(Topic ID: 211448)

A Pecos Diary - My Journey to Pinball Operator

By Pecos

3 years ago


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24
#1 3 years ago

I have been toying with the idea of starting my own pinball operator business for quite a while now, but now is the time to take this big step for these reasons:

  • I need the space. 37 pinball machines seems to be my limit here at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour.
  • I need the money. I don't expect the income to be much, but even a little bit will be welcome.
  • My machines need to be played. They don't get much play here at the PPPP and they were meant to be played.
  • If my pinball machines will bring even a little bit of the joy that I got from playing pinball in my youth, my efforts will be well worth it.
  • I put so much work into the restoration of my games, that routing the machines from my collection means that I will benefit from all of the hard work to make them reliable and nice looking while still maintaining ownership. I sold some of my games last year and got nowhere near minimum wage for the hours I put into the restoration. Add the costs of the parts, and it just makes more sense to keep the games and try to make money routing them.

I wanted to start my business, Pecos Pinball, as soon as possible, but thought better of that idea. There was a lot of work to be done! I chose April 1st, 2018 because Tucson business license costs are pro-rated by quarter and that gave me a month and a half to prepare.

If it weren't for all of the paperwork required to run your own business, I would have done this a long time ago. I despise with a passion tax forms and all of the documentation needed to do the income, expenses and depreciation. Just getting a Vendor Distributor license in Tucson is a hassle. Michael, who works for the licensing division here in Tucson has been very helpful. He sent me a package of paperwork that needed to be filled out and answered a lot of my questions. I need four licenses:

  • TPT - Transaction Privilege Tax
  • Tucson Business License
  • Vendor Distributor License
  • A license for each pinball machine

In addition, I had to be fingerprinted by the Tucson Police Department. Okay, that is just a tad bit over the top, doncha think?

Getting ready to put my pinball machines on route, now residing at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour, is a big task. Items that don't matter in a home environment take on importance when a machine is put in the public. The coin mechs have to work. Locks are needed for the coin door, coin box and back box. Many of my Project Pins came with no backbox backdoor and the lids on coin boxes always seem to be missing. Tilt plumb bobs and balls for the ball roll tilts are almost always missing and need to be replaced. The games need to play 99% or better and that is a tough task to accomplish. And you want the machine to look as good as possible so playfield touch-ups are important too.

A restoratation of my games is a lot of work. It's hard enough to get a game working 95% and that fits most of my working machines. Getting that last 5% can be a real bear. Here are the steps I am doing in the restoration and the preparation for routing a machine:

  • Remove rust from legs, wax and replace leg levelers with new leg levelers. Shine up the leg bolts.
  • Check power cord for splices. Replace if necessary. Check wire nuts for missing or loose.
  • Remove fuses, one at a time, and check to see if Amperage is correct. Replace if not. Buff with Magic Brush the contact points on the fuse holders and fuses. Pinch fuse holders to tighten if fuses are loose. Replace fuse holders if necessary. Test with a DMM for continuity.
  • Check coin door switches for mal-adjustment. Clean and adjust as necessary.
  • Disassemble shooter rod, clean, replace sleeve, replace barrel spring and lightly lubricate with SuperLube. Reassemble and install. These old plastic shooter rod housings are often broken. A new metal one may be needed.
  • Remove, clean and insert new nylon solenoid sleeves for the pop bumpers, sling shots and flippers.
  • Remove mech board and vacuum cabinet - if needed or dust off mech board.
  • Clean and repaint bottom of cabinet if needed.
  • Glue and clamp cabinet, if needed.
  • Clean and adjust all switches on mech board.
  • Shine all screw heads, washers and metal parts if removed.
  • Disassemble score motor and clean cam and brackets.
  • Clean and adjust all switches on score motor.
  • Clean and adjust all switches under the playfield.
  • Replace all playfield insert lamps with new #44 lamps.
  • Replace all playfield general illumination (GI) lamps with new #47 lamps.
  • Replace all backbox lamps with new #47 lamps.
  • Replace pop bumper lamps with new #47 lamps.
  • Clean playfield and wax with Carnauba Wax.
  • Clean all playfield parts - flipper bats, posts, plastics, aprons etc.
  • New rubber rings on playfield.
  • Disassemble and clean all stepper units - Credit Unit, Player Unit, Match Unit.
  • Disassemble and clean all parts for each score reel.
  • Adjust and clean score reel switches.
  • Clean and adjust all switches in the backbox.
  • Take apart chime box and knocker, if needed.
  • Coat backglass with Triple Thick to prevent flaking.
  • Clean outside of cabinet with blue window cleaner.
  • New locks on coin door, coin box and backbox door.
  • Replace backbox door, if missing.
  • Replace coin box and coin box lid, if missing.
  • Clean and adjust all tilts. Pay special attention to the coin door slam tilt and the kick-off tilts on the bottom of the mech board. These are normally closed!
  • Replace Ball Roll Tilt ball and Tilt Plumb Bob, if missing.
  • Replace coin mechs and make sure the machine will take coins and add credits/start game.
  • Set up replay point values and change instruction and score cards
  • Test tilts, features and play game to find issues

For the solid state games, these tasks need to be completed:

  • Replace all electrolytic capacitors
  • Add NVRAMs
  • New connectors where needed
  • Upgrade Power Supply Boards
  • Add LEDs, as an option
  • Add new drop target decals and Mylar
  • There are always a few lamps out on the old Bally SS pins needing SCR/MCRs replaced
  • Tweak settings to allow for more points, easier to achieve features - but don't give away the store

I'm sure that I have missed something, so consider these lists a work in process.

I use the 'fist test' to find any switches that are set too close. A firm banging of your fist on different parts of the playfield will trigger switches that are set too tight. This is important because kids will take advantage of pins that give free points. I know I did!

I have called my insurance agent to get some quotes on liability insurance but have not heard back.

I thought it would be easy to find some businesses that would want to add pinball machines. It hasn't been so far. I began by dressing up and visiting some local places. The Moose lodge doesn't have the room. The Mulligan's manager has twice told their employees to get my name and number. The manager said that the owner was looking for new entertainment devices; I will keep trying. The local fitness center would be a perfect place to route Hardbody, but their corporate office won't allow any vending machines in their store. I plan to start calling some businesses that are not as close. I called a local pizza eatery and one of the owners was interested when I told them that my pinball machines were vintage, but needed to contact their partner and I haven't heard back from them. There will be no 'Grand Opening' if I can't find some businesses to put my games in!

I plan to route these games:

  • Aztec EM - 1976 Williams, two available
  • Spanish Eyes EM - 1972 Williams, two available
  • Travel Time EM - 1973 Williams
  • Super-Flite EM - 1974 Williams
  • Steller Wars SS - 1979 Williams
  • Future Spa SS - 1979 Bally
  • Mr & Mrs Pac-Man SS with LEDs - 1982 Bally
  • Hardbody SS with LEDs - 1987 Bally

The following games will be available soon:

  • Liberty Bell EM - 1977 Williams
  • Laser Cue SS - 1984 Williams
#4 3 years ago

I ordered two coin plates, 2 Quarters / 1 Game on ebay for Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man and Future Spa. I plan on charging 25 cents for the EMs and 50 cents for the SS pins, but the businesses will have final say on pricing.

One of the items I badly need is coin box lids. I could go to a local sheet metal shop and have some made, but why spend the money I don't have? I thought about several ideas and came up with this one, primarily because I have the parts and tools I need on hand.

Since most of the games I want to route are Williams, I started by trying to copy the original Williams coin box lid. It has a handle, and I wanted to add a handle, but the metal I had on hand that might work was too thick. Even after scoring, the metal was hard to bend. I decided on a simpler solution.

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I am using a radial arm saw and metal cutting blade. It is a big blade and needs two stabilizers so the blade won't break apart. The perforated sheet metal I had on hand has been sitting around for 20 years and is rusty. I started with a drill and wire brush to remove the rust. That worked well, but my angle grinder was faster. I wore a 3M mask to keep the rust out of my lungs and glasses to keep metal pieces out of my eyes - absolutely necessary!

The metal bent fairly easily. The sides were bent to match the original lid.

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The three coin-drop holes and the hole for the lock-tab was made with a Dremel tool using a metal cutting blade. The blades wear fast - about 3/4 of the blade per lid. I painted with Krylon Brilliant Silver spray paint.

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Since I planned on using a handle, the top to bottom length was a bit short for the first three. I don't think this will allow anyone to pry up the front to get access to the quarters inside, but this lid is designed to keep honest people honest, not to keep the persistent thief out. I will fix this in the next batch.

The teeny tiny locks I got from Amazon are a bit of a joke. They looked full size in the pictures but were really small when I opened the package. They should still do the job.

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#12 3 years ago

Stellar Wars was the first game I got working 100%. I have several theories about how well these old games will do on route - SS machines will do better than EMs and EMs will do well only if they play like they did when new. This is why I am focusing on SS games now.

I did the bullet-proofing recommend by Vid and l labeled my boards with the dates, changes and fuse types.

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I added 8A slow blow fuses to the two bridges. Don't want to burn down any businesses!

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I replaced the four middle drop targets, added new drop targets decals with Mylar, and added new purple lane guides and purple pop bumper skirts. Pretty cool, huh! I touched up the playfield and waxed it. Stellar Wars looks and plays, well, Stellar!!

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Here is an example of the kind of documentation I am keeping on my pinballs that will be routed:

Capital Gains and Losses Income

Williams 1979 Stellar Wars Pinball Machine
Costs:
Purchased for $550, $500 + $50 bonus on October 26th, 2016

Restoration costs:

$10 #44 and #47 lamps
$15 Rubber Rings
$3 Front coin door lock
$14.00 4x Drop Target - Williams Early A-8146-3 Maroon/Pink $3.50
$4.45 5x $0.89 Purple Pop bumper skirts
$13.95 10x Purple lane guide
$1.25 New pinball

Electrolytic Capacitors – Great Plains Electronics

MPU & Driver Board
$0.54 $027x2 2x 100µF 25V
$4.40 4x $1.10 Molex Connectors
$12.00 5101 NVRAM - $12

Sound Board
$4.50 1x 12,000 µF 25V
$0.45 1x 470 µF 25V
$0.675 1x 1000 µF 25V
$0.27 1x 100µF 25V
$0.18 1x 33 µF 25V

Power Supply Board
$4.50 1x 12,000 µF 25V
$5.40 3x $1.80 100 µF 160V
$0.63 $0.315 2x 6A4 Diode
$2.00 2x $1.00 Fuse Block
$0.80 2x $0.40 8A SB Fuses

Shipping:
$2.63 $24.345/ 225.52 * 24.37
Parts and Shipping $83.67

Total Costs

$632.42

I am keeping this information for tax purposes. It takes me 2-3 hours to go back and document the parts and costs for each machine.

I visited two more businesses today, a bar and a bowling alley. The bowling alley manager told me that their corporate office buys all of their games. The bar is still a possibility.

I am finishing up the restoration on Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man. I got a second coin mech and switch working. It's always nice to have working coin chutes. I had some stuck-on switches. The drop target switches were easy to fix and find. But, after I thought I had gotten all of my switch problems behind me, the game started scoring 500 points at start-up. That is a real problem on Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man because any points scored will turn of the shooter skill shot. I got smart and started testing with the coin door self test. As soon as I figured out that the pinball had to be removed and all targets had to be up, I got to the problem switch - #30 'Wire Spinner.' There are two of these and no matter how much I looked upwise, downwise, sidwise, underwise and allwise, I could see no problems. I decided to remove the wires to the two switches. AHA! The switch problem went away! This meant that one or more of either the two diodes or the two disc capacitors had to be bad. After adding and removing wires, I narrowed the problem down to the right Wire Spinner. The diode tested good, so this meant that the disc capacitor had to be bad. But I thought these hardly ever failed?

Next, I had to learn how to read disc capacitors. There was Y5P and .05M on the capacitor. I thought the M stood for microfarad, sounds reasonable right? Wrong! M stands for +- 20% tolerance and the .05 means .05 microfarad. I went looking for my stash of parts and, surprisingly, I found a .047 uF disc capacitor. I don't even remember what I bought it for but I am sure glad I had them on had. The difference is not big enough to matter, so I soldered it back on and powered up the machine. Success!! What a great feeling to isolate and fix that problem! I still consider myself a rookie working on these SS pins so it took me longer to debug than a pro would have taken, almost four hours, but that is the price of learning.

