(Topic ID: 74662)

Thinking of buying an EM - Buyer's guide?


By btw75

7 years ago



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  • Latest reply 7 years ago by dasvis
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    #1 7 years ago

    I'm thinking of buying an EM - but I've hardly played one, let alone know what to look for in the purchase. Any generally guidelines? I'm sure this has been covered before, but I haven't yet found a buyer's guide. There are a few local on CL, but I don't want to just run out and buy one considering that there seem to be a lot of differences in them that I cannot begin to appreciate without experience.

    #2 7 years ago

    Cheap, local and functional was the only requirement for my first EM purchase. I experimented with a few before determining what games I enjoyed. That may not be the best or easiest strategy these days.

    If you can attend the Texas Pinball Festival or visit a local collector that has a bunch of Ems, that is probably your best bet. Play as many games as you can to get a feel for an era and manufacturer you like best. It's all pretty subjective.

    #3 7 years ago
    Quoted from AlexF:

    or visit a local collector that has a bunch of Ems,

    This

    --Jeff

    #4 7 years ago

    Hi BTW,

    Sounds like a good idea to me. I love my E/M's more than I do my sole SS machine though I like working on the SS game a whole lot more than the E/M that I usually pay someone to repair for me as necessary.

    I have one machine, Gottliebs Roller Coaster, that I can sometimes not break a thousand points. Maybe that is just becasue I stink at playing pinball, could be. But it is as challenging to me sometimes as my SS machine I have. Please keep in mind that if you plan on working on the E/M's yourself, there is a learaning curve and for me that has been pretty steep.

    If I could offer any advice, I might just say dont get to emotionally involved like I always do and pay for it on the backside. I have not run into an E/M that I dont like so I would probably be happy with just about any game. I would want it to be complete and not be hacked up. Look at the wiring closely. Are all the pices parts there (playfield, backbox, bottom box). I have had my Roller Coaster for nearly a year now and just found a few weeks ago that the whole match mechanism was missing. Thank God Steve had one I could fix. I put that in and with some help from my local E/M tech, got the match function working. At the same time, I noticed that the knocker had been removed from the machine. Man was I frickin blind?? To my defense it was my first machine I purchased but just look closely and make sure that the machine is complete and in clean-uppable condition. Are all the playfield parts there?

    Hope that this helps,

    George

    #5 7 years ago
    Quoted from AlexF:

    Cheap, local and functional was the only requirement for my first EM purchase. I experimented with a few before determining what games I enjoyed. That may not be the best or easiest strategy these days.
    If you can attend the Texas Pinball Festival or visit a local collector that has a bunch of Ems, that is probably your best bet. Play as many games as you can to get a feel for an era and manufacturer you like best. It's all pretty subjective.

    he's right- you need some time on them preferable some nice restored ones that play like new and are not worn out. any wore out game will not be too impressive. good luck with finding them- i wish i could find more done up to get some play time on.

    then find your "type" and pursue it- em's are cheap, and i would pay a little extra for a nicer one- for a first machine at least......

    #6 7 years ago

    Thanks! Was also assuming that people who came to EM AFTER playing more modern machines would gravitate to a particular era or type of EM. I've read through most of clay's EM guide, seems like a well put together manual to help me through the eventual repair.

    #7 7 years ago

    Single players way easier to maintain.

    Condition is everything. Ask advice if unsure.

    #8 7 years ago

    I'd echo the advice to try some first before jumping in.

    With EMs, it's easy to get underwater on them if you don't do your own restoration work. So deciding if you just want one to play, or one to work on is another thing to consider. If you want one to just play, finding one from a local hobbyist who's given it a thorough going through can be money ahead, even if it's a bit more expensive initially (compared to getting a project that needs work).

    Other things to consider are how much you want to budget for an EM. There are games available in several different price ranges, reflecting condition and collectability. The combination of those will drive the price (i.e. best condition and most collectible will be a couple thousand or more; the other end is pushing parts game price; the rest will fall in between with a lot of variability).

