Like A Kid In A Candy Store


You would have thought last Sunday was Christmas day. I couldn’t sleep the night before and was up at the crack of dawn. To say I was excited was probably an understatement. Yet there was no Christmas tree, no stockings hung by the chimney with care. So why the excitement you ask? It was the day…the day my grail was coming home. I had arranged to pick up the machine at 10:00 that morning. Unfortunately, I was ready to go at 5 am!

As soon as I pulled in the sellers driveway, I knew I was at the right house. Sitting outside his garage door was the back box to the World Series pinball machine, complete with the awesome back glass. As he opened up the overhead garage door, I saw about a dozen pinball machines in various stages of assembly/disassembly, a number of arcade cabinets and more parts than you could shake a stick at. Another guy that “got it”! We chatted briefly about our collections and he asked if there was anything I was looking for. Naturally, I put a bug in his ear for a Galaga machine. After the small talk, we loaded the machine, exchanged some cash and I was back on my way home.

So let’s talk about this “grail” of mine. I knew that it wasn’t working when I picked it up. The machine powers on just fine. When you press the credit button for a new game, the reset wheels start spinning like they are supposed to. One problem…they never stop spinning. At some point, the play field components should all reset to start a new game, the wheels should quit spinning and the ball should eject into the shooting lane. It never happens. There is either a misaligned switch somewhere in the cabinet, a bad relay somewhere in the cabinet or a combination of the two. If you’ve got about 4 hours to kill and want to learn a little bit about EM pinball machines, give this document a read. Since I want this machine to be perfect, I’ve made the decision to call a local repair guy out to fix it. I’ll watch him and hopefully learn a few things but EM games are a different beast than solid state games or arcade games with circuit boards in them. To give you an idea, here are a couple of shots of the inside bottom panel of the machine:

The number of switches and relays is overwhelming and that doesn’t even include the ones in the back box which control the scoring and runs. One thing you’ll learn in this hobby, everyone who has a broken game claims “it’s probably just a fuse”. Not the case here, I’ve checked them all…they’re good.

The cabinet is solid. It’s not coming apart anywhere and appears to be built like a tank. The paint on the cabinet, not so good. Fortunately, if done properly, that is one of the easiest things to repair. I’ll take precise measurements, make my own stencil set and repaint the whole thing. Color matching will be the hardest part.

No pictures of the right side of the cabinet. It looks about the same as the left side of the cabinet. Unfortunately, with the basement remodel ongoing, I don’t have a lot of room so I took the best pictures I could. The coin door is going to need a good polishing! The back glass has a few spots that will need touch up. Again, color matching will be the hardest part. I’ve considered creating a vector image of the back glass and having a trans lite made but I just don’t think it will look right. I may still experiment with this option later. By the way, if you’re confused about any of the terms I’m throwing around here, have a look at the pinball glossary.

So, what about the play field? It’s actually in better shape than I could have hoped for. There are a couple of wear spots near the first and third base kick-out holes. This is present on almost every machine I’ve seen that hasn’t been completely restored. The biggest issue is in the upper left hand corner near the top, far left rollover switch. There is a bit of paint flaking in that area. It’s important to get this under control as it will just continue to flake away and grow if left untreated.

One other small problem. Above the roto-target you see two lightbulbs. Those lightbulbs should be capped with a metal cover. The metal cover is missing. I’m trying to locate one, but worst case scenario I will have to rely on another collector to take measurements for me and get one made.

I really want this machine to be the showcase piece in my collection. If I intend to repaint the cabinet and make it nice and shiny, I think I should do the same with the play field. Unfortunately, that’s totally out of my comfort level. I can hardly draw a stick figure, let alone touch up a play field and make it look nice. Did I mention that I’m colorblind? Fortunately, there are others with far more talent than I. While I haven’t made a decision yet, I feel that I will probably opt for a play field restoration.

Finally, here’s a few shots of the underside of the play field.  Since the game won’t go into a playable state right now, I really can’t test any of the switches or solenoids.

Other than a possible visit by the repairman, there won’t be much happening with this at the moment (or any other game for that matter). Other than stenciling and repainting the cabinet, most of the work on this one will not be done by me. Of course, I’ll continue to document any work being done, even if it’s by others. You can view all of the photos in the World Series photo gallery.

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