10+ years in the hobby - reflections of some of my experiences

(Topic ID: 231766)

10+ years in the hobby - reflections of some of my experiences


By too-many-pins

37 days ago



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    #1 37 days ago

    After a little over ten years in the hobby I am finally getting ready to scale things back to a small collect and basically walk away from everything else I have been doing over the past 10 years pinball related. I know I post too much on certain topics, I know I beat a dead horse from time to time, but I also know everything I have done is for the love of the hobby - nothing more & nothing less.

    Over the next few months as I continue to scale things back from "too-many-pins" to "almost-no-pins" or "not-too-many-pins" I want to share some of my experiences with those who are interested in reading about this "CRAZY RIDE" for me. I intend to share some pretty personal stuff, some pretty crazy stories, as well as some facts I have learned about the pinball hobby/business and more.

    For those of you who "hate" reading my long winded post feel free to hit IGNORE. For those of you interest, sorry I talk so much but please take the time to read some of this and maybe learn something from my experiences. When I have the time I'll post a little different stuff every once in a while but for now I just wanted to get this post started.

    #2 37 days ago

    My first post is: HOBBY or BUSINESS to address that question for those of you that have argued with me for years that a guy why has had in excess of 600 machines past through their hands in around 10 years is in the pinball business NOT the pinball hobby. I am actually both in the pinball hobby & the pinball business.

    Buying & selling machines is a HOBBY for me. Originally I tried to make that a business but according to the Federal Government I am not in the pinball business because businesses CAN NOT take a loss every year they are in business. Once I figure all expenses into the equation every year has been a loss for me when it comes to buying and selling machines. (My average annual loss is around $5000 a year according to IRS guidelines).

    Now for the business end of things - According to IRS guidelines I am in "just barely" in the pinball parts business declaring losses about every 2 to 3 years and a small profit the other years. This isn't because I don't know how to run a successful business (I would not have semi retired when I was 51 if that was the case). This is because I try to keep my parts as cheap as possible for my customers while covering my expenses. Since I only sell parts "part time" and my expenses are full time most of the profits are used to cover storage rent and other business expenses.

    So the next logical question is why the hell do you keep doing this? The answer is two fold - first off I love the pinball hobby and secondly I love helping people. As I have said dozens of times in the past if it was about money I could triple my income by becoming a Wal-Mart greeter.

    Now that I have addresses that first question it is time to get my day started. I'll post here when I can - sometimes in might be 3 or 4 times in a day & other times it might be a month between post. It just depends on what else I have going on in life.

    #3 37 days ago

    OK, First funny story while I am taking a break from moving stuff around and loading to deliver machines to the south tomorrow. Shortly after we started in the hobby I purchased a super nice project Stern Stampede Pinball machine. It was either our first or second pinball machine so I was really "green" at the time. I started working on it and a couple days later I had it playing and working 100% perfectly but the machine still had one little issue. It was missing the top coin door trim.

    A couple months passed and I went to the Allentown pinball show and purchased a complete Stern coin door with trim just to get that missing trim piece. I get home and trim was totally different. I tried over and over again for like two years to find the right trim for that machine but never had any luck. It wasn't until years later I realized the early Classic Stern machines were mostly build with leftover Chicago Coin parts. Stern bought out Chicago Coin and their earlier machines used a ton of Chicago Coin parts on them.

    So remember if you are working on a Classic Stern machine and you have a hard time with a certain part on it you might need a Chicago Coin part for your old Stern machine.

    #4 36 days ago

    Another break so another repair story. About 2 years into the hobby I was finally to the point it was time to start purging machines. I am not a baseball fan & I had several baseball machines up on Craig's list for sale fairly cheap. These were all project machines priced at $200 to $300 back then.

    Anyway a local buyer contacts me and says "will you take $800 for your 4 project baseball machines" the next thing he says is "I am new to the pinball hobby butI am a big baseball fan & I like to tinker with mechanical stuff and low voltage electric so I think working on these could be fun". I agree to the $800 and got the 4 machines moved to the garage for him. He shows up cash in hand but only had room to move two machines at a time. So he says "how about I pay for for all of them take two today and come back for the other two tomorrow". My reply was NO PROBLEM!

    Anyway after talking to him for a bit while we were loading the first couple machines I quickly realized he is the kind of guy that might get discouraged pretty easy if stuff becomes too hard. So after he hit the road with the first couple machines I decided to try to get the Gottlieb Baseball working some to help him get off to a good start. I messed with that darn machine for like 9 hours without getting it up and running and all I kept thinking is "what the hell did I get myself into". I finally gave up and went to bed around midnight and laid their thinking "what am I missing" and all of a sudden it dawned on me I never dropped a ball back into the machine after pulling the playfield to get better access to the relay board.

    Next thing you know 3 AM I am out in our garage playing pinball in my underwear and my wife comes out yelling at me "what the hell are you doing". (The issue is the garage is right next to our bedroom and I woke her up). Long story short - well maybe not so short - be sure to check your balls when working on a pinball machine. That little oversight likely wasted about 5 or 6 hours of my time! But the buyer was happy the following day when he came back and I told him he had one less project.

