Being in the military and moving so often has made it difficult for me to build my own basement arcade collection. As an avid tinkerer and electronics nerd, I first started with MAME and built a cocktail cabinet back in 2006. Recently, my wife and I began to play more pinball near our home in Germany, after which I soon began to search out the first pin of our own and shortly found a project Williams High Speed for $175 (plus a trade for a MAME bartop). I probably overpaid...but I finally owned a pinball machine!
After the initial excitement of having my first pin wore off, I started to understand the scope of the work that was to be involved in resurrecting this machine...which could only be described as almost a "basket case". Some folks would have tossed it into the garbage. The playfield was shot, the main board had serious acid damage from leaky alkalines, transistors were blowing, the ramp was cracked, fuses burning out, corrosion everywhere...it was a very big undertaking but I enjoy a challenge so I dug in and totally stripped the machine. Incrementally I repaired the problems, diagnosed the causes of the transistor issues, sanded down and replaced the playfield. I later realized that I spent way more than the machine is worth to get it working and I spent over 300 hours repairing everything.
And now I'm hooked! The High Speed became something that the whole family played and I saw that pinball machines were going to be the centerpieces of my eventual basement arcade. I've recently added to the collection a Williams Pinbot and a Funhouse which are both in great shape. I am already dreaming of the next addition! Who knows if I'll ever take on another project as big as the High Speed but I'm thankful to have learned so much along the way. And I'm soon retiring from the military so the collection will be able to grow!