Michigan Pinball and Coin Op Auction

Today we head to Carleton, Michigan to attend an auction.

We are heading due south and taking the Dodge Ram as we hope to be returning with some new games.

The back story is that there was an operator of pinball machines who had a route in the southern Michigan area.   He passed away right around 1980 and at that time his storage building was closed up.  It was not opened back up until early this year.  So nothing in it is newer than 1980 and everything was left as it was.  This included about 60 pinball machines, a bunch of em arcade games, pool tables, juke boxes, parts, etc.  There was even a Dodge Van and Ford F250 that has not been moved since 1980.

So that is a great start.  Unfortunately, the storage building was not looked after well.  The roof got some holes and the animals got in.  So what could have been an awesome time capsule was instead pretty messed up.

Some local pinball collectors had seen this barn about 6 months before the auction and it was in a very sad state.  So bad that they were worried about their health due to the rat crap, racoon crap, and mold in the building.  None the less, they managed to cherry pick some cool titles before the auction company came in.

Now, 6 months later,  the auction company has cleaned things up and everything is for sale. And it really was EVERYTHING – games, vehicles, tools, furniture and even the house and property.

Here is the crowd awaiting the start…the building in the background is where all the games were.

Inside the building…

Here are some Jukeboxes.  I know little about jukeboxes but today learned that 1950s and 1960s jukeboxes that show the record being loaded are worth $800 to $1000 and 1970s and up are usually worth $50 tops!

Looks pretty good so far.  Now for the ugly.  Here is an example of what was INSIDE the games.

And it gets worse.  Here are some pictures of a very desirable Gottlieb Slick Chick Pinball.  The extreme wear on the PF was caused by a big pile of racoon shit which ate away the top laminate of the PF.  Yuck!

Here is the inside of the cabinet….

Now that is a project game!  This game still went for $225 at auction.  Amazing.

Some of the games were not so bad.  Here is a Bally Grand Tour Pinball that I should have bought.  I did bid on it but should have gone higher.  I think it sold for about $175.

Here is a Williams Ringer EM arcade game.  These are fun to play and this one went for $325.

I did end up buying three pinball machines and helped the pinball ninja haul his games back.  I got a Williams Jubilee, Williams A Go Go, and a Williams Gay 90s.   Not exactly desirable titles and they are really only good for parts due to the poor storage conditions.  On the plus side it only set me back $65, total.   I paid $5 for the jubilee (it had no backglass) and it was actually in the best shape of the 3.

Here we are loading up….

I was hoping for a better haul but it was a fun day spending time with friends in the Pinball Hobby.

Here are a few other random pics.

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Short ride for a Race Drivin

Today we are not venturing far from home.  A local pinball retailer I work with is picking up a few games and I am going to be getting one of them.  I am a pinball person but occasionally will get a video game.   There are really only a few vids that interest me.  They are the ones I remember playing in the arcades.

Off we go, this is 10 mile road in the suburban Detroit area.  The Ninja mobile is no longer with us so I am driving my quarter million mile Dodge Ram.  This truck is great for hauling but not so great on gas.  My favorite thing about this truck is it has a manual transmission.

Here we are at the house.  Actually it was a condominium and, as you can see, it has a walk out basement.  No stairs which is a good thing as my game is HEAVY.  Bad new was we had to push the games up a long steep hill on the grass!

The other games were this Asteroids Deluxe, a Golden Tee 2k, a slot machine,  and a Williams World Cup Soccer 94.

My game is an Atari Race Drivin which is the the next generation of Atari Hard Drivin.  There is a nice wiki article on these games here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_Drivin’

These vids were the first to load real car physics into the games.

But it is a video and it is HEAVY.  As we are loading it up I am really wondering what I was thinking getting this beast!

But after getting it back and playing a few games I feel better about it.  Really was a game ahead of its time.

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Quick Ride in the Ninja Mobile for a Stern Quicksilver

We are on the road again today to pick up a 1980 Stern Quicksilver pinball machine.  This game is in Holt, Michigan which is just south of Lansing, Michigan.   The owner of this game called at first to fix the game but later decided to sell it instead.

Same story as many – the kids are grown and the game just isn’t really desired anymore.   But at first they were not sure – I found out why later.

So off we go.  To get there we get on the I-96 freeway that goes between Detroit and Lansing.  Now this freeway I do like as generally people move right along BUT it carries a lot of traffic so you have to avoid certain times.  Since today is Sunday traffic is not too bad

In reality we are able to move pretty quickly which is appropriate since we are getting a quicksilver!

I should mention this is probably the last ride in the Ninja Mobile.  Mrs Ninja works for Ford and got this vehicle on a special employee lease deal that was too good to pass up.   You see a lot of Ford Escapes around here, and a great deal of them are driven by Ford employees.  I liked the Ninja mobile as it pulled good mileage for an SUV that can comfortably hold a pinball.  Thanks goes to the Ninja for use of the vehicle.