#17 3 years ago
Quoted from Matesamo:

Are you tracking the labor hours that you pit into the machines?

There is no reason to for tax purposes. I spend 60 to 90 hours to restore an EM. The time spent on SS pins varies widely, but it is a lot less than EMs.

I forgot to mention that I have a Website, pecospinball.com for my business. It's not that important for a pinball operator, but it is nice to have email addresses that end in pecospinball.com. I've been considering getting some business cards, but haven't pulled the trigger yet. Do I really need them?

I contacted one of the local bars today. I will be talking with one of the owners tomorrow. One of the employees told me that they might be interested in adding some pinballs to their entertainment lineup.

I also contacted a local insurance company to get some quotes on insurance. They will be sending me a quote.

I took the left gate apart to clean it. When trying to put it back together again, I could not figure out how it worked. I turned the game on and realized that unlike all of my Williams pins, the gate coil is engaged when CLOSED, not OPEN! Seems completely illogical, but there you are. That is how it works. It was easy to put back together once I realized that.

I got my latest order, number eight, from Ed at GPE. Ed is my SS pinball hero. Life is much better with Ed and Great Plains Electronics filling my orders for electronic parts!

With new parts in hand, I replaced the electrolytic caps on the Solenoid Driver/Voltage Regulator board this evening. The fifth Pac-Man lamp on the playfield was stuck on. I found the SCR number on the schematic, Q6, and replaced with a SCR 2N5064. After powering on, the new SCR is working. It's still magic to me when I replace a part and it works! Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man appears to be playing 100%, probably for the first time in 30 years.

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That big black Richey capacitor is so cool looking! I could have used an axial capacitor, but this is the cleanest look and I don't mind paying a little bit more for a 'clean' look.

I had already replaced the electrolytic capacators on the Squawk and Talk board in late 2016.

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Except for a few colored inserts, the game is now using LEDs, including the Pac-Maze. I will be ordering some colored LEDS soon. Some of the computer controlled lamps were blinking after replacing with LEDs. I ordered a bag of 500 750 Ohm resistors from GPE on clearance for $3.75. I soldered one of them in parallel on each lamp socket with the blinking LEDs. The resistors did the trick! I am using the LED Pac-Maze made by Geeteoh Electronics. I will never have to replace those little incandescent bulbs again! And those teeny tiny bulbs aren't cheap at $1.10 each. There are 50 of them on the Pac-Maze.

After the touch-ups, Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man is looking pretty good!

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I got my NOS coin plates today, shown on the bottom of this picture.

Edit: If you look closely, you will see Williams style flippers on Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man. I am keeping the originals, but these will stay on. I like them better than the Bally flippers. I just scored 1.23 Million and it is a real pleasure to be playing a Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man that is playing 100%. After adding the new coin plates, this game will be ready for routing! Pin #3 ready to go!

#25 3 years ago
Quoted from dr_nybble:

Find where the hipsters hang out...record shop, comic store, game shop, vintage video games, ...

The hipsters hang out on 4th Avenue. D & D Pinball has the market wrapped up there.

Quoted from Matesamo:

I am surprised that you can't get a tax break on labor, did you talk to an accountant? Anything you do for business purposes should get you something I would think.

I can't afford an accountant. I have never heard of a way to deduct your labor when self employed, but if anyone has any info, I would like to hear about it. I have been self employed before and you have to pay for your share of the Social Security taxes plus the share that the employer normally pays - something to be aware of when negotiating a contract.

Quoted from jwilson:

It's truly a labour of love if you're only charging 25 / 50 cents per game. Will you be splitting that with the location?

Yes, I am asking for a 60/40 split with the with all of the costs I will be incurring. I am stuck with 25 cents for the EMs. I am not 100% sure of this, never paid attention to this detail, but not a lot of 70s EMs are capable of taking two coins per game like they were in the 60s. Routing these pins is a labour of love, just like the restoration process for these old Project Pins.

I decided three weeks ago that, even though I was only halfway done with the restoration, that Super-Flite 1 would be perfect to route. It is simple but fun and fast. Plus, I was anxious to play a Super-Flite. I haven't played one since the 70s. This machine was brought back from the dead and one of the games I am most proud of restoring.

The playfield had been stripped down, touched-up and clear coated. I added five more coats of clear.

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Fortunately, the person in Phoenix who did the playfield touch-up did a good job of keeping the parts in a box. The only parts that were missing were the pop bumper fin shank screws and Nylock nuts.

The backglass on Super-Flite 1 was horrid, but the backglass on Super-Flite 2 was faded, but nice. It went onto Super-Flite 1.

Super-Flite has the same gear-type pop bumper caps as OXO and DC power to make it super fast. It was made soon after OXO so I have fond memories of Super-Flite.

Game #2, Super-Flite 1, ready to go!

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I began working on Bally Future Spa today. The electrolytic caps were replaced on all of the boards. I also started work on two lids for Bally coin boxes. One will go in Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man and the other in Future Spa.

#27 3 years ago

Saturday was a bad day here at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour. I have moved on to Future Spa. A number of computer controlled insert lamps were out and the 2N5060 SCRs were my primary focus. I thought I had fixed the lamp sockets and completely forgot about any possible connector issues. So, replacing SCRs we went. It turned out that most of the problems were lamp sockets and there was at least one bad pin on one of the connectors. I replaced good SCRs. That wouldn't be too bad if it weren't for my lousy board work. My rookiness was showing. I have had no problems with Williams boards, but the Bally has thin traces. I lost a few pads and lifted some traces. It looks like a newbie did it. I can do better than that!

To make matters worse, my cheap $25 Yihua solder station died for the third time. Or is it the fourth? It still works; it is stuck on. I have some replacement heating elements but was in too much of a hurry to put one on. I had no problem putting new electrolytic capacitors in the power supply and sound boards...

There is still one lamp out. I traced it down to J1 pin 12. I put masking tape on pins 11 and 13 and ran a wire to an alligator clip on pin 12. I had voltage, but when I tried to light the 4X bonus lamp, nothing. It wouldn't light any other lamps either. Worse, when I put the connector was put back on, I had no voltage at all. So, my theory is that there is a connector problem and low voltage problem. I am going to leave it alone for now. I will buy some LEDs and hope that there is enough voltage to light the LED.

Another addition to the 'Learning Account.' Yikes!

Do be careful desoldering and soldering boards with thin traces.
Do use a temperature controlled solder iron.
Do eliminate the simple to solve potential problems first.
Don't buy a cheap Chinese soldering station.
Don't shotgun your fixes!

I downloaded some of Inkochnito's score and instruction cards from pinballrebel.com. Thanks guys! I made a few changes.

future_spa_score_card.jpg (resized).png

I set the switches in the backbox and cleared all bookkeeping data. I put a 'new' used NVRAM in and there was data on it that needed to be reset to zero. I set the number of maximum credits to 15 and number of coins per game. The options were set liberally, but I did set the number of specials to one.

I realized that I hadn't done a full shop job yet, so spent last night doing that. This game is drop-dead gorgeous. I am reconsidering whether I should route it. If I do, it will only be until I can replace it with another pin. I will also be charging 75 cents per game. Playing perfection comes with a price.

Pin #4 ready to go! Albeit, not 100%.

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The playfield on this pin is a mirror finish.

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#28 3 years ago

Finished the Bally coin box lids today for Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man and Future Spa. I used up all of my Dremel metal cutting discs so I used the angle grinder to cut the holes for the coin drops.

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#32 3 years ago
Quoted from jibmums:

I might suggest - rather than use the original instruction cards on the apron, which are sometimes a little cryptic even to seasoned pinheads; or fancy schmancy colorful cards with info about the machine's programmer, artist, and production run that your average user really won't care about anyway - how about typing yourself up some instruction cards that clearly define what to shoot for and why. People might get into the game more (and spend more money) if they understand the rules behind it, and don't just see some random flashing lights.

Quoted from NicoVolta:

Agreed. We all need to get in on this. Tell people what to do and why... and what a “good” vs “great” score might be.

Can you guys please give me some examples? I'm not getting it. I like the originals because, well, they are original. I never read the instructions when I was a teenager playing pinball. All I needed to know was how many games and balls per game I was getting for my quarter and the score for the first replay. Half of the fun of playing a new pinball was figuring out how it scored and what shots were the biggest payoff.

Quoted from cudabee:

Your Future spa backglass is missing the spectral decal.This happens most of the times and sometimes it is found in the head or inside the cabinet, i even find them sometimes in the manual.

Thanks. You are right. I have not found the missing piece. A replacement is discussed here:

Quoted from Pecos:

8"X25" Diffraction Grating Roll Sheet Double Axis 13,500 l/mm Physics Light
ebay.com link » 8 X25 Diffraction Grating Roll Sheet Double Axis 13 500 L Mm Physics Light

Has anyone tried this particular item? Will the diffraction grating give the same or similar effect of the original backglass?

6" x 12" Diffraction Grating Roll Sheet Double Axis 13,500 l/in Physics Light

ebay.com link: i

Can someone please tell me if this product will match the original? It looks like it has the starlight effect that people talk about.

#34 3 years ago

I have spent a week and a half gluing and clamping the cabinet of a Gottlieb Surf Champ. I also used 10 ounces of Elmer's wood filler to fix the back panel that looked like a Rottenweiler had chewed on it! I am doing this because I have worked a trade with my Phoenix Project Pin guy for a SS. I want to keep the Surf Champ; except for a painted cabinet, it looks great, but I'm looking for more SS pins to route. I will post pics on Friday of the 'mystery machine.'

I also spent time replacing the bad heating elements in my 853D and 936 Yihua solder station soldering irons. And it is the thermistor, not the heating elements that seem to be going bad. Since I was stuck with them, I went looking for replacement heating elements. I found some really cheap ones from China and I took the chance on them. Parts from China are a last option for me. I have been burned before from a Chinese eBay seller. But I needed them and at $1.55 each or $1.28 each when buying five and free shipping, it's hard to go wrong. I found them at Fasttech They are brand new and work. I'm passing this info on to anyone who has a Yihua 863D or 936 and is looking for a new heating element. YMMV, but I am really happy with these.

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How long will they last? I have no idea. I now have three working soldering irons so even if one dies, I will have two backups. Now, I can get back to board work with soldering irons that heat to the right temperature.

#37 3 years ago

Next game up - Hardbody. Not much needed to get this ready. In the past I had already:

Put new playfield rails inside the cabinet. The old ones had worn so much that the playfield would literally fall into the cabinet.

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New NVRAM added:

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I didn't need to do much in the backbox. The boards have already been reworked. All I did today was add some labels showing the date of the rework. I had done some beta testing and had a wee fire on the power supply board. OOPS! All turned out well though. The machine used to have to warm up before it would start. After the power supply rebuild, it started right up.

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LEDs had been added to the playfield, both GI and inserts.

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Today I added a second coin mech and got that working. It had some coke goop on it so I cleaned that up. It was rejecting too many quarters, so I adjusted that.

It is easy to forget to replace the beer seal on the underside on the lockdown bar. If Hardbody is going into the public, a new beer seal is not an option! You can lead the public to drink, but you can't make them put their beer bottles in a beverage caddy!

I used a chisel to remove most of the old beer seal. I let the remaining bits soak in Isopropyl alcohol and they came off pretty easily.

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Hardbody is not 100%. There is one lamp out under the ramp and some flashers are out, but I don't have the time to fix these issues now.

Game #5, Hardbody, ready to go!

#40 3 years ago
Quoted from pinheadpierre:

I totally get the thing about money and tools.

I was fortunate enough to be gifted a Hakko desoldering tool and it make board work almost fun. I have saved countless hours of work and it has made me much better at doing board work. And I need all of the help I can get!

Quoted from Pecos:

Replace all electrolytic capacitors

Quoted from stangbat:

I've been operating games since 2012. I know this will probably ruffle some feathers, but for the most part this is something you don't need to do.

What kind of lifetime do you expect for electrolytic capacitors?

From https://www.illinoiscapacitor.com/pdf/Papers/Life%20expectancy%20of%20Aluminum%20electrolytic%20capacitors.pdf

"Aluminum electrolytic capacitors slowly degrade over time and once the capacitor has degraded beyond a specified amount, the capacitor is considered to have failed. Most capacitors are considered a failure when the capacitance has changed by 20 to 25% of its initial value.

