(Topic ID: 248950)

Need 4 EM for arcade what BRAND


By cppinball

3 months ago



Topic Stats

  • 48 posts
  • 25 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 months ago by drsfmd
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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    #1 3 months ago

    I have around 80 solid state and newer games. I'm looking to make a spot for 3 to 4 EM pinball. I want them all to be the same manufacturer. I have zero knowledge of EM repair but if I have to learn I would rather they all be the same system for ease and parts.

    I dont like mini flippers. So what regular size flipper EM should I Seek out. I had a Jet spin and liked it but 10 years was long enough. I would think I'm looking for 1967 to 1978 EM. Should I go William's, gottlieb, etc?. Glad to get any input in system and /or someone selling 3 to 4 decent playing games in one swoop. Thanks Chuck CP Pinball.

    #2 3 months ago

    Everyone is hot on Gottliebs from this era but I think 67-72 is Bally's sweet spot for really fun games with great art.

    Glad to hear EMs will return to CP. I miss the Jet Spin. I've rolled that thing so many times...

    #3 3 months ago

    Williams are easiest to repair imo. Grab a few 72-78

    #4 3 months ago

    Gottlieb.
    (Needs a poll! )

    #5 3 months ago

    Gottlieb Wedgeheads
    Abra Ca Dabra
    Atlantis
    El Dorado
    Centigrade 37

    #6 3 months ago

    Poll needed.
    Bally, Williams or Gottlieb now that's a hard choice. I think all have some good games. To work on I'll go with Gottlieb only because Jumping Jack was 1st game I purchased and had to learn to work on it. Then Outta Space was 2st game.

    #7 3 months ago

    I like SONIC games. There PF's are normally in great shape due to how they were manufactured and they play really well. Bally, Williams or Gottlieb are the common choice but I'd at least look at Sonic. Downside is the cabs are particle board but the PF's generally make up for that.

    Ever thought about getting the best one (for you) from each manufacture? That would be cooler to me than 4 of the same maker.

    #8 3 months ago

    Wizard
    Flip flop
    And if you can live with zipper flippers.
    Fireball
    Nip it

    #9 3 months ago

    Williams and bally I've had good experiences repairing. However since all 4 will be the same I'd say mid 70s Gottlieb 2 or 4 player games (300, surfer, target alpha, soccer, royal flush, etc) are the best choice. Great games with good art and similar mechanics and design.

    #10 3 months ago

    Tough, I have 1 Williams, 1 bally, and 2 gottliebs. Williams seems easier work on, but my favorite is Bally Flip Flop.

    #11 3 months ago
    Quoted from Slim64:

    Williams and bally I've had good experiences repairing. However since all 4 will be the same I'd say mid 70s Gottlieb 2 or 4 player games (300, surfer, target alpha, soccer, etc) are the best choice. Great games with good art and similar mechanics and design.

    300 is great

    #12 3 months ago

    I'd say Gottlieb...

    #13 3 months ago
    Quoted from Spiderpin:

    Jumping Jack was 1st game I purchased and had to learn to work on it. Then Outta Space was 2st game.

    In this hobby, we are all eventually "Outta Space."

    #14 3 months ago

    Having owned 18+ ems, worked on dozens more, and played hundreds, these are my recommendations...
    Everybody has seen all those damn Gottliebs everywhere. Go with something different.
    Space Mission (or Odyssey) (great gambling game)
    Grand Prix (great gambling game)
    Mars Trek or another Sonic game
    Expressway
    Almost any Steve Kordek designed machine
    For short flipper games
    Teacher's Pet
    Heat Wave
    San Francisco (great gambling game)
    Oh Boy (THE BEST gambling game)
    Almost any reverse wedgehead from Williams in the '60s
    If you want a woodrail go with Balls a Poppin with 7 ball multiball! or (Gottlieb) World Fair
    Nip It is groovy enough
    The Original Fireball is a good gambler due to the randomness of the disc

    #15 3 months ago
    Quoted from fireball2:

    Having owned 18+ ems, worked on dozens more, and played hundreds, these are my recommendations...
    Everybody has seen all those damn Gottliebs everywhere. Go with something different.
    Space Mission (or Odyssey) (great gambling game)
    Grand Prix (great gambling game)
    Mars Trek or another Sonic game
    Expressway
    Almost any Steve Kordek designed machine
    For short flipper games
    Teacher's Pet
    Heat Wave
    San Francisco (great gambling game)
    Oh Boy (THE BEST gambling game)
    Almost any reverse wedgehead from Williams in the '60s
    If you want a woodrail go with Balls a Poppin with 7 ball multiball! or (Gottlieb) World Fair
    Nip It is groovy enough
    The Original Fireball is a good gambler due to the randomness of the disc

    1970 Bally Expressway is a great choice. However, the OP is not likely to find an ultra-scarce Bally Balls-a-Poppin and he specifically stated that he disfavored 2 inch flipper games.

