View Full Version : Bought my first pinball today

27-03-10, 04:49
I happen to run across a craigslist ad for a pinball machine for $150 locally. The ad had no pictures and only said it was a Chicago Coin game. I went to out to take a look today and found a great looking "Cinema," an '76 EM game.

So I ask if it works and he tells me it did the last time he tried it. We plugged it in, and nothing. I ask him if he will take any less since it doesn't power up and he volunteers to sell it as is for $100. So of course I load it up and take it home.

Fun part is, I get it home, plug it in, and it powers up just fine. I guess the guy should make sure he uses a good outlet next time.

Of course the game does have an issue right off the bat, it doesn't reset the game after I power it up. My first task though will be to drill out the locks as he didn't have the keys. If anyone has done this before and has some tips I'd be glad to hear.

Here are a couple quick pics, I'll post more as the project progresses. I am extremely excited to get this playing :D

27-03-10, 04:58
ALRIGHT! Good find and a great price. EMs are dead easy to work on, most problems are easily isolated because despite the wiring and appearance of complexity they all pretty much work the same and all pretty much fail the same.

Meet your new best friend: http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index.htm

And start here: http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index2.htm#reset (http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index2.htm#reset)

And look out for operator or previous owner "fixes" that deviate from stock. I have seen some real shady fix attempts on EMs that once undone reveal the very easy to fix real problem.

27-03-10, 05:24
Thanks for the info, I'll read up on it. I am hoping that it isn't too hacked on, as the guy I bought it off of said it came with his house that he moved into 20 something years ago. He told me he had a guy that would shop it every so often, so let's hope he wasn't just a poser.

I've found that I can order the schematics, so once I get it open and take a look I will be ordering that along with some parts and cleaners to get started. Any tips on drilling out the lock? Never done it before, but it doesn't sound complicated.

I have to owe this to you guys, as pinball wasn't even on my radar before starting to listen to the podcast.

27-03-10, 05:42
Grab this manual: http://www.ipdb.org/files/513/CC_Cinema_Parts_Catalog.pdf

We have given this fellow credit before for doing some really good articles and videos, all you ever wanted to know about opening locks on games is right here: http://www.arcaderepairtips.com/2009/07/28/replacing-a-coin-door-lock/

On many games though, I have this screwdriver with a flat sided shaft that a wrench will fit on. I usually slip that into the lock and then twist with a wrench and it complies. Sometimes you have to drill though which takes minutes rather than seconds, but not a big deal.

27-03-10, 05:56
This looks absolutely amazing!! Congrats!! I am really striving to find one locally since the shipping would be outrageous. Lucky you, it powered up fine, what a deal!! It looks amazing, good luck fixing the one problem you got. Congrats again, you really gave me the fever to start looking harder!!

27-03-10, 06:07
Lots of auctions in the NC and TN area, not an impossible drive to make. http://auctiongamesales.com/AUCTIONDATES.htm

27-03-10, 06:25
This looks absolutely amazing!! Congrats!! I am really striving to find one locally since the shipping would be outrageous. Lucky you, it powered up fine, what a deal!! It looks amazing, good luck fixing the one problem you got. Congrats again, you really gave me the fever to start looking harder!!

I'd recommend scouring Craigslist in your area daily. I've been on the look out for a reasonably priced one for months before I found this one. On a side note I saw a post for a Medieval Madness for $1500 a little while ago... unfortunately I missed on that one. Must have sold it really fast as I never got a reply, or they found out it sells for more and took it down.

27-03-10, 06:53
Welcome to the club. I got my first pinball just under six weeks ago. I've had three pinball nights so far, having friends or neighbors over to play. Just last week I was finally able to clean up a portion of the playfield with Novus. What an incredible difference that makes. I'm hoping to remove the playfield parts and do a thorough cleaning this weekend. Fully EM machines sound scary. Just from looking under the table of mine I can't imagine tracing all those wires. But if Scott says their easy to work on I'll take his word for it. He helped me diagnose the issue my game had. I could have replaced the power module for $110 plus shipping. Instead it was a little extra troubleshooting and about $3 worth of diodes from Radio Shack and a little soldering. The satisfaction of fixing it myself far outweighed the extra effort in troubleshooting. Good luck on your project.

27-03-10, 02:31
I'm jealous, I want an EM.

27-03-10, 04:24
I'm jealous, I want an EM.

You're more than welcome to visit me in Indiana and play to your hearts content. ;)

29-03-10, 04:40
OK, made some progress tonight, but didn't have as much time as I liked. I drilled out the two locks (found keys after opening the coin door, but tried them on the backbox and they didn't work.) I got the game to power up and when I hit the start button it began the reset sequence. All score reals reset except for two, and of course the reset sequence would never complete, it just kept running. I hope tomorrow to take the offending score real assemblies apart and find out why they won't advance. I found instruction on pinrepair.com (thanks again Scott) for how to check these out. I hope it is as easy as cleaning them and not the coils, but I will post another update after I find out. If anyone has any score real knowledge to share, I'd love to hear it.

Did a little cleaning while I was in there, but didn't want to mess with too much until I get some Novus.

30-03-10, 02:19
Manually advanced the score reels to zero, and the game resets! Put some points up to make sure it would reset again and it did fine. I am guessing the things have just been sitting for a while and I hope I loosened it up.

The switch for the right hand flipper button has come off. I found the rivets sitting in the bottom of the box and the switch itself is fine. I've never riveted anything, so I guess I am going to figure that part out. Any suggestions?

Going to put together a parts order for a few things including schematics and cleaners. So far so good :D

30-03-10, 03:33
In an EM, there are lots of places that can be lubed unlike a SS that has almost no places to lube and should be run dry. On an EM NEVER lube any coil but some mechs like score reels and shafts can be lubed. My weapon of choice is slick 50 one lube.

