PINBALL EXPO '94
(The 10th Year)
by Russ Jensen
Well, believe it or not, 1994 was the 10th year of the
fabulous PINBALL EXPO (the first show being put on in 1985).
And, I'm happy to say, I have been lucky and privileged enough to
attend all ten shows!
This year the show was truly a four day event, running from
Thursday, November 10th through Sunday, November 13th. Because
of there being not one but two plant tours on Thursday I had to
travel to Chicago one day earlier this year - on Wednesday.
Well, as I have done for air travel in the past year or so,
I again decided to fly from the closer Hollywood/Burbank Airport,
rather than LAX. This required me to change planes in Denver;
but I didn't mind since my daughter could drive me to the airport
rather than me having to take the expensive bus trip to LAX.
Since my daughter had to go to work that day she had to let
me off at the airport around 6:30 AM for my 8:45 flight.
However, once I got checked in I discovered there was a flight
leaving almost immediately for Denver. I was able to take that
flight and wait the additional time in Denver, but that was fine
The two "legs" of my flight to Chicago were uneventful.
After picking up my bag and taking the hotel shuttle from the
airport, I checked into my room in the early afternoon. My
roommate, Los Angeles area collector/operator John Cassidy, was
not scheduled to arrive until about 5 AM the next%worning as he
was taking the "red eye" from LAX.
When I arrived I only encountered a small handful of Expo
visitors who had already arrived. After retiring to my room to
watch two of my favorite Wednesday night TV shows, I ate dinner
alone at the Italian restaurant which was one of the three eating
places in the hotel. I will say I had some of the best Italian
bread I have ever eaten.
I retired about 11 PM, expecting my roommate to arrive at 5
or 6 AM. But when I awoke at seven he had still not shown up.
Being hungry I again ate alone, this time at the restaurant about
a half-block from the hotel. When John did arrive around 8 AM he
told me that his flight from LA had been delayed, not taking off
until about 2 AM (instead of 11 PM).
Well, when Expo registration started at 9 AM John and I went
to get our registration packets and wait for the 9:30 bus
departure for the first plant tour. While waiting for the busses
to start loading I ran into several old friends from past Expo's.
I also noticed a young couple with a very tiny baby. When I
asked about her I found out her name was Arianna and she was only
7 weeks old. The youngest Expo attendee I am sure.
When I finally boarded a bus for the plant tour I discovered
that my good friend Sam Harvey was our "bus coordinator". Before
we started he got up and read to us from a brief history of
Electrical Windings. Among other things, he told us that the
company was founded in 1937 by Orland Murphey (who's son Donal
now heads it) and that the factory had been in it's present
location since 1944.
During the approximate 40 minute bus ride I noticed the
interesting old Chicago neighborhoods we went through during the
last part of the ride. Once when I glanced out the window I just
happened to see the Foremost Plastics plant, a company making
plastic parts for the pingame industry and which was featured in
a seminar at a past Expo.
After arriving at the plant we got off the busses and
entered the plant through a large back door accompanied by one of
the plant employees who acted as our tour guide. We were first
taken to see Donal Murphey's personal pingame collection which
was contained in several different rooms of the factory, some on
These games were pretty much separated by decades and were
mostly single-players. We were told we could not play the games
due to time constraints. There was also one room where all the
games and backglasses were for sale.
After traversing some stairs (there were a lot of those in
the building) we started touring the manufacturing areas. We
first saw a woman working at a special machine which wound the
windings for 10 transformers at a time. It employed a counter
which counted the number of turns for each winding, a sheet of
insulating material being placed between one winding and the
At the next station a man was using a special saw to cut
each transformer's windings from the total of 10 produced at the
previous station. Next, the ends of each winding were located
and brought out and connected to external lead wires.
We then saw the metal lamination layers being inserted,
followed by the addition of the external hardware (case, mounting
brackets, etc.). After that, the completed transformers we were
told were impregnated with a chemical and then baked in a special
oven overnight. I was surprised to hear that their transformers
were 100 percent tested!
