(Topic ID: 139611)

Play meter total. What's typical?


By adowns

3 years ago



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  • 48 posts
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  • Latest reply 2 years ago by ckcsm
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    #1 3 years ago

    I recently bought my first pinball machine, a Gottlieb Lawman. It works well. The play meter reads about 161,000 plays. Is this typical or high or low? How many plays were the machines designed for? They must have been designed in a heavy-duty fashion. It boggles my mind that this machine is over 40 years old, has hundreds of complex moving parts, probably spent much of its life in bars and arcades, and still works.

    #2 3 years ago

    161k is an awful lot. I got a 1969 Joust with ~15k on it. I've seen a few other EMs who have ~40k, but those aren't very common from my casual observation. Then again, there is an op on here with a Stern KISS that got 7k plays in a few weeks.

    #3 3 years ago

    I promise, that's what the meter says!play meter.jpg

    #4 3 years ago

    Not that unusual for a classic Gottlieb to have well over 100k on the meter. Some would argue that these meters are not very accurate. They can get stuck/break showing low number of plays, or conversely, could have extra from techs starting many games when working on them (though I doubt that ads more than a few thousand at the very most). I think the meters do give a rough idea of their usage-unless they show a very low total and the playfield (and rest of machine) shows wear consistent with higher usage. After working on dozens of games one develops a sense of overall on location usage based on many factors. Dirt inside the game (esp. the bottom board), lock bar receiver corrosion (from soda/beer), upper play field arch and shooter lane wear are all clues to it's history/ Some games will show more wear due to lack of maintenance/ cleaning, but still give a rough idea of usage, not unlike other consumer goods (cars, houses, etc.)Just my two cents.....

    #5 3 years ago

    inaccuracy is typical

    #6 3 years ago

    Well this one has the hallmarks of "ridden hard, put up wet." Shooter lane very worn, drop target markings pounded off, rust from beer / soda spills, finish worn off around the replay button, and lots of dirt and dust on the bottom board. But like a Timex watch it keeps on tickin'. In the picture note the bolt used as a tilt weight.

    #7 3 years ago

    I have seen them all over the place. I had a woodrail with under 500 plays and it looked it and I have also seen over 200,000 plays on some meters (those machines looked like they were well loved for sure).

    What I think is sad is I was talking to a operator that bought a classic Bally from me for his personal collection and he was telling me new Sterns typically have MAJOR wear with under 5000 plays on them. Some bad enough that he has had to change out playfields (on at least his employs had to do playfield swaps).

    I am not bashing Stern but you would think with today's technology and paint we would be able to build something that would outlast something built 50 years ago -- not last 10% as long? I know one big problem is lumber - there is nothing available these days as far as good wood. But with that said why not redesign things to protect high wear areas?

    Anyway - as far as average plays I guess it really just depends on the title and where operators had machines on location but I would say 80,000 would be typical for "average plays" on an average machine?

    #8 3 years ago

    Most of the condition of EM's comes from how fastidious the operator was in keeping it clean.

    I have owned higher playmeter count games in the 100,000 play level where the playfields had very limited wear.

    I have a less than 40,000 play Quick Draw where the playfield was blown out when I got it while the rest of the game was almost immaculate. Just hard to gauge by the meter alone.

    Condition is king.

    #9 3 years ago
    Quoted from MikeO:

    Most of the condition of EM's comes from how fastidious the operator was in keeping it clean.
    I have owned higher playmeter count games in the 100,000 play level where the playfields had very limited wear.
    I have a less than 40,000 play Quick Draw where the playfield was blown out when I got it while the rest of the game was almost immaculate. Just hard to gauge by the meter alone.
    Condition is king.

    I agree 100% I find it totally amazing how nice some machines still are after over 100,000 plays on the meter. New balls and clean playfield and a 40 year machine will last a long time yet.

    Too many people don't realize the damage that can be done in just a few games with a rusty pinball. Nothing like sanding the playfield with a rusty ball then wondering why paint didn't last!

    #10 3 years ago

    Don't count on those meters being accurate in other ways as well such as switching them out into different machines which I have done a few times usually because I have a keeper machine that was missing its meter, so i "borrowed" one from another one I sold.

    Ken

    #11 3 years ago

    Isn't turning back an odo illegal?

