A Pecos Diary - My Journey to Pinball Operator

(Topic ID: 211448)

A Pecos Diary - My Journey to Pinball Operator


By Pecos

1 year ago



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  • 263 posts
  • 63 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 10 days ago by Pecos
  • Topic is favorited by 85 Pinsiders

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There are 263 posts in this topic. You are on page 3 of 6.
#101 10 months ago

Wishing you success! How much to play? Quarter? How many plays for SBA? Haha.

#102 10 months ago
Quoted from JethroP:

Wishing you success!

Thanks Jethro!

Quoted from JethroP:

How much to play? Quarter?

EMs will be priced at 25¢ and SS pins will be priced at 50¢. Those are my recommendations only. The owner of the business where the pins will be placed has final say. Unfortunately, most EMs can't accept a second coin so I am pretty much stuck with 1 Coin - 1 Play.

Quoted from JethroP:

How many plays for SBA? Haha.

Now there is an idea that never took off...

#103 10 months ago
Quoted from Pecos:

Thanks Jethro!

EMs will be priced at 25¢ and SS pins will be priced at 50¢. Those are my recommendations only. The owner of the business where the pins will be placed has final say. Unfortunately, most EMs can't accept a second coin so I am pretty much stuck with 1 Coin - 1 Play.

Now there is an idea that never took off...

if only we got rid of the 1 $ bill like Canada

#104 10 months ago

Making EM’s 50c has been done using a spare score reel. Wire the start relay to deliver a click to the reel instead... and then piggyback the start relay though the even numbers on the reel traces. Two clicks = two coins = 1 credit.

Haven’t done this myself yet but sounds cool.

#105 10 months ago
Quoted from NicoVolta:

Making EM’s 50c has been done using a spare score reel. Wire the start relay to deliver a click to the reel instead... and then piggyback the start relay though the even numbers on the reel traces. Two clicks = two coins = 1 credit.
Haven’t done this myself yet but sounds cool.

does replay and specials still work right with that?

#106 10 months ago
Quoted from Joe_Blasi:

does replay and specials still work right with that?

Yes.

The old Bally and Williams "Two Coin Unit" and "3 Coin Units" were basically a score reel assembly without the reel. Bally saved money by not including the bakelite board & traces and had a special cam that activated a lever & switch when the 2nd or 3rd coin was deposited which started the game.

Not sure aboot Gottlieb as I never actually saw their "cycler" unit or whatever it was called.

#107 10 months ago
Quoted from Pecos:

Here is a picture of Michael getting my tags ready for me. !

Damn, he looks excited for you.

#108 10 months ago

WOW!! Congrats man, i remember a few years ago seeing your first posts about picking up ems and such that most folks passed on in AZ. I wish you the best of luck, there is a good community of folks down in AZ!

#109 10 months ago

I finally caught up on this informative and interesting thread - thanks for documenting and sharing your journey to route operator. Whew!

I had no idea there were so many bureaucratic hoops to jump through to put a machine on route. For contrast, I started a (non-pin related) LLC in AZ a few years ago. IIRC, it was $50 for an Arizona Corporations Commission application for an LLC, $40 (?) to publish a public notice (in... some AZ newspaper), and $0 to get an EIN from the feds. So, for $90, I was (literally) in business. No fingerprints, no background checks, no "privilege" tax fees. Wow. I'm curious to know if soda machine vendors have to go through the same process you did, or if there is some (legal) residual prejudice against pinball machines because they were deemed "gambling devices" for most of the mid-20th century (bow to Roger Sharpe).

Not to dampen your enthusiasm for originality, but I can offer an anecdote about logo, font, layout, web design, etc. that might give you a pearl to ponder regarding your marketing. You've been given some sound advice in this thread about branding and web presence. I tried to diy all that for my own biz (and, like you, I preferred to code my own html, etc., except HTML 5 and meta data coding is not like it was when I was whipping out geocities pages in the late 90's w html 2+). I spent many hours trying to tweak my page to function on most browsers (desktop and mobile) and that was one helluva a challenge for an amateur OL programmer. With grit and brute force, I finished it all up and showed my work to my wife (her BA is in Commercial and Graphic Design) and, well, she tore my design apart. I was frustrated because (1) I didn't want to hire anyone to do work I thought I could do, and (2) I wanted to do it myself. My pearl for you: Sometimes what you think looks good - no matter how much you think it represents you - isn't what will catch the eye and gain the top-of-mind presence you want your clients to have. I'm not trying to be negative - in fact, I want you to succeed! However, when those quarters start rolling in (and they will!), I implore you to hire a brand manager to smooth out the rough edges of your marketing package.

Finally, congratulations on becoming a full-fledged operator! Maybe one day I'll be at a bar in Tucson and I'll see a Honey or #Moulin Rouge .

#110 10 months ago
Quoted from Ramtuathal:

I finally caught up on this informative and interesting thread - thanks for documenting and sharing your journey to route operator. Whew!
I had no idea there were so many bureaucratic hoops to jump through to put a machine on route. For contrast, I started a (non-pin related) LLC in AZ a few years ago. IIRC, it was $50 for an Arizona Corporations Commission application for an LLC, $40 (?) to publish a public notice (in... some AZ newspaper), and $0 to get an EIN from the feds. So, for $90, I was (literally) in business. No fingerprints, no background checks, no "privilege" tax fees. Wow. I'm curious to know if soda machine vendors have to go through the same process you did, or if there is some (legal) residual prejudice against pinball machines because they were deemed "gambling devices" for most of the mid-20th century (bow to Roger Sharpe).
Not to dampen your enthusiasm for originality, but I can offer an anecdote about logo, font, layout, web design, etc. that might give you a pearl to ponder regarding your marketing. You've been given some sound advice in this thread about branding and web presence. I tried to diy all that for my own biz (and, like you, I preferred to code my own html, etc., except HTML 5 and meta data coding is not like it was when I was whipping out geocities pages in the late 90's w html 2+). I spent many hours trying to tweak my page to function on most browsers (desktop and mobile) and that was one helluva a challenge for an amateur OL programmer. With grit and brute force, I finished it all up and showed my work to my wife (her BA is in Commercial and Graphic Design) and, well, she tore my design apart. I was frustrated because (1) I didn't want to hire anyone to do work I thought I could do, and (2) I wanted to do it myself. My pearl for you: Sometimes what you think looks good - no matter how much you think it represents you - isn't what will catch the eye and gain the top-of-mind presence you want your clients to have. I'm not trying to be negative - in fact, I want you to succeed! However, when those quarters start rolling in (and they will!), I implore you to hire a brand manager to smooth out the rough edges of your marketing package.
Finally, congratulations on becoming a full-fledged operator! Maybe one day I'll be at a bar in Tucson and I'll see a Honey or #Moulin Rouge .