    #5 36 days ago

    One last quick one for tonight. If you sell machines and the guys wife comes along be sure to reassure her letting her husband buy machines is a smart thing to do. First off if he is playing at home she will know what he is playing with. And secondly unlike a boat, race car, or lots of other hobbies typically you can sell machines for more than you pay for them if you buy smart.

    That normally helps the wife realize maybe a few pinball machines in the house isn't such a bad idea after all.

    #6 36 days ago

    4:30 AM here on the East Coast and I am just about ready to roll South to deliver a couple machines (actually just one now due to last minute issues with my other buyer). One thing about buying & sell if you intend to try to do any kind of serious volume you better be willing to drive & change plans at the last minute. When people ask how do you buy so many machines one of the keys is being ready to roll when you spot a deal and sometimes that takes driving hundreds of miles with very little notice. There have been times I have driven 15 or 18 hours to grab a machine I didn't know about 15 minutes earlier.

    And when it comes to selling & delivering no matter how hard you try you need to be ready for disappointment when well planed deals fall apart at the last minute. Originally today's trip was suppose to be 3 days and 1800 miles delivering 3 machines. Last night that changed to two days and 1000 miles of driving to deliver just one machine as I was loading. It sucks driving two days just to deliver one machine and it isn't cost effective but I still need to make the trip because the buyer has already paid and I promised delivery this week.

    Things don't always work out as planned but you need to take the good with the bad and just keep rolling! As far as the other two machines it wasn't the buyers fault - it was lack of communication at the last minute that killed that part of the trip. He is disappointed and so am I but if you "go missing" for almost 24 hours just before I am getting to roll I really can't deliver machines to you. Another key is communication - keep in contact when trying to put a deal together. Sometimes people just don't have a lot of time before it is too late to make something happen.

    #7 33 days ago

    Just home from a 1050 mile trip to Matthews, NC. A buyer currently living in Hong Kong wanted my Champion Pub dropped off to HEP and I told him I would do it if he covered my expenses. My original plan was three stops dropping off 4 machines - then things changed twice, the first guy decided he wanted 3 machines from me (not just one) and was headed past our place so he is stopping here to pick them up. And my other buyer fell off the face of the earth when I was trying to finalize the trip on short notice. By the time he got back to me it was too late to get his machines loaded and still be on time dropping off machine to Chris -- HEP.

    So plan "B" was take the wife along and make a "mini vacation" out of the trip. Drive one day down - spend a couple days in the Charlotte area - then drive 500 miles home on the fourth day. That changed a few hours before I hit the road because my buyer for the 3 machines needed to pick them up tomorrow (Thursday). So now time for "plan C" - one day in NC but what do we do with it. Nascar Hall of Fame wasn't open to the general public on Tuesday so that was out, maybe go to a couple of the race shops in Charlotte? So after I dropped the machine to Chris we headed down the road to get a motel in Charlotte - guess what - no motel rooms! The Panthers had a home game and all the local motels were full.

    Time for "Plan D" - head North and stop a Petty Racing Museum for a few hours Tuesday. So we drove about an hour North of Charlotte and found a decent motel, spent the night then Tuesday morning headed to Petty's old shop (now the Museum). As we pull into the driveway we see a guy that looks like Richard walking from one building to another (signature hat & walk kind of gave his identity away). My wife says "that is kind of cool to see him here".

    So we go in the "front building" pay the admission and start checking the place out. Maybe an hour later we walk to the second building and we are their for about an hour and who walks in but Richard. He walks over and is talking to us like a couple old friends. After about 10 minutes he says have a great Christmas and we continue to look around for a while. By now it is like 2 PM and we decided to go out to the van and grab some lunch and get something to drink. As we are sitting there eating Richard pulls out of the yard and up to the side of our van and says "be safe traveling" waves and on his way he goes.

    Trips like this are why we travel. Over the years we have been lucky enough to meet a lot of famous or semi famous people and have had nice conversations with them. But the last thing I would have ever expected would have been to be talking about spending some time with Richard Petty this week. We also met one of his daughters and several great guys that are currently working for him restoring cars at "Petty Garage" on the same site. Nothing like a little Southern Hospitality to make "plan D" better than Plan A,B,or C would have been.

    I thought the highlight of the trip was going to be meeting & talking to Christopher Hutchins (my pinball hero) but I never expected to be spending time with one of my childhood hero's --- "The King" of NASCAR.

    #8 33 days ago

    Interesting, keep 'em coming

    #9 33 days ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    One last quick one for tonight. If you sell machines and the guys wife comes along be sure to reassure her letting her husband buy machines is a smart thing to do. First off if he is playing at home she will know what he is playing with. And secondly unlike a boat, race car, or lots of other hobbies typically you can sell machines for more than you pay for them if you buy smart.
    That normally helps the wife realize maybe a few pinball machines in the house isn't such a bad idea after all.

    Really? You give this speech every time a woman comes along on a pinball purchase?

    "Honey, just so you know, you are doing the smart thing letting your man buy a game. First off, he will be less likely to bang chicks who aren't you. Second, he might even make a few bucks to buy you new pots and pans for the kitchen!!"

