What's New 2013 and Prior

Current What's New

12/27/2013

I did my last fix of the year. It was a Jurassic Park. It is a very nice game and this game was in very nice condition. A few wires were disconnected along the daisy chain. There was a diode causing a light not to work. We changed the batteries. Finally, we adjusted switches so they were straight up and worked nicely.

I am putting up my new World Cup Soccer. Items that I have already worked on in my few minutes of triage:
1. Replace batteries
2. Replace front locks
3. Replace top lock and plate and bolts
4. Replace driver board (I always do this)
5. Display replaced
6. Top Plastic on play field glass needs to be replaced
7. Sides of back glass need to be replaced
8. Some lights need to be replaced

Otherwise this game works nicely. I played a few games on it this evening with no issues.

12/25/2013

We went to see "Saving Mr. Banks." It was good. We then went out for dinner. I came home and tried to watch TV. After 2 hours of sitting in the chair, I thought I was wasting my life away and jumped up and needed to do something.

I remembered that No Good Gofers had a switch error. I cleared it in switch test. It is just a hard switch to get. I also remembered that the switch for the skill shot is too far apart to get registered in the really light hit required. I fixed this. This is switch 58. This is the lower round target that the skill shot lights go directly to. I then realized that the rectangle switch right above it (switch 57) also registers a skill shot. I will need to get the leafs really close so it registers a skill shot. I will do that after I write this. It appears that the top switch (switch 56) which is labeled "Top Skill Switch" is sensitive enough but does not actually register a skill shot when hit.

I have been thinking of adding a page with the Bally/Williams switch matrix showing what the game looks like with the balls in the game and the balls out. I currently have 2 games: Star Trek Next Gen and World Cup Soccer. I made a note that on games like World Cup Soccer, the display may be a little different based on which way the goalie is facing and which opto is being blocked.

Bally/Williams Switch Matrix - What the switch matrix should look like with the balls in the game and the balls out of the game.

Finally, on my iPhone and even on my Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the drop down menus do not always seem to work. So I am about to add all menu selections at the bottom of the page so they can be clicked. For example, this What's New page is under the Contacts/More menu and sometimes does not show up.

12/25/2013

Merry Christmas! I have two New Year's Resolutions this year. The first I mentioned below. I will spend more time fixing pinballs rather than buying and selling pinballs. I make more money fixing pinballs that you all bought on eBay. As part of this resolution, I will charge what it takes to fix the game and not be "nice" and lower the cost to save you money, since it makes no financial sense to me to do so. (It only took 10 years to realize this. As I said before, Nice guys finish last and no good deed goes unpunished.)

The second resolution, now that I won't be buying pinballs to resell, is to build up the list of games that I want for myself. By next year, I hope to have some subset of the following games:

Star Trek Next Generation (I regret selling my really nice one but I always do.) [Williams]
Spiderman [Stern]
Elvis [Stern]
Ripley's Believe It or Not [Stern] (I will probably take my really nice one off my for sale list.)
Flintstones [Williams]
Theatre of Magic [Bally]
Simpson's Pinball Party [Stern] (I had a beautiful one a few years ago that I regret selling as well.)
Monopoly [Stern]
Lord of the Rings [Stern] (I sold my HUO game and really regret it now, especially since I learned that sadly it was involved in a house fire - the family is fine.)
Avengers HULK L E[Stern]
No Good Gofers [Williams] (Will probably take my really nice one off the for sale list.)
Monster Bash [Williams] (I had one a few years ago and liked it a lot.)

12/23/2013

I figured out the display issue on the Riverboat Gambler. I replaced the cable with a shorter one and it worked. As I shut the door, it did not work. The cable was being bent by the door closing. The screws holding in the roulette wheel protrude so far that they dig into the ribbon cable. The ribbon cable to the top display was also being bent and messing up the display. New cables could not hurt but stuff is so tightly packed in the back box causing the ribbons to bend. This is the problem. I resolved it. The displays work. Game is now (again) 100% complete.

12/22/2013

I delivered a pinball to Spotsylvania yesterday. Based on the amount of time I spent to travel there, I have increased my delivery fee for over 50 miles from $175 to $350. I have also instituted a $100 trip fee on all warranty work over 50 miles. Finally, I increased my first hour for over 50 miles to $250. In other words, I want to sell locally. If I must spend a whole day doing a delivery or fixing a game, I will be compensated for my time.

I said this before but I never do what I say. I always say that I will not buy pinballs and simply fix them next year. (I purchased another World Cup Soccer yesterday.) Of course, I will buy pinballs. I need a bumper sticker that says "I stop for any pinball sale." I will continue to buy games that I like (which means Bally/Williams of the 90s and Sterns).

As I have said before, "Ebay has been very, very good to me." Buy your lower cost pinballs on eBay. But now when they don't work and you pay me to fix them, I won't feel bad for you and lower my price to make your overall costs lower. Why should I? You saved money by getting a "deal" on eBay. But the deal is never a deal. The lower price will never match my quality, warranty, and the fact that I stand behind every game. Why should I enable you to buy a lower priced machine on eBay and not charge the full cost of my time to repair your machine? This year, I will no longer do so This is my New Year's Resolution.

Someone came to my house and I mentioned that I don't apologize for my prices. I average about $10 an hour on the work I do and make between $200- $400 profit on each game. Which is not really profit since at $10 an hour, I can make more money on my spare time working at McDonald's or Starbucks. He mentioned he noticed my prices were higher. With the costs of the game going up and the price of parts, there is no profit in selling games (but there is in fixing them).

I signed the business up on Yelp. I will see if this is worth it or not.

One other thing. Someone sent me an email wanting to sell a Top Score. I looked it up and it is a 1975 2 player Gottlieb. The value in working order is about $500 for this run of the mill EM game. I sent back an email that I would buy it for $100 for the "thrill" of trying to fix it up. He replied, "No way! I saw one sell for $3,200." I responded (cynically) that he should provide the name of the person that bought it for $3200. I have 6 games for sale that I would like to sell to someone willing to overpay for a game. I also asked if it was the actual selling price or the fantasy asking price. I have not and probably never will get a reply. Which is just as good since I really don't like EM games and really don't want to waste my time on them.

12/20/2013

Well the Christmas season has been about average. My truck needed another $1,021 in repairs. Still cheaper than buying a new one and having payments. I get to deliver a pinball tomorrow. I have a delivery on Sunday. Maybe I can get the Sunday delivery done tomorrow and have some free time.

There is still time to buy a machine from me and get it delivered on Monday. I have no deliveries scheduled. If nothing comes up I am going to do what I never have a chance to do, relax....

Only 6 pinballs left and 6 slot machines. I will hopefully buy another World Cup Soccer soon.

12/03/2013

I am very happy with my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone. It has been an adventure figuring out how to unlock the movies I purchased and decouple from itunes so I can use my purchases here. My photos are moved over. So are my songs. I even have the watch which is fun and for me practical since I manage operations and production support at work. If I get a text message while spinning at the gym, I can look at my watch rather than stop, get off the bike, and read it on the floor.

Both of my Star Treks sold. Always a very sad day when I sell a Star Trek Next Generation. Very very sad when I sell the only two I had left.

I have been getting the usual increase in requests to fix pinballs. However, this year, I am being more diligent and not just going to people's homes to fix them. I work with them on the phone first and figure out the issue. I have actually solved 3 issues over the phone rather than come and fix it. (Which by any account is a very poor business model since I get paid $0 to fix by phone and > $0 to come and fix it. Oh well, my reward will be in Pinball Heaven.) The actual reason I do this is to ensure that the issue is not a game specific part that I do not have. I have had people order parts or motors and then gone to fix it. This way it only takes one visit and the game works.

My truck, kitchen plumbing, and basement plumbing have entered in a suicide pack and have all died. The plumbing has been fixed today. The truck is in extended care at the repair shop. Hopefully they will release it tomorrow.

11/23/2013

I have been thinking about getting a phone with a larger screen. I really like my iPhone 4S but must be getting older and need a larger screen. broke down and bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I am slowly transferring music over.

11/21/2013

I have been proactive this week. I want to sell some games. Not only to make money but to free up space so I can buy new games to fix up.

I paid $30 to test out marketing No Good Gofers on Facebook to Virginia residents that liked Golf. 15,416 saw this post. 15,067 paid views. This cost me 5 views for a penny. This did not increase my likes or generate comments or add likes to the article.

I then paid another $30 to test out marketing Ripley's Believe It or Not. This was more targeted to Virginia and Ripley's fans. My page likes increased from 111 to 120 and then settled at 119. The article had 9 likes and 4 comments (2 from me). 4,276 paid views. This cost me 10 cents for every 14 views.

I reactived my Pinside account and put my games on the Market page. So far no interest. In some cases my games are much more expensive. In these cases I can differentiate my games by LEDs, new ramps, etc. In other cases, I am very in line with the prices and (in my opinion) my quality is better. So we will see what they do. Luckily in the market I will not get rude remarks from people on my prices.

I also posted a note on Facebook that I am doing a pinball open house on Sunday, November 24 in the afternoon by appointment. So far a few friends from work will come over and finally see my obsession, I mean my collection.

11/17/2013

I continue to test the games to ensure they work. The Riverboat Gambler was showing extra commas on the first line of the display. It was driving me crazy. I ensured all connectors were tight. There were still extra commas. I removed the ribbon cable and reinstalled and it is now working great again.

I bought longer bolts for both Star Trek Next Generation but still need to install to see if it allows for all targets to be hit from. It works. 1" works nicely. 3/4" is too small.

11/15/2013

Been really busy at my real job. I have not had much time to think about pinballs. However, I feel like the Maytag Repair Man. I have no pinballs to fix and no space to buy new pinballs. I need you to buy a few pinballs so I can free up the space to get some more. I could restore my World Cup Soccer, but want to see if the "as is" price helps sell it faster.

I do not have a pinball fix tomorrow. I can actually sleep in. Yeah!

Ok, I actually did some tweaking on my Star Trek Next Generation that I worked on with the buyer a few weeks ago. The ball was hitting the entry ramp from the right cannon. I raised the ramp with some washers but need it a bit higher. I will need to buy a longer bolt (3/4" rather than 1/2") to raise it some more. The single drop target was not dropping all the way. I bought new 10-433 springs. But this was not the solution. I took apart the target and it had oil on the target and metal plate. The oil dried and was coated with dirt. I cleaned it off and it is working like new. Another example of someone trying to fix a pinball with oil.

11/3/2013

I do not sell many games through the year, but most are sold at Christmastime. Christmas season usually starts in October. My sales over the past 10 years matched the economy and shopping statistics published after Christmas sales are tallied. Based on my sale of no machines in October, I would lean towards this Christmas's shopping season being more disappointing than usual.

I tried to make my World Cup Soccer competitively priced "as is" with other games. I want so much to do the additional work to restore, but recognize that I may not get the time I spend to restore so will see if it sells at the lower price as is.

10/28/2013

I received the beautiful new illuminated targets for the Indy 500. They look great and have cushions on the inside to protect the plastic. But the fin does not go into the opto switch line of vision as is. I will need to build up a 1/4" extra fin to break the opto beam.

One of the illuminated targets I took off did not even have any foam padding. The other had padding but about 1/2 the thickness. Which is about the thickness I needed to build up with electrical tape. I played a few games and it is working nicely. I really like this game!

10/27/2013

This page is getting long. If I can hold out until the end of the year, I will create a new page and this page can be looked at with a link at the top and the bottom.

I played pinball today. A novel activity for me. I simply turned on Fish Tales, The Shadow, No Good Gofers, Road Show and played them. It was fun just to play pinball. I did note that the E light at the back (in LIE) is not working and needs to be adjusted on Fish Tales. The right Gofer in No Good Gofers needs to be raised a little with the set screw so the ball does not get stuck in the indentation. Otherwise they all played well.

I continue to test World Cup Soccer since it is the most recent one I finished and continues to work well. I think it will play better if I change out the soccer ball. If I do, the unrestored no warranty price and unrestored warranty price will increase $100. The fully restored price remains the same.

The unrestored Star Trek Next Generation has been sold. The person took me up on the offer to work with me and learn to fix up the game. I should have the game restored to his specifications next Saturday. I look forward to teaching someone and then they become more confident with tweaking their own game when necessary.

10/26/2013

I asked a customer to get the Radio Shack battery listed on my repair site. The one I have listed is no longer available. If you want to replace the battery on a Bally MPU board, you can use Enercell Cordless Phone Battery 600mAh 3.6 V. $18.89.

I updated my Mac operating system to Mavericks. My Dreamweaver stopped working. After reinstalling 3 times it works (or I wouldn't be writing this).

10/25/2013

Consistency! I finally realized (after how many years?) that my individual pages say I offer a 90 days warranty on newer slots, but my warranty page says I offer a 30 days warranty. In reality, it doesn't matter because I will not sell newer slot machines because of the battery issue. But I will fix all my pages. There is one company I would buy a newer slot from, Rec Room Specialties in Toledo Ohio. They actually change their games to use AA batteries. If you change the batteries before the batteries go dead, you have no problem. If you wait for them to go dead, they have a dip switch and detailed simple instructions to reset the game so the slot machine works! I may try to resell some games from them next Christmas if there is any interest.

10/22/2013

I finished working on the World Cup Soccer.

I just fixed up this game and it is working 100%. Before I restore it, here is your chance to buy a working 100% game.

The $2,500 unrestored - 100% working - no warranty includes:
* Replaced Driver and fliptronics board, locks, balls, wing bolts, ball motor, new switches, power cord, battery holder, spring, legs, leg protectors, bolts, leg levelers

The $3,000 unrestored - 100% working - 6 month warranty includes:
* everything above plus a new DMD display to ensure trouble free viewing for decades

The $4,000 restored - 100% working - 6 month warranty includes:
*everything above plus new soccer ball, plastic protectors, new clear plastics, new Header plastic, new run plastic, paper inserts, posts, sleeves, guides, kick out hole purple bases, Cliffy protectors, LEDs, New Goalie sticker and soft plastic backing

** Warranty requires I deliver the game. Additional delivery fees apply.

I cannot purchase a plastic set for this game. They are currently not being reproduced. The restored version will have all the existing plastics cleaned, the two plastics added, but the broken plastic around the left ramp will remain broken with a clear protector underneath so it will not look as bad as it could.

10/20/2013

Working on the World Cup Soccer.

Previously, I replaced the driver board and DMD driver with previously 100% repaired boards. I replaced the very bad DMD display with a better display. Once it warms up in a minute or so, it is fine. If I keep it and sell it retail, I will replace with a new display.

1. Replaced the battery holder that was very corroded. Game now keeps a charge.

2. Replaced the soccer ball motor. It now works. The previous motor had oil on it which does nothing but make a mess.

10/20/2013

Someone may be interested in the Indy 500. as I show in the pictures on the Indy 500 and below, the jerry-rigged the illuminated target. The one I did at the middle of the play field records a hit smoothly. The one on top records it if you firmly hit it, but otherwise not great.

From the above picture, you can see that the fin broke off smartly right at the joint. There is not a lot of room to glue something in. My solution, which is not optimal, is below.

It worked great the first few days but is not staying centered.

I found two illuminated targets for sale and broke down and bought them (the 3rd illuminated target is not broken). I decided that I cannot sell this game until I have a correct, permanent solution. I warranty all my games and do not feel like coming out every few weeks to adjust this mess. Plus the people that may be interested live farther away (if they really decide to get it) and I am not wasting any bit of small profit on this game on a 200 mile round trip every few weeks or so. The price has been raised from $3,995 to $4,200 to cover the cost of these new parts.

With the new illuminated target boards I already replaced that have the longer guides and these new illuminated targets, the find should not break again.

10/19/2013

Showed off my project Star Trek Next Generation. I received the part yesterday to fix the single drop target at the top. The middle top lane switch needs to be adjusted. One strand of GI lights in the back box needs to be fixed. I need to build a connector to J120. Then the game should work 100% once I test. Actually, when I connected it in, I was off by a pin. I moved it over a pin and the lights worked. I just adjusted the switch for the middle top lane and it works. I added the finger to the single drop target and it works. I played several games. The left flipper was loose. I just adjusted and played a few more games. The game is working nicely.

The working Star Trek Next Generation was played to show the functionality. The left ramp protector I added needed a screw into the ramp. I guess I just forgot. The left cannon was not finding home. But in test mode it was finding home. I adjusted the switches and this appears to work now.

Actually, I think I figured out the real root cause of the left cannon not finding home. It has nothing to do with the switches below the play field, which I ensured work. The left coil fires but does not go back to the home position. So the plunger is blocking the opto switches. The game thinks there is still a ball in the cannon and goes for another round. The coil fires, the plunger stays out and blocks the optos. The cycle repeats. I will try a little more powerful spring in the cannon. The real issue was an electro magnet was being created between the plunger and the bracket. I carefully added electrical tape around the bracket and so far the plunger has retracted correctly and the cannon correctly stops at home.

10/18/2013

Added the before pictures of the World Cup Soccer. It is ready for restoration if anyone is interested.

10/16/2013

I brought the Riverboat Gambler downstairs. I fixed it. Connector 9 on the interconnect board and the female pins needed to be replaced. I replaced the divertor coil sleeve with a shorter one and the spring does not get stuck. I tied down the wires so they cannot block the back ramp. The game, again, works 100%.

10/15/2013

The Riverboat Gambler is still upstairs. I just played a 15 puzzle with my pinballs to re-organize:

:

Ripley's Believe It or Not, Fish Tales, The Shadow, No Good Gofers, Road Show, Indy 500, Addams Family, Star Trek Next Generation ($7,095), Star Trek Next Generation, World Cup Soccer.

World Cup Soccer (just the plunger), Star Trek Next Generation (to be restored), Star Trek Next Generation ($7,095), Addams Family, Indy 500, Road Show, No Good Gofers, The Shadow, Fish Tales, Ripley's Believe It or Not.

World Cup Soccer, Star Trek Next Generation (to be restored), Star Trek Next Generation ($7,095).

Star Trek Next Generation ($7,095), Addams Family, Indy 500, Road Show, No Good Gofers, The Shadow, Fish Tale, Ripley's Believe It or Not (out of the picture).

10/15/2013

I need to move the Riverboat Gambler downstairs. I need to fix the issues that showed up at the York show:
1. Lower left GI strand went out. The 5 amp fuse was originally out. I replaced and watched the lights dim as Friday went on. They were all out again. It looks like I need to replace the connector.
2. I fixed the right flipper not working. The fuse kept blowing since the EOS switch was not fully opening.
3. Balls get caught at the back ramp. I finally realized that the wires were hanging down and blocking the back ramp. I need to tie the wires so they don't interfere with the ball path.
4. The right divertor which stops the ball for roulette was not working. I realized the spring was getting caught in the broken plastic sleeve. I will need to replace or dremel it down.
Otherwise the game should work 100%. It had a good burn in at the show and will be robust for Christmas.

I am moving pinballs so I can work on my World Cup Soccer and the Star Trek Next Generation.

10/15/2013

Here is what I posted on Facebook earlier today:

Observations from York Show:
1. You need a large covered truck to bring stuff.
2. You need to bring a lot of stuff to hope to break even.
3. Determine the price you paid for an item, do not take into account time, gas, or expertise to fix. Divide this price in half. This is your asking price. Then expect serious offers at 25% less than your asking price.
4. Beautifully restored pinballs do not sell (exception may be high priced/high end games hard to find). People will tell you how great they look but will not pay a fair price. Everyone wants a deal.
5. Wedge heads no longer command the price they used to.
6. Unrestored, non working EM games sell well at 60-90% of asking price. Most seemed to sell less than $500. Why would anyone look for an EM game, clean it somewhat so it looks decent and lug it around to make less than $500?
7. These shows are meant for teams of people. It is hard to do yourself, but costs would double with more people.
8. Next year, I will come as a spectator and enjoy myself.

10/07/2013

I replaced the driver board. I no longer get the Check Fuses error. I didn't check the opto switches in the trough, but all other switches worked except the micro switch at the top left which is easily replaceable. The ball does not spin. I will put a battery to the motor to ensure the motor works. If so, I will replace the driver board with another just to rule out the driver board. The battery holder is corroded. I will need to purchase a new battery holder. I also need to ensure that the latest ROM is installed.

10/06/2013

I got the World Cup Soccer today. It has the Check Fuses F115 and F116, J112 and 12 volt opto error. The 12 volt test point is not on. I will replace the driver board, which I do anyway and see if this helps. Then I may have to replace the CPU. The game is dirty and will need new plastics. Work so far: New display, new power cord, new legs, new leg levers, new longer bolts, new leg protectors, new lock. I found the wing nuts in the game. It is missing the lock down bar, but I should get one from the person I bought it from since it did have one.

09/27/2013

I finally took pictures of the second Star Trek Next Generation and posted for sale AS IS as a project.

09/26/2013

I went to a customer's house and fixed a Judge Dredd. The EOS switch on 3 of the 4 flippers did not work but that was due to two wires not connected to an EOS (daisy chained). The main issue was trough 83 switch was not working. Any trough opto errors will cause havoc on a game. I tried to change the front receiver board on the trough. Still an error. I thought I would have to replace the harder to get to transmitter board. I pulled out the connector and the white/orange wire was not connected. Conveniently this went to pin 4 which went to switch 82. Pushed it back in and it worked.

The person also had a Pinball Magic. They are always in nice condition. The sling switches were not registering. The left side because a wire was disconnected. The right side because the leafs on one switch were always touching. Easy fixes and the sling coils now work. I also noticed that the M drop target was not positioned correctly. I recognized that the spring was missing and found it. But when I installed it was also obvious that the shaft broke near the bottom so was not going through the guiding hole at the bottom so it was not lowering. I told the customer they needed to buy replacement drop targets and springs and decals. I didn't hear the whole story but when the game was purchased the drop targets were not working. Since the person that sells the game lives near the unnamed other repair person I have spoke about previously, that person came over to do "warranty" work to repair the drop targets. He replaced the middle two with the incorrect drop target (since it needed the flat top variety) and never even bothered to fix the M drop target. But par for the course for his repair work.

One would have thought that the company selling the game would catch that the slings were not working and the simple fix. I am starting to believe that most sellers do as I explained the wholesaler did years ago ("Change lights and clean visible areas" and call it "shopped"). They really have no clue what is wrong with a game and how to fix it. They simply seem to rely on the fact the the purchaser knows even less than they do and will never notice. (The owner of the game did notice that the slings did not work and simply accepted that the ball would hit the sling and drool down to the flipper.)

Which of course brings me back to my internal struggle of should I continue to fix games to resell when people do not value the time and effort and attention to detail that goes into making a game work great and look great? I realized that I can get a game working 100% (like I am doing with the Star Trek Next Generation) and try to sell "as is". But my instincts and my desire to fix it right, makes me want to go the extra mile and make it complete and looking the best. But they simply don't sell when the same game can be bought for much less and the customer can't visibly see what is not working on the less expensive game. (That doesn't mean that I am perfect and always find everything. Look at my small issues but time consuming on Attack from Mars and the other Star Trek I sold and simply had a coil in at the wrong angle. But if something is wrong, it gets fixed.)

09/24/2013

Yesterday, I went to play the second Star Trek Next Generation for the first time since I thought (note the key word) it was complete and working. Started the game. All is well. Pressed the flippers. Nothing. Darn it. Pressed them again and again and the screen started doing crazy things and showing prior images (or most likely images stored in other pages).

Too late to do anything. I went to bed. Today, I replaced the CPU. The flippers worked. No strange display sequences. But in Test 1 Switch edges row 6 was not showing.

Luckily I had another CPU (doesn't everyone have two extra CPUs? I actually have 3 extra...) I tried this one and the flippers work, the display does not mess up and row 6 shows up. I haven't done an exhaustive test but good signs. The CPU with the row issue was recently repaired so I will send back with other boards and he will finish the fix.

I did note that the single drop target had the coil to drop the single drop target but was missing the Actuator Arm - Left Part # 01-8647-1. This will cost $8 to replace. I will buy it when I have other parts to buy, but I know what the problem is.

I guess I will spend the next few days checking it over completely so I can actually state that it is in fact working 100%. Then I will actually take and post some photos.

09/22/2013

The Riverboat Gambler is complete. I am posting the pictures.

I still have the second Star Trek Next Generation. I have all the parts to do a full restore. But before I start, if anyone is interested in a fully functional 100% working Star Trek Next Generation, here is your chance to customize as little or as much as you want. As is, I would sell the game with a manual for $4,600.This price includes the manual, broken plastics, regular lights. If I add new LEDs, new decals, new plastics, new rubbers, new posts, plastic protectors, ramp protectors, leg protectors, and Cliffy protector, this would add costs of $1,300 ($5,900). New Color display is $450. Re-chromed ramps and phaser is $550. New Klingon improved ship and new enterprise (addition) is an extra $195. If you add this up, this magically adds up to the $7,095 that the other Star Trek Next Generation costs.

09/21/2013

Fixing a pinball machine is a real life implementation of the Bible's Prodigal Son story. I fix pinballs all day long and work with screws and bolts. But once I lose a screw or bolt, I stop what I am doing and search and search (sometimes for an hour or more) and when I find the screw or bolt I rejoice.

Well, it took almost an hour but I found it. It was actually on the floor. It fell into the cabinet and out through the grate in the back. I am afraid to turn the game back on until I find it to ensure that it hasn't landed someplace to short out something.

Who is going to the York Show October 11 and 12 (Friday and Saturday)? I will be going up Thursday evening to stake out my piece of grass for the flea market. I am debating on whether I should bring a game to try to sell and set up for free play. People at this show want "bargains". I may bring the Roadshow or the Riverboat Gambler that I am finishing up this weekend. If I sell it there, I do not need to deliver and do not provide a warranty since the person will be far away from me and it is priced not to have a warranty.

09/21/2013

The Star Trek Next Generation has been delivered without incident. I am down to two Star Treks. I actually hope that the really nice one doesn't sell because I like it a lot. But it always does. Then I feel bad and buy another.

I started taking the ramps off the Riverboat Gambler. Changing the lights and the plastics should be time consuming but not difficult. I have to clean the play field, especially with the play field now exposed. Hopefully, I will be done by next weekend. I didn't buy a kit from CoinTaker. I used my spare LEDs around the basement. I had enough just barely except I had a use a slightly different red 555 in one place.

It looks good. I will clean the plastic ramps and put the game back tomorrow or sometime next week.

09/17/2013

The Shadow is complete and the photos posted. It is beautiful. I forgot how much fun it is to play. I posted on Facebook with the following description:

For Sale: The Shadow $4,195. Beautiful machine and beautiful restoration. New rubbers, new posts, new plastics, new plastic protectors, new sleeves, new Cliffy protector, new display board, new display, refurbished driver, new legs, new decals and more. This is a very under-rated game that is very enjoyable and has a great rule set. Can you buy it for less? Sure. But will you find a better restoration with as many new parts and the attention to detail as well as a warranty that is unmatched?

No more apologies for the price. It is more expensive than you can buy it, but it is totally restored and working 100% and looks great. It has a warranty. I think it is under rated and just an all out great game. And the best thing about this game and all the others I own? If they do not sell, I get to enjoy them and play them longer.

In order to cover tolls and the price of gas for my truck when I move a pinball or finish a delivery, I have raised my prices $25. My delivery charge for a game I sold remain the same.

09/15/2013

Completed almost everything on The Shadow. Still need to take off the apron and clean under it and put the Cliffy protector in the trough entrance. I also need to complete changing the controlled lights to LEDs and then should be complete.

One thing I keep remembering to write here (and should change my voice mail message).

If you want to contact me and ENSURE I contact you back, email me. Emails persist and I look at every day until I respond.

If you call me, then the most frustrating thing is when you call from one number but want me to call you back on another. I can't tell my voice command to DIAL the different number so I can't call. I am usually in the car when I have a chance to listen to voice mails. Then I forget to call you back, and then I look like every other repair person you probably called and didn't return your call. Sorry. I work full time and email is the best way. By all means call. If I can answer, I will. I will always ask you to send an email with your address and phone and machine so I can add to my contacts.

I am getting a lot of calls about newer slot machines and the error that means that the battery is dead. I don't fix them. As I wrote a million times, there is no guarantee when I come over and change the battery that a proprietary chip isn't needed to reset the game. So why bother? Maybe there is a listing of which games would actually work and which don't. I haven't seen the list. I wasted too much time initially trying and no getting paid. So remember, if you buy one of these really pretty 150 lb paperweights, make sure you ask the person or company you bought it from 1. when was the battery last changed (a good answer is last week) and 2. When the battery goes out, can you fix it for me? If they say you can, ensure you do not need a proprietary chip. Of course, they can say anything they want and not be around in 5-7 years to back you up.

I also get the silly calls that the Japanese skill slot toys are slot machines. They are not. If you buy one, hopefully you paid less than $129 and think of it as a cute toy until it breaks and then throw it away.

I got a call from a kid a few weeks ago that wanted to sell me an "Incredible Hulk." I was trying to be nice and asking if it was a real pinball. He really didn't understand the question even when I tried to convey size, age, etc. I asked for a picture. He sent me one. It was the toy games. He called me back excited because he heard that they are rare and can sell for close to $1000. I had to disappoint him and tell him it was a toy and probably not worth more than $25.

I have fixed a few EM pinballs lately but try to stay away from them. If they worked and a specific issue arises, I will look at it. Do not even bother calling me with the following opening sentence: "We have this pinball machine that has been sitting in our house for the past 5, 10, 15, 20 years and we realize that we want to get it working." No way. Sorry. I ain't going to waste my time trying to fix it. It will take 100 hrs or more. You will not pay me $10,000 (nor should you) and I will not waste my time for the challenge. Sell it to someone on EMPinbalMachines (yes, one "L") [Yahoo group] that would love to get the game and spend 100 hrs to restore for themselves.

Basically, I will not touch Chicago Coin pinballs. But they are a subset of EM games, so the above applies, except that I will not even work on them with just one specific issue.

I am also realizing that my specialty is 1977-1985 Bally and 1990 - 1999 Bally/Williams and newer Sterns. I can fix Gottlieb, Data East, Sega and older Williams, but I will usually not have a replacement board like I do for the ones I like. So I would have to come and have you send in the boards for repair and then come back and fix the rest of the game. In the past, I was not charging for the initial trip. I need to. Otherwise, I am getting frustrated and won't bother to come at all. You can easily take out the boards and send them yourself if you are comfortable.

I refuse to send in the boards myself. Several reasons. 1. Why waste my time packing and shipping and driving to UPS when you should? 2. Why spend the money up front for postage? 3. If the boards get lost, I am responsible. Why should I be? 4.You keep calling me asking if they are done so I have to waste time to call the company I send to to ask. You can easily call them directly yourself. 5. Finally, there is another repair person that I previously talked about that seems to steal boards and never return them. By having you send them directly, I am out of the picture and not responsible.

So when it comes to Gottlieb, Data East, Sega, older Williams, I am happiest when you say, the game was working but then the coil/flipper stopped or something like that. Rather than the game has been sitting for years and I didn't change the batteries and it turns on but doesn't work. (Note to all of you out there: On many pinballs, turning on the game also turns on the lights, they are not controlled by the computer boards. [Basically they are like the lights in your house, hit the on position and they turn on, hit the off position and they turn off.] So just remember lights turning on is not something to get excited about, it just means your pinball is actually plugged into the wall and your on/off switch works....)

I have also spent several hours every week helping people for free over the phone. Yes, I enjoy it. Yes, it is fun. But considering that I work full time and then I do this as a hobby, the time I spend helping someone by phone for free is a part of my precious life that I am wasting not doing things I should or could be doing like spending more time with my family. I either need to come up with a viable option to charge people or I should stop doing so. I believe that the help I provide, especially when I do solve the problem and save a trip and at least $150 in time, is worth some subset of that amount. I will truly think about it over the next few weeks.

Final thought for this evening. I wasted the whole day (literally) working on The Shadow. I enjoyed it. But I would have rather rode my bike. I didn't because I want to get this done so it has the possibility of selling for Christmas. But this gets into my conversation below about not buying many more games so I can actually enjoy my weekends and not be captive to a pinball machine since I spent the money to buy it and the money to buy the parts and it is just sitting there until done. Since I spent about 10 hrs today (plus the time I already spent) do you think I can get $500 or $1000 to cover the cost of the work? I doubt it. As I was working on it, I thought that it was in decent condition when I started and thinking about what the wholesaler told me about me doing too much to a game. But while working on the game I found so many more plastics that were broken and other things that really needed fixing to make this a reliable machine for someone's home. I think I have the niche market on higher quality games and will continue to do them, price them higher than you can get on eBay and not apologize for the higher cost, and know that my games are reliable and completely working.

09/14/2013

Today I helped a customer finish a delivery on an F-14 to the basement and set up to ensure it worked (which it did). I spent time showing him how to do basic maintenance, where the batteries were, the importance of adding the bolt between the head and cabinet (which was not provided and very important especially with small children), and other information.

Last week, I fixed a World Cup Soccer. It worked fine. I received a call that coils were not working. Great! I leave a perfectly working game and it has an issue a few days later.

After I set up the game in Alexandria, I drove back to Gaithersburg to fix the World Cup Soccer. (While in Alexandria, I was within 2 miles of a customer that I sold a World Cup Soccer a few years ago. I called him quickly to ensure it was working fine - which it was. What usually happens is I am in an area and within a few days a person calls up in the same area and says something like "my game hasn't been working for a few weeks....", so I was trying to be proactive.)

When I got to the World Cup Soccer, I confirmed what we discussed on the phone. Coils 9 - 16 were not working. Fuse F104 controls this strand and was working. I then shorted out several of the transistors in attract mode and the coils worked. The light in my head went on and I remember the repair from a few years ago that was a similar issue on an Indiana Jones (See Williams Indiana Jones Coils 9 - 16 All Engage on the Bally/Williams Repair Chronicles page). The analogy is if I hit your knee, I get a reaction and you kick a little. But if I ask you to move your leg, you can't. The connection between the CPU and the driver board was severed. The little 3" cable between the CPU and driver board had a broken wire. To this customer, I went to my car, got the cables and replaced it and looked like a hero.

This was short lived. When we went to play the game, the flippers did not work (which they did last week). In test mode, the switch was not even registering when the button was pressed on the cabinet. J905 (I believe) took the signal from the cabinet flipper optos to the fliptronics board. This was securely connected.

I took off the cable that goes from the CPU to the fliptronics board to the sound to the display and replaced with another cable from my handy dandy collection of cables and the flippers registered and worked.

I will write up the above fix for this and start working on The Shadow. Back box LEDs in place. Lifted mini-play field. Tomorrow will change all lights and clean underneath. Very easy to raise the mini-playfield.

09/13/2013

I continue to test the Star Trek Next Generation that I am just about ready to deliver. A friend came over and I turned on the game to show the difference between the color display and normal display. While talking to him, the coil popped and the ball came out to the trough. Darn it! I looked at the switch matrix and the entire column 4 was out. I looked at the matrix and the connector went to J207 on the CPU. I changed it to J206 since they are interchangeable. I also pressed in all transistors since I previously repaired the boards and most transistors were in sockets. So far this issue has not repeated, but I will continue to ensure.

At the end of a game, when it was resetting the balls, it would sometimes send a ball to replace a ball no longer staged. It would kick out the ball at the left. Shoot out another and repeat the process.

In test mode, the ball was not going to the right cannon. But I heard the coil engage. I lifted the play field and manually blocked an opto switch and the correct coil engaged. I realized that the coil engaged but was trapping the ball below the tunnel to the cannon. In other words, the divertor needed to be adjusted to more closely align with the turn out. This way the ball went to the turn out rather than getting caught slightly below. This problem is now fixed. I documented this on my repair page but copied the before and after picture here. Note the red arrow on both pictures and the divertor has been adjusted to the left.

 

09/08/2013

I was speaking to the person I buy wholesale from. He commented (as he has in the past) that I do too much to my games. I agree. He said he used to sell retail (I bought my first pinball - Judge Dredd - from him "retail" in 1999). He said he changed lights and cleaned areas that you can see and that worked for 95% of the games. He said that I make them look beautiful but most people just don't care and will not pay for it. That is definitely true. They can buy one for much less. And as I explain below, my new business model will work perfectly. They will save $1,500 to $2,000 on the same game I would sell. My game would have about $1,500 in parts that the "discount" game has. The game will not work or will break very quickly. Then they can call me and I can do a repair for between $250 and $500. I will make the same amount as I would selling the more reliable game in the first place. But I would not have to shell out the cost of the game, and the cost of the parts. I am looking forward to 2014 and see how this new model works.

I change all lights with LEDs. I clean every part of the play field including areas you can't see. I use so many q tips and take apart so many areas you will never see but if it is clean, the whole game should stay cleaner. I ensure all coils and switches and lights work. I do all the electrical work. I make it almost like new. I have enjoyed doing this. I hope to get the current Star Trek Next Generation I am working on completed, tested, and delivered within a few weeks. I will then work on the The Shadow. I have another Star Trek Next Generation to work on. I got the boards back from the Riverboat Gambler but as I said below, it resets. So I sent the boards back with the power board to get fixed. Hopefully I can get this ready before Christmas. I have two slot machines to work on.

