(Topic ID: 168005)

How to move a pinball machine alone


By PinballTilt

2 years ago



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There are 109 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 3.
#1 2 years ago

I recently had the need to move a TZ out of the house and didn't want to ask anyone for help. So this thread is to explain and show how a pinball machine can be moved if your friends are not available and you don't have a stair climbing dolly. Without a doubt it would have been easier and much quicker to find a friend to help, and I probably should have, but I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible and I didn't need assistance. I found surprisingly little information about a procedure to do this online, so hopefully this thread can help someone. If you have an alternative I didn't consider, post that so others can learn another process.

First - label every connector in the backbox in a permanent way. I also took a video that I reviewed afterwards to be sure I didn't miss anything. I actually labeled every connector in two locations so that I wouldn't have an incident like I've had in the past...

Second - Disconnect and pull all the wires in to the cabinet. Be sure you didn't miss anything such as a ground strap and never force anything.

Third - For my pin, I removed the single bolt on each side holding the hinge to the cabinet. Then remove the bolts holding the head to the cabinet. Finally, unlatch the head and carefully pull it from the cabinet. I set it in its new location.

Fourth - Stand playfield up vertically and secure the playfield wiring harness so that wires are not dangling during removal. I then was able to pull the playfield directly up and out of the machine. Make sure on Williams pins that you are not held up by the spring loaded latch by pushing the playfield as far back as needed to clear. One other option is to make a pulley setup to lift the playfield out vertically or use a hydraulic cart to drop the cabinet down (after removing the legs). Set playfield in new location.

Fifth and final - You are now left with a cabinet. At this point, support the machine with your thigh or a chair while removing the rear legs. Then let the rear down and remove the front legs. Flip the pin on to the back and secure the power cable. Removing the transformer reduces the weight of the cabinet shell even further. I chose to leave it attached and used a four castered furniture dolly to push the pin to the doorway. At this point do what works best for you. I had to go to the garage so I lifted it through the door on to the porch. If you are going down or up stairs, I would feel pretty confident using a hand truck or furniture dolly to move the cabinet shell. I was actually spotted by a neighbor at this point though and even though I said I wanted to do it myself and was building a ramp system to get down the stairs, he lent me a hand to go down the final two stairs.

Then reassemble everything. Reassembly was much quicker than disassembly but be sure to take your time. My one regret is waiting to put the legs back on until everything was reassembled to the cabinet. This is very heavy, especially with a widebody DMD pin. One other tip I used was to lay the head on a chair behind the cabinet and stuff the wires back up through the pedestal and through the head. I would not hesitate to use this technique again, but I may only remove the head this time to clear the doorway and use a dolly with two people to get down to the gameroom. I'm attaching one picture showing the pieces, sorry I don't have more at this time but I can take more the next time I do this. Hopefully this helps someone out there.

TZ disassembled (resized).jpg

#2 2 years ago

Not going to lie, I snickered a couple different times reading the initial post, and then I took a special joy reading:

Quoted from PinballTilt:

...I found surprisingly little information about a procedure to do this online...

I actually said out-loud to my screen "No shit...!" reading this one. Most people make sure they have at least one other person in close proximity when moving a pin, muchtheless considering to move a widebody that tips the scales at around 300 lbs on their own .

Please read my comments above with a "tongue in cheek" vibe. Hats off to you for doing it yourself, but as for me: "Hell with that...!"

#3 2 years ago

I got a hernia just reading that. Well done, good tutorial!

#4 2 years ago

Using a scissor lift and a dolly would make life so much easier for setting up and packing up games image (resized).jpgimage (resized).jpg

#5 2 years ago
Quoted from NPO:

Not going to lie, I snickered a couple different times reading the initial post, and then I took a special joy reading:

I actually said out-loud to my screen "No shit...!" reading this one. Most people make sure they have at least one other person in close proximity when moving a pin, muchtheless considering to move a widebody that tips the scales at around 300 lbs on their own .
Please read my comments above with a "tongue in cheek" vibe. Hats off to you for doing it yourself, but as for me: "Hell with that...!"

I'm not like "most people" I've been told. Hate asking for help and to cheap to buy the proper tools. The time aside, this technique was about as painful as two people moving a TZ the distance I did.

