What's New

2014-2016 What's New


2013 and Prior What's New

Check List When Buying A Pinball

Games I am looking for:

Flintstones
Ripley's Believe It Or Not
Shadow
Apollo 13 - Maybe since their GI lighting is so hard to replace.
Twister - Maybe since their GI lighting is so hard to replace
Cirqus Voltaire - May be expensive and pretty but not sure
Tales of the Arabian Nights
Ghostbusters Premium
Dialed In!

9/24/2017

Theatre of Magic mostly complete. I hope to buy a apron magnet cover and trunk blades this weekend in York. I will re-brass the wire ramps when the person has the replacements.

9/5/2017

More photos added to Theatre of Magic.

9/2/2017

I posted a Preliminary list of items for sale at the York show. I will be in the indoor flea market area.

8/24/2017

This the the KAHR.US WPC Power Fix Daughterboard that I add to every Bally/Williams game that I work on. I highly recommend them.

I have been adding the daughter boards to all my Bally/Williams games for a few years now. If your 5 volt circuit drops occasionally, this board ensures the game does not reset. (If your 5 volts drops all the time like when pressing both flippers it usually signals a problem on the driver board.) This game would reset when the ball hit the switch for either ramp. Rob, the designer of the board, told me my 18 volts was having the issue. In test mode, the game reset when all lights were turned on. I replaced the driver board and the game consistently provides 18 volts. Very nice to have the board to isolate a problem I didn't even know I have. 

Below you can see the board. It goes into J210 on the MPU then the Connector goes into the board.

08/20/2017

I picked up a Theatre of Magic today. I got it working. Now to make it beautiful.

08/13/2017

I dropped of my 1979 Bally Star Trek at Coin Op Warehouse in Hagerstown yesterday. With 50,000 followers on his web site, he can sell anything. I wanted to sell it to free up space for games I actually want for myself. I told him what I wanted, which was basically to get all my costs back for restoring the game, adding LEDs, new displays, and 3 new boards. He added several hundred and sold it within a day. This is great for him. With just a few pictures I provided to him, he sold the game with no investment of time or money except for the time to post my game.

I spent tonight inventorying the items I will take with me to the show. This way I can mark items (like plastic sets or decals set) as complete or list what they are missing. Also I can note if new unused or complete but used. I knew I had some stuff I wanted to keep. I found a few things. I was able to create a full set of Ripley's Believe it or not decals and kept them since I want the game again in the future. I found a Theatre of Magic Operator's handbook that I also kept and some other items. I am looking forward to purchasing a Theatre of Magic to restore for myself next weekend. This should complement the Houdini I should get later in the year.

Someone is supposed to come to pick up a NOS Contact black glass. It is beautiful and looks and is new. They said they may come and in true fashion they have not responded to my request of possibly when. Typical. I will assume they are not coming. It would be nice so I have one less thing to bring to York. We will see. Someone local may be interested in my almost complete NOS Gilligan's Island plastic set. Just need to synchronize when I can meet up with the person.

I have been reading up and looking at parts and mods for the Theatre of Magic I am getting. I want this to come out as nice as the Spider-Man did.

08/07/2017

Been thinking back on the prices I paid for games over the years. For "A" level games, I was paying in the mid $1,000s to $2,000s from 1999-2007 or so. Then the games were in the mid $2,000s to $3,000s. Within the last few years, they are now in the mid $3,000s to $5,000s. These are UNRESTORED games. People look at the value of the games as listed on eBay and such, and retail and think their game is valued at the high end. I explain to people that if I buy a game and restore it, I sometimes add $2,000 in mods and parts (used to be less than $1,000, then in the mid $1,000s, and now up to $2,000). So when you add in the cost to buy the game and the parts to make it worth near the high end (not including my time), I can no longer afford (or care to) buy games with the sole intent to restore and sell.

I should soon have the two games sold that I really liked but wanted to move out so I can get some different games. This will be the first time since 2004 that I had no pinballs for sale at all. I will also take several of my slot machines to the York Show in September to try to sell to free up room for more personal pinballs.

I guess I should change the first page to highlight that main part of this business is fixing pinball machines.

