2013 and Prior What's New
I received my Star Trek LE last Sunday and finally got the Cliffy protectors and Bird of Prey (from FlashyMods.com) installed. Finally played it last night and today and it is great. I still have a lot to learn. I did not have the legs leveled and the playfield was not sitting in the game correctly. I finally leveled the game and the playfield rests in the front lock bar area correctly. The ball in the Vengeance lock was sometimes draining. I think I solved it for most of the time.
My list of pinballs for sale has gone down to two. My basement is starting to look bare. It will take several years to build up my personal collection.
I added the Cliffy protector to the Lord of the Rings. It is so nice to have this game back again. I may add some paper inserts to the apron and decals. But this game is perfect for me and I am enjoying playing it.
I did not fix any pinballs this weekend. I have other obligations over the next few weeks and then will pick back up on fixing games. My gift to myself is a NIB Star Trek LE (#481). I will hopefully get it the first week or early second week of February. I will need to pick it up and do the final mile move. I already have the Cliffy protectors. I bought a Bird of Prey to go over the left VUK. Hopefully it will not need much else.
My main page is starting to look bare. I only have two pinballs left to sell and a few slots. Then I really will concentrate on fixing games and buying what I want to own.
I fixed three games yesterday. I have been so busy with vacation, holidays, changing my full time job, that I have not done any repairs in several weeks. I needed to start catching up. I just returned the call from someone who emailed me at the end of last year and I said I needed a few weeks to catch up on repairs. But he just found another repair person. Which is actually good since he lived in Lorton and I really didn't want to drive all the way out there. Hopefully he found the person in Manassas. Well, if nothing else, my backlog just got one person shorter.
I am really trying this year to get the pinballs I want. I found a Star Trek Next Generation. I was interested in it. I asked about it. When I had the funds to buy it, the person was currently no longer interested in selling it. I moved on to my second choice. I bought a Home Use Only (HUO) Lord of the Rings. It is beautiful with many upgrades. I do not have to do much. I did buy Cliffy protectors and added removable flipper button protectors to the cabinet. In hindsight, I should have thought of this first since it was the opportunity to buy HUO. With a Star Trek Next Generation I will probably never have the opportunity to buy HUO. As I wrote some time below, I owned a HUO Lord of the Rings and sold it. I regret selling it. (Which I only regretted selling a few games.) So I now have a HUO game back and I am pleased.
Happy New Year!
I went over to fix a Data East Batman on Tuesday. I didn't really want to fix it and not this fast. But it was a Christmas gift and he wanted it working. I was hoping it was a switch or wire. It was the blanking circuit on the MPU. I knew I couldn't fix it without changing the MPU board and maybe even the PPB board. We called Stern and Chas confirmed this. He said you could spend several hours to try to fix it but the key word is "try". I told the person to buy a Rottendog MPU (MPU004) and labelled all the connectors. As usual, I did not charge since I did not fix the game. I know very well that the analysis and the information I provided will be valuable in actually fixing the game. But as usual, I am not on the hook to ensure that this works. I did not sell the game. It is not my responsibility to get it working. Another few hours I wasted in terms of my time. In terms of helping the person, it was very valuable. Another example of someone buying a Christmas gift and not getting what they deserved or paid for...
[Update: 1/18/2015: The person emailed me and found a person to fix games that knows Data East. He came in and immediately knew it was the bridge rectifiers on the power board. Nice! I even called Stern about this and they suggested rebuilding the blanking circuit, as I wrote above. I didnot have an extra power supply board, but will now know to buy one or to spend the time to replace the two bridge rectifiers on the board.... But I don't fix these games enough to really care.]
I am in the process of placing a large order to buy Rottendog boards. If I have them, then it may be worth it to try to fix some of the games. If I have the boards, then it will be a large up front expense. But it will mean that I can actually perform the replacement of the board. The trick is to figure out the right mix of boards to buy.
I will not buy replacement Gottlieb System 80 boards. The design of the games is so poor that a bad display or diode can take out an entire board. No reason for me to buy a board, try to help fix a game, have my board ruined, and not be able to fix the game and not only be out the repair cost and my valuable time, but the cost of the board.
I also tried to be nice (which I have said many times before, Nice guys finish last) and look at a cocktail video game. They lived only a few miles from me so I thought I could help. They had a custom built cocktail multi cade game built around 2007. The person no longer lives in the area (how convenient). The display doesn't work due to a lightning strike. They had a replacement Dell monitor that was 19". I came over and was thinking 1980s technology ad was not thinking VGA connector. I emailed with www.twobits.com who I highly recommend to buy boards and displays from. He was a little ticked that I was bugging him too much about this issue. I apologized for doing so and was trying to get him the sale of a monitor.
I went back the next evening and continued to take apart the Dell monitor and it was smaller than the monitor in the game. I looked at the tag on the CRT which said Samsung (which it seems they all are) and the display was 18". It would not fit. This is where I actally called twobits and he was a bit ticked. Oh well. I was trying to figure out the right display for her to buy. I told her to try to find a 19" CRT display or take a chance on a LCD display.
After speaking with twobits and realizing I should have tried this when I was there, I asked her to find any monitor with a VGA connector and plug into the JAMMA board and simply plug into the wall. We changed dip switch 4 to on on the JAMMA board to signify VGA output. The display did not work. She also said the sound was not working. Whereas before she could start a game blind and hear the sounds. We did not touch anything that would affect this. Since a stand alone display is not working, I cannot guarantee that a display in the game will work.
But so far I went over there twice to help and did not charge (and I am not responsible for this issue which is not my issue). But if she buys something then I may have to come over and help her install it. What if it doesn't work? Especially since a stand only display does not work.
New resolution for 2015, I will no longer even try to be nice to repair Electro Mechanical pinballs, Electro Mechanical Slots, Newer computer based slots (based on proprietary chips), most Gottlieb pinballs, any pinball I do not have a replacement board set to limit me wasting time, and video games.
2015 will be the year that I purchase all the games I want for myself and no longer have games for sale. Once I sell out the few games I have left, I do not plan to have any for sale until (and if) I decide to swap out games in my personal collection. My desired games are Star Trek Next Generation, Stern Star Trek LE, Avengers Hulk LE, Demolition Man, Lord of the Rings, Theatre of Magic, Flintstones, Ripley's Believe it or not, and Monster Bash.
The X-MEN Magneto LE went to good home today. They are close so I have visitation rights. I will miss it. But will need to move on. I need to find other games to fix. But I just started a new job and need time to get comfortable.
The Pirates of the Caribbean was sold and delivered to a good home today. I will miss it but enjoyed owning it again. I now have space for more games to restore.
Someone called today asking about my Riverboat Gambler. He mentioned that I no longer offer a warranty, which is correct. He asked how long the game would last. I prefaced the conversion that I didn't want to sound like a jerk, but if I fix the game, it should work fine. Of course, they are mechanical and such. But in the end, even with minor hiccups (and every one has been posted here), my games work fine.... (Knock on wood.) I basically told him that it was the same game that was warranteed for 6 months when I had it priced at $3000. Since I did not expect it to break at $3000, it should not break at $2500. The only difference is the initial savings to the buyer (and me aligning my prices to be lower to sell faster).
I was looking at my post from Christmas 2013. I stated that I would now focus on fixing games and making more money. I did do this and it actually worked. I have less money tied up in games and parts in games and make more money per hour than fixing up and selling games. Don't get me wrong. I will always have a few games for sale. I need to move inventory to free up space. I assume that I will find a few games that will remain. But others will come and go. These games will be real bargains for people. (Like the POTC I just sold and made a whopping $350 for about 40 hours of work. That is less than $10 an hour.)
I just updated my Linked In account since I have been promoted at work to a director. I am now a director for Common Securitization Platform Integration (CSPi) Business Requirements. I am back to an area of specialty that I do very well and am very comfortable with. I appreciate this recognition at work and will continue to do the best job possible. This attention to detail on analysis follows nicely into fixing pinballs. I think I use a lot of the skills I learned at work to diagnose and fix issues and fix the root cause not a symptom. I also realized that a few people were congratulating me on a work anniversary. I realize that I started Purcellville Pinball and Slots 10 years ago (12/6/2004 to be exact). It is great that I have been able to do this for 10 years. I have been fixing pinballs for 15 years. It took me 5 years to get up the courage to fix other people's pinballs.
