(Topic ID: 77086)

Why are playfields typically 20.25" wide?


By ahanson

5 years ago



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  • 40 posts
  • 27 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 years ago by Miguel351
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    #1 5 years ago

    I'm just curious. What's the history behind the dimensions of the playfields in pinball. Other than widebodies and a few machines it seems most of them are a "standard" 20.25" wide. Why is that?

    #2 5 years ago

    Why breathe? Why eat? Why live without cows in pinball machines?

    : P

    17
    #3 5 years ago

    if they were much wider they wouldnt fit in the cabinet

    #4 5 years ago
    Quoted from ahanson:

    I'm just curious. What's the history behind the dimensions of the playfields in pinball. Other than widebodies and a few machines it seems most of them are a "standard" 20.25" wide. Why is that?

    Because the cabinets are all 23.0 inches wide.

    #5 5 years ago

    I'm sure it's tied to some weird fact like....

    Because a standard piece of plywood was 62" wide and cutting it twice gave you the 20.25" (after blade cut width)

    or

    Because some state made a law that said that payout based gaming devices could only be a certain width/height/shape because of some strange reason that I'm sure was era appropriate.

    or

    Because on company started making them that size and they sold a ton of them. So, every other company started copying them, hoping to have their sales follow suit.

    I finding stuff like this out. I hope someone who actually knows visits this thread and enlightens us!

    #6 5 years ago

    Theyre designed to be as large as possible but still able to fit through standard doors!
    What I dont understand is how are they so damn heavy!? Theres really nothing to em

    #7 5 years ago

    Because a standard piece of plywood was 62" wide and cutting it twice gave you the 20.25"
    ???

    #8 5 years ago

    My guess to the sizing is that if you're working with a 4x8 foot sheet of plywood, you can cut 4 playfields out of it with minimal wastage; but also avoid knots and imperfections to some degree, because of the extra space left over.

    #9 5 years ago
    Quoted from wiredoug:

    if they were much wider they wouldnt fit in the cabinet

    I almost spit my coffee on my monitor.

    #10 5 years ago
    Quoted from SteveP3:

    My guess to the sizing is that if you're working with a 4x8 foot sheet of plywood, you can cut 4 playfields out of it with minimal wastage; but also avoid knots and imperfections to some degree, because of the extra space left over.

    IIRC that's similar to how Jim Marshall came up with the dimensions for the classic 4x12 speaker cabinet. The cab size had nothing to do with acoustic design, it was just what best met manufacturing needs.

    #11 5 years ago

    WPC machines are 20.50" I believe.

    #12 5 years ago

    there not just ask, atari

    #13 5 years ago
    Quoted from wiredoug:

    if they were much wider they wouldnt fit in the cabinet

    #14 5 years ago
    Quoted from t2:

    62" wide and cutting it twice gave you the 20.25"
    ???

    62" / 3(pieces as a result of two cuts) = 20.67

    20.67 - (.1875 x 2) = 20.29 (.1875 is the thickness of the cutting disc)

    The last .04" would be sanded for finishing.

    The math is right, I was just taking a wild guess as to what the starting size would've been way back when they started making the special type of plywood used for playfields.

    #15 5 years ago

    Where do you find 5.167 foot wide sheets of plywood? (62 inch) I have never seen something like this but I keep an open mind.

    #16 5 years ago

    Why isn't a 2x4 actually 2"x4"?

    Who knows why they do anything to whatever size is considered "standard" these days? How did it become "standard"?

    Chances are it was some machinery limitations at the time. Perhaps the certain mills could only cut certain sizes because the machinery they had would only hold and cut up to a certain width/length/thickness. A lot of standards we have nowadays were due to those "limitations" established many years ago, even as far back as the industrial revolution.

    My point was NOT what the exact numbers should be or could be. That was merely a possible example. My point was that it was probably limited to some form of manufacturing that has absolutely nothing to do with pinball. Re: The point made earlier about Jim Marshall's 4x12 cabinets. (No, 4x12 is not the size. It holds 4 12" speakers, hence 4x12.)

    How is this so hard to understand?

