PINBALL EXPO 2005
Thursday started with the tour of the Stern Pinball factory. The trusty school buses arrived more or less on time starting shortly after 9am.
After the usual discussions with the drivers about exactly where they were going and how to get there, we were on our way to the factory.
When we arrived it was clear there were several different models in production in the factory. Cabinets for Nascar, Grand Prix, Elvis and Lord of the Rings were all in evidence but Elvis was the game taking up the majority of resources.
The first area just inside the entrance is the cable forming and construction department.
The cables are formed on these boards by running the individual wires around the metal posts following the diagram on the paper.
The wires are then connected to the lamp sockets and tie wrapped together to make a wiring loom
Once the looms have been made, some require connectors to be added so the pins for the connectors are attached.
The completed wiring loom is then tested to make sure the connections are correct and reliable before they are used in the game.
Alongside the cable construction, the printed playfields are being slowly populated.
First, the t-nuts are fitted.
Then the mounting holes are drilled using a metal template placed over the playfield.
The playfields are dimpled on the top side by this machine. This marks the position of the posts, ramps and all the other playfield parts which need to be secured.
Over on the other side of the factory, the base cabinets for Nascar wait to be fitted with transformers, speakers, flipper switches and all the other cabinet parts.
Back at the playfield production line, the plastics are stacked up in sheets.
They are then pressed out and either fitted with toys or assemblies, or attached directly to the playfield.
The playfields continue their journey along the line having more and more parts added on their way.
By this stage the playfields are looking more recognisable as a finished product and are almost ready to be installed into a cabinet.
And here it is being put into the cabinet.
The completed game is tested and then packed into its box ready for shipping.
Here are the boxed games in the loading bay ready to ship.
Finally, visitors were given a pack of flyers for game such as Nascar, Monopoly, Ripleys Believe It Or Not! and Grand Prix.
And so ended this year's tour of the Stern Pinball factory. It was then time to return to the Wyndham hotel for the start of the seminars.
We'll have full details of those in the next part of this report from Pinball Expo.
© Pinball News 2005