Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pinball Machines in the Spring

Spring is a special time of year when it comes to enjoying pinball machines.  The first few warm days of the year snap friends out of their winter blues and helps shoo them out the door in search of activity.  With endless late evenings of sunshine and warmth still a few months off, a pinball machine is the perfect combination of fun and competition to help see everyone through.

Spring is also a good time to run your pinball machines through their paces and see if they need any maintenance before the summer barbeque season starts-up. This is a good time to give your pinball machine's playfield a cleaning, replace any lights, and troubleshoot any features that may need attention. Regardless of how old your pinball machines is, you can always keep it playing like new with just a little care. If your machine is out-of-service completely, contact your pinball machine technician and go over the entire game... you'll be glad you did.

Before you know it, summer will be here and your gatherings will be all the more special as friends and family square off for some good natured fun where everyone who plays has a chance to win. You might even be there for someone playing their first ever round of pinball. With more and more people taking local vacations, this might be the perfect year to upgrade your game room with a new pinball machine addition.


Pinball Machine Archive

Monday, May 10, 2010

Walk Yourself

Ok so this post is more about walking your dog than it is you but non-dog owners need to walk too and I'm all about being inclusive. Which, coincidentally is what dogs are all about even though they sit out many of our day to day activities for one ineligibility or another. It's easy then to understand why they are always willing to go for a walk... it's their time to have 'you time' and it's all-around good medicine.

Now your dog may not be easy to walk. If that's the case, look up the Dog Whisperer and get to work on straightening that out. Oddly enough many bad behaviors go away when a dog is properly exercised. For the rest of you, you may already know why dogs enjoy walks so much. You get in touch with the weather and your surroundings, blow off a little steam, maybe meet a neighbor or two and you never know... which is the point, you never know what you'll experience until you do it.

And it's healthy of course. You could take two walks a day and still not go wrong. You'll burn a few calories and help maintain your metabolism... All of which will make you look and feel better. You'll feel better for the change of pace and scene and when you get home, that'll transfer over to everyone around you - because you took time for yourself, dog or no.

It may sound strange, but do us all a favor and go walk yourself.

Reconditioning a Pot 'O' Gold Pinball Machine

I'm just putting the final touches on a Williams Pot 'O' Gold pinball machine from 1965.  Williams made 1800 of the under-sea treasure themed game with Great White sharks and divers in the artwork.  Pot 'O' Gold has a mechanical animation in the backbox that tallys in bonus points and extra ball.  Now that I'm down to the final touches, I've been able to play a few rounds and I'm finding it's a charmer of a pinball machine.

Pot 'O' Gold enjoys that special slow pace that you only get in the older pinball machines.  There's four pop bumpers and the flippers have good power so it's not a snooze fest... just plain old long running rounds from a time before our highway system existed - much less the digital age.  As vintage pinball machines go, Pot 'O' Gold is a strong player especially considering flippers had only been in wide use for 10 years or so when it was being produced.

This Pot 'O' Gold pinball machine came to me from a basement game room, the owner had picked it up from a dealer and claimed it had worked recently.  I'm not sure if he had this game confused with another one because this was one of the most out-of -whack pinball machines I've come across.  Steppers were assembled incorrectly and the game needed all new plastics fabricated - something I've not had to do before.  It never ceases to amaze me though how old pinball machines need so few parts to make them run again.  Besides rubber rings and light bulbs, this pinball machine only needed a single coil to be replaced for it to be working 100%.

A few shop supplies went into the game as well including a stip of soft plastic I harvested from the lid of one of the 50 blank CD cases.  A 1/2 inch strip of that made for a suitable track/bulb cover for the bonus unit in the head.  The ball now runs a smooth path from the vertical plunger un around past the wire stop and a new rebound spring I fabricated form an old cell phone holster clip. I might take just a little too much pleasure from watching the rebound spring and wire stop pass that smaller gauge ball back and forth.

Overall the Pot 'O' Gold is in top playing condition now and really only suffers from a marginal quality repaint on the cabinet.  The backglass and the playfield are in nice enough shape and it would show well enough in a line but it might not satisfy a particular owner or a collector.

Having grown up with electro-mechancial pinball machines in the house, these old games really stir up the nostalgia for me.  There's something special about the sounds they make resetting the score reels and bonus relays at start-up, real mechanical bells and cabinet knockers too.  I'm sure that whoever winds up with this one will have plenty of their own magic to make.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Indiana Jones Pinball Machine

The first time I ever played an Indiana Jones pinball machine was at in an Airport game room. I can't remember where I was going or which airport my layover was in but I do remember playing the Indiana Jones pinball machine. Right off I noticed the trademark color palette from the film posters and oversized presence of the widebody cabinet.

Everywhere I looked on the Indiana Jones playfield seemed to be packed with attention grabbing features, a spinning statue, drop targets, scale fighter planes with LEDS in the wings, even a elevated playfield that seemed to promise a tricky challenge. My quarters went in and I played many games.

Right off I enjoyed the layout and there was a fine combination of short and long shots. It seemed like there was a bonus mode from one of the Indiana Jones films waiting behind every target, loads of skill and combination shots, and really high quality interaction from the sound, lights and dot matrix screen. I began racking up some decent points and landing multiball, I was having enough fun that a random stranger or two joined me for a round.