Aluminum electrolytic Capacitors load life’s ratings are generally expressed between 1000 and 10000 hours at their rated voltage, maximum temperature rating and with maximum ripple current applied to the capacitor."

"When life expectancies exceed 15 years the expected life of the capacitor should be limited to 15 years mainly due to the sealing materials deteriorating over time."

The pins I am routing are 35 to 40 years old! All of the electrolytic capacitors I replaced were original. I did leave these capacitors in for home use but they are going to get a lot more play in public and when some electronic component fails, I don't want to have to worry about the ancient electrolytic capacitors.

Quoted from Atari_Daze:

Do you have a plan for the busted station 3 plastic? If not, pm me.

I think you should get some kind of award for noticing! I had no plans to do anything with it until I read your post. I will now PM you.

Quoted from RyanClaytor:

What's the verdict on the new venues, Pecos?

Still a 'no go', but I am working on it. Business owners don't spend much time at their businesses and are hard to track down. Leaving your name and number isn't very effective. They are generally too busy to put you at the top of their queue of things to dueue. I just have to find some way to let the local business owners know how great these vintage pinball machines look and play!

#44 3 years ago

I was visiting my Project Pin guy in Phoenix a while back when I saw a Surf Champ. It wasn't his Surf Champ - it was in for repair. I mentioned that I had a nice Surf Champ. Ever since, he wanted mine. I was fine with that. I was looking for a Williams SS Project Pin and he would look for one so we could do a swap. Add to the fact that I had eight Gottliebs in the house, none of which worked, and I was more willing to give up one of my Gottliebs. Since I believe that SS pins will do better on route than EMs, the swap made sense to me.

There was a fly in the ointment. The cabinet on Surf Champ was busted up pretty badly. I worked a week and a half to put it back together.

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The back left leg bolt tee was missing and so was a lot of the wood. I have a Sonic pressed wood cabinet that was beyond repair that I took some wood blocks and the leg bolt tee section from. These went into Surf Champ. The bottom back cabinet looked like it had been chewed on by a gorilla. Gorilla wood glue and Elmer's wood filler to the rescue. It took 10 ounces of the wood filler to fix the back panel. Several wood veneer pieces were glued to the inside and outside of the back cabinet bottom. It was finally fixed and is now as solid as the day it was built.

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My Project Pin guy got his Surf Champ and I got a Bally Globetrotters On Tour.. It wasn't a Williams, but this is a nice game and I am happy to get it. It needed a MPU - it was missing - and he found one for it from Kris at Firebird pinball. It takes a lot of help to get these Project Pins ready for routing. Thanks Kris!

I picked up Harlem Globetrotters on Tour a couple of days ago. I found out that a Project Pin swap is twice as much work as picking up a Project Pin!

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I started working on Harlem Globetrotters yesterday. More pics here of it:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/what-machine-did-you-bring-home-today-post-your-pictures/page/164#post-4285239

I hope to have another SS pin ready for routing soon.

#45 3 years ago

The first thing I always do when I bring a new Project Pin into Pecos' Palatial Parlour is to remove the rust on the legs and put on new leg levelers - 2" in the front and 3" in the back. This is the best time to do this since the legs have already been removed. Here, we have the legs from the Harlem Globetrotters On Tour I recently acquired.

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I use blue glass cleaner and 500 grit sandpaper. Three of the legs were better than average and one was worse than average. The leg leveler was rusted in place and took quite a bit of elbow grease to get it off. When done, I put some Mill Wax that I had on hand on both the legs and leg levelers.

I replaced the electrolytic capacitors on the solenoid driver board. I have no idea what was intended here:

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The power cord had been spliced without the grounding plug. Yikes! That will have to be replaced immediately.

I knew of no repair guides online for these Bally pins like Harlem Globetrotters On Tour. I would normally test the voltages coming from the power supply with all connectors removed except for those that supplied power to the power supply. Without this guidance, I decided to to plug it in and measure the voltages at the test points with all connectors on. Don't try this at home kiddos, it can damage your boards if the voltages are too high. I must have had the luck of the Irish with me because nothing fried. I found the voltages to be low, 3.9V when it should have been 5V and ten point something when it should have been 12V. I put the rectifier board on the top of the list to rebuild.

I found Vid's guide for bullet proofing this era of Bally SS pins and began to apply the knowledge found there.

The rectifier board was in dire need of rectifying some major problems. Hacks had been done!

The old 'remove connector and solder' method had been done:

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The connectors on Future Spa had to be repinned and replaced, so I am not surprised to see an issue here.

I took off the rectifier board and transformer and took it to the bench for rework.

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I don't normally replace the .156 male header pins, but these were just begging to be replaced and very well could be the reason for the low voltages.

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Order #9 to Ed at GPE includes the parts needed to replace the header pins and female connectors, better diodes, new resistors and some fuse clips. Two of these were just plain gross! Everything except the varistor will be replaced on this board. Thanks Ed for keeping me in parts!

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I already had some of the beefier bridge rectifiers on hand, so those were replaced. I ordered some heatsinks for these, per Vid's recommendation.

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I called to get quotes from more insurance companies and I am pretty depressed. One agent told me that it would cost me $1100 to $1200 minimum for insurance after telling him I expected to receive less than $2500 per year. Those numbers don't add up!

Called some more businesses who might want vintage pinballs in their restaurants and bars. More work required. April 1st is looming and the joke will be on me if I don't have places to route my pins!

#48 3 years ago
Quoted from Elicash:

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.

That is a great idea. Unfortunately, that is a one hour drive for me and I am trying to keep my games on the east side of Tucson.

Quoted from MrBally:

There was a Service Bulletin issued for that about 40 years ago. Seriously.

That Solenoid Driver/Voltage Regulator board was not the revision level for Harlem Globetrotters. It will work fine. With that added capacitor that is. IIRC, the sound board is the reason for the modification. The older Bally SS machines with chimes are what was being made when that early SDB was made.

Thanks MrBally for the info. Guess I will be looking for some .01 uF disc caps and making that mod!

I have been working on a spreadsheet to be placed with each machine to keep track of games played and monies earned. I finished a first shot at it today:

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There are two pages, enough for one entry per week. I will take pictures of this physical spreadsheet and add it to my PC version after each route collection. At the end of the year, I will print a copy for the business owner so they will have the information they need to do taxes.

I will probably be changing it when I use if for real and find out that I've missed something.

PM me if you want a copy of the file, but please remember that it is only the rough draft version.

#50 3 years ago

While waiting for the electronic parts from GPE, I decided to shop out the playfield on #Harlem Globetrotters On Tour. This playfield might be a repro. It has a mirror finish and is in super nice shape for a pinball machine made in 1978. There is only one small wear spot about the size of a dime to the left of the middle pop bumper. Except for putting some new decals on the spinners, this playfield is done. I do plan to buy a playfield protector for this game as soon as I can afford it.

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Quoted from Matesamo:

Don't pooh-pooh the website either. Even as an operator that could open a lot of doors for you.

I added to my Website, Pecos Pinball, some pics of the games currently available. Those were some really good ideas that you had Matesamo! Thanks!

I can now reference my Website when talking with potential business owners who might be interested in adding a pinball to their business.

#53 3 years ago
Quoted from steviechs:

If you're open to some help, I can spruce your site up a little and make it mobile friendly.

Thanks for the offer. I'm an old-school MIS type and do my own HTML. I never got around to learning how to optimize my Websites for mobile devices. Maybe it's time to learn.

Quoted from DNO:

That Harlem PF is a beauty!

Thanks DNO! The backglass is just as nice. It does have it's problems though, see below.

I replaced the power cord with a new one from PBR. The old one had been spliced in two places and had no grounding prong! The new cord is 13 feet in length. 13-15 feet is perfect for a pinball machine. Remember that it takes about five feet just to get the power cord out of the machine and to the floor. It is important that you wire-up the new power cord properly!

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A lot of potentially boring information about bridge rectifiers and Bally Transformer boards commences forthwith. You have been warned... But there are lessons to be learned here if you have the fortitude to read on.

I got my parts from GPE and finished up the rectifier board rebuild. Bally calls it a 'Transformer Board', so if you hear that term, it is what I call the rectifier board. I then started in on repinning the connectors. I became burned out repinning connectors after repinning the edge connectors on a Gottlieb System 80, years ago. Never did get that one working. Repinning is boring and tedious work. I repin one wire at a time so I won't get any wires mixed up. A lot of Amps run through some of these wires. I used Trifurcon pins since they have three points of contact and not just one.

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After putting the transformer board back into place and connecting it up, I powered on the machine and looked for the flashing LEDs on the MPU board. I got one flicker and seven flashes! I LOVE seven flashing LEDs because it means the MPU booted up with no problems. Indeed, I was able to coin up the game and play some balls. What a great feeling to have a working #Harlem Globetrotters On Tour!

And then my happy-place world came crashing down to reality. The game locked up while playing. I turned off the game and let it cool down. I turned the game back on and got NO flashes! There was no voltage at all on TP3, the 12VDC supply that eventually becomes the 5VDC needed to power the MPU. Had bridge 2 died already? I took the board back to the bench and replaced bridge 2 and put it back into the game. The seven flashes were back! Awesome work, Pecos!! I then remembered that I had purchased some stick-on heat sinks for the bridge rectifiers from GPE per Vid's recommendation. I put one on each of the three heat sinks.

My joyful celebration was interrupted, once again, with reality. I had to turn off the machine to let the bridge rectifiers cool down. I then cleaned the metal slugs with alcohol before putting on the heat sinks. When turning the game back on, I saw only five flashing LEDs. Stopping on flash five meant that there was something wrong with the displays. I already knew that. When the game was working I saw that two of the displays looked dead and the credit/ball in play display was not displaying the credits. The other two displays looked like the the walking dead. After turning the game off and on again, I got six flashes. That meant that the 43VDC power was missing! Yikes! Was I snake bit or what?? And then after sitting down and thinking about my problems, always a good thing to do, I remembered the reasons why Vid recommended leaving space under the bridge rectifiers:

Quoted from vid1900:

Here we have mounted the rectifiers as far above the circuit board as possible.

This give room for airflow.

This lets us see the topside solder joints.

This lets us attach heat sinks using bolts at a latter time.

Hmm, topside solder joints?? Putting on the heatsinks stressed these solder joints. Was it possible I had broken the solder joints? I moved the third bridge rectifier around a bit, with the machine off of course, and restarted the game. Now I was back to no LED flashes again. Two steps forward and five steps back! I checked for voltages on TP5. TP5 should test about 43VDC. I had none. TP3 also showed no voltage! Both were missing! I toned out the bridge rectifier to traces on the board with my DMM and, sure enough, one of the bridge 3 legs and two of bridge 2's legs were not soldered in place! Fortunately, I had room to get a soldering iron in there and solder the legs from the top of the board. I toned out the legs again and got continuity. I then turned #Harlem Globetrotters back on and, and, and, SUCCESS! So much for my wonderful soldering skills! These bridge rectifiers, like all of the other components are soldered on the back of the PCB. Insufficient solder had made it to the top of the board where the traces were. Another lesson learned the hard way, easily fixed thanks to Vid and his guide. I've got to remember to send that guy some $$Moolah$$.

This bridge rectifier should last another 40 years.

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After looking at some business cards online, and their prices, I have decided to make my own. I wanted a picture of a pinball machine on the card and I did find one company that had that design - only $39.00 for 100. That's when I decided to make my own! Here is the first draft of the card - constructive criticism and ideas welcome.

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Oh yeah, I've played some games of Harlem Globetrotters On Tour and it's fun! There are still problems to solve, but I'll leave that to another day.

#58 3 years ago

steviechs, how awesome of you to design some sample Pecos Pinball business cards! I like what you have done by simplifying the card but want to keep the Website name. I like the font used for in the second example. What font is that? I would want to go with a simpler font for my name, phone number and email address in the middle. I'll have some samples ready in the next day or two. Again, bravo!!

Quoted from Matesamo:

As for the website, it needs to be cleaned up and focused on the business. I know it is probably a quick site just to get up and running but here are a few suggestions;

Yeah, I cloned it from one of my other Websites and did a quick and dirty on it. It started out as a Website to write about my restorations and now needs to be converted over fully to make it about my new business. You have a lot of good ideas there and I will be reading them again, several times, as I proceed blindly onward through the fog. Thanks for taking the time to write these down. I probably won't be the only one who will benefit from them.