#6 2 years ago

I always pull the transformer out of the cabinet as well in a situation where help is limited.

#7 2 years ago

Living in an old apartment building, my rear stairs are pretty narrow. This is how I move games in and out. While it's a good amount of extra work, it's way easier to move a game with just two people.

#8 2 years ago

Take your time and bend your knees!

#9 2 years ago

I rececently move my TZ into my basement alone.

I took off the head, and brought it and the body down with my escelara. I won't lie - it still scared the hell out of me (I'm 48 but in decent shape).....the first step off the landing to my basement isn't wide- and I have to push about 2/3 of it off the top to tilt the escelera....that's some scary shit right there...but got it down safely...

Not sure how many moves like that I have in me on my own!

#10 2 years ago

I weigh 180 and move my pins around by myself all the time. Several pins I bought from someone that was unable to help me load them. I bring my lift cart when I buy a pin.

Remove the head. Jack the machine up on a lift cart. Remove legs. Either move the cab with the cart or transfer it to a flat furniture dolly if needed.

Haunted House is a bit of a workout but it's not that bad.

#11 2 years ago

This is a funny thread. All of that work because you don't want to ask someone for help?!?

#12 2 years ago

Over the years I've had to move machines by myself. Usually when buying long
from home. Already mentioned, the divide (take apart) and conquer method is best.Two
other tricks I use are; use a skateboard to move the head and cabinet. They take up
less space than a hand truck and easy to manouver once you get the hang of it.
Of course not useful for stairs. For loading into an SUV or truck I keep a 3/4"
pipe handy wider than the cabinet. Makes loading easy. Probably common knowledge for most folks.
Steve

#13 2 years ago
Quoted from kermit24:

This is a funny thread. All of that work because you don't want to ask someone for help?!?

I know, right!

No offense to the OP, but this is bad superfluous advice.

If you can afford to buy a pinball machine, you can afford to spend a few extra hundred bucks to buy a dolly and pinball skates.

Never cheat yourself when it comes to doing things right and safe.

#14 2 years ago
Quoted from PinballTilt:

I recently had the need to move a TZ out of the house and didn't want to ask anyone for help. So this thread is to explain and show how a pinball machine can be moved if your friends are not available and you don't have a stair climbing dolly. Without a doubt it would have been easier and much quicker to find a friend to help, and I probably should have, but I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible and I didn't need assistance. I found surprisingly little information about a procedure to do this online, so hopefully this thread can help someone. If you have an alternative I didn't consider, post that so others can learn another process.
First - label every connector in the backbox in a permanent way. I also took a video that I reviewed afterwards to be sure I didn't miss anything. I actually labeled every connector in two locations so that I wouldn't have an incident like I've had in the past...
Second - Disconnect and pull all the wires in to the cabinet. Be sure you didn't miss anything such as a ground strap and never force anything.
Third - For my pin, I removed the single bolt on each side holding the hinge to the cabinet. Then remove the bolts holding the head to the cabinet. Finally, unlatch the head and carefully pull it from the cabinet. I set it in its new location.
Fourth - Stand playfield up vertically and secure the playfield wiring harness so that wires are not dangling during removal. I then was able to pull the playfield directly up and out of the machine. Make sure on Williams pins that you are not held up by the spring loaded latch by pushing the playfield as far back as needed to clear. One other option is to make a pulley setup to lift the playfield out vertically or use a hydraulic cart to drop the cabinet down (after removing the legs). Set playfield in new location.
Fifth and final - You are now left with a cabinet. At this point, support the machine with your thigh or a chair while removing the rear legs. Then let the rear down and remove the front legs. Flip the pin on to the back and secure the power cable. Removing the transformer reduces the weight of the cabinet shell even further. I chose to leave it attached and used a four castered furniture dolly to push the pin to the doorway. At this point do what works best for you. I had to go to the garage so I lifted it through the door on to the porch. If you are going down or up stairs, I would feel pretty confident using a hand truck or furniture dolly to move the cabinet shell. I was actually spotted by a neighbor at this point though and even though I said I wanted to do it myself and was building a ramp system to get down the stairs, he lent me a hand to go down the final two stairs.
Then reassemble everything. Reassembly was much quicker than disassembly but be sure to take your time. My one regret is waiting to put the legs back on until everything was reassembled to the cabinet. This is very heavy, especially with a widebody DMD pin. One other tip I used was to lay the head on a chair behind the cabinet and stuff the wires back up through the pedestal and through the head. I would not hesitate to use this technique again, but I may only remove the head this time to clear the doorway and use a dolly with two people to get down to the gameroom. I'm attaching one picture showing the pieces, sorry I don't have more at this time but I can take more the next time I do this. Hopefully this helps someone out there.