    Personally, I'd suggest holding out to find one on nice to better condition, even if a bit more expensive. And it's hard to go wrong with a single-player Gottlieb. (although a two-player will do in a pinch). But there are lots of decent Williams and Bally too.

    #9 7 years ago

    oh man they are great. i pickup a doodle bug for 175 and it worked just was out of adjustment. naturally the backglass was bad and had some wear on the playfield.

    #10 7 years ago

    stick with gottlieb for your first, they made better games than the others. not saying the others do not have good games but your chances of getting a bad player with gottlieb is far less.
    if it is complete it can be repaired. for me the playfield condition is the most important than the backglass and the cabinet only needs to be solid with no major damage. don't expect to find one with no PF paint loss or flaking on the backglass. most have some to some degree.
    single players are a little easier to repair than multiplayers.
    If you see something local at a fair price, i say jump in the em pool. i can tell you once in it is hard to get out.

    but from what i have been told TX is a tough market to find em's so you might not want to be to picky

    hope this helps a little

    #11 7 years ago

    First, adding variety by buying an EM is an excellent idea. I love all pins (except perhaps the EMs with gobble holes!) from early 60's to Metallica...

    I would make a distinction between EMs from the 60's with short flippers and no inlane and later ones from 70's: regular flippers, inlanes (notable exceptions: Fireball is a wonderful 72 pin with zipper flippers and no inlanes). The later category is closer to what you may know in terms of game play, but with a unique atmosphere and completely different internal organs...

    I'll try to get one of each in my lineup- the first to come will be a Masquerade. Had to find a pin from 1966 (my birth year): I was initially looking for a Dancing Lady. I changed my mind after trying both.

    Concerning the recent ones, my current favorites as a player are Vulcan, Target Alpha, Spirit of 76, Surf Champ, Captain Fantastic, Criterium 75, Checkmate (some spanish gems !)... and many others. It might be easier to list the ones I don't like.

    Make sure the chime is present. It contributes a lot to the EM experience!

    If you ever go to Paris, try to visit the Paris Pinball Museum. Raphael Lankar has over 200+ EM, all in pristine condition and ready to play. I tried many EMs there I never encountered before. It helped me decide which I would consider buying! I am sure there are closer alternatives for you.

    #12 7 years ago

    Best thing to do is go play some EM's that have been shopped by an EM expert and determine what EM is right for you. Maybe someone who collects EM's is near by you to try some out.

    A single player 1970's (3" flippers) Gottlieb wedgehead is the top of the line when it comes to EM's. Gottlieb took over the EM pinball race in the mid 1960's and were the king of the industry at that time until the late 1970's. Other EM 's during that time period were almost as good and may be ok for you, if that's what you are looking for.

    Check them out...
    GR11-24-136pm 028-505.jpg

    #13 7 years ago

    Good advice so far but I often wonder what you Gottlieb guys would collect if they never existed. Sports cards or postage stamps maybe?

    #14 7 years ago
    Quoted from AlexF:

    Good advice so far but I often wonder what you Gottlieb guys would collect if they never existed. Sports cards or postage stamps maybe?

    Old Dodges probably. I find the old Gottliebs are well built, but are relatively easy games compared to some of the 50s and 60s Williams I have played. And they seem to be built just as well, sometimes with superior artwork

    #15 7 years ago
    Quoted from AlexF:

    Good advice so far but I often wonder what you Gottlieb guys would collect if they never existed. Sports cards or postage stamps maybe?

    Second choice would be a Williams single player EM reverse wedgehead.

    There are only a handfull of reverse wedgeheads that Williams manufactured compare to the 100+ Gottlieb wedgeheads produced by Gottlieb.