07/09/017

I have been cleaning up my basement over the past few weeks. Partly to prepare for the York Show in September, party to clean up almost 20 years of junk and treasures (mostly junk). I will have a lot to sell at the indoor flea market area of the York Show in September. So come by and say hi.

While at the Allentown show at the fairgrounds back in May, it brought back two memories. The first was our family's first trip to Allentown back in the middle 1970s. We saw the Osmonds at the Allentown Fair at the fairgrounds. I am sure we did other things as well, but this is the standout event. I even mentioned that to my sister and she fondly remembered this trip and concert. She also remembered I bought her the latest album from the Osmonds at the time.

(I did a little bit of research and see that the Osmonds performed in Allowntown on Monday, April 9, 1975, Wednesday July 9, 1975, and August 8 and 9, 1975 at the Allentown Fair. So we were at the concert either August 8th or 9th, 1975.)

The second memory was the collectibles shows we did from 1989-1999 including many at hotels in Allentown. In 1988-1989, I wrote a computer program to keep track of collectibles. It was called "Collectibles Database." My company was MSdataBase Solutions. (This was a play on "dBase" with the lower case "d" and "Base" as well as MSB either standing for "Michael Suzanne Belofsky" or my full name.) At the time it was written in Clipper using dBase IV. It allowed people to create lists of their collectibles and print out inventory for insurance, wanted lists, for sale lists, etc. I started to license price guides in computer format and added value by allowing collectors to move items from the price guide to their collection and automatically update prices twice a year. In 1994 I took the program to Windows using Visual Basic. I started to license photos from the figurine companies as well. Someday I can write so much on this topic. But the summary was I was working full time and the business was taking more time but not earning enough money to quit my full time job.

In 1999, I created an Oracle database on my hosting site (first use of a "Cloud") and created software that would allow people to log in, only see their collections and price guides. I would never have to send out another update on CD or floppy. The second a price guide was updated it would be available to subscribers. It was a great idea and worked perfectly. The only problem was that the world was not ready for it. The Internet didn't really catch on until the early to mid 2000s.

Suzanne and I sold the company in 1999 when I realized it was killing us. The company that bought us was the Longerberger price guide we were licensing. I just looked at the web site again (probably first time in 10 years or so). It is much of what I envisioned back in 1999 but the speed and adoption of the Internet was not there yet. So sad. I was ahead of my time and a dollar short... typical.

The saddest part of this (and it is totally due to my lack of business knowledge) is that we needed to sell the business. The company that bought us offered us a price. We accepted the price and then they came back and said that they would pay it to us over 3 years. My lack of business knowledge and experience (and really wanting to sell the business) did not lead me to think they should pay me the price plus interest for 3 years. Instead, they discounted the price and the 3 years of interest were built into the price. What fries me to this day (and I need to get over it) was that I was working with a "Christian" company and expected to be treated fairly and not taken advantage of. I guess the owner had no responsibility to tell me I am being stupid and allowing this to occur. But I expected more. (The funny thing is when I have told this story in the past to friends, they stated I was silly to think that "Christian" meant ethical, honest, or fair....)

I think these types of experiences of being taken advantage of have helped me to be a better manager, director, and leader at work. I have also come to the realization that in order to be very successful at business, you have to take advantage of people. I cannot do this and will continue to earn a small side living on the pinball business.

Today is my 16th anniversary of being a full time employee at Fannie Mae. Looking forward to another 16!

I try not to say much about the news or politics. But have you seen the tragic car accident incident with Venus Williams? I am sorry for the man that was killed in the car accident. But unless I am watching the video and reading everything wrong, Venus is not at fault. If anyone is at fault, it is the driver of the car that drives very fast into the intersection. All I can infer is that she was distracted and did not see that a car was clearly still in the intersection Although the light may have been green for the other car, common sense would imply that the car currently in the intersection has the right of way and the other car should have stopped. End of story. There is no wrongful death lawsuit to be filed by the family. It is a tragic accident caused by the deceased person's wife. The ambulance chasing lawyer should know better. If a pedestrian were still in the intersection walking slowly and that pedestrian was hit, the driver of the car would be at fault for not yielding to a pedestrian crossing the street. So why is this lawsuit allowed to move forward in our very stupid court system?

