(Topic ID: 127724)

Woodrail Pinballs

By PinballFever

6 years ago

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  • 167 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 26 days ago by PinballFever
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#1 6 years ago

Which woodrail games do you think are the most fun to play with great backglass art?

I've always been fascinated with the old "one million", "two million" backglass light scoring system and would love to get one. There is something about a beautiful well taken care of woodrail pinball machine sitting there in your game room. If you have one you're willing to part with for a fair price, let me know!

My FIRST game was a 1953 Grand Champion many years ago but unfortunately I couldn't bring it with me when my family moved across the country.

What say you pinsiders?

#4 6 years ago
Quoted from jonnyo:

My favorite is Balls-a-Poppin. It was also released with some minor changes as Circus. You start multiball with a center saucer that is very easy to over-shoot but then things get pretty crazy. It's also extremely nudge-able and you can make some really great saves.

Jay Stafford had that game at the Wild West Fest pinball fest in AZ and I tried it. It's an amazing and fun game. I'm not sure if it's hard to find one though.

#5 6 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

For me there are so many great titles to choose from, especially in the 1952 - 1955 era.
The jackpot games are epic as they are comparable to modern day wizard features.
Frontiersman - 10 replay jackpot.
Wishing Well - 10 replays.
Sweet Add A Line - an amazing 26 replay jackpot for completing the game.
World Champ - 10 replays.
Easy Aces - 10 replays.
Ace High - 10 replays.
Derby Day - 12 replays.
Sluggin Champ - 5 replays.
And then there are so many pre 1955 beautiful games with multiple ways to win. These are so good as whilst playing it always feels like you are about to win, but somehow it never works out that way!
I have zero nostalgia associated with these games. I just love the art and the captivating gameplay.

Thanks! Will check those games out, I'm looking for a game that's fun to play and has beautiful art. Have you played those games yourself?

BTW that was one feature I loved about the Grand Champion, the fact you could win as many as 26 replays at one time (I think it was 26 and I also think it was a "gambling game"?), so different from games where you win one replay at a time.

#8 6 years ago
Quoted from waltrr:

I guess it's really up to you as to what you like. Woodrails have so many different features from one pin to another and also year to year
Gobble holes hate em or don't mind them (nobody loves em) or what about Drop targets. Maybe you do or don't like roto targets and how about animation? There's so many different choices. Balls A Poppin, Jonnyo loves it,I for one couldn't get rid of my Balls A Poppin fast enough. Different strokes for different folks, so you need to choose, especially if you're only going for one. Ha ha, they're like potato chips. Bet you can't eat (buy) just one
I still have about 50 woodrails I've kept through the years. Lots of them are listed in my "collection". Do your research, play a few and make up your own mind. What one person likes, another might not. I rotate woodrails in my gameroom from time to time, but there are a few that never seem to leave. One is Kewpie Doll another is Sittin Pretty and my Knockout will always be up. One with Gobbles, one with Roto and one with the fantastic animation and an awesome backglass.
I wish you were closer, you're welcome here to play some. Or if you're ever by Vegas, stop in Tims place, there should be lots of them there.
Good luck on your search

Ha ha I HOPE I can just buy one...
I have about 5 pinball machines in mind for a game room collection with one or two nice wedgeheads, a Fast Draw, a 1972 Fireball and a woodrail.
For features, I had a Sweet Hearts with gobble hole and it was OK. Kind of disappointing the gobble hole just ends the ball or the game.. Drop targets, roto targets and animation I like!
Gusher and your Rocket Ship look good, great backglass art but I haven't tried playing those games.
Wish I was closer too and I stopped by once to play the games at Tim's place but I need to stop by there again to make a list of games I like.

1 week later
#31 6 years ago

Update: I may be getting a nice woodrail game soon with a "theme" and a history that I love and i'm excited. Will post pictures of it here if I get it.

1 year later
#382 4 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

I think this is now my favorite backglass - in the dark the colors and artwork are just beautiful.

The details in that backglass are great. I'd like to see a video of the boxer animation.

This is my favorite game now. It's much more fun because the gameplay, geometry and flippers are more unique. It plays like it did in 1949 except now it occasionally doesn't reset all the way. I'll post a video of some games on it as soon as I get the tempered backglass I ordered for it.


Utah Pinball (resized).jpg

1 week later
#394 4 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

I decided to photograph all the animations. Beautiful artwork and playing the game I hadn't realized how good it was. 10 photos to follow.

Love the way the fight progresses as you score 50,000 then 60,000 etc! Thanks for sharing.


2 weeks later
#404 4 years ago

Wow! Those are beautiful games! I love the Cyclone.


1 year later
#473 3 years ago

What was your first experience with a Woodrail pinball machine?

