Pinball Machine Used ... What you have to know before you buy
Hard facts on getting a pinball machine used ...Know what to ask and look out for when searching for Pinball Machines
- Get detaled pictures of playfield (both above and below),cabinet, and backbox.
- Pay with a credit card, so in case there is a quality concern you can stop payment.
- Avoid buying a pinball machines from someone that just has an email address. Make sure they have a physical business address, and a phone number where they can be
- Make sure they have a return/refund policy – Most Don't!
( We found one that offers a 100% guarantee & a coupon incentive - see below )
- Confirm they are listed with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) – Again not too many!
One company I deal with knows pinball machines inside and out. They also supply arcade and pinball machines to Dave & Buster's and Gameworks.
They have expectional service, deliver a high quality product and a safe/secure site.
The company is called M&P
If there is a game you want to buy, please fill-out their Request Form listed below.
Okay ... Here's the "Nitty Gritty"
on what to look for
or should I say -
"What to watch out for"
in a pinball machine used
- What condition is the Cabinet in?
Nothing's cooler than seeing the Dazzling colors and Awesome Graphics on the sides of the pinball machine standing in your favorite room and sometimes hard to find a perfect one on a pinball machine used.
Get a game that doesn’t have a lot of scratches, scuff marks, or a lot of color fade from being in the sun.
A pinball machine used game will have some minor scratches or scuffs, but if you deal with a reputable pinball machine distributor, they will touch-up the cabinet making it look beautiful for your home.
It’s a must and absolutely needs to be part of the “Refurbishing Process”.
- How’s the condition of Backglass or Translite?
This is the top back part of the pinball machine (called BackBox or Head), where the score is kept. The older games had hand painted backglass (Prior to 1989).
A great backglass will have very little fade and chipping of the paint. As paint gets old it sometimes flakes off giving a chipping effect. This is typical on any pinball machine used.
Pinball machines after 1989 have what they call a "Translite". Instead of glass, it is plastic mylar art. Again, look for one with minimal scratches.
Note, the sides of Backbox or Head of game is also painted or have graphics applied. These tend to get scratched due to the pinball machines getting moved around.
A good pinball dealer will touch-up as part of the "Refurbishing Process" (M&P does a spectacular job in the refurbishing steps).
- Why is it important to have a great
looking Cabinet, Backbox
It's no different than your favorite car or truck all shine-up with an awesome paint job. Not only will your friends envy you, it will look great in your home.
More importantly, a quality pinball machine used will hold and increase in resale value if you ever decide to sell it.
- What's a Pinball Playfield?
This is where the pinball travels and hits targets, bumper's, etc. Be extremely picky here. Games that have a lot of wear on the playfield should throw-up a
It typically means the game hasn't been cared for & maintained.
If you notice gouges, wear spots, or scratches it's usually from having a dirty
playfield along with a dirty and rusty ball. Very typical on any pinball machine used, unless they took care of it.
Believe it or not - A pinball will pick-up dirt and eventually wear the playfield.
Worse yet – A rusty pinball, is like having sandpaper on the ball. It will eat away at the targets, playfield and plastic ramps.
A pinball machine used playfield in great condition means that it was cleaned and waxed regularly with new pinball replacements.
- What does it mean if you see Spider
cracks in the playfield?
Walk-away from buying a pinball machine used if you notice cracks that look like a spider web in the playfield.
This means the game came in contact with water or was stored in a damp place. Once the pinball machine playfield dries it starts to crack.
Parts underneath the playfield also start to rust and will cause you headaches down the road.
Some pinball dealers just use ball bearings that are the same size and shape of a pinball, which can become magnetized.
So, if you find pinball machines used that
are "Refurbished" using "Mirror-Glazed Pinballs" you know you're dealing with someone that knows what they're doing.
Mirror-Glazed are near perfect! They are like jewels. Polished for 12 hours and sent individually wrapped to the dealer.
So What – You say! Having a near perfect surface for you means extremely minimal wear on the playfield. Afterall, your pinball machine is an investment for you.
These pinballs literally scream across the playfield because they're so slick!
- How sound are the Electronic Boards?
The PCB's (printed circuit boards) are the brains of the game.
Caution: This is one of the most important areas to be concerned with when getting any pinball machine used. You
should deal with a pinball distributor that know how to examine, test and insure it is working properly.
All connectors going to and from the PCB's need to be checked confirming connectors are good and clean.
If any noticeable burn marks, they need to be
replaced with Original Equipment Parts (OEM).
I know you know this, but in case you forgot. The flippers is what hits the ball on the playfield.
The plunger, links, coil stop, spring, and coil is what makes the flipper "Flip"
After years of play these wear down, causing the flipper to become sluggish (weak). Typical on a pinball machine used with a lot of hours played on it.
These should be replaced as part of the "Refurbishment Process" when buying a pinball machine used so the ball moves fast on the playfield when hit.
Caution: This is a Vague description.
Some Pinball Machine dealers think
shopping is cleaning a waxing just the playfield and replacing the light bulbs that don't work – This is not shopping.
Correctly shopping a game consists of:
- Removing all plastic, ramps, metal parts, etc. from the game leaving it bare - except for posts that hold the rubber rings.
- All parts are cleaned and polished.
- New bulbs replaced and if bulb socket (which makes the light bulb work) is bad – replace.
- All new Rubber Rings installed (rings make the ball bounce or rebound on the playfield)
- Also having all worn flipper components replaced.
- Checking for loose wire making sure wires, above and below playfield have a properly soldered connection.
You'll be Amazed how Awesome looking and Fast your pinball machine plays when the playfield is "Shopped" correctly.
Above are all part of Refurbishing Process on a pinball machine used
and should not be taken lightly because
90% of the companies and people selling a pinball machine used are out there to make a fast buck.
They'll make quick cheap fixes that don't last causing you pinball downtime and paying someone to fix your pinball machine.
You may think saving a couple hundred dollars is a better deal, but when you turn around and have to a technician $65/hour, not including parts, it can eat up that couple hundred dollars savings quickly on the pinball machine used you thought was a good deal.
(Note: Here's some additional helpful tips on buying a pinball machine used, a source to help you diagnose your own pinball machines, please click here).
If you follow the Guidelines above when searching for a pinball machine used it will definitely yield you a game that you will enjoy for years to come.
If you need additional help on getting the right pinball machine used. Please email me or give me a call.
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