Pretty soon we are off the freeway and onto a country road through farm country.

Now we arrive at a nice house that houses our latest acquisition.

Finally we head down to the basement.  We find out that another repair person has been there and tried to get the game running.  They did some repairs (including taking a board home for repair) but could not game the game to boot up.  Find out they said it would be about $300 to get it going.  So that explains why they are now selling.   I am hoping to get it going for much less.   To the repair person’s credit they did not charge anything for all that troubleshooting!

Here is the basement where the game was.  Only the head remains to take up the basement stairs.

As I am taking it apart the owners boyfriend goes upstairs to get something and she mentions how the game was a gift from her ex husband.  So I say “well I guess you boyfriend won’t be too sad to see it go.”  She lets out a good laugh.

The boyfriend helps me take the game up the stairs and we load it up for the ride home.   Quicksilver is a fun game that I look forward to playing!

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Stern Transformers Pinball Spaghetti

Today we are working on a Stern Transformers at Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum located in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Marvin has 10 pinballs machines right now – it is a great place to stop in and play.  Games are Addams Family, Stern Family Guy, Williams Funhouse, Bally Theatre of Magic, Gottlieb ElDorado, Stern Lord of the Rings, Stern Tron, Stern Elvis, and Stern the Simpson’s Pinball Party.

I maintain Marvin’s games and today we needed to swap the Transformers playfield with a new one.  There are a lot of wires involved as you can see in the picture.  Pretty much every connector will be unplugged from the boards when removing the old playfield.    It is pretty straightforward but you should take your time as there are a couple connectors not used.  I take a bunch of pictures before starting now.

The first time I did this on a Stern Pirates of the Caribbean I ended up with two connectors that I could not figure out where to plug in!  After pondering this for a good while, I called a friend who also had a Pirates.  He confirmed the connectors were not used.

Another tip: as you can see in the picture the display is removed from the backbox.  Doing this gives you much more room to easily route wires.

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Tron in Tron

Here is my Stern Tron Pinball Machine.  This game can be played at Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum located in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

As you can see there is a mini Tron video game inside the Tron pinball machine.  I normally don’t do “mods” on my pinballs but this one was just too cool to resist.

The Stern Tron pinball machines comes from the factory with a simple plastic Tron video machine with a dummy screen.   This mod replaces that with what you see in the picture.  That is a real mini screen that is actually running the TRON video game code!   The video game runs in attract mode just like the real TRON game did back in the day!

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Star Trek Enterprise Rebuild

Working on a Williams Star Trek The Next Generation Pinball.

This is the mess I’m dealing with:

Most people know that the 90s Williams games have a lot of wires.

But this STTNG is being built from two different parts games.  Neither game had any circuit boards.   The pinball ninja supplied a driver board and display board.   I had a CPU board to use.  A local pinball shop Games We Play traded me a sound board for a repair call.  Finally, I am having to buy the extended driver 8 channel driver board from Rottendog amusements.

Unfortunately a lot of the wires on the playfield harness were cut up and of course the GI connectors are burnt to a crisp.   An then I needed some ribbon cables also which I also had to buy.  And then I needed a separate cabinet cable that I was able to scrounge from another game.   I am sure there is something else that will be needed also.

So there is plenty of work ahead before this Start Trek Next Gen is up and running.   Some of these projects go quick and some, like this one, take a bit more effort.

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Bally Pinball Meltdown

Sometimes picking up Pinball Machines does not go as planned.  Today was one of those days.   I had been having an e-mail and phone text conversion for several weeks with someone who had about 10 pinballs and also a bunch of video games for sale.   Every time I was ready to go pick up some of the games – the communication would stop.

It is not unusual for deals to just go away or even re-appear after months.  The way this one came back was unusual though.   Out of the blue get a text “Are you going to pick up the games this weekend?”  After checking my schedule I replied back with a time I could make it.  Then nothing.  Then a day later the person calls and says they won’t be there but here is the garage door code – just leave the money on the kitchen table!

This raised some alarm bells in my head.  So used google to do some research to determine if this person even lived where they said.  It all checked out and it was an upscale neighborhood so I decided to make the journey.

So off we go.  The city is Bloomfield Hills, Michigan which is an upscale area, for Michigan. Here is a church in the area that is pretty impressive, called Kirk of the Hills.

On the way we also pass Telegraph Avenue, a well know North South route.

Now we are getting close and in sub division land.

Here we are at the house, and like many houses I visit to pick up pinball machines from – it has a for sale sign in front.

So I pull in the drive way and enter the code and sure enough the garage door opens.

Oh boy.  There are games here but not what I was expecting.  Unknown to me until now, an auction has already been run and the pinballs I was really interested in are gone!  The ones remaining are missing important pieces like backglasses or in the case of a Gottlieb Royal Flush (1976) the entire head was nowhere to be found.