It is the day after Thanksgiving and I have played all my pinballs today. I did a quick adjustment on Xmen to get the left sling to be more sensitive. It is strange having all my games in my house ready and nothing to work on.
As we approach Christmas 2014, I am in the position of not having much of an inventory to sell out for Christmas. I have a couple of games for sale, but do not really care if I sell them or not this season. I feel so much better not being in a position of feeling like I need to sell all the games. I should have stopped selling games years ago...
I will not have much time this Christmas season to fix games before Christmas. For the first time in 10 years, family is coming first
I purchased the parts to do a full restoration on Pirates of the Caribbean. So I probably will price it out of the market since people seem to want the game at a price lower than I paid for it (not working may I remind you) rather than at the price after the restoration which includes almost $800 in additional parts and 40 or so hours of my time to restore.
I cleaned up the game. I replaced all burnt lights. I posted Pirates of the Caribbean today. It is a beautiful machine and works 100%.
I purchased a really nice looking Pirates of the Caribbean today. I bought it from my wholesaler. The game was posted last night but no one purchased it. As I have told you all, I have to make split second decisions on whether to buy a game based on a one sentence description and usually not a very good photo. The description this morning said "Nice condition Pirates of the Caribbean pinball". The description of the Monopoly that was sold said "Monopoly pinball working in good condition".
I received the game this afternoon. It was on a route (you can tell by the missing front door lock) but in almost new condition. It really does look great.
I turned on the game and went into test mode. I tested the ship. It raised and lowered correctly with the sails working as expected.
I checked the switches. They all worked except for the plunger switch. The diode is broken. I attached manually and it works. So I will fix this switch after I write this up.
I next checked the coils and flashers. They all worked except #23. I checked the manual and it was the plunder coil at the top left that stops the ball from leaving the spinning plunder disk. I lifted the playfield and noticed that the coil plunger was simply stuck to the rubber grommet. I loosened it and it worked fine.
I next checked the controlled lights. Nothing. Bingo. There is the smoking gun. The above description didn't say it was working. I checked the manual and F9 (8amp slow blow) fuse controls the controlled lights. I checked the IO Driver board and the fuse was missing. I put one in and it did exactly what I expected: it immediately blew. I checked the manual and J12 and J13 on the IO Driver board controlled the lamp columns and rows. I removed these connectors, replaced the fuse, and turned on the game. The fuse blew. This means that there is not a short on the playfield. It is a problem with the IO driver board. I looked at the manual again and Bridge 4 is connected to the F9 fuse and to the controlled lamp circuit. This is probably the problem. I took the IO driver board out and tested the bridge rectifier. It was bad. I unsoldered* the bridge rectifier, put in a few one and ensured all connectors had continuity appropriately (by checking the circuit diagram and marking all continuity with the original bridge rectifier). I had to add solder to the top of the board to one lug. I put the board back in and the game came alive. All controlled lamps worked and it looked great.
* The statement "I unsoldered the bridge rectifier" sounds like I did it in 5 minutes. It took over 2 hours to get the bridge rectifier out of the board. I could not un-solder the lugs. I needed to carefully and slowly cut the lugs and remove the bridge rectifier. It was not a pretty site but it worked.
The display looks good. A little tiny bit weak in the lower left corner but not enough to change out and add another $250 to the cost of the game.
I just fixed the diode on the switch. I played a game and everything works great. I am very pleased with this game. Since it is 2am on Saturday, I can now go to sleep.
Caution: Whining Ahead. I went to fix an antique Mills nickel slot machine yesterday evening. It was on a piece of furniture with a towel protecting the top of the stand. In order to work on a slot machine, I needed to remove the back plate and top portion. So I rotated the game 180 degrees and removed the back. I asked the customer for a towel to put the mechanism on the floor. I fixed the slot machine and put the mechanism back in the game. I rotated the game back and tested the game. It worked fine. The handle did not always pull back and 2 times in the 30 or so times it paid off (which was the problem - it wasn't paying), it would pay off a few coins and the rest when the handle was slightly touched. (The customer said "Oh. It has never done that before" as if I caused the issue - which I did not since I was working on another part of the game.) I stated that she needs to keep playing it to ensure it continues to work. So if I need to come back, I can after it has been used a long time since I was playing for a while with no issues. (I also mentioned that someday the slot needs to be cleaned and re-oiled.)
She walks up to the stand to adjust the towel and sees a 6" scratch in the top left side of the cabinet which starts about 3/4 of the way back and moves forward towards the front of the stand. She says, "Oh my. The cabinet is scratched." I stated that a wood pen could probably fix it with no issues. But I was upset that I did it. I continued to test and ensure it works. She was behind me acting upset. (I didn't realize it at the time.) I said it looks like it is working.
She then says, "I hate to say this, but that scratch is deeper and will require 'furniture medic' to fix." My response was, then I will not charge for this repair. And she went on about how much it could cost to fix.
I packed up my tools. She said, okay I will play it and then you can come back. At this point, I never want to come back to fix this game and I fully expect a bigger bill to fix this slight scratch. I stated that if anything I worked on does not work, I will stand behind what I did. But I am really not working on games anymore. I realized I confused her based on what I told her when I first got there. I just did not want to come right out and say, "really, do you expect me ever to come back and work on your game again? I can't afford it." I explained that I work full time and this is a hobby.
As I was going to sleep last night, this event was playing over and over in my head. I finally realized a few things:
1. I did not inspect the top of the stand before I started working.
2. I never slid the game forwards and backwards. This is the direction of the scratch. If I did slide the slot machine, it would have fallen off the stand.
3. I turned the game 180 degrees. If I scratched the wood, it should have been in a circle.
So I am not sure that I did scratch the game. I am sure I am out the fee of 2 hours for the fix.
Now, I want to tell her if I come back that the game needs to be removed from the stand before I will work on it. But I know full well that she cannot lift the slot machine. Maybe I should have this policy for every slot machine I work on or inspect the stand before I work on it with the customer watching, have them sign a waiver, and then work. But all this is just too much of a pain and I get back to the position that I simply should not fix them anymore since it doesn't make sense to spend my evenings fixing a game to cover the cost of a repair that may not have been my fault.
I went to the York show for a few hours on Friday. I was very, very glad that I was not selling in the flea market area. It rained a bit on Friday and on Saturday. Never again will I go to the show as an outside vendor. There were not many newer pinballs. I enjoyed visiting with friends.
I helped a customer, Sean Underwood, replace the 128 x 16 DMD display on his Data East Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He gave me permission to use his photos so I posted what needs to be done with as much of the information I had helping him remotely and his pictures. Take a look at this. Thanks Sean for the use of your pictures.
I finished up the final work on the Demolition Man. A few days ago I put on the reinforced yellow targets as I stated below. I just added the gray rubber cover to the switch missing the cover and replaced the launch button in the front of the cabinet. It now looks abolsutely great.
Next weekend I go to the White Rose Game Room Show in York, PA. I am so happy that I am not selling anything in the flea market area. I will not even bring a truck so I will not be tempted to buy anything. It will be nice to be a spectator.
I updated by delivery charges: $300 within 50 miles and $475 within 100 miles. I used to deliver for less money. But I am now just selling games that I am wholesaling. They work 100% but I am selling close to the cost of the game plus parts so there is no profit in the game. I will no longer lose money on a 5 hour delivery. The goal is for people to take the machines themselves.
I picked up a Gottlieb Solid State Sinbad today. A few years when I was younger and less experienced, I tried to fix this game and could not. I often thought about it since I drive by the house a few days a week based on traffic. I thought about stopping at the house since I did not have the contact information and see if they still needed the game fixed. I never got the nerve to do so. The person called a few days ago and was retiring and downsizing. I bought the machine since I have learned a lot about Gottlieb System 1 games over the past few years.
I brought the game home. Turned it on and it showed 1s in some displays and did nothing. I thought about wholesaling it and sent an email to people that I usually deal with. I had no response. So I decided to try to fix the problem since that is what I originally wanted to do.
I opened the back box and immediately found the problem (which was the same problem on the Cleopatra I bought a few years ago). J6 connector which connects to the coin door was disconnected. Two wires were also not connected to the connector but luckily there was enough wire to solder them back together. I fixed the two wires and plugged in the connector and the game came to life.
Everything worked but the back set of drop targets did not reset. I checked the 2 AMP SB fuse and it was blown. I replaced the fuse and the game now works 100%. Cool.
I will clean it up, replace lights and rubbers and invite the former owner over to see the game again.