    I'll say this man...you really are one of a kind!

    #10 33 days ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Really? You give this speech every time a woman comes along on a pinball purchase?
    "Honey, just so you know, you are doing the smart thing letting your man buy a game. First off, he will be less likely to bang chicks who aren't you. Second, he might even make a few bucks to buy you new pots and pans for the kitchen!!"
    I'll say this man...you really are one of a kind!

    Actually it doesn't work out quite that way but I would say 95% of the time things head down that path when I am talking to the buyer & his wife or girlfriend. As anyone who reads Pinside should already know I do like to talk so when buyers come to get a machine it is typical for them to spend an hour or more hanging around talking pinball and other stuff. During that time if their spouse is along I always get into something reassuring her that buying pinball machines is one of the best hobbies her spouse could be in. And from my experience in the hobby it truly is.

    In the passed I have raced cars, was in the model railroad hobby, RC car hobby, owned boats, and have been in many more hobbies and all of them cost me money in the end. With pinball (if you are buying right) the hobby will cost you nothing and will likely even give you a profit if you decided to sell off machines. How many other hobbies can you say that about.

    #11 33 days ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Really? You give this speech every time a woman comes along on a pinball purchase?
    "Honey, just so you know, you are doing the smart thing letting your man buy a game. First off, he will be less likely to bang chicks who aren't you. Second, he might even make a few bucks to buy you new pots and pans for the kitchen!!"
    I'll say this man...you really are one of a kind!

    Whoa calm down there crazylevi, I think you’ve inferred something out of an off the cuff remark. I don’t think I read that post the same way you did.

    #12 33 days ago
    Quoted from Luckydogg420:

    Whoa calm down there crazylevi, I think you’ve inferred something out of an off the cuff remark. I don’t think I read that post the same way you did.

    It just seems like some super weird shit to say to a guy's wife who comes along on a pin buy. Especially since he thinks he's being helpful.

    I'm absolutely no expert on women but I'm pretty sure the last thing most of them want to hear from a total stranger is a "joke" about marital infedelity. Most women, in this day and age, don't want that kind of bizarre "reassurance" or be talked down to by being educated by said stranger on their husband's purchase or hobby.

    I'm just trying to help out, really. There's a lot of really old people here who aren't aware it's 2018 and think that what might have been cute or accepted in 1976 isn't really the way to go now.

    I sell a TON of pinball machines, and often times a woman is buying or otherwise heavily involved in a game purchase, whether or not her husband is there or whether or not she was my main point of contact before the sale. The last thing she wants is me talking to her like she's an idiot or making jokes about marital fidelity. The SMART thing to do isn't tell them how wonderful their husband's hobby is or how it's good their husband will keep his dick in his pants because he's buying a pinball machine, it's to just treat her with the exact same respect you treat her husband and treat her the same way you are treating her husband.

    I'm just trying to help. I swear.

    #13 33 days ago

    OK a buying story for today's story. About 6 or 7 years ago I was actively checking Craig's List in all areas within a couple hundred miles of me several times a day and one day I found a Data East Batman at a great price about 175 north west of Carlisle. I email and made the deal and 15 minutes later I am on the road.

    After driving about 3/4's of the way their the area started getting really interesting - out in the middle of nowhere, junk cars in every third front yard, not a gas station or fast food place anywhere, etc. Kind of like going back in time 50 years on a country road. Finally I get to the guys place and it is a real shack (likely a building that should be condemned). Anyway I go up to the front door after dodging piles of dog shit in the yard and on the sidewalk and I ask "are you the ones with a pinball machine for sale" - their reply was "yes come on in"

    So I walk into this 3 room shack - the "front room" was what looked like a living room and bedroom rolled into one. Then in the back of the house was a kitchen & dining room? The only thing in the dinning room was this pinball machine in the corner and a stripper pole in the middle of the room from floor to ceiling. I dodge the dog shit on the floor and walk over to look at the machine. It is kind of rough but I bought it anyway since I had already made the drive.

    I break in down after tossing some cardboard on the floor to keep it out of the dog shit then off through their side yard and into the van it went. As I was riding home I just couldn't stand the odor in my van any longer and had to stop at a dollar store to get some cleaner and wipe the machine down before making the rest of the trip home. I also tossed the legs from the machine in the dumpster at the Dollar Store since the dogs had pissed on them so much the bottoms were pretty much rotted off.

    Both before and since I have been in some pretty nasty places picking up machines but never anything this bad that still had people living in it. The machine was so bad when I got it home I just parted it out.

    One last little side note to the story is if the two women at the house were the ones using the stripper pole I would have paid them not to strip.

    12
    #14 33 days ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    I'm absolutely no expert on women

    some things don't need to be said...

    Now just kindly exit the thread and let the guy tell his stories. Some of us like hearing from others without constantly reading your same trolling BS for every 3rd post. He was nice enough to start his own thread, say exactly what he planned to talk about, warned you that you can just drain the tread if you dont care to read, and yet you are still here with the same old crap.

