Pinball by Stern EM 1977

This game is called "Pinball".  It was made by Stern in 1977.  This game has two very big issues with the design. 

 First the reel mechanisms rely on some really poorly designed edge card connectors.  We had to replace 9 of the 20 connectors with a much more robust design and we chose to plastic weld a few more.  The black plastic housing made by AMP is not strong enough to handle the heat and vibration of this game.  Needless to say this is a VERY labor intensive problem to fix.

 Second the stepper units produce severe carbon scoring and burn holes into the fiberglass printed circuits.  The contacts are silver and the plating looks like tin instead of copper as usually seen on steppers.  Again, this adds hours to any repair of these games.

 Another strange design is the way the reels reset to home position.  Pressing the start button starts a process of pulses through three "Score Reset" relays that simultaneously pulse a "set" of 6 reels at a time.  The "set" do not move together, they try to but instead jerk sometimes and move a full notch on other pulses.  When the first "set" all go to zero position then the second "reset" relay  kicks in to bounce that group home.   The 3rd set finishes off the last group of reels.  It is strange to watch a machine move the reels back to zero in this haphazard method but it does work!

 The Internet Pinball Database ( shows Stern only made 594 of these games.   That's to bad, this was a fun adventure that we may never see again.  We took lots of pictures!  The service notes follow:

09/12/2013 10:32:31  Re: Pinball repair: We have cleaned, waxed, new rubber, new bulbs the playfield. Cleaned and lubed most of the relays and stepper units. Found a burned pcb contact pad - repaired with bondo. Found another problem that has us stumped for now. The Reel mechs will not reset. They only move 3 digits per reset cycle and the ball unit will not advance. This is taking too much time to fix (3 days) so we have ordered the game schematics 09/11/13, e.t.a. next week. Sorry, your game is on hold until then. Lee...

09/20/2013 11:31:05  Re: Pinball. We have worked on your game for 5 more full days. The schematics led me to the 18 pin connectors on each score reel assembly. Nine connectors were cracked and broken, several others could be plastic welded back together, replaced 9 connectors with dual 18 pin type (Cinch .156 solder eyelet). The soldering of these connectors took 3 days. The reel units also needed cleaning, lube and adjustment of the wiper blades and other moving parts. These units are CRITICAL to the operation of this game. Still working on the rest of the game but it should be done soon.

09/21/2013 16:58:29  Re: Pinball. Found another hole burned into a stepper unit - Ball Count Unit - filled hole and replaced trace material. Repaired chimes unit, 1 bell armature missing nylon hammer, found one and glued it in, modified chimes with longer wood screws so they would sound good. Replaced front glass lifting trim with a nice used stainless part, replaced missing side and top plastic trim. Install front and back locks. Found and fixed several playfield lights and mechanical issues. Final wax, vacuum cabinet, tested. Ready for delivery.

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