What is Shopping a Pinball?

‘Shopping a Pinball’ is a term pinball enthusiast or collectors commonly use in the industry.  This term does mean different things to different people but the general consensus is that it usually means that the pinball machine is restored and upgraded from the current state.  It involves cleaning the machine thoroughly and making all minor and major repairs.  The extent of shopping a pinball can be changing a few burned out bulbs, waxing the play field and changing out worn rubbers all the way to dissembling the entire cabinet sanding it down and applying all new graphics.


A ‘shopped’ pinball machine is one that has been restored, repaired and is in good working condition.  The average shopping of a pinball as general maintenance will include: dissembling the play field and cleaning every part of the machine (note: specialized products are made to clean pinball machines and it is very important to use the proper cleaners, waxes and polishes), making adjustments, repairing any broken parts,  rebuilding flippers when necessary, waxing the play field, replacing burned out bulbs, testing all fuses, replacing rubbers, replacing batteries, repairing and replacing parts as needed.  This entire process will increase the value and life of the pinball machine.

Should I attempt this myself or hire a professional to ‘shop’ my pinball?

shopping a pinball


This is a good question and best answered by your skill and knowledge level with electronics and pinball machines in general.  Remember, pinball machines have high and low voltage and some components can hold a charge even when unplugged.  There is substantial risk of shock when working on machines.  That being said, shopping a pinball is not a beginner level project.  Depending on the type, age and complexity of the machine shopping will have varying degrees of difficulty.  Most older  pinballs are a relatively easy project for someone who wants to get started on a hobby and can be completed in a few hours.  The newer the machine the more complicated they are and specialized testing equipment and tools may be required.

How much does it cost?

This is going to depend on what kind of machine you have and what repairs and parts are needed.  In general, shopping an already maintained pinball yourself will cost around $100 in parts and supplies.  Shopping by a professional will cost around $400 or $500.  Don’t forget that additional repairs and parts can add up and get expensive.  This is just a guideline for a basic shop project.

Important maintenance for your pinball or video game

Did you know that pinball machines and arcade games take regular household batteries? Most people do not, but it is one of the most common and easily avoided reasons for malfunctioning pinball machines. Circuit boards are the ‘brain’ of the game and must be inspected every few months or so.

These circuit boards take batteries and as we all know batteries do not last forever.  Often times batteries corrode over time from not being replaced and depending on how long the corrosion was not noticed can cause much more extensive board damage.  Luckily if you find yourself posed with this situation it is almost


always completely fixable.  C&L Games has expert technicians and all the proper board working and testing equipment to fix this problem quickly and correctly.  A new battery holder can be installed on your board within an hour or so depending on the game. Although, the best solution is prevention and a handy tip is to remember, when you change the batteries in your smoke alarms also change them in your game.

Regular maintenance extends the life of your machines. By maintaining a machine regularly, you can mitigate breakdowns before they become a cost-prohibitive expense. “Shopping” a pinball should be done every couple of years depending on the amount of play and location of the game. C&L Games can usually shop a pinball machine in half a day depending on the game.  Keeping up on bulbs, sockets, broken wires, switches, flipper rebuilds, rubbers and cleanliness of the play field will help ensure the longevity of your machine. Read more about ‘shopping’ a pinball in our blog.

Maintenance for your arcade games and pinball machines is essential for their long-term life. Let C&L Game’s experienced technicians help you keep your machines pristine for years to come. Get in touch with one of our service techs today for information on repairs and maintenance for your equipment.