With #Harlem Globetrotters On Tour working, it was time to move on to the next problem. Fifteen of the insert lamps were out. I replaced all of the old lamps with new #44 lamps. The ground wire was broken to one of the lamps and I fixed that. I wanted to do the self test to see which lamps were still out. I pressed the little red button on the coin door to enter the self-test mode and, nothing! It had worked before. Why wasn't it now? The switch tested okay and the connections in the backbox seemed fine too. I was stumped. Serendipity found me when I pressed in on several of the socketed chips on the MPU board and, when pressing the little red button, the game went into self-test mode. It is working now but it sounds like I have a bad solder joint or an IC that was not firmly seated. When, not if, it happens again I will at least know where to look. Serendipity is a good thing! I could have spent days trying to track that problem down. A working little red self-test button is critical on route because that is how you get to the bookkeeping data, games played, coins dropped etc.

Anyway, in lamp self-test I found eight lamps still out. I checked out each of the lamps and found one I forgot to replace. I am down to seven bad lamps. I'll be testing SCRs this time before replacing them - lesson learned the hard way on #Future Spa.

It looks like I am going to have to buy the replacement LED displays. Player one display appears to be dead - no dot. Player three display has a dot but nothing else. Player four display has the top segment stuck on. Players two and four segments look like blobs of light, not clean segments. I just don't think these displays can be salvaged.

Boy oh boy, this hobby, now about to be business, sure is expensive!!

#61 3 years ago

Grnrzr brought me this handy dandy tool holder designed to fit right on a pinball machine cabinet when he brought me Airborne Avenger. I hadn't thought of a need for it until yesterday. Do you talk to your tools? I did this week. The LED work light I bought from Amazon was way bigger than it looked in the picture. Add to that a short, thick power cord and the thing is always falling off tables, pointed in the wrong direction and just plain unwieldy. I told it that I hated it!

barakandl recommended this Mastech DMM. I like it a lot and haven't cursed at it, yet but, it too, is bigger than I would like. It too, is always falling into the pinball machine.

And then I remembered this removable tool holder from Grnrzr. This is perfect for holding the DMM and LED work light! Thanks Grnrzr! It took me some time to see the brilliance of your gift.

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I have a couple of reworked designs for my business card:

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I want my business card to say:

I'm professional
I'm creative
I'm not like everyone else, I'm different

I plan to print these on waterslide decals, transfer the decals to white card stock with 'speckles' of silver paint. I will then clear coat the cards. I like the idea of VistaPrint, but it is too status quo for my needs.

#67 3 years ago
Quoted from Matesamo:

At the end of the day this is certainly your business and your decision to make but you are a new unproved business trying to get a niche product into retail establishments. If I were a business owner I would want your vibe to be: You are a professional, you are reliable, you will make me money. Maybe Arizona is a different vibe, it probably is, but you are going to have to go the extra mile to get started. You are asking a business to take a chance on you, you take up valuable floor space and potential headaches for a very small payoff. Every little advantage you can get you need to seize.

Matesamo, I hope you don't feel slighted by any of my decisions. I value your opinions and appreciate your advice. I will follow a lot of it.

I went downtown today to hand in my paperwork for my business license. I need four business licenses in Tucson to operate pinball machines:

Transaction Privelege Tax TPT
Tucson Business License
Vending Distributor License
Individual Pinball Machine License

I had already gotten the TPT license and my fingerprinting done, so I needed to have my paperwork, about 10 pages worth, checked. There turned out to be several problems. I completely missed the page that said I needed two passport photos. While Michael, the Tucson License Division employee, was going over my paperwork, I ran down to Walgreens to get my two passport pictures made. Then, the fingerprinting I had done was done incorrectly. It should have been done for a Vending Distributor License, and it wasn't.

Michael was very nice, staying into part of his lunch to help me out. Then I had to go back to TPD, Tucson Police Department, to give them my paperwork and have my fingerprint taken again - this time with the right form. Michael had gone out of his way to call ahead and let them know that I was coming and what had happened - exceptional service! The business license forms then had to go to The Department of Public Safety, DPS, for a background check. They were very nice at TPD. They didn't charge me a second time to have my fingerprints taken. When I got home and checked my voicemail, I had a message that they had forgotten to collect the $22.00 fee DPS needed! Guys and gals, please get it right!! If you don't know what you're doing, I can't help you out. I'm completely lost in this rat's nest of red tape!

At least the people helping me are friendly and we will get this straightened out soon enough.

Edit: Forgot to mention that I had to be 'notarized' too.

This is getting expensive:

Transaction Privilege Tax, TPT: $32.00
Tucson Business License: $62.50
Vending Distributor License: $137.50
Individual Pinball Machine Licenses: $6.00 Each
Two Passport Photos: $16.29
Fingerprinting: $10.00
DPS Background Check: $22.00
Parking: $2.00

I believe that either the Tucson Business License or the Vending Distributor License, or both, are prorated quarterly. This is why I chose to start my business on April 1st. I won't get my business license or the pinball machine tax tags until the background check is completed.

I got some 6821 PIAs in the mail today from China that I need to get Laser Cue up and running. They were only $0.79 each. I don't like having to order from China - I've been burned before, but there aren't a lot of options left. I didn't buy them blindly. Another Pinsider said that they had gotten good PIAs from this source. If only half of them are good, I will be happy with that.

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#Harlem Globetrotters is working well except for seven insert lamps that are out and the bad displays. I am really happy that it only took about a week to get it working! Grnrzr has offered to sell me five of his used Bally displays for a very reasonable price. Thanks Grnrzr for helping to get my #Harlem Globetrotters out on route.

There are so many people who have helped me on this journey. You know who you are. Thank you all!!

#68 3 years ago

Our story left off with a second fingerprint session where the TPD (Tucson Police Dept) officer forgot to get the $22.00 needed to go with the business license application to DPS (Az Dept of Public Saftey). I got a call early the next morning from said officer. She wanted to meet me at the facility where fingerprints were taken to take my money order and get the business application off to DPS - even though it was closed! I asked if I could be refunded for first set of fingerprints that were taken incorrectly. She agreed to refund me the $10.00 You often hear about poor service from governmental agencies, but this was exceptional service. The process to get licensed to operate pinball machines may be crazy, but the people who make this process work went above and beyond expectations to help me get through the process. I offered to donate a Pecos Pinball machine for one of the TPD events. I like to reciprocate when I get treated well. Thank You Michael and Emelda! You are both superstars!

While waiting for the displays for #Harlem Globetrotters, I forged ahead by working on Aztec 2. I replaced the coin door lock and added a backbox lock. I made a new score card and set the sore threshold in the backbox. I played some games and tested the tilt.

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I have three Aztecs and each one has a lousy backglass.

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Game #6, Aztec 2, is ready to go!

I bought some 65# card stock at Michael's. 65# is the most that can be put through my Canon laser printer. I also printed out some information cards that I could put on the apron of each pinball machine.

I spray painted a few cards with Krylon Triple clear coat. I don't think it looks any better, but it does leave the text shiny. I had bought three packages of four Master locks. Each package had been keyed differently so I painted each key a different color and clear coated it. Now I know which key to use for which lock.

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I printed a score card for Harlem Globetrotters using the colored card stock. I like the addition of color for SS pins. I will stick with plain white for EMs.

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#69 3 years ago

Today I worked on the Lamp Board to try to fix the remaining seven computer controlled lamps that weren't working. When I got the Lamp Board to my work bench I couldn't believe what I was seeing. What is wrong with this board??

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I learned how to test SCRs and found three bad 2N5060 SCRs. That left one lamp left to diagnose, the G-L-O-B-E Special, Q53 lamp. I replaced the three bad SCRs with 2N5064 SCRs and replaced Q53 too. This time I was much more careful desoldering the SCRs and the work turned out top-notch - no lifted traces or pads. I put the Lamp Board back in and put the game in self-test mode. All lamps were working, except for the the G-L-O-B-E Special. I cleaned the lamp socket connection with Isopropyl alcohol and used the Magic Brush on it. That fixed it! All computer controlled lamps are now working!

Now, I need to take a trip to Gilbert, south of Phoenix to pick up the displays from Grnrzr and Harlem Globetrotters On Tour will be ready to route.

I haven't mentioned that I have written up a contract. It details what Pecos Pinball will provide to the 'Receiving Business' and what they will be expected to do. The contract is written so that either party can break the contract at any time for any reason and what happens when the contract is broken. I am not a lawyer, so I don't know how well it has been written, but I did put a fair amount of time determining 'what happens when.' I won't post it here for legal reasons.

I also made a spreadsheet of the games that will be on route, their serial numbers and route locations. This was required as part of the business license application process. If you would like a copy, PM me.

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What was wrong with that board? SCRs Q1, Q2 and Q3 were missing. Why would that be unless they were scavanged for another game? I just couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it.

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#71 3 years ago
Quoted from MrBally:

Early games did not have that many controlled lamps so the SCR's were not used. If a game had a lamp circuit down on location, us technicians knew enough to take an unused SCR out and install it in place of a bad one.

I get that, but Q1, Q2 and Q3 were used. I wasn't clear in my earlier post, but of the seven lamps that were out, replacing those MCRs fixed three of them. Three more were fixed by replacing the three SCRs that tested bad and the last lamp was fixed by cleaning the contacts. My best guess is that the three MCRs were borrowed to fix another game.

I did some more grunt work yesterday - not very exciting but will mention it anyway. I replaced some beer seals on lockdown bars, added some 'Owned and Operated' tags to some of the games and adjusted the leftmost flipper on #Harlem Globetrotters. It looked a little droopy. Sure enough, when I checked pictures of other #Harlem Globetrotters, the flipper was lower than it should have been.

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Well folks, it's April 1st and the joke is on me. I have no insurance, I have no businesses signed up and I don't even have my business license yet. I will be working on the first two this week and I am waiting for DPS to finish my background check so I can get my Tucson Business License, my Vending Distributor License and my Game Licenses.

#72 3 years ago

After finding that two of the three bridge rectifiers on the rectifier board hadn't been soldered on the top of the PCB properly, I did a quick and dirty solder job on it. It came back to haunt me on Sunday when #Harlem Globetrotters wouldn't boot up. The 12 Volts was missing, again. Today I took the board and transformer out and soldered bridge 2 properly. When I went to put the board back in and turn the game on, the game made a horrible electronic humming sound. I took board and transformer back out, looking for solder bridges. I don't think I found any. I put the transformer and board back in, this time with the other board connectors removed and turned the game on. No issues. Hmmm. I tested the fuses and found that the 5A and 20A fuses had blown. I put new fuses in and turned the game back on. Still no issues. I hooked up the board connectors and turned the game on to find the game working perfectly. Fortunately, I had checked the fuses early on and replaced several slow blow fuses that shouldn't have been there with fast blow fuses, perhaps saving board damage. I don't know what I did wrong - possibly put the connectors on incorrectly? I am very fortunate that no damage was done. Thank you Bally engineers for saving me from myself!

I cleaned up the #Harlem Globetrotters cabinet bottom. I found the keys to the backbox, but there was no hook to hang them on inside the coin door. I found some curtain hangers and they attach easily to the inside of the coin door. It works great! I enjoy finding household items that replace a part in my pinball machines!

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I called the fifth insurance agent today. He is supposed to call me back with a quote for liability insurance tomorrow.

#74 3 years ago
Quoted from MrBally:

The backglass lock key hook on that era is attached to one of the front left leg bolt cover mounting screws. They were made of case hardened steel and many are snapped off.

Good info! Is this what you mean? I never would have thought of looking for keys there. The keys I found were in the bottom of the cabinet.

DSCF3490 (resized).JPG

#76 3 years ago

I am putting a PR package together so I will have to information to leave with potential clients. This sample does not include all of the pictures. I will be putting pictures in for each pinball available for routing.

Pecos Pinball PR1 (resized).png

Pecos Pinball PR2 (resized).png

Pecos Pinball PR3 (resized).png

#78 3 years ago
Quoted from Atari_Daze:

Any news on this front?

I did hear yesterday from the last insurance agent I contacted. He is still looking for a company that will provide the insurance. I guess insurance companies don't want my money. It's tough being 'the little guy on the block.'

I modified the title of my PR Package and added some pricing info.

Pecos Pinball PR and Information Package Title (resized).png

I left the first two PR Packages and Business Cards at local businesses today.