Then I am getting my life back. I will buy pinballs that I like and I would like in my collection. But next year I will focus on repairing pinballs. It pays better and it takes up less time.

I will be novel to have a personal life again. I tried it this weekend and put my family first. It was enjoyable. I expect to do it more often for the rest of my life since I am only here once and want to make the most of it. I enjoy fixing machines for you, but it just doesn't make sense. So I expect to have a lot less machines to sell next year. I expect my "taxable income" will go down vastly since I am not selling expensive games. But my "profit" per "taxable income" will not be $10 an hour as I stated below. That is going to end very soon.

09/05/2013

Finished the GI and cleaned the Star Trek Next Generation. I put the subway in and played yesterday but I messed up the right Neutral zone switch. I put the subway in and broke the wire off the switch leaf. Took the subway off again yesterday and fixed the switch. While playing the game it was acting strangely. With the play field up switch 57 (the drop target all the way in the back) was sometimes registering. I touched the wire with my hand and 3 switches on the row went on and off. They were subway optos that must work 100%. (Actually on this game all switches must work 100%.) Since I was the person that last fixed the switch 6 years ago, I could not curse out the repair guy. Although I must say I know a lot more now than I did 6 years ago and hope to know even more in 6 years. The soldering job was solid except on the green wire to the center connector on the switch. I believe back then I would solder the wires in place and do gymnastics to get it soldered without spilling. Now I take the switch off and solder two 6 inch wires to the switch then wire nut the wires.

I am having problems with the 2 eddy switches. They work but while adjusting the LEDs do not turn on and off. They do work when the ball is sensed. I am ordering new proximity switch boards from Pinbits. They told me this was a know design fault in the board. Although it is working, the POT is not registering. I will replace to ensure the game is working 100%.

On Monday evening I went to finish up the Attack from Mars. I replaced the coil, A-14406 as I said I would below. To my horror, the gate still did not open. After calming down, I looked at the assembly. The main issue was the spring that is used as the rod was not tight enough and not pulling up the gate. I took off the coil and slightly bent the spring older to force it to fit better. Thankfully I did not break the part when bending.

Tuesday I looked at a Guns and Roses. Board damage and sound board needs to be fixed.

09/02/2013

Almost got my garage cleaned out. I should be able to park my car in it tonight. I have a lot of parts, some translites, some ramps, 2 almost complete play fields and an EM cabinet. I posted some items here.

I am working on the Star Trek Next Generation. I have the GI and Flashers in the back box. I have the GI on the play field. I took out the big pain in the a$$ board to get all the perpendicular lights in without breaking these hard to get sockets. I am about to work on the controlled lights. I took out the subway and will need to clean it. I also fixed the left switch in the neutral zone by filing down the Cliffy protector. One Flasher bulb is bigger than the hole to get it through the play field. This is where I stopped to vent on this. Hopefully can get the light bulb replaced without taking apart the whole play field. Surprisingly, it only took 5 minutes to take off the Klingon plastic between the ramps.

08/31/2013

My perfectly working machines that worked perfectly, was perfectly delivered. Then it almost perfectly worked.

4 switches did not work. When I tracked down the switch matrix they were all on the same row. They all went to 1N270s. That worked. Continuity worked. I looked at the connector. The female end of the wire in the connector was broken off so no connectivity to the board. Luckily with all the play fields I have taken apart, I have this connector.

I have to pick up my wife at the airport. The pinball is not too far away. I will go back after I feed the cats (since they think they are starving). I will hopefully fix it in a few minutes. Then go to the gym to wait for Suzanne.

I went back and put in the one wire and the game worked fine.

08/29/2013

Due to my full time work schedule, I will hardly have any days in December to deliver pinball machines. This means you all have to buy your Christmas pinball machines now and hide them for a few months. We need a new tradition. When you visit friends or family for Thanksgiving, consider replacing that same bottle of wine with a pinball machine. It is novel. A bottle of wine can be enjoyed for a few minutes. A pinball machine can be treasured for a lifetime.

The A-14406 coil came so I have to prepare it. I have to get a pinball machine upstairs tomorrow for a Saturday delivery. Assuming it works without having to tweak the game for hours, I should be back home to work on chores around the house and maybe working on my Star Trek Next Generation. I may be a pessimist, but based on prior experience, my perfectly working machines work perfectly until about 2 seconds before I leave because we have tested and ensured a perfectly working machine and then the unexplained gremlin comes into play.

I figured out my profit on the Attack from Mars. It is -$228 dollars. Yes that is a negative sign before the $228. This does not even count the over 100 hours into the game. This is good business planning. My lessons are: 1. Do not quote a price on a game until it is complete. 2. When I am working on the game and really think I should replace all bumpers but decide I have spent too much time already so I didn't and then the customer is really not happy with the bumpers [which I knew would be the case] and then I had to buy the parts and come back and replace all bumpers at his house for over 3 hours, I will do the work in my house and ensure the costs of the parts are included before the sale.

Although I whined about this before, I really think I have the actual data to substantiate my complaints. Buying pinball machines is great fun. The thrill of finding the game is great. It is like winning an eBay auction since you overbid so highly. The price of pinballs has increased exponentially this year. To the point where I cannot buy them for what I used to sell them a year or two ago. I believe that my wholesaler and others are raising prices because the demand is there and they know they can get it. I even believe they look at the price that I sell them for and feel that they can raise the price of the game. They probably know, but they don't care that I usually buy parts that cost 50% to 100% of the cost of originally buying the game. So although my prices are high, they have been reconditioned with quality (after the last gremlin is removed) and work reliably for years.

I have started to keep a spreadsheet of the actual costs of the machine and all parts bought for the game. It is shocking to see that my "profit" on a machine is usually $100 to $600. The $600 may seem high. But this "profit" includes a 6 month warranty that has value and I have to assist (with usually simple fixes) a couple of times. The more shocking part of this "profit" is when I consider the hours I spend on each game, my profit ranges between $5/hr and $10/hr. This is why I no longer even consider lowering my prices when people want a better deal. Sometimes I want to say "Well, to make this an even fairer deal for you, what if I pay you to take the game?"

This means that I could literally earn more money delivering pizzas or working at McDonald's in my spare time. It also means that my cash flow would be much better if I did not have games sitting in my basement waiting months or years to sell. (I am starting to practice the phrase "Do you want fries with your order?")

I have not purchased a pinball machine in the past several months since I have no space for any other games. I also want to sell some games to build up some reserves. I bought some machines this year for customers that wanted a specific game. I will no longer do so. I will continue to buy games but I will buy the games I like and know have the ability to be re-sold. This will become enjoyable again rather than a burden even if it kills me.

My weekends are not my own. I am trapped in a Catch-22 were I asked for it and I got it. I need to fix the games so that the backlog of repairs does not get too big. I don't want people waiting around for weeks. (Although I just fixed a pinball and they said, "This is the first time we played it in 15 years...." "15 years!" "Yeah, it broke 15 years ago and we just got around to finding you to fix it." They are so lucky that the batteries did not corrode the boards.

I have been extra picky lately and refusing many repairs that are too far away, EM machines, video games, or games that are not worth the cost in my opinion to fix. I do not want to continue to be responsible for a pinball if it breaks after I fix it, so I choose not to fix certain types of games.

The reality is I love pinball. I love repairing them and figuring out the problems. I enjoy the problem solving and the analytical thinking involved in actually solving the issues and restoring the games. I even like playing them. I enjoy keeping this web site up to date and documenting the fixes, the repair tips I post on Facebook and here, and all the pictures. But nothing that I do on the web site generates cash (except for displaying the pinballs for sale). The repair information is used by thousands of people each month. (I know, I look at my web statistics on my repair pages.) But it is not a model that generates cash. Realistically, I don't want to do so. I want this information to be available to everyone. Besides, I know pinball people, they are cheap and won't pay for it so it has to be given away. Maybe there is enough information on my web site for a book. (I always wanted to be a published author.)

08/25/2013

Next weekend is going to be an external repair free weekend. I have things to work on around the house and the business and I need to focus on it. I may have to deliver a pinball. In the food chain, that takes higher precedence than repairs so I will do so, I have ordered an A-14406 coil for the left gate for the Attack from Mars. (Another $20 down the drain.) I replaced the driver board with a new one, a new spring on the left gate, a new left gate. It is still wimpy. It is the coil. I do not have this coil in stock. I ordered from Marco Specialties. They used to get the orders out the next day. Now it sits for 3 or 4 days and finally hits their (I guess) new and improved order processing system and then gets sent out slower then before. I guess this is progress.

Two items I want to discuss here in detail. This will be my tickler list. 1. What is written on my tombstone. 2. A list of "Knowledge based articles" that you can look at the topic and see the answer. I may make this second one a page of its own, such as a "Frequently Asked Questions" page. This will have stuff like a "slot machine" with skills slots that looks like a toy and has Japanese writing on it is in fact a toy and not worth anything to me. Or the reason I don't fix EM Pinball machines (but will make exceptions) but WILL NEVER fix EM slot machines (or even newer slot machines anymore).

I want to post some repairs and Facebook tips on drop targets on older machines with bad decals, a flipper on a TZ being sluggish coming back and being a very dirty shaft, older EM machines and flipper switch (EOS) adjustments, GI on Williams system 7 not going to boards (since just turn on and off with the game), corrosion on batteries (tired topic), touching resistors on a Williams system 7 driver and falling apart, adjusting a switch on the AFM including bending the wire and adjusting the pitch of the switch. I think I got most of what I worked on this weekend described and got none of the things I needed to get done done.

It's 9pm on Sunday. I just got home. I fed the cats (since they think they are starving), a got my gym bag ready for tomorrow,I moved all the parts and tools out of my car, I got the boards downstairs with the board to be repaired, I have to get the stuff out of the dryer and still eat dinner so I can go to bed and get up at 4:30am to go to the gym. I think I am done for the night.

08/22/2013

I sent out the power board to Coin Service to fix it up. I hope this is the problem with the Riverboat Gambler. I also resent them the driver board so they can test together and ensure the reset problem goes away. Hopefully it is the power board and the game will work.

The Post Office has my LEDs from Coin Taker hostage. It appears that Coin Taker requires a signature. Hopefully I can get to the post office before they send them back. I understand the need for signature delivery to make sure that the product actually arrived and was not stolen in transit or the customer claims they never got them when they actually did. But I really hate having to sign of things. Life goes on. Once I get the LEDs, I can continue work on the Star Trek Next Generation.

The left gate from Australia arrived today for the Attack from Mars. Hopefully I can get this into the game at the customer house and the game will work 100%. Another $50 down the drain.

08/18/2013

I put the 5 row light socket into Cleopatra and all lights now work!

The initial set of photos for Riverboat Gambler have been posted.

08/17/2013

The CPU board for Riverboat Gambler came back today. I installed it. The display works nicely, Switch 39 for the right ramp exit is not working and the right flipper is not working. In switch test mode, the flipper switch is not being recognized. I will try to figure this out this evening.

I used a PDF of Clay's guide and saw that fuse F5 controlled the right flipper. It was blown. I replaced and the flipper works.

While I had the game up, it reset. This is bothersome. It blew fuse F4 (2.5 amp slow blow). I replaced and it is working.

I realized that the sounds are working but the music is not working. In test mode, all sounds work In test mode, music for the main theme and multi ball theme do not work. Some of the other music seems to work. But I am not sure since this is the first time I have owned Riverboat Gambler.

I did not have a long enough 20 pin ribbon. So I carefully installed a 24 pin ribbon cable and all the sound is back.

It reset again. I need to figure that out. It doesn't actually reset. The screen goes blank. I am not sure if the game will still play. I will have to watch some more.

I finally added a page for Riverboat Gambler.

I was taking apart a Charlie's Angels play field. There was a set of 5 lights. I need this for the Cleopatra. I hope that I can replace it and the left blue light will work in the bonus area.

08/16/2013

I added some more pictures to the Star Trek Next Generation I am restoring. I thought I had the LEDs in stock. I did not and had to buy them. I bought two sets for both machines I will restore.

I went to someone's house and helped them fix up a Star Trek Next Generation. The display board needed to be replaced. a few lights on the large board under the game needed to have the sockets redone. I added a screw to a switch so it was aligned properly. I spent a lot of time showing the owner how to change all the LEDs and other useful information.

08/16/2013

I added a page explaining how to prepare a game to be moved. I actually took the pictures while putting the game back together, but explained it as if I were taking it apart.

08/15/2013

When I have a pinball party at my house, I print out the following set of rules and place it on the games and around the basement:

Pinball Rules!

No food or drink on or near the pinball machines. (The pinball machine is not a cup holder. )

No sticky fingers on the pinball machines. A washed finger makes a pinball happy.

Do not squeeze in between the pinballs. You could scratch the artwork.

Enjoy playing the pinballs.

08/14/2013

The other thing I left out of last night's post is the fact that I spend a lot of time restoring these games and take pride in what I do. I do not want dirty, slimy, sticky fingers ruining my games. I do not want soda cans and beer cans on my games and spilled down the cabinet and down the inside of the coin door destroying the service switch. I want my games played. I want them played by people that will enjoy them and respect them.

08/13/2013

Finally, I have been reading the first issue of "Pinball Magazine" cover to cover while on vacation. I am still reading the 56 page interview with Roger Sharpe. Roger is discussing many topics. The one I am listening to the most is the one about keeping pinball alive. He discusses that people should go into establishments and offer to place a pinball or two on location and share the profits. At first glance, I have fantasies of fixing up many, many games and placing them on location earning $100 a week and thinking that if I put 100 games into locations, I could make $10,000 a week. Then I remember that I have to split the profit so I would have to put in 200 games. Then I realize that each game needs to be in pristine condition and thoroughly tested before it can be placed on location. Nowadays, a typical game costs me between $3,000 and $8,000 to buy and fix up. This does not include my time to actually restore the game. Then I realize that each of these 200 games would need constant baby sitting or they would turn into the crap that is currently on location that does not work and turns off potential pinball players. So the more in depth I think about it and fantasize about being able to do pinballs as a real living, the more I realize that I cannot sustain this and make money. I am not even sure I can break even. So the more games I can get out on location, the more time I have to be traveling from location to location making sure everything is working. This would give me less time to actually get games ready to be placed on location.

I would then be on call 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week to fix any game at a minute's notice. All games would have LEDs so that light bulbs do not go out. I would need to have a deep spare parts reserve to fix any game on location by quickly replacing parts and fixing them in my shop. The more variation in manufacturers, the more parts I need. I can have several hundred thousand dollars in spare parts.

I would need to win the lottery (and probably one of the larger jackpots) to be able to afford to do this full time.

Also, as I have mentioned and Roger mentions in the article, the price point of new games is so high that there may never be a break even point on pinballs. He does explain the need to have Limited Edition games sold mostly to collectors for home use and "standard" dumbed-down games for arcades. I think this "dumbed-down" approach will fail because real players will not want to play the "dumbed-down" versions in the arcades and want to play the "better" games in people's homes. In the coming years, I will be very leery of buying games with "limited editions", "Premium editions". "Special editions", etc since I would not want a game that does not have 100% functionality, which is defined by the most expensive version. For example, I would love to have a Wizard of Oz. But I want one with all features. Will these games ever be sold? If so, can I truly afford them? Can I buy then such that I can restore and resell and make money? I do not think so.

In summary, if I spent $3,500 on a game to buy and restore, it would take 70 weeks to break even assuming $100 a week split with the store/restaurant. (I have not even accounted for any licenses I would need.) During this time, how many times would I have to go to repair this game? How much money in time and parts to repair? I usually have 50 to 100 hours into each game to restore. The math starts NOT adding up rather fast.

I have 9 games ready to sell. If I put them all out today, I could potentially make $450 a week or $1,800 a month. This would require a large cash drain on my business to just pay for the games I have. I would need reserves to buy parts and spend time maintaining the games. Based on this model, it would take 2 months just to be able to raise the cash to buy a decent game. And another month to pay for the parts to do the restore justice.

This little writing exercise has reinforced that putting games on location could not be profitable for me.

08/12/2013

I believe I have the third Star Trek Next Generation sold. It will look really nice when completed. It will not have the replating and color DMD of the really high quality restoration I did, but will look very nice.

The Attack from Mars is acting up a bit. Nothing I can't handle. I did replace the spring but the gate was not working nicely. I ordered a new gate assembly from Australia. Once I get it, it should solve the problem once and for all. Some of the switches aren't working but I replaced most so just need to adjust.

I will stop taking the play fields apart in my garage so I can get the above mentioned Star Trek Next Generation ready to sell. I have the two play fields below that I will take as is to the York show since I think they will be a better value for the right person rather than tearing the play field apart. I then have 3 more play fields in bad cosmetic condition to take apart, two back boxes, and the cabinet of an EM machine for the York show. I need to take a pinball with me. I may buy one for the show and restore if I can get it done in time.

I believe my current set of pinballs will be my Christmas line up this year. I have three more pinballs to restore after the Star Trek Next Generation. These are The Shadow, The Second Star Trek Next Generation, and Riverboat Gambler.

The line up will be:

Riverboat Gambler

Star Trek Next Generation

Star Trek Next Generation

The Shadow

Indy 500

Fish Tales

Cleopatra (no longer available for Christmas.)

Road Show

Ripley's Believe It or Not

No Good Gofers

Addams Family

08/04/2013

I have a Gamatron play field that I do not want to take apart. Cosmetically, it is in nice condition. These are rare and I am hoping someone will want it. I posted to an email group I send to and on Facebook. I also have a Buck Rogers play field. This play field is not in good condition but the parts that can be used off the back are mostly there and would be good for a Gottlieb game of that era. I am asking $50 each.

 

08/03/2013

A few people came by to look at pinball machines. The Shadow display was not working. I previously replaced the DMD driver board. While they were here, I replaced the display and it works much better. More money to spend.

Sound did not work on Fish Tales. I checked the back box. Everything was fine. Checked the speaker and a wire was disconnected. Fixed it and the sound worked.

I took apart another play field for parts for the York show in October. I also looked at some displays I had for a Gottlieb. None worked.

07/28/2013

I actually got to spend the day with Suzanne rather than with a pinball machine! I just worked on my Ripley's Believe It or Not (which I have not mentioned here since December so you can see how long I have had it and since I really like this game [better than Twilight Zone] I don't care how long I have it). I will document on my repair chronicles. But basically the plunger spring was rock solid and could never get the skill shot. I put in a weaker spring and it allows for a full range of shots. The upper flipper was weak. But in playing tonight I realized it was strong but the flipper switch on the right cabinet button was so spread apart on the lower flipper that the flipper had to be all the way engaged to just about close the upper flipper switch. I adjusted the switches to bring them closer. The flippers are now more crisp.

07/27/2013

Yesterday evening I went to deliver the Attack from Mars. Of course, it was local and it should have been a quick delivery. It wasn't. The left gate wasn't coming down. I checked everything before I went including this. So I tried to adjust the spring and totally screwed up the spring. I have to order one (10-194) but can take one temporarily off another game.

The game started to reset for no reason. I have had this game since March with no issues and playing almost every day to test it to ensure it worked fine. So there was a ground strap in the back box that was dangling. We secured it better around the bolt holding the back box to the cabinet. There was another ground wire going no where and we attached it to the same bolt. Maybe this needs to go else where.

The game worked for over an hour while we adjusted other switches. I was opening and closing the coin door, lifting the play field and removing the back glass. Something is grounding and we couldn't find it last night. I will go over there later.

The bumpers worked nicely in my house and now are limp. Kept trying to adjust them. I may need to replace them and the saucers but didn't want to since they are such a pain to replace. There was a little wear on the saucer part that the ball hit but was not affecting the game. At his house they were not as strong. I also needed to replace a back leg leveler because it was up to high and bent. I put the game at a lower angle. Maybe this is making a difference.

I tried turning on the game with the coin door open and closed. The play field up and down. At 10:30 it was resetting all the time. Something is causing it to ground or something. There is a brand new Rottendog driver board so none of the typical WPC-95 issues should be the problem.

I will try to remove the back box lights and see if something is grounding there. Then I will ensure all connectors are in. Then I will need to check the play field to see if anything is grounding and then the door. This will be a long afternoon.

It is now 10:57pm. I went back this afternoon. I turned on the game. After a few seconds it reset. Good. At least it is consistent. I then removed the back box lights. Still reset. I then removed the power to the DMD. Still reset. Then I reseated all connectors. I pushed them in and then pulled them out and pushed in. J101 was not connected securely at all. I pushed it in. All other connectors were fine. The game worked and never reset again. This person had several other games and I did adjustments to all of them. I checked all my games and did not have a 10-194 spring I can borrow, so I will need to place an order. I decided, since the wafers on the bumpers were chewed up and not getting the peppy action he wanted, that I should replace all 3 bumpers. A pain in the neck but they work better.

I am doing some minor adjustments on my games. I just replaced the start button on the Addams Family. The light was not working. I put the new switch in and it worked. I then put it in place and stopped working. These things drive me crazy. I finally realized that the wire going to connector J134 needed to be pushed in and the light worked. One thing accomplished today.

I am going to start working on my second Star Trek Next Generation. I just realized I have not taken any pictures of this game yet. (I do have the third one I bought currently posted as a project pin: Star Trek Next Generation.) I bought new cannon covers since the ones on this Star Trek are broken around the screws. I decided to put the new ones on my first machine which has been restored since they have the dome lights and look nice - Star Trek Next Generation. (This is fun having 3 of the same game and trying to ensure I reference the right one in the URL for the pictures.)

07/22/2013

The Indy 500 is complete and posted. It looks great and plays great.

07/17/2013

I shouldn't be surprised that there is no interest in my Star Trek Next Generation project pinball. That is fine. I will pack it up and bring it downstairs and keep it in a corner until I have space to work on it.

I continue to test Attack from Mars. I replaced switch 63 on the right exit ramp. I have been reading up on the switches and they seem to be poorly soldered in this game. Which explains why I replaced just about every switch on the game. The left bumper was working but lazily. I pushed the switch leafs closer together. Hopefully this will make the bumper more peppy. Otherwise it continues to play nicely.

The plastics I ordered for Indy 500 on 7/12 and they finally shipped this evening. It was my fault that I have piece mealing the restoration. Originally I want to believe that the plastics are good. Then I look closer and realize that if I go 90% on quality, I need to go 100% and do it right.

07/15/2013

I just posted a Star Trek Next Generation for sale AS IS without a warranty for someone interested in getting the game at my price and doing the restoration themselves. I have three Star Trek Pinballs and do not have the room. However, if it doesn't sell, I will simply restore it myself when I free up some space.

07/12/2013

I just posted the following two items on Facebook:

I just got my copy of Pinball Magazine #2. It is filled with great articles, pictures, and information. I have my small ad on p. 47. As you all know, I take many photos of my games in progress and when complete. I have just about every one I have ever taken. Jonathan, the editor of Pinball Magazine, was looking for some pinballs. I had photos of Eight Ball Deluxe Limited Edition and Mr and Mrs Pac Man. He used the photos on p. 14 and I have a small photo credit on p. 15. To find out more about this great magazine, go to http://www.pinball-magazine.com/.

and

Purcellville Pinball has just hit 100 likes! A milestone on my way to my goal. Only 999,900 more likes and I will reach my goal!

While working on the plastic protectors for Indy 500 yesterday, under close inspection a few were not good. This game is looking great and it would have been a shame if I just used the existing plastics. So I ordered a new set today and they should come in a few days. I will work on cleaning the ramps.

I also have 8 more play fields and other items to take apart in the garage for the York Pinball Show (The White Rose Gameroom Show 2013) October 11-12.

I played Attack from Mars to test. Playing well, but then got the credit dot. Went to test mode. "Check divertor Stuck Open". This would imply that the switch behind the Distiller (entrance to the ramp) was not working, but it was. In game play, The Light Lock light will be on. I get the ball up the ramp, the Distiller opens. I get the ball into lock. The divertor closes. I cleared the error finally, but I think I got the ball up the other ramp and the ramp the other way....

07/11/2013

I need to review documents for work for a deadline so tethered to my work PC and slipping away a few minutes at a time to work on Indy 500. I replaced the left sling plunger and link. I also realized that the right sling plunger and link were also broken. So I needed 2 of the 20 items I bought.

From a work perspective, I realize I work too much. I think my per hour rate is equal to if I had a job at McDonald's. (This theme seems to be consistent in my real job and my work on pinballs..... Something is wrong here.)

I was thinking of my business. I spend money to buy parts. I spend money to sometimes repair boards. I spend money to buy machines. These people get their money (relatively) immediately. There is no recourse on the machines I buy since I buy them as is wholesale. There is recourse on parts, but thankfully only had to get a few parts replaced over the years. My job is to work my butt off making the machines look great and spending hours and hours on the game. Then I have to wait to sell a game usually 6 or 8 months or more. Yes, I can sell at my cost and do all the work for free (and I have done so many times) but that kind of defeats the purpose of being in business. Then when I do sell, I have to warranty the game. And thankfully as I have said many times, I hardly need to fix my games since they work the first time (unless I do stupid things like I did on the Star Trek Next Gen in January....).

07/10/2013

The board came back from being repaired for Attack from Mars. I will install in a few minutes. It is now later and I installed and it works great. Played and the strobe went off as it should. Didn't get into Strobe Multi-ball yet. But noticed a switch error. Life stops. Have to fix. The left EOS switch was registering. The long leaf was broken and the flipper was not making contact. I will rebuild this switch and continue testing tomorrow. I couldn't wait until tomorrow. It is fixed.

I bought 20 plungers and link. I only need 1 for Indy 500. But I never have them when I need them. Now I have 19 spares. And 19 people throughout the country are finding that they are not available at this very instance.

I received all my plastic protectors and decals for The Shadow, Star Trek Next Generation, and Indy 500. I will work on the Indy 500 after I work on Attack from Mars.

07/05/2013

I will need to look back to this posting after the York show in October. I went to my distributor and bought over $500 in junk to sell at the York show in October. As usual, I feel like I overpaid but I probably did not. I bought 10 play fields that mostly look rough. I will take parts off to bring to sell. Hopefully, there is more than $800 in parts to cover the hotel and the entry fee for the show, plus gas, and time...

I just took most parts off a Medusa play field I was working this evening but was attacked by mosquitos.

I fixed the Turbo on the Indy 500. I replaced the GI lights with LEDs in the back box and play field.

07/04/2013

I just placed several orders over the past few days for parts for The Shadow, Star Trek Next Generation, and Indy 500.

For Indy 500, I have bought $853 of parts. Hopefully will not need more. I am about to take the "before" pictures. Of course, I already replaced the display so the before pictures would have had a blank display.

For Star Trek Next Generation, I bought $960 of parts. I still need to send in the wire ramps for $550. I will decide whether to add the color DMD (but probably will) for $450.

For The Shadow, I bought $680 of parts. (I spent less since this is a game I restored several years ago. This time I am adding new plastics - they just started making the set and LEDs. It is needed a new display for $200.)

07/03/2013

I just readied 76 photos for Attack from Mars and will post after I write this. What is amazing about this game is the amount of dirt I cleaned off of it. Then I saw a picture that had dirt that I thought I cleaned and had to clean some more.

I like 3D stuff. I love 3D movies. I have a 3D large screen TV. I collect 3D old fashioned stereo cards and view masters. Basically anything 3D I like. We went out of town last weekend. We went to an antique store and I bought more view master slides. I have been meaning to catalog what I have so I can see it when buying more. Here is my attempt at my list so far. I still have more to add but wanted to get the photos done. The items in yellow are duplicates. Surprisingly not as many as I expected.

I received the new boards from Great Lakes Modular. Hopefully my hand made fins will work on the Indy 500. I just replaced the two forward illuminated targets. The fin I created works great. One of the LEDs was still out. But after checking, the wire into the connector was not in tight. I will work on the other fin tomorrow.

Tonight (or tomorrow) I will place the final orders for The Shadow, Star Trek Next Generation, and Indy 500 to start restoring these games. I am hoping for my board back on the Riverboat Gambler next week so I can work on this game. Hopefully I will also get the strobe board back to complete the Attack from Mars and get it out of the house and delivered.

06/30/2013

I brought the Indy 500 downstairs. I just pulled off the name tag from the apron from the company that originally sold the pinball for home use. I hate these glued on tags. They detract from the machine. I make a magnetic business card that I put inside the door. Yes, from a business point of view, plastering it on the apron would be better but a magnet can be moved without damaging anything. Luckily the tape came up OK on this tag.

I realized that the only time I get a nice machine for resale is when I buy direct from a person. However, I realized also that the only time I get a REALLY nice machine is when I buy one back that I sold a few years ago. Now that I have been doing this for over 9 years, I am starting to get the opportunity to buy back machines I sold. The good thing is I know the quality and attention to detail that went into the game. The goal is to sell it without needing to warranty and very little or no maintenance. So far, my games have held up.

I just replaced the display and it works great.

One GI strand in the back box is out. J120 is burnt, as usual. I will make a new connector and replace the driver board. Later I will replace the lights with LEDs and everything will work much better. Actually I have to fix two games tomorrow evening. They will probably not need the driver board, but I will wait until after to ensure that I have the boards available.

Since J120 had 8 wires and J121 had 2 wires, I just swapped that in the short term. All 5 GI circuits work.

I took the illuminated target base off the game. I can buy a replacement clear plastic that goes in for $17 but I will not buy since I cannot see how the piece comes out of the housing. I looked at an old repair guide and it said to use duck tape to add a fin. I added on. With the improved boards Great Lakes Modular sells, this solution just may work.

The opto left switch was not working. I took out the right opto board and plugged into the left side. The switch works. So at least the issue is on the board and if I replace, it will go away. On the right board, one of the LEDs wasn't lighting. When I plugged into the left, it still didn't work which means that board is bad. So I will just buy new boards and add a taped wing. I am using wire insulation clippings to add rigidity and then using electrical tape to bundle it together. If it works, I will take pictures.

I just ordered 3 new boards from Great Lakes Modular. Once I get them and do the other modification to the fin, I should have 3 working illuminated target switches and LEDs.

Next up, opto in turbo is not working. I will work on that another night since I have to take the game apart to get to it.

I just bought LEDs for Indy 500 and Shadow. This way when I take apart the ramps, I can work on the LEDs and cleaning at the same time.

The Shadow will now be fully restored.

06/28/2013

Sales tax goes up to 6% on July 1, 2013. I updated my spreadsheets, invoices, and web pages.

I almost got the Attack from Mars complete. It looks good and I will post pictures. I needed to send in the strobe board. So hopefully it will be back within a week or so.

I am picking up an Indy 500 tomorrow. I had one a couple of years ago and they are fun. I look forward to having it again. It will need a new display and/or display board. I will replace the lights with LEDs. I will do the usual work with decals, plastic protectors, ramp protectors (if needed), Cliffy protector (if needed), and other stuff. Hopefully plastics are nice.

06/19/2013

I haven't written for a while since I have been busy between life and my real job trying to fix this Attack from Mars I bought for a customer. Every time I turn around, another little thing is broken. I am on course to make my usual $0.05 (yes, 5 cents) an hour for the work I put into a game. This game will be expensive and I am trying to hold the line on the price. But every time I go to work on an area, another $5 item needs to be replaced. I just placed an order for the rod and ring for the pop bumper that has a broken screw leg so it was only connected on one side. I thought I had extra rod and rings. But they are the older version and do not fit around the plastic house. The tabs are like 1/16" wider./ So I have to wait to finish the main play field until I get this part. One of the saucers had broken tabs. This was $12.95. I was testing a switch and it didn't work so I replaced it. I then replaced three other switches (plus the two I did a few weeks ago). I also realized that the out lanes are wider than normal and the ball can hug the right outer side of the lane (left or right) so I put in a foam thingy I usually stick behind a target to force the ball over the switch and it works nicely. The wafers on the pop bumpers are a little eaten up on the edges. But they work nicely. I do not want to replace them since they take an hour or two to do and I do not want to waste any more time. Plus I have to cut off the lights and add new parts and will increase the cost even more.

The play field was one of the dirtiest I have ever seen. I keep trying to get it a little cleaner. In the next few days I will try to clean the ramps and get ready to put on after I replace the rod and ring on the pop bumper. Once all this works, I can then replace the strobe assembly. Theoretically this will work. Hopefully it will since this is the last mechanical thing left to get working on the game.

The board for the Riverboat Gambler is still being repaired. Hopefully I will get the board back in a decade or so, so I can finish the job and hopefully the displays will work without having to spend $200 to replace these. I already have the plastics and plastic protectors. I also have LEDs. So hopefully most of the money on this game has already been spent.

I also sent in the sound board for my second Star Trek Next Generation. Hopefully this board can be fixed since there are no replacement boards for sound yet for the Bally /Williams WPC board set.

I fixed a Create from the Black Lagoon on Monday evening. The game had typical corrosion on the battery holder. Luckily it did not spread to the board. As I have said many times, people just do not know that these games have batteries that need to be replaced every few years. The coil was also not kicking the ball in the trough once it drained. I took off the apron and immediately noticed that the coil was hardly moving. The assembly was so caked in dry grease. We took apart the assembly and cleaned it all off and it worked wonderfully.

I have been going through may games and playing them and noting the little things that need to be fixed. On Cleopatra, the left blue light in the bonus area does not light. I either need to replace the socket or figure out if a board problem. On the Ripley's Believe It Or Not, the plunger spring is too tight and never gets the skills shot. I need to replace. The top right flipper is mushy. Hopefully I will get to these after I get the Attack from Mars complete.

06/02/2013

Watching the news stories from a few days ago and the "outrage" of people with handicap passes using them to make money at Disney. I think this is great! They found a novel method to earn money. What is the difference between paying a guide $50 an hour or paying the park extra money to bypass the lines? (I know they do it at Universal, I paid for the luxury a few years ago.)

I got an email from someone in Rhode Island. They had a Star Trek Next Gen. It was constantly resetting with a new driver board. I suggested taking the dedicated switch connector out of the MPU, which is below the batteries that usually corrode. Ensure that the switches don't work. (They didn't.) Play a game. If the reset still occurs, then there is an issue on the MPU and it needs to be sent in. This seems to be the problem. He will send the board. I think this will solve the issue. It is fun to fix games site unseen. If only there was a way to make money on this. :)

I just finished dinner. I read over my above statement. I just want to say that I was dreaming of ways to earn millions of dollars without having to work a full time job anymore. :) I enjoy helping people and will continue to do so without charging people to help by phone (without abusing me :) .

I purchased a new WPC-95 driver board for the Attack from Mars. It works well. I am changing all the lights to LEDs. This game was purchased specifically for a customer. I will take some interesting pictures of the restoration. I just realized that I don't have any "before" pictures. Oh well. I will show some of the work on changing the strobe and some other work.

05/26/2013

The "Glamor Shots" for Addams Family have been posted.

I purchased a second Star Trek Next Generation. The game would not boot. I removed all connectors to the MPU except of course the power and the game booted. I replaced each connector on by one and the game booted. I replaced the ribbon connector to the driver board and the game booted. I replaced the ribbon connector to the auxiliary board and the game booted. I replaced the ribbon connector directly to the display board and the game booted. I replaced the ribbon cable that connects to the Fliptronics board, sound board, and display board. The game did not boot.

I removed the ribbon cable from the display thinking this was the problem. The game still did not boot. I plugged the display board back in and removed the ribbon cable from the sound board. The game booted, but the display was bad. I tried a new display board but the display was still bad. I put back the display board and replaced the DMD and the display looked great.

I tried a new ribbon cable to see if the sound board would work. It did not work. I will send off the sound board to be repaired.

Otherwise the Star Trek Next Generation works great. All the switches work. All the coils work. Some lights are out but that will be solved when LEDs are installed. It is strange to play a game with no sound. The GI on the back box was working since J120 had the wires correct. The connector to J121 (3 GI strands on the play field) were incorrectly connected to the wrong connectors. I looked at J121 and pin 10 (usable) and 11 (not usable) are burnt. So all GI works except the one. I will replace the driver board as I always do and rebuild connector J120 and J121.

05/19/2013

It is a few hours later. The credit button/light assembly has to be replaced. A diode on the 9 million #44 light was replaced. Swamp at max diode on the board needs to be replaced that I will do tomorrow (which was since done). Still got to get the lights into the coin door. Need to replace a 906 socket for the cloud/power flasher. I have enough done to take the "glamor shot" pictures tomorrow. It looks good and works.

---

I am about to continue and hopefully finish the restoration of the Addams Family. I have to remove the ramp to clean and replace 1 flasher and 1 light on the top blue jet bumper. I have to remove the lower left plastic to replace a flasher and a GI light. I have to remove the top right plastic to replace a flasher and then the top of the play field should be done. I have the rest of the controlled lights under the play field Hopefully I will find no more surprises.

