What the heck do I do with four of the same games?

What the heck do I do with four of the same games?

By EM-fan

December 07, 2017

1 year ago

Imagine, you have a particular EM game you really like.
And imagine, that these games are not really that expensive in the country you live in.
Imagine that these games are also not really rare.
So, you keep buying a particular game. One. Then a nice one. And one for parts. And an even "nicer" one.
And of course do not want to part from any of them.  But what reason on earth could be found to keep them all?

What a fun challenge!  So, let us do a short deep dive into what I had to start with:

  1. A "renovated" machine that claimed to be fully complete and functional.  It indeed was complete and functional, but horribly lame. Also the touch-ups were not very professional - as a result it did not look really good and was no fun to play either.
  2. A non working machine that had stood in some living room for years - really nice at the outside with brilliant playfield and all clean components - but all units were either stuck or burnt.
  3. A half working machine that was well beaten over the years. Horrible condition everywhere, but the bit of play it had was much better than #1 above. Addictive!
  4. A wreck without backglas, all dirty and partly parted out, but an ok cabinet and not so bad playfield

Ok, now let us try to make some sense from it. I started playing the one functional game for a while. I like Bally in particular - mainly for the quality of the plastics and the green color of course.  The first and only(?) Bally EM multiball with long flipper fingers. Balls are short, but they are plentyful. Even I as bad player was able to play 10, 15 and up to 25 balls on a 5 ball game. Fabulous!!!

Now, again this game #1 was really lame and boring - but game #3 actually was really fun - despite the fact, that some of the key functionality was missing.
So, what in the world to do with these?

So, #1 was bad. Someone had done an intresting job to "repair" it. All main functions were working, and it was looking ok on pictures - but no effort at all had been taken to make it nice or exciting. It actually was such a bad restauration, that I decided to keep it as an example of what it was - a  really bad restauration!

Then, I realized, that from among all other games, I would be able to generate a second game, that would be close to original!  Among all games indeed I had

  • a really good cabinet
  • an almost perfect backglas
  • a set of really good plastics
  • and one really nice playfield

All together, this could be transformed into one really nice, all original game with all original parts starting with the first screw and up to the last little piece of rubber or whatever.
Among all games, there could be a perfect set of original coils, a clean coin box, bells (really rare over here in Germany), 3 slot original coin door with mathching re-chromed metal pieces e.t.c. Target would be to get it as close as possible to what an original game would have been and use the best parts of all 4 games. Game play should also be as close as possible to the original one.

Well - and what to do with the rest?` Enough parts for a nice, but not perfect game. Woudl be nothing extraordinary though. So how in the world could this be spiced up a bit?
1970s games were pretty lame - so, how about giving it an advantage of - say - 10 years. Make it fast, und and really desirable?  Just something completely different than #2?
Imagine, you put the transformer on high tap. brass bushings for flipper fingers. PU rubbers. Really clean contacts and switches. Really good coils with polished plungers and new nylon sleeves?  Then arduino based chimes (it never had chimes), ambient LED lighting and colored light bulbs. Ideas added to ideas. Illuminated flipper buttons? Illuminated leg screws?
Think of something fancy here. But as a result - real EM fans would probably see their toe nails roll up - but they could play the "all original" game instead, could they not?  And the challenge would be, whether the game would actually be preferrable to the all original one.

Stay tuned for how the story will proceed.

Game #4 actually deserves a life after death. Thus there is a game #5 nowadays - or at least about ~45% of it. Enough of a game to bring #4 back to life and not enough to be worth anything but a nice playfield at the wall and a couple of buckets of spare parts. Thus game #4 is supposed to end up as a "player": some machine, that I can take to an event and set up to play. Cabinet already being used, playfield, plastics and backglas not being perfect, it could be good enough to be fun to play.

