(Topic ID: 276115)

Want to get in the restoration hobby


By ClaytonsCorner

5 months ago



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  • 38 posts
  • 24 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 months ago by Iwasthebruce
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    #1 5 months ago

    Hey folks, newbie here who wants to try my hand at restoring old machines. I’ve got 30+ years in electronics and am a mechanic as well so I think I’d enjoy this. My question is: where do I find old machines needing resto for a decent price? Any ideas would be appreciated!

    19
    #2 5 months ago
    Quoted from ClaytonsCorner:

    Hey folks, newbie here who wants to try my hand at restoring old machines. I’ve got 30+ years in electronics and am a mechanic as well so I think I’d enjoy this. My question is: where do I find old machines needing resto for a decent price? Any ideas would be appreciated!

    "... for a decent price?" -- you're about 8 years too late. You have to be lucky, and find that estate sale/Craigslist/Facebook ad and swoop in within minutes, always have cash & tools & vehicle at the ready. (It's cut-throat at times.)
    Project machines are running 3-5x more these days, then what they were 10 years ago. (Seems like a junk EM machine for $100 now runs $500. Non-working early SS that was $200.00 is $800. A dead DMD that was $800 is $1800. Even the bad titles.)

    And you will always be upside-down on a true restoration. Even if you find a project machine for $200.00, and spend $2000 restoring... you may not be able to get more than a $1000.00. (title dependent)

    Only restore a "keeper" for your collection. Or... I suppose that rare chance you just want to do it for the challenge.
    Just don't believe you're gonna make a profit, and you'll be fine.

    and oh yeah... welcome to the hobby. LOL

    #3 5 months ago

    Like Timerider said above it's getting harder and harder to find a decent deal on a machine, but they're definitely out there if you look hard enough.
    Facebook, Craigslist, LetGo, estate sales, and here on Pinside are all good places to look.

    One additional piece of advice I can give is to look at what parts are available for whatever machine you're looking to restore. It'd suck to be stuck with a game that you can't get parts for to complete them.

    The hobby of restoring pins is a LOT of fun, and very rewarding!

    Good luck!

    -Paul

    #4 5 months ago
    Quoted from Timerider:

    "... for a decent price?" -- you're about 8 years too late. You have to be lucky, and find that estate sale/Craigslist/Facebook ad and swoop in within minutes, always have cash & tools & vehicle at the ready. (It's cut-throat at times.)
    Project machines are running 3-5x more these days, then what they were 10 years ago. (Seems like a junk EM machine for $100 now runs $500. Non-working early SS that was $200.00 is $800. A dead DMD that was $800 is $1800. Even the bad titles.)
    And you will always be upside-down on a true restoration. Even if you find a project machine for $200.00, and spend $2000 restoring... you may not be able to get more than a $1000.00. (title dependent)
    Only restore a "keeper" for your collection. Or... I suppose that rare chance you just want to do it for the challenge.
    Just don't believe you're gonna make a profit, and you'll be fine.
    and oh yeah... welcome to the hobby. LOL

    xx828 (resized).jpg
    #5 5 months ago

    Thanks for the comments, and ahem encouragement . I just bought our first machine (1980 Black Knight) recently as a nostalgic gift for my wife because her dad had one in his store when she was a kid. Anyway, been tinkering and got the bug so I’d like to get another machine that’s not working to restore. Not looking at a business or anything. Sucks that I got the bug about 10 years too late, but my toast always tends to fall butter side down so I’m used to it. I’ll keep an eye out and maybe I’ll get lucky some day. Thanks for the tips and heads up on the market!

    #6 5 months ago
    Quoted from ClaytonsCorner:

    Hey folks, newbie here who wants to try my hand at restoring old machines. I’ve got 30+ years in electronics and am a mechanic as well so I think I’d enjoy this. My question is: where do I find old machines needing resto for a decent price? Any ideas would be appreciated!

    Check the Pacific Northwest for sale thread. There's a dude that buys containers of stuff. Maybe you can work out a deal with him on stuff in pretty sad shape that isn't for the average person to tackle?