I have been thinking about this for a while and have mentioned similar items before. I will repeat some common themes since the cost of buying games has increased exponentially for me. I guess I have two choices. 1. Don't buy them until (if) they come down in price (and since I have been doing this, prices have only gone up). 2. Pass on the higher costs to the end user customer.

Prices of pinballs have gone up. My prices are as low as I can go without losing money. Yes, I actually charge more than the cost of the game and the parts I put into the game. Surprised? Really? Should I give my time away for free? I probably spend more time on every game than anyone else because I am a perfectionist. If the game is not working 100% I can't stand it until it does. (Which is one reason that I will start fixing a game even after I offer it wholesale if no one wants it within a few days. It just can't sit in the house not working.) I try to keep the cost of my games lower than the "big boys" that sell on the internet. But I usually have more stuff in them like LEDs so I do not even bother to try to compete on a dollar to dollar basis.

If my price is too high, I respect that you have the right not to buy it. But if you want to argue, I really have no time for it. I can explain every dollar I put into a game [I keep a spreadsheet] and just about every minute. My games come with a warranty. Not a "we will help you by phone warranty" but a warranty that if the game does not work in 6 months, I will fix it. I want my games to work 100% of the time for 100% of my customers. [That doesn't mean that I have not had some great customers that were not afraid to do a minor adjustment and save me a trip to their house. I do appreciate this.]

This brings me to the thing I have been thinking about lately. I try to fix a game really, really fast (and do a 100% correct job) when I come to your house. I even try to give people price breaks so that the price is not as high as it should be. I have been asking myself "why?". Why should I encourage people to buy a lower priced pinball from someone else and then need me to actually fix it and I try to keep the cost down by eating costs? I should, in fact, charge as much as it costs to show that the cost of the game, shipping, and actually fixing it to work 100% is as expensive or more expensive than buying from me directly. Now I realize that people have games they bought years ago and I do not have access to every game at any point in time. But if your game needs to be fixed, I can provide the cost to cover my time and parts. If you can find a lower priced repair person, then please do so. But lately, I have been asked to come to people's houses to fix what other repair people didn't fix. I can't (or actually I choose not to) fix a pinball if I do not have the manual and the other repair person took the manual.

One funny (sad actually) story is when a customer called me to come fix their game after another repair person tried to fix their game (and charged them) and didn't fix it. I got there and asked what the problem was. They told me the problem. I opened the back box to look at the boards to repair or replace. They were missing. I asked what happened to them. They said the other repair person took them and didn't return them. I couldn't fix the game since I did not have all the boards that were taken. Truthfully, I would not have fixed it anyway because the cost of the board includes me taking the broken one back so I can repair it and use it for the next repair. If I don't have a board to replace the one I used, I have to buy a very expensive board at full price. [The real sad thing is that this story is an example but over the years this has happened many times.]

This is why I do not charge if I do not fix your pinball (and I can be choosy and decide not even to try). If I do not charge you, I have no future commitment to you or the pinball since I did not fix it.

This is why I usually choose not to fix EM (Electro Mechanical) Pinballs or slots. I will not even bother with an EM Slot. If you are lucky enough to live in my direct line of commute between my real job and home, I will look at your EM Pinball. But as I have said before, sometimes fixing them just is not worth the time. One customer had a pinball from when they were a child. There was sentimental value. I asked my friend, Don, if he would do the restoration. He did it. He charged a fair price (but probably not as much as he should have). He did a great job and the customer was very pleased.

I was really hoping to win Powerball this weekend. Alas, I did not win. So I have to continue to work full time and continue to repair and sell pinballs.

05/18/2013

Sometimes you just have to stop what you are doing and document the stupidity of others. I am adding LEDs to the Addams Family. I noticed that the center left jet (lamp 23) was working but in test mode it was not working. Then I realized that someone attached a wire to the top left jet (lamp 21). So when lamp 21 turned on so did lamp 23. I checked the wiring and one side of lamp 23 was supposed to go to the yellow/red wire as it was doing. The other side needed to go to red/orange. The red/orange wire was attached to the play field with a screw. There was diode that was no longer attached. The wire from the center left jet that was supposed to go this this diode was diverted to the diode connected to lamp 21.

So the first thing I did was attach the diode to the red/orange wire and the wire coming from the lamp inside the center left yet to the diode. It didn't work. I checked connectivity to other lamps using the red/orange wire. I had connectivity. I then looked at the direction of the diode. It was incorrect. I attached a new diode facing the correct direction and the lamp 23 works. I will solder together in a minute but just had to note this. Although I will never know who did this, a lot of time was previously spent on the game and they did a cop out solution. Maybe what makes me a good analyst for pinballs and at work is 1. I actually analyze the problem and find the root cause, and 2. I don't give up until I solve the problem and don't put in a half baked solution.

05/16/2013

For the Addams Family I purchased a few days ago, I replaced the driver board. All GI lights work. I played the game but the chair kick out switch was not working. The metal wire was bent too badly. I simply replaced the switch. The game has been playing 100% fine. I will change the LEDs over the next few days and add the paper inserts and call it complete.

05/14/2013

For the Addams Family I purchased a few days ago, I replaced the bracket for one of the bumpers and soldered the dangling wire from another. All coils work. The bozo that put 1amp fast blow fuses into two of the three magnet inline fuses doesn't know what they are doing. They were blown because they were not correct. I added the correct 3amp slow blow to the inline fuses and replaced a poorly made inline fuse holder and all three magnets work!

05/12/2013

I completed the Star Trek Next Generation. I may already have it sold. It looks great. I am very proud of it. I love this game and would like to keep it for myself. But I will not.

I am still waiting for my boards to return. I called last week and they should arrive this week. I cannot finish the Riverboat Gambler or Attack from Mars until I get the boards.

I have the Addams Family I purchased a few months ago and the one I got yesterday. I will probably try to fix up the last remaining 3 items because I can't stand to have a game in the house not working 100%. The AS IS price will raise as I spend more time and more money on parts. Maybe someone wants a 100% working bargain rather than a really inexpensive almost working bargain. We shall see....

05/11/2013

I purchased another Addams Family. I am not too intelligent. I have a back log of machines to restore and I really don't have the room. I posted this as a PROJECT pin. It needs a little work so it is not meant to go to someone that cannot do the work themselves. However, the work required by me is manageable if someone really wants a low priced Addams Family (an oxymoron nowadays). However, I will charge for my time and parts. It needs a bumper bracket (which I have extras) and it needs the J121 connector rebuilt on the driver board. If I were to fix this up (which I may eventually do), I would replace the driver board to ensure it will work for years to come. Some lights are out and these are easy to replace although I would use LEDs and exponentially increase the price. Finally, two of the magnets are not working. They have the inline fuses. I would need to evaluate this more.

05/09/2013

As usual, the plating by Mike Chestnut is great. Take a look at this:

I added another 15 pictures for Star Trek Next Generation.

I posted The Shadow for sale AS IS yesterday and no one is interested. I asked $2,500. According to some of the forums this is about fair. I don't have any play to lower the price, so I just may buy the decals and such and do a really job and add about $1,000 (that seems logical :) ). Adding LEDs, plastic protectors, clear plastics and decals will make it much prettier. The decal set is still not available.

05/08/2013

I posted The Shadow for sale AS IS as part of my value priced pinballs that are working 100% but not restored up to my usual standards. This allows people to get a great game at a lower price. It also allows undervalued games like this one to be priced competitively although it should be a much higher priced game.

My ramps came back for my Star Trek Next Generation. I can't wait to look at them but need to post some more pictures first.

05/06/2013

I bought two color DMD yesterday. One for Star Trek Next Generation. The other for my second Addams Family. Hopefully they will look great and these games will be much more expensive.

I purchased a Shadow. I sold this exact game several years ago and bought it back yesterday. I plan to do some board work, add LEDs, try to find a new plastic set and make it beautiful. I forgot how fun this game is.

05/04/2013

My first lesson is that I thought only Bill read this page. I guess people actually read this page!

The comments below were about items that happened recently and have happened in the past. Names and places have been changed to protect the innocent...

05/02/2013

The recurring theme on this page is "Nice guys finish last" and "No good deed goes unpunished." When I offer a game wholesale, the people who want it have bad backs so they can't get it themselves and need me to deliver, or they ask me to hold it, then don't have money, then have money, ask me to hold it, call to change the date, and then when, finally 3 other people are interested in the game but I said I am holding it, I email the person and they are not in a position to buy it. Or, they need 10,000 close up pictures because the wholesale game is not cheap enough as it stands. The next time I put a game up for wholesale, it will go to the person that can come and pick it up first and ask for minimal additional pictures. I won't play the game of asking people to come and first come first serve. I will ask each person interested in the game if they actually want it and have the cash to pay for it and when they can pick it up. The person that actually wants it, has the cash to pay for it, and can get it the soonest will get the game in the future.

I told my wife I may sell one of my games to someone that wants to learn to fix it. (And I would truly enjoy teaching someone to fix the games.) She said you are crazy. Every time you do it, you get whining and complaining that something doesn't work, even though the game was sold wholesale as is. Now, I have sold many games wholesale to people that can fix them themselves and I never hear from them again about the game. But it the 1 in a 1000 that leaves the bad taste in your mouth. Hopefully if I sell it and teach, it will be a good experience. (I even checked the one remaining non working item on the game and realized that the flipper screws to a bracket were missing, added the screws, and the flipper works great. Now it is a 100% working game at a great wholesale price.)

04/30/2013

I posted some unrestored games that have gotten some interest. Maybe there is a market for fixing up games so they work but not doing the higher end restoration that takes a lot of time and money and then sits around to find the person that wants the game. A learning lesson for me.

I lowered the price on the Mega Touch EVO bar top touch screen video game to $1,400.

Finally posted my penny Jennings Light Up Tic Tac Toe for $3,800.

04/27/2013

I got the Star Wars and it looks great. I put it up for wholesale. If I don't get any takers, then I will restore for a Christmas sale.

This week 3 people called me to sell me EM pinballs. I don't like them, but I have a friend that enjoys fixing them and I give him the leads so he can enjoy the hobby and restore for himself. One person wanted to sell a Gottlieb Royal Flush. We thought it would be a couple hundred dollars at most. They wanted $2800. Good luck! I guess they watch American Pickers, Pawn Stars, or some other crap on TV and think that it is worth that much. Maybe in really nice condition it is worth $800 or so. Another person wanted to sell another EM and wanted $500 and was offered $100. He did not accept. Good luck selling that game as well.

04/26/2013

Continue to work on Star Trek Next Generation. Tomorrow I am going to look at and probably pick up a Data East Star Wars. Hopefully it is as nice as they say it is.

04/24/2013

I went to Las Vegas and stopped at the Pinball Hall of Fame. I told them I fix pinballs and would like to help. I helped fix up a Star Trek Next Gen, Bally Star Trek, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

I received a letter from the Virginia Department of Taxation. Sales tax goes up to 6% July 1, 2013.

I took the subway off my Star Trek Next Generation. I also put on the Cliffy Neutral Zone protector. The subway is now squeaky clean. Tomorrow or so I will work on replacing all the LEDs since it will be easier with the subway removed. I will post the pictures later.

04/09/2013

This past weekend, I started taking apart my Star Trek Next Generation to send the wire ramps and phaser to Mike Chestnut to replate in black nickel. I started posting pictures.

Tonight, I looked at the Attack from Mars. I got the LEDs and started to change out the GI in back box. But one strand was out. I was hoping it was bad bulbs. It is not. The driver board had the GI wires soldered directly onto the board. I will label all connectors and rebuild the two GI connectors and make sure they work. But it looks like there are some burn marks at the large diodes in the GI section. So hopefully Coin Service Technology can fix it. The battery holder was corroded. I replaced and the settings are remembered.

03/31/2013

Happy Easter! Most people have Easter traditions of spending time with family, dinners, etc. I have completed my annual Easter Pinball Machine. This year, I got my Addams Family finished. I will post completed pictures in a few minutes.

I have to add the lock to the front door and take the pictures. I got it all together and was testing. Thing was not picking up the ball. In the past, this would have been an all day affair to fix. I turned off the game. I took out the balls. I lifted the play field I unscrewed the two bolts to the thing box. I disconnected the connector for the Thing magnet coil. I unscrewed the two screws attaching the hand to the motor. Outside the game, I removed the bolt that acts like the magnet portion of the coil. I removed the screw from the hand. I pulled out the coil. I cleaned the hand. It looks nice. I put the new coil in. Attached the bolt. Attached the screw. Screwed the hand back into the motor. Attached the connector. Put the thing box back. Tested and it worked. This took less than 15 minutes to do. It is nice to have a stash of these special coils for this purpose.

03/24/2013

I planned to buy the Riverboat Gambler pinball this weekend. I also ended up purchasing a Star Trek Next Generation and a Jennings Light Up 1940s Penny Tic Tac Toe Slot machine. I also delivered the Twilight Zone.

I didn't get much work done on the Addams Family. I can't pop out the pin. I think I need a smaller tool. Will try next weekend.

 

03/22/2013

It is Friday night and trying to get some stuff done. I changed out the target bank reset coil and this did the trick on the Cleopatra. I also fixed some of the LEDs to choose brighter colors.

Continue testing the Twilight Zone and it works nicely.

I am picking up the Riverboat Gambler tomorrow.

I will try to get some work done on my first Addams Family.

03/20/2013

Parts are coming in. I ordered a right post for the slam ramp on No Good Gofers that has been installed.

I ordered the trim for the play field glass for Twilight Zone that has been installed. The -55 microswitch for the rocket has been installed. So far the game is testing out nicely after I performed the items below.

The -55 switch worked when not in the game an in the bracket. Once screwed into the play field the coil engaged because the switch was closed. The long wire was touching the wood and not opening all the way. I put a washer between the bracket and wood and the switch opened all the way. But the ball would rest against this poorly designed switch. When the ball landed on the switch by rolling into it from the right, it was a clean shot over the wire and worked. When the ball rolled in from the skill shot, it's movement was perpendicular to the switch wire and would rest against the wire and not get into position. I had to lift the play field and bend the wire down so it was more parallel to the play field so the ball could roll over it into position. But still sometimes the ball would not roll into position, especially the power ball since it was lighter. I carefully looked at the play field and noticed a divot (low spot) right around the long hole for the wire. I had some Stealth Pinball movable mylar type spots and carefully put them around the hole and seems to work. (Is Pinballpal.com still in business? I looked on Pinside and the owner has had some health issues. Hopefully he will feel better soon.)

The proximity switch in the trough would sometimes always stay on. If I disconnected the connector and re-seated it would work. I pulled apart the two pins. The connector fits better. Hopefully this will continue to work.

03/17/2013

I continue to order parts for the Attack from Mars. I should order the rest today except the strobe light that won't be available (they say) until the end of March.

I replaced the Buy In button, the yellow flipper buttons, and added an L bracket to the front right inside of the Twilight Zone cabinet. I have the back play field glass trim and the -55 switch on order for the rocket. This should complete the game. I will continue to test before I deliver.

I purchased a second Addams Family a few weeks ago and have not even looked at it yet. (I am still working on the first one but other things took priority.) I will set it up now so I can buy the rest of the parts for the Attack from Mars and start getting parts for this game as well.

I keep saying this but I guess I shouldn't be surprised when I buy really expensive machines from my wholesaler in really nice condition and crap like this is on the game:

In a few minutes I will have it set up and look. I am stalling because I am afraid to look to see what other things are wrong with the game. I pay more for higher quality games. Sometimes I get great games. Sometimes I get this. [OK, this was first reaction seeing those bolts but the game is pretty nice so I will stop whining.] What I think is amazing is every game that he buys from a home owner looks like it was taken off a route the day before and has been treated like crap. When I buy games from a home owner, they usually look great. See the Judge Dredd I reference below. It is amazing that the quality I can purchase is 10 times better or more than his. {whine, whine, whine} Except for the bolts in the cabinet the game is nice.

Let me get back to opening the game and being horrified by what lies inside. OK Not as bad as I imagined. I am not exactly sure what those bolts outside the game are doing since it doesn't look like it is bracing the wood together.

* Top left switch on ramp is missing the metal part so I will change the microswitch. Easy. Replace -22 micro switch.

* Right sling plastic broken. To be expected. Ordered new sling plastics

* Left flipper doesn't work. The plunger elbow is broken, but the flipper works. Need to replace the plunger.

* Missing 906 socket in cloud. I have replacements.

* No burns from play field magnet. Play field should clean up nicely.

* Holes need Cliffy protectors. I already bought them.

* Cabinet not in bad condition. Some gum on the left side but should scrap off.

* I just changed the batteries.

* I tested the switches. I removed all but the vault switch 68 so will test in a few. I cleared all the errors. No switch errors.

* The ramp is not cracked and will clean up nicely.

* Thing flip doesn't work. It is because the top left switch on the ramp is missing the metal tab. It works!

* Thing grabs ball and kind of touches the edge. I need to look at and adjust.

* I always replace the IO Driver board.

This may not be as bad as the other one. But will still require the game to be taken apart and cleaned.

03/16/2013

I posted the Judge Dredd on my business Facebook page. I realize that half the audience are my friends and family taking pity on me to get my "likes" up. I appreciate it. I do have people on in the area as well as the USA and in other countries. There is one guy that sometimes replies to my post in Spanish. He is always selling the same machine for a lower price. I am not sure what the "Facebook Etiquette" should be on this. Do I unfriend him and look childish or just ignore? I do not really care that he has cheaper games. I am sure they are not up to my standards and if they are the shipping from whatever country he is in will reduce the savings. I just feel these posts are incredibly rude. I would never go onto his site and advertise my items. I saw his post on my phone. On my PC, there is a translate button. I kind of figured out what he wrote but this just confirmed.

03/15/2013

I brought the Judge Dredd downstairs to the shop. I can now use my garage to park my car. It is nice and ready to go as is. I have 3 different prices on it. Here is the description so I do not have to retype:

This Judge Dredd is in really nice condition and working well. I have three different prices (and service/quality levels) available. It is ready to be sold as is right now. The AS IS price is out the door to you with no warranty. The price with the warranty is the same game in the same AS IS condition but you are paying extra for my 6 month warranty. The restored price includes LEDS ($300 plus about 5 hours to install), Manual ($30), New Topper ($200 currently out of stock by all vendors), Plastic protectors ($12), Decal set ($38), Instruction cards ($15), fixed up driver board ($100), plus other parts and my time to restore.

I believe the low prices on it will allow it to sell faster. The AS IS price is for someone that is comfortable buying it without a warranty. The warranty price ensures peace of mind. But it may be worth saving the money and paying for a repair if needed.

I think the game would look great restored. But I will not invest the time or money to do so unless I have a buyer lined up with a deposit.

03/13/2013

I got a call today from someone wanting to buy my Theatre of Magic. I do not have one for sale. I thought maybe I forgot to remove the price. I checked all my pages and removed some prices I forgot to remove. The word SOLD was not explicitly on the Theatre of Magic page. Now it is.

The Twilight Zone is done and being tested. I will post pictures tonight but thankfully already sold so just for completeness. I will buy a new plastic for the back of the play field glass and a -55 switch for the rocket. But otherwise works nicely. I will continue to test since I want to ensure I deliver a good working machine.

The Cleopatra is done and will be posted tonight. I still need to buy a coil. I bought the one on the game that was not working. The new one also doesn't work since it is not strong enough. But I also purchased new plastics and a manual and now know that I need an A-17891 coil rather than an A-18102 coil. The A-17891 coil is stronger and should work.

03/09/2013

I picked up another Judge Dredd. It looks really good. The eagle topper is there but looks like someone punched out the face. Two switches need to be adjusted. Other than that, nothing else is wrong with the game.

I replaced the 3 bumper caps on the Twilight Zone. I cleaned up the mini play field and replaced posts, lights, rubbers. I cleaned the main plastic ramp and reinstalled. Cleaned and installed divertor ramp with new Distiller and Distiller armature. I changed the clock board. Every thing is together and being tested and adjusted. I also replaced the battery holder on the CPU. So far it works nicely.

03/06/2013

I have been slowly working on the Twilight Zone. Didn't get much done this weekend. I am trying to get one or two things accomplished on it each evening. Hopefully by the weekend, I will be ready to cleans up the ramps and clock and re-install. I have to replace the battery holder on the CPU. Then it should work 100% I hope. I do need to order a new "Extra Ball" switch for the right side of the cabinet. I will do so when working on buying parts for the Attack from Mars I will be working on next.

Tonight 1. I replaced the slot plastic. This is a pain because I have to get the rivet out for the light and put a #40 1/4" bolt in its place. I replaced the yellow light with an LED and tested and it worked. Also added a clear plastic protector underneath. 2. Replaced the plastic above the right flipper with the #37 906 flasher that also needs a rivet removed. Also added a clear plastic protector underneath. 3. Replaced the broken yellow handle on the gumball machine. 4. Replaced the plastic with the hand under the clock and added a clear plastic protector. (This will be one of the last pieces back on the game.) 5. Two dark blue rubber sleeves in the back. 6. Decals from Pinballdecals.com. 7. Fake gumballs in gumball machine. 8. LED changing lights in gumball machine.

02/27/2013

I purchased a non working 1977 Gottlieb Cleopatra Solid State pinball. I tried to wholesale it but the person that wanted it wanted it for less than I paid. I respect that non-working game's price should be low. But I decided to keep it since it was one of the first games I originally bought explicitly for resale when I first started this business.

The first known issue was the right leg fell off when I took it apart when I bought it. I added L clips to the outside of the game and added a new leg bracket inside and that fixed it.

I put it together tonight and quickly found the problem. The J6 connector on the CPU that leads to the buttons and switches on the coin door was not attached to the CPU. The tension on the cable was high and it needed to be in the plastic ring to properly secure it.

The A-18102 coil that controls the 5 target reset is weak so I bought a new coil and hopefully this will fix this issue. I bought new plastics and a manual. Once I get the plastics, I will replace the rubbers and see if LEDs will work. The play field has clean mylar on the bottom portion and is in perfect condition. The top area has two small wear spots were the ball exits the two kick out holes. The back glass has some flaking but is in otherwise nice condition. The cabinet is in nice condition.

The owner of the game didn't have the room for it anymore. He said his father purchased it for him in the early 1980s and he has had it ever since so it is an overall very nice game.

I played the game and remember how I enjoyed it. I am glad I didn't wholesale it. I will enjoy it for a while.

02/25/2013

A few years ago, I bought 2 replacement fingers to keep up the ramps from Passion for Pinball and didn't use them. So luckily I had one to use in this game. I also had the correct spring as a spare and installed the finger and spring in 5 minutes. The No Good Gofers game works 100%.

I started replacing the LEDs on the Twilight Zone.

02/24/2013

I posted the No Good Gofers for sale today. I finished it last night at 1am. I still have adjustments and need to work out the kinks, but it is posted and looks good. Someone came to look at it today. They will probably buy it. I hope so, but will still post. I did not finish it for him, but it was the excuse to get a lot of parts sitting on the floor and on other games into this game.

This morning, I tested it and replaced two microswitches at the left. The left gofer was not going down. There was nothing wrong electrically, it was just not going down. I took it out of the game. There is a fin that the gofer travels on. I added two washers to give more room for the gofer to drop easier.

I will replace the display. It is okay, but for the amount of money this game is going to sell for it needs a nicer display (and hence the $200 higher price than I was going to sell it for). I also need to check the switch on the blue pop bumper and check to see if the right ramp will remain up. It does when the play field is up, so it just needs an adjustment. I will also need to dremel out the protector on the right so the ball does not get stuck in the ramp (typical).

Quick update since about 1 hour ago. I replaced the display. I dremeled the protector so that the ball falls cleanly from the right ramp. I adjusted the switch on the blue pop bumper and it works great. I looked closely at the right ramp. The metal finger and spring were missing. I thought I saw the red spring someplace. In the coin box, I found the finger. I probably have a spring or can order one. But at least it was explainable and I am sure I will have this game working 100% very soon.

Now I can concentrate on the Twilight Zone for the next few weeks.

02/22/2013

A customer brought a troublesome Williams Laser Cue to my house to repair. It has been interesting and I think I have fixed all the issues. Click here to read the repair (and must frustration in fixing it).

I am still waiting for all the parts on the Twilight Zone so I cannot work on it this weekend. Well, maybe I can get the LEDs in. They just came today.

I am trying to sneak in the repair and restoration of the No Good Gofers. I have changed all the back box lights (most were out). I have changed all of the controlled lights (most were out). Tomorrow, if the weather is bad, I will change the GI (most are out) and the Flashers. This game needs a lot of cleaning and new rubbers but all parts are in good condition including the ramps. One switch (under the ramp) still needs to be fixed. Hopefully I can get it done tomorrow.

02/17/2013

Fish Tales is posted and ready for sale. I think it came out very nice.

I now need to go through Twilight Zone and order parts. Another few thousand dollars gone....

I am still working on a customer's Williams Laser Cue. Flippers are getting hot but the flippers are wired correctly. I hate these games. I am an idiot to be nice and try to fix it. I should have told the person months ago that I didn't want to fix it when they called. Instead, I went. I saw that it would need to be worked on in my house. I have the game. I think I am now down to 1 penny per hour for my hard work on this game. As I always state, nice guys finish last and no good deed goes unpunished. I don't trust these games. Sometimes when it turns on, all coils engage, even though the boards have been sent in. I continue to waste time to find the elusive problem. More time wasted when I can work on other things, like life and enjoy living.

At least I have the sense to no longer even bother to try to fix EM slots or newer slots. Just not worth it. I fix what I sell.

02/10/2013

Yesterday I was checking on the status of the second Addams Family I purchased. It will be coming soon. I was offered a nice Twilight Zone. After recently purchasing two very expensive Addams Family games on speculation, I was low on business cash. I checked my list of people wanting a Twilight Zone and the person wanted it. I will be taking pictures soon, but that person will not be disappointed in the cosmetics of the game. I just checked over the game. The DMD was missing the right two columns. I put in a new one ($200). It was missing the wing nut to secure the head to the cabinet. I added this too. It is missing the manual. It has all 6 balls including the ceramic ball. I replaced the grungy looking legs, levelers, longer bolts, and let protectors ($100). All coils and all magnets work. All switches work including the trough proximity switch. I haven't tested the proximity switch below the middle of the play field. The batteries are AAA and to the left of the board but do not seem to work. So I will solder in a new battery holder ($10). I will also need a bracket for the coin door switch which is not attached ($?)

I spoke too soon. Coil #15 worked once and then didn't work. I have to see if it is the coil or the board. But it does have a new Rottendog driver board in it.

I told the guy I wholesale that I had the Pinball Magic for a long time and no takers. It is a great game but I can't sell it. I told him what I had in it (not including my time). He took a picture and posted it to his Facebook page and sold it in 5 minutes. I usually put too much time and money into parts. On this game, I was not sure I would recoup my money so I did not add LEDs. All the original plastics, rubbers, posts, ramp, etc were good. I just needed to replace 1 drop target so replaced them all and bought new decals. The funny thing is that he only sold it for a bit less than I was selling it for "retail" with a warranty. But he has 5,000 likes and I only have 78 (and half are friends). The good thing is that I am not in the transaction and have no further responsibility on the game. The person that bought it will get a solid working game that I fixed up and never know it.

I have been working on my Fish Tales. I have been side tracked today but have 1/2 the play field replaced. I will have to take the bumpers off to replace the flat plates at the bottom since missing plastic pieces. But otherwise, just slow and steady to clean up.

02/08/2013 (Later in Evening)

I decided to try to work on one of my games tonight. I have been taking apart the Fish Tales. I needed to tighten the right sled nut near the front of the play field. I should have taken a picture of the half-assed fix someone did to this game. I took the apron off. The bolt going through the play field to the secure the hook to the front of the game and to the sled was under the shooter coil bracket (which was also the wrong one for the game). New holes into the wood were made and the bracket was at a weird angle. This explains the bend in the bracket that I previously took a picture of. I looked up the correct part and it has a hole through the bracket to place the bolt. Then the other 3 screws fit into the correct position. Also, the bracket is lower by about 3/8". The bracket, in what would be the correct position, has the plunger above the ball. The whole thing is incorrect. A new bracket will solve the issue. I seem to be having plunger bracket issues lately. At least I found this one before I priced the game. :) I will wait to buy it to see if I have any more surprises.

I also computed my town tax tonight based on last year's business income. I pay $0.17 per $100 or $1.70 per $1,000. I need to account for this in my sales. It is not a lot. But when I sell at my price, I need to add a few bucks to cover the local taxes.

I am still working on my Addams Family. I received the Cliffy protector this week so can work on the game. But decided to work on Fish Tales first. I am waiting to hear, but I may buy a second Addams Family. Hopefully it will be in good condition. Well, actually it will. I pay more for my games to be in better condition and the person I am buying from has been selling me games since 1999 and knows what I want.

02/08/2013

Another lesson to be learned. I received an email and call to purchase the Junk Yard yesterday. So I did what I always do. I go through the pinball again to ensure everything works. On this game, I knew that the ball was not always resting against the plunger in the plunger lane. But I assumed I needed to adjust the switch or most likely replace it. I did price in the switch [$6] into the sales price.

When I took the switch off, one of the screws was bent and missing the head. I looked closely and realized that the screw was stuck in the bracket. I tried to take out the screw but it broke off (which is what I expected).

I decided to buy a new bracket ($30) and 100 screws ($15) [although I only need 2 at 30 cents :) ] and more switches [for future use].

I also knew I needed to change the flipper buttons [$3]. I decided not to do so until I sold it since they were white and wanted them to be shiny new for the new owner. I did replace these with no problem and the $3 was built into the sales price.

I did test the remainder of the game and it worked fine, as expected.

This fix will delay the delivery a few days. But hopefully the new owner will have a solid machine with the ball always sitting on the plunger tip rather than being 1/2" away and being annoying but not affecting game play.

Plus, based on my experience with the Star Trek Next Generation pinball, I will bring all my tools and parts when I deliver.

02/02/2013

I think the Star Trek Next Generation pinball is going to behave and be very happy in its new home.

I have the Addams Family, No Good Gofers, and Fish Tales in various states of tear down. After Bill came over last weekend to see the games in progress and we discussed doing decals on the cabinet correctly (as compared to how I would have probably done them) and watched some YouTube videos, I believe the Fish Tales will look pretty good without new decals and also about $1,000 less! Do you know anyone that would like to buy a set of decals?

01/30/2013

I now feel much more comfortable about the Star Trek Next Generation pinball. I have to say, when something stupid is done to the pinball, I can be assured I did it. My hunch below was correct. The catapult coil needed to be moved 90 degrees to be parallel to the play field. When I so cleverly added electrical tape to protect the lugs from hitting the metal bracket, I lovingly taped the coil around the back part of the bracket which allowed the bottom of the bracket to rub against the holes in the base of the coil which are where the thin coil wire is attached and this was grounding. I moved the coil. I put electrical tape just around the coil. I replaced F105 and the game worked like a charm. I did replace both 3" and the long ribbon cable but want to ensure this expensive machine works for years and years to come.

Note the white arrow pointing to the left lug hole. I was worried about the right wire hitting the plate on the right, which it was doing. However, I did not realize that when I taped the coil lugs securely around the coil, lugs, and bracket that I was putting the coil in position to short against the bracket. Turning the coil 90 degrees to the left solved all issues.

 

01/29/2013

Well, I got the dreaded email from the customer that just bought the Star Trek Next Generation pinball. When I left last Friday and it was working 100%, I just had a sick feeling in my stomach and knew that it just was not enough. But after being there for over 3 hours playing, there was not much more to do but to leave and let the customer play.

He said it worked fine on Saturday and Sunday. Then on Monday, he turned on the game and heard a pop. (I assume this is a coil engaging for no reason.) He played a 3 ball game. Pressed the start button to play the next game. The game started. The ball popped out of the trough, but the catapult (coil #6) did not work.

So after work tomorrow, I get to go there again and try to figure out the problem. It basically took 3 days to appear. I am hoping that I can put either the F105 3amp slow blow (which controls coils 1 - 8) or F112 7amp slow blow (solenoid secondary) in to get it to work again. I assume it is not F112 or no coils would have worked and the ball would not have popped out the trough.

Thinking about the fix I did to the catapult coil, I added electrical tape to the lug that was hitting the metal plate. I think I should have turned the coil 90 degrees to that the lugs were parallel to the play field rather than perpendicular. If parallel, the coils cannot move or hit against the metal plate. I am wondering whether the lugs were hitting the metal plate and cutting through the electrical tape I added. I am hoping this coil is the coil that is out and I can move it 90 degrees.

Otherwise, I may have to replace the coil again (23-800). I may have to replace the driver board (which is easier than fixing it at his house and faster). I will also ensure that the 3" ribbon cable and 4 connector ribbon cable are properly seated or I may just replace. This should solve the problem or I am at a lose. I really don't want to have to take it home and give back the money and fix it when it should be a simple (albeit elusive) fix.

I will also look for sparks with the play field up to see if any other problems. I did this in my house and it had no problems at all. I did this at his house while repairing and the catapult and left VUK were sparking. Just amazing. I guess moving the game does this.

Enough whining for this evening. I will go tomorrow and hopefully find the problem, fix it permanently, and report back here tomorrow evening.

01/26/2013

I decided today was a weekend and I would enjoy it by working on cleaning the basement and working on pinballs rather than working my full time job, which, regretfully, I seem to be doing most weekends and evenings.

I unpacked the $1,800 worth of parts I bought to fix up the game. I moved the Addams Family into a position away from my solder/desolder station and freezer (which my wife appreciates). I still need to order the Cliffy hole protector, so I can't do much on the play field.

I replaced the DMD. The display is bright and vibrant.

I checked the coils. The left magnet does not work. The right sling is not working. I raised the play field. The left magnet is unplugged The left magnet is controlled by Q44 and Q43 on the driver board and a TIP36c below the play field that is labeled Q1, Q2, or Q3. I will now replace the driver board. Replace the 3 magnets (to be on the safe side), add fuses to the magnets, and replace the coil for the right sling. I will also figure out which TIP36c control the left magnet and change that as well. Hopefully I will get this done this evening. Q1 controls the left magnet; Q2 controls the center magnet. Q3 controls the right magnet. I wish someone would have posted that. They didn't. Now I will and it will be on my repair page with a picture in the next few days.

The left magnet was disconnected with a sign that says "Do not plug in - U4 is bad." I do not know what U4 is. Hopefully replacing the magnet, Q1 on the PCB board under the play field, and replacing the driver board should solve the problem. If only people would do that when things break. What a novel idea to actually fix something when it breaks.

I have to replace the connectors for J120 and J121 since they control the GI (General Illumination) which is over-fused on these earlier games. The new connector will help. The LEDs will use 75% less power and be the actual solution.

So far, the above work is 3.5 hrs. I am trying to keep track of my time on these games to know how much time I spend and how much I get underpaid for each sale. This truly helps me "Just Say No" when someone tries to get a lower price on a game. I try to price my games fairly to match comparable market prices and the extras that I add. If negotiating a price a few hundred less will generate more sales, then I will do what everyone else seems to do and raise prices artificially so I can come down to what I thought was fair in the first place.

It is now a 1/2 hour later (so 4 hrs). I replaced J120 and J121. All GI works. The three magnets work. The left sling works.

Next up: Replace all LEDs.

01/26/2013

I posted this on Facebook, but also want it here (with more detail).

I tell the story that as a kid, I used to go to the Bow Wow on Cross Bay Blvd in Queens, NY in the 1970s. They had about 35 pinballs. I would walk or ride my bike (without a helmet back then) to play pinball. We also went to summer bungalow colonies in upstate NY and they also used to have a pinball or two. I clearly remember Spanish Eyes. So the Bow Wow was my real introduction to pinballs and I loved them.

In the 1990s I would play pinball but since not many around, I did not play much. I remember seeing the Star Trek Next Generation and loving the entry into the game with the loop. I didn't think much of this game.

Jump forward to 1999. I was driving around with my wife and found Lloyd Thoburn at Coin Op Warehouse in Herndon. At that time, he kind of sold games working (as compared to now really only selling wholesale with the expectation is that they do not work and they need to be fixed up). I saw a Judge Dredd that I wanted to get. It was a $1,000. I hate spending that much money. I was wavering back and forth about spending the money. I was afraid of not being able to repair them. I know that Lloyd was getting tired of me being wishy-washy. But it was a lot of money. He just said to leave and make up my mind. I decided to buy it. When things broke, I had no clue what to do and panicked. I found some people that could fix them. But they jerry-rigged them to work rather than actually fix it. [Over the years, I have probably bought several hundred games from Lloyd. He told me that when he first met me I was annoying since I could not make a decision. :) Now, he recommends me to fix games when he is asked and I appreciate that. I am still annoying and picky when I buy a game. He knows that I will pay more for a cosmetically better game. I can fix anything mechanical or electrical. I try to get the games as pretty as possible - although soon (and I am stalling), I will replace the artwork on a Fish Tales.]