#79 3 years ago
Quoted from Atari_Daze:

Any news on this front?

I just got a quote for insurance by email from the fifth insurance agent I contacted. I will have to read the details, but it is half of the $1,100 - $1,200 'ballpark' quote I was given from another agent. There is light at the end of the 'find insurance' journey!

#80 3 years ago

I brought two copies of my Pecos Pinball PR Packages and business cards to a couple of places on Thursday. One was a comics book store. The owner said that the noises from a pinball machine would drive him nuts. I happen to like the sounds of a pinball machine and, after a while, they become something your mind tunes out. To each his own, I guess.

The other place was a local pub. The owner was very nice. We sat down and had a chat. He didn't have the room and he told me he would feel bad if one of my pinball machines got damaged. I understand the risks of putting one of my beautiful machines in the public. I worked at an arcade and saw how pinball machines get beat up. Legs, coin doors and the bottom of the cabinet get kicked. Playfield glasses get broken and all kinds of drinks get spilled on the playfield glass and drip into the cabinet. The bad news is that it hurts to see one of your pinball machines get beat on. The good news is that all of these damaged parts can be replaced. He seemed to be a pinball guy, so maybe something will come of my visit. He, like me, would like to see more pinballs in the wild.

I have sold one of my pinball machines. I spent today moving it from my neighbor's house to mine and fixing a few minor problems and waxing the playfield. This is something that has been in the works since September of last year. It is coming at a good time because my credit card is becoming bloated and this will help pay for the expenses involved in a pinball business start up. More on this later.

I got my #Hardbody Station 3 plastics from Atari_Daze today. He told me that he was having problems with pixelation. Then he told me that they weren't his best work. I think they look fantastic! Bravo Atari_Daze! He even sent me more than I paid for! The people on this forum continue to amaze me with their generosity and quality of work. Thanks Atari_Daze for making my #Hardbody look awesome!

I have more Station 3 plastics than I need. If a Pinsider needs one, PM me.

This is how the Station 3 plastic looked:

DSCF3492 (resized).JPG

I had to put some small post rings under the plastic to keep the plastic from drooping.

DSCF3493 (resized).JPG

The new plastics:

DSCF3491 (resized).JPG

And on the game:

DSCF3494 (resized).JPG

Doesn't it look great! What an improvement! It may be a small item in the general scheme of things, but it's the small things that matter a lot to me.

Being a perfectionist can sometimes be a pain. Two of #Harlem Globetrotters GI lamps were out. I took two lamp sockets from a Williams Suspense backbox that had been given to me. The lamp socket in the backbox was replaced and soldered in place. One down and one to go. When I went to put the second lamp socket under the playfield I noticed that it had been wired up with two 6V wires! Sometimes I can't believe what I am seeing and have to triple check that, yep, someone wired this up wrong!

I signed for my liability insurance today. Scott at Nova Insurance Services found me a good, relatively speaking, deal for the insurance. My insurance begins April 13th.

I am still waiting to hear from Michael at the Tucson Business License Department that my background check has been completed. Hopefully, that will occur next week before my insurance kicks in.

#81 3 years ago

The Interrupted Journey:

I sat down to do my Project Pin thread duty on Friday night and saw an ad, only an hour old, for a 1977 Williams Big Deal for cheap. I just spent $1000 starting my business so I have no business spending money on another pin. But it was a late 70s Williams, which are all good, and the price was irresistible. The seller was kind enough to hold it for me.

Grnrzr had offered me some of his used Bally displays for my Harlem Globetrotters. I was able to combine picking up the displays with picking up the Big Deal. Grnrzr is a great guy and was kind enough to give me a special price on the displays. He took the time to find five good displays and tested them in one of his games. One of the displays had cracked solder joints. That was no problem. I have the tools to make that problem go away quickly.

When I got home, I put the displays in the game and the display on player four was acting weird. In attract mode, the displays flash from current scores to highest score. In between, the displays go blank for a second. But player's four display wasn't blank. The segments were partially lit. Hmm. Not sure what would cause that.

I then replaced it with another display and that turned out to be the one with the cracked solder joints. I took it to the bench and gave it the Hakko treatment to remove the solder on the male header pins. I resoldered the joints, put it back into the machine and it worked perfectly.

I then put the machine in self-test mode and the first digit of player three was missing! I turned off the machine, removed the display and took it to the bench. It, too, had cracked solder joints - a lot of them, so many in fact that it was a miracle that it was working at all. I knew this one! Remove old solder. Put on new solder. Put display back in machine. It worked like a charm! No doubt, just removing connectors and putting them back on was enough to crack the old solder joints. Certainly not Grnrzr's fault. If I remember, I will be taking the other three displays off and doing the same work on the solder joints. No sense in waiting for them to fail.

Perfection personified at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour!

DSCF3511 (resized).JPG

So Harlem Globetrotters is now working 100% and ready to go on route. And the displays I got from Grnrzr are simply beautiful! They look brand new. Thanks Grnrzr's! Knowing what I know now about these old Bally displays, I won't be buying any without seeing them first - and certainly not buying any on eBay. I am very fortunate to have a Pinsider who helped me get the displays I needed. There are so many people helping me get my machines ready to go on route. Thank You all!

I realized that I hadn't put a new barrel spring on the shooter assembly. I get these brass looking barrel springs that I put on all of my games. It's another one of those little details that make a difference in my book. When I got the shooter assembly off the game I realized that there were two more problems. First, the shooter spring was broken. I had to rob a new one from OXO since I had none in stock. Second, the copper metal ground had a plastic sheath around it. Coke had gotten into it and the copper piece had literally disintegrated! Coke will do that to metal. I fixed that problem with two copper leaf switches I had on hand. Wherever this game had been, they sold a lot of soda!

DSCF3509 (resized).JPG

Before:

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After:

DSCF3507 (resized).JPG

After putting a thin layer of Super Lube on the shooter rod, it went back onto the machine.

DSCF3508 (resized).JPG

#84 3 years ago
Quoted from cudabee:

Don't forget to adjust the +190 volt displaypower as low as you can. Ballpark is 160 volt.

With the machine off, I turned the pot down in the high voltage section of the Power Suppy/Solenoid driver board on Harlem Globetrotters On Tour . After turning on the game I got 155V, which is perfect. Thanks for suggesting this! I want my beautiful, original Bally displays to stay that way. I have three other Bally SS pins that I need to do this to.

I remembered to check the other three displays and the two that I got from Grnrzr had nice shiny and new looking solder with no solder cracks. The only original working display on the game had a visible crack in the far right male header pin solder joint. I desoldered then resoldered those pins and that display should be good for another 20+ years.

#85 3 years ago

Two more PR packages were delivered today. I was lucky to speak with the owner at the first place I stopped. He is very interested in two or three machines. I am to contact him when I get my license. I am very excited about this opportunity.

The manager at the second place thought the idea of my vintage pinball business was "very cool."

On the way home I heard 'Pinball Wizard' on the radio. No kidding! If that isn't some kind of sign I don't know what is!

#87 3 years ago
Quoted from nascarrey:

Great news Pecos! I'm sure youre impatiently waiting on that business license.....

Thanks nascarrey! I wasn't until today. Now that I have a potential client, I'm chomping at the bit to get a hold of those tags for the machines. I called Michael today and found out that the AZ DPS has 45 days to do the background check. Tomorrow will be two weeks. How long can it take to do a background check? It's the last step in the licensing process, so just as soon as that is done, I'm in business!

2 weeks later
#90 3 years ago

I am still waiting, waiting, waiting. In the meantime I had a nice pinball party at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour since this is the last time that all of my games will be here at PPPP.

I saw my possible first client and explained the situation to him. He is still interested. I have a possible second client.

My insurance kicked in on April the 13th. All of my license fees are paid. I am losing $3.00 everyday that I have to wait to start my business. It has been a full month since the background check was started. Still waiting.

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 sold a Williams Spanish Eyes to Robert and Constance at D&D Pinball today. This will help the money situation until some quarters can start coming in. It's a fun game. If you are near downtown Tucson, look up D&D Pinball and go play it and my other 'Middle Pop' Williams pin, Fan-Tas-Tic.

Still Waiting...

#93 3 years ago
Quoted from NicoVolta:

Yo Pecos... enjoying your thread and hope the quarters start rolling in soon.

Thanks Nic! So do I. I ordered 1000 preformed quarter wrappers today. I hope to go through all 1000 quickly!

amazon.com link »

Quoted from NicoVolta:

BTW, I’m going to drill new lower-post holes for Fan-Tas-Tic at the museum. Ever since you pointed out how they angle downwards to the drain, I’ve been wanting to correct that. Seems easily doable by moving the lower pair of posts inward to eliminate the tilt. That’s how the Freedom proto is set up... looks like Norm agreed with your findings and corrected it in his final middle-pop layout.

Wow! I hope this idea works out for you. I will feel bad if it doesn't. I'll be looking forward to the results.

Quoted from nascarrey:

Just picked one up last week-my first middle pop!

Speaking of middle pops:

Quoted from Pecos:

The second 'middle pop' pin, Spanish Eyes, has left Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour. The good news is that you can play it and Fan-Tas-Tic at D&D Pinball in Tucson. If you ever find yourself in Tucson with nothing to do, check them out!

Before this turns into the middle pop thread, I did get some work done today. I went looking for simple quarter counters on Amazon and Ebay. The tray type, which would be fine, were for pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters. A quarters only tray counter was nowhere to be found. There were some plastic tube type for more than $10.00 shipped. It's just a piece of plastic, people!

I had some PVC pipe laying around. I found that a quarter fit into one of them with only a little bit of slop.

DSCF3530 (resized).JPG

DSCF3531 (resized).JPG

This might work out perfectly. The space between the quarters and the tube might be the perfect size so I can slide a quarter wrapper in there, making short work of loading the wrapper. Fingers are crossed! Will serendipity pay me a visit?

I spoke with Michael at the Tucson Business License Department and told him that it has now been more than a month and that I am losing almost $3.00 every day that I don't have a license. If I could just get a status, that would be helpful. I am concerned that the background check request might have been lost or put at the bottom of the wrong pile. He has emailed the Arizona Department of Public Safety trying to get this done. He is going to work on it next week - again. Everybody in this licensing process has been wonderful, especially Michael. I can't say that about AZ DPS.

17
#94 3 years ago

I got a call from Michael at the Tucson Business License Department this morning. He has resolved the background check problem. I am to go downtown tomorrow to pick up my 'tags.'

Thanks Michael for all of your hard work getting this done!

DSCF3537 (resized).JPG

This is what a Tucson licence tag used to look like.

Beginning tomorrow, I can put pins on location.

#96 3 years ago

I should be ecstatic. But getting my license tabs after this long wait is a bit anti-climactic. It's been a long journey and I'm just getting started.

Here is a picture of Michael getting my tags ready for me. Michael has always been there to help me along the way. Thanks Michael!

DSCF3538 (resized).JPG

Here are the all-important Tucson License Tags:

DSCF3540 (resized).JPG

Quoted from nascarrey:

Pecos: "Cha ching"!!!

Almost there. Next stop, getting the pins out into the public!

#100 3 years ago
Quoted from MrBally:

I sincerely hope you cover your costs and end up making at least half of minimum wage (New York or California) for your time invested within a year.

I won't be disappointed if I don't. I have been blessed with help from so many in the Pinside community and local community getting to this point.
Atari_Daze - sent me some very nice plastics for Hardbody - more than I paid for.
jwwhite15 - sent me six coin boxes for a very reasonable price.
Grnrzr - sold me five great looking Bally displays, inexpensively, keeping the original look for Harlem Globetrotters On Tour.
My Project Pin guy in San Tan Valley sold me Harlem Globetrotters On Tour and Super-Flite, the first two games to go out on route.
These are just the people who have helped me get my Pecos Pinball business up and running. There are others who have sent me parts for free for other games at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour.
Thank you!!
If I don't make money then this will be my contribution to the community that has given me so much.
Speaking of costs, here is the update you have all been eagerly waiting for:
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
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total: $338.29 for fiscal quarters two to four 2018, 75% of a year.
I am not including my time or gas, both of which are worth something, or the cost of the pinball machines and parts. The costs listed above are just the costs needed to get my licenses. Add the almost $600 cost for liability insurance, and I have almost $1000.00 invested and haven't even made a single quarter yet. This is probably ballpark typical for a major city like Tucson.
I spoke with my first client today. He has to move some old games out to make room for the Pecos Pinball games. I should start moving the pins, Harlem Globetrotters On Tour and Super-Flite tomorrow. His customers are going to love these pins and I am going to feel like a proud papa to have them reborn into a whole new world!
I began this thread hoping to document the process for becoming a pinball operator in the hope that it would encourage others to do so. I am not so sure that I have accomplished that. But you will have a much better idea what you will be getting into if you are as crazy as I am and want to start your own pinball business!
My first License Tag is on the game!
DSCF3542 (resized).JPG
Added over 3 years ago: Forgot the MPU for Harlem Globetrotters that Kris Bliznick at Firebird Pinball supplied and the electronic parts I got from Ed at Great Plains Electronics. I have probably forgotten others that I will be adding as I remember.