I added $100 worth of parts (plus my time which is valued at $0 per hour). I raised the price of the Demolition Man by $100 to $3,300. The three reinforced yellow targets (which I suggested to Marco Specialties that they add the link to these reinforced targets to their Demolition Man parts page) and a new -19 switch for the center lane at the top now work perfectly. I adjusted one of the switches on the cryo claw. But if the ball falls at one specific angle it gets stuck and a wiggle releases the ball, so I am not going to adjust the switch anymore since if I break it, I need to take the game apart. I ordered one more switch cover vinyl - gray for the switch on the ramp that is missing one. I also ordered a new push button launch ball for the front of the game.
I took vacation from my real job to catch up on things around the house and needed to deliver two slot machines to the wholesaler who resold them for me. I am getting rid of the games I do not want and do not want to sell. He said, you are finally listening to me after 15 years. You can't make any money restoring pinball machines. You can do it as a hobby and not to make money. I told him I just restored the Demolition Man. I have 50 hours into it and the price gives me a $500 profit. He said if he spent 50 hours, he would expect to make $10,000. Point taken. He also told me I was crazy for offering a warranty. I told him that as of August 1, I no longer do. He stated that he sold games for years without a warranty and asked me how I could sell a game and not know what my profit was if I had to go back and fix something. Point taken.
When I think about this, I am sad. I thought I was providing a valuable service of restoring a game to almost new condition and working 100% so people can buy older games and know they work. People did not value this and complained that my prices were too high (and people will probably complain that the Demolition Man is too high). There are still companies that restore games, so there will still be quality machines to buy. As soon as I get rid of Addams Family, Riverboat Gambler, and Elvis Gold, I will not actively sell pinballs. I will concentrate on repairs only.
I have been playing and enjoying the Demolition Man. The three narrow yellow targets take a beating on this game. They are the same yellow target size as the slot switch on Twilight Zone. I have 4 extra reinforced slot switches that I can use 3 on Demolition Man. The switches attach the same, so I will be able to replace and they should stand straighter.
The Ripley's Believe It Or Not I sold several months ago (about 2 hours away) is resetting. The customer is capable of testing voltages. I posted this information to help him test and hopefully easily fix the issue. It is amazing how a game can work in my house for almost 2 years and not work soon after delivered to a customer.
I thought I fixed the Eight Ball Deluxe I wrote about on 9/06. But the customer called and the same problem re-occurred. I finally figured it out and posted the symptom and resolution here.
Well it is 11:16pm and I remembered to update the church's web site to state there are two services tomorrow. Luckily I had the good sense at the beginning of the summer to note that the summer schedules ends September 7 because I knew I would forgot to change it in a timely manner.
Today I did a tour of Virginia and Maryland. The day started in beautiful Sterling Virginia where I fixed a Twilight Zone. This was an interesting fix because the auto kicker plunger would just stop working. The switch worked fine. When the Play field was up it worked. Then I put the play field down and it wouldn't work. There was continuity between all the coils on the voilet yellow power line (coils 1 to 8). There was continuity from the drive wire to the driver board.I changed out the coil and put the coil in the correct direction with the lugs away from the end. The coil was much stronger but the issue continued. I would move wires and it would stop working and then work. I used a rachet tie to add tension to the wires leading to the auto kicker coil and also to keep the wires away from the edge of the game. I was able to get it consistently to work, but I am not exactly sure why. This bothers me. I asked the owner to try to conotinue to search it it happens again. Maybe a wire is broken and we just did not find it yet.
The display was showing lines. I reinserted all connectors to the DMD and display driver (with the power off) and the lines went away. I then noticed that the bolts holding the DMD to the box were loose. We tightened them all. This may have been the cause of the vibrations.
I then drovr to Rockville, MD to I thought to fix a Star Trek Stern game that was not kicking out the ball to the plunger. This game worked fine. It was actually the AC/DC next to it that was not working. Went into test mode to clear out the balls and the probalem was obvious. The ball was not registering above the coil. It was clearly there but the opto switch did not see it. The connector was loose to the opto board. I pulled it out and reinserted it and then it worked fine.
I then drove to beautiful Bethesda to fix an Eight Ball Deluxe. The ball was not kicking out to the plunger. In test mode some coils were not working. (I did not check but I believe it matches to the connector I will speak about next.) I opened the back box. I ensured all connectors were connected to the driver board. One was loose and I reinserted it. All coils worked and continued to work as I played and played and turned off the game and then played again. I showed the customer how to do this just in case it happens again.
I finally drove to McLean Virginia to fix a Mr and Mrs Pac Man. I was originally told that it turned on and just needed many rubbers replaced. As usual, I bring all my parts.I turned on the game and amazingly it did boot up correctly, the first time. I opened the game and took off all the broken rubbers and started a game. The flippers did not works. I turned off the game and tested the flipper buttons. They needed to be adjusted but still not not work. Then I turned it on and the game did not boot. (I found out later when I got it done that it hasn't been played in 25 years.)
I guess I should start the story with the fact that the owner could not find the key. He said the last time he played the game he had it. (As I state above, I realize now that was 25 years ago....) I brought my drill and my box of 1000s of keys that I have accumulated over the years. I tried many of them and then I opened the game. Amazing. What was even more amazing was that once I opened the door, the key never worked again. I just replaced the lock and key.
When I went to open the back box, there was a key but it didn't work. I started testing my keys and they didn't work. I finally gently used a pliers to turn the original key (which amazingly still attached inside the game) and it finally opened the back box.
The MPU was a bit corroded (25 years worth) and the driver board was in sorry state. I replaced both and the game came alive. The left flipper was fluttering so I replaced the coil and everything worked perfectly. I then went around the game changing rubbers and lights and cleaned the play field. It ilooks great. Not perfect but great.
There was a storm so I stayed at the house until it stopped raining and came how about 9pm. Poor kitty cat needed to wait all day to be fed again. She was happy to see me. it was also good to eat. Of course, no day is complete without writing here.
Fixed typos and added more descriptions to the Demolition Man restoration.
Demolition Man is complete and listed for sale: $3,200.
I added more pictures to Demolition Man. I added another 51 pictures. I am done with the game. I have some adjustments to make like the left hole switch thinks a ball is still in the hole. I will add leg protectors, new legs and levelers. I will take the glamour shots tomorrow. I will post this game for $3,200. I will also post a comment on the pinside forum that I photographed the restoration if it can help anyone. Hopefully no one will whine about the price. I want to keep it for a while but the price is the price.
I added more pictures to Demolition Man. I added another 48 pictures. I replaced the two bumpers, upper flipper, cleaned the subway ramp and replaced the eject shield. Was emailing with someone this evening about the price of this game. It will probably be about $3000, which is higher than he wants to pay. This just justifies why I am only fixing up games for myself. No one appreciates the time and work and money involved in getting these looking nice. Pinside states that this game should be between $1600 and $2000. After all this work, if I sold for $2000, I would lose over $200 on parts and my current 50 hours of time would npot be compensated. This is why I only fix pinballs for myself now.
I added more pictures to Demolition Man. I worked on cleaning the back area, replacing posts, rubbers, LEDs. I cleaned the small ramp at the back. I correctly attached the switch to the small ramp. I will need to replace the light socket in the left bumper. I may replace the entire bumper and may even do both.
I added more pictures to Demolition Man. I worked on the slings and in/out lane guide. I also replaced the GI in the back box.
Monday evening I helped a customer with their clock on the Twilight Zone. I was there a few weeks ago but it didn't work and suggested that he buy a Rottendog clock board replacement. The board came. I took out the other board I replaced it with and put in the Rottendog. It worked. His clock now works correctly.
Tuesday I did a warranty repair on the Eight Ball Deluxe I sold a few months ago. The ball was getting stuck in the B lane. The switch was not in position correctly and did not easily go down. I put it in position and it worked wonderfully. He also stated that the trough coil was not kicking the ball to the plunger. It was working ine. I cleaned it and it seems to work.
So I finally got back to my game this evening.
I added more pictures to Demolition Man. Yesterday evening I took off all the plastic ramps. Will post in a few minutes and then clean them. Then I will try to figure out how to remove the claw assembly.
Yesterday I helped do a final delivery on a World Cup Soccer that I sold a few years ago (and that was the machine that fell on my leg) and his 9 foot bowler. Thankfully he hired 3 other people to help. I handled the logistics of taking apart the games, they did most of the moving.