The final part of our tour was the area where relay and
solenoid coils were fabricated. This, however, was nowhere as
interesting as the transformer manufacturing process. Upon
leaving the plant we were each given a small relay coil.
After leaving the plant we boarded the busses and returned
to the hotel for lunch. After that we again boarded the busses
to travel to the Data East pinball plant for our second plant
tour of the day.
When we arrived at Data East we had to wait outside for 20
to 30 minutes as they could only take a limited number of people
into the plant at one time. This was reminiscent of a previous
year's tour of the same plant, except this time it was not nearly
While we were waiting a company representative welcomed us
to the plant. He also informed us that they had recently been
bought out by Sega and were in the process of changing everything
over to the new name. We were also told that the current game in
production at the plant was MAVERICK.
During this waiting period I also visited with several
people who were also waiting to get in. Finally we were allowed
to enter the plant.
Having toured this plant before I did not see much of
anything new. We passed various stages of the game assembly
process (sub-assemblies, playfields, backboxes, etc.). When we
got to the testing area our guide told us that they have people
who do nothing all day but play pinball looking for hardware and
software errors in the games.
At the packaging area we saw how the completed games were
slid into packing boxes using a specially constructed ramp.
After that we left the main plant and walked about a block to a
separate warehouse building.
In that building we saw miscellaneous small assemblies being
fabricated. After that we were each given a game poster and
offered coffee and cup cakes. We then boarded the busses and
returned to the hotel.
Later in the afternoon (as we had last year) there were
"pinball playing lessons" offered to Expo attendees by various
champion players. This idea was the brainchild of Louisville
Kentucky lawyer and pin fan Richard Shapero. At 6 PM the Exhibit
Hall was opened for the first time, an event eagerly awaited by
most of the Expo visitors. But more about that later.
Also that evening one of two special events (called
"Fireside Chats" by Expo producer Rob Berk) occurred. This was
held in Rob's suite and consisted of several of the pinball
artists visiting with and answering questions from interested
A detailed report on this interesting two to three hours is
beyond the scope of this article. It would also be somewhat
difficult for me as the batteries in my portable tape recorder
failed after about five minutes after the start of the session.
I do want to say, however, that this was an interesting
interlude indeed, and another great idea by Rob Berk aimed at
making each year's Expo more exciting than the previous one.
The next morning (Friday) was the start of the Expo
seminars. First, came the "Opening Remarks". Expo chairman Rob
Berk first welcomed us all to the 10th edition of Pinball Expo.
He then announced that Dick Bueschel had been added to the
seminar program that morning. After reminding us that Mark Pratt
from Arizona would be recording and selling audio tapes of all
the seminars, Rob announced that that evening we would have
another of his "fireside Chats", this time featuring long-time
designers Wayne Neyens and Steve Kordek.
Rob then told us that there again would be (as at the past
two shows) a designer/artist/author autograph session on Saturday
afternoon. He also said that during the Saturday evening banquet
there would be a "charity auction" of pin related items, all the
proceeds going to the "Make-A-Wish Foundation". He then
introduced his co-producer and Exhibit Hall Chairman, Mike Pacak.
Mike began by again welcoming us to the show. He next
thanked all the exhibitors, complimenting them on the good number
of pingames they brought to the show. Mike then informed us that
the hall would be open all night both Friday and Saturday nights,
for playing only however. This was definitely an Expo "first".
He ended by again thanking us all for coming.
HOW MANY DID THEY BUILD?
Rob Berk then introduced the presenters of the first seminar
"How Many Did They Build", my good friend Sam Harvey from Pomona
California and Tim Arnold from Las Vegas. Rob referred to Sam as
a "wild man" who he said knew who most of the designers and
artist were for many, many pingames.
Tim, Rob then said, was "a collector extraordinaire". He
said he and Tim used to argue over who owned the most pins; but
when Tim's collection topped 900 he gave up the competition.
This drew a round of applause.
Tim began by posing the question - why do the manufacturers
put serial numbers on games in the first place? He then answered
that there were two main reasons. First, so they can keep
"process control" over production errors. Secondly, he went on,
so they can keep track of how many of each game were built.
