Where to buy a Pinball Machine - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 25 Old 02-28-2010, 05:42 AM - Thread Starter
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My wife and I really like the electro-mechanical type machines. Just out of College I had the machine from the Happy Days TV show, Nip-It. I didn't buy it from a real good store and it had some on going problems.

I'm looking to buy an EM machine for the game room home theater we are setting up in our new house and are looking for a good reliable place to buy an EM pinball machine.
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post #2 of 25 Old 02-28-2010, 05:35 PM
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There are tons of places to find and buy EMs.

We had a Nip-it back around 1980 - perfect condition - we sold it because it was too simple to beat - the same reason we sold so many of the games we bought for our home over the past 34 years.

CraigsList is a great place.
Ebay is a great place.

Places to AVOID!! Any of the Home Gameroom/retail places - like The Pinball Company - one example - unless you want to pay a ton of too much money.

May I ask why the focus on EM games? Price?

We sold our last EM a few months ago - A "Old Chicago" - one of our all-time favorites since we first saw it in 1976 - Great Game and the one we had was in Great Condition - lot of sentimental attachment - BUT we sold it because it just couldn't compare to the Fun Factor/Playing Excitment of newer games.

We recently found an Attack From Mars for $2500 - before that we found a Twilight Zone for $1900. We only have room for five pins and so the EMs had to go - they just couldn't compete!

I suggest you look for a Williams/Bally/Midway game from 1990 to 1996 and you won't be disappointed - games from that era easily found for from $1400 to $2000. You can step back into the late 80s - try to find a williams Fire or F-14 Tomcat - you should be able to find one for under $1000.

Unless you just can't live without the EM nostalgia of scoring chimes and slow play I'd suggest you go at least solid state from the mid-80s onward.
goodluck
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post #3 of 25 Old 03-01-2010, 02:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your advise but we don't like to play the electronic ones guess it must be our age (mid 50s) we like the kind we played in high school and College (late 60s and early 70s).

Will check on ebay and Craigs list
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post #4 of 25 Old 03-01-2010, 09:46 AM
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post #5 of 25 Old 03-01-2010, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlottesailor View Post

Thanks for your advise but we don't like to play the electronic ones guess it must be our age (mid 50s) we like the kind we played in high school and College (late 60s and early 70s).

Will check on ebay and Craigs list

i was in the same boat as you, and got the same response from many (i.e. go with a digital machine)... i cannot argue with them that the digital machines are much less finicky, and for the most part, are in better condition (remember, any em game you find is going to be AT LEAST 33 years old, and a lot of them lived in bars/corner stores/bowling alleys)...

however, like you, i wanted an em machine like i fed dimes/quarters to in my youth, and i wasn't going to be satisfied by settling for anything different...

they are out there, however, you have to be REALLY careful unless you want a boat anchor...

what follows is my opinion, and my opinion only... if you want an em machine, unless you have time on your hands and patience to fix things, i would look for one that someone has completely shopped/refurbished... this will cost you a lot more than ones you find on craigslist... however, after chasing after several games that were in "great" condition but only halfway worked when i went to look at them, i realized that hunting craigslist wasn't going to get it done in my case...

i wanted something that completely worked, came with at least some type of warrantee, and came from someone who could fix it when (not if, when) it breaks... not to mention delivered it to my 2nd floor location and set it up...

if you truly want an em machine, be patient and be prepared to pay for it... imo, it's worth the added expense to have the type of machine i wanted...

good luck... there's nothing like the sound of a chime box...

- chris

 

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post #6 of 25 Old 03-04-2010, 08:24 AM
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but its too expensive what if we could buy a deck insted with that money

Projects:
NOT STARTED - Theater (Sim2 HT380, CIH 13ft wide).
IN PROGRESS (10%) - Home LAN (4 PCs).

Game room:
Epson 5040UBE, Denon S920W, Philips BDP7501, NVidia Shield TV, PS4 Pro, SI 110"
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post #7 of 25 Old 03-04-2010, 08:28 AM
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I bought an arcade machine from a local vending/renting company. They had plenty of arcade, pinball, and even some old jukeboxes. Can sometimes get them cheap. He offered me a slightly used die Hard Arcade for 250....(My first post!!)
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post #8 of 25 Old 03-05-2010, 10:13 AM
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Thank you for that wonderful first post and welcome to the community may you enjoy your stay here. Any pictures of said pinball machine you could show us?

Projects:
NOT STARTED - Theater (Sim2 HT380, CIH 13ft wide).
IN PROGRESS (10%) - Home LAN (4 PCs).

Game room:
Epson 5040UBE, Denon S920W, Philips BDP7501, NVidia Shield TV, PS4 Pro, SI 110"
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post #9 of 25 Old 03-13-2010, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlottesailor View Post

My wife and I really like the electro-mechanical type machines. Just out of College I had the machine from the Happy Days TV show, Nip-It. I didn't buy it from a real good store and it had some on going problems.

I'm looking to buy an EM machine for the game room home theater we are setting up in our new house and are looking for a good reliable place to buy an EM pinball machine.

