Have you ever wondered what the insides of an EM Pinball game look like or where that knocking sound comes from when you get an extra ball or win a game? How about the bell or chimes you hear when you strike targets? The tilt mechanism is always interesting too. How do these games know when you're shaking them around? Ever wonder how a route person knows how many games were played? Check out the game counter.
The old EM games can look pretty dirty and chipped up since manufacturers pretty much stopped making them in the late 70s putting them more than 20 years old; but they are still neat games to learn about. The Pinball games may have had thousands of games played on them with lots of moving parts, metal particles falling down from the back of the playfield, dirt, cigarette smoke, dust, grime, oil vapor, etc., all adding to the overall crud falling down and adhering to the insides.
Then there's all that moving. Route guys that have games located in 7 Elevens, bowling alleys, bars, and game centers move their games around to "liven" things up a bit. They may only leave a game in place for a short time and if it doesn't make money for them, they move them out and replace them with another one. After a while, they need too much work or just aren't as popular as the newest game that is out, so they either trade them in with their local Pinball sales office, or sometimes just store them somewhere where they get stored over a period of time until they decide to sell them. Sometimes they end up getting stored in a barn or old warehouse for years until someday someone decides to just get rid of them. When they do decide to unload them, there are guys around that just buy and sell games and folks always seem to know who they are. Of course those resellers seem to always know folks like me, and then one day I get a call to buy some games, I go over and look at them, and either buy some or tell my friends about them. Funny how all the Pinheads seem to learn about each other in the local area and know who has what.
If there's anything that makes old games quit working properly, it's usually that there is crud on the parts that move like coils (solenoids), relays, and contact points. There is also the mechanical aspect of moving parts like the score motor, bonus wheel, ball counter, flipper coils, score wheels, etc. Sometimes just the vibration loosens up the screws holding things together. Of course there is also the temperature where the game has resided. Expansion and contraction due to heat can cause things to loosen up too. Heat often creates a convection air current in the game and that's what makes the games get dirty too.
Take a look at the pictures below to get an idea of the innards for both EMs and a couple of Electronic games. You may also want to check out my Pinball Tech Tips page where I describe problems I've run in to plus tips I've picked up from others.
(click any picture to enlarge)