Added over 3 years ago: NVRAMs provided by barakandl and Borygard.

#102 3 years 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...

1 week later
11
#112 3 years 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!

2 weeks later
#116 3 years 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:

DSCF3592 (resized).JPG

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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
#118 3 years 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!

#123 3 years 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.

#126 3 years 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!

#129 3 years 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 month later
#133 3 years 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:

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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.

2 weeks later
15
#135 3 years 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

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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:

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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.

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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!

#138 3 years 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 [email protected]@!~!!!!! 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

#140 3 years 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.

#143 3 years 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??

#145 3 years 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.

#149 3 years 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?

#151 3 years ago
Quoted from desertT1:

Why would you want them keyed differently?

Keyed alike would be ideal iff (if and only if) somebody couldn't buy a lock and key on the Internet with the same key as my 'keyed alike locks.' If, for example, I bought the same locks as you on eBay or Amazon, and there aren't that many different 7/8" tubular cam locks for sale on those two sites, I would have access to all of your machines. I certainly wouldn't be trying my keys in your pins, but it is one more thing that I DON'T want to have to worry about before I lay my head down on the pillow.

Today's haul:

I started working on my next Project Pin and found the Gottlieb chime unit and the power cord male plug missing. This solves one problem, the easy one:

DSCF3858 (resized).JPG

Two of those five quarters are my first Pecos Pinball 'take.' That sounds so greedy and capitalistic, like I'm taking candy from a baby! It will be a LONG time before I am actually breaking even on my investment. This exercise in capitalism is more of a labor of love rather than a greedy grab for geld.

Come heck or high water I am bound and determined to get my first Gottlieb pinball machine working. Anyone care to guess which one I am choosing as my first working Gottlieb? Hint: It has a lot of drop targets and is missing the chime unit! It is the first Gottlieb I remember playing and has an iconic backglass that looks something like this->. It is in my collection.

It sure will be nice to finally have a Gottlieb up and working 100% here at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour! I can't wait to hear those melodious Gottlieb chimes! Oh, wait, SOMEONE STOLE THE MELODIOUS CHIME UNIT!

#157 3 years ago

Thanks, all, for the information on locks. I will be checking out prices but, for now, I will be scavenging locks with keys off of my herd of Project Pins. I have a lot of locks without keys. I took one to a locksmith to try to be keyed or rekeyed and they couldn't do it. I didn't leave with a sense that I was dealing with a competent locksmith. Has anyone had any luck finding keys for old locks? I would think that a good locksmith could rekey these old locks.

Today's haul - all the way from New York to Tucson in short order:

DSCF3860 (resized).JPG

Locks! Locks! Locks! These will be used on the backbox doors. Thanks ForceFlow for the nice price and fast shipping!

1 week later
#162 3 years ago

Pecos Pinball is excited and honored to announce their affiliation with the Spotted Bull Eatery and Bar. Pecos Pinball is pleased to bring their second vintage pinball machine to the Tucson area.

The Spotted Bull Eatery and Bar, formerly the Vail Steak House Cafe & Diner, is going through their soft opening and will have their Grand Opening on October 13th, 2018. The Spotted Bull Eatery and Bar is located just off I-10 at the Vail, Arizona exit.

The first machine at the Spotted Bull Eatery and Bar is a Harlem Globetrotters On Tour, Bally 1979. This machine comes via my San Tan Valley Project Pin Guy and is one of the nicest examples you will ever find. It has a reproduction playfield. It looks great and plays just as well. It will be located in the bar/saloon area.

Harlem Globetrotters will be 50 cents a game. Stop by and support pinball in Tucson and say that Pecos sent you!

DSCF3894 (resized).JPG

The owner and his wife.

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I have been an operator for about a month now. Today I really feel like one. I took my time setting Harlem Globetrotters On Tour and still put a couple of connectors on wrong before getting it right. Fortunately, it powered right up. I realized that I hadn't done a lot of testing on the kick-out hole behind the in-line targets. It worked fine - twice - and then died! When I ran through the solenoid test, sure enough, solenoid number four wasn't firing.

I reset the book keeping values after finishing final testing and letting the owners and others in the bar have some free pinball. I discovered that the replay threshold was off by 20,000. When I tried to reset it, the first digit couldn't be recognized because all but one of the segments was on. And it was on for all four players. The 100,000 digits are fine when playing! Weird stuff for sure!

Today I am an operator and really feel like one!

#163 3 years ago

The lock situation has been resolved thanks to ForceFlow, Bruce's Lock Shop, and my San Tan Valley Project Pin Guy. Thanks guys! I won't say anything more about the locks other than all locks for the coin doors are of the highest quality. I did follow one of the Pinsiders suggestion to buy a few of the locks.

Quoted from Pecos:

Anyone care to guess which one I am choosing as my first working Gottlieb?

Sorry Ryan, try again. Here is a visual hint:

1st Gottlieb Hint (resized).png

I got a definite 'No' from the retirement facility. I am working on several more possible clients. Good things are happening at Pecos Pinball!

#167 3 years ago

The second pinball machine at the Spotted Bull Eatery and Bar is an Aztec, Williams 1976. It will be located in the bar/saloon area.

Aztec will be a retro-priced at 25 cents a game. Stop by and support pinball in Tucson and say that Pecos sent you!

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And that is where the good news ends and the bad news begins. Here you can see Harlem Globetrotters with all playfield lamps working.

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And then, the insert lamps went out. It wasn't 'just a fuse'. This is what I found on the power supply board.

DSCF3915 (resized).JPG

That bridge rectifier got hot! I don't know what this means, but I plan to fix the power supply board and then LED the game to reduce the heat load on these bridge rectifiers.

The solenoid for the kick-out saucer behind the in-line drop targets worked for a while and then died yesterday. Talk about my share of bad luck! I know the boards are old but I shouldn't have this many problems so quickly after bullet-proofing them. I knew it was a long shot, but I looked up the connector and pin number for this solenoid. I checked out that pin and connector and couldn't find a problem. So it is now time to start looking at the transistor(s) for this kick-out saucer.

Worse, I found three problems on Aztec after delivering it to the Spotted Bull. The replay button doesn't always work. Player three's 1,000 point score reel wasn't resetting, and player three wasn't awarding a replay when the replay score of 570,000 was reached.

I don't mind a few problems and I will get these solved soon enough, even if I have to buy some new Bally boards, but this hurts my credibility. That is something that I can't afford at such an early stage in the life of Pecos Pinball. I will be working hard this week to resurrect my games and my self-respect. I have a great client in the Spotted Bull Eatery and Bar and I will do whatever it takes to make and keep them happy.

Harlem Globetrotters On Tour has been brought home. Another game, Super-Flite, will take it's place until I can get Harlem Globetrotters back up and running 100%.

I don't know how to best prevent this in the future except for longer burn-in periods for rebuilt boards and that is exactly what I plan to do. And, I better test Super-Flite again, thoroughly, before delivering it to the Spotted Bull.

#171 3 years ago
Quoted from RyanClaytor:

Ha-ha! That's a nice and generous hint. Jumpin' Jack/in-the-Box.

You know your Jacks Ryan! You got it. It's hard to forget that Jack in the Box nose once you see it.

Quoted from davideokills:

I spent my morning catching up on this thread. It is great reading about how you work through issues and I love the attention to detail in how you plan your business.

Thanks davideokills. Nice of you to say and it's good to hear that my writing is not so boring that it put you to sleep. Or did it?

Quoted from davideokills:

I really wish you were in Cleveland instead of Tuscon. I would have given you half of the stuff you bought along your journey. I have so many mechs and coin boxes not to mention all the projects you've tempted me into.

You are so generous. Fortunately, there are a few people here in Arizona and on Pinside that are just as generous and have made my start-up issues minor compared to what they would have been without their help. I am truly blessed!

Quoted from Brijam:

You won't be sorry. Customers love them. I have had very good luck with Comet LEDs. No matter who you buy LEDs from, buy the SMD type. Non SMD LEDs fade quickly on route, and I've had very high failure rates with them.

I appreciate the advice Brijam. SMDs for sure. I have no problem going all LEDs on a SS, other than the price. For machines on route, LEDs make a lot of sense since the games are usually on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Quoted from Brijam:

Sorry to hear about your power supply issues.

Thanks. There must be something more going on that I am missing. This shouldn't be happening on day two.

Quoted from Brijam:

In my (limited) experience routing older games dating back to the late 70s, every 'new' old game you bring on route has a break-in period. By that I mean things will break for a while once you put it on route again. Once you fix the things that were gonna break, the machine tends to stabilize for a long period of time. Then most of your cost are parts that are designed to fail: balls, rubbers and coil stops/sleeves, etc.

I'm sure that you are right, pretty typical for most electronics.

Quoted from clg:

...if nothing else bulbs put out a lot of heat.

And worse yet, as the incandescent lamps age they get even hotter.

Quoted from Chalkey:

All my classic bally / sterns that have suspect rectifier boards get a new one from weebly (https://nvram.weebly.com/new-pcbs.html). Get the kit for $35 shipped and it's a fun project to build and install on the cheap. He's a pinsider and I've had great success with fixing problems with his boards. I've done 4 so far 10/10 A++ would buy again.

Great idea! I have done business with barakandl and love his products. It is becoming rather obvious that I need a backup set of new Bally boards. This will happen again and putting in a new board as a permanent solution or until the original boards can be fixed is absolutely essential for an operator. Thanks! I'll definitely be following your advice.

#175 3 years ago

Dear diary,

Last night was the low point of my pinball operating career.

I haven't worked this hard since I worked at CSC. I haven't been this burned out since I missed a flight out of SEATAC and spent all night in Las Vegas, not getting any sleep for 24 hours.

Friday I spent all day up in Phoenix getting two pinball machines from My Project Pin Guy in Scottsdale.

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/what-machine-did-you-bring-home-today-post-your-pictures/page/198#post-4601224

He has quite a background in pinball. I took him to lunch and enjoyed hearing some of his stories.

Later that day I visited my San Tan Valley Project Pin Guy. He gave me 39 locks from the days he used to operate pinballs for a mere pittance. These locks are super heavy duty locks and look the part. I don't know what these locks are worth, but new high quality locks cost me $16 and his locks are better than the stuff I can get today. He also had a Gottlieb chimes unit, very hard to find, that I needed for Jack in the Box. We agreed to $100 for everything but I will be sending him $200. He and so many others have been a huge part of getting my Pecos Pinball biz up and running. I am so blessed - truly! Thank you guys!

Saturday and Sunday I spent all afternoon at the Spotted Bull getting two machines set up.

The long and short of it was that I was feeling pretty burned out and down after I found three problems on Aztec and after I had to bring Harlem Globetrotters On Tour back home to fix two problems.

Pinsiders Brijam, clg - all the way from 'down under' lands, Chalkey, BrianBannon, @tomahawkjim and cudabee - all the way from the Netherlands, gave me some good advice, provided solace in my time of troubles and sent some very important encouragement. What a great group of people pinball people are and what a wonderful Website for pinball that Pinside is!

I'm back at it today after a good nights sleep. Missing my afternoon naps has made me a grumpy old man!

Quoted from cudabee:

If i see the middle rectifier you used more solder, maybe the burnt one had insufficient solder, got hot and started to arc.

I think you are right, cudabee. Good diagnose it and thanks for mentioning it. I need to know what happened and why so I won't make this mistake again. That is the best explanation and makes a whole lot of sense considering the problems I was having getting the top side of the board properly soldered.

