Important lessons learned from a new Stern owner

slippifishi

Site Supporter
Jan 7, 2020
56
94
18
norn iron
This week I have learned two very important lessons, which despite being rather embarrassed and ashamed that I had to learn them in this fashion, I thought I would hold my hands up :) These are probably "pinball owners rule #1 and #2" and I would love to direct all of the blame at JJP (my first machine was Wonka), but ultimately I am responsible.

Some of you may know, I received a gorgeous GB this week from Beowulf, which is in absolutely fantastic condition, good as new and really tastefully modded, I feel very lucky to have been able to buy at the right time and get this example. During my first evening of playing, I noticed the left sling wasn't firing, but it was getting late/dark, I was pretty shattered, and figured I would take a look in the morning. In the fresh light of day, I could see half the leaf switch was on the playfield side of the rubber - an easy fix. So glass off, and I poke it back to the right side of the rubber, but it had obviously been like that for a few days, as the leaf was a little bent out of shape. No problem, I have a leaf adjuster tool, so out it comes, and as I poke through the coin door, I realise there just isn't enough room. So the playfield is now up on it's supports and trying to get the tool in, but dammit it's just not as accessible as I wish it was. So I decide to put the playfield all the way up and come at the problem from above.

LESSON 1: ALWAYS REMOVE THE BALLS FROM THE TROUGH FIRST
I have become complacent because of Wonka and JJP and their device which (usually) keeps the balls in the trough. Even though it failed once for me, I still relied on it. As I lift the playfield, I hear the dreaded clatter of the balls coming out of the trough :| I instantly knew the mistake I had made, and my human reaction, as I think anyone's would be, was to lower the angle of the playfield and try and stop anymore balls rolling out.

LESSON 2: LOOK BEFORE YOU LOWER THE PLAYFIELD
I have become complacent because of Wonka and JJP and their playfield supports which extend the length of the playfield. As I panic lowered the playfield, I was in exactly precisely the wrong point, such that the bottom of the subway eject coil came down on exactly the wrong part of metal lockbar bracket at the cabinet front, and quite literally sheered the coil winding wire from the lug to the coil which you can just about make out in this picture:

1590848120630.png

It was a surprisingly precise cut, and (this so far seems to be) the only damage caused. Of course I didn't realise this at the time, so when I next switched it on and that coil was failing to fire, I then wasted a day assuming I had somehow inadvertantly knocked a connection loose on one of the boards - I definitely didn't expect physical damage like this. I was surprisingly calm given that I hadn't even had it 24 hours, but I think part of it was down to the fact I knew it worked and that it had to be something simple. Eventually I had the sense to break the multimeter out and isolated that broken wire. Little drop of solder this morning and I am back in business.

The silver lining in all the above is that I have had to diagnose and fix my first real fault so I am feeling pretty good about myself, but it may take a few weeks to shirk of the shame of having to learn these lessons this way.
 

BigIan

Site Supporter
Jul 21, 2011
3,889
1,962
113
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Alias
ZIG
I still need to learn lesson one, even when transporting a machine I usually have to reverse half way through packing it up just to take the balls out. Still do it now and again when lifting the playfield to work on the underside, haven’t had any major issues as yet.. 🤞

lesson 2, I did very similar but with the machine on, shorted and blow a few transistors, that was maybe 10 years ago, haven’t done it since but I have bought a few supports just in case
 
  • Like
Reactions: mufcmufc

mufcmufc

Staff member
Jul 21, 2011
1,904
1,531
113
Midlands
Alias
Nik
Easy mistakes to make with Stern sadly. I have a set (or two) of playfield Rail/handles to sell (not sure if GB has pegs think it does, even on Prem). To be fair you’re one step ahead of must of us as we’ve mostly all done it with the power on o_O
 
OP
slippifishi

slippifishi

Site Supporter
Jan 7, 2020
56
94
18
norn iron
I am still desperately intimidated by any and all the voltages under the playfield, so for me switching it off is still rule 0 before I take the glass all the way off :) I'm sure it won't be long before I get out of that habit, but it's probably one I should try and keep.
 

kevlar

Site Supporter
Apr 11, 2013
5,201
3,460
113
Newport, South Wales
Alias
Kevin Donovan
We've all made silly mistakes, one of the worst I've made was pulling a playfield forward when it was already all the way forward!. It fell and jammed in the cabinet, was hell of a job to get it back out on my own.

tenor.gif
 
  • Like
Reactions: Durzel

Rob zombie

Site Supporter
Nov 30, 2018
1,376
1,153
113
Conwy
We've all made silly mistakes, one of the worst I've made was pulling a playfield forward when it was already all the way forward!. It fell and jammed in the cabinet, was hell of a job to get it back out on my own.

