Question 1:How do I find old pinball machines to fix?
I want to start up a new hobby of repairing/refurbishing old pinball machines. But the problem I’m having is finding the machines themselves.
I can find all kinds of machines that have already been repaired and refurbished on places like ebay and such. But I want them in poor condition or broken, etc. So I can repair them.

I have no idea where to look….anyone?

Answer: Place an ad in your local paper, or check out the flea markets in your area. I’ve seen them in both places…

Question 2: What do I need to know about buying a used pinball machine for my home?
I am going this weekend to look at a used 1993 Jurassic Park pinball machine at a sweet price for our home. What kinds of questions should we ask? What kind of things should be look at or be aware of when buying a used pinball machine?

Answer: Plug it in and see if it works. Buying a used pinball machine can be a nightmare. We bought one form the local amusement company and all we did was replace the glass with plexiglass. That was because it had a bad crack in it and would have cost a small fortune to get tempered glass for it.

Question 3: What’s the most expensive parts to replace on a pinball machine?
I’m thinking about purchasing a very beat up and neglected pinball machine. It’s a 1990 Funhouse. I haven’t gotten a chance to really inspect it yet. A pinball was missing so I couldn’t even play it. When I hit the flippers it made the appropriate checks and looked like it would probably work decently. Cosmetically it is very ugly and beat up. The top board is really worn on the corners. It looks like a giant rat had been chewing on it. The scoreboard looks like it works correctly. Inside looked like there were some rust stains on the board and ramps. I highly doubt any work has ever been done on it. I anticipate all the rubbers and other commonly replaced parts will need to be replaced. I’m not planning on trying to refurbish it into pristine condition and then selling it for profit. I just want a near perfect working machine.
Based off of the information I’ve given, how much should I pay for the machine?
What are the most expensive parts that I should be looking out for?

Answer: If you’ve never owned a pinball machine before, you should probably go for a machine that’s already in good condition. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but “a very beat up and neglected” (your words) machine is going to be a lot of work. With no prior repair experience, you will probably find yourself in over your head, and may wind up regretting your purchase.

If you decide to go ahead with this Funhouse anyway (perhaps you’ve got a friend with repair experience that can help?) then I’d resist paying more than a couple of hundred dollars for this machine, based on the poor condition that you have described.

The most expensive parts to replace? The playfield itself can be quite expensive, since it is unique to every game. If it is severely worn, you may want to replace it. Other expensive parts are the circuit boards (these are common across machines made by the same manufacturer across a few years).

There are many resources to help you. Here’s two starting points:

The Usenet group rec.games.pinball (be sure to just READ for awhile before you post), and a sort-of-monthly magazine that you may want to subscribe to, the Pingame Journal http://www.pingamejournal.com/

P.S., If you’re not familiar with Usenet groups, one way to access the pinball group is by going to http://groups.google.com/group/rec.games.pinball

Question 4: How do I find out how much my classic pinball machine is worth?
I have a vintage 1973 Gottlieb High Hand pinball machine with some writing on it, but it is in working order and has all of its original parts, even the back glass. Are there people out there who might be interested in purchasing it? If so, how can I determine its value?

Answer: High Hand is roughly a 400 – 600 game depending on condition. The biggest factors are the condition of the backglass and the condition of the playfield. If either of them are unduly worn you will take a major price drop.

The other factor is geograhic location. Shipping a game such as this one is prohibitively expensive. A local buyer is the way to go. If you are in a populated location you will have several buyers and realize a better price. If you are in the middle of nowhere you might be stuck.

Question 5: What is the best Pinball Machine ever made?
I’m a huge pinball fan and just bought my first game (Twilight Zone). I’m really enjoying it and, if I had more money, I would buy more. The other two that are at the top of my “Most Wanted” list are Indiana Jones and Addams Family. Just wondering what your favorite machine is?

Answer: It is indeed The Addams Family in the entire scope of criteria. It’s nearly perfect. My personal best machine is in Lord of the Rings machine though :).