06/06/2017

A Sega Harley Davidson was brought to my house last Saturday to restore. It is not a detailed restoration. Just enough to get it nice and LED'ed. New rubbers, remote battery, fixed plastic, Cliffy protector. It will be finished this Saturday when he comes back to help finish it. I have not documented the page yet so it just has placeholder text at the moment.

06/05/2017

My third tool box broke at a customer's home on Sunday. I was handing it to him to help and when he took it the handle broke and it fell down the stairs. Bang, bang, bang. Luckily it did not hurt his walls or floor. It did open up the top area with screws and such. Some of the light bulbs broke so we had to vacuum up the floor. I purchased my 4th tool box today. It is a Husky with the fabric case rather than plastic. We'll see how this does. I guess three lasting 13 years is not bad.

I got to see and fix an original Medieval Madness and a Twilight Zone. The TZ had the reset issue when both flippers were pressed. The MM has a few switch adjustments. I changed the batteries on both games and told him to set his calendar to change the batteries in 3 years. I'm restoring a customer's Sega Harley Davidson in my house. He will come back next Saturday to put some sweat equity into it and learn to fix some stuff. He looks like someone that can work on these in the future. I'll post pictures soon.

05/30/2017

Spider-Man is complete. Please take a look.

05/23/2017

The parts came in for Spider-Man but I screwed up. I "assumed" we were working off the rubber list on p. 58 of the manual. I asked for 4 blue 7/16" and 14 red 7/16". I received 7/16" ID (inner diameter) when I needed the small post rubbers that go on a post that are 7/16" OD (outer diameter). I had to reorder parts. My game is sitting in pieces on the floor until the parts arrive.

Once I get Spider-Man done, I will enjoy it. Then I will really work on cleaning up the basement finding items to sell at the York show in September. I will also get the Bally Star Trek that I mentioned below to fix and also a Stern Harley Davidson to fix.

I also have to add blades to Hobbit LE, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek LE, and Star Trek Next Generation.

05/17/2017

The final parts for Spider-Man should come in tomorrow or Friday. I ordered red and blue polyurethane rubbers and a new magnet core. The Cliffy protectors also came in.

I worked on a Bally Star Trek on Friday night. It should have been a quick fix to replace the MPU. But it only flashed 5 times with the old board and same with the new board. After tracing down the issue, which is that 43 volts is not getting to the pin on J4 connector, I verified that the power rectifier board, the driver board and the MPU were getting 43 volts. I tested a new driver board and put in another MPU just in case. The wires to the power rectifier board are burnt in some areas and soldered directly to the board. The next step is to get the game at the house and rebuilt the power rectifier board and connectors. Since I also have a Bally Star Trek, I can ensure that the wires are in the correct location on the connectors. If this does not work, I am baffled. I hope to solve this problem, but this makes going to people's houses frustrating.

On Monday evening I worked on a Black Knight 2000. It had an "Adjust Failure." I expected to possibly have to change out the board. But I looked at it and the corrosion was limited to the battery holder. I replaced the battery holder and the game worked great. I was hoping this would be a fast fix. The right flipper was not working. It was fried and the plunger was stuck in. I replaced the FL11630 flipper. There was a wire going between the power on the left flipper to the right flipper. Not a good thing to do. I removed that. Then the left and right flipper did not work. I replaced the left flipper as well since it was not correct. Then I realized that the EOS switch was corroded and the wire was moving power to the left flipper (rather than to the right flipper as I originally thought). After I filed the EOS switch, the left flipper worked better than ever.

But the right flipper still did not work. I was hoping that it was the F5 (3amp slow blow) fuse. It was not. I was hoping that a TIP36 transistor controlled the flipper. But based on the schematics and on line information, it looks like the flipper is not controlled by the MPU so no transistor. I traced the connectivity from the flipper switch to the interconnect board and out from the interconnect board to the power board. All good. I shorted the center lug of both flipper coils to ground and they worked. I assume the issue is the interconnect board. I labeled all the connectors and replaced the fried connector for lights in the back box. The owner is comfortable replacing the board. This should solve the problem. The new interconnect board did solve the problem. The F5 fuse blew. We replaced and it works fine. (The fuse was just old and fatigued.)