I then bought a Last Action Hero, and then an Addams Family. I quickly realized that I would have to learn to fix them myself. I found guides on line. I was able to ask questions on REC.GAMES.PINBALL (RGB) and just started getting what needed to be done and doing it completely and correctly. I also learned how to read schematics and bought a solder/desolder station and practiced removing chips and replacing from junk boards Lloyd was nice enough to give me to learn. [When I apply for jobs, one of the strong points I have is the ability to learn quickly, so it is good that I could learn about pinballs quickly.]

[As a side point, I went to Brooklyn Technical High School. I had to choose a major. I chose Aeronautics. If someone would have told me, "If you choose Electrical, you could fix a pinball machine.", I would have chosen Electrical. Instead I had to learn this all on my own.]

I came across a Star Trek Next Generation and I realized that I played it 1 time in the past. I instantly feel in love with the game and bought it. As I mention all over this page, it is my favorite game (which is why it was so disheartening to have the issues with the game I just delivered this past week - It is now 100% working and hopefully should work great for the customer). You can see by my Repair Chronicles that I have the most information about fixing Star Trek Next Gen because I work on it so often.

In 2004, after working on many of my own games (since my collection grew significantly) I was confident in opening a business to buy and sell pinballs and repair pinballs. I officially opened the business December 6, 2004. Judge Dredd was the first game I ever sold.

A friend at work called me on a Saturday and told me he was at a garage sale in MD that had a Gottlieb Cleopatra Solid State pinball and a Bally Grand Slam for $75 each. The Gram Slam was missing the back glass. I bought them and they were the first games I explicitly bought to repair and resell as part of this business.

As I think back to what I know now about fixing pinballs as compared to then, I can see that I knew a lot but clearly did not know as much then as I know now. I also recognize that I will know more next year. Hopefully documenting my repairs will allow me to remember what I did and why, and also help others. My repair pages get several thousand hits a month. I do not make a penny on it. I wish I could figure out how, but would rather keep it free and open to everyone.

01/24-25/2013

I sold the Star Trek Next Generation a few weekends ago. I was supposed to deliver on Saturday, 1/26/2013. But snow is predicted. I delivered yesterday after work. I made the executive decision that the game was working perfectly and didn't bring any parts since it was literally freezing outside. (Bad decision on my part.)

Star Trek Episode 1 - The Delivery

I delivered the game on 1/23/2013 and got an error: "U6 Cksum Error". I previously replaced the ROM chip with the latest LX-7 version with a chip that I purchased (as part of 4 chips) several years ago since I work on this game all the time. It worked for the past month or so flawlessly. I also noticed that the initial video images are messed up. I push in the chips and find a loose connector and the game works with no problems. I set it up. I show the customer how to test and use the menu. We play a bunch of games. We then put the back glass and glass back on the game and move it into position in the house. I turn it on and get the same "U6 Cksum Error".

I realized that I needed to bring back boards and new ROM chips.

Star Trek Episode 2 - A New Hope

I went back on 1/24/2013 with 2 replacement CPU boards, 2 LX-7 chips (I originally bought 4, used 1 a few years ago and put one into this game over a month ago and was working fine.) I put a different CPU with an LX-7 chip (not one of the above ones) and the game does not give an error but one of the rows is out. This board was fixed by sending to a company so it is frustrating that a row was out.

I took out the board and put the other replacement board in with a different LX-7 chip from the ones I purchased a few years ago. I got a "U6 Cksum Error." Darn it. I took out the board. Took out the chip and put in the different LX-7 chip and the error disappeared and the switch matrix worked fine.

We played a ball. On the next ball the plunger did not work and fuse F105 (solenoids 1-8) was blown. I didn't bring my stuff with me since it was supposed to be a simple replacement of the board. I ran down to Radio Shack and bought overpriced 3amp slow blow fuses. I installed the fuse and turned on the game and the plunger immediately engages. I turned off the machine and the coil is very hot.

The game has an A23-600 coil in it. I search my house and don't have any. I looked at my manual and thankfully it is 23-800 coil which I have many. So I packed my car with all my parts, tools, boards (I have 4 replacement driver boards in case the driver board transistor in the game is blown.) I will now go to his house tomorrow after work and replace the coil and hopefully it will work. If not, I will also need to replace the driver board.

This should have been a simple installation. I am sure the customer is not happy with what is going on. But it is what it is and I would rather find these issues now and fix rather than in a few weeks (which I would also fix for free but better to get them all out of the way). Of course, I haven't accepted payment until the game is working 100%.

Star Trek Episode 3 - The Driver Board Strikes Back

I went back on 1/25/2013 in the snow with my entire set of tools, parts, and boards. I installed the 23-800 into the catapult. It was loose and I noticed that the coil spun around. I quickly turned on the game but expected that the board transistor was blown. It was. I labeled all the connectors on the driver board and replaced the driver board. The fuse did not blow.

The ball was getting stuck on the lower ramp on the left. The switch was stuck into the ramp plastic. I had to take off the top ramp on the left. The switch was not the correct switch but I did not want to change at the customer's house. (I noticed this when I restored but forgot about it.) I bent the wire so that it could not jam into the plastic and it worked great. I put the ramp back together.

We played the game and the fuse blew again. I put in a new fuse and lifted the play field I noticed flashes in two places.

The catapult coil was spinning around, as I said above, and shorting against the bracket. I put electrical tape around the lugs. This was definitely causing the fuse to blow. The other flash was on the left pop out to the left ramp. A wire was barely attached to the lug. I tried to solder on and it just wouldn't work. I replaced the 23-800 coil here and the game worked 100%.

I tested and tested and tested. We played many games and it worked great. I finally left but hope that there is nothing else that I did not find.

In the end, every problem was explainable and fixable. I do not understand why the game worked flawlessly at my house and had so many issues once delivered. But better to fix it up now then have these issues crop up afterwards.

(Obviously my titles above were a play on Star Trek and Star Wars - in case people think I do not know what I did. :) )

01/20/2013

I replaced the decal on the Fish Tales. What do you think? The biggest changes are the orange fish and the auto cast area.

 

01/19/2013

I picked up the Addams Family. It is in nice condition and will be great when finished. But I have to buy games sight unseen and trust the condition. I was told that it was in a home and recently purchased and needed to sell to raise money. I am not sure that is the case but it can be based on other people selling crap and inferior restorations. The ramp needs to be replaced ($160). The entrances are cracked and the rounded section on the left ramp has a metal protector on it. Two of the magnets are not working. The display is good but I will probably replace because of fading at the bottom right. The bookcase crank is broken so the most important part of the game cannot work (but the motor is working fine).

Here is my initial analysis of the game of parts I will need. Some of them are "extras" to make the game better but some are parts that should have been in good condition. Door lock, replace driver board (I always do this), fix J120 and J121 connectors (I usually have to do this and the LEDs will improve this), LEDs, top cabinet play field plastic where play field glass goes against the back of the game, paper inserts, decals, bookcase decal, plastic set, plastic protectors, legs, leg protectors, leg bolts, back latch, left sling (will be in plastic set), new bookcase, book case crank arms, balls (it is missing balls), magnet fuses, Cliffy protectors, a few micro switches and opto switches, posts, and rubbers.

I also posted an interesting Theatre of Magic poster and some translites I purchased. I guess I really don't care if I sell this stuff since I will bring it with me to the York show next year.

01/17/2013

I posted the 1938 Pace Dollar Slot. have been looking for a dollar slot for years and finally have one. It uses Eisenhower dollars. It also uses tokens. I purchased a bunch of tokens from Osborne Mint a few years ago. So if someone buys this and needs some tokens, I have some available for 75 cents each.

Still haven't received the Addams Family. Hopefully soon....

I need to work on some of my games but have been really busy at my full time job. Plus I am waiting to get the Addams Family so I can place a large order all at once.

12/30/2012

I am on the Auto Train returning from visiting my family in Delray Beach and Deerfield Beach and then a trip to Disney World. I am using my iPhone as a mobile hotspot while waiting for dinner.

I am getting the Addams Family pinball soon. Maybe tomorrow if we can schedule due to holiday. Then I will need to dump a lot of money into it to bring it up to my standards. I also have to dump a lot of money into the No Good Gofers. I think I will need to sell another pinball before I have the resources to fix them up. Cash flow is always the problem. :)

We stayed at the Boardwalk on Disney property. We always wanted to do so and finally did. It was fun and expensive but I do not think I ever want to do so again. I recognize that every time you turn around you have to pay for anything you get. We wasted money on the Disney Dining which is great for Disney but not for the customer. I guess if you can find the most expensive restaurant and buy the most expensive meal, you can just about break even. Otherwise, buy it as you go and only buy what you want. For example, we went to the Japanese Steak house in Epcot. At home, we go to a great restaurant in Leesburg named Kobe. The meal includes the soup, salad (with great dressing), and entree. At Disney, everything is a la carte. The meal plan does not include tips or anything outside of non alcoholic drink, entree, and desert. I would rather replace the desert with a salad but that would be too nice of them to do. The meal was "Disney-fied" so that they did not do the flames at the beginning or most anything else you see at other Japanese steak houses. But it is one heck of an efficient production line to get you all fed and back out as soon as possible.

The first day we went to the Magic Kingdom. It was great between 7am and 11am. We left in the middle of the day and returned at night. We used their buses. Slowest transportation system I have ever seen. I realize they are probably being extra safe but it borders on a work slowdown. I heard one parent tell another "Yes, we have been taking the buses the past several days, expect to spend more time waiting for buses and on buses than in the park." This statement is very, very true.

We were told we could take the monorail from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot and walk back to our hotel. What they didn't tell us is that you need to have a ticket to the park to get from the front of the park to the back of the park. We wasted about 2 hours traveling in circles. If we were to go back, I would probably want to stay at the Contemporary or such on a monorail line. The transportation center did not have any direct links to the Boardwalk hotel. That is insane. The definition of the transportation center (or hub) is that you could get anyplace from the hub.

The Test Track at Epcot was recently renovated and reopened on Dec 6. I got there early but the line was already 2 hours long. I got a fast pass ticket and went back at my assigned time to find that the ride was "temporarily unavailable." Another trip to Disney without riding the ride. You would think if they renovated it, they would have taken the most unreliable ride in the world and made it more reliable.

Well, in the past, we would not go away for Thanksgiving or Christmas because I may get a call to see and possibly sell a pinball. It has taken me 10 years but I am over this. Why wait around wasting my life for someone to call when I can enjoy it? If I lose a sale, so be it. Life is too short and I am not going to wait around with the hopes of someone calling.

I think next time we will stay at a nice Marriott, pay for parking, and eat as little as possible on the Disney premises. Or better yet, just go on a cruise and avoid Disney altogether.

12/24/2012

Merry Christmas! I got an email from someone wanting a brand new Batman Stern pinball for $4,999. I realized that my "new pinball" page had new pinballs with the prices as they were back then. Prices have gone up. Pinballs are not available. I do not sell many (like 2 in 10 years) new pinballs so not worth putting prices that no one will buy and become out of date. I updated the page just now. Off to a party....

12/19/2012

I just realized that my restorations page had prices on it for pinballs I sold. So I removed all prices so I do not have to remember to keep this page up to date.

I will continue to work on the No Good Gofers after New Years. I will hopefully get the Addams Family soon and then order both sets of parts at the same time to save on postage (and spend twice as much on parts).

My New Years resolution will be to get the 1916 Operator Bell Mills Slot, 1929 Mills Poinsettia Slot, my 1940s Mills 50 cent slot, and my 1940s Mills Black Beauty slot working and chromed and finished. Hopefully in a year I can get them all done.

It is so nice to have my Star Trek Next Generation in the house again! I love this game. This is the only game I miss when I sell it.

I still have to adjust the switches on the Corvette.

The great thing about having pinball machines (and only buying the ones I enjoy) is that I can go downstairs almost every evening and choose a few to play. This way I can also ensure that they are working 100% (user acceptance testing). Tonight I played Ripley's Believe It or Not and it worked beautifully. It is also a great game. Every one that buys one from me agrees that it is a very fun and enjoyable game.

My saga with the Swords of Fury for a customer has been completed! The board was sent back to the customer. I stopped at their house and installed and it works. Joe at Coin Service Technology stated that there was a lot of corrosion on the board, as I expected. There are some other minor things to fix but that will wait until 2013 since it doesn't affect game play. Thank goodness this is done before the end of the year.

Another customer called with a Big Guns (also a great 1987 Williams game) issue. The game was stating the a pinball was missing and didn't start properly. The game didn't start properly was because of corroded batteries. Luckily they did not affect the board and replaced the battery holder. (Again, it is amazing that people buy pinballs and are not told that batteries are in the game and need to be replaced.) The game thought a ball was missing. But the 3rd ball switch in the trough was not working. I traced the wire to the left cannon where the wire was disconnected and the diode was also disconnected. This switch also wasn't working. I reattached the wire and diode and both switches worked. Finally, the right drop target on the left was not working. I assumed (thankfully correctly) that the opto switch was dirty and cleaned with a Q tip and alcohol and that solved the problem. I was able to get the game working 100%. It was so nice to work on this era Williams and get it done in 1 trip!

12/10/2012

The No Good Gofers is downstairs. The spinner did not work. I took off the board with the two optos for the spinner and one was not working. I cleaned both with a Q tip and alcohol. A lot of dirt came off and it worked. Four switches did not work. I replaced the right in lane switch and that fixed this switch. The left spinner switch had a wire that was not connected. The right spinner does not work but need to take off the ramps to see what the problem is. I do not remember the fourth switch problem since writing this in front of the TV upstairs. Oh well. I posted the pictures. I cleaned up the upper play field and started on the play field but didn't take pictures yet.

12/9/2012

I received the No Good Gofers tonight. Tomorrow I will bring it downstairs to triage and decide how much to spend to make it look fantastic and see what is wrong with the game that must be fixed. It is supposedly as dirty as I usually get them.

I was looking at the Star Trek Next Generation and realized the chip was LX2. I had several LX7 chips that I bought several years ago from thatpinballplace.com and installed the most recent chip.

I played my Junkyard and found no problems.

I played the Pinball Magic and realized that the captive ball target was not working well. I lifted up the board and adjusted the switch and it appears to be working much better now.

I played the Corvette and realized that the 2 left top lane switches are not registering. I will work on them in the next day or so. I would have tested them before I delivered. Best to find issues now than when I deliver.

12/7/2012

The Star Trek Next Generation is complete and posted. It looks beautiful. Hopefully I will own it for a while to enjoy for myself.

I have been working on a Swords of Fury sound issue for a customer. Many problems. I changed the caps on the sound board. I changed the sound chips (may or may not have needed it). I tested the ribbon cable (which was fine). I swapped out the 6802 chips on the MPU (one was bad for the sound so I replaced both). This did not solve problem. I posted this question on RGP and someone had the exact same problem and said that the traces between J21 (ribbon cable) and U42 (6821) on the MPU (going through some SRCs) lost continuity. Sure enough, there was a ton of corrosion. I had the customer send in the boards since I have spent too much time and they can be fixed faster and cheaper than me doing it. So hopefully will get it back soon and will be done with this.

I bought a beautiful Addams Family today (will get it tomorrow) and a No Good Gofers. Hopefully will get these ready soon. Still need to work on the Fish Tales and two slots to restore....

11/25/2012

I did almost all I can do on the Star Trek Next Generation until the replacement ramps arrive. I still need to clean the subway and put back on but after everything else is installed.

11/22/2012

I have three plastics and two plastic protectors left to install on the Star Trek Next Generation.

Hopefully the ramps will come soon so I can finish the restoration.

11/21/2012

I have been off from work yesterday and today (although I keep checking emails because the world as we know it may come to an end if I do not answer before Monday). I had a parade of repair people come yesterday since I was home. Today, hopefully, I can just work on finishing up what I can get done on my pinballs.

After checking multiple sources and actually speaking with Mike at MAD-Amusements.com, I was able to order most of what I needed to finish up the Star Trek. I ordered 3 new ramps. The ALPHA ramp has a decal on the half moon area on the flat part. The pictures do not show this decal. Mike does not have the ramps with the decal. I called Marco Specialties and they had three ramps with this additional decal. But the ramp set was $50 more. I used my wife's hair dryer to take the decal off the current ramp. The edges were dirty. I used Goo Gone to remove all the glue and the dirt just disappeared.

Yesterday, I also replaced the 2 sleds under the play field since the ones on the game were caving in and causing the motor for the left cannon to touch the front of the game. I also placed the Cliffy protector into the catapult area. All ramps have been removed. Today, I will replace all the rubbers, posts, and plastics. (I have a plastic set I bought a few years ago. The set I bought yesterday is for the next game.) If I can get all this done today, then I will just need to rebuilt the ramps when they arrive.

One of the repair men was interested in the pinballs. I told him I could teach him how to repair pinballs if he wanted. He is interested. I turned on the Fish Tales to show him what a game looks like before a restoration. It kept resetting. I already replaced the driver board. I looked at the batteries this morning and they were corroded. I replaced the battery holder just now. The game now keeps its settings. I had to take apart my desoldering tool to remove the solder stuck in the shaft. Luckily the tool was designed for easy access and cleaning.

I found another two working 7 opto boards on ebay that I bought yesterday. Hopefully I can compare it to my non-working one to fix up so I can have three working 7 opto boards...

I have been taking River Road to get to work in the morning. I think this road is where all dump trucks in Maryland come to convene a convention or such. I think they just drive up and down the road as fun to slow down traffic.

11/19/2012

Was supposed to be on vacation from work today but had to go in. I have been working on getting the last of the LEDs into the Star Trek The Next Generation game this evening. This gives me a chance to closely inspect all parts of the game before I start to disassemble. The ramps are cracked, but usual, especially if I put on ramp protectors. But I already have almost $4,500 in parts plus the game. I was going to sell the game for about $5,000. But I am debating whether to buy a new set of ramps and possibly new plastics to make it look really nice. This will take my costs on this game above $5,000 and require me to sell it for $5,500. This is becoming an expensive game. It may become so expensive that I finally have a permanent item in my collection.

But lately all pinballs have been expensive to buy. I am thinking of not purchasing any new pinballs for a while. I usually sell out of most of the games around Christmas and buy new ones to work on near the beginning of the year when prices are lower. Since prices are not getting lower, it may be a good time not to buy for a while.

11/17/2012

Finally posted the Ripley's Believe It Or Not for sale!

My replacement Opto 7 and Opto 10 board that I ordered from eBay arrived. The 7 opto went back into the Road Show and works 100%. I assume the 10 opto board works too.

Went over to repair the Road Show. I replaced an iffy left lower flipper. Thought that solved the problem. It did for 15 minutes. Then it reset. I looked on RPG. I took the plate off the back and re-inserted the plug. The connector that pulls power from J114 was loose. I tightened all connectors and it appears to work. Hopefully it will keep working.

While driving home from work yesterday, this person called me that sounded drunk. He said that I talked to him six months ago about his game. He told me it was a Bally 1979 something or other. He told me that the game was not kicking out balls to the plunger. He asked for the cost. I said $150 for the first hour plus a new coil and/or transistor. He thought that was too much and hung up on me. Which is great since I don't really want to fix his game anyway. Hopefully he will find someone else at a lower cost to fix his game. Or maybe in 6 months he will call again and maybe this time forget that he spoke to me.

11/14/2012

I sent the 7 opto board to the customer in Fredericksburg on Tuesday (yesterday). The board was received today. The board worked in the game. The World Cup Soccer now works. Thank goodness I don't have to buy it back. I also found the broken blue wire that seemed to get caught on the speaker in the cabinet and ripped in half. I soldered this back together when there and the soccer ball finally started rotating the other way. The soccer ball was rotating clockwise when the screen said counter clockwise and vice versa. I swapped the wires on the motor. The customer is pleased that the ball is now spinning in both directions and properly. He says this enhances the game play. I will now know that the red wire DOES NOT go to the lug with the red dot for the soccer ball...

The person with the Road Show emailed again and now it does not work when the left flipper is hit. So I will need to go there this Saturday. I will bring my truck and dolly to buy the game back if needed. Sometimes you just need to cut your loses and move on.

For the Swords of Fury: I ordered 4 replacement sound chips. But I was told to try the following:

1. Swap out the two 6802 chips on the CPU at U15 and U24. On runs the CPU; the other runs the music. They are supposed to be socketed. If I swap and the CPU does boot, this means a bad 6802 chip.

2. Replace the 20 pin ribbon connector between the CPU and sound board (or flip over if I don't have one) to see if the issue goes away (or if the problem moves if flipped).

3. Replace the sound chips. Two on the Sound board and two on the CPU.

4. If the above does not work, send in the board for repair...

The Ripley's is done. I finished fixing the final few items tonight: A. I replaced the barrel spring on the plunger such that the plunger is in the correct position for the auto launcher to work. B. (cosmetic) I replaced the white flipper buttons with shiny new ones. The game works 100% and I love this game. As I said many times, I think it is better than Twilight Zone. But that is just my opinion.

11/12/2012

Not a fun weekend. I went to Fredericksburg to fix the WCS. We found the broken white blue wire and connected it and that should have solved the problem. When we turned on the game, we got a "Bad Trough Opto" error and spent the next 6 hours trying to trace it down (see Bally/Williams repairs). I took the 7 opto board home and just tried it in my Road Show and received the same error. So a replacement board has been ordered and will hopefully solve the problem. Otherwise I will buy back the game.

The person with the Road Show emailed and said it worked today. I was going to suggest that the problem may be the voltage in his house. Especially if in a basement sharing the AC, Heating, and sump pump. He emailed and said it was working today. I send him a long email suggesting that if he only has one circuit in the basement, then the game will continue to have issues. I then sent another email noting that the weather was wonderful today and he probably didn't have the AC or heating on. As I said below, about a year ago I went there and changed the driver board and it worked. I sent the driver board in for repair and it was working fine. It has since been put in another game and working fine. So hopefully, the issue is his power and I won't have to waste more of my time and money trying to fix a non-issue.

I also was working on sound issues for a Swords of Fury. Hoping that changing the 11 capacitors on the sound board would solve the problem. It didn't. The speech always worked but is now crisp (so the capacitors did help). The music still does not work. Hoping a new ROM will solve the problem. In email conversations with people to get the right thing.

My wife's imac is also not keeping its connection to wi-fi so had to deal with that as well.

The one thing I wanted to get done this weekend and posted on the web site was the Ripley's. I did finish it a while ago. I have some adjustments to make (which is normal). But it works great and looks great. Hopefully will get it posted next weekend.

I guess I am just in the "feeling sorry for myself" mood and the "been there, done that" mood. I can't believe I wasted another weekend of my life trying to fix other people's problems (plus the email I just got about a wholesaled Star Wars issue). There is more to life then this and I may try to cut back on it for a while. If it ain't fun anymore, why do it? Plus the set of games I have is a very nice set to have. I have to get the Star Trek and Fish Tales done and I think I will honor all my commitments and current customers and not repair anything for a non customer for a while. After the fiasco with the World Cup, I am not even sure it is worth my time to sell any more games right now. They seem to work well in my basement and that is just where they will stay.

11/6/2012

Election evening between Obama and Romney. Suzanne and I are watching TV and watching the reporters interview each other since they have nothing else to talk about.

The clear posts came today but still waiting for the color Cliffy sleeves to finish up the Ripley's. I started replacing the LEDs on the Star Trek Next Generation. I also added the Cliffy protector to the neutral zone hole.

I have a customer that has a Road Show I sold to him in February 2011. It appears that it constantly has reset problems (after it sits for a year between playing). It has a new driver board and had the initial grounding issues with the CPU board that I corrected. I cover the costs of the repairs since I feel responsible. If I can't fix it this weekend, then I am going to offer to buy back the game (even though I don't have the cash to do so) at what he paid for it since I can't keep going back out there to fix a game that the customer says is not working. I will probably bring it back and it will work fine. Hopefully, I will figure out what the issue is.

I just sold the World Cup to someone outside of my area. I "state" that don't provide a warranty if I do not deliver it. (I even gave a discount on the game like an idiot.) I need a back bone and actually do what I say. But the reality is, I will deliver outside my area and charge the $250 or so I should have charged to deliver and I could have fixed up any problem. The customer has been good with working with me on the phone. I think a new trough opto transmitter board (which I had him buy from mad-amusements.com that I will reimburse him for above the discount that I gave him on the sale - which is making this sales into a lose) will solve the problem. Otherwise I will have to go to him this weekend (and the Road Show). [If I go there I can simply change a $3 opto.] Hopefully this will be the problem.

It is incidents like this that make me want to stop. I know I said this before, I am getting bored with fixing pinballs. My full time job is taking more of my time, especially with my commute to DC. I think I need to start thinking about my next business. My current inventory (and all future inventory since I will buy more) are games I like and would not mind keeping in my own collection forever.

Hopefully I can get the above two issues fixed this weekend and the few repairs I have left to do, so I can spend the rest of the weekend to work on my Ripley's. and Star Trek games to complete them. Then I need to work on the Fish Tales and a few slot machines left to repair.

10/29/2012

At home during Sandy (formally known as Hurricane Sandy). Since we are 50 miles west of Washington, DC, we are not getting it as bad as others but it is not good. To borrow a phrase from work, I am doing UAT (User Acceptance Testing). Usually UAT is performed in a test environment. I am performing UAT in the production environment and have so far found two defects:

1. The basement door is leaking. The metal ridge is not securely down. But I think the leak is coming from under the door where the weather seal is not good. I have taped the door shut and the water leakage has been reduced.

2. Was working on my computer one last time earlier and my toe was getting wet. Looked down and water was coming in from the outside wall. The water was clear so assume not coming through the ground. There is a window there. I assume the window is not sealed correctly. It doesn't leak during "regular" rain storms, so maybe the angle or direction is meaningful.

I have towels protecting everything and constantly washing and drying them. Hopefully power will not go out. Otherwise I will have to manually empty the sump pump drainage. Dominion Power installed the high power lines a few years ago to Purcellville and our power has been more reliable. Hopefully, this will continue to be true through the evening.

I worked a bit on Ripley's Believe It Or Not this evening. Both ramps are off. I have to remove the flasher base from the left ramp. I already removed the flasher bases from the right ramp. All the controlled lights have been changed. I will work on the GI and flashers tomorrow if enough time. The two red ramps will be replaced. I even bought the decal set just to have the two decals on the ramps. I will also install a Cliffy protector. The rest will be cleaning and replacing rubbers and adding target decals.

10/27/2012

The Lord of the Rings looks beautiful with the LEDs.

I have been working in DC now for 3 weeks for my full time job and love it. It takes 55 minutes to drive to work and at least 1 hour 15 minutes to drive home. Oh well. But I love what I do, I am really excited about it, it is interesting, and meaningful to the economy in some small way. I like going to work and the time just flies by.

I tried to fix a Harlem Globetrotters Tuesday evening after work. I assumed it would just be replacing the MPU. It turned out that the J3 connector was also corroded but I didn't think of that until driving to work Wednesday morning. So I did three repairs today and this was the one I returned to tonight to finish. It was great to get it working. I also fixed a World Cup Soccer. I tried to look at a Captain Fantastic but too much wrong to spend my time on and fix so I didn't fix it. Even if I got the start sequence working, then the next thing would go wrong, and the next, and the next. The only reason I stopped was because it was in between the two other fixes today. I think I am really going to stop even trying to fix EM machines. They are just not worth it.

Just in time for the potential hurricanes here, I sold the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Chrome Mills slot machine. POTC is a great machine and looked wonderful with the color scheme that Melissa at Cointaker.com used.

I am working (slowly) on the Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Then I will work on the Star Trek Next Generation. Then I will tackle the Fish Tales.

10/16/2012

Watching the Presidential Debate.... and updating my web site.

Last week was the White Rose Gameroom Show in York, PA. I brought the Viper to sell and a lot of parts I no longer needed but could be useful to others.

This is my truck when I left Thursday morning, 10/11/2012:

Here is my truck after I packed up Saturday evening:

Thanks everyone! I bought decals for my Fish Tales since I will restore and attempt play field and cabinet decals for the first time. (Well, actually, I did decals on the F14 on the play field and they came out nice.) I bought LEDs for LOTR, Fish Tales, and Star Trek Next Generation.

The price of the LOTR will raise to cover the cost of the LEDs.

10/6/2012

Well it is 1am Saturday morning. I started working on the temple LED display at about 11pm Friday evening. As I report on my Repair Chronicles, with Chas' help from Stern pinball, I replaced U201 and U206 74HCT273 chips on the IO Driver board and the temple display now works on my Ripley's Believe It or Not (RBION).

Now that I got the RBION working 100%, I will start on the restoration.

I started a new position with my same company in DC. I actually start Monday, but I went to DC to get a bit ahead (and finish up my current position remotely). This is going to be busy for the next few months, so my repair work and restorations may slow down significantly. My commute is now 48 miles rather than 24 miles. Thank goodness I have a Prius that I can drive in the HOV lanes.

We have a Harris Teeter in Purcellville now for several months. Suzanne and I go shopping every week. We usually go to Giant and get what is priced best there (and not available at Harris Teeter). Then we go to Harris Teeter and get the rest of the stuff. They have a Starbucks. I feel like a little child. Every time we go in, Suzanne tells me to get a cup of coffee and then I continue to shop with her. This is no different than getting a cookie when I was a child to appease me and keep me quiet....

10/3/2012

It is time to start thinking about Christmas gifts. I believe everyone should have a pinball and slot machine. As I remind you every year, I am not Santa and will not be delivering pinball machines on Christmas Eve. I will also not be able to deliver pinball machines the weekend before Christmas. Plus, if the weather is bad, then no deliveries can occur. If we get snow that has measurable accumulation, this usually stops deliveries for a week or two. Make sure you buy your pinball machines early.

Just like voting in the Presidential Election where you are asked to vote early and vote often :), please consider buying a pinball earlier and buy more than one. Smaller gifts can be surprises on Christmas day. It is harder to hide a pinball.

I plan to be available the weekend before Thanksgiving and the three days before Thanksgiving to open the showroom and deliver pinballs.

While working on the RBION and using my Home Use Only (I am the originally and only owner) Lord of the Rings to compare the CPU and IO Driver boards, I realized that I have owned the game 6 years and it was time to follow my own advice and change the batteries.

10/1/2012

With the help of Chris Hibler, I fixed a customer's Addams Family sound board and documented on my repair page. In summary, the volume was very loud and not being controlled by the service switch. Chris suggested the the digital pot (X9503 U5) was bad. I bought a bunch of sockets and chips from arcadechips.com and installed tonight. I went to the customer's house (10 minutes away) and it solved the problem.

I spoke with Chas at Stern Tech Support about the Ripley's Believe it or not. He believes that the U201 (8 digital lines to J2) or U206 (1 digital line to J2) on the IO driver board could be bad. I could swap out my Lord of the Rings IO driver board, but would rather not and take the chance to replace one or both chips. I ordered a bunch of chips from Great Plains Electronics tonight and hopefully will replace in a few days and get the temple LED working.

9/30/2012

I spent this weekend continuing to find items for the show in October. This has been a reason to clean out the basement. The goal is not to have Tim (our son) clean out years and years of garbage when we can do so. So this weekend I cleaned out the "Costco" closet. I still have pinball stuff in there but it is mostly a Costco closet.

My pinball closet is just about cleaned out with all items I will never use upstairs in the formal living room in the "staging area" for the show.

The basement is like a life size "15 Puzzle" where I am moving around stuff to clean out.

The extra fridge in the basement has been dying and we turned it off this past week. We got it upstairs (using the escalera) and into the garage with the rest of the garbage. Once the trash is picked up, I will be able to start finding bigger boxes to put the show stuff in to prepare to pack it for travel.

Then I will work on the Christmas tree and go through all our ornaments and all the decorations we no longer use.

I did replace a switch on the Junkyard today. If a switch it not working, I adjust it. If it fails a second time, I replace it. So three switches on the Junkyard have now been replaced and it is working 100% (hopefully).

I purchased a Star Trek Next Generation in excellent condition (I am told) and paid the most money I have ever paid for a STTNG. So hopefully it will be as nice as it looks.

Most of my parts came for the Ripley's Believe It or Not (RBION). I replaced a coil and the new coil worked. Thank goodness. The 5x7 LED for the Temple display was not working and I bought a new one. This did not make it work. I traced through the CPU board and it appears that all traces are correct, but I will call Stern tomorrow for assistance. I could swap out the boards with my Lord of the Rings (LOTR) but would rather not.

Once I get this final problem fixed on the RBION, I will work on all the cosmetic fixes and get back to my slot machines.

I did get the 50 cent slot working with Tim Hummond's help. The handle still has a sticking point in it but it works. I need to work on this some more.

9/17/2012

I am going to the White Rose Gameroom Show in York, PA on October 12-13 (Friday-Saturday). I will have a tailgate spot and sell some of the items around the shop I don't use. I will also bring the Viper for the Free Play area and hope that someone buys it for the $1,300 I posted it at that will break even.

Tim H. has been great in helping me resolve some issues with my 50 cent Mills Blue Bell Slot machine. I posted the resolution here to get the reels to spin.

Two items did not work on the Ripley's: 1. The coil to release the variable target. I ordered another coil which was back ordered. Hopefully this solves the problem. Otherwise I will have to replace the auxiliary transistor and/or the transistor on the board. The LED on the left ramp is not working. I ordered a new board and hope this solves it. The ribbon has also been ordered.

9/8/2012

I copied all my tips I have posted to Facebook to a new page under Repair Chronicles. You can find the tips here. This way I can ensure that all the information I provided (and I own the copyright to) is posted on a web site I own.

I continue to work on the Ripley's. The board came back repaired. The display was trashed. New ribbon cable as well as a new DMD was required. I continue to test and will order the parts I need this weekend.

9/3/2012

Junkyard is restored! Photos of the restoration and final product are now available. It looks great. It plays great, especially since I fixed the flippers and actually played it for the first time.

Thursday night I sent out an email to 200 people in my contact list that have bought pinballs or I did a repair to tell them about my Facebook page for Purcellville Pinball. 20 emails were bad. 25 people liked me. (They liked me, they liked me). I am up to 51 likes.

9/2/2012

I picked up a Chexx Hockey 100% working to provide to a customer. Got home last night at 11pm. I tried it out but one side of the scoreboard was showing garbage. Couldn't figure it out. I was upset and went to sleep. In the morning I saw the toggle switch on the main CPU board that was also there last night and turned off the game and plugged in. I turned it on and it worked fine. I guess I should add a surge protector as an on/off switch for this. With the rain, I will deliver it tomorrow.

So back to rebuilding flippers on the Junkyard after I change our church's web site to normal services next week.

8/29/2012

Picked up a bunch of gambling punch cards from the middle of the century. I can't tell if 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, or 1960s. But they look great and are a piece of history and would go great in a game room. I purchased punch cards (with pin up girls - tame for the era) for candy bars and with a woman selling cigarettes.

I purchased a Ripley's Believe It Or Not yesterday. I knew it was not turning on (except for lights) and it was a corrosion issue, so I sent the board to Coin Service Technology today. But since the game was sitting mostly unused for years, it looks great. It just has wear around the hole, which a Cliffy protector will solve and a broken right ramp, which is replaceable. I will add LEDs and some other nice stuff and it will be ready.

As soon as I update Facebook with the two items above (for the 26 of you that are signed up - thanks) and finish typing this, I will work on the general illumination lights on the Junkyard.

8/27/2012

Started work on Junkyard. It is cleaning up beautifully. I need to replace the flipper assembly and coils but otherwise works great.

I will probably buy a Ripley's Believe It or Not tomorrow if the wear around the magnet is not bad.

I posted several entries on my Facebook page. I am up to 26 likes.... Just 999,974 to go to meet my goal. :)

8/25/2012

I had a few people over last week and the Corvette race track did not work. I fixed it and documented the fix on my Corvette page and repair page.

The Chrome Bell also was not spinning. I opened the back and a large spring was dangling and the cotter pin holding it in place broke. I replaced the cotter pin and the slot works great. I documented this on my slot repair page.

I need to work on the Junkyard. But I have been cleaning my basement., Maybe I will have enough parts and junk to bring to the York show.

8/11/2012

The Pirates of the Caribbean is complete. I will post the "final" 17 photos. Then work on the other 63 showing the work.

It looks beautiful with it cleaned up, LEDs, and new decals. Over 30 hours in restoration over the past week with almost 20 hours this weekend.

Today is the 2nd anniversary of my mother passing away. This just reminded me to call my father....