View attachment 109331


I've done that a couple of times. It feels like a life or death moment I know! lol Still, not quite as bad as having the playfield drop on your head and back, which I've also experienced. Makes a nice bloody mess.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Durzel

Wayne J

Registered
Jul 22, 2011
1,552
1,776
113
47
Walsall
Alias
WWJ
We've all made silly mistakes, one of the worst I've made was pulling a playfield forward when it was already all the way forward!. It fell and jammed in the cabinet, was hell of a job to get it back out on my own.

View attachment 109331
I did that with my first machine, A13 , less than a week after I got it. After lifting it back in to place, nothing worked - the longest 2 days of my life until Phil and Terry came round to fix it (replace a fuse😁).
I'm yet to lift a playfield with balls in the trough, but I've lost count of the number of times I've put the glass back in, lock bar on, door locked, switched on - only to be faced with the "searching for pinballs" error message. Of course the machine can't find them as they're still in my pocket. 😧
 

robotgreg

Site Supporter
Aug 11, 2011
1,035
722
113
53
Swanage, Dorset
I'm another one to pull the playfield out of a Baywatch too far or it to fall inside and end up wedged 90 degrees out ie almost vertical with edge of playfield sticking in the air. Didn't realise how heavy that playfield is until tried to lift out. Finally managed after much swearing with help from my reluctant wife. Sold the machine not long after as had broken a number of mechanisms during the drop.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Durzel

domlouis

Site Supporter
May 28, 2014
1,532
915
113
Derby
I use a sponge to prevent the balls from coming out. I am really good at remembering to put it in. I am remarkably rubbish at remembering to take it out. So that's the glass completely off again. I
That happens pretty much every time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gonzo

Paul R Owen

Registered
Nov 15, 2011
1,387
686
113
Southport
I'm another one to pull the playfield out of a Baywatch too far or it to fall inside and end up wedged 90 degrees out ie almost vertical with edge of playfield sticking in the air. Didn't realise how heavy that playfield is until tried to lift out. Finally managed after much swearing with help from my reluctant wife. Sold the machine not long after as had broken a number of mechanisms during the drop.
+1, Baywatch playfields weigh a bleedin ton 🙄
 

Rob zombie

Site Supporter
Nov 30, 2018
1,376
1,153
113
Conwy
I use a sponge to prevent the balls from coming out. I am really good at remembering to put it in. I am remarkably rubbish at remembering to take it out. So that's the glass completely off again. I
That happens pretty much every time.
I usually take my socks off. One in the launch lane, one in the drain. Cold floor so usually remember to retrieve them.
 

Durzel

Registered
Oct 1, 2017
2,013
840
113
Bath, UK
My major lesson with my first Stem was learning that you can pull the playfield right off the rails :(

I was used to Bally/Williams, and in particular TZ which has a rails system where you pull it out until it clicks and locks into place, they you can raise it up.

So naturally that’s how I assumed they all worked. Got my Tron LE home, pulled on the playfield, felt some tension - like you do on TZ before it locks in, pulled a bit harder and the next thing I knew the playfield dropped off the rails and into the cabinet. :(

It was one of those moments where time stood still, particularly bearing in mind how much I had just paid for this pin.

By some miracle I didn’t damage anything at all, but trying to lift the playfield back onto the rails solo took a huge effort.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rob zombie

M4carp

Site Supporter
Jan 12, 2019
2,567
2,232
113
Pembrokeshire
Alias
Lostcause
I’ve only got one Stern, lotr le. Pulled the playfield straight out of the rails and dropped back in, what a load of crap. Thought there was something wrong with it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Durzel

Andydn

Site Supporter
Oct 14, 2019
763
826
93
Kent
I did that with my first machine, A13 , less than a week after I got it. After lifting it back in to place, nothing worked - the longest 2 days of my life until Phil and Terry came round to fix it (replace a fuse).
I'm yet to lift a playfield with balls in the trough, but I've lost count of the number of times I've put the glass back in, lock bar on, door locked, switched on - only to be faced with the "searching for pinballs" error message. Of course the machine can't find them as they're still in my pocket.