I'll report back final status on the Star Trek once I work on them.

05/10/2017

I went to Pinfest in Allentown last week. I drove up after work on Friday. I dropped off my stuff at the hotel and there was a White Castle across the freeway. I went. I was trying to relive the 1970s when we used to go to Americana lanes bowling alley of Cross Bay Blvd and the White Castle was down the street. It tasted better in the 1970s.

A posted some items I had for sale and I had a few people ask me to bring the items. I did. As usual, no good deed goes unpunished (although annoying and not terrible). No one showed up to get the items I brought. One person (who asked for 2 items for 2 different games) did email me Friday night telling me that he sold the game and no longer needed the items. I just think this is funny because I personally would not be buying stuff for a game that I was planning to sell unless a person just happened to walk by the house and knock on the door and offered cash. Plus they sold one machine, not both. No matter. Just interesting observations.

I fell in love with American Pinball's Houdini. I spent a lot of time at the booth watching people play and speaking with Josh Kugler (thank you for letting me ask all the questions) and Joe Balcer. I did place a deposit on the game. I like that it is well made, well coded, only one version of the game, it has a subway, and is fun to play.

I was thinking of getting some blades for a few games. I stopped by the Pingraffix booth. I started talking to the person "Cory" and he said. "Oh my gosh. What is your name?" I told him. He said "Do you know who I am?" I said the only Cory know was my next door neighbor growing up in NYC and said his last name. He said, "That is me. You look just like you dad." Wow. His mom even told him when he started helping his friend Joe in this business that I was into pinballs. I did not know that he was doing this. The owner, Joe, knew my sister growing up and knew my brother and me. Small world. I bought 5 blades. A mirrored one for Spider-Man, a lit one for Lord of the Rings, a plain one for Star Trek Next Generation, the same one as for the previous game but with the cutout for the lights for Star Trek LE, and finally a plain one for Hobbit LE. They also introduced a beautiful set of blades, back box artwork and translite for Attack from Mars that was lit.

I bought a bunch of LEDs from CoinTaker, the blades as I mentioned above, some parts from Marco Specialties, a Gottlieb System 1 power supply for a friend to fix his Buck Rogers, a radio for another friend, a Hobbit manual, and the deposit on the Houdini pinball. I think I spent enough. I also met several friends. I enjoyed going to the show.

I did just order a red set of red polyurethane rubbers for the Spider-Man. I also just had all the Cliffy protectors sent for this game as well. So I plan to spend a few weekends pimping out this game and adding photos.

I'll have to start fixing pinballs to cover the cost of the Houdini. :)

I went to the York show a few times in a row to sell stuff at the flea market. Thank goodness, I have an indoor space for this year's show. I always hope to sell out of everything and usually only sell 30% and make 10% of what I was hoping for. I will bring whatever pinball I have for sale and my slot machines since I want to free up space for more pinballs. I'm thinking of making a sign "Oh yeah. This is the York show. How much should I pay you to take my stuff?"

04/22/2017

I continue to clean up the basement. I will go to the Allentown show, but will not sell anything except for the few items I pre-sold. I am preparing for York as I said below. I am cleaning up to organize better. Hopefully I can eventually move my pinballs to the back area. I am also making more key holders. I bought clear plastic holders and place two business cards in. I bought the business cards from Vista Print. When I make the next set of business cards my tag line will change from "Buy, sell, repair pinballs, slots, & video games." to "Buy, sell, repair Pinballs and Antique slot machines."

04/20/2017

I did some maintenance on my Escalera and posted it here. My Escalera is a motorized dolly that climbs stairs that allows me to move pinballs mostly by myself. I ordered new wheels, gliders and pins. I will post the changes to the above site once i get them.

I received the Back Alley Creations mods for my Spider-Man (Houses and train). I'll post photos once I receive the Cliffy protectors to do the entire work on the play field. I am very happy to get this game back to enjoy it.