8/10/2012

The restoration of the Pirates of the Caribbean begins. In honor of such an endeavor, I have bought Pirate's Booty aged white cheddar puffs. I really like the game. Almost as much as LOTR. I think I want to keep it, but know that I will sell it as soon as someone wants to buy it. Items worked on: 1. replaced auto plunger assembly; 2. replaced all LEDs; 3. took off large ramp;

Tomorrow I will take of the other ramp to get to the compass and finish... 4. replaced compass decal; 5. replaced other decals; 6. replaced all rubbers; 7. cleaned play field and plastics and ramps.

As of tonight (1am) I have almost 20 hours into game and more to go.

8/6/2012

Williams Fish Tales has been posted as a restoration.

8/4/2012

I added Viper Night Drivin' for $1,300 AS IS 100% working without a warranty or $1,595 with a warranty. Same game. Choose your price. :) It will be an inexpensive game for someone to get and play or for someone to shop and learn. It is not up to the usual quality (in terms of appearance) but it also costs about $2,000 less than other games. It is 100% working and that is what is important.

I purchased a beautiful Stern 2006 Pirates of the Caribbean. I have not posted pictures yet but will. (I did post to Facebook for my 24 followers to see.) I just bought all the parts (LEDs, decals, etc) that will make it even nicer. It is not home use only but in excellent condition with some minor scratches. It almost works 100%. Waiting for the replacement auto plunger assembly since the bracket was broken, but otherwise works 100%.

I purchased a beautiful Williams 1996 Junkyard. I got it working 100%. I also bought LEDs, decals, etc to make it prettier. The only problem with the game was the refrigerator VUK was not aligned so the plunger was not working. Hence the balls were stuck under the play field Hence the operator was not making any money. I fixed it in 5 minutes. All GI lights are out. Typical that the operator runs the game into the ground. But once I replace the LEDs it will look great. The play field is incredibly dirty but will clean up nicely to show the shine of the play field below.

I purchased a Williams Fish Tales. I did the initial triage on it this evening. I will replace the driver board tomorrow. Some wires are disconnected (broken) from coils but the coils work when touching the wire. A plunger assembly needs to be replaced under the right sling. All GI is out but connectors J120 and J121 need to be replaced which I will also work on. One of the fish decals needs to be replaced. The DMD (display) was bad and I replaced with a better one since as part of a wholesale deal I have not built a $200 replacement into the price. The DMD I put in is missing the 2 right columns. The cabinet is a bit faded but the play field, after I clean up the dirt will look good. I may have this one sold, but if you are interested tell me since deals always fall through.

8/1/2012

I sat on this next piece of information for a few days so everything turned out fine in the end.

I was going to say that I would never help anyone buy a project pinball again based on some bad experiences. (I have had very good experiences but those don't cost me money.) In the past, I would help people find pinballs, go to get them, inspect them, ensure they work as expected, pay for them, pick them up, charge a small "delivery fee" and it was sold "as is". On the last one I did, I didn't see the touch up work on the cabinet. I didn't think it was too bad but the person did. I concentrated more on the quality of the play field which was rather nice. And the next day the sound board was acting flaky. (It turned out that the boards were losing ground and needed more screws and tightly screwed in.)

I may still occasionally wholesale a game I fixed up "as is" since I did all the work and just do not see a huge retail market. But I am leery of ever doing so again since I sell "as is" but still feel responsible for the game working so I end up doing warranty work that was not built into the price when it was sold "as is".

I will no longer buy and flip games. I don't make any money on it and I do it to be "nice". And as I said numerous times on this board, I keep having to remind myself "nice guys finish last" and "no good deed goes unpunished".

So in the future, if I know of a project pinball (or you know of one), I will come with you and inspect it to ensure that everything works and report what does not. But I CANNOT tell you that something works today and will not work tomorrow. (If I could, I would buy a lottery ticket and not waste my time with pinballs.) What I will tell you is "expect at least $100 in board repair work." Then you can negotiate appropriately. I will make you buy the machine directly from the person. I will charge you a "consulting/delivery fee" to get the game to your house. But then it would truly be sold to you directly from the seller "AS IS" and I will be out of the transaction. I would only be the delivery agent. And everything that worked, worked. Anything that breaks tomorrow, I am not responsible for. And since you have seen the condition of the cabinet, play field, plastics, ramps, and back box, you will have already made the decision to accept the quality of the cosmetic work.

I have just added this to my Repair page as another option.

I created a Slot Machine Repairs page. I realized that I had no single place to document slot machine fixes. So I will slowly build up this page and move some pictures from other pages as I see things that can help people.

7/22/2012

F14 repair is complete. The beacon motor does not work, but everything is correct. So not knowing what the previous issues were, it was decided by the owner and me to not fix it. There are two flashers not working. One is connected to a set of flashers not physically in the game. The other is not working but correct so we decided not to spend any more time on it.

7/15/2012

F14 repair continues slowly but smoothly.

I fixed a few machines this weekend. Hopefully no more so I can get the F14 completed and the slot machines around my basement.

7/10/2012

Mills Chrome Bell has been posted for sale. The re-chroming looks great. The front award card is off by about 1/16". Oh well. It looks great and probably no one would notice but me.

7/8/2012

Well, tomorrow I will be at my same full time company for 11 years. This is the longest I have worked for one company. I still like what I do.

Based on four fixes this weekend, I want to reiterate the following items to all current pinball and future pinball owners. Your pinball has batteries in it. (OK, there will be some exceptions if you have an Ultimate MPU board with a Dallas memory chip, for example.) But for the most part, pinballs have batteries to store the settings (free play, number of balls per game, and high scores, etc.). The batteries need to be changed every 3 years or so. If you don't change them, the batteries will corrode and cause damage. This is one of the first things I tell people when I sell a game. When I deliver and install, I reiterate this to ensure that the batteries are changed so the game works. Most people with games do not know they have batteries until I tell them (and usually when I tell them that the board or holder is corroded). You would think all these people that sold games would have the common decency to tell their customers so they know what to do.

I modified my repairs page to note that if I decide to fix a pinball outside my area, I will charge an additional per mile charge to cover the cost of the extra time.

What I have always known and this weekend re-enforced is that doing a shop job at a customer's house is very tiring and very long and tedious. I cannot get to the level of detail that I can do in my shop over several days or weeks to truly take apart a game piece by piece and rebuild, fix, improve, clean, every part of the game. I just don't have the time during a fix at a customer's house and the expense (although I believe well worth it), makes the repair very, very expensive. Today I fixed a game and spent 6 hours there. I get the people to help to speed things up and to teach and mentor so that they are familiar with what to do. But if the game were at my house, it would have probably taken about 30 to 40 hours to do a complete shop on the game. Now, the game is working nicely and looks great. The customer is happy (I hope). But I would like to do more.

I got the parts back from the re-chroming company. They look really nice. I will finish the work this week, I hope, and post the finished Mills Chrome Bell. I painted the top cast yesterday and got most of the bottom together. So I look forward to finishing it (Hopefully) tomorrow evening. I could not buy a replacement silver award card. I bought black. So will see how black looks on a re-chromed slot.

7/2/2012

I fixed Ted's eyes on the Road Show. I took the ramps off and replaced the plungers. They were loose and needed to be more solid. But I think the main way I fixed them was by bending the metal shelf the horizontal plunger moved on up such that it did not go as far forward as the usual spacing allows. When the plunger is too far forward, the bottom coil doesn't have enough power to overcome the plunger. Moving it back by 1/8" allowed the eyes to open wide and open regular. By bending up the bottom shelf, it stopped the plunger from moving forward that 1/8". Bending was subjective but it worked well. Maybe I could have done it before taking the entire game apart this weekend. Oh well.

The stage on the pinball magic was much easier to fix. In troubleshooting feature mode, the stage was reporting a lift malfunction. I realized the UP was always bolded. This meant the game always thought the UP switch was open (opto switch engaged). I looked at the wires coming into one of the connectors at the very bottom of the game to the two opto switches on the stage up and down (assume these were UP and DOWN). One of the wires was not connected very well. I reconnected and pushed it into the connector and the UP turned off. The test now worked fine. The game now works fine.

So all the games I have worked on are working 100%. I now need to look at the Viper and get started on this game. Plus I have an F-14 in the house that belongs to a customer. I got some work done on it, but the driver board and the sound board have been sent out for repair so I can't do much else until I get the boards back.

The chroming on the Mills Chrome Bell is complete and I am waiting for the castings to come back in the mail to put the game back together. Then I can work on the 1916 Mills Operators Bell.

6/27/2012

I posted updated pictures of the Corvette. It looks nice and plays great.

I was helping a customer by phone last night and realized a connector was not reconnected or got disconnected. Of course, it was under everything. So I had to quickly take off the 2 wire ramps, engine cover, red plastic to the right of the engine and the long ramp to get the wire re-connected. What fun. But it is connected correctly and securely.

I had a customer looking at games on Sunday evening. Yesterday, I fixed the World Cup Soccer. I replaced the lock switch since it was flaky, lifted the cap on the free kick hole so the ball correctly goes to the goal, and quieted the spinning ball.

Tonight, or Friday or this weekend, I need to look at Pinball Magic again for the stage. It was working but now it is not. So must get that fixed before comfortable selling. Also need to check the eyes on Ted on Road Show. I fixed Red's eyes. I think I now need to do his the same.

6/23/2012

Suzanne and I went to Las Vegas to visit family. I think I said it before but it is sad that the slot machines are no longer taking coins. They accept bills and print out receipts. These will not be interesting games to own in the future.

I am almost finished with the Corvette. I hope to post final pictures in the next few days.

5/27/2012

Just posted my Roadshow for sale. Finally finished it last night.

Also finished repainting the Jennings Hunt Scene slot machine.

They say this weekend has the most run stop signs. I was at the Best Buy in Leesburg yesterday. This woman just drove right through the 3 way stop sign. Luckily no one was coming in the unprotected direction. She seemed to be oblivious to the fact that she was actually driving a car.

5/19/2012

On the way home from work yesterday, a person was driving in the left lane on the toll road (65mph) driving about 50mph. Everyone was passing this person, when I passed him I saw that he was texting.

Today I was driving home on Rt 7 and a mini van was driving erratically and going off into the shoulder and back. Although I was afraid to pass, I found an opportune time to pass and noticed the women was texting.

Isn't it funny that we would need a law to make it illegal to text while driving. Really? Why don't we add the following items as well: reading, playing sports, watching TV, playing video games, playing scrabble, playing poker,... Do we need to go on?

5/13/2012

I meant to thank the anonymous person who sent me a gift from Harry & David. Thank you. (I have found out where the gift came from. thanks!)

I need to order the die cut decals for F-14 and a 20 pin ribbon. I can't buy from the same place. I can get the ribbon cable from marco spec and the decals from bay area amusements. Every time I order parts I have to order from several places.

I have to figure out the back ground sound. Potential issues:
* new sound chips U4 and U19
* new 20 pin ribbon cable
* reseated all connections - did that didn't work
* check top connector on power board - did that. In past pushed a wire in on the top connector (on this specific game) and it worked
* send sound board into CST to test

Background music doesn't work but sounds work. So hopefully can fix this soon.

The back box lower lights were not working and they do know. Not sure what I did. I reconnected connectors.

5/12/2012

Started triaging a customer's F14 to restore.

5/6/2012

I took apart the Mills Chrome Bell to send parts out for polishing and chroming. I will work on the small diamonds and the back. Click on the above link for the pictures.

4/29/2012

Added all the pictures to the World Cup Soccer page. What do you think Bill?

4/28/2012

The World Cup Soccer is complete. Well, actually, almost. I need to buy more leg plates. The left front plate is stripped so the bolt can't go into the cabinet through the leg. But basically done and pictures posted. I will now work on posting the 147 or so photos of the restoration. This just reminds me that I should never quote a price until the game is working and tested. Otherwise unexpected items keep coming up.

Once I get this done, I hope to go back to the slot machines and send in parts for rechroming and polishing.

I have to work on the stage on Pinball Magic to figure out if a switch needs adjusting.

4/19/2012

World Cup Soccer will be $3,395. I just added brand new legs to go with the beautiful cabinet ($60) and a new piece of pinball glass ($70). I also added a new goalie plastic ($10)

4/15/2012

We were a backup family to host Hungarian students for Loudoun Valley High School. Three boys came to stay with us from Thursday evening until today when they flew home. We took them to a Nationals baseball game on Friday evening. I think most thought baseball was boring. We stayed to the end of the 9th inning. The game went to the 13th inning (on Friday the 13th) and the Nationals won. I thought Redskins games were expensive. Granted the tickets were $9 each and we sat in the very last row of section 224 (row X seat 9) in the outfield near 1st base. Parking cost $40 but we parked in the parking garage that partially blocks the Washington Monument (at least from our seats). The 5 of us bought the "hot dog special" for $7 each. This consisted of the worst burnt hot dog I ever had. I think it was 4 inches long and stuck to the bun. It had a small bag of potato chips and a child size cup filled with 99% ice and a little bit of soda. You would think that they would provide a decent sized hot dog. (I guess I am jaded by the $1.50 great hot dog and soda at Costco.) It was good to say that I went and hopefully I will never have the opportunity to go again.

Since we were all hungry after the game, we stopped at Amphora's dinner in Herndon. Always a great place to eat!

Saturday, we let them sleep in since they were very tired and so were Suzanne and I. We went to a really nice picnic in Hamilton about 5 to 8:30. We then took them to the Imax theater to see "Wrath of the Titans". It was a good movie. I think there were 10 people in the theater. I have never been to the Imax theater when it was empty.

So on my post below I note that I went for a bike ride. I finished 75%. My rear tire went flat. I replaced the inner tube and used by CO cartridge and blew up the spare tube, literally. Called Suzanne and she picked me up. I fixed the flat in the garage using my pump in 5 minutes.

I tried to finish the World Cup Soccer before the students came. I could not get it finished. Hopefully by next weekend. Last Sunday, I realized that the bracket holding the wire ramp had the screw part of the left side broke off and I thought I ordered a replacement. I ordered like $278 of parts and realized mid week that the only part I really needed did not get ordered. Maybe it was not in stock when I placed the order and didn't notice. So I guess I will try again tonight.

I took Thursday off from work to clean up the house for the kids. I also brought my bike in to tune up and got it back today. So can say that I went on a short 18 mile trip and completed it successfully.

4/08/2012

The World Cup Soccer will be $3,295 when done. It will have a new play field glass. It needs a new bracket to secure the wire ramp and a bracket for the pop bumper. This added another $150 in new parts. I have some really good pictures of taking apart this game that I will add to the restoration page and the steps and parts removed. (So hopefully I will get it back together.)

How I spend my Saturday (yesterday): Helped Suzanne to set up for Easter services for today, Stopped in Frederick to pick up parts I left when fixing a game a few weeks ago (I think I put my digital multimeter on my car and drove away - I should not talk when repacking my car - but bought another not as nice from a friend at a pawn shop in Leesburg) and helped him put in replacement displays for an Evel Knievel, then went to my main fix south of Frederick for an Indiana Jones (they also had a beautiful Star Trek The Next Generation). I fixed switch 45 for the lock hole behind the drop targets. They also had the game resetting but after I fixed this opto, I could not get it to reset, so hopefully it works. Did some minor tweaking on the Star Trek. Then drove the long way home on 270 South to the beltway since I needed to stop in Reston to pick up Suzanne's repaired iMac. Then stopped in Leesburg to do some warranty work on an Eight Ball Deluxe I sold in January. As I write on my repair pages, he figured out the first problem with sound and needing to reset the Ultimate MPU board. The second problem was left flippers staying up. The left flipper button switch was pitted and filed it and left in a few minutes. Drove home. Got my bicycle ready for the first time outside this year and went on a short 18 mile ride on the W&OD Trail from Purcellville to Leesburg and back. Then went to the grocery store with Suzanne. What a busy day.

Today after church, we came home and watched the documentary on Nicholds Hardware in Purcellville, Virginia. Then I came downstairs to take apart the World Cup Soccer. I still have time (4:35pm) to do another short ride on the W&OD to Leesburg and back. Bye.

4/06/2012

I just returned from Dallas. I bought a bunch of parts before I left. They all arrived. I documented all the parts on the World Cup Soccer restoration page at the bottom (at the moment until I add more pictures). As you can see on the page, I bought $809 worth of parts, $52 postage, plus other parts I previously put in the game (leg bracket $20, display $200, replacement driver board $150, lock $6) and the cost of the game goes up before I even start working on it. I also mention that after I put all my time and effort into the game to restore, my hourly rate averages about 10 cents an hour. I also add my usual dig to eBay and Craigslist. You want to buy it cheaper there... fine. But it will not be as good as mine and I am not even going to justify why mine is better... wait I think I just did by listing out the prices... :) Oh well. One thing I have learned is that you get what you pay for.

I have been reading books on my Kindle. I love the thing plus the ability to read on my iPhone while waiting. I have read over 20 books since September. It really has increased my reading. I try to balance business books and novels. I am currently reading "Unusually Excellent" by John Hamm. It is very good. Hopefully when I have the chance to be more of a leader at my real, full time job, I will take the lessons from this book and others and try to do the positive things and avoid the bad things. I can definitely relate to good leaders that I have wanted to follow and other leaders that only lead because they have the authority but not the respect, trust, truth, vision, and everything else mentioned in this book.

In my previous position, I was lucky to get onto a project that I felt that I could really contribute and help the economy. I believed in what we were doing. I believed in the vision and I was lucky to be on the ground floor to help shape some of the outcome. From a implementation perspective it was very successful. It really was successful in all respects, but I have learned that the media reports incorrectly. [Aside: When the media reports blatantly wrong on the things I know, I now suspect the media on everything since I can't trust them anymore.] [There is more that I can write on this topic but it would go off in a direction that I am not ready to explore.... When I write my book, this will be expanded in the book....]

I have been buying slot machines. After I fix up the World Cup Soccer, Corvette, and Viper (and one adjustment on the Pinball Magic], I will get back to working on the slot machines. At dinner tonight, my wife said, "You are buying a lot of slot machines. I know you like them. But when was the last time you actually SOLD one?" I thought about that and I think it was 2007 or so. Oh well, I did buy another Jennings this week. I think I am up to 13 slots. My problem is I love them and they are works of art (in terms of their outer beauty and inner beauty based on the wonderful designs of the mechanisms), I think I buy them for me. But I keep telling myself that I can't be the owner of the candy store and eat all the candy.

3/27/2012

The Jennings Chief Light Up slot machine was not paying out or just a few coins. I checked that the slides were working correctly. I noticed that the coin tube rake was not moving so the coins were bouncing into the overflow tray at the bottom. I looked at the tube with a flash light and no coins were in the tube. I read Dan Mead's Jennings Repair Guide and found the mechanism. I thought the spring was loose so I cut a few coils off. The lubricant was not allowing the mechanism to move freely. I used DirtX to clean up the area then re-oiled it. The mechanism was moving but now not moving back since I incorrectly cut off a few pulled coils. I did not have a replacement (although I will find some) so I pulled a few coils out again and it worked great.

I plugged in the lights and it lit for a second and then the lights went out. I smelled something burning. I unplugged the machine and looked at the wires. They looked good. I plugged in the lights while looking at the inside. I saw a spark on the bottom left. I unplugged the game. Upon closer inspection, a dime was resting on a nylon tab that had a bare wire on it shorting the circuit. I removed the coin. I put electrical tape around the area in case it happened again.

3/24/2012

A lot is new. Suzanne and I flew to Tulare, California on Tuesday for a funeral on Wednesday. We flew back on Thursday returning at 2am Friday morning. We got to bed at 3:30am Friday morning and I had to get up at 7am for a 9am meeting. The person I was meeting with decided to work from home so I could have slept in and called in.

Suzanne's grandfather, almost 101 passed away on 3/14/2012. He was doing okay until December and started rapidly going downhill.

The family went out to lunch at Denny's. Denny's list the calories next to each meal. It is depressing and most people were commenting on this. I suggested they don't think of them as calories, but as frequent flier miles.

I picked up a few slot machines that I will post: a beautiful Jennings Chief dime slot machine and a Mills QT Hash Nickel slot machine.

I also picked up a great working Merit 2011 Mega Touch Bar Top Touch Screen Video game with 140 games. It is set to free play but can accept dollar bills and coins. I will be able to get more of these. This is a test one for me. If it sells, I will buy more. I think they would do well fort Christmas.

I picked up some video game headers and a "Phone" glass sign with "Bell Systems" on it. They are all on one page so scroll down when you get there.

I started to lay out all my parts. I have too many. I bought an inventory program called Inventoria. It is very nice. I am listing all items that I should own. Once I do, I will go back and add my quantity in stock so I know what I have.

3/18/2012

I did a slight repair on a World Cup Soccer in West Virginia. I then continued to work on my slot machines.

I fixed the poinsettia slot. I took off the coin tube and took apart the slides and fixed the safety. I put it back to gether and it mostly worked and paid out. Figured out that the bottom slide was not paying by itself but all other payouts were working. I tightened the spring on the bottom slide and it works.

I bought a World Cup Soccer and Mills Black Beauty. I triaged the WCS and posted it on my for sale and restorations pages.

Tomorrow, I will lay out all my parts and organize them. I have parts all over the place and I plan to catalog them as well so I will know what I have (at home and in the car), and what I need to buy.

3/15/2012

I bought a beautiful Mills QT Hash Mark Nickel Slot from Tim Hummons a few days ago and received it today.

Tim was nice enough to show me additional items about repairing slot machines. I hope I spend time teaching people about pinballs when they call or I go to fix their machines. I am very appreciate that Tim spent the time to show me a few things.

I thought the mint vendor on my 1931 Mills OK Vendor was not working. It turned out the dawg (or pawl) on the slot machine mechanism was not pushing the lever down far enough. He adjusted it and bent the level up and it now works. Thanks!

I was going to work on the 3 slot machines this weekend I bought a few weeks ago and he helped me with those. I also have a Mills Hi Top 50 cent machine and he helped me with this as well.

I will be busy working on the slots this weekend.

I should get the World Cup Soccer tomorrow.

3/14/2012

I purchased another World Cup Soccer. I should get it in a few days. It can join th ebacklog of machines I need to work on. This will be the third WCS I bought in the last three years. I guess one a year is the way to go. I am to the point where I buy games I like, or I want to see for the first time, or that I like and know will sell well. WCS is a great theme and a great clean family game. I am always happy t have one of these ready to sell. If you are interested in this game, please contact me.

I plan to work on the slot machines this weekend. I will take them apart to send out for re-plating and polishing.

I am also getting another slot machine. Surprise! It is a Mills Black Beauty nickel slot.

I am getting a Mille QT Hash nickel slot.

3/11/2012

I will post the restoration work I started on the Corvette. I will also post a price in case any one wants to buy it now for when finished or buy it before I do everything to it. The "before" price will be lower than the posted price depending on what I have spent on the game at the time someone is interested. Once all fixes and improvements are made, the final price stands. The final price can even go up if I encounter unexpected items.

I will also post a very nice Buckley (Mills Conversion) nickel slot machine working 100% and ready to go. As I re-restore, the price will go up.

So pay attention to prices. If it says "when complete" this is when all the items are done. If it just provides a price that is the current state of the game with this price.

I fixed a World Cup Soccer. The VUK coil (23-800) in the back just needed to be replaced and the J120 and J121 connectors replaced. The repair was near Charlestown so I stopped at the casino to see the current games.

I do not see any current slot machines that will have the lasting appeal and value of the games I love to restore. In fact, they are glorified video games. My biggest realization is the payouts as compared to Las Vegas. I like playing the video poker, but only when it is a penny with a 5 cent maximum. Then I can go all out and be daring. So here is my comparison. Obviously poker is random so it the payout that differentiates. In Las Vegas, if you can find a penny slot with a 5 cent max bet, the royal flush payout is 1,500. For video poker nickel and above, the max payout is 4,000. In Charlestown, the minimum video poker I found was 25 cents with a 20 coin max bet. If you bet 5 coins, your royal flush payout is 1,500.

If I can extrapolate from this, then all the games have crappy odds and crappy payouts. (Okay, I realize that is how Charlestown Casino makes their money.) I also note that if you send $20 in quarter slots, you are wasting them in either place. But at least in Las Vegas, statistically, the $20 will last longer and give you the illusion of winning. In Charlestown, the slot machines take the money so fast with no wins that you might as well through it in the trash as you walk by.

I did get a tasty Cherry Coke for free yesterday and I am proud to say I did not spend a penny on gambling :) Thanks Hollywood Casino!

3/7/2012

I lowered the price of the Mills OK Vendor slot machine from $2,995 to $2,495. This is now almost my cost but I want to see if it will move. I really like the slot machine and do not mind if I keep it forever.

I lowered the price of the Mills Castle Front slot machine from $2,400 to $2,200.

I picked up a Corvette pinball. I am trying to figure out the major problems before I decide what to do with it. I figured out the main problem and posted on my repair pages. Now I need to decide how much I want to do to this game.

2/17/2012

I added the Theatre of Magic to the Restorations page. It is nice not having to white out the background since these are pictures in progress. It will be nice to finally capture the beginning and ending process of all the games I work on. They won't make a TV show about it (thankfully) but at least I can do the work myself.

2/15/2012

I added a new page and new menu selection for Restorations. I added this to the Contacts/More menu at the right.

I am working on preparing the castings on the 1916 Mills Operators Bell, 1929 Mills Pointsettia, and 1939 Mills Chrome Bell to be sent for re-chroming. The pages will document taking the game apart and cataloging the items to send for re-chroming.

I added the United Super Shuffle and Williams Alpine Club since I had these documented.

I wish I documented every game that I restored. I did not document every part of every restoration. Thankfully, I documented the individual items in the Repair Chronicles.

2/12/2012

I got the Theatre of Magic, Viper Night Driving, and the three slots on Friday evening. I moved them to my basement yesterday.

I did the initial triage.

Diamond Front Mills dime slot: Works nicely and pays out correctly. Need to replace glass and decide how to fix up the outside. It has the jackpot mechanism. Haven't tried it yet. I am thinking about rechroming.

1920s Gooseneck Mills quarter slot: Works nicely and pays. It does not have a jackpot. It is silver. Probably was not chromed but would look nice if I did...

1920s Gooseneck Mills nickel slot. Works nicely. Doesn't pay. The safety slide is not moving out of the way of the coins. Need to investigate why and fix. It is brass painted and some chipping of the paint. It has a jackpot mechanism but have not tested it.

Theatre of Magic: Probably one of the prettiest TOMs I have owned. Thank goodness no mylar. It looks brand new except for two slight areas on the inserts over the lights that came up. I am wondering how to best fix this. It didn't have a manual, but I had an extra manual. I always replace the WPC driver board and send out for repair. The GI connector is soldered directly to J120. Thankgoodness they added a connector to the wires to remove. So I will rebuild a J120 connector and it should work fine. The switch on the right ramp is there but the metal tab is in the coin box, so will need to replace. Except for this switch, the game works 100%.

Viper Night Driving: The cabinet is in good to really good condition. The backglass is curved and thankfully not using plexiglass (which would crack). The play field and the ramps are very dirty but will clean up nicely. No breakage of the plastics. It didn't have a manual but just found one on ebay so will really find out what I need to do with it. I assume it has three black lights. The ones on the left and right are regular fluorescents that work and a black light in the back that doesn't work. So I assume will have to buy three to get working. The game has 4 glo-balls.

The Viper reset all the time. I replaced the bridge 21 on the driver board and the game no longer resets. 3 coils didn't work. I tested continuity. I grounded the trnsistors and they worked. I checked continuity backwards from the transistors and they worked. They went to three different chips so didn't think that was the problem. I reseated all connectors and all coils work. So I basically have a 100% working game.

The Viper has 4 balls as I stated. But when I first got it, I could only find 3 balls. I emailed the person that I bought it from and he assured me there were 4 balls. Since they never take the balls out when they move, they can be caught anyplace. Sometimes under a plastic, at the bottom of the cabinet, where ever. I even unwrapped all the plastic wrap to ensure they didn't fall out.

The game was resetting every few seconds so couldn't play it. I fixed the reset issue, got the game working 100% and played it. I noticed that the balls were not going to the bumper area, but didn't pay attention. I asked my wife to come play it. She came and the balls were not going to the bumper area. Now that the game was lit up, I could see that the 4th ball was stuck in the wiring under the switch on the top right ramp.

Note that the ball is under the ramp at the right under the switch.

Look above the red bumper cap light in the middle to the left slightly and you will see the ball.

Viper with 4 Glo-Balls. I was so pleased to get the 4th ball back. It was like the Prodigal Son or the Beatles reuniting. (If you look closely the one on the left looks like Paul...)

2/10/2012

Been meaning to replace the plunger spring on the High Roller Casino. I did that a few nights ago and it works much nicer. I also cleaned all the dirt off the plunger rod and inside the hole.

I did a few finishing touches on the Dr. Who. The back right bumper needed the switch closer together to be more sensitive. I added a few felt dots to the mini playfield so that the balls did not drain between the flippers. I still will work on the flippers this weekend.

2/6/2012

Dr Who finally posted. Just posted on Facebook. Up to 14 people. Just 999,986 to go...

I will start working on F-14 next.

Yesterday, I finally delivered the Addams Family. I helped a local person with parts and advice for an Eight Ball Deluxe. Then someone came over with a Stellar Wars to fix up.

1/29/2012

The Dr. Who is done. Well almost done. I want to rebuild all three flippers and replace the coils. I will finish that tomorrow. I just replaced both yellow flipper buttons with brand new ones. There was a stripped screw on the lower entrance to the upper ramp. Yesterday, Suzanne and I stopped at the "As seen on TV" store at the mall and bought the "GrabIt" tool for $12.99. It took a few times to get the screw out using their easy instructions. But it worked after a couple of tries and it finally came out. It was very nice. I replaced the screw and the game looks great. Once I get the flippers changed and tested, I am hoping I will be ready to put it up for sale.

1/28/2012

I worked on the Dr. Who last night. It is slow. There is a lot of dirt on the play field, ramps, and in every nook and cranny. I am using alcohol and q-tips to get the dirt out of every hard to get to location. Later today, I will start at the flippers and work my way to the back of the play field to clean plastics, under each plastic, replace all red posts and rubbers. One of the bumpers is loose and missing the light. Hopefully I have the correct screws and can just screw in the body. I bought new bumper lights from Marco Specialties. Rather than have the light on the end of the two exposed strips of metal, they have long wires that will make it easier to attach to the play field. I look forward to this better design. Then I will replace the flippers and coils and it should be working 100%. Hopefully before the end of the weekend.

Once I get Dr. Who finished and posted for sale, I have an F14 waiting to be fixed. I replaced the beacon motor and the "chain" for the three beacons. There were basically regular play field white rubbers being used as the drive chain. These didn't seem to work well and slipped. I bought the correct "chain assemblies" and the beacons rotate much better. I already noted I replaced the display with a new one from Rottendog Amusements.

I am still waiting for the Viper Night Driving and the three antique slot machines. I also picked up a nice Theatre of Magic (TOM). It will be cool to have the Theatre of Magic next to the Pinball Magic for a while. Hopefully the quality I was told that the TOM was in is actually that nice. But my wife reminds me that nothing meets up to my standards.

1/25/2012

Let's see. I wanted to write but too busy. On Sunday, January 15, I went to Alexandria to work on a game I sold in September. It was a Star Trek Next Generation. Turned out that the screw fell out of the wire ramp on the left so the ball was sometimes getting stuck rather than falling into the inlane. The VUK kicking the ball up was sometimes intermittent. I lifted the playfield and noticed that the wire was just touching the coil lug but not connected. I resoldered the wire and it worked. I checked all coils and found that the left sling wire was off and resoldered. Game now works 100%.

Since I was a mile from Mt. Vernon, I went there. After living in Virginia for almost 20 years, I finally visited. It was nice. But I am glad I didn't drive all the way there to go just there.

I bought but have not received yet a Viper Night Drivin' pinball and three antique slot machines.

Surprisingly, I still have my beautiful Pac Man cocktail 16 in 1 game original in excellent condition. I thought it would sell for Christmas. Now I will need to move it downstairs.

Dr. Who is coming along very nicely. I was able to fix the mini playfield without having to take the entire unit out of the game. I still need to clean the surface. I was able to fix the opto switches by replacing the opto boards and change the lights. I added the Cliffy protectors and it looks great. I am almost done replacing all the lights with Cointaker LEDs. The game looks great.

I currently have 12 people that like Purcellville Pinball on Facebook. Just another 999,988 likes to get to a million.

1/13/2012

At McDonalds with my trusty MacBook Air. Updating my mail and noticed that my web site was out of date on the main page. I updated it, but slow to update through the wireless. I just added 2012 to the bottom of every page so it looks up to date in the copyright notice.

1/11/2012

I would have written this sooner but have been busy after work all week catching up on everything I was going to do on Sunday. I got a call Sunday morning to help fix a Tales from the Crypt. The person mistakenly put the wires backwards on the coil. His son was having a party next weekend and I wanted to help. (Remember the phrase "Nice guys finish last.") I thought it would be a simple fix to correct the wires, replace the coil, fuse, and transistors. I did it and it still did not work. When I first watched the game, I noticed that some of the flashers were turning on very brightly and sometimes coils engaged when flashers were supposed to.

I really dislike the L/R Relay (or A/B Relay) in which they share a transistor between a coil and a flasher.

I will be enforcing a new rule when fixing a pinball at someone's home. If I can't get the game working in 2 hours, I stop trying. I do not charge if I cannot fix a game. I originally did this when I was newer at repairs and assumed that I was not capable of fixing a game so didn't want to charge for my shortcomings. I have since realized that I can fix any game given enough time. But it makes no sense to spend 8 or 9 hours (like I did on Sunday) to not figure out the problem and not get paid for my time. (In fairness I did make a nominal amount to cover the parts I put in the game and gas.) This is the kind of time I sometimes spend on games I purchase for resale. Then I enjoy doing this and figuring out the problem and documenting it. If this game were at my house, I could try something. Think about it. Research on the internet. And try something else. I can spend 5 minutes here and there and eventually get that "ah ha" moment and solve the problem. I can't do that at your house.

This drives me crazy since I want to help and I want to fix it. My mind keeps wandering back to the game and thinking of "what if I tried this" or "what if I tried that." Oh well. I hope he figures it out. I also replaced the LS7408 chip. Coils 1 to 8 (the problem child was coil 7) then have an LS273 (or maybe an LS237) before 7408. I can't believe that the problem would go back that far in the circuit. But if I were home, I wouuld have better soldering and desoldering tools and more time to explore....

My grand plan was to get there at 1pm finish by 3pm. Stop at a nice antique store there. Then go to Costco. I didn't drive home until 10:30pm without eating dinner and only McDonalds drive through was open. I will get over it but I wasted one day of my life.

There has to be a way to search on a page on an iPad. It is great to go to people's houses and want to look up something and they give me an iPad. But just like an iPhone, I have not figured out how to do a FIND on the page to find a word. Oh well. (Thanks Bill for telling me how to search a page on iPad and on my iPhone... I never kept the search window on the top right up long enough for it to say "4 Found on Page".)

Well, Sunday was not a total waste of my life (maybe punishment for being tired and sleeping in and not going to church), I did sell the Eight Ball Deluxe. It is always a great game to have and a game that I always turn around too soon. I had a replacement set of drop targets for the game that I did not install when I got it. Part of it was being lazy. Part of it was that I did not want to put them in and they get used and used and not be shiny new when I sell the game. When I sold it, I "remembered" that I had the drop targets (which I was going to admit to the buyers anyway) and said I would install them if they wanted the game. I did that over the past two days. Once I finish whining here, I will post some pictures of the new targets. They really look nice. The install just takes a lot of time to do.

One drop target needed to be replaced on the Pinball Magic as was stated below and after a $277 order with Marco Specialties, I will have the new drop target. Well, if I need to place an order I might as well get everything I need. I will replace all 5 targets this weekend. Monday is a holiday so I am not going to work. I have to deliver the Eight Ball Deluxe this weekend but hope not to do much else besides fix my own pinballs finally.

I am down to only three pinballs ready for sale: Pinball Magic, High Roller Casino, and Lord of the Rings. I actually have a 1934 World Series Rockola that will never sell. Someone offered me less than I paid on the game since "I broke a casting and it is not worth what I am asking for it." I haven't looked too hard, but if I find his voicemail or information I might just sell it to him to free up the space in the house and walk away from the game. If I didn't spend all Sunday fixing a game, maybe I could have spent the time to find his info....

If I don't get interrupted with anything else this weekend, I hope to work on the Dr. Who and the F-14.

1/7/2012

How I spent my Saturday... I delivered the Fish Tales today. It went smoothly. It was an inside basement entrance but I made an exception.

A person in town bought a Black Knight. I helped him with the game.

I worked on adjustments to the Pinball Magic. The left and right sling needed the switch closer together to activate when lightly pressed. The bumper also needed to be adjusted to get some action in the area. Watching the drop targets, they take a beating. But I decided to add the stickers I bought and right after one of the drop targets broke. Oh well, another order for replacement drop targets and decals. The magic carpet was not registering. But in test mode the wire form ramp was registering (using my finger). I rolled the ball and it was not. I adjusted the switch and now (except for the drop targets) the game is nicely working.