    Bally Skyrocket is fantastic, albeit pricey at the moment (approaching the $3K mark for an unrestored example).

    In my opinion, the best 3 inch flipper Gottlieb wedgeheads, which are somewhat available and affordable, are Volley and Atlantis. Volley is drop-target nirvana.

    I might be willing to sell my collector quality Volley. Just be sure to get a true production Volley as opposed to the cheap painted chipboard playfield Volleys out there.

    I also love Blue Note (very low production), Strange World, Hit-the-Deck (low production) and Big Hit in my line-up, all 3 inch flipper titles. But, the 1st three titles (BN, SW and HtD) are commanding high prices (the last two Strange Worlds sold for about $3,800 and $4,500 and HtD and BN have traditionally fetched high $$$). Big Hit, while still affordable, has become hard to find.

    Succinctly stated, I recommend Gottlieb Volley, Gottlieb Atlantis, Gottlieb Big Hit and Bally Expressway as the best bang-for-the-buck games, which are reasonably available. None will be super easy to find immediately. Nevertheless, these titles do appear for sale sporadically in the $700 - $1,800 range, depending on condition. These CQ wedgeheads will fetch north of $2K, especially Atlantis, but closer to $2K than to $3K generally. These are fantastic games, with smart playfield designs, pleasing shot vectors and attractive art packages.

    All will probably hold their value or escalate, based on a 35 year trend and in light of recent EM price trends. Been in the hobby for over 3 decades. That's my 2 cents.

    #16 3 months ago
    Quoted from ZNET:

    All will probably hold their value or escalate, based on a 35 year trend and in light of recent EM price trends. Been in the hobby for over 3 decades. That's my 2 cents.

    Money. You're right; I didn't read carefully. But Gawd I love Balls a Poppin and the other 2 inchers I mentioned, and they're pretty easy to work on.
    Can't believe you have a Strange World. Nice.
    Need a nicer backglass for my Expressway...

    #17 3 months ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    Williams are easiest to repair imo. Grab a few 72-78

    If reliability, ease of restoration and easy to fix are at the top of your list, then I agree with zacaj. Williams used a lot of relays with longer switch blades that are easier to clean and adjust and stay adjusted over time. All of the relays are easy to get to and they don’t use regular slotted screws that one manufacturer used. The Williams EMs I have on route that have been properly restored are very reliable.

    Williams had some great games in the 70s. They were the first to use DC powered slingshots and pop bumpers beginning in 1972. Their pinballs are the fastest of the Big Three.

    Look at:

    OXO, Space Odyssey/ Space Mission, Grand Prix, Aztec, Fan-TasTic, Spanish Eyes, Expo, Doodle Bug (novelty), or some of the 1976-1977 pins like Rancho, Big Deal or Argosy.

    If you’ve gotta have lots of drop targets, then you would want to go with Gottlieb:

    Joker Poker, El Dorado, King Pin, Jack in the Box (similar to King Pin but with a better art package), 2001, Royal Flush and a lot of other card-themed games with drop targets.

    If you are looking for iconic games then you have to go with Bally.

    Wizard!, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Old Chicago, Bow and Arrow and Aladdin’s Castle. Too bad you don’t like 2” flippers. Some of Bally’s best pins were 2” mini-flipper games like Fireball, Nip-It, 4 Million B.C and Capersville.