    #7 5 months ago

    The best deal often comes from friends/acquaintances who know you are the pinball "dude". Share your interest with folks and you may get lucky with "My dad has one in the basement that doesn't work"...

    #8 5 months ago

    If you’d put your general location you might get a local pinsider to reach out with a project game

    #9 5 months ago
    Quoted from Timerider:

    "... for a decent price?" -- you're about 8 years too late. You have to be lucky, and find that estate sale/Craigslist/Facebook ad and swoop in within minutes, always have cash & tools & vehicle at the ready. (It's cut-throat at times.)

    Just finding a project machine in the first place is difficult, for me at least. All the pinball machines I browse for have already been restored. The only ones that pop up are the generic themed EM machines.

    #10 5 months ago

    Thanks all. I updated my profile to include location (Georgia, metro Atlanta), thanks fumbleflippers! So if anyone knows of anything in the southeast, drop me a line!

    #11 5 months ago

    From one "newbie" to another, welcome. And I see you are in Newnan! I just moved from there last year. Keep in touch, as I'm always willing to talk shop with a local enthusiast.

    #12 5 months ago

    Add these 2 links to your search/quest

    The Bash: http://pinballbash.com/forum/
    Local to Atlanta, Carolinas, and South East

    and the village: http://www.villagebbs.com/forum
    Florida and South East

    More Projects in Florida and South East, due to the distance and Transport costs
    to other regions.

    Ads for Project games Pop up all the time.

    Art

    #13 5 months ago

    Welcome! Also helps if you are willing to drive. Just took a 9 hour round trip to pick up a project Comet. You learn to enjoy road trips

    What goes around comes around. See how you can help other collectors nearby and Karma will find a way.

    #14 5 months ago
    Quoted from OLDPINGUY:

    Add these 2 links to your search/quest
    The Bash: http://pinballbash.com/forum/
    Local to Atlanta, Carolinas, and South East
    and the village: http://www.villagebbs.com/forum
    Florida and South East
    More Projects in Florida and South East, due to the distance and Transport costs
    to other regions.
    Ads for Project games Pop up all the time.
    Art

    Thanks Art!!

    #15 5 months ago

    Welcome to the sickness! Getting project machines and restoring them is a blast.
    Been at it here for over 30 years now and it never gets old. Look locally for project
    machines. Yes, they are harder to find for a down to earth price these days
    so you'll need to be patient. And persistant! CL can be a good source. Checking
    out over priced project machines can pay off. When sellers realize their
    gold mine isn't, you may get a call back even if they don't accept a low offer
    initially.

    And don't become too jaded by what you read here either.
    Steve

    #16 5 months ago

    Once you start you won't be able to stop. And if you really like to make them as nice as you can it will be hard to recoup your investment. I've made some money and lost some. It's a hobby not a business. I do it because I love it and seeing a basket case end up looking brand new is very satisfying.

    #17 5 months ago

    My focus has always been to get the machine in the best working order, then cosmetics.
    I see machines for sale where a lot of cosmetics have been put into it, right down to custom Rule cards, yet it doesn't work! They still want a high price for it.
    If you like to play get it in the best reliable operation shape.
    If you try to do it all, tear it completely apart it can become overwhelming.

    #18 5 months ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    My focus has always been to get the machine in the best working order, then cosmetics.

    Spot on. Also gives you a good sense of how much work the game is going to take just to get it playable (that’s the point, right?). You can then decide how far you want to take the restoration based on time, skills, money, love of the game.

    AND sometimes you fix up a game, play it a while, then realize it’s not for you. Good thing you didn’t dive into restoring it!

    #19 5 months ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    My focus has always been to get the machine in the best working order, then cosmetics.
    I see machines for sale where a lot of cosmetics have been put into it, right down to custom Rule cards, yet it doesn't work! They still want a high price for it.
    If you like to play get it in the best reliable operation shape.
    If you try to do it all, tear it completely apart it can become overwhelming.