This later reason, Tim pointed out, is also why people today
keep track of serials of old games - to try to determine game
Tim next told us that we all should send in the serial
numbers of games in our collections to either himself, Sam, or
Steve Young (Incidentally, I sent my serials to Steve several
He then went on to say that they were not planning on
releasing the results of their serial collecting right away. One
reason for this, Tim then told us, was that premature disclosure
could tend to decrease the incentive for people to provide
additional information to the project.
Finally, Tim commented that the exporting of pingames could
cause some problems with using existing serials to determine game
production numbers. As an example, he mentioned the large number
of pins Gottlieb exported to Europe in the late 1960's
Sam Harvey then began to tell us about where serial numbers
were located on the games by different manufacturers. He began
by mentioning that Data East puts their serials on the backs of
the machines making it difficult to read them when they are
placed against the wall.
Still talking about modern pins, Sam told us that Premier
puts their serials right on the playfield instruction cards. He
then commented that he doesn't understand why game manufacturers
keep a secret of their production figures, even for the electro-
mechanical games which were made over 15 years ago. He then said
they hope pressure from collectors will eventually get the
manufacturers to release this old information.
On that subject, Tim then quipped that eventually maybe they
might be able to tell the manufacturers how many games they made.
Tim then remarked that he thought the manufacturers should
"pander" to the collectors by giving out that type of
Tim then said that they are doing quite well with regard to
deciphering Gottlieb serials, but that Williams is harder,
because they use sequential serials - not restarting numbering
with each new game. He then told us that a list of Bally
production figures was once "snuck out" of the plant.
Bally, Tim continued, usually starts their serials at "1000"
for each new game. Williams he said does not start a new series
with each game, but continues numbering from the previous game.
Tim then told us that Williams put serial number tags on coin
doors, the bottom of the cabinet, and stapled inside the head.
He then remarked that "sample" games put out by the
manufacturers sometimes cause a problem with analyzing serials.
Gottlieb, Tim went on, usually put the letter 'S' after the
serial number on it's sample games. He then said that Gottlieb
usually stamped their serials on the front of the cabinet below
the coin door.
Tim then added that they also started serials for a new game
at the next even thousand after the last number of the previous
game. He then said that this means that they don't "reset" their
serials for each new game as Bally does.
Finally, Tim remarked that slot collectors have been
collecting serials for years and that it's about time for pin
collectors to do the same.
On a related subject, Sam then told us that Gottlieb put the
"game numbers" (the number used to internally identify each new
model at the plant) on their schematics, but that Williams did
not on their earlier games. Therefore, he told us, he needs to
know many of the game numbers for early Williams pins.
Getting back to serials, Sam said there was a rumor that in
the 1960's Gottlieb put hidden serial numbers of the playfield
using a method which required a special type of light to read
them. United, he then told us, wrote their serials with crayons.
Chicago Coin, Sam then remarked, was very much like
Gottlieb, stamping serials either above or below the coin door.
He then commented that sometimes some operators stamped their own
"serial numbers" into the wood. But, he added, after you see a
few of these you can easily determine the factory numbers from
those applied by operators.
At that point we were asked if we had any questions? The
first question asked was if serial information could be supplied
by people via the INTERNET computer communications system? Tim
replied "I don't like computers", but went on to say that if
someone wants to do it that way to let them know.
When asked if serials were ever found on playfields, the
answer given was that they were sometimes found on playfields,
cabinets, or doors in different locations. It was next asked if
they planned to publish their serial information regularly? Tim
replied that they are afraid to publish anything early because
people might stop contributing serials when they are published.
At that point Sam remarked that regarding the question about
serials on playfields, that some older Williams games had them
stamped on the field. Tim remarked that today Williams has 5
assembly lines which makes serials harder to track as they are
computer generated. He then added that you should just forget
about Williams games made after PINBOT.
