Thursday, June 19, 2014

The World of Pinball Collecting: How to Buy Your First Machine Part 2

Following up on my last post, (about buying your first machine), my buddy also asked me about how old the games are and how you can tell an older game from a newer one. The difference in age comes down to what we pinheads call EM and SS or Electromechanical and Solid State. Electromechanical refers to games made before 1975 or so, which comprised of relays, bells, score reels, basically lacking any kind of micro-circuitry or circuit boards. These are the kinds of games you would see in old movies in the background of old bar or diner scenes. These are the types of games you see Elton John and Roger Daltrey playing in that famous Tommy Scene.

An Example of an EM Game

Games made after 1975 were made with printed circuit boards and computer logic. This allowed for more complex rules and paved the way for digitized sound, and later, more advanced scoring displays. These are the kinds of games that are made today.

An Example of a modern SS Game

As for maintenance, that is a constant when it comes to pinball ownership. Gotta remember, that silver ball is flying around that table between 4-6 MPH and is striking everything in sight. This means things can break, fall out of alignment, the rolling of the ball can leave tracks, wear on the wood, and of course dirt and soot can build up and gunk assemblies, targets, and saucers. Because of that, games need to be maintained, at the very least the playfield needs to be cleaned regularly, preferably waxed and polished often. Issues and malfunctions need to be fixed and the owner needs to either become handy, or know who to call* to fix things when issues pop up. 

*Note: if you're located anywhere near South Florida, FLECOM is a really great tech!

Now if you're new to the hobby and want to buy a machine and any or all of the maintenance aspect is scaring you, don't fear!!!

While this may look scary:


In reality it's not that big of a deal. Everything in a pinball machine is designed to be maintained and games usually ship with manuals to help the owner out (it's not rocket science, honest!). Also, no one person is expected to know everything, so that is why pinball aficionados come together on web forums like Pinside, RGP, and on more local forums to help each other out. Local forums also facilitate how to find nearby techs that you can call to help when you're in a real bind and don't know what to do!

After telling my buddy all of this, I thought his head was going to explode, thankfully it didn't and he's more excited than ever for his family to get their first game!!!

Now it's your turn! What other tips can you think of to tell my friend on buying his first game?


Anonymous said...

Thank you Professor

Anonymous said...

Definitely avoid Ebay when's for suckers!