    #12 3 years ago
    Quoted from Darcy:

    Isn't turning back an odo illegal?

    Maybe Darcy, but stealing one is easier, at least in a pinball machine.

    Ken

    #13 3 years ago
    Quoted from EM-PINMAN:

    so i "borrowed" one from another one I sold.

    You need to find pins with 2 game meters. Then just save the one in the best condition.

    #14 3 years ago

    Two things I find interesting as far as play meters. First off it is amazing most of them still work even after 75,000 or more cycles. If you ever tear one apart they are pretty simple but it is amazing the little coil last that long in those.

    Second and more importantly is the amount of cash these machines took in over a lifetime. Even if it is a dime machine 75,000 hits is $7500. A pretty good return from a machine that likely cost the operator about $1000 back in the day. But if it was a quarter machine that same machine took in $18,750.00 - talk about a heck of a return on a $1000 investment.

    Then if you think about the fact that most operators had hundreds of these machines on route - talk about making money.

    A few weeks ago I was talking to an operator that was telling me about the money they made on Pac-Man arcade machines when they first hit the market. The guy was telling me an average machine made them over $1200 a week and they had 87 Pac Mans on location at the time. That is over $100,000 a week just from their Pac-Man machines. CRAZY!!!

    Remember the arcades back in the 80's with people lined up to play machines. Can you imagine the cash those places were taking in! No wonder Tim (PHOF) was able to retire when he was in his 30's.

    #15 3 years ago
    Quoted from too-many-pins:

    But if it was a quarter machine that same machine took in $18,750.00 - talk about a heck of a return on a $1000 investment.

    From the vendor that I got my Solar City from, back in 1982. It earned them roughly $7,500, between 1976 and 1981. When there were arcades, and pins in stores.

    #16 3 years ago

    I never even look at it. The condition of the game tells you what you need to know.

    #17 3 years ago
    Quoted from EMsInKC:

    I never even look at it. The condition of the game tells you what you need to know.

    Agree totally! In the business, we used to re-wire many of them to count coins, not games.

    #18 3 years ago

    Also learnt it can be very misleading.

    For a start, they can go round the clock and so 101000 plays might be 401000 plays. I have seen over 300000 and games are pretty beat!

    Some of the ways I try and decide if a game is low play is looking at the wear on the outlanes and also looking at very back of cabinet as the less they have been moved, usually but not always indicates less plays and better condition.

    #19 3 years ago

    Slightly off topic, if you look at a newer machine with a DMD and go through the program / diagnostic menu to find total plays - can that be reset or is that a relatively reliable number of the number of plays the machine has had on it?

    #20 3 years ago
    Quoted from bonanza:

    can that be reset

    yes

    #21 3 years ago

    So basically there is no way to reliably tell how many plays are on a newer machine? A user can just reset it?

    #22 3 years ago
    Quoted from bonanza:

    So basically there is no way to reliably tell how many plays are on a newer machine? A user can just reset it?

    Crazy people like looking at the shooter lane to determine a rough number of plays. But it can be reset, physical ones can be rewound, etc. Condition is all you have to go on.

    On topic, my Dixieland bingo's coin counters were all over the place. The thing had certainly seen its fair share of use.

    dixieland.png

    #23 3 years ago
    Quoted from bonanza:

    A user can just reset it?

    When you update the firmware it resets...probably other ways. Basically, like an EM, you look at it. Shooter lane wear, flipper buttons, everything else. No way to tell how many plays for sure though. Condition is condition either way.

    #24 3 years ago
    Quoted from Wickerman2:

    When you update the firmware it resets...probably other ways.

    The most common reason a DMD game memory resets is when the batteries die.

    #25 3 years ago
    Quoted from MikeO:

    The most common reason a DMD game memory resets is when the batteries die.

    having no power is a concern

    #26 3 years ago

    I've worked on old EM's that get stuck in a reset cycle where something just isn't quite right and every time the score motor made a revolution it added 1 to the total play meter. I know I've had some click a few hundred times while testing or looking for a problem and no ball has touched the playfield.

