I go to look at lots of games with a view to buying them. I actually only buy a small percentage of all the games I see. The sellers descriptions of the game are often inaccurate, mainly because they do not understand the factors which make a game worth buying. Many are not able to view the important areas which indicate what the real value of a game is and whether it is worth restoring. The game needs to be complete, electro mechanical components are very hard to find, especially if they are specific to the game. Also, the back glass needs to be in good condition. That can only be determined by inspecting the rear face. Sellers who do not know how to access the internals cannot give accurate information. Even those that can open the game to expose the internal parts often have no understanding of a games true condition. Components can be missing, the game can still appear to be playing properly, but in reality, it is not. Features which should work do not, because a component that contols them is missing. Also, a game that can be played is very often performing nothing like as well as it should because the internal mechanisms are worn or seized up, switch stacks are loose, wires are detatched from solder lugs or contacts dirty and out of adjustment. Most images are also completely unreliable indicators of the condition of a machine. They show little detail, and are often out of focus or of dire quality. Owners usually over value games, because they've seen a restored game sell for a high price. They take no account of the work and money needed to restore the game they have. Some sellers, because they have no experience with pinball machines, have bought a game at a price which is far higher than its real worth. They then realise they don't have the skills needed to fix it or restore the cosmetics, so decide to sell it on. They offer it at or very near the price they paid for it. When it is explained to them that the real value of the game is far less than the asking price, they explain that that is what they paid for it so they want that amount back. They are expecting a buyer to pay for their mistake in paying too much for the game.
The only way to assess a game is to view it in person, so that is what I do. Then, I only buy games that I can restore to nice condition. That really means a games that have not been messed with by anybody else. I can correct bad cabinet paintwork, but that is all. A butchered back glass, playfield or alterations to internal components are not easily put right. I'd rather buy a totally original game that has been in storage for many years than one somebody has had a 'go at'. I can bring an original game back to something like it looked and as it performed when new. Bodged games are often beyond salvation, purely due to the efforts of somebody who doesn't understand or appreciate what is required to restore a game properly. Doing so takes a certain level of skill and experience, tens or hundreds of hours of labour, and good contacts for the materials and services needed.
I do prefer that any potential buyer of my games visits and views any game before deciding whether to go ahead with a purchase. This allows me to show and demonstrate every aspect of the machine. It also gives the opportunity to play a game, to confirm that it performs properly, is as described, and is the right game for you. I put a great deal of time and effort in to make sure my restored games are as good as possible, and I want a buyer to see that for themselves. Also, I want them to see and feel how a game plays. Every one has different rules, a unique playfield layout and appearance. A multi player game may be more suitable if it is going to be played by several members of a family, or is to be played with friends. A single player may be better for a collector or enthusiast. A 3" flipper game may be better for children to play, some of the 2" flipper games can be very frustrating to play, as they can be very difficult to beat.
If you are considering the purchase of any of my games, I can supply all the information you require about the game via email, and preferably during a chat over the telephone. Once that is done, I would prefer that you arrange a visit to view and play the game. Then, when you are fully satisfied that everything about the game meets you requirements and expectations, and you decide to buy it, the purchase can proceed.
If the game is to be collected, I will explain fully how a game can be dismantled, transported safely, and rebuilt at the destination. You will need a vehicle with a flat load bay with a depth of at least 54" and a width of at least 36" and a height of at least 26" to transport a game. A dismantled machine can be moved by two people easliy, and reassembled in about 30 minutes.
I also offer a service to deliver and set up a game, if the buyer prefers that. I charge 45p per mile to do so. It will guarantee the game is installed and playing properly in its new home. I only offer this service to a new owner who has viewed and played a game, and paid for it in full.
I include a safety and information sheet about the game, together with any paperwork it still has, if any. A schematic wiring diagram and box of ten spare lamps will also be included. The schematic will contain essential information, which will be of great help during maintenance or should repairs ever be needed.
I guarantee all my games are fully working at the time of sale. If I deliver and set up a game, I guarantee it will work as it should when I have finished. Because of the age and nature of the games, I can offer no warranty beyond that. Just like a classic car, these vintage pinball machines do need occasional maintenance, and a component or contact may occasionally need attention. I do, however, offer a full repair and maintenance service at reasonable cost, in the unlikely event it should be needed.
I also offer a collection / delivery / inspection service for any EM pinball game. I can visit a location, check the condition and function of a game and contact you to report what I have found. I can simply collect and deliver a game. Because of my experience in moving EM machines, I will ensure the game is properly protected against damage whilst it is in transit, and I can set it up at the location if required. If you would like a game moved, collected and delivered, or you would like to have a potenial purchase inspected, contact me for further details.
Occasionally there are machines offered for sale on certain auction and other online for sale sites. These are sometimes described as 'working, new rubbers fitted' or 'been in storage, partly or non working'. To get a machine fully working for the long term takes many, many hours and a lot of money. A spray of contact cleaner and some WD40 won't do the job for long. And when the game stops working, finding somebody who can repair it properly is not easy, and can be very expensive. The AA don't fix pinballs, and you can't buy the parts at your local supermarket. My advice concerning these games is 'buyer beware'. Always check thoroughly what has been done to the game to restore it, or what needs doing if it does not function fully or at all, before entering in to a contract to buy. Ask if the steppers, score reels, flipper mechanisms, pop bumpers, slingshots and score motor have been stripped & rebuilt? Ask if the switch stacks have been tightened, the contacts inspected, any missing ones replaced? Have ALL the switches been cleaned and gapped? Is the cabinet structurally sound? What type of paint was used to touch it up? The same goes for the playfield. Has the mains lead been replaced and safety earthing circuits and other safety improvements been fitted? Is the game complete? If the back glass is in poor condition, can it be repaired, or is a reproduction available? What new parts have been fitted? Are all the internal cards and labels present for the relays, score motor, score units and other components? Is there a schematic with the game? There is no greater disapointment than getting a game home and playing it, only to find it stops working and you have no way of repairing it. Or finding the game you thought you could fix is missing a vital and very hard to find component, or has been badly repaired and is so worn, it needs replacement parts which are unobtainable new. Finding good used game specific parts can take years, indeed they may never show up for sale.
Instead of being a inexpensive way of owning a vintage pinball machine, these cheap games will often prove to be very poor purchases. They may even end up as non working ornaments, only to be sold on to the next victim. The prices of my games reflect all the hours and investment in parts it takes to make a machine look and play as good as possible. One that will play as it should for many more years, and it should prove to be a good investment as a bonus. The pleasure of owning and playing a superb vintage pinball game will far outweigh the purchase cost. It will be a unique machine to have on display in your home, all your friends will love it.