(Topic ID: 240147)

Is a really dirty playfield necessarily a bad sign


By newbieinKC

1 year ago



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  • 20 posts
  • 15 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by Jjsmooth
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    #1 1 year ago

    I am pretty new to this. I am looking to add to my collection and don't mind doing some minor repairs, refurbishment, etc in order to not pay top dollar for a machine. I end up shopping at estate sales and auctions more than retail or someone outright selling their pin.

    What I saw today was a Bram Stoker's Dracula machine at an estate sale that sold for $2300. It seemed to be in working order but the playfield was hella dirty. It didn't look like the playfield art was being worn down, but it would be hard to tell for sure. In your experience, is a really dirty playfield a sign of abuse that may require more than a good clean and polish?

    #2 1 year ago

    It can be a gamble. Lots of ball trails and grime usually a good sign that not much maintenance was ever done, but not necessarily abused.

    I have cleaned up some real dirty machines that turned out to be something very presentable with little maintenance. Usually just rubbers, switch/opto adjustments and occasionally reflowing solder on broken wires.

    15
    #3 1 year ago

    Believe it or not, a lot of time the dirt and crud actually protects the playfield to a certain degree. They can clean up very, very nicely. I'd pay closer attention to the inserts and if any artwork is rubbed off (especially key lines on the edges). That is a better indication of condition in my opinion.

    #4 1 year ago

    I should have snapped a picture to share. It looked like the PF in front of the flippers had dirt caked on so that it resembled the pattern of a windblown sandy desert. It looked like the underlying artwork was still sharp and the areas under the lane guides looked less dirty but still dingy. It was dirty enough in front of the flippers that it was hard to get a really good idea what the underlying paint was like.

    My concern is that if I bought something like that, when I cleaned it up the artwork would come off with the dirt and I would have exposed wood that would require the artistic part of restoration (which I am not really interested in spending the time and effort to get good at doing). I enjoy mechanical/electrical adjustment/repair. I can use a multimeter and soldering iron all day. Paintbrushes, not so much.

    #5 1 year ago

    It is ok for a playfield not to look like a museum piece. These used games are 20+ years old, depending on the title you are considering.

    Probably the worse thing for a dirty playfield is pitted balls.

    #6 1 year ago

    If it helps, it was a $2300 BSD and you have your location listed, so you can probably buy it for $3,600 from whoever has it now and cleaned it up .

    #7 1 year ago
    Quoted from grantopia:

    If it helps, it was a $2300 BSD and you have your location listed, so you can probably buy it for $3,600 from whoever has it now and cleaned it up .

    I could have bought it for $3500 a couple of days ago and I might have if I thought it was worth it. I don't have any particular nostalgia for Dracula, so I only wanted to buy it if I could get a good deal. I would have had to outbid $2300 by some sort of margin and could have ended up in a bidding war. Not my cup of tea for a machine that obviously wasn't well cared for and no chance for close inspection or gameplay to see what actually worked. I am not sad at all that someone else is working on that particular machine right now.

    #8 1 year ago

    I think diamond plated playfields usually clean up pretty well. Hella dirty doesn't bother me as long as you don't see exposed wood.

    Even on lacquered playfieds that had a really thick layer of ground in dirt, I've had good luck cleaning back up.

    #9 1 year ago

    I've had good luck w dirty playfields, but you are missing a lot if you're concentrating on estate sales and auctions, people with no knowledge of the games and generally think they are worth more than they really are.

    Your best deals will come thru networking/word of mouth and being first (or not a tire kicker) to the occasional Craigslist deal.

    #10 1 year ago
    Quoted from pinzrfun:

    I've had good luck w dirty playfields, but you are missing a lot if you're concentrating on estate sales and auctions, people with no knowledge of the games and generally think they are worth more than they really are.
    Your best deals will come thru networking/word of mouth and being first (or not a tire kicker) to the occasional Craigslist deal.

    I appreciate the advice. I did a pretty good job buying my first pin at an auction and I have had a couple of close misses at estate sales (last good deal there was a guy first in line at 4:30AM for 9:00AM start). My wife runs a resale business and she knows which local estate sale companies have good prices. I don't waste my time on the sales where they price their stuff based on the market value of fully restored machines (at least not until they run 25 or 50% discounts)

    Craigslist here is a combination of people buying at estate sales and flipping them for a modest profit or restoring them and pricing accordingly. I have yet to see a legit good deal on CL in the last year.

    Most collectors are trading/buying through the community. I have tried a couple of times to get more involved with other enthusiasts, but it seems that I would rather spend time with my wife and two kids instead of making new friends and fostering those relationships.

    I am not in a hurry and I am willing to do some work to bring a machine back to life. I just want to avoid buying something that requires artistic skills to repair. Thus my question, which is basically asking if I can figure out how to tell the difference between a dirty emerald and a horse apple.

    #11 1 year ago

    Some of the dirtiest games have cleaned up to a cream puff ! Like quoted in this post the dirt and grime etc protect the playfield. I use wild cat to really cut through the dirt before really polishing

    I miss finding dirty projects those are few and far between out here in CA.

    #12 1 year ago

    I've experienced some filthy games before. I had one F14 Tomcat that hadn't been opened once by the owner since they had bought it which they had for maybe 15 or so years? I was able to wheel and deal the game down hard on the price and after a couple hours of hard cleaning to my surprise the game cleaned up very well and shocked me. Obviously the game isn't maintained properly when they are super dirty but hey never know the story. Sometimes you can be really lucky and just find a game that the owner doesn't nearly the appreciation or bug that most of us on here do. So it sits and collects a bunch of dust for us to clean up!

    #13 1 year ago

    Sometimes they clean up nice.

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    #14 1 year ago

    I've had both experiences..A one owner HUO BDK that cleaned up to look like it just came out of the box and a DM that I should have left the grime on

    #15 1 year ago

    I think you can get some idea how it will clean up by looking at the common wear areas. First any ball drop areas will show divots and wear. Then any kick out holes, ball launch and inserts. If these areas are ok then the rest will probably clean up nicely.

    #16 1 year ago

    The dirt is of no concern. It protects the playfield, there is virtually no chance the Diamond Plate clearcoat was compromised, especially to a point where the paint would wear off. I had a filthy Dracula I cleaned up, it was neglected for years on route. It was so bad the playfield was almost black and subways had thick dust on them, similar to an etch-a-sketch.

    #17 1 year ago

    This filthy DM will clean up just fine

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    #18 1 year ago
    Quoted from Jjsmooth:

    This filthy DM will clean up just fine
    [quoted image]

    Wow, more pictures?

    #19 1 year ago

    I once saw a Getaway with the PF so black it was like it had been plasti-dipped. I suspect it would be have been pristine under all that gunk, but sadly never had the opportunity to find out.

    #20 1 year ago
    Quoted from Crash:

    Wow, more pictures?

    This is a machine I found for a friend, and he is cleaning it up now. Ill get him to post some finished pics.

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