    #15 33 days ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    some things don't need to be said...
    Now just kindly exit the thread and let the guy tell his stories. Some of us like hearing from others without constantly reading your same trolling BS for every 3rd post. He was nice enough to start his own thread, say exactly what he planned to talk about, warned you that you can just drain the tread if you dont care to read, and yet you are still here with the same old crap.

    Never fear I know who all of the same guys are and I fully expect the same behavior out of them 100% of the time. Some people are all action and get something done and others are all talk never doing anything but trying to find fault in how those of us that are all action do everything we do.

    I started this post to share some of the stories and that is what I'll be doing from time to time while resting my back, legs, and feet. I expect to hear from all of those same guys along the way I am just shocked it has taken this long!

    #17 33 days ago

    Ok, crazylevi let me break this down for you. Too-many-pins said

    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    First off if he is playing at home she will know what he is playing with.

    “She will know what he is playing with”. NOT whom; BUT what.

    I don’t know what was implied by Too-Many-pin post, but you immediately assumed the worst and inferred that this statement was about infidelity, and in the same breath degraded women into objects. Take it however you like, but just because you feel offended doesn’t mean that people are trying to offend you.

    too-many-pins please continue with your stories. I enjoy the read

    #18 33 days ago

    I would suggest everyone just let the man tell his story on his thread and leave it at that, for both sides.

    #19 32 days ago

    As I have said dozens of times to people who keep asking "how do you buy so many machines" the biggest key is to be fair & honest with sellers. I was contacted by another "ghost from the past today to see if I was still buying machines - since they had such a positive experience with me years ago they didn't want to contact anyone else". Sadly I had to pass that lead along to a friend since I really can't take on any more machines right now.

    I don't think a month goes by without someone from my past contacting me about machines they or someone they know have for sale. Be fair with both buyers & sellers and it will come back to you!

    #20 32 days ago

    A question I am asked often is how far do you typically drive for a pinball machine or a deal on a group of machines? On the average I end up driving about 200 miles for every machine I end up buying. Rarely have I found anything really close to home and when I do it is typically not a super good deal but I end up grabbing it anyway since it is close to home.

    Just for the fun of it I decided to add up the miles I have traveled for pinball related transactions in the 11 years (or so) that I have been in the hobby and according to my best estimate that number is just over 120,000 miles driven because of this crazy hobby. That kind of confirms my estimate of about 200 miles for each machine bought since roughly 600 machines have passed through my hands in the past 11 years (or so).

    Makes me a little tired even thinking about all those hours on the road!

    #21 30 days ago

    My CRAZIEST deal has to have been my fairly recent trip to El Paso, Texas this past Spring to pick up some "junk machines" & parts. I drove almost 6000 miles to buy $3500 worth of parts machines and parts but that isn't actually the crazy part. What was crazy is I did the math and I figured the weight of everything was going to be about 5000 pounds (or more). At the time I made the deal I had a Kia Minivan & a 6x12 cargo trailer with a weight capacity of about 2000 pounds max. Most RATIONAL people would have just passed on that deal but not Skip.

    What does Skip do - talks his wife into buying a new 3/4 ton Chevy van to make the trip. So after spending over $28,000 on the new van, almost $1000 in fuel, and another $700 (or more) for motel rooms I picked up the parts that had a retail value of maybe $10,000 on a great day. Basically driving almost 6000 miles just to break even at best once everything was considered.

    Now for the SAD part of the trip. While I was in El Paso I wrecked the new truck & my nearly new enclosed cargo trailer. The truck was 18 days old and had just under 3000 miles on it. One minute it looked great the next minute it had $13,000 worth of damage and the trailer was totaled. Thankfully I was able to drive both home but my new truck wasn't new anymore. Worse yet is I changed insurance companies when I bought the new truck and I had to explain to them I just cost them over $16,000 after having their insurance less than 3 weeks.

    In the end my insurance rates only went up about $130 a year & my deductible was $500 on each the trailer & the van so my mishap didn't cost me all that much but my wife wasn't very happy about that trip.

    #22 30 days ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    Now just kindly exit the thread and let the guy tell his stories. Some of us like hearing from others without constantly reading your same trolling BS for every 3rd post

    I imagine you do not see the irony of this post

    #23 30 days ago

    Loving the stories, I have enjoyed your posts over the last two years I have been into pinball and am kind of sad to see you scaling back.

    #24 30 days ago
    Quoted from Matesamo:

    Loving the stories, I have enjoyed your posts over the last two years I have been into pinball and am kind of sad to see you scaling back.

    I think in the long run my son & I will both be happier seeing a lot of this stuff gone. It is already nice to see some floor in the garage! But I will miss "the thrill of the chase" and dealing with all the great people I have crossed paths with during my 10+ years in the hobby.

    I have no intention of going away completely. I just need to scale things back to RATIONAL both on the machine end of things and with the parts business. We are already down to 14 machines in the collection and only 2 project machines in our project stash. At one point I had over 50 machines in the collection and double that in the project stash so it has been a dramatic change already. I am hoping to get the collection cut down to around 10 machines by Spring and also get the last couple project machines sold. Then it will just be the parts machines & parts business that is "out of hand" and I have that up for sale also.