Dr. Who. J101 connector on the driver board was fried. I replaced the connector. I also replaced the entire driver board, which I always do. Most lights on the game are out because the bulbs are burned. When I replaced the board, both light circuits on the back box came on. Nice start. I will replace the battery holder on the CPU tomorrow. Hopefully, this will solve the problem.

12/31/2011

Happy New Year. I need a life. The Eight Ball Deluxe was still not working. I spent the evening tracking down the short in the GI to the A and B switches. I also added electrical tape to the lights below the coils on the drop targets. I believe I have solved all the problems. Until the next set of problems appear. I no longer see the 7s flashing on the screen. Please look at the repair chronicles for details.

The World Cup Soccer sold today. Probably one of the best priced games I ever had (this means I made no money on it but moved it out for room for other games). Which probably means it will have all sorts of problems that I will need to fix once it gets to the customer. It is in excellent condition and fully working, but I am sure there will be issues that will appear out of no where.

I documented some issues with the F-14 Tomcat today. I bought a new Rottendog Amusement display. I was also working on a Big Guns at a customer site. I replaced their display with a new Rottendog display, but some of the digits did not show up. So problem is with the display, cable, or driver board. I purchased a cable from Great Plains Electronics and tried it but it was not working at all. I panicked thinking I screwed up the display. I since found out that putting the cable in wrong cannot hurt the board. I documented the position of the red line of the display and I did not put it on the customer's game correctly. (Which means I did not mark it like I should have and "assumed".) His display works great in my F-14. So hopefully the cable is just bad and I will get his game working on Monday. Otherwise, it can be an expensive driver fix.

12/29/2011

A note about the Eight Ball Deluxe. I was playing it today and 7s show up on the screen and popping sounds (from the solenoid expansion relay). This game was supposed to be shopped. Probably by Bozo. There appears to be a short in the wiring. I guess I will need to spend time to find it and ensure that the game works 100%. (Which is more than the bozo that was supposed to have shopped the game has done. There is no sense of pride in the work one does anymore.) I paid extra for this game in "shopped" condition so I can concentrate on other things in the game. I have learned my lesson that this a waste of time. People do not do what they say. Now I can work on this all evening like I have nothing else to do.

Problems found on Eight Ball Deluxe: Connector on lamp driver needed connector reflowed. GI lamp between A and B under blue plastic was causing the short in the GI circuit. Right Sling Coil Fried. Replaced it but still didn't work. Shorted Q7 which controls it and it works. Looked closer at the board and R14 right above it looked fried, so I will replace. In the end, I replaced the board with an Ultimate Driver Board. It is much more reliable. I raised the price to cover the cost of the board and other things I added.

So much for my quiet evening reading on my Kindle....

12/26/2011

Got the Eight Ball Deluxe downstairs. My car can now fit into the garage again. Hopefully I will set up soon and see what a "fully shopped" game means when done by others. I still need to do some work but it is nice.

I posted the EBD for sale. Now I have to work on the Doctor Who.

12/25/2011

Merry Christmas!

No one took me up on my offer to deliver on Christmas Day. Which was just as good since I had to be up at 5am then went back to sleep until 10:30am. I moved the Pinball Magic downstairs this morning. I did not have the key, so I needed to drill out the lock. There is another $6 down the drain. I have a manual thank goodness. The first problem was the display. A new DMD for $200 solved the problem. In switch mode, the left in lane, left outlane, and left sling did not work. Checked the wires. A black wire was disconnected. Resoldered and all three switches work.

The top opto in the trunk was turning on and off. I lifted the playfield and a pin was sticking out of the connector. I reseated it and the opto works nicely.

The game now works 100%. I have a few lights to replace and the playfield to clean.

The play field lift mechanism and the DMD drop down mechanism is nice. This is the first Capcom game I worked on. I am impressed with the design.

Doctor Who is very dirty but should clean up nicely.

12/24/2011

I delivered two pinballs yesterday. The first was the Judge Dredd. I tested it out thoroughly before I prepared to move it. When I deliver any game, I spend time explaining the game and menu features and test. I checked the switches and noticed the switch matrix last column for the trough was showing trough 4 as open when no balls were in the trough. Darn it. I needed to solder another opto into the board and the game worked without a problem.

I used this as an opportunity to mention that when people buy on eBay or such and they get a game, they do not get the kind of service I provide when I deliver and set up. I ensure that the game works 100% before I am done delivering and accept payment.

I delivered the second game. Star Wars Trilogy. All was going well. Closed up the game and played it again. The drop targets were drooping. I opened the game and two screws came loose and off. I couldn't find the screws and put on a different set and that fixed it. The VUK (Vertical Upkicker) on the right sometimes takes two tries to get the ball up. Once in a very while, 3 or 4 times. I tried leveling the game at my house and it did better. We leveled the game several times at the customer's house. It worked better but sometimes it still takes several times to get the ball up. I was asking if he was okay with this. He didn't seem happy. I couldn't read him. If he was not happy, then I couldn't deliver the game. I think he accepted it. With the awkward way to get the game into his house, I was hoping he wouldn't decide to not accept delivery. I already changed the coil so know that it is shooting up strong. The metal guide is correctly positioned over the VUK. I do not know what the problem is. I made $18 on the sale of this game. It was a game that I put too much work into (not including my time -- see below) but probably did more than I should. The theme of the game is great. The music and voices are great. The gameplay could have been better. So I was very glad that I did not need to return the game. I put in LEDs. As part of the kit I bought it was missing a red flasher. I forgot about this. He noticed this when we were going through the lights. I should have offered to tell him where to buy one for $5 rather than me having to buy one and send it. This will eat into my "profit". (He emailed on 12/26/2011 and placed a felt pad on the tip of the plunger and the ball shoots out correctly on the first try every time. That is very good news. He noticed that only one speaker was used. I told him this is the time frame that manufacturers got cheap and saved a few dollars. He also noticed two posts were missing. I did not notice this. I guess I should look closer at the pictures at ipdb.org and at the playfield for holes...) Isn't it funny that the games I make almost no money on cost me much more than games that I sell higher. I guess the lesson to me is to not sell so cheaply and "assume" that no small issues will not come up. Besides, this has a warranty. But my warranty (thankfully) states "Parts not on the playfield when sold." Otherwise I could be nickeled and dimed to death.

Today, I delivered Cue Ball Wizard. I noticed during testing that the right target was stuck in. I thought it may be a kicker and not working. I also noticed a light not working in the GI. I lifted the playfield. The switch did not have a coil. But it was getting stuck. I looked at the play field and realized that it was sticking on the plastic above. I added washers to the top of the posts and it solved the problem. The light was only working when you pressed in tightly. I took out the light and noticed that one of the wires was touching but not soldered. I resoldered and it worked fine.

Three examples of why you should buy locally to ensure you get a complete, working game.

My wife had a manacure this morning. She told me that the women was talking about getting a gift and said, "I hear that there is a pinball place in town." My wife was about to say something, but another customer said, "I will never buy from him. His name is Charlie* [name changed to protect the innocent] and he never completes his work and he takes parts and never returns the parts." The other women said, "I have not heard that." At that point my wife said, "You are talking about "Pinball Charlie" and that is not my husband. My husband, Michael, owns Purcellville Pinball and he is not the same person." The women said to my wife, "You are wrong, the person in Purcellville is "Charlie"". My wife looked at the other women and said, "I know the name of my husband and it is Michael." The woman says, "You are wrong" and leaves. All the people in the store start to laugh at that exchange.

I used to reference "Charlie" on my web site. But I have heard similar stories and I have also heard about the great work that he has done. (I assume both good and bad things can also be said about me. But if anything bad, I would like to know so I can correct the situation or ensure it doesn't happen again.) So to protect myself, I removed his reference on my page years ago.

As I mentioned below, I bought 3 pinballs yesterday. I buy them from a wholesaler that treats them like crap and they get to my house in one piece. I treat them like gold and they break if I just smile at them. I guess it shows if you don't care about the product and treat like a commodity it works better.

Two of the games look okay. Although I will know more soon. The third was "fully shopped" by the prior owner. The person told me "It is not a Michael Belofsky restoration where you spend 100 hours to make the game look and play great and make $2.00 an hour for all of your work..." I guess this is true. I have pride in what I do and realize that I never make my time back in the price I sell. I do make money when you buy a game from eBay or someone else and it doesn't work and then you need to pay me to fix it... This is the time that I regret buying from him. Then I fix them up. Then I forget and buy more games from him. The circle of life continues...

My Facebook page for the business is up to 9 "likes" Just 999,991 to get to a million. Maybe I will get it by the end of 2011...

12/23/2011

This Christmas season has been different than the past. I always watched as my pinball sales track the economy and mood of the country (albeit on a very tiny scale). Last year I wasn't expecting much and sold 6 pinball machines between the beginning of October and the week before Christmas. If you asked me two weeks ago how sales are going, I would have said I sold nothing in this same time period. However, in the last two weeks I sold the same number of games as last year for Christmas. I think people have pent up demand but are looking for deals and buying at the last minute.

I also mirror the Black Friday retailers that sold a lot but made no profits. By lowering the prices of the pinballs, I got most to sell but made no money on any of them. But I did free up space to buy new pinballs to work on. After a while, I get tired of looking at the same games and have the urge to fix another but can't until I free up space. I keep reminding myself that this is a side business and although I do not want to lose money, as long as I make a little and continue to fix games, I am a happy camper.

I bought 3 games today: Pinball Magic, Doctor Who, and Eight Ball Deluxe. Eight Ball Deluxe is a great classic game. I always enjoy owning it (while I do) and playing it. It never gets old. The Doctor Who and Pinball Magic look good and hope to get them working in the next few days. Then I will decide how much I want to work on them (and how expensive they will be).

If you have an interest in any of these games, talk to me. Before I start working on them is the best time to get exactly what you want in a game.

Tomorrow morning I deliver the last game of the season, I think. On Face Book I announced that I could deliver a pinball on Christmas day later in the morning or early in the afternoon. No one has taken me up on the offer. Oh well. I guess I will go see a movie.

I still have the cocktail Ms PacMan 16 in 1 video game with the new monitor. I would really like to sell it rather than move it back downstairs. There has to be someone out there that wants one...

11/23/2011

I set up a business page on Facebook. Click on the link below to Like it. Please tell me what kind of information you would like to see. I would like to use it to tell people about new games or upcoming games, repair tips, and anything else people can think about.

11/18/2011

The Rescue 911 did not get auctioned at the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless auction. Oh well. It is back and part of the Christmas sale.

I lowered the price of the Rescue 911 from $1,895 to $1,495.

I tweeted today a few times on Twitter. I think 6 people are signed up. And I think they are all trying to market stuff to me. Oh well. Just 999,994 people to go to get to my goal of 1 million following me. :) @PvillePinball is my Twitter name.

11/11/2011

Here is my Christmas sale! Buy the games at my cost plus the price of the parts! Let's let some of these games move out so I can free up space to buy and work on others. Some are even being sold below my cost to see if they will move...

I lowered the price of the Original Ms Pac Man cocktail game with the 16 in 1 board from $1,795 to $1,495.

I lowered the price of the High Roller Casino from $2,495 to $1,995.

I lowered the price of the Star Wars Trilogy from $2,395 to $1,950.

I lowered the price of the Judge Dredd from $1,995 to $1,695.

I lowered the price of the Word Cup Soccer from $1,600 to $1,500.

I lowered the price of the Fish Tales from $3,495 to $2,995.

I lowered the price of the Cue Ball Wizard from $2,495 to $1,695.

I lowered the price of the South Park from $2,495 to $2,295.

I added a 20th Anniversary Namco Ms Pac Man / Galaga cocktail for $1,800 with the original board. With a 60 in 1 combo it is $2,250. This game is in excellent condition. It is not new but looks brand new and the monitor is also great.

The Cue Ball Wizard has been fixed once and for all. (See my Repair Chronicles for details.)

10/23/2011

I decided to donate the Rescue 911 to the 2011 Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Silent Auction.

I picked up a beautiful Ms Pac Man/Galaga 20th Anniversary Edition Cocktail. It looks brand new and works great.

I was in the area of Battlefield Parkway in Leesburg, Virginia. They finally finished the loop that loops outside of Leesburg. When we first moved to Leesburg in 1993, we lived right off Battlefield Parkway near Rt 15 (near the Walmart). We were told that they would soon finish this outter loop. 19 years later, it is finally complete.

10/2/2011

We just got from London and an 11 night cruise to Spain, Portugal, Canary Islands, Tenerife, and Madeira. This is the first time we have been to Europe. Hopefully it will not take another 40 years or so to get back. We really liked London. It reminded me of New York City. We went with friends from church that lived there so they were great tour guides. We spent a lot of time on the tube. I bought a "Mind the Gap" tee shirt. I just needed one. We went to Picadilly Circus, Stonehenge, Bath, Salisbury Church, Hampton Court Palace, Buckingham Palace, London Tower, Abbey Road, 2 plays, Westminster Abbey, Jack the Ripper walking tour, and Big Ben.

First time I can remember in years that I did not have a cell phone for 17 days and I lived. I did have a note book to check emails in the hotel when in London. Didn't check on the cruise to much since too expensive and too slow.

Now back to real life. I have to get ready to start fixing pinballs for Christmas. People will realize (as they always do) that they have a pinball that hasn't worked in 5 years or more and have a party next week (or sometimes this evening) and they need it fixed.

In one place on the trip (I think in Madeira) I saw an arcade with 3 1990s Gottliebs: Big Hurt (head down not working - I really wanted to fix it but had to get back on the tour bus), Waterworld, and a Soccer themed pinball.

9/10/2011

Wow. I haven't written anything. I guess I have been busy riding my bicycle this summer. I spoke to an owner of another business about pinballs. He was pleased that I stand behind my pinballs 100% and charge for the service. The discussion revolved around eBay. (You can read my opinion on eBay below, if you don't already know.) He said that he charges $300 for a trip visit for any machine that he did not sell, no matter if he can fix it or not. His opinion is why should people get away with buying a less expensive machine that is not guaranteed by his company and then expect him to figure out everyone else's prior potentially less correct fixes (did I say this politically correct rather than saying "incompetent"? Note that I am not talking about other repair people, I am talking about other repairs.).

He thought that I was crazy that I don't charge if I cannot fix a pinball. I originally put this policy in place because I doubted my abilities to fix a machine and did not want to penalize the person in case it is my inability. I have come to realize over the years that if I cannot fix a pinball it is usually because the cost of fixing the game will be much more than it is worth. Othertimes, I may fix the machine and not charge because I know that I did not (and could not) fix it so that the problem will not resurface. Sometimes the game has been so gerry-rigged by other prior incompetent fixes that I cannot fix it without spending a lot of time and money to do so and cannot build upon such a poor foundational repair. So by not charging, I am not committed to fix a continuing problem that will never go away.

This conversion occurred because I was coming back from a repair (that I could not fix) on a Data East Batman. The display was showing lines. Although I could have probably spent several hours trying to diagnose the problem (and not be compensated for the time), if the problem were the 128x16 DMD, no one currently has one in stock (and they are expensive) so I would not know if the problem could be fixed. I labelled the boards and took out the appropriate boards and asked them to call and send to Coin Service Technology to repair if they can. If it is worth their time fixing it, I know that F5 fuse on the PPB is blown so I know how to track that down and the plunger coil is missing.

I was driving by the house of a customer I sold a machine to a while ago. I was in an area that I am not usually in so I called and left a message that I was near their house and asked if anything needed adjustment or fixing (for free). They called back and stated the game was working fine. But when I sold it to them, one of the flasher LEDs was not working so I sent one in the mail and they never installed it. So I stopped by to install it. The game was still in very nice condition since they clean it regularly and play it often. As I was leaving a neighbor was over. He stated that he had a standup Ms PacMan that was showing funny characters. I suggested that he call twobits.com and send in the board and get the 16 in 1 board put on and they would ensure the board works 100%. I offered to go to his house (2 doors down). I opened the game. I showed him the one connector that should be taken off and suggested he mark the right side of the connector and board to put it back on correctly. I also showed him the two 1/4" hex nuts to remove to remove the track and send in the board. I noticed that the connector was not properly placed on the board. I reseated the connector and the game worked.

I have always been leary about repairing certain machines and certain types of repairs. I am considering charging two different sets of prices. One set for repairs on games that I sold. (Which thankfully have been very few since I am obsessive about ensuring the games work 100% now and for years to come to not have to do warranty work.) And a higher set of prices for repairs on games that were purchased from others. I am toying with the idea of adding a third set of even higher prices for the "perfect" eBay purchases that work 100% that need repairs by me. (Sorry, I could not resist a jab at eBay but this is not the opinion "below" I mention above, search further down... and often.)

7/27/2011

Finally sold a pinball. Yeah! Now I have a little more room. It was Apollo 13. I will miss it.

7/15/2011

I added a "Follow me on Twitter" button to my main page. I tweeted today two times to the world, so one person will see it. Any helpful tips on using Twitter to tell people about new games or repairs would be helpful.

7/4/2011

I raised the price $50 on the World Cup Soccer and will not include the Cliffy protectors (as a separate item). But I will now sell it with a 6 month warranty. I call this my "Value Priced Pinball." Many times I put so much time and money into a game that it goes above the price that people want. They can buy it for less without all the enhancements. So here is your chance to buy a 100% working game at a lower price. If you want the enhancements, I can add them.

7/1/2011

I posted the Pac Man/Ms Pac Man Cocktail Video Game. Finally! I have been so busy that I did not have time to take pictures.

6/26/2011

I posted the World Cup Soccer on Craigslist yesterday wholesale as is for $1,550. I just updated the photos and posted on the site to give everyone the opportunity to buy it. I put it up because it works 100% and I need the space and the money to buy the next games. Mostly I need the space.

I created an account on Twitter: @PvillePinball.

I will need to learn how to use this to the best advantage without being annoying.

6/25/2011

I have been busy and haven't written lately. I have done a few repairs in the last month, but mostly helping everyone on the phone for free. (I need a business model where I can earn money not charging for repairs.)

I finally correctly and completely fixed switch 51 (opto) on the World Cup Soccer and documented the fix on my repair pages.

I still have too many games and there has been no interest in purchasing games so I am out of room and money (but the money is "fake" since it is revenue from the business). So I can't buy any more pinballs until I sell a few games, bring up my cash reserves, and free up space.

I sent the Galaga board for repair. (Sound 15 explosion worked but all other sounds did not work.) I was told it couldn't be repaired and needed to buy a $450 Jamma 60 in 1 board. I did. But the board was not configured correctly for the Galaga set up. Basically, I would have to disable all games but Galaga. The place I bought it from configured this for me. They should have asked me if I wanted Free Play set and if I was using a cocktail cabinet (which I did tell them in the letter I sent). Since the joystick on the Galaga only goes left and right, I could not change the settings by moving up and down to set free play and "flip" for a cocktail configuration. Plus, I already sold this game to a friend for the price I paid it for plus the $100 I thought it would cost to repair the board. So if I did put this game in the board, a. I would be wasting most of its capabilties and b. I would lose $300. (My lesson that I got to keep learning is not to offer a price on a game until it works 100%. Otherwise, some other "small" problem will always turn into a "larger, more costly" problem.)

So I sent the board to Coin Service Technology. I spoke to them yesterday. They fixed the sound chips and replaced caps and the amp was no longer getting hot. They will do their due diligence and test for a few days. Joe explained that the board was flaky due to the double layer construction and the company getting cheap when the bought the game (custom chips, etc). He said that it may not boot once in a while so I would just need to turn off and on and it would work fine.

So my lesson on Galaga boards in the future is to send them to Coin Service Technology rather than www.twobits.com for repair. Two bits is a great company but I would rather repair the Galaga board than spend $450 plus postage on a new one. (Plus their return policy is no returned electronics. I could probably "argue" that the board didn't drop into the game and work, but I buy too many things from them to whine about this. I simply have a request to my wholesaler to find a Jamma cocktail cabinet with nice artwork, a working monitor, a 4 way joystick and two fire buttons to put the board in and sell in the future.)

The Pac Man game was upgraded to a 16 in 1 board ($239) with variations of Pac Man and Ms Pac Man. A new monitor was needed ($400). I installed and the wavy motion is gone. Two bits would rather sell a new monitor than try to fix a 30 year old monitor. I understand that. The colors are off. I had to buy a degaussing coil from two bits. (My suggestion in the future: although I dislike "upselling" and selling more than you need, one would think that a monitor would need to be degaussed. They could have suggested if I did not already have one to buy one. It should arrive Monday. So I will get the game working great and put it up for sale. The cabinet on this game looks great. With a new monitor and upgraded board, this game should last another 30 years or so. Do you want one?

5/21/2011

Just put a Judge Dredd up for sale. It was the first pinball I bought. It was nice to play it again. It really is a fun game.

I also bought a cocktail Pac Man and cocktail Galaga

5/1/2011

I put High Roller Casino up for sale. It is a good game at a good price.

4/30/2011

Addams Family has been restored very nicely. It is working 100% and has been posted.

4/10/2011

Based on fixing pinballs at retail establishments and selling them to retail establishments, it has become obvious that they are used 20 to 50 times as much as a game sold to a home. Based on this, I am initiating a $500 a year maintenance fee to all pinballs sold to retail establishments including restaurants, bars, doctors offices, etc. Anyplace where a pinball is on 8 to 12 to 16 hours a day 5 or 7 days a week, this new fee will apply. This will include a yearly maintenance and cleaning to ensure that it looks good, is working 100%, and no rubbers are broken. This fee will include up to 3 repairs (including the yearly maintenance) in a calendar year. Based on analysis, it should not need more than this for a typical game. I also reserve the right to not sell a pinball machine for a retail establishment if the stress of constant use will hurt the game. Additional repairs will be charged at current rates. (If a repair requires two trips, this is only counted as one.)

Look at the repair page for more information on this. I believe it is fair to everyone.

Maybe I should offer a warranty protection program for home use machines....?

Look at the Cue Ball Wizard. I flame polished the upper ramp play field. The pictures are at the bottom of the page. It is not perfect but looks better since I cannot buy a replacement ramp. (I also flame polished the ramps on Star Wars Trilogy but they didn't look bad to begin with so you may not notice a significant difference.)

4/3/2011

The Star Wars Trilogy is done, working, and posted for sale. Finally!

I picked up an Addams Family last week. I almost have all the mechanical and electrical stuff working. Now I got to buy all the stuff that doubles the price...

I also picked up a 1930s Mills 50 cent slot. I got it basically working. I need to disassemble and clean end to end to ensure that the slides work for payouts. Otherwise a nice machine.

3/20/2011

Some people at my job had a team building event today. I went to a shooting range and had the opportunity to shot many different types of guns. It was fun. It was the first time I ever fired a gun.

Two summers ago, we bought a new portable air conditioning unit. Our bedroom is over the garage and it gets very warm in the summer. Until then, we had a great (still working) Sunpentown portable 12,000 BTU unit from www.compactappliance.com that was 5 years old and still going strong. However, due to the vaulted ceiling we thought we could get a better unit with 14,000 BTUs. I bought an EdgeStar 14000. It worked great for the first summer. We plugged it in for the second summer (last year) and it was making a real loud whinning sound. We put the trusty Sunpentown back in commission.

We called EdgeStar (www.edgestar.com) and he immediately knew what the problem was. There was a rotating fan unit inside the machine that broke. The person said it was a known issue with the unit and they have a redesigned circular fan unit that is stronger. I asked how much. They were about $20 each but out of stock. I said if it is a "known issue" why do I need to pay for the replacement part? Moreover, if it is a known issue, why do I need to repair it myself? The unit was no longer under warranty (and I did not buy an extended warranty) so it wasn't covered. This sounds like a defect in the workmenship of the original unit. I wasn't getting anyplace, so I let it go.

Near the end of the summer, my wife reminded me to get the fixed part. I called. They had it. I mentioned the "known issue" again. The person did send it to me for free (which was nice) but I also bought a second one just in case (so they still got some money from me).

The person at the company said, "You just take off the housing and change it." Great I thought you take off the outside housing and change it... I just spent the last 3 hours figuring out how to disassemble it (taking notes to ensure it went back together). Once I got it disassembled, I easily replaced the part. After a few minutes of lining up the inner parts. I finally screwed it together. It actually works.

I looked at the circular fan. Half of the blades are detached from the side of the fan that doesn't attach to the unit. If we continued to use it, it would have disintegrated and flown all over the place (probably just within the unit and through the hose).

If you buy an EdgeStar portable air conditioner, ensure that the circular fan is of the new design or it will fail. I am not even sure I would ever recommend them to anyone again. I will never buy another portable air conditioner or anything else that they manufacture.

So, in the past few years, fixing pinball machines has allowed me to replace ceiling fans, fix pool circuit boards on my neighbor's pool filtration system, and now fix a portable air conditioning unit.

This gets back to my business. I only sell locally so I can repair any pinball I sell. I stand behind my pinballs to ensure you have a working pinball. I am very fair on the repair prices for games I sold. This is why I will not sell newer slot machines, EM Slot machines, or video games. I can't really service them, so I won't sell them.

Two summers ago (it wasn't a very good summer), we needed to drive my truck to Kentucky to help Timothy with moving items. The A/C in the truck did not work. I recharged it and within a week it stopped working. I paid almost $200 for the work. I forgot to bring it in to see where it was leaking. (This of course was my fault.)

I finally decided to try to fix it. It appears that I may keep this truck forever so it should work. I brought it to the same place. They could not find a leak. This time they took apart the dashboard to look at the compressor. It was working. This time it cost $500 to recharge and look at it. Hopefully when it stops working, they will be able to track it down and fix it for less than $500! I realize they are a "real" business that has payroll and overhead, but it is still frustrating when I pay for a repair and it is not done. Getting back to what I do, if I don't repair, I don't charge. (I am also picky about what I choose to repair based on this premise.)

2/27/2011

Finally finished the Apollo 13. I want to work on the Star Wars Trilogy this week to fix up the wires I wire nutted to heat shrink them so that the X wing fighter lines up correctly. I picked up a High Roller Casino. Every single GI light was out. It turns out the light in the back box needed to be replaced (and the starter) and EVERY SINGLE light bulb. I guess they put it in a location until every light went out and it didn't work (because someone spilled a coke down the front and onto the test switch buttons).

2/25/2011

I have been meaning to add this story:

My son, Tim, is a paramedic in Kentucky. During the third quarter of the Superbowl he received a call. He tells me an important life lesson: If you plan to commit suicide, don't swallow a whole bottle of anti-depression drugs. When the drugs start kicking in, you realize that you actually do not wish to commit suicide and call 911.

I believe that the person was actually okay. Of course, no one should commit suicide.

The other story he tells me is after he saves a patient that tried to commit suicide, they will usually ask "How did I do?" He really wants to say "Not very well, you are still alive." Instead he always says "You were this close to almost not making it."

1/26/2011

1990s Williams/Bally pinballs usually reset about 15 years after they are sold. This is due to the WPC driver board design. BR1, BR2, Cap 5 need to be replaced. I usually take the boards out, replace the 3 components, ensure all traces still connected, and put the board in. This takes too long.

Going forward, I will have refurbished 100% working boards for replacement for $200 plus the old board. This means that this repair would be about $350. However, I ensure everything on the game is still working.You can also buy new boards for about $275 that I can replace for you (or you can do yourself).

Now I will take the boards with me and do the work later in my shop with the correct tools, better light, and appropriate space.

1/25/2011

Fish Tales is new. It is nice. I always thought it was (and is) a great game. This is a nice looking game.

I got the motor back from Pinball Resource for the Cue Ball Wizard. The game will now work 100%. I will install tomorrow.

1/11/2011

With me whining about buying pinball machines I shouldn't, I thought an objective list would help me determine if I am getting a good deal, or wasting my money.

Many times when someone calls to sell me a game and it is working (which rarely happens), I tell them they can get more money selling it themselves. If the game is not working, I still tell them they can get more money selling themselves but less. I want to be honest up front. I am not a charity buying the games from you out of the goodness of my heart (but I do want to treat you fairly - and me fairly too). Too many people have been watching "American Pickers" or "Pawn Stars" and watching the stupid things they do, especially when a pinball machine is shown. "American Pickers", for example, shows you what they bought it for and how much it is worth. Maybe they have someone willing to buy the game at that price. I, and many of the people I know, would not pay that much for a game that is not shopped, not working 100%, and not warranteed. [Don't you love when you watch "Pawn Stars" and the person finds out that the item is worth $10,000. Then they ask what they want for the item. The person says "$10,000." I want to hit the idiot on the head. If you want $10,000, then you shouldn't be taking your items to a pawn shop. You should expect at most 30 - 40%. The owner has to take the risk of finding a buyer and eventually selling the item... Thanks for letting me vent.]

My business is selling games working 100% and looking as good as possible to individuals. I rarely sell to places to put them in a restaurant or such. I do not sell my shopped games to other pinball enthusiasts. (They want to work on them themselves and they don't need warranties. I do wholesale games occassionally when I need space.) I am not an artist and do not get them looking perfect, but I get them looking very good. There are artists out there that will do complete restorations and they look fabulous. But you will also pay double or more what you can buy the game from me. So, do you want a work of art or a game the family can enjoy?

As I have said many times on this page, I don't compete with eBay or Criagslist prices. My games are better than those. Most games on these sites are not up to my standards. The ones that are also have prices that reflect the fact that they are high quality games.

So, for example, say I am selling/sold a game for $2,995. You see the same one sold on eBay for $1,800. You want to sell me this game. If the game is not missing parts, mostly works, and looks in decent condition I will offer you $900. I will then spend $600 to $1,000 on parts to get the game working 100% and ensure all motors, plastics (if available), ramps, game specific parts, displays, etc. work. I also offer a 6 month warranty and stand behind every game I sell. After spending an average of 40 - 60 hours on a game, I do not have a problem selling you a great game that I know will work for years to come (and will probably not need any warranty work) for $3,000. You get piece of mind that you have a working game. I don't really get paid a "real" per hour rate, but I enjoy fixing games so this is okay.

Here is a list of items I should be looking for when I purchase a machine. (You can use this when you buy a game from me or others.)

Items to Look For When Buying A Pinball
Item Subtract
Missing Manual $25
Broken Plastics $200*
Broken Ramp $150 - $250*
Game Specific Motor $100 - $200 or more*
Game Specific Part $50 - $200 or more*
Cabinet: Light Scratching $200 - $400
Cabinet: Heavy Scratching/Wear No Go
Playfield: Bare Wood Areas $200 - $500 or No Go
Playfield: Wear Spots $200 - $400*
Translite Scratched or Missing $200 - $300*
Older Backglass w/artwork Flaking/Fading $200 - $400*
Older Backglass w/artwork Broken/Missing No Go
Decals Missing or Ripped $50 - $100*
Need for Cliffy Protectors $50 - $100
Boards: Missing Boards $200 - $500 or No Go
Boards: Repairs Required $200 - $300*
Displays: DMDs $250*
Displays: Older displays $200 - $300*

* Could be a "No Go" if parts are not available for the game.

1/9/2011

My lessons for the week (repeating some of the 1/3/2011 post):

1. I do not need to buy every pinball offered to me. Sometimes they are just not a good deal or not worth getting. "Just Say No" and "Step away from the pinball machine" are phrases I will need to learn.

2. Do not buy, move from, or deliver to a customer whose only entrance to the basement (if that is where the game is going) is through the house.

3. Don't buy games, after regretting buying them (see item 1 above), thinking I can wholesale them. I am not in the wholesale business. My basement just gets cluttered with games. On the other hand, when I offer a game "as is" to the pinball group I am on, the potential buyer should not expect a game in pristine condition where the colors are radiant. If they were, don't "cha" think I would fix it up myself and sell it retail at a much higher price?

On the other hand, I think the underlying reason I bought a World Cup Soccer this past week was to "get back on the horse". I sold my World Cup Soccer December 11. While moving it to my staircase, I dropped it. It all happened in slow motion. I tried to get it up a small ramp leading to the landing on the stair case. I came at it at a slight angle. I put the game on sideways so when I get it out to the landing it is in the right direction to take up the stairs. The game started tipping to the left. I tried really hard to stop it from tipping. Later I noticed black and blue marks on my wrists since I tried so hard. As the game fell to the left, I braced my left leg under it to cushion the fall. The game gently fell to the ground. I picked it up and no damage. The top of my leg hurt but I got it in the truck. As I was driving (stick shift), I could not move my left leg forward to the clutch. I had to use my hands to put my leg in position. I could press down and up and move it away. So obviously the muscle that controls the "move the leg forward" was not very happy. I delivered the game but needed some help on the other end to ensure I didn't drop it :) I even needed to take away a non-working game and deliver it to the wholesale person I buy from. Over the next few days it hurt but it did not bruise where the game hit my leg. At the gym, someone thought I got hit REALLY HARD in the back of my knee with a racquetball. The back of knee and about 5 inches up was all black and blue. It did not hurt but looked bad. Then over the next few days the black and blue mark travelled down my leg and then into my ankle. My wife convinced me to go to the doctor and they said it was healing okay. It is now a month later and it is totally fine.

But this incident cost me a snow blower. My wife made us buy one "since we aren't getting any younger" and I have proven that I can get hurt and she would not be able to shovel. I recommended moving to Phoenix or Florida. I lost. We now have a snow blower. It is supposed to snow Tuesday. But I do not think we will have measurable snow for years now that I bought a snow blower.

This weekend was the "get back on the horse" weekend. I moved the World Cup Soccer successfully to the basement. I even added an "operational efficiency" (see I can use impressive terms we use at my real job and tie them to pinball) to the movement of pinballs. When the game is at the bottom of the landing, rather than taking it in sideways where the center of gravity is not correct and the game can fall, I now turn the game 90 degrees and bring it in correctly and safely. OHSA would be proud of me. I also had to move a Flying Chariots down to my basement. This game has a beautiful playfield in almost excellent condition but a back glass that has a crack in it that makes it virtually a parts machine. I tried to give it away at a really low price ($85) and no one wanted it. I then brought the Getaway machine upstairs since I delivered it today. I used my new "operational efficiency" in reverse to get it up the stairs. Finally, I brought down a Monday Night Football. This was part of the trade for the Getaway. This is a game in beautiful condition that I sold to the customer a few years ago and looks as good now as it did when I restored it then. (But the game is not pristine and not all of the colors are radiant....)

So I think I subconciously got the World Cup Soccer to ensure that it did not beat me and I got it safely downstairs.

Over the next few days, I got to get the motor out of Cue Ball Wizard and send to Pinball Resource for repair since I can't buy one. Then with the few parts I got, the game should be totally done.

Fishtales is next. Then Apollo 13. Then Star Wars Trilogy. Then Monday Night Football. Then World Cup Soccer....

1/3/2011

Well, the Cue Ball Wizard is done but needs a new motor. That is another $200 since they are not made anymore. I also needed to buy the correct brackets for the cue stick. This will make the game better.

My wife says I need to join "Pinball Anonymous" and learn how to say "NO" when someone offers to sell me a pinball machine. I don't need every machine and I am not in the wholesale business. Next time, unless I really want the game, I will say "NO." (I hope....)

I will now also start saying "NO" if you want delivery to a basement where the only entrance is through the house. No! No! No! I hate going down/up narrow staircases with carpet and worry about scratching floors or messing up carpet. I won't do it anymore.

12/28/2010

Cue Ball Wizard has been posted.

I am almost done with the Star Wars Trilogy. I am just waiting for the LEDs.

I thought I posted the problem to the Apollo 13. I posted it on my repair pages. I was using a 3 amp time delay fuse rather than a 3 amp slow blow. They are "supposed" to be the same but they are not. It all works. I am also waiting for the LEDs.

Fish Tales has most of the parts. Waiting for the LEDs and then will start working on this after the two above.

12/2/2010

Star Trek has been posted.

Several random thoughts:

How can you trust the newspapers and television news when you know what is really going on and the media is reporting lies or half truths? (I realize that I may not have the truth but I really think I do.) The mortgage problems reported by the media are not reported correctly. I know the truth about how the problem started, who started it, and what is going on. Does the media really not know? Or are they reporting lies to report what they want the public to "know"?

I like Hallmark ornaments. I have many on my Christmas tree. I look forward to July when they are introduced. I don't buy as many as I use to because they are getting rather expensive and they overproduce them and they are on sale after the holidays. I hate buying something for full price that I can get for 1/2 price after because they make too many... If they didn't over produce, they would run out but that would condition people to get the ornaments they want before Christmas because they will not be on sale for half price after....It is funny when they constantly send coupons good for "everything"* *except what you really want. I like Kohl's. When they give you a coupon for everything they mean it.