At that point Dick Bueschel in the audience made a comment
regarding slot serials. He said they have been publishing those
for years and are still getting new inputs all the time. Tim
then remarked that they were thinking about starting some sort of
serial number contest, perhaps in connection with PinGame
Someone from the audience then remarked that they were
curious how many of the old games have survived, asking if they
would share the information they receive regarding how many of
each game is reported to them? Tim said that would be possible,
and then estimated that approximately 1 percent of the games made
in the 1950's have survived, and maybe 2 to 5 percent of those
manufactured in the 1960's.
Sam next remarked that the manufacturers build their games
to last for about 5 years, saying that it's really a wonder that
so many have survived today. Tim then commented that many of the
games were exported out of the country, even saying that many
were sent to Cuba.
Someone next suggested that PinGame Journal provide a list
of rare pins (such as Bally's BALLS-A-POPPIN') and request that
readers notify them if they own any of those games. After that
Sam remarked that somewhere further down the line that a book
might be published giving this type of information and/or the
results of the serial number project.
Someone else then directed our attention to the latest
update of Larry Bieza's "Pinball Price Guide" which, in addition
to listing retail prices for post-war flipper games, contained
listings of highest and lowest discovered serial numbers for
Williams and Gottlieb games from Steve Young's serial number
project. Tim then told of Sam Harvey purchasing some old records
from a pingame distributor which contained many Williams serial
numbers for games they sold.
At that point someone from the audience remarked that some
of his games have had the serials removed and asked why that
might have been done? Tim replied that there were often
"exclusive distributorships" which local operators could only
purchase from. He said some operators would remove serials from
games they purchased outside the local area.
When it was asked how long it would be until the serial
information they were collecting would be published, Tim replied
that they were "open to suggestions". He then added that people
could make their suggestions to them, even through INTERNET.
Continuing along this computer theme, Gottlieb designer Jon
Norris mentioned a new computer "bulletin board" which had
recently been set up in Seattle, suggesting that a "conference"
regarding serial numbers might be set up on that. Tim answered,
"OK, but I still do things by hand". A suggestion was then made
that the "computer people" get together later to discuss such
At that point Sam remarked that if they ever could see
production information from the manufacturers it would be
interesting to compare the results of their serial number
research with the actual figures. Tim then added that the Bally
list indicated that 799 VAMPIRES were made, a figure which was
substantiated by serial number information.
Finally, Tim suggested that designers Steve Kordek and Wayne
Neyens should be asked for their comments, possibly at the
"Fireside Chat" scheduled for that evening. (Incidentally, that
subject was never brought up during the "chat".)
Before thanking us for our interest in their project, Sam
remarked that revelation of low production on certain games could
possibly result in higher prices for those machines. That ended
the presentation which drew a round of applause for Sam and Tim.
Rob Berk then introduced the next speaker, Dick Bueschel,
who he said was currently editor of COIN-OP CLASSICS magazine,
had written many books, and who he said had a wealth of
information regarding pins.
After remarking that the pinball hobby "goes on and on",
Dick said he was going to talk about collecting pinball
advertising flyers. He said that this was a rapidly expanding
area of the hobby, and that he spent much time with the "paper
side" of the hobby.
To illustrate his point regarding flyer collecting, Dick
first remarked that the flyer for the first flipper game,
Gottlieb's HUMPTY DUMPTY, is rarer than the game itself and could
bring as much as $150. He then said that he himself once refused
an offer of that much for the flyer for Rockola's 1933 pin
JIGSAW. Dick then commented that Bally FIREBALL flyers are
approaching $100 today.
At that point Dick began a great slide presentation showing
rare pinball flyers from several decades. The first flyer shown
was for Bally's 1932 pioneer pin BALLYHOO. After telling us that
the game's designer Ray Moloney started with serial '1000' to
make people think he had produced more than he had, Dick told us
that that game was "supported by more printed paper than any
other pingame ever made."
Dick next showed the flyer for Keeney's RAINBO from that
same year which he said was one of many "BALLYHOO clones". He
then told us that BALLYHOO had established the standard size for
pins of the period.