    If I could have things work out any way I wanted them to I would find a great buyer for the parts business then just sell a few parts from time to time on eBay having a link on my listing to the "new parts guys" listings. That way I could continue to do a little with the parts and also help the "new guy" by doing some advertising for him and sending my past customers in his direction.

    Only time will tell how everything might work out but I know I have made a good many friends in the past 10 years thanks to the little silver balls!

    #25 30 days ago

    The first pinball machine we ever bought came from a homeowner with very little fanfare but when we bought our second machine it was from a collector moving out of the area and downsizing. He didn't know we already had our first machine but I never forget his warning when we bought his machine. As we sealed the deal he said "be careful these things are like potato chips - you will never stop with just one". I knew he was right but I never expected to get in nearly as deep as I did. Now it is time to change over to a healthier diet!

    #26 30 days ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    My CRAZIEST deal has to have been my fairly recent trip to El Paso, Texas this past Spring to pick up some "junk machines" & parts. I drove almost 6000 miles to buy $3500 worth of parts machines and parts but that isn't actually the crazy part. What was crazy is I did the math and I figured the weight of everything was going to be about 5000 pounds (or more). At the time I made the deal I had a Kia Minivan & a 6x12 cargo trailer with a weight capacity of about 2000 pounds max. Most RATIONAL people would have just passed on that deal but not Skip.
    What does Skip do - talks his wife into buying a new 3/4 ton Chevy van to make the trip. So after spending over $28,000 on the new van, almost $1000 in fuel, and another $700 (or more) for motel rooms I picked up the parts that had a retail value of maybe $10,000 on a great day. Basically driving almost 6000 miles just to break even at best once everything was considered.
    Now for the SAD part of the trip. While I was in El Paso I wrecked the new truck & my nearly new enclosed cargo trailer. The truck was 18 days old and had just under 3000 miles on it. One minute it looked great the next minute it had $13,000 worth of damage and the trailer was totaled. Thankfully I was able to drive both home but my new truck wasn't new anymore. Worse yet is I changed insurance companies when I bought the new truck and I had to explain to them I just cost them over $16,000 after having their insurance less than 3 weeks.
    In the end my insurance rates only went up about $130 a year & my deductible was $500 on each the trailer & the van so my mishap didn't cost me all that much but my wife wasn't very happy about that trip.

    Thanks for sharing!

    I had a thought that perhaps your pinball hobby is just a cover for your real passion...

    Long distance road trips! (you should have been a trucker)

    #27 30 days ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    My CRAZIEST deal has to have been my fairly recent trip to El Paso, Texas this past Spring to pick up some "junk machines" & parts. I drove almost 6000 miles to buy $3500 worth of parts machines and parts but that isn't actually the crazy part. What was crazy is I did the math and I figured the weight of everything was going to be about 5000 pounds (or more). At the time I made the deal I had a Kia Minivan & a 6x12 cargo trailer with a weight capacity of about 2000 pounds max. Most RATIONAL people would have just passed on that deal but not Skip.
    What does Skip do - talks his wife into buying a new 3/4 ton Chevy van to make the trip. So after spending over $28,000 on the new van, almost $1000 in fuel, and another $700 (or more) for motel rooms I picked up the parts that had a retail value of maybe $10,000 on a great day. Basically driving almost 6000 miles just to break even at best once everything was considered.
    Now for the SAD part of the trip. While I was in El Paso I wrecked the new truck & my nearly new enclosed cargo trailer. The truck was 18 days old and had just under 3000 miles on it. One minute it looked great the next minute it had $13,000 worth of damage and the trailer was totaled. Thankfully I was able to drive both home but my new truck wasn't new anymore. Worse yet is I changed insurance companies when I bought the new truck and I had to explain to them I just cost them over $16,000 after having their insurance less than 3 weeks.
    In the end my insurance rates only went up about $130 a year & my deductible was $500 on each the trailer & the van so my mishap didn't cost me all that much but my wife wasn't very happy about that trip.

    Sounds like no one was hurt, which is the important part!!

    #28 30 days ago
    Quoted from poppapin:

    Sounds like no one was hurt, which is the important part!!

    No injuries - not even to the yellow post I hit in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Kind of a long story but when towing a trailer typically you have to do things a little differently than just driving a vehicle. Early one morning I made a "quick run" to Wal-Mart to grab some ice and nailed a stop sign post. I was looking right into the sun - they yellow cement tube was below my sight line in the van and the stop sign above my sight line. So all that I could see (or should have seen) was the little metal post between the post and the sign but with the sun glare I didn't see that.

    I was near the entrance going the wrong way through traffic because of the trailer so I was moving fairly quickly trying to get out of the way of other people and clipped that stupid yellow post. With over 2 million miles driven in my lifetime this was only my second accident and the first one that was my fault so I guess I am not doing too bad. But my van & insurance company might disagree!