12/1/2010

Someday I am going to listen to myself and do what I say I am going to do. I am going to try to limit pinball purchases to Bally/Williams games of the 1990s, Newer Stern games, Bally 1977-1985, and maybe a few 1985 - 1990 Williams games. Whenever I have problems with games, they are usually Gottliebs or Data East/Sega games. I just bought a Fish Tales. It works. It just needs a lot of cosmetic improvements. I also just bought a Sega Star Wars Trilogy. Surprise, F21 is blowing. It is the trough VUK. I just ordered the manual and will hopefully replace the coil and the transistor and it should work. But just like the Apollo 13, they went cheap on the GI and it will require removal of plastics to change lights. The slings on the Star Wars are cracked at the tips and they don't seem to have replacements. Stay with Bally/Williams... I got to keep telling myself. For the Apollo 13, I am going to buy a 555 timing chip and hopefully this will solve the problem.

The Star Trek Next Generation is complete and looks great with the LEDs. Hopefully I will get the pictures up on the web site tomorrow.

11/25/2010

It is Thanksgiving. No place to go. Suzanne and I will go to the new Harry Potter movie and find a place to eat.

I just went downstairs to replace GI lights on the Apollo 13. I "thought" that I could raise the play field and simply unscrew them from the bottom and replace. Sega seemed to have gone cheap on the GI lights. The lights are stapled to the play field. Now I will need to take everything apart. I might as well replace with LEDs so this never has to be done again. This will raise the price eventually but improve the maintainability.

I have a post on RGP to help fix the magnet problem. Don't know if it is because core is moving in the magnet due to a lose of structural integrity or something else. magnet is too powerful in grab and blows the F21 fuse. Hopefully I will figure this out.

11/20/2010

I donated my Slugfest to Fannie Mae's Help the Homeless Fund Drive. I delivered the machine today to Rockville, MD. I also scheduled a fix in Arlington, VA of an F-14. It turned out the 2P6 pin 2 black-white 12 volt wire fell out of the connector and the sound was not working. I also helped the customer fix lights and learn a bit more about the game. I then went to McLean, VA to fix an Addams Family. It was not recognizing the ball was in the outhole. The switch wire (green something or other) was disconnected at a nearby switch. I helped with some other stuff. Now to put my tools back in the garage and my dollys back in the basement.

I got all the parts for the Cue Ball Wizard and Apollo 13. Hopefully I can work on them tomorrow.

Tomorrow is our fall congregation meeting at church. We vote on the budget. I have not been asked to do financial presentations in the past few years (I am the chairman of the Finance committee). Oh well. Less work and stress. Every year we tell everyone* that if everyone just gave a little more, we would be fine. Every year the same core group of people donate. Some people cannot and that is understandable. There is probably some percentage that is not donating and could or could give more. We haven't been able to find these people yet. Our finance reports show a $20,000 loss for the year so far. At the finance meeting (or what I call "Groundhog Day" as in the movie), I explained that we had $20,000 more in the bank on January 1, 2010 than we did on October 31, 2010. This appears about the amount of money we are behind every year (we are actually behind much more because we have not been able to donate to Synod and other things....). We currently have $15,000. This means that we cannot go another year like this. At the congregation meetings, leadership always tries to paint a rosie picture because they are afraid of the truth and how people will react. So we never get the intensity and dire need conveyed of the current situation. The congregation, although the data is on the web site, weekly bulliten, monthly newsletters, and quarterly statements, is oblivious to our dire financial condition.

I added an asterisks (*) above because we kid ourselves when we say we have a congregational meeting and speak to "everyone." We speak to the 30 or so families that bother to attend. I believe we have over 200 families and this is just not important enough for most. (I know and appreciate that there are vacations planned, trips planned, school events, etc.) So, the congregation meeting is actually "singing to the choir" and the cycle continues. Somehow I believe we will make it through. It would just be nice to have finance meetings and council meetings where finances do not dominate the conversation.

11/11/2010

Today is Veteran's Day so I have the day off. I picked up an Apollo 13 pinball machine. Maybe I will put it together and start looking at it.

I just posted the High Speed II - The Getaway. It is a great game but this pinball is definitely not collector quality. I would have charged a lot more if it didn't have some wear on the playfield and didn't have some broken plastics that are not available to replace.

I will be posting the Rescue 911 soon. It was originally meant as a gift for my son, but there are now space issues so I will get him something else. When the time is right, I will find him a pinball and give it to him.

I am embrarrassed to write this, but thanks to Joe and Dennis at Coin Service Technology, I finally figured out the problem with Roadshow. I though there was something wrong with the CPU (which was fixed by CST). If the game was on for a while, when a game was started or during a game, it would go crazy. I thought a chip was getting hot. It turned out, thanks to them mentioning to look at the switch matrix, that the bull dozer and Ted eddie switches were not adjusted correctly. Simple. That was the problem.

I still have the stuck opto to replace on the Star Trek Next Generation and all the LEDs and new items to add. I still need to carefully look at the Cue Ball Wizard.

10/16/2010

We just came back from a great cruise to New England and Canada. It started in Baltimore, MD so we did not have to fly.

Isn't it funny how we will spend more money for something while on vacation than we would ever pay in "real life"? For example, a $5.00 bottle of water at Disney World that you can buy a 24 case of 24 ounce bottles from Costco for $6.50 or so.

Sadly, the No Good Gofers sold. I am sad to see it go since it truly is a great game. I will get this one again. I wish I had time to play it longer but it went to a good home.

Now I have to glue the right side of the cabinet better for Getaway. Then I will need to start looking at what the Cue Ball Wizard needs to work.

Still stalling on the Star Trek Next Generation. I think I found the intermittent problem with multiballs. The jam opto in the trough is not working correctly. I will simply need to change out the opto. The pain in the neck thing to do first is to create a connector since the trough boards are soldered to the wires rather than using a connector.

9/26/2010

The No Good Gofers has been completed yesterday. Photos are now available and it is officially for sale.

I bought a Getaway and a Cue Ball Wizard. The Getaway is now working 100%. I now have to clean it up and get it ready for sale. There is a nickle-size area near where the ball exits the plunger area. I have no idea how it could have happened. Oh well, the playfield will never be perfect. (There are also wear spots under the top right ramp and at the top left.)

The interesting item on the Getaway is the grease on the under-playfield right support lock mechanism. You always know when an operator was in a rush to fix something or had no idea what they were doing when there is grease or oil on or in the machine. The solution to make the right lock mechanism work was not to put grease on it, it was to examine the part and see what the problem was. In this case, the metal was bent and the locking mechanism was not engaging properly. I took off the bracket (with the help of Ed) and used a hammer to bend the metal back and then a pliers to bend back another part. It works smoothly now. Thanks Ed!

The other thing I have to fix on the game is to replace the test buttons inside the coin door. The coin door and the buttons have soda on them. The left ESCAPE button does not work. Once replaced, the test buttons should work nicely. Finally, the on/off switch is inside the game. This will be a bit inconvenient for home use. I assume however buys this will put it on a surge protector and use the on/off switch on that to easily turn on the machine.

I quickly looked at the Cue Ball Wizard. Played a game. The left flipper didn't work and several coils did not work. The left flipper cabinet switch is missing. I guess the operator needed one in a hurry for another game... I will work on this after the other machines.

I have been stalling on adding the LEDs into the Star Trek Next Generation. I will start on that soon.

9/3/2010

Read about my fun fixes of No Good Gofers on my Repair Chronicles. I shorted my switch matrix to my 50 volt coil matrix.

Here are some pictures of the games I have in the "showroom."

basement 01ngg

The above picture shows World Cup Soccer, Star Trek The Next Generation, Lord of the Rings, Monopoly, Road Show, South Park, Rescue 911, No Good Gofers and Slug Fest. I just received all the parts to make Star Trek look very nice. It works 100%. The Rescue 911 is not for sale. The No Good Gofers works 100%. I just need to shop it and decide how much money and time I will spend on it.

Basement 2

A view of the same games from the other side. (Usually I use Photo Elements to white out all other pinball machines and the background.)

Basement 3

World Cup Soccer, Star Trek The Next Generation, Lord of the Rings, and Monopoly.

Basement 4

Road Show, South Park, and Rescue 911.

Basement 5

No Good Gofers and Slug Fest.

8/27/2010

After you read this, you may never want to buy another Slurpee at 7-Eleven again...

I went there today to get a Slurpee. A father (I assume) and several of his daughters came in and got cups to get Slurpees. They placed their fingers (including the father!) under the dispensers to taste all of the flavors. They were touching the underside of the dispenser with their fingers. They were licking their fingers and putting them under again. It was a totally disgusting experience. One of the girls filled up her cup, licked the lid to free up space, and placed it under another dispenser to get more.

I told the cashier and he did an excellent job cleaning it up. I decided to go ahead and get a Slurpee since it may be the last one I ever buy based on watching these rude and disgusting people do what they did. I figured that the dispensers were clean and may be my only opportunity to get a Slurpee knowing that the dispensers were clean.

This happened today around 1:45pm at the 7-Eleven in Herndon in the Kohl's shopping center.

8/7/2010

I am waiting for all the parts to come before I can work on my remaining pinballs. I was able to look at the switcfh matrix on the Star Trek and see that the Trough Up opto (switch 67) was not working. Thankfully, I replaced the emittor LED and the switch works. This was causing the game to occassionally shoot two balls or get confused in multi-ball thinking that an extra ball was stuck. The GI lights on the shields were not working. I replaced the IO driver board with a known good board and they work. So I will need to replace Q18 and/or ensure that all traces are working correctly for this GI circuit.

Until I get the boards back on the Rescue 911 and No Good Gofers, I can't do anything else. So I am trying to clean up my basement.

8/4/2010

I just spent over $1,300 on parts for South Park, Star Trek The Next Generation, No Good Gofers, and Rescue 911. If I am going to fix these games, they are going to look great and work 100%. (Another reason I can't compete with craigslist or ebay "deals".) A lot of the money was spent on Star Trek, my favorite game. The South Park now has the two missing gates and both Cliffy protectors. Cliff sent me the one for the ledge and the angle was not correct for my machine. I took pictures. Cliff rebent a new one with better angles for the game and sent it. It works great. Thanks Cliff! if you don't know about Cliffy protectors, click here.

7/24/2010

I picked up a Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball. This was a pinball I fixed up several years ago and sold to a friend. It is in beautiful condition and not very much more used than a few years ago. The South Park turned out very nice and has been posted for sale.

7/18/2010

I went to Florida last week to visit my parents. My sister, her husband, and two kids live there too. My son flew in from Kentucky. My brother flew in from New York City. I am always thankful when I return home. I love visiting them. However, I believe most of the older population there does not give a damn or not whether they kill you when they are driving. I guess they have lived a long, fulfilling life and if they take a few people out with them while driving down the street, I guess it is no big loss. I know this is not a nice thing to say. But looking at their bewildered faces as I am driving, I am amazed how unsure, uncomfortable, bewildered, and confused most older people in Florida look while driving.

I came back last Thursday and rode my bike on the W&OD bike path. I met two teenagers coming the other way on the trail. I turned a corner going almost 18 miles an hour and ahead there were branches blocking the path. I stopped and moved them. You could see the marks where they were dragged from the side of the path onto the path. I have to believe that those teenagers moved them there or at least moved them out of the way and replaced them when they passed.

On Friday, I sold the Elvis. It now has a new nice home. A few friends of mine will be sad that Elvis left the building. This is a game I will look for again and buy. I stopped at Lloyd's warehouse on Friday on the way home. The boards for the two machines below are still out being repaired so I have not had a chance to see what is really wrong with the games. I did pick up a Sega South Park. Cosmetically it is in nice condition. It boots up, which is better than the other two. The row of target switches was out on the top left. Luckily it was just a wire that was disconnected. The Kenny opto was not working. The transmitter was bent and had a cold solder joint. I repaired this and the opto worked. Mr. Hankey was acting like a little s**t and was not coming out of the toilet. I figured out how to get the coil in front of it out and took out Mr. Hankey. The ledge that the coil was resting on needed to be bent just the right way to work. It now works fine but will probably have future issues with it. The game is basically working except it needs a gate near the bumpers, new rubbers and new lights and cleaning. It is nice to get a pinball from Lloyd once in a while that I can get it basically working in a few hours. It will also need new locks and I will buy the Cliffy protectors.

7/2/2010

I picked up a Rescue 911 and a No Good Gofers. This is the time period that I get upset with Lloyd for selling me junk. Then I realize that is what almost every pinball I get from him is before I get it working. Then I fix it and am happy again. And then I buy another machine or two from Lloyd and the cycle continues...

The No Good Gofers blows fuse 602. This is the 115 - 123 volt fuse that controls the high power (to the display) on the audio visual board. I assume the high power circuit is bad. I will just send the board to Coin Service Technology to fix. I will call them on Tuesday and see if I should just send the whole board set to test...

The Rescue 911, based on reading www.marvin3m.com/fix.htm, appears to have a bad U8 DMD Controller GAL chip on the dot matrix controller board. The LED does not flash like it should and the screen shows garbage. This fits the explanation exactly. I will see if CST can also fix this and possibly send in the entire board set to check. This machine will be for Timothy since he is now a paramedic. I owned this and Fire! when he was younger but have sold them a long time ago. Hopefully I will get this working and given to Timothy and Jessica.

6/30/2010

A friend told me that the Chantilly Costco had a pinball machine for sale. It was a Batman for $3,299. This is much less than I can buy it wholesale. I thought about getting one. Luckily I quickly checked www.ipdb.org and found out that Stern is now making "Standard" versions of their "Pro" pinball machines. It is really sad that Stern is selling these cheap versions for several reasons:

1. People want a regular pinball machine for their home, not a home version that is crippled. Bally tried this in the 1970s with cheap 3/4 size pinball machines sold at Sears. I get calls to fix these all the time and I just won't waste my time on them.

2. In the future, when I buy a pre-owned Stern pinball, I will need to figure out whether it is the "Standard" version or the "Pro" version. I will have to spend half of my time explaining the differences. Moreover, I will have to explain why I am selling one for $4,300 but the "same" version is on ebay for $2,000.

3. Once people get these cheap versions in their home, they will never know that there is quality and depth to the pinball machines and it could cause a quicker death of the pinball.

This is another sad day for pinball....

There is a quote on the above site that says that this game plays very different than the "Pro" version. This is an example of why I wouldn't be allowed to write the advertising for the "Standard" version. I would be truthful and state that it will have less challenges, less to do, less programming and complexity of the software, and overall a very unsatisfying experience. However, if you ask me to write the advertising for any real Stern pinball, I would be truthful and be able to talk about the great things of each game....

I will do my best to never buy a "standard" game in the future to repair and resell...

6/19/2010

It is interesting how fixes come in sets or multiples. I fixed the reset problem on two different customer's pinballs (an IJ and a TZ) and the problem came back. I tell people that once the BR1, BR2, Cap5 is replaced it should work 10 - 15 years. So resetting within a year on one machine and 3 months on another was disconcerting. I documented the changes on my Repair Chronicles. For the TZ, J101 was burnt and needed to be rebuilt. On the IJ, the heat sink on BR1 and BR2 was bent down. I slighly raised it and straightened out the legs and it worked.

On the IJ board I also noticed that a fuse had a wire soldered on the outside. I should have noticed it when I originally went to the customer's house. But I noticed it this time. Upon further inspection, 3 fuses had wire soldered on the outside. This frustrates me. I can only assume that this was on location and a replacement fuse was not available so they simply added a wire on the outside of the fuse. True that it closes the connection, but it does not provide what the fuse is intended for: protection. If there was a problem with the game, the fuse would not have blown. This could have been a fire hazard. Please use the correct fuses (if it says 3amp and you only have a 5amp, spend the time and buy the correct fuse rather than use the incorrect fuse). Also ensure that if a fuse is slow blow then use a slow blow. If it is regular, use a regular. Smoky the Bear will thank you. Only you can prevent pinball fires!

So, now I can provide some random thoughts.

* I was at the mall on Friday and another person went through the stop sign while someone was driving on the side that said "Proceed without stopping". Another idiot proving that my wife is correct and you should stop because people don't stop at stop signs in malls.

* I bought a road bike and have been riding on the W&OD. It is a 45 mile bicycle trail from Purcellville, VA (my hometown) to Washington, DC. It is great fun and great exercise. Note to self: Breath through your nose rather than your mouth while on the trail to eat less bugs. I haven't built up the nerve to use my shoes with clips yet. I use a pair at the gym while spinning, but the chance of falling over at the gym is 0.

* I provide a detailed description of fixing the reset problem on the Road Show I currently have. All of the information is good information. I finally broke down and sent the board to Coin Service Technology. They said that there was probably a run of boards that did not have good solder connections since they are seeing a lot of the same problem. So now I think I finally have it worked out and it worked without resetting after 5 minutes or 5 hours of being on. Finally....

6/8/2010

In December, between the snow storms, I bought an Indiana Jones (Williams) from a person in Round Hill, VA. I looked it over and offered a price. The person wanted more. I gave it to him since it looked like everything was in order except for what I knew was in okay condition (the cabinet). I have learned my lesson (again) and have updated my "Check List" to help you and also help myself. It turns out that the translite was not a translite but a piece of paper with a copy of the translite. I would have never thought to check for this. Did the person lie to me and know that it was a piece of paper? Probably. Can I prove it? No. Most importantly, did I ask? No. Did I think I would need to ask? No. I guess this question would be similar to asking if a car really had the engine in it or a cardboard cutout as a replacement.

I guess what bothers me the most is that I did not notice it when looking at the game and did not realize it when I took off the back glass many, many times. I noticed it the day that I was delivering it with the customer there. Luckily I am good friends with the customer and told him to buy a translite and I will reimburse to ensure he gets what he wants and deserves. I just wish I would have noticed it sooner. I don't like when people lie to me or do not tell me the whole truth. I will never lie to anyone, but will stand behind everything I sell. I am more embarrassed than anything else that I did not sell a pinball to the customer that was of the quality (knowing the condition of the cabinet was far from perfect) that I portrayed it to be.

4/26/2010

I spoke with Gene at Retro Pinball today and will be set up to distribute the remake of Gottlieb's King of Diamonds pinball. This game looks very classy and provides everyone with the opportunity to own a new "classic" Gottlieb pinball machine using state of the art electronics for easy repair.

4/24/2010

The Williams Indiana Jones has been completed last week. I finally had time to take and post pictures. The playfield is beautiful. I wish the cabinet was in better condition. Oh well, you play the game not the cabinet. As I state on the for sale page, this is not collector material, but it is a 100% working great looking playfield. If someone wants to get it re-decaled, I think I know someone that I can pay to get it done. I don't want to do the work.

4/10/2010

The Roadshow has been posted for sale. I worked out all the problems with the game. The left flippers were getting hot. I replaced the flipper button board with a Rottendog Amusements replacement flipper board and this solved the problem. The problem described below concerning the spacer on the CPU board solved the problem, but it reset a few more times. I took off the CPU board and added a washer to adjust the spacing and reflowed the solder on the two double row of pins connectors at the top of the CPU board and this seems to solve the problem. I will continue to play the game and test.

I took all the ramps and other items off the Williams Indiana Jones. I purchased replacement plastics before. I also bought a new plastic ramp from MAD Amusements. Mike Chestnut replated the wire ramps and the gun. They look beautiful. I will start cleaning the playfield and replacing parts tomorrow.

3/21/2010

The Stern Indiana Jones pinball was delivered yesterday. It is a very nice, entertaining game to play. I miss it already.

Most of the playfield on the Roadshow is complete. I have the sling area to work on next. I will then try to clean up the yellow plastic ramps as well as I can and get them back on the machine. I put a few strategically placed LEDs on the game to reduce future frustration....

Added Grand Slam to the Archives page. Only 1000 or so to go....

3/17/2010

Another St Patrick's Day that I forgot to wear green. Someday I will remember. So what is new? The Roadshow is almost finished. Hopefully I will be posting it soon. Then I will start working on the 1993 Indiana Jones. I will not do the decals. Only bad things can happen when you give me a decal.

I played Elvis in the dark the other day to see the LED lights. The game looks very nice. I will need to try the other games.

I still have not updated my archive pages. Hopefully will get there eventually. I will probably not add the other secondary pages until I have something to put on them.

Hopefully sales of pinballs will pick up soon. Otherwise I will get bored with all the machines I currently have.

The new Stern Indiana Jones is a very nice game to play and very addictive.

The MAC has been a very nice computer. The iPhone has also been great. I think I see an iPad in my future....

2/7/2010

I thought I fixed the reset problem on the Roadshow. It happened yesterday night. I figured out the problem today and posted the solution on my repair chronicles. Since it wasn't the typical BR1, BR2, and CAP5 reset issue (since I already fixed that), I searched RGP and it led me to the look at the CPU board. The interesting thing about the conversations about the reset issue was the quality repair people on RGP talking about not liking fixing reset problems on their own machines since they worked hard to ensure that the game worked correctly. But the "bread and butter" that helped keep them in business repairing pinball machines are all the "eBay specials." It is funny that I complained about them as well and said that "eBay has been very, very good for me."

This problem took me a day to figure out in between shoveling 3 feet of snow and working on other tasks around the house. I am very glad this problem did not happen at a customer's house since I would not have been able to think about it, test things, research the issue, and finally come up with the solution.

I feel a little bad, the person I bought the machine from did not want to put any more money into the game. He gave me the receipt of the repairs that were done by another pinball repair company. They charged A LOT of money. (I don't feel bad about what I charge now.) They charged almost $500 to repair the driver board. When I do repairs, I make a determination of whether it will cost more than $150 to repair the driver board. If so, the honest thing to do is offer to sell them a new driver board. I won't make as much money but I will be doing the right thing. (Thank goodness I am not doing this for a living.) So the really sad thing is, in hindsight, they didn't really fix the problem since it turned out being a missing spacer on the CPU board that was causing it to vibrate and creating cold solder joints. So he paid for a repair, it worked a little and then stopped working. He didn't play the game for a while. Found me and sold me the game.

2/5/2010

An almost new home use only Stern Indiana Jones has been added. Tomorrow, I get to work on the Roadshow since I will not be able to go anyplace due to the snow blizzard.

1/31/2010

I am working on replacing the bridge rectifiers and the capacitor on the Roadshow I bought last week. As usual, I have to replace the connectors for the GI lights (J120 and J121) since they usually cause the connectors to burn and don't get a good connecting. I just went to take out the board. The Bozo that repaired this machine before me solder some of the wires from the J115 connector directly to the pins. If these people would just bother to do a repair correctly, it would make my life easier when I have to repair their repairs.

Roadshow: Now that game does not reset and all GI lights work correctly, the remaining problems are:

1. Weak Left Flipper - replaced coils and flipper button board
2. Red and Ted's eyes do not close (3/17/2010 - Red's eyelids needed a new coil. Ted's eyelid coil broke and was reapir with a twist of wire that did not work very well. Thankfully, Red and Ted can now open and close their eyes.)
3. Clean playfield, change lights, replace rubbers.
4. Replace a few plastics and buy the orbitpinball.com protectors.
5. Display is missing two right columns - new display.

1/24/2010

I completed adding the repairs for Gottlieb, Data East, Sega, and Stern. I will work on adding back the archive pages. Then I will work on some of the 2nd level for sale pages (that no one ever looks at anyway).

1/23/2010

I completed re-adding all of the repairs for Bally and Williams. I will work on Gottlieb, Data East, Stern, and Sega tomorrow. I also need to add back the archived machines I sold or traded in the paste. Finally, I still need to complete the menus for the "for sale." But I will not add back pages where nothing has sold...

I purchased a Road Show today. A bit faded but it looks nice. It needs a new left sling (which I think I have). The "Start City Event" plastic is also missing a small triangle off the left bottom. It will need to get the BR1, BR2, and Cap 5 replaced to stop the reset issue. J120 and J121 on the driver board will also need to be replaced. Once I do this work, I will turn on the machine and see what else is wrong.

1/18/2010

Now that I finished restoring all of my pinball machines, I am continuing my work to migrate my web site from Web Expressions (Front Page) on a pc to Dreamweaver on the Mac. I may or may not duplicate all my archived pinball machines. This will be a lot of work.

So when this site goes live and you see this comment, hopefully I have brought my current site over without missing anything. One major change is changing the pages from .asp extensions to .html extensions.

1/9/2010

Monopoly is complete and posted for sale. I purchased a Williams 1993 Indiana Jones. I did some work to get it working 100%. There are a few broken plastics. It needs to be cleaned. I am just enjoying the game as is. I am trying to decide whether to spend money to change the lights to LEDs, re-plate the wire ramps, replace the plastics. The cabinet decals could do with replacing but I really, really do not want to do this work.

12/27/2009

Note to self: Do not go to Tysons Corner Mall the day after Christmas. It was a zoo. The people were almost as rude as New Yorkers! (I can say that since I am from NYC.) It was enjoyable and very crowded. We left at 5pm. The parking lot was backed up. We got into the car and backed out. Sat there for 5 minutes and decided to go back in and shop some more. As we were walking back, people were yelling to the traffic control people that they have been in the parking lot for 1 hour and 15 minutes waiting to move. We came back out at 7pm and it was empty.

I finished the Elvis. It looks very nice with the LEDs and all the new stuff.

I also updated this web site to move some items off the for sale list. Now I got to work on the Monopoly next.

12/21/2009

I forgot to mention some things yesterday...

I marked a lot of the Stern machines as "we can help you locate" since they are not available new anymore. I also put a disclaimer that I need to verify the price since Stern keeps raising them...

I sold the World Cup Soccer. I received a deposit. I moved the game off the "for sale" list. Then the person decided that they did not want the game. I refunded the money. In the future, I will keep it on the "for sale" list to ensure that I don't lose a potential sale.

I always stand behind what I sell, but I will make my policy and returns explicit. The delivery fee will not be refunded. There will also be a "restocking fee" of $300 to cover my cost to pick up the machine and the time it takes to bring back. I have not had to do this yet, but want to be ready.

12/20/2009

I finally completed the Ripley's Believe It Or Not and posted it for sale. I started working on Elvis.

I probably delivered my last pinball machine on Friday right before the snow storm. With almost 2 feet of snow in the backyard, I doubt I will be able to move any more machines for a while.

It is that time of the year where I will not schedule repairs due to bad road conditions. Last year I went to fix someone's machine and their street and driveway were not plowed. My Prius does great on gas, but not on ice and snow. So I will probably take a break from repairs for a few days until conditions get better.

The new Dreamweaver-based web site I am doing on the Mac is coming along nicely but have been very busy at my real job, and fixing machines, and getting my own machines restored. Hopefully sometime next year I will switch out of the pc world totally.

11/11/2009

I added my Lord of the Rings. It is beautiful. I am working on an Elvis, Monopoly, and Ripley's Believe it or Not. These are all great games and will be working 100% and also be beautiful when I am finished restoring them.

It's been almost two months with the Amazon store and I made $0 in commissions. If I multiply that by 12 months....

I have been thinking of making a list. (It is just my subjective opinion.) I will probably move it to another page, but here it goes:

My favorite games:

Star Trek The Next Generation (in my opinion the best pinball ever made)

Lord of the Rings

Monster Bash

Ripley's Believe It Or Not

Monopoly

Eight Ball Deluxe

Games I like and would sell well:

World Cup Soccer

Road Show (but I hate taking the heads apart)

Indiana Jones (1993)

Diner

Theatre of Magic

Flintstones (great for kids and adults)

Corvette

Twister

Dirty Harry

Fish Tales

Scared Stiff

Monday Night Football

Xenon

Gorgar

Big Guns

Stargate

Games I like but would not sell well:

Slugfest

Water World

B. S. Dracula

Freddy: Nightmare on Elm Street

Tales of the Arabian Nights (maybe just priced too high)

Robocop

Fire!

Games I don't like but would sell well:

Twilight Zone

High Speed

High Speed 2: The Getaway Twilight Zone

Addams Family (I like it but get bored with it so quickly)

Games I don't like and would not sell well:

Maverick

Silver Slugger

9/19/2009

I added a link on the left menu to a store featuring Amazon Books, Software, and More for Pinball and slot machines. If you need to buy something from Amazon, go to my store page:

http://www.purcellvillepinball.com/store.html

and click on "Powered by Amazon.com" on the right side. I will get a small commission. Thank you!

8/28/2009

I finally posted the World Cup Soccer for sale! I have been working long hours and have had very little time to work on pinball machines or the web site.

I bought a new Mac. I got tired of working with Windows, virus software, etc. I didn't want Vista and I didn't want to wait for whatever Windows 7 will be. Plus I would probably have to buy new software so I might as well buy new software on a different platform. I decided no Microsoft software shall taint my Mac. So I bought iWorks which works very nicely. This web site is built using Web Expressions (Front Page and ASP) so I am now still using my laptop until I finish learning Dreamweaver and rewrite ALL of my web sites.... I am going through the entire tutorial on Dreamweaver rather than jump in a do a half baked job on the redesign. I don't simply want to copy the design, I want to make it better. I am hoping to use a database again to store references to all photos and items and build up the site automatically for the pinballs for sale, archives, slots, etc.... (1/17/2010 - I decided not to use a database approach since although it could be easier to ad and move information, it would not show up in search engines as well.)

I think I did a very nice job on the World Cup Soccer. Since I wrote the post on the World Cup Soccer on 7/5, I ended up buying a new soccer ball motor, new hole eject plastics to ensure the ball goes into the goal correctly, and a power supply for the display.

I also worked on a Theatre of Magic and I think I did one of my best, if not the best, restoration of a pinball on this. I have pictures here if you would like to see them. I had the wire ramps replated. The customer decided to replate everything including the side rails, hinges, u-channel, h-channel, legs and lock bar (which are not shown in the picture since I didn't want to have them on the machine while working on it. The entire game uses LEDs from BCSPinball. The game looks great. It also has the animated saw and mirror and lamp post. All plastics are new. The clear plastics and plastics protectors have also been added. The ramps are all new. The five target switches are new as are the decals for the entire game.

Back in May, I purchased a Mills OK Vendor slot Machine (see May 28, 2009). I think I did good job in restoring it. Click here to see the restored game next to pictures of it before it was restored.

7/5/2009

It is 1:20am ET. I just finished shopping a World Cup Soccer. It has a new display and new soccer ball. I added the Cliffy protectors, replaced the clear plastics and put plastic protectors on. I changed the lights, cleaned the plastics, playfield, and ramps. It is back together. I think I have the back legs too high but will lower them tomorrow. I may post it for sale tomorrow, but I still got to finish my scope document for a meeting Tuesday and finish business requirements by Friday, plus handle all of the current issues. I wish I could have bought replacement ramps, but the ones on the game look good. There were two broken plastics. I was able to buy one but not the other. The plastic protector is covering the area that is missing so it doesn't look too bad.

7/3/2009

I posted two Diners for sale. Both at $2,195. One has mylar and one does not. The one that doesn't has new stickers. Both work. A great opportunity to see two of the same machine side by side. It is like when I was growing up in New York City and there was a diner on every corner. (3/17/2010 I was re-reading this to correct some typos and realized that I should have owned two "Starbucks" pinball machines -- which they don't have so I can use this decade's analogy of a Starbucks on every corner.)

6/29/2009

Here are a bunch of things that I have learned over the past few weeks but have been too busy at work and at home to write up:

1. Do not buy or take a bowler for free. They are not worth the time to move and set up and they are very heavy. No more bowlers for me, thank you.

2. Do not buy or take a juke box for free. I thought I would try to learn to fix them. I don't want to or care to learn. They are heavy and bulky and I don't want to deal with them anymore. I do have a lighter working CD jukebox that I will put up for sale $799 to free up space if anyone is interested. www.abjukebox.com can help repair it in the future if you need it repaired.

3. Do not buy or take a video game for free. One exception is Galaga or PacMan cocktail tables. Video games are too heavy and not worth my time to fix or sell. If you want to buy one, look on the internet. Wholesalers sell them to individuals for less than I can buy one and resell. So it is just not worth dealing with them. (Similarly, I love the Pinball 2000 games - Star Wars Episode and Revenge from Mars, but the monitor is too heavy and not worth moving by myself.)

4. Do not offer to fix video games. I do not like them. I do not care about them. I don't want to waste my time and yours trying to fix them. Call www.twobits.com for help. I like pinballs and after doing this since December 6, 2004, I realize that I really only like fixing pinballs and will simply focus on pinballs (and antique slot machines).

5. Do not offer to fix EM Slot Machines. They are a pain in the neck and not worth fixing. I write on my repair page that I will not fix them but I am stupid enough to have two in my shop that I am looking at. They are a pain in the neck and I am wasting my space and time. I will probably repeat what I have written elsewhere. If you are at an auction or antique store (I love going to antique stores but I hate when they try to sell a slot, pinball or bowler and have no clue what they are selling) and you see a non-working EM slot machine. It is not working for a reason! Don't buy it! You can't get them fixed. You will have a really heavy paperweight in your home. Do not bring them to me anymore.

6. I comment on my repair pages that not many people fix EM pinball machines. I "know" why (because when you fix them, then 100 other non-related problems appear and the customer expects you to fix them for free). Now that I have been doing this and the pinballs break again (a few months later or years later) and I am expected to fix them, it is just illustrating why I should "wake up and smell the roses" as other repair people have and not bother. Even though this item is above #12, I wrote this after so I will repeat what I said below, "Nice guys finish last..." I try to help and it backfires and now no one will get them fixed....

7. I will not sell pinball machines to retail establishments nor will I do a 50-50 deal on the proceeds of the money from game play. I have never put a machine into a retail establishment. I am not sure of the licensing issues. But more importantly, I do not want slimy, dirty hands on my games from people that will treat them like garbage. Plus I would spend all my time adjusting switches for a few dollars. Not worth it! I help fix pinballs and other items for one restaurant. I spend more time than I ever get back in fees fixing their machines. (I have to go and waste my evening tomorrow fixing 3 of them....) From a hobby perspective where I work full time, I am wasting too much time on one place getting the machines fixed (because I am dumb and I do not charge nearly what I should to cover my time).

8. Only sell machines outside of my area of local repair when the person can truly fix the machine themselves. I recently sold a machine about 125 miles from where I live. I delivered it and it was working fine. I sold it without a warranty but would help over the phone - but the reality is the machine must and will work 100% so I am stuck fixing it even if I have to drive back again. I was playing it for several months before I sold it. One of the flippers was not working strongly. It turned out a bushing was missing. (Maybe it broke off in transporting it since it was working fine for me.) I sent the person some parts in the mail and they fixed it (top left flipper) and then the bottom left flipper became weak and hot. I happened to be driving by today when he called. I stopped with my wife with me. She said so but was not a happy camper. Especially since she only wanted me there 30 minutes. I was there 1.5 hours. Too long. I replaced the coil since I happenned to send one (and had no tools or parts with me). Somehow, I put the brown power wire (EBD) on the other side and blew the main 3 amp slow blow fuse. Luckily Lowes had a variety pack of slow blow fuses. Based on searches on Rec.Games.Pinball I think the problem is we probably fried the diodes. Maybe he can replace them and see if the new coil solves the problem. But the lesson here is to only sell locally. I do not offer a warranty to come out. But it is important that all my pinballs work. So I will get this fixed even if I have to go out there next weekend and blow a holiday weekend. This is just not worth it.... Hopefully I can get them to try to replace the 2 diodes on the coil and it will solve the problem.

9. When someone calls wanting a new pinball, direct them to a wholesaler on the internet. I make $200 at most selling a new pinball machine. This is not worth the time and the burden it puts on the "business aspect." If I sell a $5,500 pinball and make $200, My "annual income" (for tax bases, etc) goes up astronomically but my real profit goes up by $200. This is also not worth doing. I will make more money when you need the new machine installed in your home and set up or you need it fixed down the road. Sorry, but that is the truth. (I know this is my page to whine and complain. $200 may be a lot of money but not when I need to work from home to wait for the delivery of the machine and then spend 3-5 hours driving to deliver it, set it up, inspect and ensure it is working 100% and teach the person the basics of maintenance and cleaning.)

10. Japanese slot machines are NOT real slot machines. They are not worth more than $200. It is so funny to look at Craigslist and see people trying to sell "real Las Vegas" slot machines for $400 or $600 or more. I want to send each and every one of them an email to tell them to get real, you will not get that much money for the machine unless you take advantage of someone. When people call wanting to sell me a "slot machine" and I find out it is a Japanese slot, I have to bite my tongue and tell them (nicely) I do not buy junk toys. I did that once by accident and offended the person. Sorry. Don't try to to sell me junk... errrrr. I mean a Japanese Slot. I do not want one. Thank you very much.

11. I like pinball machines and antique slot machines. This is what I will stick with and this is what I do well.

12. As I write below on 5/28, do not broker deals for friends or strangers. Although I have nothing into the pinball, I now am in the middle of trying to help the person get the machine working. That is not my job. Although I help many, many people for free by phone, I am so busy lately at work, I just do not have the time. Plus when I help a person I have never met over the phone I do not "feel obligated" to get it working although I will do my best to help. This will now be my problem until it works. I think the real solution is to let people find machines on their own. Then I can be called to fix it when it doesn't work and get paid for it. I think nice guys really do finish last.... Or better yet, buy the machine for a low price, fix it up and test and sell it for more than double to cover the parts, time, and warranty and do it correctly....