For me it was also the first time I ever played a pinball machine and it was as a kid at the St. Louis skating rink. There was a 5 cent Woodrail pinball machine in the arcade that I had to climb on a box to play. I learned quickly what the flippers do and played a couple of games on it. I wish I could go back in time and see what the name of that game was.


#478 3 years ago

There's also a flipperless 1940 Genco Blondie. http://ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=322&picno=5671

The 1956 Chicago Coin Blondie has flippers. http://ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=321&picno=308

I'm not sure what the value of the Genco Blondie would be though.


3 months later
#510 3 years ago

My United Utah was sold this morning to make room for another woodrail that's coming. It's a lot of fun to play but there are no schematics available for it so it's going to someone more experienced with repairing them.

I'll reveal the new woodrail when it's here. (the Palooka is up for sale. the Paul Bunyan is staying)


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1 week later
#512 3 years ago

Nice pickup. Will you be removing the metal flipper guards or leaving them on?

#516 3 years ago
Quoted from jrpinball:

Quoted from PinballFever:
Nice pickup. Will you be removing the metal flipper guards or leaving them on?

I'll see what it looks like underneath.

They were installed on my woodrail too. I haven't decided whether to remove them or not but obviously they were operator added.

#539 3 years ago

Are schematics available for the Genco woodrails? Their games look a lot of fun and very unique.

2 weeks later
#563 3 years ago

My grail pin arrived and what a beauty! It's now set up next to the one I already have and will need TLC.

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#566 3 years ago
Quoted from Mopar:

That's a different themed pin. I like it!

That's why I fell in love with it.
It was my first pin when I bought it for $30 from a friend in the 60's to save money that I was using to play the local pins.

To backtrack a bit:

The first time I ever played a pin was as a little kid at the skating rink arcade.
I climbed on a box or something so I could see the playfield and quickly figured out the flipper buttons then played my first game.
The fact it had wooden rails and legs and was a nickel game made a big impression on me but I was too young at the time to remember the name of it.

After that I started playing the great mid to late 60's metal rail pins at the swimming pool.
I enjoyed playing them too much and would try to use other methods to get free games when my allowance ran out.
I mowed neighbor lawns, raked leaves, shoveled snow etc so I could feed my pinball habit.

Blowing money on the pins started me thinking about buying a pin and it happened at that time that a friend bought one and decided not to keep it.

I bought it from him for $30 and I was fascinated with it because unlike the 60's games that I was playing:

1. It had wood rails and wood legs.
2. It awarded MORE than one replay. (I remember the replay reel racking off 26 free games when making certain combinations of the trap holes)
3. The backglass light scoring system.
4. You could play multiball by loading and launching more than one ball.

Then I couldn't bring it along when we moved across country.
My neighborhood friends took it to their house where they completedly disassembled it.
All they had left of it was the backglass.

After we settled down in our new home I asked my friends to get the name of the game from the backglass so I could find another one.
I found the year and manufacturer from the Appendix in Roger Sharpe's 1977 book, "Pinball!" and started my search for a "GRAND CHAMPION" made September 11, 1953 by Williams.
It became my grail pin for over 40 years until the first one turned up 3 years ago then this one.

The backglass is almost perfect and the playfield is very good.
I'm doing a minimal restoration with no touch ups if possible.
I'd like to leave this game all original although the cardboard apron and instruction card will be replaced with reproductions.

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#568 3 years ago
Quoted from Mopar:

So fortunate that the backglass was saved. Without it, that's a title that would have been tough to reveal..

That was very fortunate. I probably would have found out sooner or later what the title was because I remembered the bull with prize ribbon on the backglass and the 1st Prize, 2nd Prize, 3rd Prize and Grand Champion ribbon trap holes. Don't think there are many games like this one.

Quoted from Mopar:

Be nice to see more once you have it up and running..

It fires up but isn't 100% yet. The playfield needs to be carefully cleaned then waxed before I can try playing a game. New rubbers are on the way from PBR. So excited!

The flippers and pops surprised me when I actuated them. They feel so powerful that I'm going to see if this game is high tapped or stronger coils being used.

The flippers, kickers and bumpers were so slow and weak on the first one I bought for $30 that I thought it was the norm for old games. Now I know better.

Quoted from Mopar:

This one is also going to a Fella that's now retired and he remembers having
one as a teenager, so I'm happy for him..

Sentimental value is the best. It's priceless.

Quoted from Mopar:

I don't remember seeing another
themed pin like it..

Yeah it's a pretty unique pin with the 10 trap holes. I haven't learned what the different combinations of trap holes award yet. Harry Williams designed it and you know what an innovative designer he was. I really like George Molentin's art. It makes me smile.