    #18 3 months ago
    Quoted from ZNET:

    1970 Bally Expressway is a great choice. However, the OP is not likely to find an ultra-scarce Bally Balls-a-Poppin and he specifically stated that he disfavored 2 inch flipper games.
    Bally Skyrocket is fantastic, albeit pricey at the moment (approaching the $3K mark for an unrestored example).
    In my opinion, the best 3 inch flipper Gottlieb wedgeheads, which are somewhat available and affordable, are Volley and Atlantis. Volley is drop-target nirvana.
    I might be willing to sell my collector quality Volley. Just be sure to get a true production Volley as opposed to the cheap painted chipboard playfield Volleys out there.
    I also love Blue Note (very low production), Strange World, Hit-the-Deck (low production) and Big Hit in my line-up, all 3 inch flipper titles. But, the 1st three titles (BN, SW and HtD) are commanding high prices (the last two Strange Worlds sold for about $3,800 and $4,500 and HtD and BN have traditionally fetched high $$$). Big Hit, while still affordable, has become hard to find.
    Succinctly stated, I recommend Gottlieb Volley, Gottlieb Atlantis, Gottlieb Big Hit and Bally Expressway as the best bang-for-the-buck games, which are reasonably available. None will be super easy to find immediately. Nevertheless, these titles do appear for sale sporadically in the $700 - $1,800 range, depending on condition. These CQ wedgeheads will fetch north of $2K, especially Atlantis, but closer to $2K than to $3K generally. These are fantastic games, with smart playfield designs, pleasing shot vectors and attractive art packages.
    All will probably hold their value or escalate, based on a 35 year trend and in light of recent EM price trends. Been in the hobby for over 3 decades. That's my 2 cents.

    Played Atlantis in a brewery Friday , fun game!

    There was a Volley on FB marketplace. Here recently that was 600, sure it's gone now

    #19 3 months ago

    4 of the same brand long flipper EMs is a tough one, but I'd probably go with Bally.

    Sea Ray
    Bon Voyage
    Hokus Pokus
    and take your pick

    #20 3 months ago
    Quoted from Pecos:

    If reliability, ease of restoration and easy to fix are at the top of your list, then I agree with zacaj. Williams used a lot of relays with longer switch blades that are easier to clean and adjust and stay adjusted over time. All of the relays are easy to get to and they don’t use regular slotted screws that one manufacturer used. The Williams EMs I have on route that have been properly restored are very reliable.
    Williams had some great games in the 70s. They were the first to use DC powered slingshots and pop bumpers beginning in 1972. Their pinballs are the fastest of the Big Three.
    Look at:
    OXO, Space Odyssey/ Space Mission, Grand Prix, Aztec, Fan-TasTic, Spanish Eyes, Expo, Doodle Bug (novelty), or some of the 1976-1977 pins like Rancho, Big Deal or Argosy.
    If you’ve gotta have lots of drop targets, then you would want to go with Gottlieb:
    Joker Poker, El Dorado, King Pin, Jack in the Box (similar to King Pin but with a better art package), 2001, Royal Flush and a lot of other card-themed games with drop targets.
    If you are looking for iconic games then you have to go with Bally.
    Wizard!, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Old Chicago, Bow and Arrow and Aladdin’s Castle. Too bad you don’t like 2” flippers. Some of Bally’s best pins were 2” mini-flipper games like Fireball, Nip-It, 4 Million B.C and Capersville.

    Spot On.

    I have had 50+EM pass through the game room, Williams give the fewest problems and Gottliebs the most long term though I have one Chicago Coin damn close to being the reining champ in reliability. The glass has been off once since being setup 3 years ago! I own 3 Gottlieb EM currently and they always seem to need a tweak here and there after a few weeks.

    Had problems with Bally and the plastics gear binding up on the stepper units, very picky! But once sorted has been very reliable. Night Rider has been here the second longest and a crowd pleaser.

    #21 3 months ago

    awesome folks, thanks for the imput. I put a poll omn this tread but it didn't take.

    #22 3 months ago
    Quoted from Pecos:

    Look at:

    If you’ve gotta have lots of drop targets, then you would want to go with Gottlieb:
    Joker Poker, El Dorado, King Pin, Jack in the Box (similar to King Pin but with a better art package), 2001, Royal Flush and a lot of other card-themed games with drop targets.
    If you are looking for iconic games then you have to go with Bally.
    Wizard!, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Old Chicago, Bow and Arrow and Aladdin’s Castle. Too bad you don’t like 2” flippers. Some of Bally’s best pins were 2” mini-flipper games like Fireball, Nip-It, 4 Million B.C and Capersville.

    You include 2001 (great game), forgetting that it's a 2 inch flipper game. In the 4 player category, I recommend Gottlieb Surf Champ. Joker Poker EM gets my highest vote; but, alas it's another scarce title.

    In the zipper flipper category, I like Surfers, Rocket III, MiniZag, Fireball and multiplayer Cosmos.