    Who know how many times a game has been stuck in a reset cycle and not been played. Some people just leave them on and stare at them trying to fix them for a long time. I'd rather get a total coin number and maybe add 5-10% for free games

    #27 3 years ago
    Quoted from Okarcades:

    I've worked on old EM's that get stuck in a reset cycle where something just isn't quite right and every time the score motor made a revolution it added 1 to the total play meter. I know I've had some click a few hundred times while testing or looking for a problem and no ball has touched the playfield.
    Who know how many times a game has been stuck in a reset cycle and not been played. Some people just leave them on and stare at them trying to fix them for a long time. I'd rather get a total coin number and maybe add 5-10% for free games

    That would be only applicable where the issue making the score motor run is in the start circuit. There are up to a dozen or more circuits that can cause the score motor to run and most do not index the counter.

    #28 3 years ago
    Quoted from Okarcades:

    I've worked on old EM's that get stuck in a reset cycle where something just isn't quite right and every time the score motor made a revolution it added 1 to the total play meter. I know I've had some click a few hundred times while testing or looking for a problem and no ball has touched the playfield.
    Who know how many times a game has been stuck in a reset cycle and not been played. Some people just leave them on and stare at them trying to fix them for a long time. I'd rather get a total coin number and maybe add 5-10% for free games

    When I set my recent Nags play meter back to 0. I rang up to 496 plays during the startup debugging. 400+ were for this very reason.

    #29 3 years ago

    My TSPP from a chuck e cheese I belive had 120,000 coin drops per a meter in the cabinet. The game was / is really mechanically tired all over. Springs break, loose mechs, .coil stops have snapped. Pf still in pretty good shape tho.

    #30 3 years ago
    Quoted from SteveinTexas:

    When I set my recent Nags play meter back to 0. I rang up to 496 plays during the startup debugging. 400+ were for this very reason.

    Good point since startup is one of the most common things you debug and it does index the counter.

    #31 3 years ago

    Really, the only useful thing I use the meter for is to track how many games are played while it is in my possession.
    It's not really a lifetime history meter as others have said. Inspecting commonly used moving parts such as relay armature wear is a better indication. The stainless steel side rails have a deep dent/wear (Almost all the way through) under the lockdown bar from people pounding and nudging on my Target Pool. Relays have a deep "V" cut in the armature at the pivot point. The counter when I got it was 81,611. Is that 181,611? 281,611?

    5 months later
    #32 3 years ago

    This is my first EM pin and I was thinking to myself....Could this meter be right? I thought about asking this question in another EM thread I started but didn't want to get off topic, so I found this one. It's amazing to think this machine has almost a quarter million plays on it and the playfield is still in this condition. I understand it is not in super great shape, but I don't think it looks too bad for having a number like that on the play meter? ....then again, I don't know the history of the machine.

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    #33 3 years ago
    Quoted from bronco-jon:

    This is my first EM pin and I was thinking to myself....Could this meter be right? I thought about asking this question in another EM thread I started but didn't want to get off topic, so I found this one. It's amazing to think this machine has almost a quarter million plays on it and the playfield is still in this condition. I understand it is not in super great shape, but I don't think it looks too bad for having a number like that on the play meter? ....then again, I don't know the history of the machine.

    DSCF2353_(resized).JPGDSCF2354_(resized).JPGDSCF2355_(resized).JPGDSCF2357_(resized).JPG

    As others have pointed out, there are several ways the totals can be inflated beyond games actually played with the ball rolling around wearing out the paint, etc. 200k + is not out of the question though. Stuck reset cycle, repairman manually activating for testing, or maybe a glitch in the play meter itself. I have been recently working on one with 200,000 that I plan to bring back to life. Won't win best in show, but a nice player's game when I'm finished. Depending on the overall wear indicators throughout the game, one can get a rough idea if it's in the ball park after restoring dozens of them.

    #34 3 years ago

    One I just did.

    playfield_meter_001_(resized).JPG

    playfield_meter_002_(resized).JPG

    #35 3 years ago
    Quoted from 0geist0:

    One I just did.

    playfield_meter_001_(resized).JPGplayfield_meter_002_(resized).JPG

    Very nice looking machine. But that is twenty six thousand, not two hundred and twenty six thousand....just sayin

    #36 3 years ago

    If a play meter broke on one of our games, the tech would write the last know total on the wood behind the new meter.

    Sometimes it's fun to see the "total of totals".