    Of course when you then take it apart to do cosmetics there's a good chance something gets messed up and it won't work.

    #20 5 months ago
    Quoted from EMsInKC:

    Of course when you then take it apart to do cosmetics there's a good chance something gets messed up and it won't work.

    As you know getting it in the best working order includes a shop job, rubber, bulbs, switch cleaning.
    For example;
    Good working order= clean switch contacts.
    Cosmetic= completely disassemble, tumbles parts, polish entire switch blades.
    Good working order= re-solder poor wiring attachment points
    Cosmetic= remove entire wiring harness/wash in dishwasher
    Etc.

    #21 5 months ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    As you know getting it in the best working order includes a shop job, rubber, bulbs, switch cleaning.
    For example;
    Good working order= clean switch contacts.
    Cosmetic= completely disassemble, tumbles parts, polish entire switch blades.
    Good working order= re-solder poor wiring attachment points
    Cosmetic= remove entire wiring harness/wash in dishwasher
    Etc.

    In other words just an old rag should take care of everything for a complete shop job (joking)

    #22 5 months ago
    Quoted from ClaytonsCorner:

    Thanks for the comments, and ahem encouragement . I just bought our first machine (1980 Black Knight) recently as a nostalgic gift for my wife because her dad had one in his store when she was a kid. Anyway, been tinkering and got the bug so I’d like to get another machine that’s not working to restore. Not looking at a business or anything. Sucks that I got the bug about 10 years too late, but my toast always tends to fall butter side down so I’m used to it. I’ll keep an eye out and maybe I’ll get lucky some day. Thanks for the tips and heads up on the market!

    Toast always falls butter side down? Thats great, will remember that

    #23 5 months ago
    Quoted from ReadyPO:

    The best deal often comes from friends/acquaintances who know you are the pinball "dude". Share your interest with folks and you may get lucky with "My dad has one in the basement that doesn't work"...

    THIS definitely. Make it known to everybody that you’re “the pinball guy” in the area. The deals are sort of still out there, but very rarely will you get a smoking deal that you can restore and not sink double the value into it.

    #24 5 months ago

    you really have to be quick to get a good deal which means watching craigslist ,face book ,pinside and other adds every day. That rare 150 dollar machine is usually never worth it unless you are restoring the machine for yourself. I look at some of these pinball retail establishments and wonder how they get twice the value for an old machine or do they? You look at most of the ridiculous adds on ebay and you will find they settled for some undisclosed amount. You can flip machines but you will make less then 4 dollars an hour, the Wallmart greeter makes more. Like you I just got into this in January and so far I flipped two machines and bought 6 ,the last 4 were for my personal collection. Had to fix everyone of them even though some were advertised as perfect working condition.
    Enjoy the Hobby for yourself because that's what matters. Right now its like the height of Hotwheel's collecting. You pay too much for a Treasure Hunt and 6 months later it will lose 40% of its value. Seems like there are better deals in the mid-west . The east coast sucks right now too many players. I will say that I have learned a lot about 8 bit computing and understand more then I ever thought I would. I fixed computerized equipment all my life but I never programmed an Eprom and played with the code till I got into pinball. Make it a hobby for you and it will be grateful experience.

    #25 5 months ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    As you know getting it in the best working order includes a shop job, rubber, bulbs, switch cleaning.
    For example;
    Good working order= clean switch contacts.
    Cosmetic= completely disassemble, tumbles parts, polish entire switch blades.
    Good working order= re-solder poor wiring attachment points
    Cosmetic= remove entire wiring harness/wash in dishwasher
    Etc.

    Putting a harness in a dishwasher isn't cosmetic. More like lunacy.

    #26 4 months ago
    Quoted from EMsInKC:

    Putting a harness in a dishwasher isn't cosmetic. More like lunacy.

    In my case it would be a death sentence! My wife would kill me!!!

    #27 4 months ago
    Quoted from the9gman:

    Seems like there are better deals in the mid-west . The east coast sucks right now too many players.

    And here I was thinking the opposite, lol. I guess it depends where in the mid-west you are referring to. Definitely not Chicago. Collectors/flippers on every corner.