    #23 3 months ago

    I vote for four two inch flipper Williams games.

    #24 3 months ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    I vote for four two inch flipper Williams games.

    This!

    #25 3 months ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    I vote for four two inch flipper Williams games.

    Amen brother!

    #26 3 months ago

    Gottlieb wedgeheads or 2-player games...

    #27 3 months ago

    I would go with Williams. i like the faster game play and stronger flippers. you might have to put the transformer on [high tap]

    #28 3 months ago

    Williams don't need no stinking high tap or hot dot coils.

    #29 3 months ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Williams don't need no stinking high tap or hot dot coils.

    I high tap everything =)

    #30 3 months ago
    Quoted from gdonovan:

    I high tap everything =)

    If I did that to mine, I'd break everything. And where am I gonna get plastics for any of these suckers...

    #31 3 months ago

    Any EM is going to be bulletproof once adjusted and played regularly. Most are built like tanks; but each has their issues. I like Gottliebs, but dialing in the Ax and Bx relays can be frustrating. Chicago Coin score reels are a PITA to get just perfect so they work. But I'd say anything from Gottlieb, Bally, Williams, Chicago Coin, Stern, Sonic and even Zaccaria would be fine. Games from different manufacturers isn't an issue as they are all about the same in terms of operation.

    -1
    #32 3 months ago

    Chuck, I was recently thinking about how I need to put in time on EMs if I'm ever gonna stand a chance at a Pinburgh. I'll be down to practice on em and all your amazing machines in a jiffy

    #33 3 months ago

    For me, Williams are the easiest to work on. They have really handy visual guides in the manual for switches in all of the relay stacks, and the score reel design is simple.

    Gottliebs changed their architecture when they dropped the reset bank and went to the Ax/Bx relay setup in 1975, so it's possible to have all Gottliebs, but with a different repair processes between the two styles. You could do all post-1975 Gottliebs or all Pre-1975 Gottlieb games to avoid this though.

    If you're looking for parts supply, I think Gottlieb has the edge over William's. Pinball Resource ALWAYS has what you need for anything Gottlieb EM.

    #34 3 months ago

    With long flippers , it is a tough call. It's going to be basically all 70s. All the same brand is really a new concept to me. I'm torn between Williams and Bally.

    Williams are the easiest to work on and play fast and it wouldn't be too hard to come up with four including a Grand Prix as that seems to be a very popular one with modern pinball players.

    Bally knocked it out of the park with artwork in the 70s and by the end of the decade were the top selling pinball company. Their 50 volt games also play fast and aren't that hard to work on either. And it would be easy to come up with any combination of four games.

    #35 3 months ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Williams are the easiest to work on and play fast and it wouldn't be too hard to come up with four including a Grand Prix as that seems to be a very popular one with modern pinball players.

    Space Mission, groups of people go nuts for that one. I had a Space Odyssey (2 player) I sold to a friend, when he has a party at his place they mob the machine.

    #36 3 months ago

    No love for Chicago Coin?

    #37 3 months ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    No love for Chicago Coin?

    Fairly reliable but play on most are lackluster.

    I have Moon Shot which is actually pretty awesome but small flipper game.

    #38 3 months ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    If I did that to mine, I'd break everything. And where am I gonna get plastics for any of these suckers..

    I have had my ems on high tap for over 30 years and have not broke a thing

    #39 3 months ago
    Quoted from gdonovan:

    Fairly reliable

    I disagree. CCM games are pretty terrible. The cam that holds the score motor disk is weak and often breaks, and the relay stacks are all made from cardboard that warps over time, and the score reels use a wiper disk plate for the 0-9 position switches. Couple that with oddball parts for drop targets, flippers, connectors (they use a molex style, not a jones plug style), and lackluster gameplay, I have a really hard time recommending Chicago Coin games to people. They just don't seem well built to me.

    #40 3 months ago
    Quoted from mbaumle:

    I disagree. CCM games are pretty terrible. The cam that holds the score motor disk is weak and often breaks, and the relay stacks are all made from cardboard that warps over time, and the score reels use a wiper disk plate for the 0-9 position switches. Couple that with oddball parts for drop targets, flippers, connectors (they use a molex style, not a jones plug style), and lackluster gameplay, I have a really hard time recommending Chicago Coin games to people. They just don't seem well built to me.