The extra steps are because of the $150 vendor license. Pinball falls under that to the city. Took us at least 6 weeks to get our prints approved which is funny considering the place myself and my business partner work for our 9-5.

#111 10 months ago
Quoted from Ramtuathal:

I finally caught up on this informative and interesting thread - thanks for documenting and sharing your journey to route operator. Whew!
I had no idea there were so many bureaucratic hoops to jump through to put a machine on route. For contrast, I started a (non-pin related) LLC in AZ a few years ago. IIRC, it was $50 for an Arizona Corporations Commission application for an LLC, $40 (?) to publish a public notice (in... some AZ newspaper), and $0 to get an EIN from the feds. So, for $90, I was (literally) in business. No fingerprints, no background checks, no "privilege" tax fees. Wow. I'm curious to know if soda machine vendors have to go through the same process you did, or if there is some (legal) residual prejudice against pinball machines because they were deemed "gambling devices" for most of the mid-20th century (bow to Roger Sharpe).
.

also games are not the same as vending. I know of one city where games can't not take cash or coins do to local laws. Card systems are ok.

11
#112 10 months ago

Lookee what showed up in the mail today:

Tucson Vendor Business License (resized).png

A few issues need to be resolved before I can put my first pins on location - nothing to do with the business license. I am still in wait mode.

I will be persuing new clients as top priority this week.

Vending Machine Operator. Wow! That sure sounds wonderful!

#113 10 months ago

Way.to go Pecos !
Another step forward.

2 weeks later
#114 9 months ago

14 days since last update, what the word there Pecos machines on location yet?

#115 9 months ago
Quoted from Atari_Daze:

14 days since last update, what the word there Pecos machines on location yet?

Hopefully he's been too busy putting machines on location!

#116 9 months ago
Quoted from SkyKing2301:

Hopefully he's been too busy putting machines on location!

I wish! I do owe you all an update.

I have three possible clients. Two are dragging their feet and one business won't open until July. I told one possible client "I will make you an offer that you can't refuse." I offered to put a pinball machine in one of his locations for a week and he can keep all coins dropped. I told him that if it wasn't the best earning game in his game room, I would remove the machine, shake hands with him and part on good terms.

I am currently looking for the very best of locations. I would prefer to not have my nice pins in a bar. I would prefer to have the location close enough to keep the route time low. I may have to lower my expectations, but for now I am still contacting clients that I would prefer.

In the meantime, I finished up the restoration of a King Pin playfield. I don't do full playfield restorations these days; they just take way too much of my time. But this was a special case. The playfield had already been depopulated more that a year ago and I needed to finish the job so I could trade it for a Jack in the Box.

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/what-machine-did-you-bring-home-today-post-your-pictures/page/176#post-4427078

The playfield restoration is far from perfect but it is 'good enough' and good enough has to do! With the clear coat and Carnauba Wax, it will play screaming fast.

Before:

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After:

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I had terrible problem with fish-eyes with the Krylon #1303 Crystal Clear Acrylic that I was using - probably putting it on too thick. I spent four days sanding and repainting. The finish isn't perfectly smooth, but should be 'smooth enough.'

I am currently working on restoring Wizard! to it's former glory. I have finally broken down and gotten some Createx paint for some limited playfield retouching. Wizard! is a special game and I plan to route it so others can enjoy it.

2 weeks later
#117 9 months ago

Just got caught up. Any luck with any of those three potential clients (or others)?

Wishing you all the best,
Ryan

#118 9 months ago
Quoted from RyanClaytor:

Any luck with any of those three potential clients (or others)?

I visited two of the three 'possibles' on Monday. The owner wasn't in for one. I tracked down one of the two owners for the other. He explained that as a franchisee they were not permitted to do profit sharing. They were only contractually allowed to own the machines in their restaurants.

I am finding that it is important to talk to the person making the decisions regarding adding pinball machines to their business - and that is not easy! I have sent emails, with no luck. I have talked to managers on the phone, not effective. I have to find the right person and speak to them in person to get a 'yes' or 'no' answer.

I am looking at other venues, some suggested here in this thread to me.

Quoted from Elicash:

My parents live in Tucson half the year at the Saddle Brook active retirement community. I usually visit a couple times a year and we always go downtown to the current pinball spot.

I would recommend routing some of the EM's near Saddle Brook. Older crowd would probably have a lot of nostalgia for these pins. And they usually are looking for fun on a budget. Either way, I will make sure to find your games when I visit and drop some quarters.

I stopped at a retirement community. The receptionist sounded enthusiastic. I need to talk to their 'Activities Manager.' I left a Pecos Pinball PR package for her and will follow up with a phone call and then in person. Pinball is therapeutic for the 'greatest generation' and my vintage machines are perfect for this purpose. The older EMs are simple to learn how to play and some will remember these games from their youth. Well, that's my sales pitch anyway!

