My pinball begining

By oldschoolbob

August 22, 2013

This story got frontpaged on August 24, 2013

10 years ago

By the time I was 12 or 13 I had two pinball machines. I traded an old bicycle for one and the other I paid 5.00. Sounds like a deal but this was about 1957. And yes they were wood rails with wood legs. These machines were old beaters when I got them and I spent more time repairing them than playing them. But that was OK because I really enjoyed working and learning on them. Fortunately there was an amusement place just a few blocks from my school. It was a dark dusty warehouse full of pinball machines, jukeboxes and bowling machines and rows of shelves with all kinds of parts. And a few guys repairing them. The owner was a dark, dusty grumpy looking guy with a short cigar hanging out of the corner of his mouth. But he was really a nice guy. He knew I didn’t have much money and would often just give me the parts I needed. Used parts but in working condition. One of my games didn’t have a glass top. I stopped in to ask the price of a new glass. He gave me a price and I told him I’d be back when I saved up enough. He walked over to this rack and pulled out a piece of glass that had the corner broken. He wrapped some brown paper around it and just gave it to me. I remember carrying that sucker home – 22 BLOCKS! I was so worried I’d drop it. But I made it.

Several years later I got rid of my machines to pursue other interests – Girls and cars. I know, I should have stayed with pinball – much cheaper and easier to figure out.

During the 80’s I worked for a company that owned several chains of stores – mostly men and women’s apparel stores. But they also owned “Dave and Busters”. Every year in December they’d have a huge employee sale where they’d bring in tons of merchandise from the stores – returned items, missing buttons, soiled, etc. And they usually had a couple of dozen used pinball machines from Dave and Busters. The machines were set up in the common area so we could play them all day. They looked like new machines and played perfect. They’d sell them at the end of the day for 100.00 – 200.00 each. Obviously more employees than games so if you wanted one you put your name in a hopper. At the end of the day they’d pull names and if you won you’d pick the game you wanted from what was left. It was at this time I noticed the change in pinball. Gone were the bells and chimes replaced with talking machines with outer space sounds. The simple playfields were replaced with flashing lights and ramps. I was amazed and quite saddened by what they’d done to pinball. But I guess that’s progress. I never once put my name in the hopper.

I’m retired now and I’ve had a bunch of hobbies over the years – RC cars, motorcycles, VW’s, and woodworking. But lately I’ve been thinking about those old pinball machines I had years ago. The fun I had working on them and the feeling of accomplishment when I got something fixed. The first thing I did was find Pinside. What a great forum and a bunch of very knowledgeable people. I read most of the posts in the EM section. Then I started my quest for a machine. I wanted something that needed repair, reasonably priced and EM. I didn’t want to pay a lot up front because I’m sure I’ll put quite a bit into it and I don’t know what I’ll do with it when it’s fixed. I was never a good pinball player just a pinball fixer.

The other day I found a Flight 2000. I know it’s not EM but the price was right and it’s DOA. The cabinet, playfield, and backglass are all in very good condition. The PC boards are all there and the battery was removed before it ever leaked. The guy told me his son got it years ago when someone was going to just throw it out because it didn’t work. The son brought it home for dad to fix. So dad worked on it a few weekends checking voltages and decided it had a broken wire or a bad connection somewhere. I don’t think he was too interested in working on it. Years later the son got married and moved out. The pinball was moved to the corner of the shop and forgotten about. Last week he decided to clean out his shop and I got it for a song.

I just got it unloaded and set up in my workshop. I haven’t even plugged it in yet. I’ve been reading everything I can find pertaining to this machine. I’ve got a reasonable idea of what to look for and how to trace down the problems but I’m sure there’ll be tons of questions coming. Please remember that (while I had machines 55 years ago) I’m new to the hobby.

Like I said it’s in pretty good condition and it looks like it would be a fun game (all though I don’t care for multiball). We often have friends and family over for birthdays, holidays, etc and I’m sure they’ll enjoy it. And I have plenty of room in my shop so this just might be a keeper.

Thanks for taking time for my story.


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10 years ago

Great story , thankyou for sharing .Good luck with Flight 2000.

10 years ago

Great story Bob. Thanks for sharing! I recently acquired a '93 Gottlieb unit which plays well but really missed the old school games of my sordid youth of the '70's. I recently got a '74 Strato-Flite which now keeps me fully occupied tweaking. Still haven't managed a full game on it with out some misfire or another but working towards it!! Couldn't be happier!! Cheers and Good Luck!!

10 years ago

Fantastic story Bob! Best of luck getting it back working.

10 years ago

great story, you should care for multiball though!

10 years ago

Multiball !!! I can't play with one ball.

10 years ago

I enjoyed the story Bob. Sounds like you've got project on your hands. Good luck! And watch out...these machines tend to multiply, if you aren't careful!

10 years ago

Great story

10 years ago

Awesome story Bob. I know with time working on the pin and this site, you will have it up and running!

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