Sorry, you lost me at removing the head. So much easier to wait for help or buy proper equipment. When you start removing things, you run the risk of the game not working the same when you reconnect everything

#15 2 years ago
Quoted from Magic_Mike:

I know, right!
No offense to the OP, but this is bad superfluous advice.
If you can afford to buy a pinball machine, you can afford to spend a few extra hundred bucks to buy a dolly and pinball skates.
Never cheat yourself when it comes to doing things right and safe.

I am going to agree with the Magic_Mike on this one. I have moved many pins by myself with a escalara, and it is still quite the task. It's not worth the risk of hurting yourself or damaging a expensive game. It is a pain in the ass, but I now always call a friend or finagle the gal into helping. Out of desperation, I once moved a T2 into my basement by myself with a hand truck. But, I only did this because it was about to rain. Definitely not safe... and the backbox/wall received a nice ding.

#16 2 years ago

What a bunch of wieners.

#17 2 years ago

Some good tips here. I've been moving games for about 30 years now and nothing makes it easier than an Escalera.
I've moved all kinds of things with it. I sell them to all types of folks. Safe movers, plumbers, electricians, wood stove installers , etc.
Basically if you need to move something heavy up or down stairs get the tool to do it safely. I move Hobbits up or down by myself and am quite comfortable doing it. But then I am the Escalera guy. See me at the shows for a demo
Larry

#18 2 years ago

Two average sized dudes moving a pin up a long flight of stairs should do precisely what is suggested in this thread; Break the 250 pound beast into its components, carry them up one at a time as a team, and now nobody is putting undue wear on his back. As I approach 50, a big health goal is to really minimize the wear and tear on my spine and back.

Good write up. I was going to write up something like this, and now I don't have to.

If you live in a super-flat world with smooth concrete, sure you can work alone with your cart. This advice is important for situations where carts won't get it done.

-mof

#20 2 years ago

You herniate a lumbar disc and you will wish you either bought a lift or got help.

#22 2 years ago

Before I bought a stair climber, I always removed the heads. Granted, they were EM's or early Bally & Williams Solid State machines. Out came the glass & playfields as well. Quite easy to move witha $20.00 cheap dolly by myself.

Once I started dealing with Bally Bingo's, stair climber became necessary.

#23 2 years ago

I always move heavy things by myself(wood stoves,pinball machines,appliances,furniture).Study the situation,work slowly.Many "Helping friends" haven't a clue (or sometimes the muscle) and tear something up or get in the way.A machine without legs will slide easily down stairs riding on a moving blanket.The weight is transferred and you simply help it ride down.
I wouldn't do this with a head on,I like back glasses.
I am retired and took a part time job with a local University moving various things(extremely heavy Lab equipment,servers,you name it) and found there is an art to safe moving. It's not for everyone,especially with the investment involved.
Whats heavier,EM or SS/Others?

#24 2 years ago

I move all of my pins by myself. I haven't had to take a backbox off yet though. I just wrap the head on with cling wrap or sometimes a ratchet strap. Use my hand truck to pull it through the front door. Lower the cab onto my lift cart. Raise and put legs on and raise head and all done. It helps to have a ground level front porch and an outside entrance to the basement with no steps.

#25 2 years ago

Be careful, "Scratchy scratchy" on the cabinet really sucks.

#26 2 years ago

I bought one of these a few years ago:

http://www.powermate.info/powermate_handtruck_l-1.htm

Worth every penny. It's not the typical escalera but I don't really have to work that hard with it either.

#27 2 years ago

This is a great thread/discussion, and thanks to the OP for starting it.

Does anyone have any particular tips/tricks for loading a lift cart or a heavy hand truck into a vehicle by themselves (e.g., using manufactured or makeshift ramps, etc.)?