Today I helped replace the magnets, in line fuses, and Tip36c transistors on the Addams Family Magnets. He bought the game 5 years ago and they never worked. This was the first time they worked on this game for him. He also stated that the Thing hand was not working all the time and dropping the ball. I went into test mode and with the hand in the down position, the down position opto was closed (as it should be) but the up position opto was flickering. I suggested that before we replace the opto, we take it out and see if it is dirty. We took out the assembly and I put a qtip with alcohol on the good opto and no dirt came out. I did the same on the other opto and it was very dirty. We replaced the hand asembly and the hand worked perfectly.
I added more pictures to Demolition Man. I am taking off the ramps and trying to remove the claw and elevator assemblies. The claw stops working after 2 or 3 games. I think that the optos should be replaced on the claw board.
I spoke with the person I buy wholesale from. I gave him my cost for each game that I wanted to wholesale. He will probbaly try to sell most of them for me. Since he has more followers and a good reputation, he will probably move them all for me. This will free up space in my shop for games I want and get my cash flow in a happier place.
Nice guys finish last and No good deed goes unpunished. If I ever have an autobiography written this will be the title. My wife told me not to do it. But I did. No sense in being nice. I put the Addams Family back for sale. The person came on June 10th and wanted to buy this game. They gave me a down payment and asked me not to cash it until they said so, This was the first warning signal that I ignored and my wife said not to do it. If they can't pay now or at least give a check that can cash, no reason to believe they can pay for the game. I waited and waited and was finally told to cash it. It actually cashed. The payment plan was for another check in July and a check in August. I did tell him that when he came in August, I expected cash since I did not trust him (well I didn't tell him I didn't trust him - but I guess he can infer that). July came and went and no check. Was busy with work and didn't think about it. I sent him an email and he did not respond. I sent another and waited. The response back was he sent the check. (I didn't believe it.) I asked him to check to see if the check cashed. I didn't hear back. A few people were sort of interested in the game but it was committed. I sent him an email stating that I may have a buyer (who ended up not being interested) and asking him what his plans were. I offered his deposit back since I don't want to be tied to him in any way. I waited and waited for a response. He finally responded that his plans were to buy the game. I wrote him back and stated then I expect a check. I waited and waited and waited. I finally got an email from him that his business is not doing well and he is really, really, really sorry but will not be able to get the game. And can I send him back the check immediately or he can come and get it. (I should have waited 3 or 4 weeks to respond to him, but that would have been petty.) I don't have the cash flow at this time of year. He will just have to wait until I have cash flow. I may even need to wait until I actually sell it. Who knows if I could have sold it in the past few months but it really annoys me that he did this to me.
New policy. No layaway. Deposit when you decide to buy the game and the remainder when you come in a few days to pick it up or I deliver. If you don't have the money to buy a game then it will just be for sale and you just take a small chance that it could be sold in the interrim.
This isn't the first time I have given back a deposit. So why bother taking a deposit? I know technically I could keep the deposit. But I know he needs it more than I do. And I refuse to run my business any way but the way I do, which means I give it back. Nice guys finish last.
I continue to play Demolition Man and enjoy it. I bought the protectors, clear plastics, LEDs and some other parts for the game. No plastic sets are available, but really only need the one over the top flipper. I will try to flame polish the car tunnel to make the cars visible. If I set the tunnel on fire, I can buy a replacement from Australia.
More pictures of the flipper replacement have been added to the bottom of the page for Demolition Man. Both lower flippers are strong. The ball goes smoothly up to the steep right ramp. The entire game places. (Still need to find the flasher short but will do so when I start taking apart the ramps.) I will replace the top left flipper when I buy more flipper bats. The game is starting to look nice. I believe I will keep it for a while.
I purchased a Demolition Man on Wednesday evening. I posted the initial pictures. I like the game and want to restore, but also want to sell to see if anyone wants to buy it to restore themselves before I start.
I found the problem with the weaker left flipper: wrong flipper was installed. It should be a 11629 rather than a 11630.
Does everyone have a friend on Facebook whose sole job it seems is to be the first person to post:
<so and so> RIP!
I swear, some of my friends on Facebook have direct connections. Before each major celebrity dies, they probably say, "before I die, I must call <insert friend's name here> and tell them so they can post it on Facebook a few seconds after the fact."
Of course, these may be some of the same people that post pictures of their dinner and cups of coffee....
I thought about posting this on Facebook, but I may offend someone...
I moved my web site on my local machine. Hopefully this all still works.
I updated all pages on my website:
As of August 1, 2014, we will no longer provide a warranty with our pinballs unless you purchase a separate warranty from us. A 1 year warranty is $500 or pay as you go if you even need it. If you buy it directly from us and take it home yourself, you will be inspecting it to ensure it works. If we deliver, we will ensure that it works 100% when delivered.
Since I have lowered the remaining pinballs for sale to my cost, I have no profit to cover a warranty repair if I have to make a separate trip out. Once I sell off the few games I have (or trade if anyone is interested in Elvis Gold, Riverboat Gambler, or World Cup Soccer), I will not waste my time restoring pinballs to give 100s of hours of my time away when I sell a machine. I will enjoy repairing and restoring the games I wish to purchase for myself.
I was in Las Vegas and stopped by the PInball Hal of Fame to help fix pinballs. But Tim was not there that day so I couldn't help. I had a chance to try some of the games that I was thinking of buying:
Iron Man: Pretty. Tim says it is reliable but just not a $5000 (new game) for me. I will not buy one unless I can get it in excellent shape wholesale.
Wizard of Oz: Pretty. Flippers weak, but I think that is how they are. They just feel spongy. Since the GI is daisy chained like a Christmas tree, many GI lights were out on the game. Since it was a dollar for 3 balls, I never got a good ball. I tried playing about 10 times and nothing happens, so I guess until I can try it some more, this game is off my list.
Transformers LE Combo: Nice toys, but a dark and depressing game. I thought I could like it and kept playing it and liking it less and less.
Metallica: I am not in the market for one, but it is colorful and it was rather fun to play.
AC/DC: I have been fixing a pro version with the ugly face on the playfield. I guess the LE (or whatever the more expensive edition is) has the lower playfield and more things to do. It is a more interesting game but I do not care for the theme.
Star Trek: I did not play since I had the chance to play a game I fixed for a customer. He has the pro version and I still like the Star Trek Next Generation better.
Avengers Hulk LE: They didn't have one but I am still interested in one. (I think this is the only one I want.)
Pirates of the Caribbean: I didn't play it but I remembered how much I like the game. Maybe I will try to find a pretty example for myself.
XMEN Magneto LE: I didn't play since I own this. But I watched the person play. When I was there, the Villian hole switch did not work so the Villian modes never happened. When I went back a few days later, Tim said he fixed an opto. He also said this was not a very good machine. I did not ask if mechanically or game play wise. My game has been mechanically great and I think it has a great rule set.
Spiderman: I did not play since I own it, but mine is cooler (and cleaner) with all LEDs and all my mods.
Simpsons Pinball Party: I did not play either, but mine was also cooler and cleaner.
Medieval Madness: I keep playing it and it is good but not $9000 good.
Cactus Canyon: I keep playing it and it is okay but not worth the money to buy one.
Monster Bash: One of my favorite games and I wish I never sold mine.
Theatre of Magic: I didn't play but I really like the game. I wish I never sold mine either. But if I never sold my games, I would have a lot of games and no space and no money.
Maybe I should just move close to a major pinball arcade and sell all my pinballs so I can move into a smaller home and not have to fix my own games.
I think my wish list remains as
* Star Trek Next Generation
* Lord of the Rings
* Theatre of Magic
* Avengers Hulk LE
* Pirates of the Caribbean
* Monopoly (maybe, my wife likes it)
What do you think of these new pinballs?
Now look at them in their surroundings:
These are "Cool Miniature Pinball Machine Models" by Adriaan at tinypin.nl. When we got the Pinball book by Santiago Ciuffo, my advertisement in the accompanying magazine was on the opposite page of Adriaan's advertisement. My wife contacted Adriann and had the Star Trek Next Generation made for me for our anniversary a few weeks ago, since it is my favorite machine. Adriaan says I have the first one he has made of Star Trek Next Gen. I contacted him and then decided to do The Simpson's Pinball Party. He also bought one. I had him use his images for everything but the playfield. Since I customized my playfield with the 3D printed signs, I wanted my exact playfield. In this version, he also added sounds from the game. Cute but useless. :) (So I think I have the second TSPP, but the fitrst with my customized playfield.)