    #37 3 years ago
    Quoted from bronco-jon:

    This is my first EM pin and I was thinking to myself....Could this meter be right? I thought about asking this question in another EM thread I started but didn't want to get off topic, so I found this one. It's amazing to think this machine has almost a quarter million plays on it and the playfield is still in this condition. I understand it is not in super great shape, but I don't think it looks too bad for having a number like that on the play meter? ....then again, I don't know the history of the machine.

    DSCF2353_(resized).JPGDSCF2354_(resized).JPGDSCF2355_(resized).JPGDSCF2357_(resized).JPG

    Not uncommon to see 200000 plus on the meter. If the p/f has been waxed and no rusty balls used then it is possible to find games in nice condition with this many plays.

    Lots of times seen games around 70000 with playfields that are still 9/10.

    #38 3 years ago
    Quoted from bronco-jon:

    Very nice looking machine. But that is twenty six thousand, not two hundred and twenty six thousand....just sayin

    I know that

    #39 3 years ago

    Here's what 200k + typically looks like. Bit of cleaning up to do .....

    20160303_133534_(resized).jpg

    #40 3 years ago

    A good indicator of the amount of play a game has gotten is the wear on the upper arch. Meters can be misleading. The four or five digit ones are not very good at indicating the total plays because they have most likely turned over an unknown number of times. I once found a Gottlieb wedgehead that had around 16,000 plays on a six digit meter. From the looks of the game, it was probably an accurate count.

    3 months later
    #41 2 years ago
    Quoted from Boatcat:

    Agree totally! In the business, we used to re-wire many of them to count coins, not games.

    My Roller Coaster meter was re-wired to count coins, and had 191,000. I don't know when it was switched to coins, but the counter was broken.

    I opened it up and fixed it using a cut piece of tie wrap. Apparently the coil would actuate and index the number half way, but when the coil released, it would not complete the indexing the full number. That portion of the plastic spring was broken, so I Magiever'd it with the plastic tie wrap. Works perfect now.

    I'm going to rewire it back to count plays. From the pictures in this thread, it looks like I have to move one of the counter wires to the wire that is screwed into the wood next to the meter.

    #42 2 years ago

    I saw a game on CL a little while back that had 250K on the counter! A quarter of a million!

    Unsurprisingly, the game looked like it had been in several earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, and children's parties.

    #43 2 years ago
    Quoted from jrpinball:

    A good indicator of the amount of play a game has gotten is the wear on the upper arch. Meters can be misleading. The four or five digit ones are not very good at indicating the total plays because they have most likely turned over an unknown number of times. I once found a Gottlieb wedgehead that had around 16,000 plays on a six digit meter. From the looks of the game, it was probably an accurate count.

    I agree with jr. I don't normally even care what the meter reads. I look at the ball arch wear and that will tell me if it was a low, high or average played game

    #44 2 years ago

    I agree with all of you regarding the meter not necessarily indicating actual game wear/use. I just wanted to restore this game to the original working condition, including the correct operation of meter.

    The only wear on this playfield is in the ball arch, however the rest of the field does not show any indication of wear.

    #45 2 years ago
    Quoted from apc7654:

    I agree with all of you regarding the meter not necessarily indicating actual game wear/use. I just wanted to restore this game to the original working condition, including the correct operation of meter.
    The only wear on this playfield is in the ball arch, however the rest of the field does not show any indication of wear.

    that is why we use that area as an indicator. the pf can have no real wear but the arch will show wear if it is a high play game.

    #46 2 years ago

    Trying to figure out where to connect the other black wire from the meter. I see one is connected to the orange wire that is screwed into the wood next to the meter, however, from the pictures, I can't see where the other wire is connected. Could someone tell me where this wire is connected on that junction plug?

    #47 2 years ago

    I heard from an operator that he has had a OXO that played over 400,000 games.
    It was most badly worn at the top arch, the ball kept sticking in the groove that was there because of the enormous amount of plays it had.

    Needless to say that this game was worth the investment he made!
    Was one of the most popular game he had in the 70's.

    #48 2 years ago

    I was looking at Clay's repair guide for Gottlieb em's and he says the norn for what he saw when out for repairs was 50 to 100K in plays with one he was working on one with 150K and says that was in the upper range.

    I have a few machines with low plays on the meter and the machine's condition confirms that so its nice to have some validation.

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