#119 9 months ago
Quoted from Pecos:

I stopped at a retirement community. The receptionist sounded enthusiastic. I need to talk to their 'Activities Manager.' I left a Pecos Pinball PR package for her and will follow up with a phone call and then in person. Pinball is therapeutic for the 'greatest generation' and my vintage machines are perfect for this purpose. The older EMs are simple to learn how to play and some will remember these games from their youth. Well, that's my sales pitch anyway!

I see where you are going with this pecos ! Us die hard EM guys are getting up there in years after all. A few months ago I turned 56.

#120 9 months ago

Good on you Pecos for all your efforts!

Allow me to share this - We just sold two machines to an operator in Texas who runs about 20 machines. I don't have his permission to share his name, but I will share some "generic" info about his operation. He is in a large Texas city, located close to the airport in a warehouse district. Rather than locate his machines scattered all over town, he found a local business who had some extra warehouse floor space. They added on a room to the office area (literally 2"x4" wood plus drywall and insulation) and placed the machines there. He updated Pinmaps to indicate his existence, and he is doing fairly well on a 70/30 split. He mentioned $600-$800 per month gross as his share. He said he gets lots of traffic from business travellers looking to kill time before their flight, and everyone finds him on Pinmaps. All machines in one location greatly simplifies his operation.

Just a thought, but best wishes to you sir!

#121 9 months ago
Quoted from PinPilot:

Good on you Pecos for all your efforts!
Allow me to share this - We just sold two machines to an operator in Texas who runs about 20 machines. I don't have his permission to share his name, but I will share some "generic" info about his operation. He is in a large Texas city, located close to the airport in a warehouse district. Rather than locate his machines scattered all over town, he found a local business who had some extra warehouse floor space. They added on a room to the office area (literally 2"x4" wood plus drywall and insulation) and placed the machines there. He updated Pinmaps to indicate his existence, and he is doing fairly well on a 70/30 split. He mentioned $600-$800 per month gross as his share. He said he gets lots of traffic from business travellers looking to kill time before their flight, and everyone finds him on Pinmaps. All machines in one location greatly simplifies his operation.
Just a thought, but best wishes to you sir!

The main pinball location in town (D&D) is in something similar. They rent a converted garage space, maybe 1200 sqft, just off one of the main shopping streets. They have an ideal location, "minimal" rent compared to an actual retail space, and have room for up to 30 games. They tend to keep it closer to 24 though.

I run Tucson Pinball with a buddy and we have 3 route locations. We are at 20 games between the 3 locations. Ours is a hobby LLC.

We have talked about what it would take for us to pull our locations and just open a single location. Then we look at rent at places that aren't warehouses and it is quite a pretty penny. The further east you go in Tucson, the fewer warehouses you can find. I don't think we are brave enough to go big yet.

The point is that Tucson is a little goofy with the way it is laid out. I'm looking forward to Pecos getting into a few places out east. I'll make it a point to go play them as they are unique titles from what I have and what D&D has.

#122 9 months ago

Just a suggestion but recently I posted an ad on my local kijiji or buy sell site. I titled the ad Pinball machines in your establishment? And I got a hit for a location within a week. Not saying it will work but worth a shot.
Cheers

#123 9 months ago
Quoted from Pinhead306:

Just a suggestion but recently I posted an ad on my local kijiji or buy sell site. I titled the ad Pinball machines in your establishment? And I got a hit for a location within a week. Not saying it will work but worth a shot.
Cheers

This is a great idea! Right now I prefer to go after the 'big boys' of my choice, close to my home and clients who would want more than one machine. I also don't want my restored pins in bars. This is somewhat egotistical, but I think that a business would be lucky to have one of my restored pinball machines in their place of business. However, as time passes and I can't find clients, I will definitely be posting an ad on Craigslist.

When I got laid off from a computer job, the people paying my unemployment insurance wanted me to apply at places like Circle 'K'. I even lost a few weeks of pay because I wasn't meeting their requirements for number of applications submitted. But I stuck to my guns and got a job at Hughes Aircraft Company doing MIS work. It was the best job I ever had and I was much happier, and richer, than if I had accepted a job in retail.

Thanks for the excellent suggestion. I'm just not ready, yet, to give up my choice of clients and open it up to all businesses.

#124 9 months ago

Kudos to you for trying to making this happen and I can't wait till you get your games on location! You and folks like DesertT1, D&D, Cobra Arcade are doing a great job keeping pinball alive in Tucson.

#125 9 months ago

I hear ya, Pecos. Some of my TPF award-winners are at the museum and we sell beer and wine from time to time. It can get a little bar-like in here. But kids can be worse, actually. "MOMMY LOOK I CAN SWING FROM THE PLUNGER WEEE!" Depends upon the group. Most of those cabinet carvings from back in the day probably came from teens.

I suggest remaining open to the bar idea. Beer and pinball are an ideal match in terms of entertainment. Maybe find a less-rowdy venue? Something which isn't totally overrun with frat dudes?

Fact is, regardless of venue, your games will bleed for you. Unavoidable part of the bidness. May your beer seal be fresh and your pingulps at the ready!

#126 9 months ago
Quoted from NicoVolta:

I suggest remaining open to the bar idea

I am going for the sweet and succulent low hanging fruit first. But, yeah, I am open to my pins in a bar. There are a few locations in Arizona where the more mature bar crowd hangs out that would be just fine. As I see it, anything can be fixed with some time and money. But I fear most the breaking of a $300 backglass in a rowdy bar!

Quoted from NicoVolta:

Fact is, regardless of venue, your games will bleed for you. Unavoidable part of the bidness. May your beer seal be fresh and your pingulps at the ready!

I hear you Nic. I used to work in an arcade called 'Fool Around' next to the University of Arizona so I fully understand the abuse my beauties will be getting. The worst I saw was a broken playfield glass. Anything but a broken backglass I can handle without crying!

