Star Trek The Next Generation


I got hooked on STTNG a little ago, after a friend got one. It is so complex and challenging. And very nice game flow, thanks to top designer Steve Ritchie.

Playfield is dirty but OK.

No missing parts in backbox.

Lamp panel cable harness is torn loose, not hard to fix.

Cabinet looks OK.

Capt. Picard needs some makeup, as well as the whole right side of backbox.


I played the game for half a day, and found no major probles. So it is now time to a full cleaning job. The playfield must be thoroughly cleaned and waxed, most lamps need to be replaced and of course the game needs new rubbers. Also ramps, posts etc. must be cleaned. So let's start working!

It is much easier to put all parts back in place, if you lay them out on a table near their own places during disassembly. Put all screws to approximately correct places too. Even if you do this, there might be problems later, if you forget the correct assembly order. It is good to take lots of photos before and during disassembly. Fortunately a friend nearby has a STTNG, it is easy to go and check things from her game.

This is what came out. See how dirty the ramps are!

There is no need to take off everything. Remove enough so you reach every place with cleaning rag, and can replace all light bulbs. Often there are optos and switches on ramps, but luckily their cable harnesses have inline connectors so they are easy to remove. But number both sides of the connectors when removing, that helps a lot in putting them back together.

Stripped playfield.


After a little longish evening, I had managed to clean the playfield and all parts. Quite a job. Manual tells to use black rubber, but I think white rubber looks so much better and that's what I put in. Time for test playing? Not yet, all the tunnels under playfield, and ball trough must be cleaned so that dirt out there don't come to the just cleaned playfield. The tunnels have so much dirt, you probably could grow potatoes in them!

Playfield is clean and all parts back in place.

Underside of playfield.


Everything ready, if you ever can say these games are ready. Of course there's always one more little thing to do. But all is now clean, even the under playfield ramp was quite easy to remove but cleaning it was quite a job. During the work I had to wash my hands three times! My fingers were getting so black it was impossible to clean anything. And there were incredible amount of screws. If anything is sure, the ramp was surely well attached, with at least 20 screws. After removing, more screws were found, keeping the plastic covers on the ramps. A rechargeable screwdriver proved again to be at least worth its price. Dirt came off with Novus, and all optos were cleaned with cotton sticks. All OK.

The backbox lamp panel cable harness was easy to reconnect, after I checked the connections from Taru's game. Now all lamps and flashers are OK. The only little problem is quite loud chirping from the display, that will be cured by replacing the electrolytics on dot matrix driver board. I don't have those at hand, so I can't do that now. But that doesn't stop me from playing, so let's play!


Looks like the game was not in so perfect condition after all. In the middle of game, it suddenly went to mission selection mode, while the ball was nowhere near the Command Decision hole. And when the same thing repeated a few times, I was sure there is a fault somewhere. And of course it is the opto switch, whether the problem is in the light emitting side (as it usually is) or on the detector side, I don't care but replaced both sides since I had plenty of spares available. And that seems to have fixed the problem. At the same time, I warmed up the solder joints in ball trough opto boards, they did have some vibration sensitivity.

Replaced "Under Left Hole" opto.


The game has worked fine! I finally replaced the DMD driver board filter caps, only to find out that did not have noticeable effect on the display whining. I checked the ripple voltage at the caps, to be sure the rectifier bridges are not open, but all seemed OK so I just have to accept some displays make a little more noise than others. Of course the little squeal is not audible during play. And since the caps were over 10 years old it was a good thing to replace them anyway.


Taru helped modifying a cap for the lower bumper, that from factory has no cap. A normal cap does not fit between ramp and bumper. After some sawing and one bleeding finger, the cap now fits and looks great.

Bumper cap in place.

A small problem popped up. The drop target at upper playfield, in front of lock-sinkhole, is trying to reset several times although it sure is up. The switch that monitors the target, had one wire broken off. I put in a new switch and now it works fine. At the same time I replaced the slightly weak FL-11630 coil with a stronger FL-11629 on the upper flipper. The Delta ramp shot instantly became lots easier.


My STTNG looks even more great now. The back panel got a space image, instead of plain black looks. Taru painted the playfield ships to look like originals. And that's not all, the game even feels more great now that it has a shaker motor installed, making the game shake as the Enterprise suffers from hits in tight situations.

Painted ships.

Back panel image.

Enterprise crew is watching the game on top of backbox.


Many games have the playfield glass holding bracket broken or scratched. The original is made of black plastic, but Taru had some made from shiny steel. They are unbreakable and look great. We put one in my STTNG, looks good! Many thanks to Taru!

New shiny metal bracket reflects the display image.


Right outlane switch needed some adjustment. Ball going over switch was sometimes not noticed.


And the same switch had to be replaced with a new one, it was again not registering. Funny how the modern optos and micro switches are so often faulty, while the old style leaf switches in older games just keep on working!


Pinball Heaven sells ramp protectors for a reasonable price. I recommend to install those, to avoid breaking of the plastic ramps.

Alpha ramp protected.

Delta ramp protected.

Beta ramp protected.

Also the Neutral Zone hole gets a lot of wear on the edges, but a protector helps again.

Neutral Zone protector installed.


I installed a new display, the old one had no other problems but made a whining or chirping noise. The old display went into Fish Tales, whose display was already beginning to show its age.


Now I finally got the new lamp hood globes installed in the cannons, to replace the old plain plastic sheets. Looks great!

New lamp hood.


Right side of backbox has been in pretty bad shape, and the quick attempts to cover it with a paint pen did not make things much better.

How it looked like when I got the game.

Finally, the backbox decals are available, and so the game got a much better look at once. Or, at the second try. First, the old decals didn't want to get off but when I realized they just need some warming with a hot air gun, it was easy to get the old stuff out. The new decals attach very well to the warmed surface.

Quite a change. Fortunately to the better direction.