Take a look deep inside the guts of a pinball machine | Feature | Chicago Reader

Take a look deep inside the guts of a pinball machine 

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click to enlarge The backside of a pinball playfield - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • The backside of a pinball playfield
  • Jamie Ramsay

For our latest issue, Ryan Smith delved into the seedy history of pinball and the champion player Roger Sharpe, who helped lift the ban on the game while his sons are leading today's renaissance.  We photographed Roger and his sons Josh and Zach, the next generation of champion pinball competitors, at the Stern Pinball factory in Elk Grove Village, IL.  It's the oldest and largest manufacturer and designer of pinball machines in the world.  It ships machines all over the globe.  Every station of assembly is touched by human hands to create the games themed with everything from Guardians of the Galaxy, to Star Wars, to Stern's latest machine dedicated to Iron Maiden.  We've got a few extra looks, from inside the factory, that couldn't fit in print.


click to enlarge A worker finishes the a pinball playfield before it's placed in a cabinet - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • A worker finishes the a pinball playfield before it's placed in a cabinet
  • Jamie Ramsay

click to enlarge Workers install electronics on the backside of a pinball playfield - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • Workers install electronics on the backside of a pinball playfield
  • Jamie Ramsay

click to enlarge Pinball play fields being built on the assembly line - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • Pinball play fields being built on the assembly line
  • Jamie Ramsay

click to enlarge A close look at the flippers of the Iron Maiden game before the playfield glass is installed - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • A close look at the flippers of the Iron Maiden game before the playfield glass is installed
  • Jamie Ramsay

click to enlarge Iron Maiden pinball cabinets prior to assembly - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • Iron Maiden pinball cabinets prior to assembly
  • Jamie Ramsay

click to enlarge Electronic wiring awaiting installation into pinball machines - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • Electronic wiring awaiting installation into pinball machines
  • Jamie Ramsay

click to enlarge Inside the customizations area of Stern Pinball factory - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • Inside the customizations area of Stern Pinball factory
  • Jamie Ramsay

click to enlarge A wall of customizations available for pinball machines - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • A wall of customizations available for pinball machines
  • Jamie Ramsay

click to enlarge Flags representing all of the countries to which Stern ships pinball machines - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • Flags representing all of the countries to which Stern ships pinball machines
  • Jamie Ramsay

click to enlarge Zach, Josh and Roger Sharpe wait for lighting to get set up for the photo shoot. - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • Zach, Josh and Roger Sharpe wait for lighting to get set up for the photo shoot.
  • Jamie Ramsay

Former pinball champ Roger Sharpe's signature footwork during pinball play - JAMIE RAMSAY
  • Former pinball champ Roger Sharpe's signature footwork during pinball play
  • Jamie Ramsay

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