My 45 year journey

By DaMoib

January 23, 2020

35 days ago

My EM journey started as an SS obsession (well, after being on Pinside for a while, probably not by your standards)…

Way back in 1982, my wife and I were in our first house, in our first jobs and had a little cash.  Reminiscing about our mid-70's post-dinner pinball sessions in our college dining hall/student centers (and our habit of still visiting the student center after graduation), we decided to take the plunge!  Turns out, from a selfish point of view, it was a good time to buy pins!  They were being pushed out of arcades to make more room for video games.  

I went to a distributor and picked up a nice Count-Down for a very reasonable price… and then a second Count-Down with cabinet damage for much less.  Fixed that one up and resold it. I was now in the black, this hobby pays for itself!  Of course, I didn’t count the cost of all the new tools I bought for the “restoration” - they were an investment!

Two years later, we moved into a new house with more room (in preparation for starting a family)… and you know what that means… I went right back to that distributor and bought a “Close Encounters”.  A few months later, while picking up a Sinbad, the distributor says “ya know I have a nice single player EM for sale, waaay cheaper than these state-of-the-art System 1 Gottliebs”.  So I went back the next day (I was shuttling these machines around in a Toyota Corolla hatchback) and picked up an Abra Ca Dabra - a favorite from our freshman year in college. 

A few months later, a work friend said he had an angle on some pinball machines in a horse stable.  I went with him and scored a Bank A Ball with an inch of “dust” on it.  Yeah, that’s it, it was dust, had to be dust, right?  Anyway, it cleaned up well and was added to the collection.  

I’ve had my Abra Ca Dabra since 1984 and it is the only machine in my collection that has been continuously set up and played (it has 77K on the play meter).  Others were slowly mothballed because I was tired of cleaning oxidized edge connectors, repinning connectors and, oh yeah, we needed the bedrooms for kids, the basement for crafts… but we always found room for ACD.

A few winters ago, I finally got around to putting my mothballed Gottlieb System 1’s (and a mouse house Stern Stars) on the market, got a reasonable price for them and some room in the basement.  During the search for buyers, I stumbled upon the wide world of pinball on the internet - Pinside, podcasts, The Pinball Resource, pinball on YouTube and Twitch, the Silverball Museum.  What can I say? Pinball hadn’t been on my radar for 32 years… and then WOW!  

Now, with room in the basement, I turned my attention back to Bank A Ball… also mothballed for about 30 years.  The 30 year checkup consisted of replacing the line cord, vacuuming the playfield, and adding 5 new balls.  I pumped a few games onto the credit unit and, after checking for 120 volts on any exterior metal, pressed the start button.  It fired up, in a good way! To be sure… a few lights were out, I was getting 50 point hits when I didn’t deserve them, the backglass was a little worse for wear (still is), but its a player!

I’ve since picked up a few more favorites from the old days - Volley, Spirit of 76 and I’m still on the hunt!  I’ve also discovered that shopping pinball machines is a great way to weather that post-Super Bowl, bleak mid-winter blah-fest that is NJ in February!  

Who knows, maybe someday I’ll even pick up a NIB Stern with a theme the grandkids can relate to…

Story photos

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25 days ago
Amazing pinball history you have !!! Thanks for sharing
11 days ago
Great post!
My second game ever was a COUNT DOWN! I saw an ad in a local rag. Didn't know too much about machines only owning a Bally Eight-Ball (my first, and what I thought was my last pin) The bg had some flaking, most of the rubbers were rubber bands. Didn't know it, but luckily the MPU was still good. I said I'd buy it for the $200 CASH, he told me the ad said $280 not $200. I was ready to walk away, when he called his dad about what to do. Luckily his dad said, "Give it to him for $200 so I grabbed it. (No sling shots but still a great game!)
I "shopped it out" it pretty much ran, and I played the shit out of it!! Very soon, as the "BUG" took full hold. I became a 70s era Bally solid state guy and never looked back! I love the playfield simplicity, the simple rule sets, speed of ball movement, and memories of playing them as a teen.
Best of luck!!

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