    #29 29 days ago
    Quoted from spinal:

    Thanks for sharing!
    I had a thought that perhaps your pinball hobby is just a cover for your real passion...
    Long distance road trips! (you should have been a trucker)

    Driving is my second favorite thing to do in life so road trips are always fine with me. When I travel alone I love just riding & thinking or cranking the radio up and enjoying some classic rock.

    If my wife comes along we typically try to hit a site or two along the way. On our most recent trip to drop a machine to HEP in NC we had a chance to talk to "the King" and I am not talking about Chris. Chris is a great guy that is way more organized than I'll ever be but the king I am talking about is Richard Petty.

    Our trip was originally suppose to be 4 days - one day down & drop the machine - two days in Charlotte visiting some race shops and the Nascar Hall of Fame and then one day driving home. That was cut back to 3 days because I had a guy wanting to pick up machines from us here in PA on what would have been the 4th day. Since the trip was shortened by one day and prices for motel rooms were crazy last Monday night due to the Panthers playing at home we decided to just head North a few miles and visit the Petty Racing museum. When we arrived we saw Richard walking from the gift shop to the offices and thought "that is kind of cool he is still hanging out here".

    Anyway after an hour or two in the museum Richard walked up behind us and says "hello how are you folks today". The next think you know we are standing their talking to Richard Petty as if he was a long lost friend. Not only did we get to meet him we actually spent like 15 minutes talking with him. A nice unexpected surprise for sure!

    I am hoping I didn't already post about this but I have shared the story several times so I might have. If so - sorry!

    #30 28 days ago

    You had to have taken a pic with King. Let’s see it.

    #31 28 days ago

    “I'm absolutely no expert on women but I'm pretty sure the last thing most of them want to hear from a total stranger is a "joke" about marital infedelity.”

    Quite the opposite. Almost all gf’s and wives I’ve talked to have a wicked sense of humor. Even the most serious ladies have to laugh sometime.

    Of course if the marriage is on the rocks they certainly ain’t accompanying a pinball buying spouse.

    #32 28 days ago
    Quoted from eagle18:

    You had to have taken a pic with King. Let’s see it.

    Actually that was the one thing that kind of upset my wife. Our phone (with the camera) was in the car. But I actually think it made the experience better for Richard because unlike most people I just talked to him like we had known each other for years, I thanked him for all he has done for charity & the sport and shock his hand then we stood and talked for a good while about anything and everything.

    His wife passed away 3 or 4 years ago and they were always very close. I think my wife must have reminded him of her because he couldn't wait to mess my wife's hair up. At first I thought that was kind of odd but later I realized my wife has a similar hair cut to what his wife had and also is about the same height as his wife was. So I don't doubt she reminded Richard of his wife and that might have been a playful thing he did to her from time to time.

    I am sure we will be headed back sometime down the road and from what I understand during the off season Richard spends a good bit of time at the museum so we might cross parts again in the future. If not it was a great experience we will never forget.

    The best part that really made us feel even more special is about 2:30 we decided to go out to the van and grab something to eat & drink. While we were eating lunch Richard pulled through the gate headed somewhere. When he saw us in the van he pulled over and said "you have a great Christmas & a safe trip home". It was one thing to cross parts with him in the museum but for him to pull over on his way out to say goodbye again made us really feel special.

    #33 27 days ago

    I hope everyone had a great Christmas. Mine wasn't a lot of fun but it was productive - I am trying to find a gameroom that is buried under dozens of bins & boxes of parts. We do Christmas a little different in our family. When I was younger I always remember a bunch of arguments that always happened around the Holidays over which family members would visit who Christmas day. I swore when we had kids we were not going to let that happen. So our two boys are free to go visit there in-laws Christmas day and my wife and I basically spend Christmas alone. Then later Christmas week we do our Christmas thing and have a chance to spend time with our kids then.

    So every year Christmas is just another work day for me and then around December 27th or 28th we do Christmas here until Jan 1st or 2nd. Since I got into the parts business a few years ago I have always spent Christmas day trying to find the gameroom and get it ready for Holiday visitors - this year was not any different except for I had more of a mess so I am still trying to find the gameroom. Thankfully we are still alone today so at least I have one more day to dig though junk and make room to enjoy our machines.

    In any event hopefully your Christmas was spent doing something more fun than mine was but I love working on Christmas Day because there are very few distractions.

    #34 26 days ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    I finally gave up and went to bed around midnight and laid their thinking "what am I missing" and all of a sudden it dawned on me I never dropped a ball back into the machine after pulling the playfield to get better access to the relay board.
    Next thing you know 3 AM I am out in our garage playing pinball in my underwear and my wife comes out yelling at me "what the hell are you doing". (The issue is the garage is right next to our bedroom and I woke her up). Long story short - well maybe not so short - be sure to check your balls when working on a pinball machine. That little oversight likely wasted about 5 or 6 hours of my time! But the buyer was happy the following day when he came back and I told him he had one less project.

    This has happened to me so many times! I have a workshop in the back of an arcade, and I shut it down at night and work. I fixed up my Mars Trek and reassembled it and plugged it in and I was searching for a half hour trying to find out what happened and why it wasn't working! Nothing! I was livid. I had taken apart the entire bottom score motor and panel with transformer and relays.