Story photos

Big Valleys IMAG0611 (resized).jpg


1 year ago
Wish you were in the US! Love the story, and I am looking for Big Valley. EM multiball seems awesome to me. Looking forward to the next update.
1 year ago
Funny how you do not mention the name of the pin once in your article.
1 year ago
Funny how you do not mention the name of the pin once in your article.
1 year ago
Lol at " see their toe nails curl up" !
Good story.
1 year ago
Sounds like a great plan !!! GOOD LUCK with your project !
1 year ago
Why did I not mention the name of Big Valley even once? Well - the concept can be widely reused, and yes, I have four Mariner as well and three BallyHoo.'
I am really iscribing four different game types and concepts. Some folks really love the "all original" EM - and that can mean many different things. Personally, I adore the all original one and love the pimped one. It plays like hell - challenging, fast, shiny. And if someone wants a game on site you do not really want to transport these wonderful gems, do you? And not the lame, bad renovation either?
1 year ago
And me...I thought I was a bit mad because I buy a spare playfield of my pins even If I really do not need it.. LOL.
Awesome story, I love "these people" and by the way, I discovered a lovely pins. I if could I would pay a pair of this :-)
1 year ago
I noticed exactly the same thing. Not once in the story did the author name the machine. I wasn't going to knock myself ot trying to identify it. I can go one better. I have five copies of "Old Chicago", ranging from really ratty to somewhat decent. I don't have a really nice one unfortunately.
1 year ago
For all of you being so excited about me not providing the name of the machine and did not recognize the game on the picture: I did this based on a 1970 Big Valley from Bally. To my knowledge, this is the only ever Bally multiball machine with long flipper fingers. Only games #1,2 and 3 are on the picture as #4 is in the repair area. And yes- the project is done - besides the illuminated leg screws, flipper fingers and arduino LED lighting. Also, #4 is on its way still. And yes, I had brass flipper bushings created for this, it has new legs and anti-glare playfield glas.
1 year ago
Cool story! Share the love of some of those games with friends!
1 year ago
All four are de German ones?
In the Netherlands there where always two variations: German and English, sometimes even a mix up of those.
The dealers sometimes switched backglasses and playfields to get a nice machine for the road.
1 year ago
All four are German ones: cabinet, backbox, playfield, backglas, door (on Pfennig [Pf] and Deutsche Mark [DM]). #4 came pretty mixed with had an English playfield - which is now used for spares. Its English cabinet was reused to revive a Mariner and #5 provided the missing German parts.
Essentially, two of them came as really good, original machines, that had never been worked on very much. So, yes, I have a few spare English plastics and other items - happy to trade them for German equivalents. Also, if anyone has German door signs alike 1DM, 50Pf or 20Pf - this would be very welcome as well.
1 year ago
Du bist nicht allein - ich habe 8 Mardi Gras und nächste Woche kommt der 9te.
Wegen einer Frontdoor frag mal Roger Scholz aus Mannheim, den dürftest Du kennen.
1 year ago
Not sure if I still have one for the door, will look at it after the holidays..
1 year ago
great story :)

I actually did the exact same thing with my williams jousts. I drove 31 hours non-stop from michigan to new hampshire and back to secure the 1st game (which turned out to be a really well routed and worn game, but playable (it was a very interesting trip with a car crash into a truck stop on the way there, and running into the insane clown posse tour truck on the way back :)
I then got a lead for a really nice one from california that the owner claimed had no board hacks (he was either wrong or lied), but it was indeed much nicer than joust #1 (I believe that I still have the photos from that one <strong>somewhere</strong>

finally, I sourced the one (game #3) that I still own today (also from california) which is near perfect. having 3 of the same machines really made it a whole lot easier to try and diagnose and correct problems on one of the other 2 (especially for someone who was just getting into the hobby and didn't have a clue as to how these monsters worked), and afforded me the ability to pilfer the [nicest] parts for the one that I eventually ended up keeping.

the beater (game #1) ended up being sold and shipped to california (using the very same crate that game no. 2 or 3 was originally transported in to me) and game #2 went to a gentleman from germany that had his own company and used to plan his business trips around pinball shows. he and his friend (otto) who did not speak much (if any) english were both very nice and came and collected game #2 that I believe he shipped back to germany in a container along with a bunch of other games that he purchased during his trip
1 year ago
That happened to me with my first Mariner - just bought a second one to diagnose the problems on the first one ;-)

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