#28 2 years ago

I use an escalera with the pinlift feature (bought from Flippin out pinball). Can pretty much move a pin from truck to game room to set up (and vice versa) with it. great purchase!!

#29 2 years ago
Quoted from AvidListener:

This is a great thread/discussion, and thanks to the OP for starting it.
Does anyone have any particular tips/tricks for loading a lift cart or a heavy hand truck into a vehicle by themselves (e.g., using manufactured or makeshift ramps, etc.)?

I don't know why you would need a heavy hand truck you can't lift. There are even aluminum hand trucks for a similar price as steel that can accommodate the weight of a pin. Lift carts are a little tougher. I can't think of a scenario where I would need my lift cart though.

#30 2 years ago

Lift cart is an easy way to get legs on and off. When game is on its back, you lower the cart and push it against the game. Then just slowly tip the game onto the cart. Once it's lying on the cart, Raise the cart and you're in business.

The reverse can be done, too, however you leave the front legs on. As you lower the game, the back end will eventually reach the ground (card board on hard floor) and you just roll the game into its back.

I have a bad back, and both scenarios put very little strain on it

#31 2 years ago

I recently pulled a Gottlieb system 3 game out of someone's basement, and those things are ridiculously heavy. And they are very tall.

Took off the backbox, took out the playfield, used a wooden "I" (made out of a 2x4) to prop up the cabinet and take off the legs. Then, used the blue harbor freight hand truck for the cabinet and backbox separately (the big wheels make stairs managable). Hand carried the playfield, dropped the playfield back into the cabinet, and installed the glass & lockbar. Lifted the cab so it was up on end onto two layers of cardboard (which protects the cab and makes it easy to maneuver since cardboard against cardboard slides well), then tilted the cab into vehicle, lifted it up, and pushed it in. You can substitute the lift cart to make it a bit easier, but I didn't have room for it this time.

The whole ordeal took about an hour or so.

#32 2 years ago

Boom!

If you get tired or cramp up (for whatever reason) you can abandon the load. Which seemed important to me in a one man operation.

IMG_2724.JPG

#33 2 years ago

I move pinz all the time alone. Use an escalara and buy it from Larry kitchen. Best pinball investment ever!

I find stairs easy now. Moved hobbit upstairs all by my self.

Chris Kruger

#34 2 years ago

I've moved pins many times this way. It's really not a big deal. I have a staircase with a tight 90-degree turn with no landing (angled stairs), and it's tough getting a pin down there, even with help.

I have brought pins into shows by myself without disassembling (no stairs). It's not a matter of "not having friends" or being too cheap to buy a hand truck. Depending on the situation, moving a pin the way the OP described can be the best way to avoid damaging the pin, your house, or your body.

#35 2 years ago

I break it down to head, playfield and cabinet. Easy that way even with stairs. Sometimes you just don't have a helper.

image (resized).jpeg

#36 2 years ago

Pretty good description that works for many WPC pins, BUT a populated TZ playfield is awful heavy...the most difficult part is reaching over the cabinet and trying to lift the playfield an additional 2' up in the air to clear the cabinet (make sure you're not doing it in a place with low ceilings).
On this machine I would lower the head, remove the legs as described, and lower the cabinet onto the floor (or a 2"x4" so that you can get your fingers under it later). Then remove the head and playfield. With the cab on the ground, you can straddle it (one leg on either side) to lift the playfield out. Much easier than trying to lift it out of a cabinet that's still on legs.

#37 2 years ago

How to move a pinball machine alone? Easy:

Look blankly at the game. Play several "last" games on the game. Get the hand truck out, some straps, maybe a blanket. Dig around the toolbox for the one ratchet size that fits the leg bolts, but instead grab one that's *just barely* too small. Throw it back in the tool box, grab another that's *just barely* too large. Dig around some more, and realize that you never put the socket back in the toolbox, and that it's still on the workbench. Look for a chair or barstool that you can stick under the backside of the game while you remove the rear legs. Realize that you threw out that bar stool last month. Look for something else that could work. Call/Text friend to see if they can help. Leave voicemail. Play another game or two while waiting, get tired waiting. Go upstairs from the basement.

Drink a beer and say you'll do it tomorrow.

#38 2 years ago

My homegrown ramp with one piece already removed. Luckily I only have four steps.