I also took all the photos of my XMEN Magneto LE and sent them to him and a recording of about 16 mintes of playing the game. I now the first version of this game using my photos and sound. Pretty cool.
I purchased a Swap Box from John Robison on Pinside. I bought an XMEN Pro translite and purchased tempered glass today. Here is what it looks like. I can display as art and swap out my XMEN Magneto backglass with this when I wish to.
Above photo with flash on.
Above photo with flash off.
Above photo is the same as the second photo using the Enhance All menu selection.
The Thing Box on The Addams Family I have sold is not closing totally. It appears that the back metal guide is a bit in the way. I could take the game apart and realign the box by 1/16" of an inch. But since this play field does not pull out, it is just easier to use a dremel and remove a tiny amount of metal from the guide. The box opens and closes correctly now.
I purchased switch hole protectors from Cliffy. I had some for future games so I put one on the left inner lane X-MEN Magneto LE where the ball drops. I did not need to put on the right side since the Iceman ramp drops the ball further down below the switches.
The spotlight (reflector) at the right slingwould vibrate when the ball came out of the Iceman ramp. I tried to use threadlock. Although better, it did not work great. I spoke with Patrick at Stern yesterday and he suggested using a hot glue gun. I took the reflector out of position so I can get a better angle and carefully added the glue. It is now solid.
I had the chance to buy a Monster Bash. I love this game and it would have been great for my collection. But the fact that Medieval Madness is being redone scared me. I know that a pre-owned, routed game is going to need a lot of TLC, usually about $1,500-$2,000 to be exact. Based on the "wholesale" price to me plus my projected cost of repairs, the final price would be over $9,000. Assuming that Monster Bash is remade, and assuming it is also $9,000, there is no need to buy an original game that will need all this work, when I can simply buy new and get that "new pinball smell" and no work to be done.
I have been thinking about buying myself a Wizard of Oz. But I am not sure what version to get and just feeling the price is too high. I want one, but am afraid to jump in. With the newly announced "Vault Edition" if Iron Man, this is more intriguing. I heard good thing about it and would really like it. Rather than buyng a pre-owned game and spending hundreds or thousands on improvements, it is easier to buy a new NIB game with LEDs, and improved components.
(I wrote a letter to Stern about the pegs or legs on the bottom of the playfields of newer games. I had to repair a brand new Star Trek and AC/DC and these pegs are useless for repair. I need the sliders to get to the back part of the game to easily work. I needed to find someone (in a retail location) to stand there and hold the game while I worked on the games. Not cool. Hopefully if I buy one for myself, I can replace the legs with slides. If I work on one at a customer's house, they may have to hold the playfield for me.)
I am reading the posts about the pros and cons of the "vault" editions. People state that it could affect the value of older games. True. But they also comment on the older games selling above MSRP. From my perspective, it is the "value add" of the work I do to the game to get it back to original and even improve it (with LEDs, ramp protectors, plastic protectors, hole protectors, add on parts, etc).
So I think I am very glad about my decision at the beginning of this year to focus on just repairing people's games and buying the games that I want for myself.
On April 7, 2014, I was informed that I would need to get a PMP certification as a goal for my full time job. After studying and worrying and studying some more, I passed today. I am a PMP. It is a Project Management Professional but I am also a Pinball Machine Professional.
Now that I put my personal life mostly on hold for the past few months, I can catch up on some repairs I have not got a chance to get to.
I continue to play X-MEN Magneto LE. I just love the game! I find myself playing X-MEN Magneto LE, Simpson's Pinball Party, and Spiderman. I bought a Pro version of the X-MEN translite and a swap box to display the backglass and swap out.
I purchased a $14 Wolverine (would like to find a Magneto) bank off Amazon and a Spiderman bank when visiting my son in Evansville, Indiana at a Comic Book shop. I used them as toppers. Here they are:
Just drove back from Indiana. Fun. Last week was in my PMP Boot Camp class. In this page, we discussed
1. How eBay has been very, very good to me since you buy a "working" game for less money than you can buy from me and then pay me to fix it.
2. That I will not often work on EM games since not worth my time to try to repair them and usually the cost to repair is greater than the value.
3. I will not buy an EM machine for more than $100 wholesale from anyone. (Ok maybe $150 if working and a great game.)
4. Do not buy an EM slot machine. They cannot be fixed. They are 200 pound paperweights.
5. Japanese slot machines are not slot machines. They are toys. They are great if you have children. Do not get upset when there is no one to repair them (since I don't read Japanese) and the cost to repair is greater than buying another toy.
Let's discuss video games. They are great for you. I do not like them. I do not like playing them, fixing them, or moving them. My only exception is a Pac Man or Galaga cocktail table.
Somebody emailed that had a non working Pac Man cocktail that they wanted to sell. Since I can buy these all the time from my wholesaler for $200 or so not working, I offered $200 at most. I think I upset the person. They stated they see these selling for $1,000-$3,000.
Like Pawn Stars, if you go on the silly show and you want $10,000 for your item. They bring in the expert and he/she states it is worth $1,000. It frustrates me to no end when they ask what they want now and they say "$1,000". If the item is worth $1,000 and you want a $1,000, then you shouldn't be selling to a pawn shop. They have overhead. They have to make a profit, They have to fix it up if necessary. They have to sit on the cash flow until it sells.You should be lucky to get $400.
Back to the video game. I have seen some 20th, 25th and 30th anniversary games sell between $1,800 and $2,400. These games have been updated to the 60 in 1 board. Their monitors are much newer than an original 1980s game. Oh yeah, and one more little itsy, bitsy fact: IT WORKS!
So back to the non working 1980s cocktail pac man.
A. It doesn't work.
B. Since it is an original pac man cabinet it has a joystick that goes up, down, left and right and no fire button. So you can't add a 60 in 1 board.
C. You can add a 16 in 1 board for about $290 plus shipping both ways ($325).
D. If it still has an original monitor, the monitor is over 30 years old. How many 30 year old TVs do you have in your house? Replacement is $389 ($400 with shipping).
I have seen some cocktail games with 60 in 1 boards sell for $1,400. So what is a cocktail with 16 games worth? Maybe $800? $1,000? maybe $1,100?
Let's work backwards. Maybe I can sell this 16 in 1 cocktail with a new monitor for $1,100-$1,200. (Say $1,200.)
I buy it from the guy for $200. This assumes the cabinet is pristine and the glass is in excellent condition. (If not we can add some more money here.) Then I add the 16 in 1 board for $325 and the monitor for $400. Hmmm.. I now have $925 invested in this game, plus my time. I think based on this analysis, I will no longer buy any video games....
Here is the new Pinball book by Santiago Ciuffo, published by Pinball Magazine.
Here is the link to this great book and magazine: http://www.pinball-magazine.com/
I picked up a Bobby Orr Power Play. I tried to quickly change out the CPU but got the same 5 LED flashes as the original board. I noticed the F4 fuse for the solenoids was blown. I posted this as a project pinball on Pinside for a quick sale since I don't want to waste any more time on the game. It will probbaly need a new driver board (or fixed driver board) and determine which coil is causing the problem. I don't want to deal with it. A few people are interested. Hopefully it will sell. Otherwise, I will simply fix it by
I had some friends over to see my collection. I noticed that the X-MEN Magneto LE magnets were not working. I didn't think about it until after they left. The F7 4am slow blow fuse was blown and needed to be replaced and it worked fine. I noticed this happened a few times on my beloved Lord of the Rings (that I don't have any more).
I sold The Addams Family. But while displaying it, the swamp kickout did not work. After the person left, I thought I would need to change the plunger. But it turned out that the plunger was magnetized to the bracket. The swamp kickout always worked the first time and then not right away. I needed to add electrical tape to the bracket so that the coil would reset and be ready for the next kick out.
I posted the problem and solution 1 article above the reference below. So scroll up one article to see. http://purcellvillepinball.com/BallyWilliamsRepairs.html#AlienPoker
The picture below shows the coil magnetized to the brass bracket. This photo was taken when the game was off so no power in the game.
This photos shows the electrical tape added to the bracket.