Since you are in Florida, you could start here:

http://www.villagebbs.com/TAC/

Its florida specific, and you will meet many great people. Best advice is to do your research and dont jump on the first machine you find. There are lots of things to look for to ensure you get a good machine. The other links given are really good, especially rec.games.pinball. In terms of learning how to fix them, http://www.pinrepair.com is excellent.It wouldnt hurt to peruse that site and become familiar with the machines-it will help you when you go to purchase.

Someone mentioned to avoid retail places. That is good and bad advice. When you buy from a retailer, you get in that built in level of support, but it does add to the cost. You can also try going to pinball shows (there are many across the country) and either finding one there, or making contacts for a future purchase. I know a couple people in Florida that are pinball hobbysits, and I would be willing to get you in conatct with them. Send me a PM if you like.

Good luck on the purchase.
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post #10 of 25 Old 03-15-2010, 03:07 PM
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Okay - right now in N. Florida (Jacksonville, Gainesville, St. Aug. area) there are several EM games for sale for a few hundred bucks.

For example, there is a game by Gottlieb (I think) with a bowling theme - four player - $400 is the asking price.

This guy seems to specialize in shopping and selling EMs. He could probably steer you to a number of EMs if you don't mind that awful drive from the "tropics".
GoodLuck
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post #11 of 25 Old 03-15-2010, 04:14 PM
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what does EM stand for? Thanks.

Projects:
NOT STARTED - Theater (Sim2 HT380, CIH 13ft wide).
IN PROGRESS (10%) - Home LAN (4 PCs).

Game room:
Epson 5040UBE, Denon S920W, Philips BDP7501, NVidia Shield TV, PS4 Pro, SI 110"
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post #12 of 25 Old 03-15-2010, 04:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elmalloc View Post

what does EM stand for? Thanks.

EM= Electromechanical (series of switches operate the machine)
SS= Solide State-computer controlled
DMD= Dot matrix display
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post #13 of 25 Old 03-16-2010, 05:00 AM
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thanks

Projects:
NOT STARTED - Theater (Sim2 HT380, CIH 13ft wide).
IN PROGRESS (10%) - Home LAN (4 PCs).

Game room:
Epson 5040UBE, Denon S920W, Philips BDP7501, NVidia Shield TV, PS4 Pro, SI 110"
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post #14 of 25 Old 03-16-2010, 05:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlottesailor View Post

My wife and I really like the electro-mechanical type machines. Just out of College I had the machine from the Happy Days TV show, Nip-It. I didn't buy it from a real good store and it had some on going problems.

I'm looking to buy an EM machine for the game room home theater we are setting up in our new house and are looking for a good reliable place to buy an EM pinball machine.

BTW, did you try looking here: http://www.xmission.com/~daina/classified/index.html
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post #15 of 25 Old 03-16-2010, 12:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes I've looked there.

Maybe it's me but I'm very leery about buying stuff from private parties, as your recourse against private parties is very limited. I feel the same way when buying used boats and cars.

Would hate to spend hundreds to a grand on a machine, spend money to rent a truck, get the machine home and a week later its broke and the seller won't do anything. Much easier legally to go after a store.
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post #16 of 25 Old 03-16-2010, 12:23 PM
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wish i had mula for a used boat

Projects:
NOT STARTED - Theater (Sim2 HT380, CIH 13ft wide).
IN PROGRESS (10%) - Home LAN (4 PCs).

Game room:
Epson 5040UBE, Denon S920W, Philips BDP7501, NVidia Shield TV, PS4 Pro, SI 110"
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post #17 of 25 Old 03-16-2010, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlottesailor View Post

Yes I've looked there.

Maybe it's me but I'm very leery about buying stuff from private parties, as your recourse against private parties is very limited. I feel the same way when buying used boats and cars.

Would hate to spend hundreds to a grand on a machine, spend money to rent a truck, get the machine home and a week later its broke and the seller won't do anything. Much easier legally to go after a store.

Actually a private seller is going to be better than a "retailer" or "dirt merchant." A lot of the retailers will just wipe down a machine and call it shopped. Private parties, or hobbyists, will tend to put more into a machine, and ensure its working 100%, or will be willing to list any deficiencies. An EM should not cost you thousands, unless it is meticulously restored. I've bought about 12 machines in the past 2 years, all from private parties. My last one, an Attack From Mars, I bought based on pictures from the seller, and their reputaion (rec.games.pinball). The guy was 4 hours away from me and we agreed to meet halfway. Machine was better than expected, and I paid about $3.5k less than what a "retailer" would have wanted for a crappier machine. This isnt to say that there are some unscrupulous folks out there, but they are not the majority.

Where exactly are you located? I may no some people I cant point you to.
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post #18 of 25 Old 03-16-2010, 05:32 PM
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Just IMO - the ONLY place to buy is from a private seller. Next choice would be from a Route Operator (the guys that have games out on location in bars and other commercial places). The LAST place to buy from is a Game Room retailer!!!