I replace the leg plate with stem casters.

image (resized).jpg

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#39 2 years ago
Quoted from mbaumle:

How to move a pinball machine alone? Easy:
Look blankly at the game. Play several "last" games on the game. Get the hand truck out, some straps, maybe a blanket. Dig around the toolbox for the one ratchet size that fits the leg bolts, but instead grab one that's *just barely* too small. Throw it back in the tool box, grab another that's *just barely* too large. Dig around some more, and realize that you never put the socket back in the toolbox, and that it's still on the workbench. Look for a chair or barstool that you can stick under the backside of the game while you remove the rear legs. Realize that you threw out that bar stool last month. Look for something else that could work. Call/Text friend to see if they can help. Leave voicemail. Play another game or two while waiting, get tired waiting. Go upstairs from the basement.
Drink a beer and say you'll do it tomorrow.

Good thing I'm not paying you by the hour !

#40 2 years ago

My middle name is lazy!

#41 2 years ago
Quoted from lb1:

My homegrown ramp with one piece already removed. Luckily I only have four steps.
I replace the leg plate with stem casters.

That is definitely a unique setup. How stable are the casters in that track? Does the track move at all?

#42 2 years ago

I broke down and got an Escalera and it's awesome. I still have someone else here to "monitor" the situation as I'm still getting used to it. I'm sure it's never happened, but I can envision the battery dying (or something else causing it to stop part way down the stairs) and then I'm in trouble. It's just a balance thing with the Escalera and let the machine do the work. The first time I did it going downstairs I tried to "help" it along and it dropped down a bit. Like I said, let the machine do ALL of the work. Great investment. Should have done it ten years and 50 games ago.

#43 2 years ago
Quoted from Hogey:

I broke down and got an Escalera and it's awesome. I still have someone else here to "monitor" the situation as I'm still getting used to it. I'm sure it's never happened, but I can envision the battery dying (or something else causing it to stop part way down the stairs) and then I'm in trouble. It's just a balance thing with the Escalera and let the machine do the work. The first time I did it going downstairs I tried to "help" it along and it dropped down a bit. Like I said, let the machine do ALL of the work. Great investment. Should have done it ten years and 50 games ago.

As the battery loses charge it will just go slower so don't worry about it dying on you half way down. It will work.
Make sure you stay at the balance point so that the belts on the side don't touch the stairs and you will be just fine. Sometimes as folks are getting use to using it they want to keep the hand truck down to low as they are afraid of it tipping over. Just maintain the balance point as that is "your" job. The Escalera will do all the lifting.

Larry

#44 2 years ago

I move pins alone all the time, including wide bodies. I've never found the need to disassemble. Though they are freaking heavy, so if you're slight, this won't work.

0. Remove balls and coin box and any other loose bits from inside the machine.

1. Tilt head down. Put cardboard between head and rails to avoid damage.

2. Secure head down with ratcheting straps.

3. Either place a tall stool under the back of the machine, or use your knee to lift the Beck legs off the floor (I'm tall enough to do this by raising my foot a little). If using your knee, make sure all your tools are in reach, because it's heavy and you'll want the legs off fast.

4. Gently lower the back bottom edge to the floor.

5. Tilt the machine upright on its back.

6. Casually remove front legs.

7. Hoist it up on your shoulder to carry up and down stairs. Not really. A dolly is your friend. I have a thick sheet of plywood I use as a ramp to get it down over the front step of my house. It's very hard to roll a pin down a stair on a dolly with any control, let alone climb a stair. Use a ratcheting strap to secure the pin to the dolly too, just to be safe.

9 months later
#45 1 year ago

BLUF: Two words---> "Escalera StairCat" (with another person for support)

There is a reason there is little information.
It is a bad decision.
Not recommended, so if a person is reading suggestions here right now on best how to do it, DO NOT.
People that want to disagree have not moved enough pinball machines.
There is some bad advice mixed in on this thread.

Never be too proud to ask for help.

Here is what a person needs to do:

If a person stays in the hobby and decide to own more than a couple machines, they will need an Escalera or something similar, just like a proper pinball dolly and other tools.
Start with a refrigerator dolly with proper rollers and assistance, and move upwards with scale.
Find new pinball support group in form of other local collectors, they might already have one!
Investing in proper heavy duty tools is important, and this is a long term necessity.
As a person ages, it becomes even more important, as I will attest.
Shortcutting leads to bad endings, and I have avoided some catastrophes by using an Escalera.