Yesterday, I adjusted the Eight Ball Deluxe I sold a few weeks ago. A bumper light went out. BUt since it was an LED (all LEDs actually), I simply needed to show the owner how to take out the LED and adjust the metal tips. Two switches needed adjusting. Since I put in a new Ultimate MPU, I forgot to move the dip switches to set up the DELUXE on the backbox to register all the time when the sequence is made rather than just when the special is lit (I think dip switch 21 and 22 needed to be on). I also had the settings through the front door #16 and #17 set to 0 rather than 2 which awards extra balls for certain events. I did manage to short the switch matrix to the coils. That was easily fixed with a new 6821 chip in U6 on the MPU board which is thankfully socketed.
I also had a chance to fix a switch on the owner's Lord of the Rings. Luckily I had the correct switch to do the repair. I really miss this game. If you want to sell your Lord of the Rings, I would like to buy it.
Today I replaced the auxiliary driver board on my X-MEN Magneto LE. I keep playing the game and loving it.
I finished the controlled lights and added all the signs and space ships. I changed out the chips to the current version and posted new photos of The Simpson's Pinball Party.
Was sent a new DMD for the X-MEN Magneto LE. But it looks like Stern has gone to an LED display with a different set of connectors. Sent pictures to distributor to get the correct part. The LED probably uses less power but I have also noticed that the DMD is built in sections from blocks of LEDS like 8 x 6 or so. They look like they do not line up exactly and make the display a little less perfect than a regular DMD. (In other words, for the "better" DMD I would expect the quality and build to be better than before.)
I am replacing the LEDs on The Simpson's Pinball Party. I got all the Flashers completed. I am fighting with the upper playfield. It is not difficult but would rather not unplug everything. Just got in most of the orange GI and the 6 controlled lights. One is not in right and not working, so I have to take off the playfield again to adjust. Be right back....Fixed. All controlled lights work on the upper playfield. Now to take off the back left orange ramp to get to the two GI lights I can't get any other way... Also replaced the one white GI light under the TV... Reconnected the orange flasher and TV.... PITA but finished.
Added Itchy and Scratchy hole protector. Adding decals now... Done with decals. Adding paper inserts which is a 2 second job. Now to work on the rest of the GI on the main playfield. All the GI lamps are done except for a lamp under the right orange ramp and also under the left min playfield. Instead of using a 1/4" screw to hold in the light, they stapled it in under another assembly which is impossible to reach without taking the game apart. I will live without the one light bulb until/if I need to get there to fix something else. Now onto controlled lights.
I have been playing the X-MEN Magneto LE. I like it alot. It is funny to read all the reviews both positive and negative. I enjoy the game. Someday I would like to get a Wizard of Oz, but they are much more expensive.
I purchased a brand new X-MEN Magneto LE pinball. It is #43 of 250. If it were 1 less, it would have been the Meaning of Life.
I posted initial pictures of The Simpson's Pinball Party that I just purchased. It is home use only and beautiful. As the last photo shows, I bought $600 of additional parts to make a great game better.
I sold one of my World Cup Soccers wholesale. I had to deliver the game. Based on this delivery and other similar experiences with games I have wholesaled, here is my new policy on delivery charges for wholesaled games:
If we are doing a promotion on a game and wholesaling at our cost, then we expect the buyer to have the capacity to move their own game. If we deliver it for you, the delivery fee is $295 within 50 miles of Purcellville; within 100 miles $370. It takes over 5 hours total to deliver which includes prepare a delivery on our end, drive to you, pay tolls (usually and usually $17), pay gas (average about $33), move the game to your basement with all the issues that come up, set up the game, ensure it works (since even though a wholesaled game does not have a warranty, we will ensure it works as advertised before we leave), pack up, drive home, and unpack. We would rather not deliver wholesaled games, but if we do we will no longer lose money on the transaction.
Pinball Magazine has just published Pinball by Santiago Ciuffo. The price is $42.71 plus shipping. Here is information about the book. It looks like a great addition to any pinball enthusiast's collection. http://www.pinball-magazine.com/?p=1886
Don't forget to also subscribe to the magazine: Here is their main page: http://www.pinball-magazine.com
I delivered the Ripley's Believe It or Not yesterday and the beautiful Eight Ball Deluxe today. I was asked to move an AC/DC to another location. The person did not like the game and was going to share at his job. The game came with a stand of controlled lights not working (yellow/blue column). The person that he bought the game from replaced the driver board and the lights still did not work. I visually checked the the yellow/blue wire was connected but did not do a continuity test. The perosn also bought a new Star Trek and the opto switch at the Vengeance magnet wasn't working. I lifted the playfield an saw that the opto board (Board 1) only had 1 light lit rather than two. This person bought 3 new Stern games and two were not working. I didn't have time to thoroughly look them over (nor would I want to since it was not my responsibility to warranty new games that I didn't sell). I actually told this person to buy the games on the internet since the prices were far less than I could sell them for. Plus I stated that if I sold them I would warranty them but only if I raised the price. So it was cheaper to buy on the internet and deal with the out of the area people. The AC/DC game looks bare under the playfield. It may be a great game but looks like it has nothing on it.
Someone asked me a very valid question today on PInside. They wanted to buy locally but my prices were way higher than pinside states they should be. I wish I could buy some of the non working games I get at the price pinside states that they should be. I explained that pinside doesn't seem to take regional cost differences into account, makes no distinction between a non working, working or beautifully restored machine. I also told the person to read my whining posts here about me no longer buying games to restore and resell for this very reason that the market is limited for the people willing to pay my prices for the restorations I do.
I have put some specials on Facebook. But I am simply going to lower prices AND NOT OFFER WARRANTIES on the following items to free up space and sell at my cost:
Grand Prix $450 rather than $700
Addams Family $5,200 rather than $5,995 with NO WARRANTY
Riverboat Gambler $2,500 rather than $2,995 with NO WARRANTY
World Cup Soccer $1,700 (missing striker billboard but ordered one) with NO WARRANTY.
I placed several orders for parts I needed for my new The Simpson's Party.
Several years ago I bought I beautiful Elvis Pinball for restoration. I knew one of my co-workers was an Elvis fan. I found out that two of our friends from Church were also Elvis fans. One of them was Debbie. I mentioned to Debbie and Jim (her husband) that I just bought an Elvis pinball and was about to restore it. Debbie wanted to come over right that second and see it and play it. It wasn't ready. It was in pieces. I promised her that as soon as it was finished, we would invite them over for dinner. Debbie and Jim came over and Debbie had a great time playing the game and was reluctant to leave.
I would see Debbie every week at church and my wife would see her more often. Debbie always asked about the Elvis until one day in July of 2010 I sold it. She was upset. Like a family member left her. I told her that I would get another someday and invite her over to play.
Since July 2010 I was looking for another Elvis for me, but also so Debbie could play it again. On Saturday, January 18, 2014. I picked up an Elvis Gold. At church that Sunday I told Debbe and Jim that I just bought the Elvis Gold and would invite them over to play as soon as it was ready.
On Tuesday, January 21 Debbie got very sick and was in the ICU. I continued to work on the restoration. It took awhile until Debbie was awake and aware again. Debbie was still very sick but looking potentially like she was getting better. She was at a facility that was far away from here. I completed the restoration in February but did not see Jim for a few weeks. I told him it was done and ensured that he told Debbie that she can come over and play once she gets better.
Debbie will never get to play the Elvis pinball. Debbie passed away today. Suzanne and I are so sorry for this. Elvis is a nice game. But I realize now that I bought it to enjoy watching Debbie play the game. I think it may need to find a home with an Elvis fan once I can let go of the game.
I just picked up another World Cup Soccer and realized that the Striker billboard is missing on the game I currently have for sale. This is the billboard shaped plastic wit hthe red lamp to the right of the soccer player. I found a plastic, but I cannot find the original bracket. I found a bracket that is close and will be able to fashion one together.
The Eight Ball Deluxe has been posted. Now back to studying for my PMP.
I am almost done with the Eight Ball Deluxe. I will try to get it done this weekend and photographed.
I have to work on my PMP. Therefore, for the next few weeks or months, this will be my priority. I will NOT fix any pinballs unless I originally sold them during this time. I need to concentrate and study and right now this takes priority over everything else.
I was speaking to someone and shared a pinball story. I thought I had posted it here several years ago, but it looks like back then I was just whining about repairs in people's homes and what I was working on. Here's the story.