    Finally it dawned on me that I was working on the right side of the workshop and I typically work on the left so I didn't have the breaks on that side turned on... Fired right up and plays

    #35 26 days ago
    Quoted from Isochronic_Frost:

    This has happened to me so many times! I have a workshop in the back of an arcade, and I shut it down at night and work. I fixed up my Mars Trek and reassembled it and plugged it in and I was searching for a half hour trying to find out what happened and why it wasn't working! Nothing! I was livid. I had taken apart the entire bottom score motor and panel with transformer and relays.
    Finally it dawned on me that I was working on the right side of the workshop and I typically work on the left so I didn't have the breaks on that side turned on... Fired right up and plays

    Silly shit can sometimes make us really crazy! The nice thing is once you make a "stupid mistake" that cost you a good bit of time you rarely make that same mistake again!

    #36 26 days ago

    Sorting through hundreds of parts and trying to get some organization before year end inventory is a lot of work. I have been at to almost a week now and I still have another weeks worth of work to do to even make the basement look like someone is actually trying to clean up this mess. There is no one to blame but me but I always hate it when it is time to just "dig in" and clean up a HUGE mess. In the end life will be better because of these efforts but for now I just keep thinking how much the sucks!

    Part of my problem has occurred due to an exceptionally busy year in my life outside of doing the pinball stuff. Part of my problem was my trip to Texas this past Spring and piling thousands of additional parts on top of the mess I already had started before the trip. But most of the problem is I just HATE this part of the business so I tend to put cleaning up off until the very last minute every year at tax time.

    Hopefully I'll have things cleaned up enough by tomorrow night to at least be able to play a little pinball for the first time this year. I can actually see about 6 or 8 machines now - next is to clear them off and clean up the floor in front of them and then I can play a little pinball when taking my breaks instead of sitting here typing.

    Time to get back to sorting & digging!

    #37 26 days ago

    Taking another break for bagging & tagging parts so I figured I would post an update. I got word last night my oldest son & daughter-in-law would not be getting here today because my daughter-in-law was sick for a couple days so I have at least one extra day to bag & tag parts. I am kind of sad to hear their trip to visit is delayed but that extra day will sure be a HUGE help with me getting more cleaned up in the gameroom before they get here.

    My wife's favorite machine is Jungle Lord and my son & I are in the process of getting one of those fixed up for her. I was hoping to have the shop job on that finished before Christmas and then surprise her by moving it from the shop area to the gameroom after she went to bed the other night. Sadly I just didn't have time or space to do that yet. So last night when my youngest son (Wayne) got back from their Christmas visit with his in-laws we decided to just tell my wife her Christmas surprise was delayed a few days. Now she is excited to FINALLY have her Jungle Lord back for the first time in about 6 years.

    Years ago I made a HUGE mistake and sold her other one and I have been hearing about it from time to time pretty much ever since. The one we are fixing up isn't as nice as the one I sold but it is still a good solid example of a nice original Jungle Lord so I am sure she will be happen once it is finally in the gameroom.

    #38 25 days ago

    Still tagging & bagging parts but I am starting to run out of time before the company gets here. They are suppose to be here for dinner so I might have 3 more hours then that will be the end of working with the pinball parts until next year! In a way I wish next year was months away because I could use a break from this stuff for a while but at this point it will be next year in 4 days so I am really not going to get much of a break!

    Happy New Year to ALL!!!

    #39 24 days ago

    FINALLY a little R&R with family. I have always enjoyed working and rarely ever see it as a chore but I have never enjoyed cleaning up the mess after a project is finished. Right now it seems the "majority" of what I have going on fall more into the "cleaning up a mess category" so the past few days have really seemed too much like work for me. After a couple days of hanging out with the kids I'll be getting off to a fresh start and should be fine again but right now I really feel like I need a break from tagging & bagging.

    Happy New Year a couple days early. I guess it is too early in the morning to start drinking so I need to find something to do until around noon!

    #40 22 days ago

    Closing in on the end of one of the craziest years of my adult life and hoping for a more relaxing 2019. I just wanted to take a minute to remind people not to drink & drive tonight. Enjoy the party but be sure to either stay where you are at or have someone sober drive you home at the end of the festivities. Too many people still think "I am OK to drive" or "I don't have to go very far". DON'T take a chance - be safe so you are here to enjoy 2019 and beyond.

    #41 22 days ago

    Bookmark for future reading. Have you always been too many pins or did you change your name?

    I’ve been in the hobby 14 years myself.

    #42 22 days ago
    Quoted from rai:

    Bookmark for future reading. Have you always been too many pins or did you change your name?
    I’ve been in the hobby 14 years myself.

    Been too-many-pins since I started here on Pinside. Kind of a long story but after about two years in the hobby we slowed down on having time to work with machines due to other obligations but I continued to buy even though we were not fixing machines at the time. Next thing you know I have over 100 machines sitting. That was about the time I opened my Pinside account.