5/28/2009

I just purchased a very nice Diner and a nice World Cup Soccer. I need to restore these. I also have a Rowe CD Jukebox that I will put up for sale. I also have a Lucky Ace that I may put up for sale. I have almost $1,100 into the World Series game. As I state on the page for it, it works but the bases are lower and I either need to figure it out or sell it for what I have in it to someone else to fix up. I was hoping to eventually sell it for much more. But if I can get my money back and get it to someone that can do the finishing magic, that would be great. I also bought a beautiful Mills OK Vendor slot machine from someone in Kentucky not too far from my son. I was able to take it to the local locksmith (Leesburg Lock and Key) and they were able to make a key to open the front to get to the mints. One of the panes of glass that shows the mints was missing. I took the front door to Banner Glass in Leesburg and they quickly cut two new pieces of glass. They look great. I will also replace the glass in the jackpot area, reel area, and coin area. I am debating whether to repaint the front. It is faded and missing paint, but I like old things looking old rather than looking like brand new reproductions. I need to decide what to do. The knob for the mints work when you press down the lever inside the machine. But I do not see where the mechanism engages this lever, so the knob never turns. If anyone knows what part is missing or what to do, I would appreciate some advice.

I recently helped two people connect to sell a machine. I ended up helping by moving the machine and setting it up at the new location. Hence my pricing changes and clarifications below in the 5/16/2009 post. I quoted the person $250 to do the move assuming 2 hours. It took almost 4 hours. But since I quoted the price, I stuck with it. The person gave me a little more but that defrayed the costs of the boxes of lights and the replacement pop bumper bracket.

The machine was supposed to be in working condition with just a few lights out. For the most part that was true. But as I stated, a pop bumper bracket was broken and the coil was dangling and many plastics were broken. The person paid a really low price for the game. If I bought it and took it home and fixed it up, I would have sold the game for about double the price. However, it would have included replaced plastics, plastic protectors, all new lights, new rubbers, the playfield would have been taken apart and cleaned everything. The person got a solid machine and a great price, but I am not sure they were 100% satisfied. But this was not my concern since I was not involved in the deal. It does illustrate the difference between doing a private deal and buying a machine from someone that warranties the machine and provides it in 100% working order.

5/17/2009

I drove I-81 today to deliver a machine. I think I passed at least 15 police cars giving out tickets. I am sure they are generating funds for the great commonwealth of Virginia. If they could use just one policeman to get 1 drunk driver off the roads, it would probably do a million times more good than all the cars they stopped today....

5/16/2009

Eight Ball Deluxe Limited Edition sold. This is one great game! I haven't listed the Lucky Ace yet, but if you are interested it will be $995, much less if you don't need a warranty.

Time for a complaint:

I dislike when people stop at intersections that say "Keep Moving." My wife stops at such intersections such as at the mall. She always tells me that she stops because the people coming the other way don't when they should. She always stops when I am with her and it never fails that someone goes through the intersection that should have stopped. I guess I really dislike people that don't stop at intersections when they should.... (Plus these people are proving my wife to be correct...)

I updated my repairs section to add specific costs for moving a machine from one location to another (minimum $350) and moving a machine from your garage to your basement (minimum $175). This covers the time it actually takes to do such tasks.

Stern raised their prices on not current machines by $400. This means that you can still order a newer machine but it will be made on demand rather than in quantity.

4/25/2009

I fixed up the World Series game. What do you think? I still got to do more, but it will probably take several months working on it here or there. Take a look: www.purcellvillepinball.com/worldseries.html.

I finally helped a customer get the left flipper on a Teed Off working. One less thing to worry about. Tomorrow, I need to fix a switch on the Lethal Weapon 3 I sold at Christmas time. The switch fell off and the two screws and nuts were found. We cannot find the actuator. I will add the actuator tomorrow.

4/17/2009

I purchased an Eight Ball Deluxe Limited Edition. I just fixed it all up and is working nicely. I really like the 1990s Bally/Williams games, but this game keeps me coming back for more. This was the first machine I fixed when I first decided to fix other people's machines back in 2004. The person bought it and had it in their garage in pieces. He brought it over and I put it back together and got it working. In hindsight, I realize how much more productive I would have been now than I was then. He is moving out of state and decided not to take it. It is kind of nice to have the first machine I worked on as a business.

I also purchased a 1933 Rockola World Series Pinball machine. (www.purcellvillepinball.com/worldseries.html) www.halor.com is a great web site to buy reproduction parts for this machine. This machine has no flippers. The top part actually has pins. I fixed up the mechanism to correctly keep track of balls, strikes and outs. I was gently trying to bend the casting that held the pivot point of the mechanism that turns the bases. It snapped off in my hand. I should have followed the directions on the site to line it up. I need to work on putting in a wooden block and then finding the correct pivot point to attach the mechanism and hopefully the bases will turn. It is a really nice looking machine.

Yesterday, I fixed a Twilight Zone. It needed a new reinforced slot target (as all TZs should have) and it needed the diverter to The Power aligned (mechanically) to work properly. It also was resetting in multiball mode when you pressed both flippers. Typical BR-1, BR2, CAP 5 replacement. I changed these out and put in the board and it did not work. I checked all the connectors. I pulled it out and reflowed the solder to the BRs to ensure it went through. I even took a spare driver board that I marked with markers to ensure that all connectivity is still there. I put this board in and it worked. I took out the Cap and followed the 2 traces on the top of the board. One was not getting continuity. I took out my board and drew in the trace for future reference. I added a wire between the two points and confidently told the person that the game would now work (secretly praying that it actually would). Thank goodness it did. I did not charge for the time I spent resolving my own problem. This would not be fair. If I better marked my board, I would have found this issue, added the trace immediately, and save a bit of time. In my opinion, this is the right way and the only way to do business.

Now for a rant. A few shingles flew off our roof. We paid a company to fix it. They fixed it and told us that the attic fan was installed improperly and it would cost $300 to replace and do right. I called them and found out they do not cover electrical work. I could do it myself or pay someone. I have never been in my attic and thought it best to pay someone. Then I decided I did not want to spend the $425 or so in total to fix. I did a search on the internet and found I could get a solar powered attic fan installed for $677. So now I am paying more money (on my own free will) to hopefully save a little money and keep our home more comfortable in the summer. They will be replacing the attic fan next week.

3/15/2009

I took the Monster Bash off my for sale list. I like it, I play it, I don't want to sell it. No new pinball machines lately. But I continue to fix machines.

1/26/2009

It has been a while since I wrote anything. My wife, Suzanne, and I went on a New Year's Eve cruise to the Panama Canal. It was 11 nights stopping at Labadee, Haiti; Cartagena, Columbia; half way through the Panama Canal, Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; and Georgetown, Grand Cayman. It was great. I realized the only way I am going to relax is by sticking me on a ship in the middle of the ocean without a computer, cell phone, email, voice mail, or pinballs to repair... I donate plates and plasma (at Inova Blood Services) once a month. I went in today to donate. I cannot donate for a year because of the threat of Malaria since I went to the beach at Labadee (and went parasailing for the first time) and went into the Rain Forest in Costa Rica (and went on a zip line for the first time). Oh well...

I am slowly catching up on my repairs. I have a favor to ask every one next Christmas. As we get closer to the holidays and you realize that you own a pinball machine that has not worked for the past 6 months, year, 5 years, or 10 years and you have guests coming in a few days, please don't all call at once and ask for your pinball to be fixed immediately. :) Start calling now, I will have more time to get your machine working before Christmas.

I know I have mentioned this before (and even provide a checklist on each item for sale), but I will mention it again. I have a few more pinball machines available for sale. I will buy machines that interest me. But after I sell these machines, I do not plan to buy any more pinball machines specifically for sale. I cannot and will not compete with the low, unrealistic prices on eBay. I have told people to be very wary of buying pinball machines on eBay. If you know the buyer, or see the machine in person, then you will have a better chance to get what you want. If you view a machine, you need to run all tests, look for broken plastics or missing plastics, and broken or missing parts. I am spending a lot of time fixing up machines people bought on eBay. The funny thing is, if they would buy it local, they would pay more but in most cases after the delivery and potential repairs it could cost about the same, if not less. If I sell it, it would be guaranteed to work before you pay for it. It will have a warranty and be in the exact condition specified. Be careful buying from eBay. But if you do, then if you live close to me it will probably be good for me since you will need to pay me (or someone in your area) to come and fix it. Or in some cases, get the machine to work in the first place. I guess I can say that eBay has been very, very good to me.... So if you buy on eBay, try to determine the price you think is fair and remember that you may be adding several hundred dollars for shipping. Then subtract between $300 to $500 (or more) for repairs. If this price is a good deal, buy the game. Otherwise, you may not be getting a good deal.

11/8/2008

I traded the Monday Night Football. Hopefully there will be some sales for this Christmas season, but I do not expect any.

I fixed a machine for someone. It was actually the 2nd time I fixed it for different reasons. I did not sell this machine.

I spoke to the owner of the machine. He said he paid $2,100 for it. I told him that I charge $3,500 for the machine. Now that he has worked with me he realizes that the extra money covers the 6 month warranty, the under plastic set, replacement plastic set, clear plastic set, ramp protectors, Cliffy protector, and other items that add up to about $500 of extra parts, plus the 4 hours or so it takes to install. His game was also missing a toy on the playfield.

10/7/2008

I added my Monster Bash back for sale. I will also add my Ripley's Believe It Or Not, Star Trek The Next Generation and Lord of the Rings.

9/30/2008

I donated my Monday Night Football pinball machine to the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless silent auction. A month ago, someone called from Richmond looking for a Monday Night Football, but I just donated it. I just found out that the silent auction this year has been cancelled due to all the issues at Fannie Mae. Therefore, the pinball is available. I cannot find the person's phone number. It will not list on my phone bill until next month. (The phone bill cut off the day before he called...) Hopefully he still needs it and will get it.

7/13/2008

I added Monday Night Football. I also added my Linked In page.

5/8/2008

I still have not posted the chips, etc. I will get to it.

I raised the price of delivery. Gas prices and the time it takes to deliver is killing me.

For my Repair Chronicles pages, I added a mobile phone feature. This turns off the menus and allows more screen space for the information. I own a Voyager cell phone and now I can see my pages without having to scroll to the right. If you use this and need to scroll to the right, ensure that the MENU > DISPLAY RENDERING screen is set to Screen Optimized (at least on the Voyager phone). [This may not be necessary with my new web site....]

4/23/2008

Over the years I have purchased many chips and repaired boards. I have many extra chips that I will eventually use. I will offer these for sale over the next few weeks. These are chips you can't buy at Radio Shack anymore. You usually need to buy these from the internet as I have. Postage will usually double the cost of a chip if you need to order just a few. By providing this service, I hope to provide chips and other electronics locally to people that need it fast or need small quantities. My prices will be higher than what you can get on the internet. I built in the portion of postage that I paid.

Sample of chips I have available:
35 amp bridge rectifiers
15000 uF snap-on capacitor
7408 chip
TIP102
TIP42
TIP36
IRL540N Mosfet N Channel (replaces 20N10L, 22NE10L and 12N10L)
IRF 9530 (12P06 Mosfet P Channel) [used on Gottliebs]
2N3904
2N4401
2N5401
74HC123 IC Dual Timer
1N4001
33 Ohm 7W 5% resistor
2N5060 SCR (used on Bally Lamp driver)
2N5061
MCR106 SCR (used on Bally Lamp driver)
Opto Emitters
Opto Transceivers

4/20/2008

I now have a reliable source to sell and service newer slot machines. I will start selling only IGT slot machines for around $1,195 without a bill validator (my preferred method of selling a machine) or around $1,395 with a bill validator. Williams Slot Machines with Dotmation are around $1,995. Call us with a specific machine and we will get you a specific price. Slot machines are warranteed for 3 months but you need to bring them back for service. In most cases, we can diagnose the problem over the phone and just ask you to return a specific part. Eventually we will have some in stock.

We will not sell newer Universal or Bally machines.

4/13/2008

I added Shrek and Indiana Jones. Stern raised their price by $100, so I had to also.

4/1/2008

Someone actually read this and asked if I really was not fixing machines in people's homes. I thought I was the only one that read this. I am doing fixes in people's homes. However, I am being selective in what I choose to fix. (Although so far I have chosen to fix everything.) I am actually fixing more now than before. I realize I just don't like fixing machines in the winter. I guess I just don't like the cold and having to schedule around snow and ice.

Some people have even brought machines to me. This is nice for the more complicated fixes (especially for EM machines that will just take a long time to track down, or Williams System 3 - 11 machines that usually take a bit more time for me to debug).

I did raise my rates. I still feel they are reasonable. I stand behind the repairs and warranty them. The other day I tracked down a broken wire on a coil. Simple solder fix. But I did not do a good job at soldering (since it was in an awkward position) and it broke again. I came back the next day and repaired it and double checked the solder will hold. This is what I consider good customer service. (Yes, I would have rather done the job correctly in the first place.)

3/17/2008

I do not wish to repair pinball machines in people's home. I have been whining about this for a while. I enjoy fixing machines in my home, but not for others when people are worried about costs and I don't charge nearly what I should. In some cases I don't charge at all if I cannot fix the machine (usually because it will just cost too much).

I will do so occasionally. I will raise my prices to cover my costs. Otherwise it is just not worth doing. I am trying to find another business to keep me busy.

2/1/2008

I added my Monster Bash for sale. I love it. I will now be on the look out for my next Monster Bash. But it is time to move this on to someone that wants it.

1/26/2008

Some of the machines that I hoped would sell for the Christmas season have just sold. I hope to add an Addams Family next week.

I cannot repair electro-mechanical slot machines. There is no information about repairing them that I have been able to find.

I added back the video games. I will still offer them...

12/27/2007

I finally added Big Guns on the site. It is a great, fun game. It has a new PinLED display.

12/25/2007

I finally added all the cosmetic changes to the Star Trek Next Generation. The game now looks great and plays great. Tomorrow I will photograph and post the Big Guns pinball.

11/27/2007

The Robocop pinball was donated to my church's (Holy Trinity Lutheran Church) Christmas Bazaar. This raised $800 for social Ministry programs for the holidays. A Rowe/AMI CD-51 jukebox was donated to Fannie Mae's Help the Homeless auction in Washington, DC. This raised $700.

I have decided that I will sell out the machines I currently have and concentrate on repairing machines in 2008. I will buy the machines I want when I have the space and money but will not really have them for sale. I guess after 3 years of moving around machines, I want a break. I enjoy fixing them. [Note 1/26/2013 - Although I said this, I never did. I should have a bumper sticker that says, "I stop and buy any Bally/Wiilliams pinball from the 1990s.]

I removed all my new video games from the web site because distributors were selling the games lower than I can buy them. Some machines I could sell and make $25 for 4 to 5 hours of my time including delivery and setup. This just did not make sense. Enjoy buying machines from the internet where in most cases you will get no personalized service and need to move the game from your garage to your basement (or even need to pick up a machine from an airport). [Note 1/26/2013 - This is basically a true statement. Video games have no mark up and I can't make more than $25 a game. I still buy cocktail pacman and galaga but that is all.]

I permanently lowered my prices on several pinball machines and other items that will allow me to free up space and money to buy machines I want. If you want to know why some of the prices were not lowered it is because I would loose money. It makes no sense to loose money. If my prices with a 6 month warranty are not good enough then please search the internet and ebay. I guarantee you can probably buy the same machine in worse condition and maybe working or not for the same price or less. Good Luck! I sell quality, restored, warranteed pinball machines. This has some value and I have no reason to lower my prices anymore. For example, compare my prices and quality to www.mrpinball.com. Then add the fact that I warranty the pinball for six months.

When I did the York show a few weeks ago, everyone wanted a deal. I did not sell some of the items I had. I decided it was not worth selling the items for the same price that I paid for them. I have a scale mirror on my site available for $99. A decent price. At the show I offered it for $70. The people were not interested. That is fine. I felt like telling them, "I paid $50 for it, give me $45 and it is sold." Yeah, right. Maybe I should have gone down to $60. But I like it and will keep it. (Now I will lower the price to match this story.)

10/27/2007

Twilight Zone is complete and ready to make it into your home! Very fun to play. Very fun to fix as well.

10/14/2007

I just returned from the York Show. It was the first pinball show I attended. It was put together and run well. Thank goodness it did not rain. I enjoyed meeting many people. I did not enjoy carrying all the parts. I had to take what I did not sell and pack it on my pickup truck, load into the hotel, load onto the truck the next day and set up again. Next year maybe I will rent a truck.

The manual page and marquee page will be out of date until I have time to update what sold at the show.

10/10/2007

I have ordered all the parts for the Star Trek. This will add $500 to the cost on the web site.

I posted a High Speed II: The Getaway. This is a fun game.

I just purchased a Twilight Zone. The clock needs to be replaced. I am waiting for all the parts before I start working on it.

I purchased two Rowe AMI CD051 Jukeboxes.

9/30/2007

I extended the sale. I want the pinballs to sell. A new lower priced Star Trek The Next Generation has been added. I can add the extras for an extra cost. Now the price compares to all the other run of the mill Star Treks out there. I advise you to add all the extras to protect the playfield. I will probably add them as time goes by if this machine is not sold and raise the price accordingly.

9/16/2007

Fish Tales and High Speed II: The Getaway are coming soon. I posted a few more marquees.

9/8/2007

I just added a Robocop pinball machine, Peo Barnyard Golf, NYC Subway gum dispenser and a scale mirror.

9/3/2007

We just returned from visiting Timothy in Kentucky. If you live in Kentucky (Lexington area) and have not had a chance to visit the Kentucky Game Exchange at 930 Winchester Rd, Lexington, KY 40505, you should. They do great work and have a great selection of machines.

I decided to put all my in-stock pinball machines on sale. I was tired of looking at the same machines. I need money and room to buy new machines to fix. When my showroom starts looking like a museum since nothing is changing, it is time to move out some pinball machines.

I will be going to the York show October 12- 13. I will be in the flea market area selling anything and everything pinball related and more. Please stop by and say hello.

I finally sold the Scared Stiff. It is a great game.

8/25/2007

I redid the menu. I added many of the screens I jerry-rigged links to within the page. I also redid the main page so it looks better.

I will soon have a Robocop and possibly a Lethal Weapon 3. I purchased a Barn-Yard Golf Trade simulator game from Peo in 1931. I hope to get keys made this coming week and get it working. It has the rare gumball attachment. I also purchased an antique gum machine that was used in NYC subways. A cool piece of history since I took the A Train every day to high school for 4 years.

8/18/2007

I have added pinball manuals, bingo manuals, plastics, pinball flyers, video game marquees, and other fun items to enhance your game room or add value to the machine you own.

8/1/2007

I finally finished my Stargate project. This was the machine from hell. that I got from a friend with everything imaginable missing. It took a while to get it together, but it now works 100%.

I also purchased a Street Fighter II. This is definitely a parts machine. Do you need a cabinet, power supply, plastics, ramp or playfield? I will be posting this soon.

I also have about 40 pinball manuals for sale for $18 plus postage. I have video game marquees that I will post soon on my parts page. take a look.

7/21/2007

I traded the Data East Star Wars for a Sega Godzilla a few weeks ago. I just finished fixing it up. It has been placed on the web site.

6/2/2007

I put Slugfest and Indianapolis 500 on eBay. No bids. They did not sell. This is very funny since I put a low price on it (without a warranty). Oh well. Just goes to show that everyone on ebay wants a deal. I thought this was a very good price. But another Slugfest came on with no reserve. I am hoping this other Slugfest sells for way beyond the price of mine (sweet revenge). The cash register did sell....

5/25/2007

I am doing minor fixes to the site. I removed the reference to tax refunds on the main page and added a Christmas 2007... banner. I will try the Slugfest on eBay....

I added Family Guy and Spiderman to the new pinball page.

5/10/2007

I finally added my gum ball machines. I have three Ford 10 cent gum ball machines for sale.

I also finally posted the Star Trek The Next Generation. This is the 5th Star Trek The Next Generation that I have restored. This is my favorite game. If I sell it, I will buy another and restore. If I have the room and money, I may buy another so I can start to restore while I still have this one.

4/29/2007

I guess I haven't posted in a while. Today I finished up the Monopoly. It is a beautiful machine and in excellent condition. A few weeks ago I posted a Scared Stiff. I also posted The Simpson Pinball Party a few weeks ago. Ebay did not do any good in selling the Star Wars machine. But it got me in contact with a local collector that I will trade the machine with. I will also assist in fixing some of his games. I got in a Gilligan's Island. But a friend came over and wants it. I just finished fixing it up. View my repair log for the fun I experienced in getting this machine working.

Now that the weather is better, I am more apt to fix machines. I think I have caught up with fixing machines. I am happier when there is sunshine and warmer weather.

2/16/2007

I posted the Roadshow. This is a very nice machine. The entire game was taken apart to fix Ted's eyelids. (This is the only way to get to "Ted".) This is a very enjoyable machine.

2/13/2007

I posted the Slugfest.

2/11/2007

I posted the Star Wars on eBay. As I stated below, I prefer to sell locally. However, the advertisements in the local newspapers were not working (except giving the papers more money). Hopefully, this will generate some web traffic and maybe even some sales for about $5 a week.

I will be posting a Slugfest and Roadshow soon. I will probably also sell The Simpson's Pinball Party soon.

2/3/2007

I added all my repair notes for the past few years. Click here to see them or go to the link on the main page.

I purchased another Roadshow and Star Trek the Next Generation (STTNG) a few weeks ago. I just finished shopping and repairing the Roadshow. I have 3 small items to fix (right flipper, adjust plunger gate and replace 2 opto switches on the dozer board). It looks really nice. I needed to replace the lids down coil on Ted. It was very fried. You have to take apart the entire game (almost) under and on the playfield. While I had everything off, I replaced the rubbers, lights and cleaned the playfield and plastics. I put the hyper thin Cliffy protector on. It looks very nice and does not affect game play.

The STTNG looks beautiful. The playfield and cabinet are in great shape. The playfield is dirty, as are the ramps and plastics, but they should clean up nicely. The Alpha ramp switch is not working but I will get to it once I start taking the game apart. I have all new clear plastics, under plastics, ramp protectors and the hyper thin Cliffy protector to add over the next few weeks.

I picked up a Slugfest today. It will need a new display and a lot of cleaning. It has a lot of baseball cards. Maybe one of the cards will be worth something.... I will work on this after the STTNG.

I traded my Tales of the Arabian Nights (TOTAN) for a beautiful working Scared Stiff. I saw it about a year ago and am looking forward to getting it. Although I liked the TOTAN, I did not go back to play it. It was not selling so I traded.

I thought about putting a machine on eBay. Although I would rather sell locally, maybe it will generate the advertising (for $5 to $10 a week) I couldn't get advertising in my local papers. Maybe I can get to a point of selling one machine every week or two.... I will put one up in the next two weeks and see how it goes.

1/21/2007

I have been maintaining a list of problems and solutions for all the repairs I have made over the past couple of years. I finally organized the list and placed it on line to share with others and also have when I am out doing a repair. Take a look: Click here to view my Repair Chronicles.

1/5/2007

Adelphia is now Comcast so my email is now mbelofsky@comcast.net. What fun! I get to change it in 10,000 places...

12/24/2006

Merry Christmas! I took the sale off the web site. I keep becoming delusional believing that great prices and a sale would entice people to buy great machines.

I may have a contact to purchase newer slot machines from. If this works out and I can get the person to warranty the slot machines 6 months from the time I sell them (not the time I buy them from him), then I may consider continuing selling newer slots. Otherwise I do not have the knowledge, tools, etc. to fix up newer slot machines.

I cancelled all my print ads starting January 1st. We will see if this is a good decision....

11/29/2006

Does anyone actually read this (besides me)? Some decisions I have come to:

1. I will no longer advertise in Leesburg Today, Loudoun Easterner or Purcellville Gazette starting January 1, 2007. I get no leads, sales or repairs from these advertisements (but it does get the papers a bit wealthier). Why waste my money when most of my repairs and sales are word of mouth (referrals) or my web site?

2. Although I love pinball machines, I am tired of hauling them around. I will no longer buy machines as "specs" in the hopes of selling it. I will buy machines I personally like and maybe someday sell them. Or I will buy a specific machine for a customer to fix and sell (with a down payment since I have done this before and have been stuck with very nice machines until they sold.)

3. Although I fix the pinball machines and they work great, I occasionally get tech support calls on my machines, which I promptly repair. Since I offer a warranty and stand behind the machines, you can be guaranteed they will be fixed and working. I will slow down on selling machines so I can slow down on repairing machines.

4. This is a hobby. I enjoy it (although I am starting to question myself and therefore will keep it a hobby). I reserve the right NOT to fix a pinball machine if I don't feel like it. Several reasons that I would not feel like it include a) you live too far away and I don't want to travel that far; b) I may not be able to fix the machine and do not charge if I do not fix it, so why bother going to your home to fix something that probably is not fixable (either because I am not skilled enough or usually because it would cost more to fix than it is worth) and I waste my time and my entire evening; c) If you live too far and I fix it and it breaks again, I don't feel like coming back out, so I just won't fix it in the first place. I am sorry I feel like this, but I want to enjoy this and I am not because of certain people.

5. Although I say I buy machines, I don't guarantee I will. Remember, I will need to take it into my shop, fix it, get it looking great and working 100%. I will be offering a 6 month warranty. If the machine is worth $2,000, you will not get $2,000 from me. You will probably get $800 - $900. If you want to get more money then you will need to sell it yourself. You can try http://www.mrpinball.com classifieds or http://washingtondc.craigslist.org. You may make more money. You can have the person pick it up from you. If the backglass has a prominent picture of Arnold or Stallone, it is harder to sell. These games are great but people shy away from them because of the backglass.

11/25/2006

I added a link to the Internet Pinball Database on each pinball machine. This will help the customer find out more about the machine including pictures, ratings and rule sheets.

11/21/2006

Completed the Indianapolis 500. I got it working 100% and cleaned up really nice.

11/18/2006

The Road Show sold faster than I thought it would! I was hoping to enjoy it in my collection for a few weeks. Now I know that I will get another one in the future. I am on the look out for a really nice Star Trek The Next Generation for myself. I just finished one for a customer and really wanted to keep it. I enjoy working on them and I enjoy playing them even more.

My three favorite games are Monster Bash, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Lord of the Rings. I hope to have all three for my own collection soon...

The Joker's Wild! IGT slot machine sold at the silent auction for Fannie Mae's Help the Homeless auction yesterday. It went for $700. Not bad. I was hoping for a little higher but anything is good for the donation. The 1977 Bally Night Rider sold at the live auction. It went for $850. This wasn't bad either.

I am thinking of changing the way I buy and sell pinballs next year. Instead of "speculating" on a machine, I may only fix up a machine for a customer once they tell me what they want (and put a down payment on the machine). This will stop me making wrong decisions and having machines I don't really want. However, if I buy machines I really want it would not hurt to stay in my collection....

I am waiting for a board that should have come with the Indianapolis 500 to start working on it. It is a pretty nice game. I would not mind keeping it if I can't sell it. It will go nicely with the Corvette that I originally bought for a customer (I should have ask for a down payment) and then never heard from again...)

11/10/2006

I put the Star Wars up for sale. This is quite an enjoyable game. Tomorrow I will work on getting the rubbers changed on the Road Show, cleaning the plastics and replacing the gears in the Red and Ted heads.

11/5/2006

I put the Road Show up for sale. I still have some cleaning up but the game works nicely.

11/4/2006

It's Christmas season! Yeah! I am working on a Road Show. It is a very fun, family oriented game. On Monday, I will receive a Star Wars and Indianapolis 500. If you are interested in any of theses games, please reserve them now. If you are looking for a specific game, please tell me and I will find it for you.

I decided to donate the Night Rider pinball and the Jokers Wild! slot machine to the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless auction to raise money for HTH.

9/26/2006

Only one taker for the summer sale. What a bummer. Maybe people will buy for Christmas...

I fixed the small problem on the Twister. It was intermittent. It was a wire on the trough coil that was touching but not soldered. The game now works 100%.

I just completed a Water World. I will post this next week.

I just posted a Stargate PROJECT pinball. I don't have the time or energy to work on it. I would like to sell it as a unit.

I added the checklist to the pinballs. It is so frustrating to see the shape of the pinballs that have been sold to people....

I modified the repair charge. I will charge a nominal fee of $25 if I can't fix the machine or it is not work fixing. Otherwise, this fun hobby will not be fun anymore and I won't do it. I don't have to do it often but if a fix will take more than the game is worth or a game is beyond repair, my opinion has to be worth something...

8/19/2006

Suzanne and I just dropped Tim off at Eastern Kentucky University yesterday. Now we are on our own (at least until Thanksgiving). So now it is time to get all the pinballs that I have been sitting on working.

I got my order of transistors from Great Plains Electronics. I replaced the 74LS175 with a 74HCT175 on the master control board for the engine. This solved the problem. I added a lock. I replaced the leg bolt plate for the left front leg. (It is amazing how it is always the left front leg where a bolt gets stripped. This is a pain in the neck to replace with all the wires and boards there.) The Corvette is now complete and posted for sale.

I also replaced the power board on the 1977 Night Rider machine. I posted the Night Rider tonight as well.

Now off to work on some other minor fixes for my other machines.

I added a summer sale. I placed 4 of my machines (including one pinball) on sale.

7/30/2006

Just added the Bram Stoker Dracula.

7/28/2006

Just added a great Twister and Dirty Harry. This is the second Twister I have worked on. Note that pictures of a pinball are the pinball that is being sold. I do not reuse pictures.

7/17/2006

Just purchased and fixed up an Attack From Mars. It looks great and plays great! I will be adding a Bram Stoker Dracula.

6/19/2006

Added pictures on a 1952 United Super Shuffle Alley that I just figured out how to fix! It is starting to look good. http://pvillepinball.com/supershufflealley.html.

6/9/2006

Added map and driving directions. My web hosting company provided these toys to me. As a developer it was fun to add it onto the Contacts page of this web site. [removed in dreamweaver.]

6/2/2006

Cleaned up the main page. I removed a lot of the pinball machines that I have not sold page. I left the 2 traffic lights on the main page since I have no other way to get to them. I kept the Theatre of Magic and Tales of the Arabian Nights on the main page since they are very pretty and in excellent condition.

I added Monster Bash and the 1946 Candy dispensing machine. I fixed it up and cleaned it. I did not redo it. For $1,495 it looks original with the dings and bends. I like antiques looking like antiques. If you want an older machine to look like new or if you are looking for a great bar and set up in your basement, you should check out Bars and Booths/Back In Time Warehouse in Charlestown, West Virginia. I highly recommend them!

3/18/2006

Added the traffic signal and the walk/don't walk sign.

The Tales of the Arabian Nights has been completed. It looks great and plays great. I would love to keep it but then I would have nothing to sell.

I picked up a 1946 Candy dispensing machine. It looks pretty good. It is set up for free play. In other words the coin mechanism is no longer in the machine and the machine will give candy (once I put some in) by just pulling the lever. I am not sure if I want to keep it or not. If you have any interest, please call or email or ask to come over and see it.

I bought my son an old fire call box. It just needs to be sand blasted and repainted. He is about to go to college (EKU) to get a degree in EMC. He is a volunteer EMT at the Purcellville and Lovettsville Rescue Squads.

Hopefully soon, I will start working on getting my 1952 United Shuffle Alley Deluxe Bowler working.

Looking for someone to buy a Xenon project machine for $800 including the overlay. I don't have the time or the experience to do it myself.

2/19/2006

Added Theatre of Magic. It is a great game and in great condition.

I raised the price for repairs. Otherwise it is not worth doing.

1/29/2006

Added Tales of The Arabian Nights. I still have some more work to do on it, but reserve it for yourself now.

I am working on a beautiful Theatre of Magic. If I do not decide to keep it for myself, you may want to find out more about it.

I added a warranty page. I stand behind the machines I sell but I want to be clear what is and is not covered.

1/15/2006

Re-did the menu on the left. Added a menu selection for Video Games. Now you can go to video games from the menu rather than scrolling down the page. I also added a menu and page for others to sell items through this web site. Look for items soon. I also added a testimonials page. Hopefully someone will provide a testimonial to show that we are doing a decent job...

12/25/2005

Retook the playfield pictures of Silver Slugger with the glass off. The game photographs looks so much better. Did some additional minor switch adjustments to get all of the switches working absolutely correct. Took of a resistor that controls the bottom jet bumper light (you will note it is not lit up in the pictures). I will buy a replacement resistor and solder it back on tomorrow.

I spent yesterday getting a 1994 Williams Flintstones cleaned and working. Everything came together very nicely on this game. Please click on the link above for pictures.

12/23/2005

Just finished fixing up and cleaning a 1994 Data East (Sega) Maverick pinball machine. It is very fun and addictive to play. This will work great in any game room for the adults and the kids. It will also do very well in a gambling- or poker-themed game room. This machine was made by Data East and production continued under Sega when the company changed hands.

As a funny note, we have been advertising our pinball machines on www.mrpinball.com. It is amazing how many scammers there are. Not only can they not write in proper English, they all use the same hokey methods of trying to get your attention.

I believe in selling locally so I can stand behind the machines I fix. However, I have sold 2 machines to people in California. I ask the buyer to set up delivery with North American Van Lines (NAVL). This way, they are responsible for setting up the delivery (with me telling them when I am available for pickup), they are responsible for paying the shipping charges, and they are responsible for handling insurance claims if necessary. I can tell you that NAVL is very experienced in packing and shipping pinball machines. The shipping people are very professional and skilled in moving pinball machines. So far, I have a 100% batting record for getting machines safely to their new home and great condition (both physical and working). I highly recommend using NAVL to ship pinball machines.

12/17/2006

We guess we should update this more often. What is new since May:

We have increased our warranty from 30 days to 6 months on pinball machines and antique slot machines. We are very confident with the work we do on these machines that we can increase the warranty. We have been offering this to customers. Now it is official.

We have a beautiful cocktail Ms Pac Man with 16 games (Pac Man, Ms Pac Man, other variations, fast and slow), a new monitor and new glass and underlay. We lowered the price from $2,395 to $1,995 as a Christmas special.

We offer newer slot machines for $1,195 without a bill validator and $1,395 with a bill validator. The quality of these machines is outstanding. We can provide references on these and everything we sell if you wish. We currently have 3 slots in stock at a lower price of $995.

Many machines have come and gone in the past 6 months. It would be nice if the Fire! below goes. It is wearing out its welcome...

In November, our business was a finalist in the Home Based Business category for the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce. We did not win, but we met nice people and had a nice dinner at the event.

December 2005 is our one year anniversary. We made it one year! Only 99 left. I thought some day I would be famous and be in a million households. I never thought I would do it by visiting houses one at a time to fix pinball machines. Only 999, 900 houses to go...

5/22/2005

We just completed restoring a 1980 Williams Alien Poker Pinball Machine. It has been created from 3 Alien Pokers in various stages of demise.

5/15/2005

We now have a great and fun to play 1987 Fire! Pinball Machine by Williams.

5/14/2005

Take a look at a very nice 1991 Data East Checkpoint Pinball Machine.

5/14/2005

We just purchased an original Galaxian Cocktail table from 1980. Click on the image to view the description. We are offering as is (with a 30-day warranty of course) for a special price including sales tax and delivery. We are also offering additional upgrades if you want to improve the machine. [didn't copy image to new site.]

4/9/2005

Two new slot machines. These are real dollar slots from a casino in Michigan. Click on the image to go to the description for Fiery Doubles or Triple Crowns. [didn't copy image to new site.]

2/9/2005

We now sell new video games, jukeboxes, air hockey games and bubble hockey games.

1/8/2005

We now sell New Stern pinball machines! We will start selling Juke Boxes, Video Games and Air Hockey games soon too.

12/12/2004

Added a 1977 Gottlieb Cleopatra and a 1993 Data East Last Action Hero Pinball machine for sale. We have also listed a Mills Hi Top 10 cent slot machine circa 1948. We also placed our repair philosophy and prices on the web site.

12/4/2004

This web site! We love pinball machines and slot machines. We like playing them. We like fixing them. This web site will allow us to find machines in need of a new home. This web site will hopefully allow us to find these machines and improve our skills at repairing them. Eventually, each machine must be sold due to space constraints.

Since we live and work in the Northern Virginia area, this is where we will be concentrating on buying and selling machines. This is not a full time endeavor (although some day we hope it could be). We enjoy pinball machines and slot machines and we hope to share this enjoyment with others in our area.

Several pinball machines are available for purchase. Several parts are also available. There will be a slot machine soon.