We bought our first pin in 1976 and since then we have probably bought, played and sold at least 150 games.

We also, as posted elsewhere, recently bought a Attack From Mars - bought it from an individual from their home and paid $ 2500. The average market price from individuals is around $4000. The price at the rip-off game room "retailers" would be around $7000 or even more.

However, I wouldn't meet a seller at some half way "meet point" unless I knew him personally. My advice would be to ALWAYS buy from a seller that is close enough for you to drive over, personally test EVERYTHING about the game and only then pay and take the game home. "Rec.Games" is just another online meet market so there are a lot of very honest and reliable people posting there and a number of rip-off sellers.

So far as EM games go they are practically indestructible. If you drive to sellers location and play and test the game thoroughly you can be certain sure that if you carefully transport it to your house the damn thing will probably work for years without a problem. EM "wired logic" is very solid and very hard to break.

Most "retailers" only warrant or guarantee a game for 30 to 90 days. Please just take my word that if something is going to fail is will probably not happen in that interval. Most "retailers" when you are past the warranty period will charge around $40 to $100 per hour plus parts and include one or two hours for travel time and some of their techs don't know much more than you do re fixing a machine.

Again, the good news about a commercial pinball machine in your house and specially with EMs they just don't often fail and are very hard to damage being designed to survive in bars and other commercial locations where the players are very rough on a machine.

Of course, the choice is yours and it's easier for me to suggest a private seller since I have 34 years of having games in our home. Over the years I have learned how to read schematics and perform a LOT of diagnostics and repairs even including testing circuit board components with a multi-meter and replacing the easier parts like diodes and transistors. I also know where to send circuit boards for repair without getting ripped off like Atari Jim near Tampa.

Okay - buy from a retailer and pay a lot more than you need to. Buy from an individual and save a ton of $$$$. Buy an EM in perfect working condition and probably not have a failure for years.

Don't be afraid about an old EM for a few hundred dollars - just jump in and do it!!!! Pinball in your home is fantastic!!

HEY - if you care to drop a couple of grand on a 96 game send me a PM and I'll tell you all about a game Cathy and I just decided we need to sell to make room for - guess what - another pinball machine - LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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post #19 of 25 Old 03-18-2010, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm in Ft Myers Beach, FL
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post #20 of 25 Old 03-18-2010, 07:34 PM
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Even if the machine is working perfectly on the day you bring it home, there will always be little things that need fixing. The question is how much is a "warranty" worth to you if you purchase it from a overpriced game seller. Typically a collector who has multiple machines, and knows how to fix them will make sure the machine is working when you get it. Also they will sometimes help you debug and fix issues that occur after purchase either for free or for a small fee. Remember these EM machines are 35 year old items, and have hundreds of moving parts, and even more individual contacts that can all go screwy. If one contact becomes mis-adjusted, then the game might not work for example.

If you purchase a game with some sort of warranty from a game seller/game store, you will typically pay at least 30% more for the same item than if you purchase it from a private party. OTOH, if you take the different you saved, and spend it for repairs, you will typically not reach that amount of money spent.

The best advice though is to learn how to fix them. Are you handy with electronics, and mechanical things?

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post #21 of 25 Old 03-28-2010, 06:16 PM
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This is all interesting to me, as well, as I'm looking into purchasing several SS pinball machines for a gameroom.

Has anyone shipped pinball machines using NAVL? I like the ability to find specific machines by looking online and shopping out of state, but do worry about shipping.
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post #22 of 25 Old 04-02-2010, 03:50 PM
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I ship with Forward fright with the machine folded and upright strapped to a pallet. Station to station you either deliver it or pick it up at the depot.
About a third of the price of NAVL and bulletproof if the shipper did everything correctly in preparation.
For a first machine get one locally.
Ebay (etc) pictures lie. Your eyeballs dont.

You can get an awesome Jackbot, World Cup Soccer, or Breakshot for a grand.
Do some research for theme and longevity before you buy.
Or you will find out the hard way if the machine is desirable when you sell.
Spend a small % more for a great condition machine over a poor quality one.
You get it all back when you sell.

I have about 4 or 5 for sale but they are upper end games in terms of condition and desirability.
3,000 up.
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post #23 of 25 Old 04-18-2010, 05:31 PM
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Lightguy - if you're monitoring this, send me a PM and let me know which games you're selling. I have some specific games I'm interested in, mostly 90s era.
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post #24 of 25 Old 04-19-2010, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lmo View Post

Lightguy - if you're monitoring this, send me a PM and let me know which games you're selling. I have some specific games I'm interested in, mostly 90s era.

Pm's would probably work better than posting here.
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post #25 of 25 Old 03-16-2017, 11:14 AM
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Check out Game Room Guys! Last time I bought pinball machine from them and couple of accessories for my game room. I love their price ranges & customer service. They're honest people, they can explain to you what are you paying for and have financing options as well. Last time, when I purchased the pinball machine from them, they've shared their own article on what you need to know before buying a pinball machine.
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