(Topic ID: 324678)

Best type of machine for my first restoration project

By HappyHarold

1 year ago


Topic Heartbeat

Topic Stats

You

Linked Games

No games have been linked to this topic.

    #1 1 year ago

    Can anyone recommend the type and vintage machine that might be good for my first restoration project?

    I have a Williams Funhouse 1990 which I have worked on and would enjoy another machine like this, but it seems like most similar machines for sale are already fully shopped. I've noticed that run-down EM machines seem to be more readily available than the SS machines from the late 1980s or early 1990s. If I go the EM route, are parts generally available from the typical suppliers, or do I have to search far and wide for parts?

    Generally though, what makes sense for a first restoration?

    Thanks,

    Harold

    #2 1 year ago

    The best projects are the one’s you can get parts for , plastics, playfields , back glasses cabinet stencils or decals , ramps

    #3 1 year ago

    Start with EMs. Parts are simple and easy to find. Don't run before you can walk. Start with the basics and work your way up towards early SS, then the big leagues.

    #4 1 year ago

    If you aren't experienced, a single-level early solid state game. The boardsets are less complex, the playfield has less parts and is less complex. Parts are readily available for most games these days.

    If you want a WPC project game...good luck. They are hard to find these days.

    For EM games, some parts are available, some are not. PBResource is a good first-stop source.

    The EM repair world is pretty different from the solid state repair world. I wouldn't consider one to be a precursor to the other. Personally, I found early solid state much easier than EMs.

    #5 1 year ago

    ^^ All good advice ^^

    I would add, make sure it’s a game you absolutely love because it’s going to take waaaay more time than your wildest high estimate for the amount of time you’ll spend on this.

    #6 1 year ago

    Great advice. Thanks everyone. Looks like I will shop for an EM machine and start there. I do love circuit board work, but that will have to wait.

    #7 1 year ago

    With project pins so hard to find these days for fair prices, grab whatever shows up.
    All of the above is good advice. There is a big difference between EMs (of which there
    are several sub catagories) than early SS pins. Personally, I like restoring them all.
    Even bingos which most will try to steer you away from. It'll be a great learning
    experience no matter what you start off with.

    #8 1 year ago

    What is your budget? What is your expectation for return on your time?

    If your budget is very low, you can pick up EM's for astonishingly little money, and people who are familiar with EM pinballs are always in demand. You would build a skill that is in great demand.

    If you have a better budget, go ahead and buy a shopped machine and a playfield and do a cabinet restoration and a playfield swap. This is a lot of joy because when you are done you will have produced something greater than the game was originally meant to be. You are only going to do a limited number of restoration projects in your lifetime. Might as well make every one a timeless classic work of art.

    If you expect to get money for your time... well, you can do that but it takes a lot more discipline.

    When doing restoration you live in the question of 'how far do I go'.

    To get your money out of your project you'll have to choose a machine that is mostly good, and improve it, but not go to the highest standard. Quality where it counts instead of quality above all.

    If you want a long-term project, lots of sweat and time but not much hard dollars invested, think about your machine purchase in those lines. What can I do with just time and effort? This will guide you to machines that might have been close to a fire, or are insanely filthy but intact.

    If you want to pay yourself for your training, you might have more in the cost of the machine and the parts and the tools than you will ever sell the machine for, but you have improved your ability to be more capable in the future. These machines would be ones that parts are available but you'll need a lot of them, and there will be lots of ongoing costs in getting your refurbishment project started. It won't matter, because you are investing in yourself instead of demanding your hobby be cash self-sufficient.

    In any event, I wish you well, and along the way, learn the skills to do home service calls.

    The single biggest problem in this hobby is the lack of people who will go to your home and fix a machine, so think about developing the skills to be one of the guys whose hobby supports others where they need it... in their home.

    #9 1 year ago

    What is your timeline?

    If not immediate, I'd recommend going to the Allentown PA pinball show in May and looking for a deal http://www.pinfestival.com/ . There will be 50+ EMs not even put together in the flea market and around the edge of the show all for under $1,000, some under $500. Great way to get into the hobby cheap. I might pick up a Space Time after work today for cheap $100. Deals are out there but far between.

