(Topic ID: 275509)

Bowler to Restore, Or not worth it?

By orangestorm87

1 year ago


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  • 24 posts
  • 16 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by Silverstreak02
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    #1 1 year ago

    So from the pictures below any idea what the names of the bowlers are? I am also curious if anything would be worth restoring?

    I have always wanted a big ball bowler but nice examples are always hard to find and out of my price range. Looking at maybe picking something up from an online ad. Or does the state that they are in make it too much trouble. One obviously is missing its pin deck.

    Any tips when I go check them out?

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    #2 1 year ago

    Yeah bowlers can be fun. These all look pretty rough. If they have water damage and mold, I would avoid them. Missing parts can also add up quick . Buying one in this condition may end up costing more than a fully working one in decent shape. Unless these are extremely cheap ( like free), and you think you will enjoy fixing them up.

    #3 1 year ago

    Bowlers can sometimes be hard to come by. Even if you don't want to tackle the project, maybe pass it along to someone else who might be. But yeah, if the wood is rotting and you're not a wood worker, it might not be an easy project to tackle.

    As for shuffle alleys, personally, I wouldn't bother with a basket case since they're not difficult to come by. And EM shuffle alleys aren't very desirable.

    Here's some good info on bowlers: http://www.pinrepair.com/bowl/

    I don't know bowlers very well. The second photo with the blue & white backglass is a United bowler, but I can't tell what the title actually is. It might be from the 60s, but again, I'm not familiar enough with them to say for sure.

    The next one with a backglass looks like it also might be a United bowler, and judging from the color scheme, possibly late 50s. Condition-wise, that one seems like it may be the best one out of the bowlers.

    [edit]: It looks like United 50s bowler might be this one: http://www.pinrepair.com/bowl/bonus.htm

    [edit]: It looks like the United 60s bowler might be this one: http://www.pinrepair.com/bowl/5starba.htm

    #6 1 year ago

    Ya kinda the reason I am looking for a cheaper option. Looks like the one is definately United 5-Star, though the other may be United Jumbo

    http://www.pinrepair.com/bowl/jumbo.htm

    Here are some more pictures as well

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    #7 1 year ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    $10k for a bowler? Yikes

    Excluding a ball return and using some cheaper wood I think you can build your own full scale lane with real pinspotter for less. There was a guy selling used A2’s for around $2-3K working in Wisconsin.

    13
    #8 1 year ago

    I have one in Colorado Springs that I'm looking to part ways with. 1956 United. Clean. All Original. Missing coin door. Some minor mechanical issues (2 pin only retracts part of the time, missing one trip lever on pin deck, multi-player function only works part of the time). I've had it for 7 years, prior to that was in a barn for years (covered no water or rodent issues). $500 as is, where is (it's a beast, but comes apart into three pieces - scoring section, front half of lane, back half of lane w/ pin deck). Has service manual and schematics. So perhaps a more manageable "project". Ping me at [email protected] if you have interest.

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    #9 1 year ago

    I’ve seen these all in person... get ready to ride the freight elevator and don’t fall through anywhere to the floor below. The guy selling these (Jeff) is a good guy and should work with you on price. There Is some stuff up there that is trash (water damage or bird shit) ... a couple bowlers should be salvageable. Just be aware that these have been exposed to elements (as you can see in photos that’s the outside through holes in walls and windows).

    I just took a peak at these a couple years ago and that’s what I remember from memory.

    #10 1 year ago

    1st question is do you have any EM experience? These machines look extremely rough and are going to require a serious amount of time and love. If you have never tackled one b4 I suggest you check out a thread I started when I redid mine. It took me about 3 months to get it completely taken apart and thoroughly cleaned and fully working again. My machine was in damn good condition for the most part so this will give you an idea of what to expect if you get one. https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/reviving-a-1963-united-sabre-ball-bowler-

    #11 1 year ago

    Done both of my EM Pins from not working to working. So have some idea. But I have also tossed around the idea of building my own big ball bowler. So maybe just pick one of these up, strip the mechs and put in my own pinsetter and scoring.

    But ya after a few comments, I am leaning towards no.

    #12 1 year ago
    Quoted from orangestorm87:

    Done both of my EM Pins from not working to working. So have some idea. But I have also tossed around the idea of building my own big ball bowler. So maybe just pick one of these up, strip the mechs and put in my own pinsetter and scoring.
    But ya after a few comments, I am leaning towards no.

    My suggestion would be to not buy those and just stay patient and wait for one to pop up check Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace constantly. It took me well over two years to find the one that I found and then it involve almost a 10 hour round-trip to get it.

    #13 1 year ago

    Ya I've been checking my area for a few years as well. Missed out on a working one by a few hours about a month ago.

    #14 1 year ago
    Quoted from orangestorm87:

    Ya I've been checking my area for a few years as well. Missed out on a working one by a few hours about a month ago.

    Did you go look at them?

    #15 1 year ago
    Quoted from orangestorm87:

    But ya after a few comments, I am leaning towards no.

    Maybe you already mentioned, but how far of away from you are these Bowlers?
    I'm trying to make space, so the last thing I need is more bowlers, but I can say the
    way most look, I restored worse..
    If a reasonable distance away, I'd at least check the Big Ball Uniteds out. Their mechanics
    are more logical than Bally..

    #16 1 year ago
    Quoted from BCrom24:

    I have one in Colorado Springs that I'm looking to part ways with. 1956 United. Clean. All Original. Missing coin door. Some minor mechanical issues (2 pin only retracts part of the time, missing one trip lever on pin deck, multi-player function only works part of the time). I've had it for 7 years, prior to that was in a barn for years (covered no water or rodent issues). $500 as is, where is (it's a beast, but comes apart into three pieces - scoring section, front half of lane, back half of lane w/ pin deck). Has service manual and schematics. So perhaps a more manageable "project". Ping me at [email protected] if you have interest.
    [quoted image][quoted image][quoted image][quoted image]

    Man I wish I was closer to Colorado.