    My 1962 Williams reverse wedgehead SKILL POOL is a great player, but not a Gottlieb.
    GR11-24-136pm 033.jpg

    #16 7 years ago
    Quoted from Vic_Camp:

    Second choice would be a Williams single player EM reverse wedgehead.

    If I could only have one choice, it would be my Williams single player Big Daddy, although I am interested in finding a Skill Pool.

    #17 7 years ago

    I like them too. They arguably churned out the most great titles and are well built. With that said variety is always nice…don't limit yourself.

    #18 7 years ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    If I could only have one choice, it would be my Williams single player Big Daddy, although I am interested in finding a Skill Pool.

    Cheap one in Cali, needs a little love.
    ebay.com link » 1963 Williams Skill Pool

    #19 7 years ago
    Quoted from AlexF:

    Cheap one in Cali, needs a little love.

    I saw that, pretty close by. But if someone is used to playing DMD games, and wants something that is close to that in play and scoring, and is not into the antique thing, there is always Williams Grand Prix.

    #20 7 years ago

    If that Skill Pool was only closer....I would love to see how nice that playfield is. I'm always looking to upgrade.

    #21 7 years ago

    Other things to consider: 2" flipper or 3" flipper pin, parts availability for the pin your are likely needing parts for now or down the road,how deep the ruleset is,ect......Also consider what the value or cost of the machine as some pins are over priced and can easily separate you and your $$$ and is not necessarily an indication of its worth or rarity.

    #22 7 years ago

    Get er done ems are a lot of fun you wont be disapointed

    #23 7 years ago

    My first was an early 70's Williams Klondike. Then a Bally On Beam, Then Gottlieb, Gottlieb, Gottlieb, Gottlieb, Bally, Gottlieb. Now I just purchased a Williams Big Daddy and am looking forward to learning the even older williams.

    If you like mechanical tinkering and understand basic electric principles, you can do your own repairs and you may find that to be as much fun as playing them!

    $200-400 should get you a good player EM and if you are lucky a good restore candidate. Whats cool about these games right now is the low cost. You can get a game and put $50-100 into it to do a nice shop job and then play it to see if you like it. If not, you can usually sell at a break even price or maybe better!

    Good luck! all of them are fun.

    #24 7 years ago

    I would grab a 3" flipper Gottlieb, the 2" flippers take some time to get used to.

    #25 7 years ago
    Quoted from AlexF:

    If you can attend the Texas Pinball Festival or visit a local collector that has a bunch of Ems, that is probably your best bet.

    Yea, Go to Jeff's House (Way2wyrd) to see what EM's float your boat as he is getting as many EM's these days as the PHOF and he is closer too.

    Ken

    #26 7 years ago

    Hit up Jeff's place. If you are ever in Dallas area you can drop me a line. I have 4 (soon to be 5) EMs at my place ranging from 1963-1976 all Gottlieb.

    Actually the best idea for you would be to buy a cheap ticket too Las Vegas and visit the Pinball Hall of Fame. You firgure 200 dollars for the plane ticket round trip. 50-100 dollars for a one night stay in a motel and 30 dollars for a few cheap meals. The best 280-330 dollars spent. This could save you several hundreds or thousands of dollars in the future. Or like others have said you can show up to Texas Pinball Festival in March. Only problem with TPF is there are never enough EMs. Maybe 20-30 of them each year. Las Vegas HOF 100+ EMs

    #27 7 years ago

    Just go find yourself an EM Joker Poker and say "Merry X-mas to me!"

    #28 7 years ago
    Quoted from EM-PINMAN:

    Yea, Go to Jeff's House (Way2wyrd) to see what EM's float your boat as he is getting as many EM's these days as the PHOF and he is closer too.

    Plus its Beer friendly.

    #29 7 years ago
    Quoted from Pin-it:

    Plus its Beer friendly.