An Escalera can also be rented, if needed from local moving companies.
Do not let untrained monkeys use this equipment, if they do not know how to operate and secure it properly, or they will do damage to themselves or the lift. I once let a moving company employee use my Escalera, pinball dolly, and other tools, and they broke their foot using my dolly out of complete ignorance, but the equipment survived. No liability on my part, because they did not listen.

Bracing things on thighs and/or holding machines squatting, hurts your body, and can cause permanent back lock up and medical bills.
The same method can damage game cabinets, scrape artwork, and vibration damage to PCBs if a game is "bounced".
It is an old bad judgement operator trick.
A person can even use a stool and HD folding table much more easily take legs off and take pressure off the leg bolts and plates in a pinch. Legs should always be removed off games with the backbox down, except for very short moves.
That "racetrack" method shown above is extreme over engineering of a simple problem.

Use safety straps with any type of stairs longer than a few steps unless you want to ride a pinball sled toboggan, if you lose grip or arms falter. A person can laugh, until it hits the bottom of stairs, smashes in their front door, or steamrolls over a small child or pet.

Short step runs can be bypassed with use of a plywood ramp, just like moving companies, braced with wood blocks underneath.
If you want to get "high tech" use an aluminum panel with a center support wood beam.

Removing backboxes is unnecessary, unless wider than the door they are going through.
It promotes connector errors, short circuits, and extra wear on the connectors themselves.
The exception is EMs, which you have to do anyway to avoid pinching/pulled wires in many cases, or having to tightly ratchet strap with padding to avoid them sliding off the lower cabinet and damaging side rails.

The one solid tip I will offer is do not move games in the dark.
Just wait until morning.
A person will be less tired and actually see what they are doing.
More mistakes are made this way than anything other means when moving games.

I speak from experience as collector, technician, and operator, as I have moved more machines and different types and sizes than I probably should ever have in my personal lifetime, somewhere in the 1.5-2K+ range, and probably a whole lot more. I still remember some titles distinctly such as Hercules, Caveman, HH, BH, STTNG, TZ, RS, JD, and others. Some games are beasts. Caveman was actually the worst of the lot weight wise, next to Hercules, as the biggest problem with Hercules is it simply does not fit through many modern doors.

Want to know more?
Go here.

http://www.escalera.com/models/index.htm

http://www.powermate.info/powermate_handtruck_l-1

Keep Flipping.

#46 1 year ago

18 years ago when we moved from our old house to here I had to move 27 games up a flight of basement stairs. I didn't want to have to wait around for my friends each time I was ready to move a bunch out so I started doing this the same way as you did. I actually have video on a VHS tape that was shot of me moving a game up once piece at a time. I remember doing all the older S.S. games this way but for the DMD games I had help on those and we took them up all in one piece.
If I can figure out how to do it someday I'll post the video to Utube...LOL.

John

#48 1 year ago
Quoted from lb1:

My homegrown ramp with one piece already removed. Luckily I only have four steps.
I replace the leg plate with stem casters.

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. Just fold the damn thing up and walk it up those three tiny steps with a 60 dollar hand truck. Probably the same price as that erector set you built. Haha.

#49 1 year ago

I always use a scissor lift: slide the machine from the back of your car onto the lift, roll it into your house and add the legs They're also very handy to slide machines out of a tight row of pins for maintenance.

Flipperkar (resized).jpg

#50 1 year ago

I have loaded and unloaded almost all the pins I have went and picked up by myself. I only weigh about 165 lbs.
I remove the head, stand the cabinet on it's end, remove the legs. truck it to my truck on a dolly and lean the cabinet on the tail gate and push it in....pretty simple.
...I also have three steps to get it up on my porch to get it in (about like the steps in this thread), but never needed to build anything like that to get in up there....and I am talking about doing it by myself.

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Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
pinballmod
$ 25.00
Gameroom - Decorations
Pinball Photos
$ 229.99
Lighting - Other
Lighted Pinball Mods
$ 90.00
Lighting - Under Cabinet
Rock Custom Pinball
$ 30.00
Hey modders!
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