    Thankfully with the exception of my "junk" or "parts" machines we are finally down to a logic number of machines. At last count around 12 to 14 in the collection and just a couple for sale or in the project stash right now. So I could actually change my name here but I have not done that yet.

    #43 22 days ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    My CRAZIEST deal has to have been my fairly recent trip to El Paso, Texas this past Spring to pick up some "junk machines" & parts. I drove almost 6000 miles to buy $3500 worth of parts machines and parts but that isn't actually the crazy part. What was crazy is I did the math and I figured the weight of everything was going to be about 5000 pounds (or more). At the time I made the deal I had a Kia Minivan & a 6x12 cargo trailer with a weight capacity of about 2000 pounds max. Most RATIONAL people would have just passed on that deal but not Skip.
    What does Skip do - talks his wife into buying a new 3/4 ton Chevy van to make the trip. So after spending over $28,000 on the new van, almost $1000 in fuel, and another $700 (or more) for motel rooms I picked up the parts that had a retail value of maybe $10,000 on a great day. Basically driving almost 6000 miles just to break even at best once everything was considered.
    Now for the SAD part of the trip. While I was in El Paso I wrecked the new truck & my nearly new enclosed cargo trailer. The truck was 18 days old and had just under 3000 miles on it. One minute it looked great the next minute it had $13,000 worth of damage and the trailer was totaled. Thankfully I was able to drive both home but my new truck wasn't new anymore. Worse yet is I changed insurance companies when I bought the new truck and I had to explain to them I just cost them over $16,000 after having their insurance less than 3 weeks.
    In the end my insurance rates only went up about $130 a year & my deductible was $500 on each the trailer & the van so my mishap didn't cost me all that much but my wife wasn't very happy about that trip.

    Most of your stories hit pretty close to home. Very much enjoying them.

    #44 21 days ago
    Quoted from paragon66x:

    Most of your stories hit pretty close to home. Very much enjoying them.

    I have "enjoyed the ride" and I have had a ton of great experiences over the past 12 years (or so) that I have been in the hobby but things have changed a lot here and it is time now to head in other directions. I am both sad & excited about moving on to the next chapter of my life but I know it is the right thing to do. I just wish I could find the right person to take over my pinball parts business but for now it looks like I'll be the one doing that at least short term.

    I'll keep stories coming as I can find the time!

    Happy New Year!
    Skip

    1 week later
    #45 11 days ago

    The first 10 days of the New Year have me feeling a little better about the "parts business". FINALLY for the first time in about 10 months I have had a little time to get some new listings up and my sales volume has been insane. Even though I only have about 60% of my normal 800 parts currently listed my sales have been as good the past few days as they were when I was fully stocked last year. That tells me demand just keeps growing for these parts which is a great thing. I just wish I had time to do it right - it could be a great moneymaker and at the same time help so many more people trying to find parts for their machines.

    For now I'll just keep doing all I can to list as much as possible but if someone had the time to do this right it could be golden for everyone! All I can do for now is keep looking for that right someone and at the same time list as much as possible to keep helping people with parts for their machines.

    #46 11 days ago

    Speaking of parts Skip
    Do you have a set of these I could get from you?
    It is a Bally solid state backbox lamp board hinge and the backglass locking arm.

    49079224-C0C8-4373-AF6E-8579922BB612 (resized).jpegC5B5FBB6-CDAE-4BB8-B8AA-EF53B93475BC (resized).jpeg
    #47 11 days ago
    Quoted from High_End_Pins:

    Speaking of parts Skip
    Do you have a set of these I could get from you?
    It is a Bally solid state backbox lamp board hinge and the backglass locking arm. [quoted image][quoted image]

    Chris,

    Let me see what I can find handy. I am 100% sure I have both somewhere it is just a matter if I can put my hands on them without having to move 20 or 30 machines out of trailers to get to them. I'll add you to my "wish list" and get back to you ASAP.

    -Skip-

    #48 11 days ago

    One of the craziest hacks I have seen was done by a guy who - according to his daughter - repaired pinball machines as a part time business before he passed away. He couldn't get a machine to start a game after coining it up so he drilled a hole in the side of the cabinet and had a string attached to a relay. She proudly showed me this machine that her dad fixed up for her a few years earlier. She said "all you have to do to start the game is pull the string hanging out of the side of the cabinet"!

    I am just glad I was not one of his customers!

    What made me think of this machine is I just moved the body from my trailer home to the garage to start parting it out and saw the string hanging out of the side of it.

    #49 11 days ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    One of the craziest hacks I have seen was done by a guy who - according to his daughter - repaired pinball machines as a part time business before he passed away. He couldn't get a machine to start a game after coining it up so he drilled a hole in the side of the cabinet and had a string attached to a relay. She proudly showed me this machine that her dad fixed up for her a few years earlier. She said "all you have to do to start the game is pull the string hanging out of the side of the cabinet"!
    I am just glad I was not one of his customers!
    What made me think of this machine is I just moved the body from my trailer home to the garage to start parting it out and saw the string hanging out of the side of it.

    We have a not so nice term for that kind of fix!!

    #50 11 days ago

    What’s wrong with the term “Macgyver”...?... ............Joey

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