1 month later
#610 3 years ago

610 posts and such beautiful woodrails. I'm enjoying them all.

1 week later
#624 3 years ago

Sean did a great job! Are those flipper guards NOS or cleaned up? They look good.

#629 3 years ago
Quoted from o-din:

The ones that get the most play, stay.

You should line up the best 7 woodrails and call them the "Magnificent Seven".

Magnificent-seven (resized).jpg
#633 3 years ago
Quoted from Pinballjr:

Thanks! They are repro. I tried to re-use as many original parts as I could but they were just too far gone.

They look great! Where do you get them from?

#636 3 years ago

You gotta love these woodrails. They have a charm that I think is unmatched. Especially sitting in a home all shined up.

1 week later
#645 3 years ago
Quoted from tomcons:

Woodrails currently in the game rooms:

Beautiful woodrail collection. Thanks for showing them to us.

#653 3 years ago
Quoted from tomcons:

rubbers all melted onto the surface

Looks great. It's worth putting a lot of work into the restoration if the game has sentimental value like yours does.

Were the rubbers hardened and stuck to the playfield? If so what did you use to soften or clean them off?

#655 3 years ago
Quoted from tomcons:

Yeah, rubber had gone pretty much solid. And glued to the playfield. I tried a lot of things, but best result was with iso alcohol, which loosened some of it. But most of it had to be chipped away and that took the ink with it. It was a mess.

That's what I'm facing. I'm planning to try warming them with a hair dryer and using plastic razor blades.

2 months later
#677 3 years ago

Something you don't see often. A $100 Williams Reno woodrail for sale in Ohio on the closed FB group, "Pinball for Sale". (There's already interest in it from a local Ohio pinballer)

Williams Reno pinball (resized).jpg
1 month later
#700 2 years ago

Such a shame what happened to the backglass and playfield. You can always touch up over the clear as long as the clear isn't too thick and easily clean up the paint and try different colors until they look good then seal the touch ups and clear again.

I'm guessing you've seen it but if not, Vid1900 has an ultimate playfield restoration guide here on Pinside.

#706 2 years ago

Love that Aqua Cade! I wonder how many of these United pinball machines share the same playfield layout and strategy? The United Utah's gameplay looks similar to yours.

#710 2 years ago

The United Utah, Yuma Arizona and Tampico (https://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=2495) shared the same playfield layout and it looks like United used a similar layout for some of their other games.

I agree it's a really fun and unique layout with the "geometric" gameplay.

You try to "bank" the balls off the rebounds almost like making a pool shot or shoot them back up the playfield with the flippers and you can do some nudging depending on how sensitive the tilt mechanisms are set.

4 weeks later
#727 2 years ago

This game is still very much on my mind for 2019. Love woodrails but I love this one the best.

Happy New Year to you all.

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1 week later
#730 2 years ago

Nice work. Will the other Nifty be restored too?

The red plastic bumper skirts. Are they NOS or used replacements? The red bumper skirts on my 2 Willams Grand Champions need to be replaced.

2 weeks later
#739 2 years ago
Quoted from jsf24:

Playing this lineup tonight.

I'm jealous of that beautiful Frontiersman.

Found this while examining solder joints and checking switch contacts for proper wiping action.

Looks like the previous owner or tech did it to disable the three tilt mechanisms for home use.

Tilt Relay (resized).jpg
#756 2 years ago

My Grand Champion had a hole drilled through the side by someone trying to win free games. Probably while it was routed.

Someone put a bolt and nut through it and painted the cab side to try to cover it up. I recently used a dremel (Dremels are so useful) to grind it off because it was chewing the side of the playfield while lifting it up.

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#760 2 years ago

Very interesting. Do you have gameplay video of it?

1 month later
#789 2 years ago
Quoted from PinballFever:

My grail pin arrived and what a beauty! It's now set up next to the one I already have and will need TLC.

My restoration thread is started. I'm enjoying this restoration project and I hope you do too.


Grand Champions (resized).jpg
1 week later
#794 2 years ago

Wow. Don't you just love those beautiful woodrails.

2 months later
#831 2 years ago

That's a great looking game. I just watched a youtube video and it looks like a lot of fun. Very unique.

4 weeks later
#856 2 years ago

Both of them look great!

3 months later
#952 1 year ago

I never get tired of seeing these old woodrail pinball machines.

Quoted from tomcons:

1956 Williams Tim-Buc-Tu restoration.

Do the legs on this game easily break? They don't look as sturdy as regular woodrail legs.

1 month later
#998 1 year ago

Not many woodrail lovers out there but I'm one of them.

3 months later
#1108 1 year ago
Quoted from cjmiller:

Does anyone actually screw down their playfields?

I recently screwed down my playfields for the move to new house but normally leave the screws out.