    #17 5 years ago
    Quoted from Miguel351:

    Why isn't a 2x4 actually 2"x4"?
    Who knows why they do anything to whatever size is considered "standard" these days? How did it become "standard"?
    Chances are it was some machinery limitations at the time. Perhaps the certain mills could only cut certain sizes because the machinery they had would only hold and cut up to a certain width/length/thickness. A lot of standards we have nowadays were due to those "limitations" established many years ago, even as far back as the industrial revolution.
    My point was NOT what the exact numbers should be or could be. That was merely a possible example. My point was that it was probably limited to some form of manufacturing that has absolutely nothing to do with pinball. Re: The point made earlier about Jim Marshall's 4x12 cabinets. (No, 4x12 is not the size. It holds 4 12" speakers, hence 4x12.)
    How is this so hard to understand?

    Wow, this escalated quickly!

    #18 5 years ago

    Yeah i think we agree on your first post, or at least i do!
    Im surprised though thst they have designed some skinny models. Or maybe one that is an upsidedown U and have dual flippers on both end of the U? Ok gettin OT...

    #19 5 years ago

    Cutting the pfs in the opposite direction of the plywood rectangle would, I'd think, yield from a 4x8 sheet 3 cuts making 4 playields plus the kerf loss. This would be about 81 inches of the 96 available. The remaining 15 can also be cut about in half giving 8 linear feet of backbox wood. There would also be an 81 inch by 7 inch bamd of wood from the part the pfs were cut from that could be used for backboxes and internal support pieces.

    #20 5 years ago

    Lets not forget the direction of the grain.

    #21 5 years ago
    Quoted from Miguel351:

    Why isn't a 2x4 actually 2"x4"?
    Who knows why they do anything to whatever size is considered "standard" these days? How did it become "standard"?
    Chances are it was some machinery limitations at the time. Perhaps the certain mills could only cut certain sizes because the machinery they had would only hold and cut up to a certain width/length/thickness. A lot of standards we have nowadays were due to those "limitations" established many years ago, even as far back as the industrial revolution.
    My point was NOT what the exact numbers should be or could be. That was merely a possible example. My point was that it was probably limited to some form of manufacturing that has absolutely nothing to do with pinball. Re: The point made earlier about Jim Marshall's 4x12 cabinets. (No, 4x12 is not the size. It holds 4 12" speakers, hence 4x12.)
    How is this so hard to understand?

    A 2 x 4 used to be actual 2 x 4 see some old house with reno's , then some guy must have thought about drywall which is 1/2 in thick so now a 2 x 4 is actually 1.5 x 3.5 in add drywall and you have a finished 2 in width or 4 in width

    #22 5 years ago

    I will second the idea that the cabinet was designed to easily fit through doorways. That dictated the playfield size. Many things, or their packaging are designed simply on the idea of being able to fit thru doors, and/or because a certain package size can make the best use of the space of its shipping container, wether that be a semi, a train car, or a sea container.

    #23 5 years ago

    Because you want to fit through a regular door frame!

    #24 5 years ago

    The door frame argument kinda makes sense... but the heads are quite a bit wider than the bodies.

    #25 5 years ago
    Quoted from luch:

    A 2 x 4 used to be actual 2 x 4 see some old house with reno's , then some guy must have thought about drywall which is 1/2 in thick so now a 2 x 4 is actually 1.5 x 3.5 in add drywall and you have a finished 2 in width or 4 in width

    i suspect lots of lumber use to be sold ruff cut only- and 2x4 was a real size, (my 1880 victorian home has real 2x4 lumber in its balloon framing) but now most lumber is ruff cut then planed/ sanded ect- and we surly cant just call something what it is.....
    3/4 ply is seldom 3/4, 44mag dont even spec to 43, it's .429 if i recall- and a tire will always be shorter than there advertised dem---- just life

    #26 5 years ago
    Quoted from SteveP3:

    The door frame argument kinda makes sense... but the heads are quite a bit wider than the bodies.

    ya ive had a couple wide bodies that went in through the window openeings. was just easier than pulling the door and weather stripping.

    #27 5 years ago
    Quoted from SteveP3:

    The door frame argument kinda makes sense... but the heads are quite a bit wider than the bodies.

    Exactly..... the fact that if the head is wider..the playfield needs to be smaller...it's the trickle down affect...

    Backbox is bigger than the cab, the cab is bigger than playfield..... so if the backbox is 28"+ and a door frame is about 30-32" (generally)...then the playfield can't be any wider than 20 something inches....