Always lay the balls on the upturned lock down bar, you’ll never forget again!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

kevlar

Site Supporter
Apr 11, 2013
5,201
3,460
113
Newport, South Wales
Alias
Kevin Donovan
I use a sponge to prevent the balls from coming out. I am really good at remembering to put it in. I am remarkably rubbish at remembering to take it out. So that's the glass completely off again. I
That happens pretty much every time.
Snap! I do exactly the same with my piece of sponge, I've done it literally dozens of times and its a " FFS! :mad: " moment every time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: domlouis

kevlar

Site Supporter
Apr 11, 2013
5,201
3,460
113
Newport, South Wales
Alias
Kevin Donovan
Also never rely on the 'bonnet prop', no idea why they even put those in games....
View attachment 109333
I actually wish all machines had a prop, but a better designed one ( dare I say like the Thunderbirds prop? I haven't worked on one but it looks like a good system ). There simply isn't a good position to work on flippers on a machine without a prop, even if it has rails like stern has returned too. Playfield up and the flippers are too far away/too high up for us short ****s to work on. Down on it's rails then you're kneeling on the floor.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Durzel and J.C.Rox

M4carp

Site Supporter
Jan 12, 2019
2,567
2,232
113
Pembrokeshire
Alias
Lostcause
I use a broom handle propped in middle against something under the playfield when I need to work on flippers etc
Propped from one side is so wrong, I've cringed when I’ve done it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Durzel

kevlar

Site Supporter
Apr 11, 2013
5,201
3,460
113
Newport, South Wales
Alias
Kevin Donovan
I use a broom handle propped in middle against something under the playfield when I need to work on flippers etc
Propped from one side is so wrong, I've cringed when I’ve done it.
I've used the broom method too.
The sterns slides are just pathetic aren't they? I hate the bump to slide them back in. I see that one of the mod makers sells something to eliminate that bump, I just wish stern would redesign them.
 

Rob zombie

Site Supporter
Nov 30, 2018
1,376
1,153
113
Conwy
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again....someone needs to design a mechanism that uses telescopic gas struts like they have on the coin op Garlando football tables.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jb3d

M4carp

Site Supporter
Jan 12, 2019
2,567
2,232
113
Pembrokeshire
Alias
Lostcause
I've used the broom method too.
The sterns slides are just pathetic aren't they? I hate the bump to slide them back in. I see that one of the mod makers sells something to eliminate that bump, I just wish stern would redesign them.
Frightened the life out of me and still don’t like to lift the playfield on my lotr . Just wrong compared to my WPC games.
 

johnwhitfield

Registered
Jul 21, 2011
3,340
2,338
113
50
new cross
Alias
John Whitfield
I’ve had a couple of times when the Playfield has fallen into the cabinet. They are always a nightmare to lift out. Such a stupid design that it can happen. Always seems to happen to the machine in the middle of a row of games. I’m then leaning over trying to drag a dead weight up and then clock that the ramps and plastics are now getting squished 🤬
 
  • Like
Reactions: Durzel
OP
slippifishi

slippifishi

Site Supporter
Jan 7, 2020
56
94
18
norn iron
Well I must say this thread is doing a great job of making me feel less bad about my mistake... ...but scaring the s**t out of me to never move the playfield again :D I didn't realise it wasn't "attached" to the rails, I always assumed it would stop me from taking it too far.

Love the sponge or sock in the trough idea, might start doing that.
 

domlouis

Site Supporter
May 28, 2014
1,532
915
113
Derby
More about playfield, I was pleasantly surprised the other day on the stern jp to notice that there is a handle at the back of the playfield to lift it back in place after pulling it fully out (to where it can safely go). I have found in the past the process of putting the playfield back where it belongs quite scary. The handle is very useful.