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/a-pecos-diary-my-journey-to-pinball-operator#post-4290167
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/a-pecos-diary-my-journey-to-pinball-operator/page/2#post-4300923

I looked for the transistor number for the target saucer solenoid on the schematic and found that it was Q11. I pulled the solenoid board this morning, officially called AS-2518-16 Solenoid Driver Board Assy and got out my DMM to test Q11. I certainly expected that to be the problem. It wasn't! Surprise - Surprise - Surprise! It turned out to be a broken trace or a cold solder joint, not on the connector but on one of the transistor legs! More surprise!

DSCF3919 (resized).JPG

Not the greatest soldering job. I won't be overly critical though, my soldering skills aren't much better.

Here is a close-up of the solder joints and trace. Hard to see any breaks in the circuit, but the continuity test wasn't lying.

Uncontinuity (resized).png

With that solved, I pulled the power supply/rectifier board. Bally officially calls it the AS-2518-18 'Transformer Assy.' The bridge rectifier still tests good, but what a mess! That must have been quite a light show!

I will be ordering bayonet style (#44/#47) SMD LEDs tonight or tomorrow, probably from Comet. I like their bright white SMDs. I used them on Hardbody and they really bring the playfield to life.

I will be using my brother and his wife's birthday gift to purchase a new Transformer Board, pre-assembled, from weebly.com. I neither have the time or the confidence in my soldering skills at this point to try the DIY kit. I will in the future. I really enjoy these kind of projects. Thank you, brother mine.

#178 3 years ago
Quoted from desertT1:

Is the place open now, or is the "grand opening" still coming up? Just wanting to know when I can go play.

They are going through their soft opening now and are open 6AM to 8PM currently. They are having a heck of a time finding good help. I hear the same thing from a friend who owns a DQ. The Grand Opening is set for October 13th. I plan to bring one of my ‘special’ games like Wizard! or Firepower set to free play.

Wait until I get Harlem back to the Spotted Bull before visiting. It will be worth the wait. The backglass is a 10 and the repro playfield is a 9.5. I just ordered $110 worth of LEDs from Comet and a new rectifier board from barakandl for it so it should be a real standout.

Quoted from desertT1:

Looking forward to things getting back up and running for you.

Thanks for the good wishes. I can say that I have a much better appreciation for having just a few pins on route, let alone 17! We should meet up sometime and compare notes.

#180 3 years ago
Quoted from desertT1:

Did you get the resistor board kit for classic Ballys? It keeps LEDs from blinking when they shouldn't.

I bought a bag of 500 750Ω resistors for like $3.50 from GPE. I have already used them on Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man and they work great. It is a little more work to solder a resistor to each lamp socket, but stupidly easy to do. And, call me weird, but I actually enjoy soldering them on. I will be doing the same for Harlem Globetrotters On Tour.

Good point though. Without a new lamp board that will support LEDs, or resistors on each lamp socket or the Siegecraft classic Bally LED adapters, the lamps will blink - not acceptable at all.

#181 3 years ago

Super-Flite is now at Spotted Bull, replacing Harlem Globetrotters On Tour until the new LEDs can go in and the rectifier board repaired.

DSCF3926 (resized).JPG

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It appears to be working 100%. I was the first to put a quarter in Super-Flite making me the first customer. I bought the barkeep, Sarah, a free game. Big time spender am I.

#183 3 years ago

I began working on repairing the rectifier board today. If I can get it working, I am hoping that it will be rock solid when I replace the #44 incandescent insert lamps with LEDs.

Solder joint going bad? (resized).png

It looks like one of the solder joints has either melted or wasn't properly done. Is this what caused the arcing and the damage to the board? It sure looks suspicious.

After removing the bridge, I was left with this mess.

DSCF3931 (resized).JPG

I soldered two speaker wires to the bridge leg to replace the damaged trace. As you can see, my soldering skills aren't the greatest.

DSCF3933 (resized).JPG

Bridge #2 tested bad in circuit. It tested fine out of circuit. I know that some parts need to be tested out of circuit, but I didn't think that bridge rectifiers were one of those components. I sure would appreciate if any of you electronic gurus could let me know what is going on here.

These repair entries in the diary may bore most of you to tears. But having your pin on location working 100% is critical to a successful pinball operator business. If you are interested in operating your own games, you should know, after getting this far in this thread, just how much work is involved in getting these classic pinball machines working like they did 'back in the day.'

#186 3 years ago
Quoted from dasvis:

Looks like more attention needs to be given to really cleaning surfaces &amp; maybe using a bit of flux. Are you using a soldering station with adjustable temp, or just a pencil?

I clean off all dust with a small paintbrush. I use flux, 'Master Mechanic Solder Paste, cleans * fluxes.' Here is a pic of my soldering/desoldering station:

DSCF3935 (resized).JPG

Quoted from Ralph67:

You need to solder both sides of the board , where the bridge rectifier legs goes through, these tracks are joined through the board ,

I have always been able to solder on only the solder side but learned soon enough that this didn't work with the bridge rectifiers. So, yes, I soldered both sides.

Quoted from Ralph67:

The blackened area looks like it is not soldered at all ?

The blackened area is where the trace was, the important word being 'was.' When I cleaned the area with Isopropyl alcohol, part of the trace broke off. I used two pieces of speaker wire and solder to replace the trace.

Quoted from Ralph67:

I just had the same problem on a Harlem Globetrotters , I couldn't get the solder to take at all, between the board and the legs of the new 35amp bridge

I can normally do a decent job soldering components on these boards, but these bridge rectifiers have been nothing but trouble.

Quoted from Ralph67:

With those large tracks you need to turn up the iron to about 410 -430 , the other smaller finer tracks turn the iron to about 370 ,

I'm running my adjustable temperature solenoid station at 310º. I was running at 360º but the Chinese Yihua soldering station was going through too many heating elements. 310º seems to work fine for me.

Quoted from Ralph67:

and you really need to remove all the old solder , before you re solder new parts back on

I have a Hakko desoldering gun. Yes, I remove all old solder. It's fun sucking up that old stuff with the Hakko! Thanks mom, dad and brother for the gift!! It's been a real time and board saver!

Thanks Ralph67 for taking the time to list out the helpful soldering tips. I will admit that I don't keep my soldering tip clean. I will change this bad habit immediately.

#189 3 years ago

I received the LEDs this afternoon. I put the order in early on Tuesday and Comet shipped the same day. I didn't care that much about fast shipping before but it sure is important to me now that I am trying to get Harlem Globetrotters On Tour back on tour! Thanks ryanwanger at Comet.

I ordered 1 SMD, sunlight, frosted, for the backbox and GI. 2 SMD, natural white and color matched, clear, were ordered for the small inserts and 4 SMD, natural white and color matched, no dome, were ordered for the arrows and large inserts. I also couldn't resist ordering some fast blinking LEDs for behind the name on my Williams EM backglasses. I got some RGB color changing LEDs for Magic Town and I might put a few in Harlem Globetrotters for the mezzanine area.

comet_leds_for_harlem (resized).jpg

Good things come in small packages.

comet_leds_for_harlem_unboxed (resized).jpg

I put the solenoid driver board, transformer and rectifier boards back in this evening, turned the game on and saw an immediate flash. Fuse F4 had blown - the fuse for the solenoids. I put a new 4 Amp fast blow fuse in, I am either out of or have misplace the 5 Amp fuse required. I then disconnected the solenoid driver board and powered up again. No flash! That narrows it down to the solenoid driver board. I will leave the game on in attract mode for several day to do a 'burn-in.'

If I am going to spend $110 on LEDs for a pin, I want customers to know that there are LEDs in the game. I have certainly accomplished that. These LEDs are BRIGHT! I really like the natural white for the inserts. They really stand out - fitting for an SS but not an EM.

LEDs!!! (resized).png

All of the backbox and GI lamps are rock solid. A little more than half of the computer controlled lamps are flickering. That is what the 750Ω resistors are for. With any luck, I should have this game working 100% in a day or two.

For all the Baywatch lovers, please note that Harlem Globetrotters On Tour is legless!

#199 3 years ago

Harlem Globetrotters On Tour is back on tour!

DSCF3945 (resized).JPG

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Super-Flite was brought in while Harlem Globetrotters On Tour was at the PPPP being fixed. I don't know if it will be staying at the Spotted Bull or not.

#203 3 years ago
Quoted from dasvis:

Actually, the old GE 1847 bulbs are best for pop bumpers....

Super-Flite keeps blowing the #44 lamps that I put in it's pop bumpers. I put an old GE in and that seems to be holding up. But now that I have some LEDs, I will be using those. The pop bumpers on OXO and Super-Flite are really powerful. The owner of the Spotted Bull was playing Super-Flite when the ball got into the three pop bumpers. All he could say is "wow!" OXO is one of only a few pins that I have had to replace the pop bumper rod and ring because it was broken - just awesome DC powered pop bumpers on that era of Williams pinball machines.

Quoted from BrianBannon:

Be sure to use the tin plated phosphor bronze trifurcon male contacts for the GI connectors, I use them for all the connectors because phosphor bronze handles the heat better than the tin plated brass and the cost is just nominally higher.

For the Bally Harlem Globetrotters On Tour rectifier board I used these:

DSCF3956 (resized).JPG

Quoted from greatwichjohn:

Recycle old bulbs, every dollar saved goes to your bottom line.

I do, but once they start to go black, even the slightest bit, they are out of here. Most of the old #44 and #47 lamps I pull are going bad. I save these too. I get requests for old lamps that are going bad for different projects.

Quoted from pinheadpierre:

I'm curious how you have selected the initial titles to put on location. I ask because it seems like you have either run into a bit of bad luck with immediate breakdowns or maybe haven't chosen the most reliable examples from your herd? Maybe there are other machines in your collection that are mechanically more route ready? Or maybe the ones you're really focused on sharing with the public just need more private testing before putting them on route?

I have sold two of my Project Pins to D&D Pinball. Fan-Tas-Tic has had no issues for more than six months, maybe as many as twelve months. Spanish Eyes had no problems for six months. This is one of the important bits of information that I used to decide to start my own operating business. There are a special group of pins that will never go out on route like Double-Up, Black Knight and OXO. Pinball machines like Super-Flite are simple but fast and fun. These kind of games are good for pinball newbies. Harlem Globetrotters On Tour is nostalgic for many and loads of fun. Aztec is the fastest EMs I have played and that is why I chose it.

Bottom line, I have enough confidence, finally, in my restoration, diagnosing and fixing skills to be comfortable putting my games out of route.

Quoted from pinheadpierre:

I would have the game set up at home EXACTLY like it would be on route (needs coins for credits, special/ match features set at appropriate values, etc) and play the crap out of it. I would even set myself a high semi-arbitrary threshold of test games (100? 200?) that the machine would have to pass before being deemed ready. Any breakdowns during the testing period would reset the clock and the testing process to zero. Ideally, I would like the machine to have proven itself trouble free for months on end with regular use before becoming a route candidate.

I am notorious for getting a pin restored 95%, enough to be played at home and then moving onto the next restoration. That last 5% takes a lot of time and I have a lot of pins in my queue waiting to be restored. I just don't have time to play hundreds of test games. I do testing, but not that thorough.

Quoted from pinheadpierre:

I've been following along since the beginning of this thread and hope to see many future posts in which you cannot keep up with your overflowing cash boxes!

Thanks pinheadpierre!

Quoted from clg:

Having said that, moving the game can create issues. I have found problems normally pop up very quickly or when a game is out out or after a month or so of heavy play. I also found maintaining older games is much harder.

Fortunately, I have had no problems show up after moving the pins. But I have a very small sample set. I am hopeful that once I get through the first round of problems the machines will stabilize. At this point, I am having more luck with restored EMs. I go through them very thoroughly and if you get them set up right, they can run for many months before problems begin to appear. Taking the time up front to clean and adjust ALL switches pays off big time.

Quoted from desertT1:

Put it on route and the power supply fails 2 days later. Doh! It happens.

I am still debating with myself how best to test early SS pins. Putting hundreds of test games on it might do nothing more than reduce the life of an electronic part by hundreds of games.

Quoted from cudabee:

I think the cabinet of the Superflite is too far damaged to put on location, now the first impression does not reflect the energy and love you put in this endeavor.
Personally i would make it look better from at least an onlookers distance, that must be not too hard to do.

Super-Flite was delivered to Spotted Bull while Harlem Globetrotters On Tour was being fixed. If you will note, I moved it to the far right where the sides of the cabinet were not visible. As a general rule, I don't do cabinet or backglass artwork restoration. I only have so much time and, until now, I have drawn the line at not restoring cabinet and backglass artwork.

