I got my first pin in the spring, a WIlliams Space Odyssey that was in decent shape. At the time, I knew ZERO about pinball repair but someone gifted me the $350.00 the seller was asking so I took the plunge. I was telling myself at the time that I would either fix up the Space Odyssey and then "flip" it, or just keep it as I started adding new tables to my collection.
I had no idea what I was in for, and I mean that in the best possible way.
In the last 5 months, I have rebuilt the flippers and the pop bumpers. I have cleaned and adjusted all stepper units and score reels. I have cleaned and waxed the playfield and all playfield parts. The playfield rubber is all new and the playfield parts that were "wrong" have been replaced. I have gone through all my playfield leaf switches and adjusted them so they operate the way I'd like them to. The chime unit is rebuilt and sounds great. In each case, these repairs/rebuilds meant that I needed to learn how to do them (thank you Clay Harrell for http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index.htm). It was not all easy because I knew NOTHING. I made mistakes, but thankfully never did anything badly enough that I couldn't fix it as I learned.
Three months ago I had never cleaned a scoring reel. Now I've done 10 of them and if anyone handed me a Williams 1970s EM score reel I could clean and adjust it pretty quickly. Five weeks ago I had never used a soldering iron. Today if I went downstairs to shoot for a bit and I saw anything during play that needed soldering, I could do it. I will get better, of course, but at least I am getting comfortable with soldering. I'm slowly building up a nice set of tools, including the specialized things like flexstones, leaf adjusters, ultrasonic bath and so forth. The fact that I spent so little to get the table made it easier to spend the money I needed to spend in the process of shopping it.
Today, five months later, I am moving closer and closer to being comfortable with the ins and outs of EM repair. I no longer look for that Flight 2000 or that Cyclone or that Funhouse (although I'd still love to own those pins). I am on the lookout for another "Bargain Basement" EM that I can take home and fix up. I know so much more now and it puts me in a much better place as I look for that next table. More than anything, I have learned that I can handle the Electro Mechanical issues. I know enough to make sure I get the best playfield possible so I can concentrate on those other repairs.
More than anything, I have learned that I absolutely LOVE the whole EM thing. I spent a ton of time in my teens in the early 1980s in arcades and I am a huge fan of those classic tables from the early 80s, but I never thought playing an EM would end up being so much fun. My kid brother has taken to calling it "Pure Pinball". You can either make the necessary shots or you can't. Yes, I am pretty sure that there are newer, more expensive tables in my future but for now I am happy shopping for another bargain.
I'm very happy to be a part of this "club" here on Pinside. I have little doubt that my next pin will fit right in here as well. Great thread! Keep those posts coming, bargain hunters!