A Crash Course in Common Repairs for a Coin Operated Pool Table
You can often find a coin-operated pool table in a club, pub/bar, office breakroom, and gathering areas, which means these tables tend to get more abuse than recreational tables installed at home. In general, pool tables don’t need a lot of maintenance, but when you add in the complication of moving parts and excess wear and tear, you may find yourself needing some repair work on your billiard tables. Though you can leave the repairs to the professionals, there are some common issues to expect with maintaining coin-operated tables.
The Benefits of a Coin Operated Pool Table
Some of the benefits of using a coin-operated table help reduce the need for serious maintenance or replacement parts. Free tables see a lot of attempts at cheating or ball theft, which reduces the enjoyment of people to play and also costs extra money for replacement balls. Unhappy customers or players won’t return, potentially leading to a loss in revenue if the table is at a business location. Paid options can protect you from these situations. Coin-op tables are also common in the home too (often with the coin mechanism removed), bought from an establishment that no longer wants a pool table or who were upgrading.
If you are a business, keeping some of the most-replaced parts on-hand avoids downtime with your table and keeps the coins coming in.
Repair Concerns With a Coin Operated Pool Table
A coin-operated table has most of the same upkeep concerns as a regular pool table. The significant differences have to do with the coin slot and the ball return. These mechanisms involve certain different elements, and you also have to be on the lookout for damage to the felt, balls, or pocket liners.
Mechanical problems happen from normal wear and tear, but these problems can occur more frequently when individuals try to insert the wrong coins or tokens of a different shape and size into the coin slot. Trying to force the machine to dispense balls without the right coin puts force on the moving parts inside the mechanism and causes warping or jams. It’s also common for dust and moisture to get trapped in the coin slot. When this happens, grime and rust can build up along the interior elements, creating a hard, sticky resistance during operation.
The resistance can lead to a jam, and as a result, the balls won’t dispense as intended. Compounding the trouble, impatient players often resort to “fixing” the problem on their own. Excessive force from thumping or kicking the ball tray can create additional damage. Even if the jam is cleared, the balls may dispense but without the mechanism reverting back to the locked position. This causes revenue problems for the table owner, as patrons can play over and over again without paying since the balls will continuously feed down into an unlocked ball tray.
Key and Lock Elements
The money collected from your coin-operated pool table is usually protected with a locked coin chute. For some owners, losing the keys to the lock is a common problem. Though lost keys aren’t necessarily a repair concern, trying to pick the lock open or retrieve the coins by forcing open the release door can cause damage. DIY enthusiasts may even drill through the lock to force the door open, but this requires replacing the lock and key completely. That in turn can create more damage, as replacing this assembly often requires removing the slate. If you are a business and want to replace a lock - these are available on Penguin’s website.
Ball Return Elements
The ball return is a significant part of coin-operated pool tables, as keeping the balls from dispensing is what forces payment for play. However, when balls get lodged and stuck, it’s a serious problem for would-be players. There is a higher likelihood of balls getting stuck in the system is an older model made from molded plastic. Upgrading to a higher quality molded plastic can help prevent jams. Additionally, avoid wiggling, knocking, or other forceful movements of these mechanisms. This can cause more damage. A simple element like the ball dump spring or ball dump roller often can be replaced.
Note - If balls aren’t dropping through to the ball tray or dump area, there may be a piece of chalk or other items in the pocket causing a blockage - you’ll need to open the table up to troubleshoot this.
Rails / Cushions / Bumpers
Near and dear to the hearts of everyone at Penguin is having a table that provides a solid, consistent bounce off the rails. From the break to the last shot that rattles the jaw before dropping, few elements of a pool table impact the playing experience more than the cushions.
Depending on the construction, use (abuse), age, and environment of the table - your cushions may experience problems. From wearing cloth at the apex of the rubber at the middle pocket to failing glue - the impact of the problem will vary.
Check periodically for the rubber under the felt coming loose from the wood sub rail by trying the pull it up and down (gently - you’re testing for an issue - not trying to create one!). Any movement in the rail from the table will lead to a lifeless rail and a poor playing experience.
Penguin puts the time into manufacturing and covering rails that mass-production table factories often are not afforded - so if your rails are letting your business or players down, contact us or see our website for an upgrade.
Structural Concerns With a Coin Operated Pool Table
The exterior of a coin-operated table needs the same attention as a traditional pool table, though tables in public use locations may experience more accelerated damage. This is especially true for structural elements like leg levelers or the felt covering.
Optimum pool playing needs a flat, level surface. Leg levelers on each corner provide this stability when the floor is uneven or has shifted. Though pool tables are sturdy, roughhousing could cause uneven pressure or force uneven table legs to bend, wobble or break off completely. Cheap levelers can also rust and lose structural rigidity.
Recovering the Table
Public use tables often experience damage to the felt covering from common playing objects like cue tips, chalks, and game balls. Jewelry, excessive brushing, long-term sun exposure, and friction from people sitting on the table can also cause tears, rips, or excessive fraying.
Refelting the table is a common repair need for pool tables, and ensuring proper play both on and around the table can extend the life of your new covering. Keeping the game balls clean, maintaining a consistent, humidity-free environment, and monitoring play can reduce unnecessary damage.
Replacement Parts for a Coin Operated Pool Table
Keep your pool table in the best working condition with good playing, storage, and maintenance habits. You can turn to Penguin Amusements for a wide selection of replacement parts for your coin-operated pool table. Browse our affordable selection of high-quality products today.