We were then shown the brochure for the square pin
BALLYROUND which Dick said had "died", almost causing Bally to go
bankrupt. Flyers for this game, he told us, are quite rare
Following that we were shown Peo's DAISY which Dick said was
another of the square pingames which came out in the first six
months of 1932. The flyer showed "high class" people playing the
Next we saw a game called KING TUT which Dick said was
promoted as a product of Automatic Jobbers of New York. Dick
said that many different outfits sold this game, but that he
thought it might have been actually made by International
Mutoscope Co.. He also told us that he had never actually seen
We were then shown Rockola's JUGGLE BALL from October 1933
on which the player could move the ball on the playfield by means
of a rod. Dick commented that that idea apparently did not catch
on. Finally he remarked that the game was similar to BALLYROUND
and that the flyer was probably rarer than the game.
Next Dick showed Bally's PENNANT from December 1933, which
he said had to face the competition of Rockola's very popular
JIGSAW which came out about the same time. He then commented on
it's "crazy handling of the ball" which he said was all done
Dick then showed the 4 page, full color, flyer for Pacific
Amusement's CONTACT, the first pin to use electric ball control.
He said that the flyer for that game is much sought after by
collectors, the 4 page version not coming out until the
introduction of the popular "Junior" model.
We next saw Bally's STREAMLINE from April of 1935 which Dick
said was a new large size (42 inches long). He told of it's
interesting ball manipulation method and explained how to make a
high score on the game.
This was followed by the flyer for Bally's June 1934 pin
FLEET, the first of several Bally games by that name. Dick
mentioned that that early FLEET was not mentioned in the
Hawkins/Mueting dating book. He then said it featured the
revolutionary "shooting gun" idea which was a "new thrill" for
pinball players. Finally Dick told us he had 4 copies of this
flyer which may be the most available of the early 1930's pinball
Next we saw the flyer for a game from October 1934 called
MAJIK KEYS. Dick told us that pinball pioneer Harry Williams
once said that he considered this game to be one of the most
significant of the early pins, even admitting to borrowing ideas
Dick then said that that game was made in Los Angeles, which
he said was one of the centers of pinball development in the
early years. He then told us that Don Hooker, who later designed
many of the Bally "one-ball" and "bingo" machines, originally
worked in Los Angeles. Finally Dick remarked that MAJIK KEYS had
an influence on all succeeding pingames.
We then saw an October 1934 pin called LIVE POWER, which
Dick said was designed by a fellow named Dudley Clark. He then
said that "kickers" on pins came in in a hurry. Finally Dick
pointed out how balls in the "high voltage" holes near the top of
the playfield could be "popped up", and up to 9 balls could be
moving at one time.
Next was Daval's SHOOTING STARS from September 1934. Dick
described it's "progressive scoring system" which he said was
exciting as long as the balls held out.
We then saw Rockola's ARMY AND NAVY from December 1934,
which Dick described as "one of the most elaborate football motif
games ever made". After telling us it was one of the last of
this type of game, he described it's action including it's moving
football. We then saw another football motif pin, ABT's 1934
game ALL STARS, which Dick said had three dimensional players on
Dick then showed us the brochure for a pin called SAFETY
ZONE, which he said was made by an outfit in Brooklyn in December
1934. He told us that that company also made arcade games (such
as diggers). Dick then commented that it was designed by a
fellow named Max Levine and had a buzzer.
We next saw Daval's CHICAGO EXPRESS from February 1935 which
had a tri-level playfield. Dick described the game's action and
mentioned that it's theme was based on the Chicago "El trains".
Next up was Gottlieb's TURNTABLE from March 1935, which had
a turntable in the middle of the field which would turn if a ball
landed in a special hole. After describing the game's action,
Dick told of the "coat of arms" on it's cabinet which Alvin
Gottlieb once said his father Dave told him he copied from a
Dick then showed the brochure for Exhibit's STAR LITE from
April 1935. He told us that that company hired Harry Williams
and Lyn Durrant who he said designed some "clever and wonderful
games", using electric action and moving lights. STAR LITE,
however, he said was designed by a fellow named Frank Maitland.
Dick then told us that later models of the game had a short
We were next shown the flyer for what Dick said was
probably the smallest payout pin ever made, Pierce Tool and
Manufacturing's BULLET from April 1935. He said with this game a
player could try to win nickels and not just play for pleasure.
