First off, I'm a gamer, always have been. Grew up in the 70's and early 80's, so obviously I was right in the heart of the gaming explosion. As for restoring machines, my boyfriend started that. We restored antiques and cars, and built models in the past, so he wanted something bigger than a model and smaller than a car, that's where the pins came into place. We he bought the first machine, I wanted to cry. It looked like it was under the ocean for a few years, completely rusted, cabinet was beat up, coin door and front of the machine were pried open and destroyed. But he's the type that has no fear of anything and just completely tore everything apart and started sanding, polishing, and painting. Unbelievably it turned out looking brand new, and after I saw that I became interested in restoration. Through time, and his connections, we're learning. Pretty much everything that can break, has broke. So we research on-line, or call a friend and get it fixed or replaced. When we work on the games, we work together, so we both learn as we go. Things that seemed very hard, like stepper units, have become pretty common repairs. We both work on the art, I do the stencils, he does the painting or airbrushing. He used to work in bodyshops when he was a kid, and has a degree in graphic arts, so he's very good with painting. I have degrees in aerospace mechanics and avionics, so EM pins aren't the hardest things I've worked on, it's just a matter of learning. As we are going we're acquiring more tools to help us along, like the vibration polisher we just ordered.
Now we both have very different tastes in games, I like newer machines, but he's sticking with old Em's and that's been ok with me so far. Although we are picking up a Gorgar machine that I want, and he's cool as long as we stay in the 70's, but he prefers really old woodrail machines and 1940's flipperless games. He definitely loves working on them more than playing them, and I love playing them. Now we're planning out 3 customs pins, one to keep and two to sell. I think his ideas are really interesting (in a dark, non-cute way) and hopefully we can aquire the machines we want and start them this fall.
Yes, this is a very male dominated hobby, but who cares? I just do what I like and we've become friends with some great people in the hobby. And there are lots of girls that love pinball, 99% of the friends that come here to play are girls. I'm going to take a picture next time everyone is here, how often to you see a row of pinball machines with all girls playing them? However, I haven't met any other girls that will get dirty and restore a beat down machine. To us it's a great hobby and a wonderful way to spend quality time together. So when other friends of ours are out drinking, we're buying pinball machines. I think it's a better choice of how to spend our money in the long run.