Quoted from NicoVolta:

Some of my TPF award-winners are at the museum

You are wise to learn at such a young age that the best place for these restored pins are in the public, where they were *meant* to be. Kudos to you, sir, for sharing your games with so many others to enjoy! You are making memories that will never be forgotten!

#127 9 months ago

I agree with Volta, and think bars are just fine, and actually better than all-ages locations, where your game is the babysitter. I've been operating in bars for over a decade, and any damage has been small, and very rare.
That said, all ages can make good cash, and could be worth the sticky hands and annoying banging around of the little ones.

#128 9 months ago

Just bring Windex with you on your collection days and fingers on glass will mostly likely be the "worst" thing you will encounter.

#129 9 months ago
Quoted from lyonsden:

Kudos to you for trying to making this happen and I can't wait till you get your games on location!

Thanks lyonsden. I'm on a mission, a mission to populate pinball in Tucson - no matter how long it takes.

Quoted from lyonsden:

You and folks like DesertT1, D&D, Cobra Arcade are doing a great job keeping pinball alive in Tucson.

Quoted from desertT1:

I run Tucson Pinball with a buddy and we have 3 route locations. We are at 20 games between the 3 locations. Ours is a hobby LLC.

I found one of desertt1's locations:

Tucson Indoor Sports Center
1065 West Grant Road

And some of their games I see in one pic:

South Park
The Machine: Bride of Pinbot
Hook
Special Force
Ghostbusters (Pro)
Super Mario Bros.
Corvette

And some more of their games I see in another pic:

Diner
Taxi
Evel Knievel
Attack from Mars

desertt1, do you want to list your locations and current games? I would like to stop by when I am in the area. It's great to have pins back on location here in Tucson.

Quoted from desertT1:

I'll make it a point to go play them as they are unique titles from what I have and what D&D has.

Yes, your pins are newer than my machines, 'formerly known as Project Pins.' The first two to go out the door will be Williams Super-Flite, 1974, and Bally Harlem Globetrotters On Tour, 1979. They may be old but they play great! Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

D & D has two of my machines 'formerly known as Project Pins' - Williams Fan-Tas-Tic, 1972 and Williams Spanish Eyes, 1972.

1 week later
#130 8 months ago

Here’s another idea for you, Pecos. Don’t know if you’ve thought of it, and can’t remember if it’s been mentioned here.

What about VFW, AFL, and places like that? The clientele of those places is mostly 60+, much to their chagrin since they’re constantly trying to attract younger veterans. They do have beer and such, but the places are never rowdy, at least not the ones I’ve been to. Just a bunch of old guys waxing nostalgic. Playing vintage pinball machines fits that bill perfectly for them!

#131 8 months ago
Quoted from DNO:

I agree with Volta, and think bars are just fine, and actually better than all-ages locations, where your game is the babysitter. I've been operating in bars for over a decade, and any damage has been small, and very rare.
That said, all ages can make good cash, and could be worth the sticky hands and annoying banging around of the little ones.

I'll second this. I have no issues with the drunks at my location. It's the 8 to 14 year old boys that destroy shit out of boredom with parents that don't pay attention to them.

4 weeks later
#132 7 months ago

This string has caught my eye as far as what is going on with locations. I used to have pins at VFW's and other locations. I have had them at bars, fraternal organizations and a few other spots. The ones that have done best for me are brewpubs, pizza joints and corporate locations.

My favorites are corporate locations as I get a set amount a month ($250.- to $400.- each month) and they are played relatively lightly. The company puts them in their game room and I get a check regularly.

Pizza joints are good as these are family destinations and the people who work there also play them and care about how they are treated.

Brewpubs and distilleries are also great as the people who frequent these spots are not there to just get drunk. They are there to appreciate the craft they are consuming. The owners of these locations are also quite social with other brewers and most of my locations are spots of this kind and the location was gained by referral. This is key. You can chase spots all day, but people are not interested in being sold to. If a friend or a business equal gives them your name, you are in like Flynn. I talk about a bit of this with my podcast partner Ryan Wanger on The Little Kings Pinball Podcast. Feel free to message me regarding these matters and have a super frikkin' awesome day!

#133 7 months ago

It's been a long hot summer and it's not over yet. I need to update you on what has been going on over here at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour and Pecos Pinball.

Three months ago:

Quoted from Pecos:

I picked up a Bally Wizard! yesterday that I want to route. It will be a while before it gets restored but it will be nice to have a working Wizard! on route for play in Tucson!

I am now classifying the pinballs in my collection as 'Routeable' and 'Special.' Routeable games can go out on location. 'Special' pins will be reserved for special events where I can be there to keep an eye on them. I don't want my Special Pins walking off. Wizard! is very special. Consequently, I am giving this copy of this iconic mid-70s classic extra special attention during the restoration. I have spent more than two weeks getting the touch-ups right - and I'm not done yet. I still have some work to do around the letters and numbers.

Before:

before_upper_playfield (resized).jpg

before_middle_playfield (resized).jpg

before_lower_playfield (resized).jpg

After:

DSCF3670 (resized).JPG

DSCF3671 (resized).JPG

DSCF3669 (resized).JPG

DSCF3672 (resized).JPG

Touch-Ups Nearly Finished (resized).png

Wizard! is a complex game with a LOT of relays. I can usually go through the restoration of a pin and end up with fewer problems than I started with. Not this time. I ended up with about 20 mech issues that had to be diagnosed and resolved, one at a time. Five or six were score reel problems, almost always easily fixed. Three problems were real bears to fix. I will pass on the details. Maybe you can learn something that will save you some time in the future.

The Symptoms: The first rollover in the right lane was working only when the game was cold and first turned on. As the machine warmed up, this rollover would no longer work.

I looked at the schematic. You can't find a simpler circuit than the Right Lane Rollower switch to the Right Lane Relay coil lug. It is one wire!! No switches in the circuit, just one wire! Easy fix right? There is a break somewhere in that wire or the Jones plug is dirty. I ran a wire with alligator clips from switch to the correct lug on the relay. No change! Huh? What made the problem even weirder was that it was intermittent. Intermittent problems are typically the hardest to find and correct.