    1) Never had a cam break
    2) Never had a problem with stacks or wipers
    3) Flippers are common parts, anyone's drop targets pre-1980 are going to be unique (I had to buy used to fix a 72 Williams, even PBR was a strike out) and only some later? titles had molex connectors. Anything before 74 or 75 will have normal jones plugs as far as I know and have seen on the games I purchased.

    Two were in my lineup for some time, both were very reliable and I still have one a '69. The worst was a Gottlieb a Jungle King that would not stay in tune longer than a week and I traded it away for a Time Zone I hated the thing so bad. Other Gottliebs I have had better luck with but they tend to be the most finicky. The 4 player Gottlieb "player unit" is the most god awful fussy setup too.

    #41 3 months ago

    My 1951 Chicago Coin Thing woodrail has been even more reliable than my Gottlieb woodrails. I have barely had to adjust anything in two decades, even after months of dormancy.

    Enthusiasts seem to denigrate CCM sixties and seventies era games, more than those of other manufacturers. CCM had a few good titles during that period, perhaps not enough to garner a dedicated following.

    For someone, like the OP, simply seeking to add 4 EMs, I wouldn't write off any manufacturer and certainly not for reliability reasons. All manufacturers can perform well in the home environment, when correctly tuned.

    You can't go wrong with Gottlieb, Bally, Williams or Chicago Coin, as long as you choose the right titles. Gottlieb does have the edge on parts availability, though, by virtue of Pinball Resource and Steve Young's willingness to offer telephonic advice.

    #42 3 months ago

    That^^^^^^

    #43 3 months ago

    I also agree that Williams EM's are easier to work on. Sonic pins use Williams parts and architecture and have indestructible playfields and the backglass do not deteriorate. The bad part about Sonic games is that they have particleboard cabinets that are very heavy and easily damaged. You'll be hard pressed to find 4 Sonic games though. You might consider combining Sonic and Williams.

    Williams games from the 70's will need at least a partial flipper rebuild(plunger/link, coil sleeve and EOS adjustment) and pop bumper rebuild. It is worth the extra $50 in parts.

    Starting with the Game Honey in 1972, Williams games used DC powered pop bumpers and sling shots. These games will have the speed of more modern pins.

    #44 3 months ago

    And I agree, I'm sure there are some short flipper games that are objectively awesome, but wading into EMs I think longer flipper games are the way to go and a better for improving on

    #45 3 months ago

    Long flipper EMs are for rookies for sure.

    #46 3 months ago

    If I had to pick one company it would have to be Bally for the art or Williams because they are easy to find parts for and hold up pretty well and are typically the cheapest. I know a lot of guys like Gottlieb but to me they are the most cheaply built of the "big three". Chicago Coin made some great arcade machines back in the day but for some reason they just never seemed to "get it right" when it comes to pinball machines.

    I really don't think you can go wrong with any of the "big three" but I think if I was in your shoes I would pick two Bally & two Williams and not worry about having two different brand machines. You don't need to stock all that many parts for EM's anyway so why not mix it up some?

    #47 3 months ago

    We're all thinking it; but, nobody has said it. So, I'm just going to let it out.

    *Your guests will flock to your EM games.
    *Soon, you will fall in love with EMs.
    *Before long, you will look forward to repairing, restoring and hunting down EM games.
    *In short order, you will be replacing your solid state and modern machines with EM games.
    *It's just a matter of time before EM games will take up residence in your living room, bedroom and kitchen.
    *By late autumn, with excess caffeine in your bloodstream, you will dominate the Pinside EM threads, adopting O-din's old cigar-smoking bulldog avatar.
    *By winter, in desperate need of a shave, and with a month's worth of unanswered emails, you'll be wondering whether your family really needs a bathtub or whether that space will be better served by an EM.
    *By spring, you have legally changed your name to Mr. Score Reel and have reduced your verbal responses in human-to-human conversations by perfectly mimicking the sound of a Gottlieb chime unit.
    *Your wife has taken the kids, the cat, and your prosthetic leg to a hotel. You haven't noticed.
    *Fast forward to next summer, a year hence, having purchased the largest warehouse in your state, and having acquired every desirable Gottlieb, Bally and Williams EM title, you will start a thread entitled: "What Are the Best Inder and Sonic EMs?"

    Just kidding (not really).

    #48 3 months ago

    Gottliebs are fun to play, but I found them horribly unreliable. Bally and Williams games are both more reliable and easier to work on. The “off brands” can be fine too, but parts and information are scant, which makes them tougher for those learning.

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