Well, it happened. I had something break on my Iron Man pinball machine by Stern Pinball. I got a second/third-hand pinball machine from a friend over the summer. My family and I have played a few hundred games since then and ran into an issue a few weeks ago. I had a rubber guard ring snap and this caused the ball to get stuck behind the Whiplash mechanism.
Pinball machines are indeed machines. They need regular maintenance, cleaning, and small adjustments. You are hurling a steel ball at metal, rubber, and plastic, and things are bound to happen. One day, I noticed that a ball kept getting stuck in my machine. I took the glass off and took a closer look. I noticed some chewed up rubber sticking out. One of the rings had split apart. The rubber rings help protect metal parts in the game, add some energy to the ball, and also protect the ball itself. If your ball gets scratched up, the ball will scratch up your playfield and cause other maintenance problems. So, it is a great idea to clean, change out rings, and replace the pinballs on a regular basis.
I first turned to the Iron Man Pinball manual and then watched some YouTube videos on replacing the rubber rings. I did some research to build up some confidence with removing the covers and taking out some screws. I came across Titan Pinball. They had everything that I needed including a new t-shirt.
Titan Pinball had every ring for every game in many colors and sizes. I choose yellow. They also have a cool feature where users can share their maintenance kits, other users can comment and make changes to build their own kit. By letting the pinball community help out, Titan Pinball has the most comprehensive ring sizing than any other place on the web. Check out the Titan Pinball Kits Database for options for your pinball machine.
I discovered that the original ring installed was not the right size which caused it to prematurely fail. There were small discrepancies in the manual and the forums, but the community helped me solve the mystery and over come my trepidation about opening up the machine and doing my first pinball maintenance. Game on!