There are more games in the basement so into the house I carefully go and yell “Hello anyone home!”  I don’t want to get shot!

Down in the basement there is only one pinball left and a few vids.  The pinball is an Atari Space Rider which I might be interested in, just because I have never owned an Atari pinball.   It looks good but I decide to look inside and sure enough the CPU board is completely missing.  These are unobtanium, so I pass.

I don’t see any video games I am interested in either.

So what to do.  I guess there are a couple games I would like to grab.  The Bally Heavy Metal Meltdown is complete except for the translight so I load that one up.   Then I load the Royal Flush body as it can be used for parts.  I leave everything else.

So I try to call the owner to renegotiate the items.  No answer.   So I just write out a long note explaining the issues and leave the money on the table.  I then call and leave a voicemail also and say that if she does not think it was fair then I guess I will just have to bring the games back!

So sometimes you stumble upon some hidden gems and sometimes you get the auction leftovers.  But it is pretty much never boring when picking up the pinballs.

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PINBOT Digits Activated

Today we are on the way to pick up a game.   Seems the owner is moving and needs to have the game gone.   So we are more than happy to help.  Sure is dreary weather today.  But any day is good to pick up a 1986 Williams Pinbot Pinball Machine!

This game is in Lake Orion, Michigan.  As we head up I-75 we go pass the Chrysler (err is it Fiat now?) headquarters.  Living in the Detroit area you are driving by something automotive all the time.  Now Chrysler is well north of the motor city proper – in a nice suburban area – well away from the problems of the city.  Today, they have a huge banner on their building promoting the new Dodge Dart.

Now we are getting close to the guys house.  Looking at the map his house is actually IN Lake Orion proper.  Hmm, looking at the map I see the shape of Lake Orion is similar to the constellation Orion.  Well, I guess that is how the lake and town got its name!

So the house is on a Island in the lake.  So we drive down a long peninsula and cross a bridge to get to his house.

Arrive and the new arrival is in the garage, legs off.  This is fantastic as there will be no lugging this one up the stairs!  The owner tells me that he has owned the game for several years.  He actually gave this game to his WIFE as a birthday present. Heh Heh, we shoould all try that!  Well, they are actually moving IN to this house and the wife has decided the game isn’t going to make it INTO the house.   Nothing like a rejected birthday present.

So load it up and off we go.  Nice Pinbot loaded in the flipper city mobile.

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A Pinball Sunday Morning Drive

We have been having a really mild winter hear in Southeastern Michigan this year and today was no exception.

This was the view out the windshield of the quarter million mile Dodge Truck this morning.  Sunny, 35 degrees and on my way to pick up a couple Pinballs.  Nice day for a Sunday morning drive.

Now these were not big $ titles that many collectors seek.  Just some run of mill games that the price was right on.  Gottlieb Totem and Williams Laser Ball.

Part of what is great about the pinball hobby is meeting so many different people.  The owner of these games bought them both in the 80s at a local auction.  He went to the auction to buy a juke box.  He did buy the juke box but also bought these 2 pinballs.  Surprise Honey!  He said the wife was not thrilled but it turns out that the worked for many years and the kids loved them.

Now the kids were grown.  He had a whiteboard in the garage and the kids had been using it over the Holidays to keep their Beer Pong scores!

Nice guy, and he helped me take the games up the basement stairs.   I am keeping the Totem and the Laser Ball is going to Clay Harrel.

Here they are all ready for the trip home.

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Bally Indiana Jones in Mid Michigan

Well, here is something nice to see when you are waiting around at a kids event that is several hours long.

Not 1 but 2! Pinballs on location.  These were in Lansing Michigan USA at a sports facility called “The Summit.”  The Lansing area is home of the original “Pinball Pete’s

Pinball Pete’s was owned by three brothers, one of whom now owns and operates the Pinball Hall of fame in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I hear the Pinball Hall of Fame does a good job keeping their games in playing condition.   Pinball Pete’s is still in business in East Lansing Michigan and operates many games in the area – including these two.

Alas, these game were not playing well.  The Indy had 5 of the six balls stuck in the the up kicker behind the targets.   So the 6 ball game was now a one ball game.  The auto plunger would successfully put the ball in play about 25% of the time.  Many switches were not working, two pop bumpers were dead.

The other games was a Star Wars Trilogy.  This had all the balls in play but it was hard to use them because the x-wing fighter shot did not work.  The DMD display was pretty much shot.

The sad part is many people tried to play these game – they took some quarters.  But the kids and adults probably walked away thinking how crappy pinball is.  If you route games PLEASE keep them up so people have a good experience.  It should increase earnings AND help prolong the future of pinball.

The sad part is I played these game several times because there was a little else to do.  If I had the keys I would have fixed the Indy for free just so I could play a fully working one.

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