This switch and relay are important, really important. After flipping any or all of the four flip-flags, the Right Lane Rollover switch, when closed, activates the Right Lane relay. This relay collects one, two, three or four of the Flip-Flag features.

I finally decided to take the Right Lane Relay off the mech board and examine it further. One of the tiny coil wires had broken loose at the coil lug, probably when I was cleaning the mech board. These wires never come loose or break! Well, this one did and almost certainly broken during my thorough cleaning. The wire was touching the lug, working when the game was first started and then not working as the game warmed up. A nice new bit of solder and the problem was solved! It's such a great feeling when you have fixed one of these problems and knowing it won't be coming back because you have fixed the root problem and not the symptoms.

The next problem is, again, entirely my fault. I clean every single contact during the restoration process. That includes the contacts on the relay leaf switches. 'Double decker' switch stacks are removed to get to the bottom switches. During this process, it is easy to dislodge the metal piece on the relay that holds one end of the spring. Of course, this was the Eject Hole Relay and it was at the very rear of the mech board. No way I was getting to that. I had already tried that and made a bad situation worse. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and take the time to do it right. The mech board had to come out, again!

The Symptoms: The Eject Hole Solenoid was weak, not always kicking the ball out of the hole. The relay was buzzing up a storm - a really ugly sound! Some of the switches were arcing. Not good. This causes pitting on the contacts. The Relay hold switch and the Eject Hole Solenoid switch were the worst - they were chittering and chattering and constantly arcing, first blue and then yellow.

This is what I was seeing after I got some light on the situation:

DSCF3728 (resized).JPG

DSCF3729 (resized).JPG

DSCF3730 (resized).JPG

Can you see what is wrong???

You can see the extra large gap from the coil core to the armature plate. No wonder the relay wasn't working. A plate this far from the core will never work properly.

Then I found that the metal armature wasn't properly seated into the metal coil frame. After fixing this issue, cleaning the contacts and readjusting the switches that I had mangled, the relay works like a charm! Nice and smoooooooth!

The final 'What the Hay' problem was particualarly strange.

The Symptoms: I would be playing the game and, seemingly randomly, the 'Same Player Shoots Again' lamps in the backbox would light. It would happen on the first ball. It would happen on the second ball. You get the idea, it was happening a LOT!

The only way to get an extra ball, or so I thought, was to rack the bonus up to 19000, lighting the Left Lane Extra Ball When Lit rollover. Shoot the ball up the left lane when this lamp was lit and the 'Same Player Shoots Again' lamps would light. Okay you EM experts. Are you done detectivating and have you figured out what the problem was?

The first clue came when I was testing the Stand Up Target Special. I wasn't getting an extra game. The Extra Ball/Special Jones Plug feature was set to extra ball. None of the Jones Plugs on the Mech Board were marked so I had to track down the right Jones Plugs by looking up the wire colors on the schematic. Then I found that every single stinkin' Male Jones Plug had put been put into the ten positions of the Score Adjustment Jones plug in the backbox. When the the score got to 3X,000, an extra ball was awarded. When the score got to 5X,000 an extra ball was awarded. Here, a picture is worth a hundred words:

number 1027 Score Adjustment (resized).jpg

Sorry, it's a tad bit crooked.

I changed the Extra Ball/Special Jones Plug feature to 'Special' and I removed all ten of the Score Adjustment Male Jones Plugs. No more extra balls except for when the Extra Ball When Lit rollover was collected. Perfection is perfectly awesome! This is not something you would ever expect to see. No one puts all ten male Jones Plugs in the Female Score Adjustment Jones Plugs, do they?! The previous owner did. It just goes to show you; You never know what someone has done, as crazy as it might seem, to the Project Pin you are trying to restore. Surprise is often the order of the day.

I'm sure that I will find another problem or two. I still have to work on the coin mechs but this game is now 99% and mechanically ready to go to it's first special event. And what a wonderful feeling that is.

Good things are happening at Pecos Pinball.

#134 7 months ago

Practically perfect there Pecos.

2 weeks later
14
#135 7 months ago

Pecos Pinball is pleased and honored to announce their affiliation with the Hotel McCoy. Pecos Pinball is excited to be bringing vintage pinball to the people of Tucson.

Hotel McCoy is a retro hotel. Bryan Coggins and his team have spent a lot of time and money bringing the old hotel Silverbell Inn back to life, as a resort hotel with a 1960s feel. They have 93 rooms at very reasonable prices.

The first machine at Hotel McCoy is a Williams 1973 Travel Time . It will be located in the lobby near the pool, outdoor ping pong table and other recreational amenities.

Travel Time will be set at two games for a quarter as an introductory price. Stop by and support pinball in Tucson and say that Pecos sent you!

It has taken me quite a bit of time getting this up to my standards. This was my first pin on route and I wanted it to look as nice as I could; first impressions are important.

And it takes a lot of work to take a game that is working fine for home use but needs more work to make it route ready. Then there were the missing parts like a total play meter. And then were the unexpected mini-disasters. I had never seen this one before! I heard a crunch when lowering the playing onto the prop rod. Not good. I found that the prop rod had prodded it's way right through the shooter lane. Some wood glue, gorilla glue and a tad bit of clamping and it was fixed.

DSCF3746 (resized).JPG

DSCF3748 (resized).JPG

There was quite a bit of planking on the playfield. It takes me a lot of time to do a playfield touch-up - I'm just not that good of an artist. When I was in first grade I was the victim of teacher abuse. I was paddled for not coloring within the lines. Is it possible that I never got over that? As you can see, I still can't color in the lines.