This was probably 2005 or 2006. I was not fixing pinballs for very long. I did not have the collection of extra boards that I have today. A person in the Purcellville area asked me to fix a Demolition Man. The flippers were not working correctly. Rather than swap out the fliptronics board, I repaired all 4 TIP36c transistors (or how ever many needed to be replaced) and replaced the coils since they fried. The game was still not working correctly, so I changed some TIP102s on the driver board and replaced some coils that were not working. Something else (don't remember) wasn't working so I needed to place an order and come back. I did not charge the customer since I did not finish the repair.
I came back a few days later after I got whatever part I needed and tried to replace it but that did not solve the problem. So I needed to leave and think about it and come back. I did some research and determined what the issue was and fixed it. The game worked. I played many games and left. The person was not there (his wife was) so I did not collect the fee which was about $450 for like 15 hours of work but I did not feel like I could really charge more since I was "learning".
I told him that I really need to take this game home so I can work on it holistically. I told him what it would cost to fix (something like $700 plus parts). He didn't want to pay it since he thought I could simply swap out parts like he or his company did in the old days. I didn't have the spare parts then.
A day later the customer called and a new issue showed up and I needed to figure it out. I came back and got it working. The person was complaining about my $450 charge so I settled on $250 and left. I had a Christmas Party that evening. He called during the party and another issue came up.
I went back the next day and determined the issue and fixed it but the game was acting up. He was telling me how incompetent I was. I still had the uncashed check in my wallet. I gave him back the check and told him that I am obviously not competent enough to fix the issue and here is your money back and left. I left a lot of my new parts but wanted out of there forever.
In hindsight, I could have probably fixed the game by swapping out the fliptronics board, CPU and driver board. This is what he wanted me to do but also in hindsight he was really cheap and would never have paid for new boards. One or more ribbon cables were probably also causing the intermittent problems.
Sometime at the beginning of last year (2013) his wife called me and said that his game has not been working all these years and asked if I could recommend a competent repair person. I told her that I know a lot more than I did then and I have the spare parts now and could probably fix it really fast. However, I told her that I would NEVER work with her husband again. To add to this insult, I also told her that her husband would never actually spend the money needed to fix it and would expect me to swap out boards to make it work but not pay for them. She asked if I could recommend a competent repair person again. I told her that I would not recommend my worst enemy to come to fix her game.
So the sad truth is this game may never be fixed. If you ever buy a Demolition Man from the Purcellville area (and not from me) and the flippers have wirenuts attaching new coils, this is the game that I could easily fix now but couldn't for whatever reason figure it out back then. I think that him selling the game is the only way it will ever be fixed.
I really wanted to go back there and fix it just for the challenge of finally getting it working. But I would never do that because he would expect it and not appreciate it. A year or so after this fiasco, a customer asked me to fix a Demolition Man. I had anxiety about going there thinking I was incompetent. By that time I had some extra boards and easily fixed his game and felt like I successfully got back on the horse again.
The Grand Prix has been posted for $700. But I will only sell it AS IS without a warranty. I don't like fixing EM games and I will not be resposible for this game. I like it enough to keep in my collection forever. It currently works 100% (as far as I can tell) and I will fix it for me, but I will not fix it for anyone else. I even figured out why the right bonus was scoring but not lighting. The mechanism that lit the lights needed to be sanded to allow the electrical connection. Simple.
I was supposed to get Ultimate MPU boards today but the shipment was rescheduled due to the snow storm. Hopefully replacing the MPU and driver board on the Eight Ball Deluxe will allow it to work 100% and not turn off randomly. I am waiting to hear back from the customer whether they are interested. The restoration will be really nice, but it will still be a used game with a used playfield and a cabinet that is nice but faded on the right back box. I did post pictures and the items that I want to do to fix it up.
As I have stated below, I am not really buying pinballs for speculation and resale. Hopefully the customer will want this, but I am not spending the thousands of dollars on the parts to restore until I have a commitment to purchase. I decided to buy this game because it is a game that I like and would not mind keeping for myself.
The Spiderman is complete. It looks great. I purchased an Eight Ball Deluxe for a potential customer. As I said, I will only buy for myself or for people that actually want a specific game. No more speculation on my part.
I went to a beautiful home in DC today and fixed up a Twilight Zone and an Addams Family. I love seeing these older beautiful homes. Doing pinball repair allows me to meet people and see these types of homes. I stated this sometime below. I always thought I would be in millions of homes. I just didn't think I would do it one home at a time doing pinball repairs. Mild manored manager by day; pinball geek repair man by night.
I made my first 2 forum posts on pinside this weekend. One showing the DMD decal I added, the other showing the figurine modifications. Hopefully they will help the people that created them.
I continue to work on Spiderman. I took off all ramps and cleaned playfield. Most rubbers were new. All LEDs changed. Cliffy protector added under Doc Ock hole and at front of three drop target. I bought 3 modified figurines from Allen Willard (found the link originally on Pinside). They include Goblin, Sandman, and Doc Ock. Currently, Doc Ock is installed and looks great. Tried to unscrew Sandman. I finally had to take the four 3/16" nuts out. Turns out that there is a female screw insert in the plastic that was just spinning. I got it apart with a screwdriver and needle nose pliers. I will post pictures when done. Usually I post as I am working but I don't feel like taking pictures today.
I added about 50 pictures. The game is mostly complete. I need to add a new DMD. The one in it is fine but it has some shadows. I also have a decal to put over the DMD area. Hopefully it will look good.
Today I fixed Ripley's Believe It Or Not I sold a few years ago. Rubbers needed to be replaced. The top magnet was not holding the ball. I did not have an extra magnet. I swapped the two magnets and it worked fine.
I was going to do another repair of an EM but when I got there I remembered that their driveway was just about a shear cliff that my tiny Prius is not happy about dragging over. I will return when I have my truck. A neightbor called with an issue with his Black Knight. I went over there and saw that the 3 balls were in the trough and not moved. This means the coils don't work and the solenoid fruse (2.5 amp sb) needed tobe replaced and I did.
I continue to work on the LEDs for Spiderman. It appears that most of the controlled lights (but not all) were cheap LEDs. They were very dim and half were not even still in the socket due to cheap manufacturing and not fitting snuggly into the sockets. I guess I am an LED snob and only buy the super bright (most expensive) kits from Coin Taker. But boy do they look great.
My son was visiting this weekend. We were supposed to spend more time with him this weekend as a family but my wife was busy with work activities. On Saturday, instead of going to a movie, I asked him if he would like to help me do the final delivery and set up of two games at a customer's house. How many other parents cvan offer this type of opportunity to their children? We dropped him at the Amtrak station in Harper's Ferry this evening so I am able to continue to work on the Spiderman as noted above.
This will also free me up to look at the Star Trek Next Generation mentioned below and possibly do another fix in the same area (to salvage the Saturday and make a little bit of money).
I do not miss preparing pinballs for sale. I enjoy fixing the two up I am currently working on for myself.
I returned from visiting my father and sister in Florida Friday evening. I caught up on some fixes yesterday. I need to order some Ultimate MPU boards for Bally 1977-1985 games but they are all out of stock at the moment.
To the idiot women in the Caravan type of car that crazily turned left onto Rt 7 East without yielding to me at about 4:45pm Saturday evening: I assume we will see you listed on the obituary page soon due to your lack of common sense. Hopefully you will not take anyone else with you on your journey.
I have all the parts for my restoration of my Spiderman. I was told it had LEDs. It has a few sprinkled throughout the game as if they had an extra one of one type and an extra one of another type. I guess my definition of "all LEDs" must be crazy since I assume ALL lamp sockets have LEDs. But to be fair, I probably did not hear what was told to me and I assume I was told it had some LEDs.
My beloved Star Trek Next Generation that I sold around Christmas seems to have an error with the F7 spinner, although I am trying to get the person to test it in test mode before I drive all the way out there to adjust a switch. Since this runs off the fliptronics board it is a pretty straight forward switch. Either a wire came off, a metal tab needs to be adjusted to register a switch hit or (probably not) the fliptronics board needs to be repaired. When I first delivered the game, 4 GI lights at the top did not work and then they did. Since they are part of a large circuit of GI lights, the circuit is good. Maybe there is a loose wire that occurred in the move. I looked and didn't see any when I was there and move some wires and it worked. But he states it is doing it again so I have to go back and find the faulty wire.
This reiterates why I will not sell any more games. If I have to go back to fix it (since it is under warranty), it just wastes another 4 to 5 hours of my time. I need to do it to ensure that the game works 100% but it is not fun to do these simple fixes.