    Another strategy would be to go with cash in hand to the pinball show and 4 hours before closing on Saturday people that bought games at the show and don't have room for all of them in their vehicle or don't want to bring them home have some pretty steep cuts. I almost walked out with a nice Sure Shot (one of my favs) for $600 at York Last year but I'd have to strap it to my roof to do that.

    If you are looking to invest alot of time in it and need to get you money back out, you can always look for a game at a lesser price with a trashed playfield that they make Hardtops or replacement fields for. A playfield swap on a working game is a huge time investment, but a great way to learn lots of things about how pins really work.

    In any case I think you'll have alot of fun with this.

    As a warning on projects I do not recommend a "Bingo" as a first fixer upper even though you can get them cheap.

    #10 1 year ago

    Find a Bally SS like supersonic or night rider. There are certainly others. Inexpensive, high run, not highly sought after. Parts are available and usually reasonable. Good luck in your search.

    #11 1 year ago

    Lots of good helpful info here but I'll throw this in.

    The best restoration project to start is a complete unmolested machine that you can get a good deal on. Regardless of SS or EM, era or manufacturer, working or not. The lessons learned and skills garnered from doing a full restoration will undoubtedly help you in one way or another in all restorations there after.

    #12 1 year ago

    I’m partial to EM’s, but the first question I would ask myself is what is my expectation for this restoration? This has been brought up earlier in the thread.

    Are you looking to take a beater and bring it back to museum quality? Are you looking to learn some skills and through that process, bring a game that was dead back to life?

    Those are two very different time commitments.

    Hope this helps,

    Alberto

    #13 1 year ago

    Beggars can't be choosers and given the hyper competition and prices these days, you might have to settle for what's available and lucky.

    Plus, do remember you don't need to seek perfection on the first go-round. If you get something non-functional, your first priority should be making it functional, even if poorly. Then improve from there. Once it works 100%, then you can make it oem-level beautiful. Once it's beautiful, you can make it unique if desired.

    At any rate, given the luxury of choice early SS games are best IMO, because they offer the sweet spot of old-school thinking and mechs (from EMs) but with modern-ish circuit logic, using traces and parts that are much easier and more forgiving to work on. If you've never mastered a soldering iron, you could still get away with working on, say, a WMS System 6... but should stay far away from WMS WPC (or even Sys 11) and newer until you hone your skills.

    Once you nail the concepts of early SS, you can work backward to EM, or forward to 90's & newer as opportunities and interest allow.

    #14 1 year ago

    One more piece of advice....buy a machine that is in good or better
    cosmetic condition. Electronics can be fixed, usually requiring only time but
    things like worn PF's, missing, flaking or broken BG's cost money.

    Let us know what you end up with!

    #15 1 year ago

    If you love circuit board work, then you've already answered your question. Forget the EMs. Look for an early Bally Solid State instead. Reproduction parts, playfields, cabinet stencils, new reproduction boards, hobbyist add-on updated code kits, on & on....all generally available for these games.

    So many great games from around 1977-1983 that were produced in large numbers & can still be found for a decent price, especially the late 70s games. The A-list 1980-81 titles are hard to find, but you can find many others if you look hard enough. Just make sure it's game you really like!

    The skills & knowledge you learn on early solid states will translate to the modern machines that followed. My first restore was a Mata Hari & it was the perfect choice for me. Look at other pinsiders build threads that documented their restore process. Lots of helpful information to be found here, and you won't make the same mistakes they made.

    My first build...if you care to read..... https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/my-first-restoration-mata-hari

    Just realize you'll be spending more time & money than you ever anticipated Good luck!

    #16 1 year ago
    Quoted from zarco:

    One more piece of advice....buy a machine that is in good or better
    cosmetic condition. Electronics can be fixed, usually requiring only time but
    things like worn PF's, missing, flaking or broken BG's cost money.
    Let us know what you end up with!

    Absolutely this.

    I would consider the playfield to be the most important, cosmetically speaking. Followed by the cabinet, then the backglass. The backglass alone can cost $250-$500 to replace, depending on the game and whether or not reproductions are available.

    Boards and mechanical parts can always be repaired or replaced. Artwork is much more difficult. Granted, there are some very gifted individuals who can restore artwork, but it's very time consuming and expensive.

    It's better to get a dead game that looks nicer, which can then be fixed up, rather than a beat up and worn game that's working. Plus, games that look nice are generally easier to sell when the time comes.