DSCF3764 (resized).JPG

I didn't have the time to strip the playfield down and clear coat it using my preferred method. Instead, I touched-up the playfield and applied several coats of Carnauba wax. I seriously thought about using Varathane, but I'm not a fan of Varathane and was afraid that it would eventually peel off the playfield. So, I did some serious thinking about what causes playfield wear. If you look at any pinball that has been in play for thousands of games you will see that the pinball, once smooth and shiny, is now covered with tiny nicks. That can't be good for a playfield. What might cause those nicks? The prime culprits would be the kickout hole metal thingy and any other features on the playfield that feature metal on metal contact. This is my solution:

DSCF3737 (resized).JPG

DSCF3744 (resized).JPG

DSCF3750 (resized).JPG

I bought this box of heat shrink tubing not really sure what I would do with all of those larger sizes. I may have found a use! This is experimental. I will have to keep an eye on how fast the heat shrink tubing wears. I will have to watch out for those little colorful tubes that shrink detaching themselves and falling off the metal that they protect. With any luck, my brand new pinball will stay shiny, smooth as a baby's bottom and brand new looking. Will a few coats of wax will protect my playfield? I am going to find out. I will, of course, have to wax the playfield more often and I am not too optimistic that wax will be enough. Time will tell.

As I mentioned, there was a lot of planking on the playfield. Here are some before pics:

DSCF2383 (resized).JPG

DSCF2429 (resized).JPG

After much work, rework and more rework, I finally got the results I was looking for.

DSCF3801 (resized).JPG

DSCF3802 (resized).JPG

The lines you see in these pics are not planking. They are scratches in the playfield glass that the camera picked up.

And finally, what you have been waiting for, pics of Travel Time on site at Hotel McCoy!

DSCF3793 (resized).JPG

My best friend and pin hauler, Dave.

DSCF3795 (resized).JPG

DSCF3800 (resized).JPG

hotel_mccoy_full_playfield (resized).jpg

hotel_mccoy_full_pinball (resized).jpg

When I was a freshman at the University of Arizona I lived on campus at the Apache Hall dorm, or Apache Pit as I so lovingly called it. I did my laundry at a nearby laundromat. If you have ever done your laundry in a laundromat, you know just how incredibly boring that chore is. And what did they have in that laundromat to ease my extreme boredom but a pinball machine, a Williams Travel Time pinball machine! Wouldn't it be something if that very same Williams Travel Time pinball machine is the same Williams Travel Time pinball machine that is now at the Hotel McCoy? Perhaps a freshman from the University of Arizona will one day wander into the Hotel McCoy and play this Williams Travel Time pinball machine. Perhaps said freshman will one day grow up and he will rescue and restore this very same Williams Travel Time pinball machine. Perhaps he will then put it on location somewhere in Tucson where another freshman from the University of Arizona will find it and play it... Stranger things have happened!

#136 7 months ago

Congratulations on finding your first location. It seems perfect too considering the hotels theme.

#137 7 months ago
Quoted from Pecos:

Pecos Pinball is pleased and honored to announce their affiliation with the Hotel McCoy. Pecos Pinball is excited to be bringing vintage pinball to the people of Tucson.
Hotel McCoy is a retro hotel. Bryan Coggins and his team have spent a lot of time and money bringing the old hotel Silverbell Inn back to life, as a resort hotel with a 1960s feel. They have 93 rooms at very reasonable prices.
The first machine at Hotel McCoy is a Williams 1973 Travel Time . It will be located in the lobby near the pool, outdoor ping pong table and other recreational amenities.
Travel Time will be set at two games for a quarter as an introductory price. Stop by and support pinball in Tucson and say that Pecos sent you!
It has taken me quite a bit of time getting this up to my standards. This was my first pin on route and I wanted it to look as nice as I could; first impressions are important.
And it takes a lot of work to take a game that is working fine for home use but needs more work to make it route ready. Then there were the missing parts like a total play meter. And then were the unexpected mini-disasters. I had never seen this one before! I heard a crunch when lowering the playing onto the prop rod. Not good. I found that the prop rod had prodded it's way right through the shooter lane. Some wood glue, gorilla glue and a tad bit of clamping and it was fixed.
[quoted image]
[quoted image]
There was quite a bit of planking on the playfield. It takes me a lot of time to do a playfield touch-up - I'm just not that good of an artist. When I was in first grade I was the victim of teacher abuse. I was paddled for not coloring within the lines. Is it possible that I never got over that? As you can see, I still can't color in the lines.
[quoted image]
I didn't have the time to strip the playfield down and clear coat it using my preferred method. Instead, I touched-up the playfield and applied several coats of Carnauba wax. I seriously thought about using Varathane, but I'm not a fan of Varathane and was afraid that it would eventually peel off the playfield. So, I did some serious thinking about what causes playfield wear. If you look at any pinball that has been in play for thousands of games you will see that the pinball, once smooth and shiny, is now covered with tiny nicks. That can't be good for a playfield. What might cause those nicks? The prime culprits would be the kickout hole metal thingy and any other features on the playfield that feature metal on metal contact. This is my solution:
[quoted image]
[quoted image]
[quoted image]
I bought this box of heat shrink tubing not really sure what I would do with all of those larger sizes. I may have found a use! This is experimental. I will have to keep an eye on how fast the heat shrink tubing wears. I will have to watch out for those little colorful tubes that shrink detaching themselves and falling off the metal that they protect. With any luck, my brand new pinball will stay shiny, smooth as a babies bottom and brand new looking. Will a few coats of wax will protect my playfield? I am going to find out I will, of course, have to wax the playfield more often and I am not too optimistic that wax will be enough. Time will tell.
As I mentioned, there was a lot of planking on the playfield. Here are some before pics:
[quoted image]
[quoted image]
After much work, rework and more rework, I finally got the results I was looking for.
And Finally, what you have been waiting for - pics of Travel Time on site at Hotel McCoy!
[quoted image]
My best friend and pin hauler, Dave.
[quoted image]
[quoted image]
[quoted image]
[quoted image]
When I was a freshman at the University of Arizona I lived on campus at the Apache Hall dorm, or Apache Pit as I so lovingly called it. I did my laundry at a nearby laundromat. If you have ever done your laundry in a laundromat, you know just how incredibly boring that chore is. And what did they have in that laundromat to ease my extreme boredom but a pinball machine, a Williams Travel Time pinball machine! Wouldn't it be something if that very same Williams Travel Time pinball machine is the same Williams Travel Time pinball machine that is now at the Hotel McCoy? Perhaps a freshman from the University of Arizona will one day wander into the Hotel McCoy and play this Williams Travel Time pinball machine. Perhaps said freshman will one day grow up and he will rescue and restore this very same Williams Travel Time pinball machine. Perhaps he will then put it on location somewhere in Tucson where another freshman from the University of Arizona will find it and play it... Stranger things have happened!

