I left pinball, but pinball never left me. Here's the story:
I grew up back when Spy Hunter and Super Mario Bros were the hot games in the arcades, but I always found myself being drawn to the pinball section. When I got older and moved out on my own I had a roommate who also enjoyed pinball and every Friday night we would head over to a local truck stop and play Addams Family until 2 or 3 in the morning. Then I discovered that these games were actually available for purchase. It took a while to save enough money, but I finally bought an Addams Family machine. It was a complete pile of garbage, but I loved it.
About 5 years ago I decided it was time to tear this machine apart and make it look and play better. I had been watching the This Old Pinball videos and listening to the TOPcast podcasts. I was anxious to get started restoring a machine, but I didn't want to risk ruining my beloved AF so I went out and bought a T2 that had a little playfield damage as well as battery damage. I tore the playfield apart, touched up the bad areas and clear coated the playfield with automotive clear coat. I was worried about repairing the PCB with battery damage so I just bought a new one to get the game running again. Pleased with the results on this first attempt, I decided to start on my TAF. I tore the entire game apart filming the process with my video camera (which came in very handy later). I did a bunch of touch ups to the playfield and then applied the clear coat. It was about this time that things at my job started to change.
A year before I began to restore my TAF, a large company bought the company that I had been working for. For that first year, they pretty much left us alone and let us do our thing. In the second year after they bought our company they decided they knew how to run it better than we did. They started screwing up everything that I liked about working there, and many of the smart people started to leave. I joined them and decided to leave and start my own business. I sold the nice cars my wife and I had and we downgraded to some cheaper vehicles. We sold our nice camping trailer and a tractor we owned. I took all of the money I had and opened a business. I was so busy I ended up ignoring my pinball machines. I kept looking at my torn apart TAF and wondering if I would remember how to put it back together once I finally had some free time.
It took almost 4 years, but I finally have the business running smoothly enough that I am finding myself with 3 to 4 days a week off so I started working on my Addams Family again. I was so thankful that I had recorded the teardown because I was able to get it all back together and working better than it ever had. It had sat so long that both my AF and my T2 had developed board issues that I was able to fix thanks to Clay and his Pinball Ninja website as well as the TOP videos. I am now looking to add some more games to my collection. I prefer very rough games because at least half of the fun for me is the restoration process.