This little game, Dick went on, gave the player 10 balls for a
nickel which might look like a "sure thing". However, he said,
it is actually hard to get a payout on it.
Next we saw a game called CHECKERS put out by International
Mutoscope (another New York City manufacturer) in May of 1935.
Dick said it was designed by a Jack Firestone and that the
playfield could be changed from checkers to either a "form a
word" or a poker game.
We then were shown the flyer for a game called SHORT WAVE
put out by Scientific Machine Corp. of Brooklyn in January 1936.
Dick said this game and it's flyers are extremely rare.
The next flyer shown was for a German pin called TURNER put
out by an outfit called Jentzsch and Meers in early 1936. Dick
told us that that company was often referred to as "the European
Mills". He then remarked that it had "toilet seat covers" over
Following that we saw the flyer for Jennings' FLICKER from
May 1936. That company Dick said was primarily a slot
manufacturer but also put out many pingames in the 1930's. He
then told of the game's lighted backglass, and remarked that it
paid out using a slot machine mechanism.
Next up was Rockola's 1936 pin QUEEN MARY, which was named
after the ship which Dick said was "the biggest thing you've ever
seen". He then briefly described it's one ball scoring.
We then saw the flyer for a one-ball payout pin called
COMBINATION from October 1936 (the month I was born!). Dick told
us this was the 15th pingame put out by Buckley Manufacturing, a
company noted for their counter games. He told of it's 3-reel
mechanism in the center of the playfield on which the combination
"W-I-N" was necessary for a payout.
Dick then jumped to 1940, showing us Exhibit's LANCER which
he said he thought resembled Williams' solid-state pin BLACK
KNIGHT. He then commented that electro-mechanical pins developed
rapidly after 1936. Finally Dick commented that at that time
Exhibit was introducing two new games in some months.
Next we saw a pin called DOUGHBOY from that same year, the
brochure implying it was made by Baker Novelty Co.. Dick
remarked that the flyer tried to say that Baker makes good games;
but, he then told us, their games were actually made by Chicago
After Bally's BEAUTY with bathing beauties on it's
backglass, we saw Gottlieb's GOLD STAR which Dick said came out
two months before the bombing at Pearl Harbor. We then saw
Exhibit's AIR CIRCUS from early 1942 which he said was the end of
game production because of the war.
Going to the post-war era, Dick first showed the flyer for
Marvel's FRISCO. He said this was a re-vamp of a pre-war game,
then briefly describing what re-vamps are (old games turned into
new ones by the addition of different backglasses, etc.). Dick
then showed another Marvel re-vamp, OPPORTUNITY, from October
The first post-war production game Dick showed a flyer for
was Bally's BALLYHOO (the 2nd one by that name) from June 1947.
We were next shown two more post-war re-vamps, SWEET SUE (a re-
vamp of United's HAVANA), and ELMER (re-vamp of Chicago Coin's
KILROY), both done by an outfit calling itself "T & M Sales Co.".
Dick then remarked that KILROY was the highest production run of
any game until Bally's WIZARD in 1975.
After showing us the flyer for United's ABC (one of the
first "bingo" style pins) from 1951, Dick showed a flyer for a
German pin called NIXE. Dick told us that the Germans referred
to pins as "bombers". He then showed flyers for some more German
pins, including a 1954 flipper game.
The final two flyers Dick showed were Gottlieb's "Deluxe
DUETTE", a wide-body version of their first 2-player pin from
1955, and Williams' SUPER SCORE of 1956. Dick remarked that the
"deluxe" version of DUETTE was never listed in any pin lists and
has a different backglass than the "standard" version. Flyers
for the later game, Dick told us, were quite rare.
After his slide show Dick made a few final comments before
asking for questions from the audience. He first told us that
Dave Gottlieb's picture can be found on the back of the flyer for
their 1959 game QUEEN OF DIAMONDS, along with a statement signed
by him to the effect that it was the "greatest amusement machine
we have ever built."