I was enjoying my Star Trek Next Generation last night. I had to do another adjustment. I actually replaced the left flipper plunger assembly so it had the new version. I also added springs that did not go on the plunger to provide more range of motion. I think I am finally happy with the flippers.

I plan to attend Pinfest in Allentown on Saturday, May 6. I posted some items for sale that can be picked up at the show if anyone needs anything. Here are my ads. (I'm not sure the link will work. If not search for me, mbelofsky, then you can see my ads.)

I rented out an indoor flea market space in York September 28-30. I can schedule to be of work a few days then. I cannot get off work right now. I am working on finding all the stuff to bring as well as some slot machines and a pinball, if it doesn't sell by then.

04/09/2017

I continued to work on Spider-Man last night and this morning. The decal is nicely on the speaker/DMD panel with the color display. I also replaced the plunger with a Spider-Man head plunger.

04/08/2017

I picked up a HUO Spider-Man. I sold mine a few years ago and missed it. I am glad I got one back. I will post the initial photos later tonight. But since it is HUO with few plays, it is in really nice condition. Tonight I will add a decal on the speaker/DMD panel then change out the DMD with a colorDMD. I am waiting for Cliffy protectors. I will take apart the game and change out some of the black posts with Cliffy colored posts and also redo the rubbers and clean.

I will try to post some of the extra stuff I have for sale on pinside. I have extra legs, a Contact NOS back glass, some translites and other items.

My goal is to sell out some of the slot machines and fix up the back corner of my basement to separate my pinballs from the ones for sale or that I am fixing.

03/13/2017

Suzanne's mom passed away on Sunday 2/19/2017. Suzanne has been home with her mom since the beginning of the year almost every day. She came home on Monday, 2/13, to come home a few days when her mom was in hospice. We received the call on Sunday at 4pm. She flew back on Tuesday, 2/21. I flew in on Saturday 2/25. We stayed until 3/8/2017 to take care of everything. Suzanne did most of the leg work. If there is one piece of advice I can give you, it is to have a trust and ensure all money is in a bank account of the trust. We made 15 copies of the death certificate (which seems to be standard). I realize people need to make money. But there is someone sucking money out of you at every turn when you are dealing with a death in the family. Even with the "pre-paid funeral arrangements," it cost over $4,000. You would think this is not the first funeral the place did and would know all of the expenses associated with a funeral to get them covered. I realize there can be some expenses that are not known until the time of the death. But all of these expenses were known and could have been added in. It is so frustrating. Then we needed to talk to a lawyer (sorry lawyers, I don't like lawyers. I think they are out to charge you every millisecond they can). Luckily we did not need to go to probate, just file the will. The expenses go on and on.

I came back Wednesday evening. I did work most of the time there for my full time job due to the time difference. I fixed a pinball after work on Thursday. Then fixed another two after work on Friday. I fixed a pinball Saturday morning then again in the afternoon. Someone brought a pinball to my house to fix. I then rushed out and I bought a Last Action Hero on Sunday. Then looked at a Star Trek Data East that I did not want but helped him fix it. Luckily near the house so I didn't charge and didn't spend too much time.

I spend an hour or so last night on the Last Action Hero and another hour tonight. I still got to get the sound working but getting closer.

02/05/2017

I was thinking about what I wrote yesterday and want to clarify. I want to get to the point that I have all the boards for the Gottlieb System 1 (and System 3 and System 80, etc), But this is a large outlay of money and I don't get many requests for these games. I have an extensive collection of boards for Bally 1977-1985, Bally/Williams WPC 1990 - 2000, Williams System 3 - 11C (except no MPU for System 11), and newer Stern. The real issue with this Cleopatra is the potential costs of the boards and the owner thinking that the total cost of boards and labor should be less, which means I should be lowering my rates (which I already did). [She owns a business... maybe I should ask for services and ask for a discounted rate.] By her putting forth the initiative and money to buy the boards, she has an investment in the repair. Now I can come for an hour or two and get the game working and my fee is separate than the costs of the parts.

