last !

Sadly anyone thinks they can get rich can start importing pins sadly many of them have no idea just see some quick cash.

   Do your homework people !!

Not a witchhunt, but it was imported by a company that is well entrenched in the industry. The fault with them is that they don't understand the product they are selling and the (ex) customers are learning the "hard way". I have no problem working on the games, as I have worked on several games in recent times and I will continue to do so.

Raising awareness of the safety concerns is what I am pushing for. More of a regulatory body that can police this kind of activity. Imagine going to "cash converters" and buying a blender that blew up in your kitchen because it was not correctly configured ?
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