What is Shopping a Pinball?

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.