Pecos...!!!!

applauseMaryl.gif

Oh mah gawd!!@@!~!!!!! This has been a helluva journey. MANY many congratualations on the first (OF MANY) milestones!

Lots of pride beaming from Michigan. Wish I could come pump some quarters in there...and urge you to up the price-per-play. Ha-ha!

Fantastic work, my friend!!!
-Ryan

#138 6 months ago
Quoted from Ericc123:

Congratulations on finding your first location. It seems perfect too considering the hotels theme.

Thanks Ericc123! The hotel's motto is 'Travel for All.' A mural just outside the room that Travel Time is in uncannily mimics Travel Time's backglass and cabinet with it's bright colors and palm trees. I'll have to take a pic of the mural next time I am down there and post it here for you.

Quoted from RyanClaytor:

Oh mah gawd!!@@!~!!!!! This has been a helluva journey. MANY many congratualations on the first (OF MANY) milestones!

A journey full of adventure! Thanks Ryan for the MANY, many congrats.

AND Wow! An animated GIF from ryanclaytor!

Quoted from RyanClaytor:

Lots of pride beaming from Michigan. Wish I could come pump some quarters in there...and urge you to up the price-per-play. Ha-ha!

The...

2 PLAYS
<>
QUARTER

...price is not as generous as it may first appear. I planned on one play per quarter on all EMs but the Quarter Relay wouldn't start a game with the Jones Plug set to 1 play per quarter. Travel Time is highly configurable. I changed the settings from:

90 Time Units, Number Match ON, 80,000 points for one replay

to

60 Time Units, Number Match OFF, 61,000 Points for one replay

I can also speed up the Time Units so they click off faster, but most people at the hotel will be pinball newbies. One of the contractors did put 95,000+ on it, but I knew he was a gamer from way back when he asked me if I was going to bring a Galaga in!

I don't like turning off features but in this case it made sense since I was already giving the games away at 12 1/2 cents each! Oh yeah, that and the Match Unit didn't seem to be working and I had no time to fix it!

I signed up for a Trade Name through Arizona's online Website last night and got this Arizona Trade Name Certificate. I should have done this months ago. I tried to do this months ago but when the Website asked for a name, I had to also choose the business type as Inc. or LLC. I must have found the right online form this time because I wasn't asked to include a business type. Now that 'Pecos Pinball' is registered, no one in Arizona can use that name.

Cost: $10.00

AZ Trade Name Certificate Pinside (resized).jpg

The Arizona Trade name certificate is needed to get a business account at my local Federal Credit Union. I also need a copy of my Tucson Business license and an 'ID, credit bureau, ChexSystems review', whatever that is.

This account will be separate from my personal FCU account so I can better track expenses and income.

I cannot get a credit card for my business account, only a debit card.

I will be heading down to my FCU to set up a business account today.

Total business startup costs to date:

Transaction Privilege Tax, TPT: $32.00
Tucson Business License: $62.50
Vending Distributor License: $137.50
Two Passport Photos: $16.29
Fingerprinting: $10.00
DPS Background Check: $22.00
Parking: $2.00
9x City of Tucson Coin Operated Machine Licenses @$6.00 each $54.00
Parking: $2.00
Arizona Trade Name Certificate: $10
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sub Total: $348.29
Liability Insurance (one year) $593.40
Total: $941.69

#139 6 months ago

congrats!

Now time to go find the highest foot traffic bar you can and make sure it has space for 4+ games!

Let's get all that investment cost earned back for you!
If I am ever in the area I will be dropping quarters in your games.

#140 6 months ago

Today's haul:

DSCF3804 (resized).JPG

A box of pencils for $1.00: One pencil will be kept in each pinball machine on route so I can fill out the Credits and Cash spreadsheet which will also be kept in each pinball on route.

credits_and_cash (resized).png

The clear nail polish is for the metal edge on the top arch where the pinball is guided into play. This is another experiment to reduce nicks on the pinball.

And I got my Pecos Pinball business account today. I even got a debit card on the same day! Now that is service! I can now track my business income and expenses easier.

#141 6 months ago

I'd still suggest you have that spreadsheet up on google drive. I enter each machine as I count quarters into drive and can be done at the location pretty quick. Then I can go over the numbers at my leisure. If you want to be methodical about things, that's not a problem at all, but the convenience of having the spreadsheet web based is really nice.

Also, try to collect on the same day of the week/month/whatever. It will help you track average earnings compared to other locations with just a simple glance. I collect on Thursdays for 2 locations, since that's when I have tournaments at one spot and the other is on the way. The third location is typically on the Tuesday I have events at that location, and other random times during the month. Still ends up being 4 times a month usually, but that one is a little more of a convenience stop, and not as scheduled.

#142 6 months ago

Nice Pecos!

Keep it up!

#143 6 months ago
Quoted from nascarrey:

Nice Pecos!

Keep it up!

Thanks nascarrey! I can use all the encouragement I can get - much appreciated!

Quoted from desertT1:

I'd still suggest you have that spreadsheet up on google drive.