    #28 5 years ago

    Mommy, where do playfields come from?

    oreally_baby.gif

    #29 5 years ago

    because .25" more would be too much.

    -Rev

    #30 5 years ago
    Quoted from flashinstinct:

    Exactly..... the fact that if the head is wider..the playfield needs to be smaller...it's the trickle down affect...
    Backbox is bigger than the cab, the cab is bigger than playfield..... so if the backbox is 28"+ and a door frame is about 30-32" (generally)...then the playfield can't be any wider than 20 something inches....

    How does that explain wide bodies then? They still fit through a standard door.

    #31 5 years ago
    Quoted from Miguel351:

    62" / 3(pieces as a result of two cuts) = 20.67
    20.67 - (.1875 x 2) = 20.29 (.1875 is the thickness of the cutting disc)
    The last .04" would be sanded for finishing.
    The math is right, I was just taking a wild guess as to what the starting size would've been way back when they started making the special type of plywood used for playfields.

    I'm a math teacher, not a carpenter(though I do pretend sometimes, ending in frustration more often than not), so maybe I'm not understanding you, but I think you overcounted the cuts. If the disc is only .1875, you wouldn't multiply that x 2 for each of the three 20.67" section(therefore giving you 6 total bladewidths). You would simply subtract (.1875 x 2) from the original 62" to account for the two cuts.

    Anyway, I always thought they were that width because, well, it just feels nice. I'm not a big guy, but about average (5'9"), and standard width fits my stance better than even a widebody pin.

    #32 5 years ago
    Quoted from Astropin:

    How does that explain wide bodies then? They still fit through a standard door.

    Because the backboxes are the same size, but the cabinet larger. Don you think pinball manufacturer figure that out into their configurations. Same thing goes for appliances etc... they have to factor in the doorway.... however you slice the pie...

    #33 5 years ago
    Quoted from Astropin:

    How does that explain wide bodies then? They still fit through a standard door.

    Actually, it does - kind of. The backbox was obviously the leading part as it has to fit through a door. From there they probably just used a proportion pleasant to the eye when designing the rest of the cab. Later they wanted to put more stuff on the playfield so they made a broader widebody version, sacrificing pleasant proportion for more playfield space.

    #34 5 years ago

    Kind of like how the US Railroad Tracks ended up being 4' 8.5". Traces back all the way to Roman Chariots lol

    #35 5 years ago

    The answer is actually quite scientific:

    The average man's shoulders are 18.25" wide, allow for an external rotation of 7 degrees for each arm, plus an additional 85 degrees for the hands gives you a width of 22" (external cab width). During the wide body craze in the 90s there was a significant increase (300%) in shoulder and upper back strain due to the un-natural stance required to accommodate the wider cabinets.

    #36 5 years ago
    Quoted from Mahoyvan:

    Theyre designed to be as large as possible but still able to fit through standard doors!

    The limiting factor is the backbox, not the cabinet. A standard door width is 32", the backbox is 29" which is the same width for standard or widebody games. A standard cabinet width is 22", and widebody is only a few inches wider 25", but still 4 inches short of the backbox.

    #37 5 years ago
    Quoted from Baiter:

    The limiting factor is the backbox, not the cabinet. A standard door width is 32", the backbox is 29" which is the same width for standard or widebody games. A standard cabinet width is 22", and widebody is only a few inches wider 25", but still 4 inches short of the backbox.

    Youre right, i was actually double thinking myself as I remember moving a pin into my old house sideways to get past the screen door. I figure if in a bind with a widebody you may be able to do the same thing.

    #38 5 years ago

    Same reason pinballs are 17/16ths of an inch in diameter.

    #39 5 years ago

    Because 20.26 is to wide and 20.24 is to narrow....daaaaa. I couldn't resist, sorry.

    #40 5 years ago
    Quoted from shirkle:

    ....You would simply subtract (.1875 x 2) from the original 62" to account for the two cuts.

    True. I just separated the steps. I accounted for the width of the blade in the second operation, not the first, when realistically, the entire operation can be expressed in one step. I just separated them to highlight that the numbers worked out, showing that while 62/3 is in fact 20.67, you have to take into account the thickness of the cutting blade as material lost in the two cuts giving you three total pieces at approximately 20.29".

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