2014 will be the year of repairing other people's problems. As I state below, I look forward to not having a lot of cash flow tied up in games and have to warranty games.
I have some games left to sell but may just wholesale them so don't have to do anything with them after the sale.
Snowstorm today. I have a snowblower so I did my driverway and 5 or 6 other houses on the street.
I took some great pictures of my Elvis Gold. It is now ready to play and invite all my friends over who are Elvis fans.
Now I can start the restoration on my Spiderman...
I delivered the Road Show this past Saturday. I worked on a Twilight Zone for a customer. The clock was broken. Usually, I replace the clock board and everything works. This is still not working. I am continuing to research to figure out why.
I fixed a No Good Gofers I sold 4 years ago. The left flipper was not working. It turned out the plunger broke. A new plunger assembly solved the problem. Someone called with a Fish Tales with a Check fuse F115 and F116. They have been trying to change the fuses. The issue is not the fuse but the board. The fuse is just the symptom. I replaced the driver board and the game worked.
I have had two calls in the past week from people needing to buy new boards because guess who went to their house and took the boards and didn't return them. My wife had an interesting observation. When this repair person dies, we will probably find that he has been hoarding boards and the world supply will increase dramatically.
I have been getting calls for EM machines that I do not want to bother to fix. Not worth my time.
It has been really nice not feeling the urge to buy pinballs to resell. I am no longer tying up large sums of business money to buy a machine that will need even more sums of money to buy parts to restore, only to put a fair price that is too high that no one will pay. This is liberating. I am always on the look out for games that I want. I may even trade some of my games for sale for games that I want for myself/
The Spiderman also has LEDs on order. I will replace the left ramp. I just ordered the decals for the ramps. I have a new Sandman plastic and the protectors from pinball decals. I have the left ramp protector to install. My order from Cliffy was just sent to day for the right ramp protector. This ramp is cracking but can be nicely covered with this new protector. I also have the other 2 protectors that Cliff makes for Spiderman coming.
I ordered a plastic set, decals, and extra figures for the future for Spiderman. Hopefully a good investment. (I have two sets of Elvis plastics for the future and a very nice set of used plastics. I also have one clear upper playfield left for the future.)
I like Elvis but always thought they could have done like 12 songs instead of 6. Oh well, that would have added a few dollars to the license....
I really like the Spiderman. I read the Pinball News review and played a really good game tonight. Look forward to the LEDs and fixed areas as noted above. I also bought some Bandai small figures to add to the play field. I bought a $6 spiderman and he is now hanging off the back webbing behind and to the left of Sandman.
I traded a game. The next day he called and the upper flipper wasn't working. Luckily this person can fix a pinball machine. He said he checked the wires to the coil and they were good. I asked him to check the flipper opto boards in test mode. They were good. I asked him to look at the wires again. He did from a different angle and saw that one was disconnected. Three minutes later he solderd it back and it was fixed.
If I sold this game and the flipper worked. Then the next day it did not, then most people wouldn' want to look and solder back the wire in three minutes. Instead, I would have to cancel any plans I had and get out there ASAP to ensure the customer's game worked 100%. This would usually take 3 to 4 hours to do. This would waste 1/2 of a free day for me and loose any profit I might have made on the game.
The guy I buy wholesale from thinks I am crazy for offering a warranty like I do. I now know 100% that I am crazy. I thought doing so would ensure customers that they have a game that works 100% and will continue to work 100%. But, as everything else in this world (like Walmart), everyone wants a "deal" and it doesn't make sense for me anymore to "buy high and sell low".
So this is just another example of why once the set of games I have for sale are sold, there will be no other games for sale. I joked about it all last year. But I have been keeping detailed spreadsheets on the cost of each game and materials, and the time it takes for each game. With over three years of data it is crystal clear that I need to stop selling games.
I am sad that I won't sell any but relieved that I won't have $3,200 tied up in a game that I can sell for $3,500 or worse yet, have $6,900 tied up in a game that I can sell for $7,100.
Yes, I clearly (very, very clearly) understand that I can do the same s*it job that others do and not add the LEDs and not replace the plastics and not get all the boards replaced that will break and everything else I do to get a machine working 100%. But if I offer a warranty, then I stand behind my work and I thought customers would want a better built product that had someone standing behind it rather than getting the crappy deal on eBay or craigslist with missing parts and broken items and misrepresentations. Obviously I am wrong and the lower priced crappy pinballs wins out.
(This reminds me of a story of when I worked at Navistar. One of the software developers was a former dentist. I asked him why he is not a dentist anymore. He said that he would look at a patient and determine that they needed a certain procedure that would cost $1,000 and last a life time. But the dentist down the street would provide the "same procedure" for less than half. It would not last a lifetime and the quality of the workmanship was not as good as his work. But the patient was too stupid to understand. He could not, and would not compete, with these other dentists and went back to school for software development.)
I had a friend come over with his 4 sons and "test" all my games. I fixed an issue on World Cup Soccer and Star Trek (twisted the top rubber to the left of the top lanes so the ball did not get stuck. Funny that I had the game this long and it just started happening. But I have done this on other games and should have just done it here.
I have to fix Red's eyes in Road Show. They open wide, but they don't open regular. I hope I have the parts to fix it. I can see what the problem is but don't know why.
I am slowly clearing my backlog of repairs from before Christmas. In 2014 I will concentrate on repairs rather than restorations. I will still do many restorations this year, but only for games that I will keep for myself.
Look at my comment from 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 was looking at the business news and the reports are that the Christmas season was bleak this year. I saw that in my little micro world in November.
I decided to return the GoPro camera. I never opened it. I could not buy the head mount. The more I thought about it, the more time I would spend (that I do not have) trying to edit videos that would not generate any income and take precious minutes out of the remainder of my life. (Boy that sounds sad.... :) )
The newest World Cup Soccer has been posted for sale. I am offering it in 3 price points to fit all needs. $2,500 as is working 100% with no warranty; $3,000 working 100% with 6 month warranty; and $4,200 working 100%, restored with 6 month warranty.
I did my first two fixes of the year today. I have a few more to do to catch up on my backlog due to the holidays and travel.
I created a new What's New page. The other one, referenced above, was too big and getting slower to load.
I bought a GoPro camera and was thinking about creating some videos to post on YouTube. But I have not been able to buy a head strap yet and am thinking about returning it since it was so expensive. Since the videos would not generate money and take time to make and edit, the best bet is to just return the camera.
The current World Cup Soccer is working 100% and I will try to get some pictures posted.
Virginia Sales Tax
Virginia sales tax is currently 6.0%. Sales tax for in-state orders applies to machines and parts. It does not apply to the delivery or repair services.
As of August 1, 2014, we will no longer provide a warranty with our pinballs unless you purchase a separate warranty from us. A 1 year warranty is $500 or pay as you go if you even need it. If you buy it directly from us and take it home yourself, you will be inspecting it to ensure it works. If we deliver, we will ensure that it works 100% when delivered.
Reasons You Should Let Us Deliver Your Pinball (or Another Machine)
- We will NOT provide a warranty for the machine since we cannot be assured that a problem did not happen when you transported the machine. (As of August 1, 2014, we will no longer provide a warranty with our pinballs unless you purchase a separate warranty from us. A 1 year warranty is $500 or pay as you go if you even need it. If you buy it directly from us and take it home yourself, you will be inspecting it to ensure it works. If we deliver, we will ensure that it works 100% when delivered.)
- We take responsibility for any damage that may occur during the delivery process.
- We professionally set up the machine, connect all the connectors, attach the legs, head, etc. and ensure that the pinball works properly. If anything is out of adjustment due to moving the machine, we can fix it in a few minutes as compared to having to come to your house later and charging you a trip fee and repair charge.
- If anything major is out of adjustment, we can order parts and repair. This hardly ever happens but it could and you and the machine are protected.
We are currently set up for local delivery only within the Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, and North-Eastern West Virginia area. If you are interested in shipping the pinball machine, we will contact a shipper. You will pay all crating and postage costs.
If you would like us to deliver and set up within 50 miles of Purcellville, the charge is $300; within 100 miles $475. The delivery charge includes delivery to a first floor or basement level if walk-out.
We will not sell you a game/deliver the game if the only entrance to your basement is an inside the house staircase. They are too narrow. Plus we have to ensure we don't mess up carpet or wood. It just isn't worth it.
You may also come and pick up the machine from our location.