Thanks desertt1. The information I put in the spreadsheet is client confidential and I don't want the Google people to have access to it. I know it is old school. I will be taking pics of the spreadsheet after I update it and transferring the data to my PC with RAID 1, so there is some measure of redundancy.

Quoted from desertT1:

Also, try to collect on the same day of the week/month/whatever.

Good idea. I plan on doing this. It will take a while to learn how much is taken in and when would be the best time to collect. I don't want to leave a lot of quarters in the game nor do I want to have to visit each week. I'm thinking that twice monthly on the same day of the week, probably Friday, is going to work out best.

I got a PM from a local Pinsider. He took up my offer to play Travel Time on site at the Hotel McCoy. As he was about to put a quarter in the machine, he was told, "you don't even need quarters to play!" He told me that, sure enough, the game was set for free play. I am so grateful to my friendly Pinsider! Thank you for CMA - Covering My A**.

I thought I might have put the credit reel on wrong, but when I got there I found this:

DSCF3808 (resized).JPG

Do you know what the problem is and what needs to be done to fix the 'free game' issue? It took me a while to realize that the two wires on the top switch are NOT both white and orange. It is a real problem for me with my old eyes to determine the faded colors of these wires!

I told you about the mural on the outside of the lobby where Travel Time is set up. It looks a lot like the Travel Time backglass; don't you think!

travel_for_all_mural (resized).jpg

DSCF2382 (resized).JPG

I wonder if the artist saw a picture of the backglass before they did the mural??

#144 6 months ago

First lesson of actual routing, always test your coin mechs, dbv, and for inadvertant free games. Most players will never tell you when your game is giving out free games.

We recently put out a maiden with a DBV and there was a bug in the code with how it worked with DBV, it was giving out something like 12 games for a buck. Quite a few happy pinballers that month. Luckily we have a few honest regulars and they realize that if the games don't make money then they cease to exist. One called me as soon as he found the error. I ended upcovering his bar tab and slapping free games on everything for him.

Lesson two, always take care of the guys that tell you about issues.

#145 6 months ago

The latest haul, from eBay:

DSCF3814 (resized).JPG

DSCF3815 (resized).JPG

28 Coin Mechs (resized).png

The Project Pins I buy are often missing the coin mechs. Gotta have these for pins on route!

I always try to save pinball parts, but these plastic coin mechs are not worth keeping. I've never actually used them, but they are missing the magnet and don't seem very robust.

#146 6 months ago
Quoted from Pecos:

The latest haul, from eBay:
[quoted image]
[quoted image]
[quoted image]
The Project Pins I buy are often missing the coin mechs. Gotta have these for pins on route!
I always try to save pinball parts, but these plastic coin mechs are not worth keeping. I've never actually used them, but they are missing the magnet and don't seem very robust.

Nice haul of both St. Louis Missouri and Elmhurst, Illinois coin mechanisms. During my Route Days, those plastic mechs hardly ever jammed versus the steel and cast ones. No adjustments, with the exception of sliding the barrel magnet .125" to accept or reject Canadian coins. It was an issue being in a border town.

#147 6 months ago
Quoted from MrBally:

Nice haul of both St. Louis Missouri and Elmhurst, Illinois coin mechanisms. During my Route Days, those plastic mechs hardly ever jammed versus the steel and cast ones. No adjustments, with the exception of sliding the barrel magnet .125" to accept or reject Canadian coins. It was an issue being in a border town.

I have all kinds of trouble with the mechs in those pictures; I literally just replaced two metal ones two hours ago due to the constant jams. The only ones that work for me that are almost bulletproof are the Imonex ones.

#148 6 months ago

I have mechanical mechs in the early solid state games i route, and they have nothing but trouble.
The newer games with nri and sr3 electronic ones are almost trouble free.
I wish i could use them in the older games.

#149 6 months ago
Quoted from MrBally:

Nice haul of both St. Louis Missouri and Elmhurst, Illinois coin mechanisms.

Elmhurst, Illinois is Coin Mech. Is St. Louis Coinco?

Quoted from MrBally:

During my Route Days, those plastic mechs hardly ever jammed versus the steel and cast ones. No adjustments, with the exception of sliding the barrel magnet .125" to accept or reject Canadian coins.

So, I should look more closely at the plastic mechs? I didn't realize that there was a small magnet hidden in there. I was looking for a big magnet.

Quoted from Brijam:

I have all kinds of trouble with the mechs in those pictures; I literally just replaced two metal ones two hours ago due to the constant jams. The only ones that work for me that are almost bulletproof are the Imonex ones.

Quoted from cudabee:

I have mechanical mechs in the early solid state games i route, and they have nothing but trouble.
The newer games with nri and sr3 electronic ones are almost trouble free.
I wish i could use them in the older games.

I worked in a game room in the late 70s and we had no problems with the coin mechs. They were in new or relatively new pins. I haven't had any problems with the coin mechs I use. But, I take them apart, clean the crusty coke and beer gunk and SuperLube the metal on metal parts.

I realized on Saturday when I was testing Travel Time after fixing the 'free play' issue that I needed a new column in my spreadsheet.

Games and Cash Spreadsheet Updated (resized).png

The new column is 'SVC Games' so I can track and remove the games I play when testing a pin after service work.

Today's haul:

17 x 7/8" tubular cam locks for the backdoors from forceflow. Thanks ForceFlow!

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/fs-double-bitted-7-8-locks

I have been buying my coin door locks on eBay and my backdoor locks from Pinball Life in onesies and twosies, but I prefer to spend my money with Pinsiders. With this lot, I will be set for backbox lox for quite a while. I still need higher quality, uniquely keyed, coin door locks. All of the lots I see on eBay and Amazon are all keyed alike. Does anybody have any links to a good 7/8" tubular cam lock keyed differently that doesn't cost an arm and a leg?

#150 6 months ago

Why would you want them keyed differently?

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