    #17 1 year ago

    Ball bowlers are mighty machines. For me one is the pride of the collection and the one that visitors marvel about-for what it does and the intellect that went into its engineering at a time of the EM boom times.
    I found restoring the beast, despite the time, angst and effort required to be enormously enjoyable. I was assisted on any problems by Chris of St Louis Ball bowlers and Mopar, who has posted on this thread.
    If you make the decision to purchase a ball bowler I am sure you, your family and friends will not be disappointed.

    #18 1 year ago

    I have not checked them out. They are about 30 minutes from me. And l have had an emergency trip to Russia, so doesn't look like I'll be able to check them out any time soon.

    #19 1 year ago

    Honestly I don't think you're missing out on much of anything at $800 each.
    I've seen fully complete ones go for a lot less at auctions and at least you'd have all the parts.
    These are going to be in REALLY rough shape.

    #20 1 year ago

    I am sure the warehouse ones are restorable and it's hard to tell if they are in poor condition or just covered in dirt. With that said this seems like a bargain by comparison. For $200 more you get something that looks to be clean and stored in a climate controlled environment.

    chicago.craigslist.org link

    #21 1 year ago
    Quoted from coolwhs:

    Honestly I don't think you're missing out on much of anything at $800 each.

    I missed that he was asking $800.00 per. Maybe $500.00, or $800.00 for the
    two Big Ball Uniteds..

    #22 1 year ago

    I am just finishing up my 1961 United 5 Star bowler which I traveled 800 miles (with an open trailer) in a snow storm to purchase! Spent $1250 on it and put another $400 into it (coin box, LED's, paint, finish, and misc hardware) and a lot of labor. I could not be happier with my first bowler, well worth the trip! I started with a few pitch and bat machines from the 50's, always in not working condition but pretty much complete. Here is what I found out in the process.

    Make sure the machine is as complete as possible. Mine had 2 left legs but since they were wood and easy fix.
    Mice love living in these machines! Found nest under the lane switches with a lot of chewed up wires in the ball return channel.
    Score reel reset relays were cutout and removed and I received 3 others to replace. Turned out one broken wire was the issue and they all worked!
    Check score reels to see if they move when you push on the solenoid, if not they will all have to be dismantled and cleaned (mine had 26 reels!)
    You will need a 9 ft trailer to haul this machine home. One of the lane sections is just over 8 ft long.
    Cleaning the plastic score reels caused the numbers to wipe off! You can purchase vinyl adhesive numbers with clear background on the web that look great!
    Before you purchase hop onto eBay and see if you can find any missing parts you may need.
    Sometimes you get lucky! The coin box was rusted and not working. Found one on eBay, re-chromed and working perfect, and the guy lived in my hometown!!!
    The front nose of the pin deck cover is usually cracked and covered with metal band. I used my vacuum press to mold a new one and covered with quarter-sawn oak veneer! I know...Who has a vacuums press right.
    One more thing. I would not buy a machine unless you have or can get the schematics.

    If anyone knows where I can get the decal "Do Not Shoot When Pin Lights Dim" It would be greatly appreciate! Here are some photos. Dave

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    #23 1 year ago
    Quoted from dkatgs:

    I am just finishing up my 1961 United 5 Star bowler which I traveled 800 miles (with an open trailer) in a snow storm to purchase! Spent $1250 on it and put another $400 into it (coin box, LED's, paint, finish, and misc hardware) and a lot of labor.

    Wow you got bit by the bug bad!!! But another one saved. Nice work!

    #24 1 year ago
    Quoted from dkatgs:

    I am just finishing up my 1961 United 5 Star bowler which I traveled 800 miles (with an open trailer) in a snow storm to purchase! Spent $1250 on it and put another $400 into it (coin box, LED's, paint, finish, and misc hardware) and a lot of labor. I could not be happier with my first bowler, well worth the trip! I started with a few pitch and bat machines from the 50's, always in not working condition but pretty much complete. Here is what I found out in the process.
    Make sure the machine is as complete as possible. Mine had 2 left legs but since they were wood and easy fix.
    Mice love living in these machines! Found nest under the lane switches with a lot of chewed up wires in the ball return channel.
    Score reel reset relays were cutout and removed and I received 3 others to replace. Turned out one broken wire was the issue and they all worked!
    Check score reels to see if they move when you push on the solenoid, if not they will all have to be dismantled and cleaned (mine had 26 reels!)
    You will need a 9 ft trailer to haul this machine home. One of the lane sections is just over 8 ft long.
    Cleaning the plastic score reels caused the numbers to wipe off! You can purchase vinyl adhesive numbers with clear background on the web that look great!
    Before you purchase hop onto eBay and see if you can find any missing parts you may need.
    Sometimes you get lucky! The coin box was rusted and not working. Found one on eBay, re-chromed and working perfect, and the guy lived in my hometown!!!
    The front nose of the pin deck cover is usually cracked and covered with metal band. I used my vacuum press to mold a new one and covered with quarter-sawn oak veneer! I know...Who has a vacuums press right.
    One more thing. I would not buy a machine unless you have or can get the schematics.
    If anyone knows where I can get the decal "Do Not Shoot When Pin Lights Dim" It would be greatly appreciate! Here are some photos. Dave[quoted image][quoted image][quoted image][quoted image][quoted image][quoted image][quoted image][quoted image][quoted image][quoted image]

    Awesome job

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