    #28 4 months ago
    Quoted from midcoastsurf:

    And here I was thinking the opposite, lol. I guess it depends where in the mid-west you are referring to. Definitely not Chicago. Collectors/flippers on every corner.

    I guess what i meant was south of you like almost to Texas and West to Arizona. When you look at the adds for these states a greater percentage of them are asking for a reasonable price. Not saying you don't see the occasional guy who had his machine since his conception, the playfield is warped and most of the paint is missing and to him its made of gold and worth five times its value. Seems like those people are littered throughout the States. Must be an interbreeding thing, Dunning Kruger effect or something.

    #29 4 months ago
    Quoted from EMsInKC:

    Putting a harness in a dishwasher isn't cosmetic. More like lunacy.

    I agree.. a lot of people were doing it not so long ago.

    #30 4 months ago
    Quoted from ClaytonsCorner:

    Hey folks, newbie here who wants to try my hand at restoring old machines. I’ve got 30+ years in electronics and am a mechanic as well so I think I’d enjoy this. My question is: where do I find old machines needing resto for a decent price? Any ideas would be appreciated!

    You don’t.

    #31 4 months ago

    day late and a dollar short

    #32 4 months ago
    Quoted from midcoastsurf:

    In other words just an old rag should take care of everything for a complete shop job (joking)

    That's what I call an 'OP-SHOP'.

    Before I became friends with one local operator I was given a tour of his warehouse, and on one beat-up megatouch was a post-it-note that said 'good for auction'. Anyone doing it for a living has to squeeze out every dollar, especially now.

    Project prices are so high you might as well spend twice the price for a nice working one from a seller with a good reputation.

    Like someone else said above, word of mouth and being 'on the hunt' is the only way to find something cheap in the wild.

    #33 4 months ago

    Whatcha looking for?

    #34 4 months ago
    Quoted from midcoastsurf:

    And here I was thinking the opposite, lol. I guess it depends where in the mid-west you are referring to. Definitely not Chicago. Collectors/flippers on every corner.

    Ohio is tough to find used too...

    #35 4 months ago
    Quoted from alexanr1:

    Ohio is tough to find used too...

    Really? I just drove 9 hours round trip to pick up a Comet recently in Ohio.

    #36 4 months ago
    Quoted from miracleman:

    Project prices are so high you might as well spend twice the price for a nice working one.

    Which once you get it home can also be a project pin.
    Project games for a decent price was over a decade ago.
    I was looking for a SSTIF, wishful thinking I am waiting to see if CGC will do another run of Med Mad.
    The one I was going to get was sold out from under me and of course by the time I found out the other one that was available had been sold.

    #37 4 months ago
    Quoted from tracelifter:

    Which once you get it home can also be a project pin.

    You are correct sir, I added 'from a seller with a good reputation' to my post

    #38 4 months ago

    Something I've learned purchasing and working on my first 3 machines during the past year or so is to figure out what you are comfortable with.

    I've found I am waaaay happier to pickup a game that is cosmetically good and mechnically broken. It's easier (for me at least) to track down a dirty switch or re-pin a scorched connecter than to do touch up paint on a playfield.

    Get an idea of what things cost and what parts you can even acquire! I walked away from a decent deal on a wishlist machine because I wasn't aware of play field hard tops. I figured if I found a NOS playfield, it'd run me $1k, so I walked. Had I been aware of a $300 hard top, I might have made a deal.

    Can you live with flaked up backglass, or are you going to drop $300 on a resto?

    Cabinet busted, how comfortable with carpentry are you? Learning this the hard way at the moment after picking up a termite infested EM...which brings me to my next point: never believe a word the seller/owner says! Investigate for yourself! I wish I'd prodded a bit with my screw driver and I would have seen the live termites, instead I took the seller at his word that the damage was well old...made a fool out of me!

    All that said, there is nothing more satisfying than picking up a dirty, broken old game and bringing it back to life

    Welcome to the hobby, it really is a ton of fun!

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