A few days ago someone texted me through Yelp. I responded within two minutes. It is a Monday Night Football. I thought it was corrosion. But I think it just needs new batteries. I spoke to the person today and did Face-time. The audits and adjustments had garbage in the values. I told him to go through each setting and put a valid value in. We reset it to free play but it still comes up with credits. So hopefully after he resets all the values, the game will work. The right drop targets were not resetting. We lifted the game and the coil was dangling. The bracket came off. Luckily he has a right side drop target bank as a model. He has to find the bracket and screws and it would work. So I talked myself out of a service call.... again. Maybe he'll give me a good rating on Yelp.

02/04/2017

Update on the video game at the dentist office I wrote about below. I decided to call my friend that does a much better job at video games than I do. I gave him the new board and he did the repair for the dentist. This was great since I am really busy at work and really didn't have the time for this repair. Plus I had the feeling that I would electrocute myself.

Did I ever say "no good deed goes unpunished?" I guess I just don't learn. I was asked to help put the head back on a Cleopatra solid state game and reconnect it since it was "working" before. I told the person I would do the work for a slightly discounted rate since it should not have taken longer than 30 minutes.

Guess what? The game did not work. The batteries were dead. (Which I guess is not surprising on a 40 year old game.) So I added 3 AA batteries with diode. The reset button did not work. I could not fix the game. I was there for two hours.

I came home and emailed a list to the owner that owner should buy, including the replacement MPU, driver board, power board, and the cable between the CPU and driver. I told her once she had the boards I would come back and install them all and the game would work. It also needs an A-5194 coil (which I did not have) and the green drop target was broken. I explained to the person that I am pretty sure the MPU is bad and needs to be fixed. But it is easier to buy a new one. Since I am being nickel'ed and dime'd on my fee, I want to ensure when I come back I can make it work. The only way is to replace all three boards. Do they need to be? Maybe. But since I don't have spare boards for this set of games since I don't fix that often, I am putting the burden on the owner to buy all the boards so I can fix it once and for all. Otherwise, I would go there and replace the CPU and something else would show up. Then we would to have them get the next board and come back, etc. This would make me lose so much time and money that it would not be worth my time. So for these types of games, I can have the owner ensure all parts are available or not even bother to fix them.

I also looked at a Buckley Slots (Mills Conversion). I determined that the game needed a section of the game cleaned. (It probably needs a lot more cleaned, but would want to ensure the component works before we do the whole thing.) So it should take an hour or so for the owner to clean the area. Two cotter pins and a spring need to be removed. I could have taken it home and cleaned it. But what if this didn't work and I have to go to the next area to clean? Then that doesn't solve the issue and go to the next area? Then I have 10-15 hours into the game and can only charge $300 or so.

I had the opportunity to visit the Spider Man 2008 I sold a few years ago. It needed some cleaning and adjusting. It was nice to see it again and reminded me that I actually do want one again.

I had the opportunity to buy a Dirty Harry last week. The game would be okay but not on the list above of what I want. So if I can't get it low enough to flip, it is not worth getting to restore. I have learned my lesson on restoring games. I don't make money and I am no longer willing to work for $5 an hour to do a restoration for someone else. I will do a restoration for myself for this amount and if I decide to sell in the future then at least I enjoyed the game for a while. Life is too short to waste my free time doing a restoration for someone else at poverty rates.

01/22/2017

I showed my collection and the two games I had for sale to someone today. it was more of a teaching moment for him to learn and see flow vs stop and go. I enjoyed talking about the games knowing that nothing would be sold. I could probably sell my personal collection 10 times over as long as I wish to sell it for less than I paid before I do all my modifications.

I regretfully sold a brand new video game to a dentist's office back in 2012. I do not like video games but I sold it to them because they asked. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. I assumed this game will work for a long long time. The video goes out. And oh, it is a CRT display right before they went to LCD screens. The cabinet is 3/4" too small to fit an LCD screen. So I had to go to the dentist office (without charging) to determine the issue. Luckily the production support person from the company was on the phone with me to isolate the problem to the video board and the little board stuck to the end of the CRT. I hate video games. (Did I say this yet?) I hate having to discharge the electricity in the CRT before it is safe to handle. I have to pry off the small board without breaking the CRT. Hopefully when I get the boards, I will be able to call the support guy and replace the boards and hopefully it will work. Did I say I hate video games?

