The following is a bit long winded but please read on if
buying a pinball machine is something new for you. Start out
by thinking about the original market pinball machines were
built for. They are complex coin operated machines built for
many hours of service to allow the operator of the machine
to make money. So for what reasons does an operator stop operating
a machine and offer it for sale? Obviously because it's not
making enough money any more to justify the time expended.
So the question is why isn't it making enough money? The first
answer that would occur to most people is that the machine
isn't that popular any more so people aren't playing it. Ah
but here, in my opinion, is the real heart of the matter:
the machine isn't popular anymore because it HASN'T BEEN PROPERLY
MAINTAINED! When is the last time you played a pinball on
location that didn't have some major problem?
For the first few years the maintenance needed is minimal
but the more use a machine gets the more parts can wear out
and/or need adjustment. These days operators simply aren't
willing to put the time needed into a pinball machine to keep
it running in top form. So then they sell it in whatever run
down condition it's in at the time and it takes A LOT of time
to get these machines back in shape.
Many buyers these days aren't used to purchasing used equipment
like this. They think they can comparison price shop based
on the title of the machine and maybe a few pictures on Ebay.
The most misused word in the pinball repair world is "shopped"
or "shopped out". From what I've seen "shopped"
can mean anything from a few squirts of Windex to a serious
restoration. Unfortunately for the buyer "shopped"
usually means the few squirts of Windex versus really spending
some time getting the machine back in shape.
What buyer should really be looking for is the quality and
extent of work done to get a machine back in shape. A really
PROPER RESTORATION takes many hours, many more hours than
the average reseller is willing to invest. What the restoration
consists of is hard to specifically define as it varies from
machine to machine but I think that even the uneducated eye
will appreciate at least some of the more obvious work. One
of my restorations includes things like 100% new rubber rings,
rebuilding of flippers, jet bumpers and slings, cleaning of
the overall game including the legs, paint touch up, and the
playfield gets polished and waxed usually with all the parts
removed to really reach the hard to get at places. All electronics
is brought back to 100% functionality.
For the pinball machines I sell I've put in the hours and
parts to get them back into the best operating condition I
can and I stand behind my work! The big plus for the buyer
is that these machines really were built to take MANY hours
of use. No matter how much use a machine gets in a home environment
it's still a fraction of the use it would see on a street
location so a properly restored machine should do very well
for a long time with home use only.