#1110 1 year ago

The playfield bangs around if it's moved so I used the screws to keep it from doing that during the move.

7 months later
#1262 11 months ago
Quoted from Gotemwill:

I am looking for a lockdown bar for my ‘54 Gottlieb Stagecoach.

I don't have one but that lockdown bar looks similar to the one on my Williams Grand Champion. Maybe you can make a new one?

3 weeks later
#1294 10 months ago
Quoted from tomcons:

Going over a '52 Gottlieb Hit 'N' Run for a friend. Pretty filthy.

Looks great, Tom. Do you have a picture of the decal by itself? I'm curious what it looks like. I'd imagine the decal would wrinkle on the round surface?

#1298 10 months ago
Quoted from tomcons:

You get some slight wrinkling, but the glossy sheen of the decal and the cap tend to hide it. Burnishing any creases helps too, as does an extra cut in a void area to relieve stress from mounting on a curved surface. So viewing from the normal distance it's pretty hard to tell that it's a decal.

The extra cut is a good idea. I didn't think of that. How do these pop bumper caps look lit up?

#1304 10 months ago
Quoted from jrpinball:

Now that I know about the repro glass, I plan to replace mine, but I have to decide if I want to be naughty or nice!

Santa's watching you as he makes his list!

#1308 10 months ago
Quoted from tomcons:

They look a bit better in person than in the pic, but they'll do.

They look great. I wouldn't notice the decals. Is the lettering supposed to be white? I've noticed video captures lighting and colors better than pictures. I may have missed it if there was one but I would like to see gameplay video of your game.

1 month later
#1322 8 months ago
Quoted from SteveFury:

I rebuilt my 1947 United Singapore and removed the 3rd party flippers.

Steve, good to see you again. That's a great video of your Singapore.

BTW, how was the RV trip?

1 month later
2 weeks later
#1353 6 months ago
Quoted from DHVincent:

I'm looking for a Frontiersman. Complete or otherwise, any condition. Thanks!

I know someone in MN that is selling one if you're interested in it.

4 weeks later
#1369 5 months ago

Both of my 1953 Williams Grand Champions have red legs. I've seen blue legs on Grand Champions too.

I bought new levelers and mounting plates from PBR too.

Red legs (resized).jpeg
#1382 5 months ago
Quoted from Nikrox2:

Sexy Legs? Added new levelers to these...looked like they had been chewed on by a varmint but cleaned up nicely. (IMO)

Looks great and they're a perfect match for the game.

#1383 5 months ago
Quoted from DCRand:

My Spot Bowler came with blue legs, and a blue cabinet. Under the blue on the legs, was a coat of red. Pretty sure both leg colors were painted after manufacture. They are now back to a nice natural wood. (And the cabinet is down to the original art).

Were they blue inside the bolt holes? Mine were which is why I think they were factory painted red.

3 months later
#1457 68 days ago

Nice! I see a Palooka head in the first picture.

#1461 68 days ago
Quoted from Mopar:

Oops! Am I maybe insinuating a weeks suspension from this thread having a metal
rail in one of the pics?

No, not at all. The head seemed familiar to me until I realized what it is. I had a Palooka because I thought an Add-a-Ball would be more fun than a replay machine but it didn't do much for me.

3 weeks later
#1522 47 days ago
Quoted from Mastkey:

I have a 1956 Harbor Lites and it's 98 % done but I have this issue of the hundred k unit skips so that when I am supposed to get 100k I usually get 200k. Does it on dead bumpers and if it goes in the gobble hole, it usually gives me 700k instead of 500k.

I would check the stepper unit(s) for proper mechanical operation and check a parts diagram to be sure the springs are hooked up correctly and make sure the contacts are lined up with the wipers. Tightening the screws in the switch stacks often helps because over time the switch stacks loosen causing mis-adjustments of switch blade gapping. Check for broken switch blades on the stepper units too. I don't think anything's wrong with the score motor unless the switch stacks are loose or a blade broke or there was a hack job.
Let us know what you find. Would be good to know the solution.

1 week later
#1536 39 days ago
Quoted from tfduda:

impulse flippers...

My 1953 Williams Grand Champion has impulse flippers and it was fun learning how to play with them. My thinking is the playfield was designed with the impulse flippers in mind, not the flippers we have today. I don't think this game would play right if it was changed over to regular flippers.

I recorded a video of the impulse flippers that you might be interested in seeing. Either flipper button on either side will activate both impulse flippers at the same time.

1 week later
#1541 26 days ago
Quoted from tfduda:

was intrigued by the difference in style of play

Yeah. It's like hitting the ball with small baseball bats. You have to time the impulse flippers because you can't trap the ball with them. I enjoy them on this game.

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