01/19/2017

I have been so busy on a new project at work that I finally have a few minutes to write. I am co-leading a project that will be code complete on 3/31. End to end integration testing done by 5/4 and in production 5/13. Hopefully we will be able to keep to this schedule. 48 applications are affected; 26 will need code changes; 22 will require testing only. It is amazing. In the 15 years I have worked for my company how we have gone from working on complete applications that may be linked with a few other applications but they were contained. Now, when we want to perform any modification, we have to do extensive analysis to see what is affected across the company. Then we have to orchestrate all of the application changes to go in at the same time. There has to be a better way. Other companies are doing it, hopefully mine will get there too.

Oh, if you didn't notice, I created a What's New page for my notes from 2014 - 2016. Now was a good time to create a new What's New page starting with 2017. I think there is a book or two in here if I had the time to organize and expand upon some items. Hopefully the combination of this page and my repair chronicles pages provide a really good list of problems and solutions. And my archives page showing detailed photos of my restorations should be useful as well.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.... at work. We are about to provide reviews, work on compensation, and then provide the comp statements. After 15 years I can truthfully state that compensation is a popularity contest. Ask HR and they are clueless. Tell HR and they will deny it and more importantly look down upon you. Do they really not know or are they living an illusion?

There is no consistency between teams. My worst performers could be better than the best performers in other teams. We do calibration within the group. We spend hours discussing person A vs person B to place them in the correct compensation bucket. As I stated, the popularity contest, or the person that is most vocal and condescending to others, usually wins out.

It is very frustrating when you are asked to build the best team you can and then you do. Then when it comes time for compensation you have to place them in a bell curve. Why should we have to? If we have the best people and they are all great, then why can't we recognize this?

My favorite comment, that has mostly been used against me (and I will NEVER do this to anyone), is "You did a great job last year which is exactly what I expect from you. You met my expectations." In a world where ratings that are "Exceeds Expectations," "Meets Expectations," and "Does Not Meet Expectations," this solidly states that no matter how great the work I do, I am expected to do great things and therefore I meet the expectations of my manager. Isn't this special?

Or better yet, "You moved into this team in the middle of the year, so you really can't get a high rating since you were only in this team for X months." Huh? You ASKED me to join the team. I was doing great work in my old team, which does not seem to count for anything. If I worked for a different company for 1/2 the year, I can understand this statement. But I have worked for the same company the whole year.

The variation on this statement is "You moved into this team in the middle of the year, so you really can't expect a high rating (or $$ that goes with it) since you were promoted to come over here." This makes sense. IF you are promoted, you normally would get a raise and then if you do your job you should be meets for the first year or year and half. However, the last few times, I moved, it was a lateral. No promotion. No raise. When you confront your manager on this itty bitty fact, then they say, "Well it is too late since comp is already recorded."

Here is another comment, "You did a great job last year but I need to give you a 'Meets expectataions' so that I can use the higher ratings on others to justify higher merit or bonus payments."

Here is one of my all time HR favorites (and every comment I have posted has been used on me). I moved from a group that did not do variable comp to one that did. At the last moment when I was ASKED to move, they said "Oh, your salary will go down by X%. Your bonus (Z%) will go down by 50%.[Lets use 10% and 5% as an example.] But you get this variable bonus of Y% (that is based on factors that are outside my control .)" I said then my bonus should be my higher salary for 3/4 of the year (since I started Oct 1) multiplied by 10% + my lower salary for 1/4 of the year multiplied by 5%." HR said "No. You get your new salary multiplied by your new bonus." So my bonus was based on my lower salary multiplied by the lower percentage.

Later I moved to another team and thankfully out of the variable comp group. My salary went back up as did my bonus. I said to HR "I should get my new salary multiplied by my new bonus." HR said "Why would you think that? You have not been in the position for the full year so you cannot expect this." Does anyone but me see the contradiction in this statement? When I confronted HR and the contradicting statements, they said "That is another HR team." No! We are one company (just ask the company they will tell you we are one).

