Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Look What Followed Me Home

My Mars Trek pinball machine was in working condition when I bought it, but it still needed attention. With the help of various online resources, I learned how to properly clean leaf switches, and how to solder the lamp sockets to brighten flickering bulbs. I adjusted the End Of Stroke switches, and I cleaned the coil stops and to give the flippers quiet strength. My Mars Trek is now fast and fun to play.

But I was motivated to buy another project after reading Pinball Machine Care and Maintenance and watching This Old Pinball's Volume 1 DVD. I returned to David Gray's basement (iowapinball.com) to check out a couple of old pinball machines that he has. One was "Straight Flush" (1970) and the other was "Mustang" (1977). He sells newer machines, but if I want to do the repairs I need an "electro-mechanical", that is, a machine made before 1978. In 1978 pinball machines became "solid state" with operating systems and computer chips. Repairing those machines requires a skill set I don't currently have.

It was a disappointment, but after several plays I decided to pass on both machines. I just didn't connect with either of them. I asked David if he had any other EMs around as I was putting on my coat. He replied that he had some machines "in the trailer."

The trailer was parked next to his garage, and inside the small confines he had four dismantled pinball machines. The one that jumped out at me was a Gottlieb Royal Flush (1976). It was really beat up - the chipped paint on the playfield was worn away in many spots - but it's on the top of a short list of pinball machines I'd like to play. I keep the sticky note on my work laptop in case something pops up on craigslist during lunch.

The other game was a Magnotron (1974). David quoted me a price that was only a third of what I was going to pay for the Mustang pinball machine, but he also added, "All I can tell you about these two is that they came out of houses, and the Magnotron is in better overall shape." He couldn't tell me if either worked or not. I told him I'd think about it.

According to the Internet Pinball Database, Royal Flush is more fun to play than Magnotron, but the Magnotron machine had a much nicer playfield. Which one should I choose?

You visit a town with two barbers. One has a terrible haircut; the other looks great. Who do you pick cut your hair? You go to the guy who looks terrible because the other barber gave him that bad haircut.

I picked the Royal Flush. It didn't get beat up because it was boring to play.

David will bring a pinball machine to your house, get it inside, and set it up for you, but he'll charge you for his time. Since this might be a total waste of funds, I saved money by transporting the Royal Flush in our Toyota. If you can drop the backseat, then you can get a pinball in most SUVs.

Daphne and I slid the cabinet out using the cardboard as protection against the car's bumper. We then carefully stood the cabinet on its back. The four round "feet" keep the back from being scrapped on the concrete.

I stopped by Northern Tool on the way home and bought a hand truck. The cost was a third of what David would have charged me to deliver the pinball, so I still saved money, and I get to keep the hand truck. That's a double win.

I already owned the tie-down strap, but next time I'll use two and add the other strap around the bottom.

Daphne guided the bottom of the cabinet as I wheeled the machine over the snow bank and through the yard, to the Monson basement we go. Once we got it inside I turned to Daph and confessed, "I can't believe I'm gonna try to fix this." Then I giggled,  "This is kind of crazy."

I think it's important - every so often - to choose to do something that makes you nervous. It's how you know you're living and not just idling.

No comments:

Post a Comment