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started in the 80's

By Pin-Pilot

October 10, 2020

18 days ago


That was where I spent many Friday and Saturday nights filling up pinball and arcade game coin boxes with quarters. A LOT of quarters. I would love to know how many. 

On Foothill Blvd in La Crescenta, Caifornia. I read lots of stories of peoples favorite pinball game. I do not recall having a favorite pinball game. I just liked playing any pinball game. I spend a lot of time destroying asteroids and the little 1000 point alien space craft. Hyperspaced into many asteroids and flew across the screen.

I would say the game I remember and spent a lot of money on was trying to get Dirk to the save princess Daphne. It was a very addicting game. Learning each room and the timing needed to get through was frustrating and fun.  

A friend of mine bought an EM game El Toro, around 1990'ish. I would play that now and then. I just loved the sounds and the mechanics of the EM games. I thought about buying a pinball game for many years but never persued it to the point of purchase. 

Then a little over 2 years ago I saw an ad on Craigslist for a Smart Set EM pinball game someone was selling for $100. My brother and I drove over and bought it. 

The pin had been sitting on his back porch in Phoenix for the last 10 years. The cabinet was in real bad shape. Warped and weathered. I was not concerend about the cabinet. I wanted to dig into the mechanics and see how it worked. 

I spent the next month scouring Pinside and learning all about how all the relays and score motor worked. I took all the score reels apart and got them working again. 

The pin was mechanically in decent shape just needed to be cleaned up. After adjusting switches, replacing some coils and a new set of rubber the game played just fine. The Playfield was in decent shape. 

After that I started looking for more games on Craigslist and found an Aztec for $250. I had learned a lot from the Smart Set repairs and knew what to look for now. The person selling the Aztec was not too knowelegable about EM pins. He described the issues he had with the game and I knew I could easily get it up and running with a little work. Still have this game and slowly cleaning it all up.

A month later I stumbled on a craigslist ad for a Bally Pool Sharks. The owner had some issues with the game and was ordering replacement parts to try to fix it. I knew NOTHING about electronic pinball games but I was willing to jump in and learn. He wanted $1350 for the game and I offered $1200. He declined and I drove away. Before I got 2 miles down the road he called me back and said he would take $1200. I accepted and took the pin home. I was able to quickly troubleshoot the issue he was having with several components as a wire that was pulled out of the Molex connector that was on a Switch matrix. That is when I learned about switch matrixes. The real issue with the Pool Sharks however was the diverter had been canabalized. There are no replacements for this diverter and I had to do some footwork to get the diverter up and running. This Pin must have been in a bar for a long time. Lots of dust and smoke residue. 

Took a year to find my next pin. Williams "High Speed". The owner had it in his garage and just wanted it to be gone. would turn on but not boot. Turned out to be just dead batteries. The boards were all in great shape so I offered him $150 and he took it. I figured the boards are worth that at least. The cabinet had serious moisture damage. I got it up and running and played it for a few months. I really liked the play of this game and decided I would do a complete HEP style rebuild on. I tore it completely down, ordered a brand new cabinet and new Playfield from CPR and went to town. Replacing all the rusty hardware and anything that could not be fixed. Started the restore in November and completed in March. The playfield swap was my favorite part. Pinting and clear coating the cabinet was my least favorite but I learned a whole lot abut automotive paint and clear coat. I will most likely never sell this pin. It is one of the nicest High Speed pins in existence. 

November of 2019 I jumped in with both feet and did something I thought I would never do. Spend $8300 on a pinball machine. I purchased a MMRLE #436 from a local pinsider here in Phoenix. He bought it new and it only had 230 plays on it when I drove it home. Color Display and chip, Cliffies, mantis and plastic protectors. I added troll eye lights, couple light upgrades and just installed the XL display and upgraded sound. I really enjoy playing this pin. Challenging and fun. 

My next pinball game I am trying to find is a TAF. Really like the sounds and play of TAF. Have passed on a couple, just waiting for the right one.

That is my story and how I got into pinball restorations and playing.

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