I can go on but I won't. I may even remove this so if you get to see it, you are special.

I have always given 110-150% effort at work. Always have. Always will. I just am smart enough now to know that it will not convert into a better rating, more pay, or promotion opportunities. It simply allows me to do really good work at work.

In my younger days, I was delusional. I thought extra work, better work, etc would provide the raises, bonuses and promotions for me. I realize now that it provides the raises, bonuses and promotions for my management team since they look so great. In hindsight, while my son was younger, I wish I spent more time at home rather than at work trying to do things that do not equate to better things at work. I could have been a better father and better husband. I could have gone to one more soccer game or one more school event. In hindsight, I look at the way it was inferred that if you do great work there is a one to one correlation and I compare that to the lottery commercials. After watching a lottery commercial with all the happy, smiling faces, it just infers that if I go out and buy one, I will win and be rich!

I used to work an extra 1000 hours or so. When I did get rewarded for exceeding expectations, my reward equated to less than a dollar an hour for the extra hours I put in. It has only taken most of my life, but I think it has finally sunk in. I will do great work. I will work late when needed and weekends when needed. (I am doing that now on this project.) But I will not delude myself into thinking it will amount to anything but the opportunity to continue working.

It has taken almost as long to recognize that restoring a pinball is a labor of love but you do not get paid for the hours. As you can see by the lack of items I have for sale, I have decided not to sell many pinballs and slots. I have a few left to get rid of, but I will not be getting any more to resell.

I also realize that doing a pinball repair provides a 1:1 correlation of time to money. If I put in an extra hour at work, I have lost that extra hour forever. If I fix a pinball machine, I get paid for every hour I work. Also, having this hobby keeps me sane and is a great diversion from work. I believe because of this hobby, I do better work at work and better repairs for the pinball business.

I actually did an informal calculation of what my "potential" could be if I got the highest rating. Since this is mostly subjective and done by popularity contest, there is no guarantee that any amount of extra effort will result in a higher rating. I also figured that if I did about 50 repairs a year, I could make up the difference (obviously simplifying the assumptions.)

 

2014-2016 What's New

2013 and Prior What's New

Virginia Sales Tax

Virginia sales tax is currently 6.0%. Sales tax for in-state orders applies to machines and parts. It does not apply to the delivery or repair services.

Warranty

As of August 1, 2014, we will no longer provide a warranty with our pinballs unless you purchase a separate warranty from us. A 1 year warranty is $500 or pay as you go if you even need it. If you buy it directly from us and take it home yourself, you will be inspecting it to ensure it works. If we deliver, we will ensure that it works 100% when delivered.

Reasons You Should Let Us Deliver Your Pinball (or Another Machine)

  1. We will NOT provide a warranty for the machine since we cannot be assured that a problem did not happen when you transported the machine. (As of August 1, 2014, we will no longer provide a warranty with our pinballs unless you purchase a separate warranty from us. A 1 year warranty is $500 or pay as you go if you even need it. If you buy it directly from us and take it home yourself, you will be inspecting it to ensure it works. If we deliver, we will ensure that it works 100% when delivered.)
  2. We take responsibility for any damage that may occur during the delivery process.
  3. We professionally set up the machine, connect all the connectors, attach the legs, head, etc. and ensure that the pinball works properly. If anything is out of adjustment due to moving the machine, we can fix it in a few minutes as compared to having to come to your house later and charging you a trip fee and repair charge.
  4. If anything major is out of adjustment, we can order parts and repair. This hardly ever happens but it could and you and the machine are protected.

Delivery Options

We are currently set up for local delivery only within the Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, and North-Eastern West Virginia area. If you are interested in shipping the pinball machine, we will contact a shipper. You will pay all crating and postage costs.

If you would like us to deliver and set up within 50 miles of Purcellville, the charge is $300; within 100 miles $475. The delivery charge includes delivery to a first floor or basement level if walk-out.

We will not sell you a game/deliver the game if the only entrance to your basement is an inside the house staircase. They are too narrow. Plus we have to ensure we don't mess up carpet or wood. It just isn't worth it.

You may also come and pick up the machine from our location.