    But, with a dead game, don't immediately pop in new or newly repaired boards. There could be a problem within the game itself that originally caused the game to go down and get pulled from service. So go through the checklist first:

    https://www.pinwiki.com/wiki/index.php/Post-Purchase_Checklist

    #17 1 year ago

    I have a not terrible Time Warp project I would be willing to part with. Topside already disassembled for easy cleaning or hard-topping!

    Good luck, this is exciting times!

    #18 1 year ago
    Quoted from rockwell:

    I have a not terrible Time Warp project I would be willing to part with. Topside already disassembled for easy cleaning or hard-topping!
    Good luck, this is exciting times!

    Personally, I avoid projects that are in a serious state of disassembly. You might not have the reference photos you need, the parts are generally not organized/labeled, and you don't know if all the parts are there until you get to the point of assembly. It's not something I would recommend for a first timer.

    #19 1 year ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    Personally, I avoid projects that are in a serious state of disassembly. You might not have the reference photos you need, the parts are generally not organized/labeled, and you don't know if all the parts are there until you get to the point of assembly. It's not something I would recommend for a first timer.

    Understandable for a first-timer. But know this! I've kept detailed photographic records for this relatively simple breakdown, and keep the parts organized in labeled bins. Because, in general, I am very stupid. And forgetful

    #20 1 year ago

    My opinion: By and large early Bally -35 or -17 pins are the best starter pins for this. There is a plethora of information available online for repairing all facets of these early SS pins including electronics and mechanics. Parts availability is among the best as well.

    So many tens of thousands of these machines were produced and most have a huge commonality of parts that are interchangeable.

    Good luck.

    #21 1 year ago

    I went with a high speed for my first restore. Parts easily available and not too much stuff to take apart. Take your time, take lots of pics, and have fun.

    #22 1 year ago
    Quoted from Aflacjack:

    I went with a high speed for my first restore. Parts easily available and not too much stuff to take apart. Take your time, take lots of pics, and have fun.

    I have a High Speed restore kit available. Price is negotiable. Just don't have time.

    #23 1 year ago
    Quoted from Chisel:

    My opinion: . . .early Bally -35 or -17 pins are the best starter pins for this.

    Can you explain what -35 and -17 pins are?

    My thanks

    #24 1 year ago
    Quoted from HappyHarold:

    Can you explain what -35 and -17 pins are?

    It’s how Bally labeled the CPU board generations on their early solid state games.

    Aside: I think the best restoration project is the one you’ll have the most passion for. Pick a game you’ll really want to put work into.

    First time restorations are time consuming, and will be filled with a lot of trial and error. If you’re picking a game “just to do” you might find yourself burnt out and lacking enthusiasm.

    If you pick a game that has meaning, or one you’re enthusiastic to do, the whole process is much more enjoyable.

    #25 1 year ago

    Thanks very much to everyone who contributed so generously to my inquiry. I have read and reread all of these posts and am considering which direction to take. In the meantime I will finish the modest cabinet restoration on my Funhouse and look forward to my first project from the ground up.

    #26 1 year ago

    After restoring a few machines stored away for decades without idea of their condition or even if they ever worked for the owner -- my advice would be to pick up a machine that "used to work" over something happened over a mystery or partially hacked machine.

    A machine that was playing for years and then suddenly dies in the home of someone who has no technical skills can typically be an easy fix. Stuck score reels, broken EOS switch, loose wire, dirty contacts etc.

    Harder to fix is that mystery machine found in a storage locker and sold after the owner dies. Who knows what the history of the machine is, could have been partially parted out, hacked at by someone who didn't know what they were doing, hopelessly rusted up from poor storage conditions etc.

    I picked up a couple of "bargains" like this and got them going but it was very challenging.

    Definitely look at the playfield condition and see if a replacement backglass/plastics are available.

    Reply

    Wanna join the discussion? Please sign in to reply to this topic.

    Hey there! Welcome to Pinside!

    Donate to Pinside

    Great to see you're enjoying Pinside! Did you know Pinside is able to run without any 3rd-party banners or ads, thanks to the support from our visitors? Please consider a donation to Pinside and get anext to your username to show for it! Or better yet, subscribe to Pinside+!


    This page was printed from and we tried optimising it for printing. Some page elements may have been deliberately hidden.

    Scan the QR code on the left to jump to the URL this document was printed from.