That Indiana Jones pinball machine made a fine first impression on me and I've made it a point to stop and take the time to play when ever I happen across one. Do yourself a favor and play it a bunch if you find it on location to support your local operator. If you've got the scratch to put on in your home, your whole family will thank you for it. If you are the person who came across that Indiana Jones after I was finished with it, you're welcome for the credits I left behind for you to enjoy.

In case you're wondering, the Indiana Jones Pinball Machine is one of my all time favorites.

Monday, March 3, 2008

First Sail of 2008

For those of you living in the Southeast, you may have noticed some strikingly beautiful weather this past weekend - Wonderfully fitting for the first couple of days of March. The weather guys nailed this one and true to their predictions we had temps in the mid-60's and winds out of the Southeast in the 10mph range - for our style of recreational boating, that's about as perfect as perfect gets.

So with hot water in the thermos and a wife, dog, and good friend along, we headed on down to the boat for the first sail of 2008. For all you snow bird boaters out there, you might want to cover you eyes for the next part... we get to 'winterize' our boat on the water, our power plant keeps our little sailing lake warm year round... So there's not much to do but open her up and head out...

And head out we did. We had the sails up in short order and after a quick adjustment from Genoa to Jib we settled in to seriously relaxing afternoon of sailing. The conditions were a welcome sight to more than a few other sailers in the club, and a lot of the fun was watching the other boats in the stiff breeze shake free the cob webs of our short off season.

Of particular note was a Catalina 22, flying a Genoa and making some serious speed for a small cruiser. There's a craft where the lines of hull combine with the sweep of sail to create something truly beautiful in motion. No less beautiful was an open Flying Scott with a crew of five (including dog) scooting along at a raucous clip with just a hint of abandon... her baby-boomer crew hiking out to off-set heel as if they spent their teens in the 90's instead of the '50s. For the record, they completely smoked us.

There was a Laser out there too, single handed and shooting for a spot up on plane which I'm sure he made a time or two in just the right puff. Where I saw him make the best action though was back at the docks with a few friends gathered around a charcoal barbecue... Sails set loose across the dock and idle in the wind... smiles everywhere.

I'm quite sure I wouldn't have changed a single thing.

Sailing is the Destination

Every since I was a little kid, I've always loved boats in a marina. Even now that I'm older and I know a thing a two about conservation and the environment, I still just can't help but love boats in a marina. On this one I have no preference for Sail or Power boats except that to say the clacking of Halyards against mast is one of my favorite sounds of all time.

I can't take credit for coming up with 'Sailing is the Destination' but I'm not sure anyone has claimed the dock as the destination - I don't know, maybe the house boaters have me beat there... Let me tell you, those guys have recreation figured out! But if you like to unwind with a drink or spend some time with friends when it's time to kick back, a boat at the dock makes for a memorable setting to say the least. It's definitely one of those things where you just can't anticipate the different experiences in store for you.

An inability to predict the realities of experience is something we're all familiar with from time we've spent outdoors, sailing or no. Most of us spend most of our time inside and it's all too easy to forget how much we need to be outside. For me sailing has added a new dimension to the whole affair as I'm constantly aware of what the wind is doing - even when my next sail might be days away. Wind direction and strength and approaching storms... Around here the sailing conditions are best with winds out of the south... who knew such a small thing could make a fellow so happy.

Another thing that'll make a guy happy is owning a finely tuned function-specific machine like a sailboat. Sailboats are dauntingly complex even at a quick glance and to come to know one is an intimate and personal thing. Just like with people, there's always something new to learn and think about... It's exciting to hold confidence in your machine and your sailing skills too.

Having that confidence in hand when you bring other people aboard is wonderfully unique. My informal observation is that most people have never been sailing. They've never felt that quiet rush of a slipping along under full sail - awash in wind and experience. It's something for everyone and not to be missed. I've yet to come across someone who says - no, I don't want to go sailing. Should be easy enough to straighten out if I ever do - Even if our journey takes us no further than the marina.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One thing I didn't learn in pre-school

OK, yes, I took Recreation and Leisure in college. Got an 'A' too in case you're wondering. Most of the class was what you might expect - it counted as a gym credit and was even held in one of the rec buildings on campus - Might have been only a half credit now that I recall...

But recreation and leisure did pass on to me a little tidbit of information that has always stuck with me. Turns out that if you wait your whole life to get into recreation, say like when you retire... That you will never quite get it right. At least according to some studies anyway... To get it right, to really enjoy yourself and have the kind of fun that is good medicine for everyday life, you have to work that recreation in everyday - right now.

That's right folks... you have to act now. You have to go for walks - ( especially if you have a dog... ), you have to treat yourself at lunch occasionally, you have to make plans with friends, and you have to pursue interests in fun. Plain old American fun.

Do this and you will be healthier, kinder, and a better person for yourself and everyone around you. Make the time and take the time and look for ways to share the time with other people. Put yourself in motion now and that motion and those skills with be with you when you do retire and your retirement will be the richer for it. Best of all you will avoid ignoring your life until you are 65 in the process.

Take my word for it and have fun while you're at it. Today is a great day begin.