    Now I'm going for sure! In the meantime I'll just try to resist buying one of LTG's games while in Minnesota over the next week.

    http://www.ssbilliards.com/sale.html

    #30 7 years ago

    I made a video on what to look for to determine if a game is worth pursuing...as well as how to break it down and transport it.

    You can find it here: http://pinballhelp.com/pinball-appraisal/

    #31 7 years ago
    Quoted from btw75:

    Now I'm going for sure! In the meantime I'll just try to resist buying one of LTG's games while in Minnesota over the next week.
    http://www.ssbilliards.com/sale.html

    If you want to check out some EMs while in MN (and probably hear more about them than you ever care to), PM me.

    #32 7 years ago
    Quoted from PinballHelp:

    I made a video on what to look for to determine if a game is worth pursuing...as well as how to break it down and transport it.
    You can find it here: http://pinballhelp.com/pinball-appraisal/

    Congrats on such a professional & informative video.

    #33 7 years ago
    Quoted from DirtFlipper:

    If you want to check out some EMs while in MN (and probably hear more about them than you ever care to), PM me.

    Thank you so much for your time this evening. Very gracious of you to make time to give me a great primer on EM machines.
    Thanks!

    #34 7 years ago
    Quoted from btw75:

    Thank you so much for your time this evening. Very gracious of you to make time to give me a great primer on EM machines.
    Thanks!

    You bet! Always fun to talk pinball and give the games some exercise. And thanks for the Bock.

    #35 7 years ago
    Quoted from DirtFlipper:

    You bet! Always fun to talk pinball and give the games some exercise. And thanks for the Bock.

    ........formulating an excuse to drive to the twin cities area!

    I just sent ccotenj a message about a new EM pin friend. Would you agree dirt that another pinhead has come to the EM SIDE? seems like it to me.

    Welcome to the club btw75!

    #36 7 years ago

    I extend the same offer to any of you guys if you are ever in the Omaha area. I usually only have two to four pins up at any given time, but if I have a little warning, I'll can make sure to be maxed out.

    #37 7 years ago

    Basically you need to play several and see the difference between a single player that allows you a complete game to complete a rule set vs a game that resets every ball whick almost all multi-player machines do. Note that there are severa single player games that also do this which are not as fun (imo) to own.

    Personally, Gottlieb Wedge Heads are the best but you have to play a bunch just to get a feel for the games. Then again, you may want a multi-player and really like certain machine toys & rule sets.

    Only you can decide. Definitely meet up with Way2wyrd by you and Rat Tomago in Plano next time you hit the Metroplex. Hit up the PHoF, TPF in the spring, maybe Vintage Flipper World if you travel to the Detroit area (as a distant guest, the curator would welcome you with some advance notice) and play away to help you decide.

    I'll go out on a limb and say you can't have just one. Maybe two or three.

    #38 7 years ago
    Quoted from MrBally:

    I'll go out on a limb and say you can't have just one. Maybe two or three.

    or maybe 5 or 6

    #39 7 years ago

    5 or 6? In one room...

    #40 7 years ago
    Quoted from btw75:

    Thank you so much for your time this evening. Very gracious of you to make time to give me a great primer on EM machines.
    Thanks!

    You learned from one of the best - he has very good taste in games.

    #41 7 years ago

    Don't rush into making a purchase. Personally, I like late Williams EM's with DC powered pop/slings. The relay switches are larger and tend to be easier to adjust. Play as many as possible before choosing.

    #42 7 years ago

    There's always Fireball. Great art work and lots of fun. Multitball, zipper flippers, skill shot, spinning disc, etc......
    fireballg1.jpg

    #43 7 years ago

    In my area, you don't usually have a lot of choice. You got to pick up what is available when it pops up.
    I got lucky & found a couple of wedgeheads @ a reasonable price. Not in the greatest condition, but complete.
    As said before, it's hard to go wrong with 3" Gottliebs.
    Don't worry about condition for your first EM, any repair work you have to do is time well spent. Learning to fix pins when they break is a must.

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