I got a good letter this morning from a fella who is doing a pf swap with a stock repro pf. He is very concerned because the pf is getting scratched up just from the installation, and he is worried, whats it going to look like when a ball rolls on it.
I dont know the guy's age or experience or anything like that, but sometimes I have to remind folks that the type pf clear I do, are an idea that I have nurtured, cultivated, developed to meet what I want from a pf, and what my expectations are, and it has progressed down the line. For the most part a pinball machine is a tool to earn quarters,(hence the coin slot) and like all tools that earn, it depreciates. (as does the pf)
I get asked all of the time, why the heck would someone pay you 600$ to reclear a pf that has a new "perfect" clear all ready. If I am in the mood and have the time I will try to explain about how pinball machines started as an amusement coin op entertainment. In fact many of us are attracted to the fact that they are that, we like that they have coin slots that were used (or meant to be used) and its always cool when a non pin person comes over and sees the machines that you have "IN YOUR HOUSE?". So at their core, they are a quarter earner. That's where the bar is set for the most part when it comes to building the games and the pf. If you want something the looks extra-ordinary, plays extra ordinary, and keeps that look for a long time (decades), well that is the product I have been developing.
My process takes about 30 man hours, and over 13 weeks! I use about 20$ of sand paper per job. None of this can be done on a mass-production level. Its good they dont, because it allows people who dont care if it looks amazing for a decade to be able to afford them. You can add cost and extras depending on what is important to the individual.
Its not realistic to expect a finish that I charge 600 for, on a pf that cost 900. Also on a production pf or a nos pf, it will start showing wear the first game you play. Its a fact.
I am not saying any of this as a smart ass or know it all. I think in the pursuit of wanting to do our very best work, and also using a restoration as a form of personal expression, we forget what we are dealing with. Also, in general products we spend hard earned money on, often disappoint when just a little quality would go as long way.