However, I did do some retouching on Travel Time because I knew that a professional photographer was coming in to The Hotel McCoy and I wanted it to look nice. First impressions are important. I learned tonight that Super-Flite will be staying, at least for a little while at the Spotted Bull. You are right, the cabinet is in sad shape. Since it will be staying, I will be going in to do some cabinet touch-up on it if only to please the owner of the Spotted Bull. A cabinet repaint, done correctly, takes a lot more time than you might think. Most of the cabinet touch-ups I have seen were horribly color-matched. I would rather have a unretouched game than a game with poorly done cabinet touch-ups.

Quoted from desertT1:

It’s 40+ years old, it’s ok if it’s not perfect.

A lot of these games are just plain worn out. I am seriously considering putting a Jack In The Box out on route as-is with some of the areas on the playfield worn to the wood. I normally focus on a playfield that looks and plays like new. Someone said once that you don't play the cabinet. I doubt if I will ever hear "You need to paint that ugly cabinet" from a customer. I could be wrong.

Quoted from Friengineer:

Have you considered any signage about the games Pecos? Alot of non-pinball people don't know where the start button is and I think a small sign with some directions or background about you and your games may help. ? Just thoughts.

I have, actually. I am going to be bringing some of my 'special' pinballs to special events and it would be nice to have a sign explaining the year, manufacturer, game name and some history. I remember those big metal signs about four feet high with a rectangular space for the sign and a big base, but those are unwieldy and expensive.

I made my first service call yesterday. I got an email on Friday from the manager at Hotel McCoy that the ball was stuck on Travel Time. I put some credits on the machine and pressed the start button and everything worked. Great, an intermittent problem. In the meantime I did some preventative maintenance on the right flipper. There were two holes through to the playfield where it looked like two fin shank screws belonged - holding down the flipper bushing. But on the underside, there had been screws. I say, had been, because two had fallen out. to confuse matters, there was no third hole. I put two new fin shank screws in the holes and left the other screw on. The flipper is solid and should stay that way for a long time.

I removed the mech board bolts and lifted it to look for some parts that I had dropped. All of the missing parts, two screws and one washer, were under the mech board. I have dealt with this so many times that you would think that I would have a fix by now. I will try to remember to bring a bed sheet with me whenever removing parts from under the playfield. Putting this sheet over the mechs on the mech board should be a catch-all for the parts I drop. I just have to remember to REMOVE the sheet BEFORE turning the machine on!

After screwing the mech board down, the machine would start and then immediately go dark! Here are a few words of wisdom for future operators. When fixing a pin be extremely careful that you don't create any more problems than you started with! I looked at the schematic and noticed that the kickoff slam switch was in circuit to the lock relay. The instruction manual package had slid under the mech board and apparently closed the kickoff switch. I removed it and all was well.

I let some guests play and the intermittent problem appeared! The ball WAS stuck! The outhole switch was the culprit and quickly fixed. I always like to give free games to people in the area. It is a good way to test the machine and I used to get free games after the pinball repairman was done. I always liked that. Now, I am the repairman! Now it is time to pass those good vibes on to others.

I have done no Project Pin restoration for - I can't even remember the last time I worked on the Jack In The Box I am restoring. I knew this is the trade-off I would be making once some of the machines in my collection were put on location. I'm hoping that the pins will stabilize soon and I can get back to restoring the many Project Pins waiting in queue.

#206 3 years ago

Got my Bally power supply/rectifier/transformer board AS-2518-18, AS-2518-49, TA-100 today from barakandl at https://nvram.weebly.com/new-pcbs.html

From the Website:

"New replacement Rectifier Boards. Extra wide and thick traces. All connector pins have a bottom side trace connection. 35A bridge rectifiers. Good quality and properly rated fuse clips (unique clip set for the 20a fuse). Littlefuse or Bussman brand fuses. Molex brand headers. Available in three options. Fully assembled, as a DIY Kit with all the parts needed to assemble, or just the blank circuit board.

*** 03/08/18 *** Assembled Rectifier Boards and DIY Kits now include four nylon standoffs and four 1.5" machine screw with nuts. These are optional and to be used to mount the board to the transformer panel if your original stand offs are broken. Head of the machine screw is intended to be on the top side of the rectifier board."

Bally AS-2518-18 Board (resized).png

Okay, it is a box. Or more accurately, a picture of a box. But it is always exciting to be getting boxes with pinball parts!

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Thanks barakandl for helping Pecos Pinball bring one more pin to Tucson!

This board will be going in Harlem Globetrotters On Tour if the original board does not hold up. More likely, it will go into Future Spa that has the older style -49 rectifier board. Regardless, I am not looking forward to soldering all of those transformer wires to the back of this board.

#208 3 years ago

Travel Time and pinball make the news in Tucson.

Click on the video and skip to 1:20 to see local news reporter Bud Foster smiling while playing the 45 year old Travel Time at the Hotel McCoy.

http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/2018/09/18/old-hotels-give-new-life-downtown/

1 week later
#211 3 years ago
Quoted from nascarrey:

Love the 50's look!

Great spot for vintage pins!

It's the perfect spot for Travel Time. The hotel was built in 1970 and Travel Time was manufactured in 1973.

Quoted from desertT1:

Very cool! Did you know Bud was going to be doing that story?

I didn't even know the story had been done until my friend told me about it and he didn't mention anything about Travel Time being in the video. The smile on Bud Foster's face makes all the work worthwhile. That is what Pecos Pinball's vintage pins are all about.

Quoted from desertT1:

Not trying to steal any spotlight or anything, but Bud came to an event earlier this year, was there for two hours chatting and observing.

Not stealing the spotlight at all. The more videos, the merrier. The more pins in Tucson, the pinnier! That's a great video. You did fine. So, how did you get so much time and Travel Time only got five seconds of air time??

I got a call this afternoon that Travel Time wasn't spitting out balls, again. When I got to the Hotel McCoy, the barkeep told me that there was no problem and that the customer didn't know how to start a game. The public has to be trained how to work these games. We often forget that the pin-savvy players of the last century are the only ones who have played much pinball. The younger crowd have likely never seen, let alone played, any pinball machines.

I had a few problems to fix so the trip wasn't wasted. One of the lamps was flickering. Fixed that. I put the playfield rod through the playfield, again. Apparently, Gorilla Glue isn't meant as a strong filler. I filled the area with wood filler and put a temporary piece of masking tape over it.

The pop bumper skirt point was coming out of the spoon switch. I adjusted the spoon switch stack so the skirt point was centered in the spoon switch. Problem solved; I think. I am still concerned about the pop bumper. The skirt switch rides up on the switch stack and sticks, closing the switch, when moved manually. I couldn't repeat the problem when playing so I am hoping that the solenoid, when activated, is releasing the skirt point. If not, I will have a burned up 750DC solenoid.

#213 3 years ago

I have added three new forms to the plethora of forms already extant. For the first time in my life, I am trying to be organized. I am a lot of things but organized is not one of them!

Income and Expenses (resized).png

All income and expenses will be summarized on this form, including purchase of supplies. I am pretty certain that travel for business can be deducted so that is kept here also. This is a first attempt at this form and I expect it to change. I will be going back through my paperwork to include insurance, license costs and other costs not listed.

Refund (resized).png

A form to keep track of refunds.

Out of Order (resized).png

A form that I hope never gets used!

Today's haul:

From PBR: Jack in the Box Drop Targets, manuals and parts
From eBay: Coin door inserts. Looking for more 2 Quarters - 1 Play inserts. They are harder to find than snow in Tucson.
From Colsond3: A very special package containing a back door for Double-Up! Thanks Colson!

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2 weeks later
#216 2 years ago

It is with a heavy heart that Pecos Pinball must report that all three of their pinball machines have been removed from the Spotted Bull. The machines did not bring much enthusiasm from the customers and the income was far below my expectations. I also expected that many of the 50 and 60 year-old clientele would be excited to play the type of pinball machines that they grew up with. Instead, most customers were children whose parents watched on as many of them played pinball for the first time in their life.

I want to thank Michael and Julie, the owners, for the opportunity to put some of my vintage machines in their restaurant and bar. They are a pleasure to do business with and I appreciate their support. I sincerely hope our paths will cross again.

I want to share a couple of stories with you. During a visit to collect quarters I met two older couples just finishing their lunch. I asked them if they wanted to play some pinball for free and we began talking about pinball. I like to offer free pinball for games that need to be tested. I can watch and look for any issues and the customers enjoy the chance to play for free. Anyway, two of them played and came back to the table with big grins. They hadn't played pinball in forty year and they really had a lot of fun reliving their pinball youth. I opened up the game to show them all of the wires and parts in Aztec and wowed them with just how much it takes to make a pinball work. On the way out, they put two $5.00 bills in my shirt pocket. I tried to refuse, but they insisted. Seeing their smiles was enough to make my day and that is what Pecos Pinball is all about.

I was at the Spotted Bull on Friday to remove Aztec and one of the waitresses and her husband were standing behind two chairs as their two sons were playing Aztec and Super-Flite. It was the first time they ever played pinball. It sure was nice to see the young'uns playing and enjoying the same games that I played and enjoyed 45 years ago. I felt like the Grinch who stole Christmas because I had to take their fun away from them. I let them finish and leave before I sadly began to disassemble Aztec. Pecos Pinball is also all about bring pinball joy to a new generation who have never played pinball before.

On Saturday I went to pick up Harlem Globetrotters On Tour and there were two boys playing Super-Flite. I gave their parents some quarters and after the first batch of quarters was gone, I got the cutest puppy-dog look from one of the boys. I knew what that look was all about! I gave mom and dad another batch of quarters. Bringing happiness to others rewards you with more than you give.

Although it was an unhappy event to remove the games, there were plenty of happy moments. And now I will begin the not-so-fun task of finding some more clients where I can, once again, bring a little bit of joy to a world that surely needs it.

#223 2 years ago
Quoted from Mrtattooz:

I just wanted to say thank you all the way from Atlanta for the effort and dedication to bringing pinball back to potentially thousands of people who have never played a real pinball machine before! GL

Thank you for the good wishes. It's a real kick to watch kids play pinball for the first time!

Sometimes reality smacks you up side the head:

This is going to be a lot harder than I thought.

Quoted from pinheadpierre:

Sorry to hear about the loss of your location. I really appreciate your generous attitude.

I appreciate that pinheadpierre. When I started this business, I promised myself not to get stressed out. There is nothing good that comes from having a bad attitude. I will pick up and move on. I will be honest and tell you that I am getting tired of playing musical pinballs!

Quoted from dasvis:

Well, that sucks. Sorry Pecos, but I'm sure you will find the perfect spot for your pins.

I'm not terribly bummed out - not really at all. I have a better idea of which locations would do better than others so I will be changing a few tactics in the search for a new location.

Quoted from NicoVolta:

Is it legal in Tucson to give away a beer for attaining a certain score? The redemption/gambling aspect is always a huge motivator.

Nic, I think you are missing the lesson to be learned here. I had three pins in the bar portion of a restaurant/bar. The bar goers voted with their quarters and the vote was "We aren't interested in your pinball machines." It couldn't have been the prices. The EMs were priced at one quarter per game and the SS, Harlem Globetrotters On Tour was priced at two quarters per game. The only customers that I saw playing the pins were kids and kids and bars don't mix. If kids, with their parents in tow, are my customers, then I am glad to pull the pins from the bar.

Quoted from steviechs:

I can't make heads or tails of who decided it was time for the machines to go; you or the establishment?

Yeah, I noticed that after I wrote it and that is the way I am going to keep it. The problem with sharing my experiences online is that I can only speak for myself, but the parties I interact with cannot speak for themselves. The games weren't making money so it doesn't really matter who made the decision that it was time for them to go.

Quoted from Whysnow:

are you going to find another location for them?

sorry to hear you had to pull out form the first.

Technically, it is my second location. I am going to find another location, and hopefully, locations. It's at times like this that I wish I had the money to open my own arcade. But I am concerned about the interest from the 21 and up crowd. I thought for sure that boomers would flock to play the games they played in their youth. Sometimes reality smacks me upside the head and I realize, as impossible as it seems, I might actually be wrong about that one!

1 week later
#230 2 years ago

Pecos Pinball is ecstatic to announce that Firepower has left Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour and has landed at D & D Pinball!

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