You can replace the rivets with screws, if you want to use rivets, there are tons of good aluminum rivets cheap at Lowes or Home Despot. They are dead easy to use, you just slip the rivet in and put the rivet puller over the rivet shank and squeeze until it pops off. One rivet and you have the skill down.

30-03-10, 03:44
I have another question, maybe a good topic for a tech question. I have read about LED bulbs in pinballs, but don't find any basic information. I would like to know if I can buy LEDs to replace the lamps in my EM, or do you have to install something special to change the voltage? I really know very little, and would like to hear some introductory info on LED bulb replacements. I do like the idea of reducing the heat production and power load of my game.

04-04-10, 01:16
OK, fixed the flipper switch and replaced all the burned out lamps yesterday. The game is now 100% operational. I really want to play a bit, but I am going to be patient until I have it properly cleaned and waxed. Having never owned a pin, I am really happy with how well designed and serviceable they make these.

04-04-10, 03:19
The best product for cleaning a pin is the Novus #1 and #2 cleaner you can get from any pinball supply house.

Ok, LEDs and bulbs are an important topic. There are many different bulbs used in pinball machines but the vast majority of bulbs used are #44s, 555s probably in second place. Bulbs are a source of two problems in a pin.

The first is power draw which is less important on an EM, but in a SS it becomes more important. As there is a cost associated with building anything better pinball manufacturers usually built to the bare minimum to get the job done and sometimes less. Lets say a machine needs 6amps and a 5 amp rectifier is $5 and a 10 amp rectifier is $10 there is a choice they make. They can run a 5 amp one hot and stressed or a 10 amp one cool and well within its capacity. They almost always chose the 5 amp one.

The second problem is heat. Heat creates or makes worse many of the problems in pinball. Heat warps plastics over time, yellows and browns them, causes dust to rise into inserts, causes expansion and contracting of surfaces which is biggie. The paint on the glass does not expand and contract at the same rate as the glass, the more you go though that mechanical process the more you induce and worsen flaking and bubbles.

The goal is to reduce these two problems. The difference for each individual bulb is small but the collective impact is large. In a SS machine you have the benefit of reducing the load on the individual components that control each bulb and the combined reduction of the load on the power supply. In an EM you don't generally have the issue of stressed power supplies and circuitboards but you do have the cumulative heat load. Both LEDs and lower wattage bulbs will get this done and the choice is mainly based on how it looks. Personally I don't care for LEDs in EM machines, but to each their own. There are LEDs made to match the voltage and sockets of many pinballs and are direct replacements. You can get them at most pinball supply shops. Another option is to replace your #44 bulbs with #47. The difference is light is small but the #47s will run cooler and at less current.

04-04-10, 04:39
Thanks for the info Scott, I appreciate it. I have already replaced the #44's with #47's, I heard you mention that before on a previous podcast. I think I may order a few LEDs for the Pop Bumpers and see what I think. From what I have read, it seems that just replacing the playfield insert lamps and Pop Bumper lamps is a popular choice.

04-04-10, 10:26
It looks great - Keep us all updated, with your post and the excellent section in Roundup, it's making me more convinced I should get one and have go at doing it up as well. Just need to find a cheap one in the UK now

06-04-10, 02:35
Not to go all the way into another topic, but as another step, you can always upgrade the existing power supply. You can bolster the ground and supply paths, upgrade from minimal to heavy duty components, all for a few bucks. If you spend the extra $10 to make that power supply half of what it needs to be it will likely never fail.

06-04-10, 03:24
Not to go all the way into another topic, but as another step, you can always upgrade the existing power supply. You can bolster the ground and supply paths, upgrade from minimal to heavy duty components, all for a few bucks. If you spend the extra $10 to make that power supply half of what it needs to be it will likely never fail.

OK, that sounds interesting. Being a pinball noob, what would that entail and do places like Marco's sell the parts, or somewhere else? I know my power cord looks rough, and I read on pinrepair about replacing it. Might tackle that after I get it cleaned and actually get to play a bit. My order from Marco's is on the way, hope to get it before the end of the week.

08-04-10, 05:05
Got my parts order in, and just had a little time for some minor work. I replaced the locks (I got the keyless ones so I won't ever need to drill them out again), the springs on the shooter, and shooter tip. Put the LEDs in the pop bumpers and it definitely changed the color cast to them, but I like it and hope it will keep the heat down in there. The pop bumper caps have a little browning on the underside, which I am assuming is from heat from the lamps. It is minor now, and hopefully now it won't get any worse.

I think I'll replace the playfield insert lamps and back glass lamps to LEDs later at some point also, but the others I'll probably leave as they are more visible. Next step is to clean and wax the playfield and replace the rubbers. These things are fun to work on :D

@retrocollect-2008: If you can find a pin over there, I would highly recommend it. With this EM game everything is logical and easy to visualize. The manufacturers really made them very accessible.

12-04-10, 05:25
I invested quite a while this weekend doing a thorough cleaning. Removed every part from the playfield except the pop bumpers a section at a time and went at it. It is amazing how much dirt and that black solenoid dust that accumulates, and I don't think that it has probably ever seen a proper cleaning. Once I finished cleaning I replaced all the rubbers, and it looks really nice now. I have to finish up with some more wax, but I should be playing on it very soon.

Cleaning the score reels really took awhile. They were the most dirty parts in the whole machine. I have to say again how well designed this machine is designed for easy servicing.

On my list of To Dos: Replace the metal coil sleeves with new nylon sleeves (this sounds like a big project to me, so I will probably tackle it a little at a time), replace non-visible bulbs with LEDs, replace the ugly cap nuts on the playfield posts, clean up the cabinet, and maybe get some Cliffy Protectors for the roll-overs.