Pachinko Ball Lifter
My wall mounted Mizuho pachinko machine looked great, but would frequently exhaust its ball supply during heavy play. Then I had to walk down the hall, open a closet, and transfer used balls back to the supply tray atop the game. Now a motorized pachinko ball lifter keeps that pachinko machine supplied with balls.
Installing the Pachinko Game
The pachinko game is built into my gameroom wall where it backs on an under-the-stairs closet. Working inside the closet, I removed drywall to expose the studs. As luck would have it, one stud blocked the area intended for the pachinko game. I cut that stud and framed an opening to hold the game, similar to the framing for a window.
Then I drilled the gameroom drywall from the back at the corners of the opening. Using the holes as guides, I carefully scored a rectangle into the gameroom side of the drywall and an X on the back side. One swift karate kick removed the rectangle cleanly. If only.
I lifted the pachinko machine frame into the opening. Window shims helped level and secure the frame flush to the gameroom side of the wall. I screwed the pachinko game frame into place to make the installation permanent. On the gameroom side, I hung the pachinko game on its hinges and added stained quarter round moldings to cover some rough edges.
The Ball Lifter
After a decade of sporadic searching, I found a pachinko ball lifter offered on eBay. The auction photos showed a gadget that looked like it could work with my pachinko game. I took a chance.
The ball lifter is much sturdier than the plastic mechanism of my pachinko machine. The orange ball lifter unit is fabricated from heavy gauge sheet steel formed into four sides of a box. One long side of the box swings open for maintenance. The box is secured with very long nails supplied with the ball lifter unit.
As balls are played in the pachinko game, they drop down a plastic chute into the open top of ball the ball lifter unit. Inside, a sloped platform directs balls downward into a trough that leads to a star wheel. A strong motor turns the star wheel, which indexes and pushes balls up into a vertical, square, hollow steel channel. Halfway up the sloped platform, an overflow hole permits excess balls to drop into a secondary collection system. I installed an orange plastic Rubbermaid box to catch the overflow balls.
At the base of the vertical channel, a pawl latches behind each passing ball to retain the balls in the stack and to prevent the stack of balls from pushing back against the star wheel. Balls continue from the top of the channel to an attached flexible tube made from spring steel wire. This tube directs the balls into the supply tray at the top of the pachinko machine. I secured the tube with plastic cable ties screwed into the wood framing.
A wedge shaped, pressure activated normally closed switch is positioned in the pachinko machine supply tray. When the ball supply is low, the pressure is released and the switch closes, activating the ball lifter motor. The star wheel pushes balls up the vertical channel, through the flexible tube, and into the supply tray. As the supply tray fills, the weight of the balls applies pressure to the switch, which opens to deactivate the ball lifter motor and stop the flow of balls.
The ball lifter keeps my pachinko game running during busy times. Every week or so, I still must transfer the overflow balls from the Rubbermaid container back into the supply tray.