Dick then told us that flyers for Bally's 1976 game CAPTAIN
FANTASTIC are getting hard to find. He then told of a German
flyer for Gottlieb's 1978 solid-state pin CLEOPATRA, and the
flyer for a European pin called SEXY GIRL, both of which were
rare. Finally, he reminded us that if you want to get flyers for
the latest pins you could subscribe to PinGame Journal.
Dick then asked for questions? He was then asked why he
thought electricity was not used on pins earlier than the mid
1930's? Dick replied that there was a game using electricity in
1908, but the reason it probably wasn't used on more early games
was that it was too expensive to build electric games in those
Finally, Dick was asked why he took such an interest in coin
machines? He replied "I'm a groupie; I love it!" That ended
Dick's fine presentation.
DOT-MATRIX ANIMATION IN PINBALL
Rob Berk next introiduced the featured speaker for the next
seminar, Scott Slomiany, to talk about the new Dot-Matrix
displays used on today's pins. Rob said Scott went to work for
Willaims in 1991 and was their first full-time dot-matrix person.
Scott then came up on stage and set up his demonstration
equipment for his lecture. He then began by explaining that the
dot-matrix display used in today's pins is a 128 by 32 array of
small light bulbs.
He then told us that each lamp was capable of three shades
of illumination and black (off). Scott said these shades were
the result of what percentage of time each lamp was turned on.
He then remarked that this type of display was developed by the
pinball manufacturers to make older model games seem less
desirable to players.
After telling us that the use of these displays allowed
games to have more complex "rules" because the display can add
"more to the game", Scott remarked that the software to control
the displays was developed "in-house". He then told us they used
scanned images to start with, which were then modified by their
own animation software.
Scott next described more of the details of their system
while we waited for his demonstration software to display the
next image. During this explanation several of the people in the
audience who were "software oriented" asked some very technical
questions which Scott answered. He then remarked "the software
guy adds a lot to what I do to make it look great".
When the demo program was finally ready we were shown a
demonstration of animation in the displays. Scott told about
digitizing a frame and then cutting out what you need. He told
us that memory limits what they can do, saying that they have
about 2 megabytes of memory to use for display on Williams/Bally
Scott went on to say that sometimes they ad "inside jokes"
and other things to the display to entice players. He also
remarked that they also have to satisfy the license people on
licensed games, as well as the game designers.
At the point Scott asked for questions from the audience?
The first question asked was "what about using bigger display
screens in the future?" Scott replied that Data East uses a
large screen on their current game MAVERICK, but that they don't
necessarily want to do that now at their company because, even
though a larger screen gives a better picture, it requires more
memory thus limiting the animation, unless expensive memory is
added thus adding cost to the game.
When next asked about using color displays, Scott replied
that they possibly might try it in the future, but that price is
also a problem with that.
Scott was then asked about problems occurring with the
dropping of frames on the display? He replied that they
sometimes have that type of problem, telling of various things
they have to consider in their design to prevent that.
Someone next asked Scott what was his favorite of his own
designs? He replied that he liked his DRACULA display which he
said captured the mood of the movie. He also said ROAD SHOW was
a lot of fun to do.
When asked what his favorite pingame was, Scott answered
that it was STAR TREK - THE NEXT GENERATION. He then added that
Williams' EARTHSHAKER from 1989 was the game that got him
interested in pinball.
Scott was next asked if he determines the animation for his
games? He replied that he comes into the project later in the
design cycle, after the whitewood is created. Scott then said
that when he gets into the animation he might determine where it
is appropriate, and sit down with the programmers to determine
what can be done.
When next asked if they used any computer diagnostics to
check the sequencing of the displays, Scott answered "no, we just
take the glass off the game and hit the switches." He was then
asked what kinds of images were hard to create. Scott's reply
was that faces are hard to do because high contrast is necessary
in a facial image.
At that point Scott gave some details concerning the complex
animation used in their current hit ROAD SHOW. This included
animation of various characters met on a trip to New Orleans,
each of which was knocked off the road by a bulldozer.
The next question asked was if it was difficult to
synchronize the display with the game's sound? Scott replied
that sometimes it's very difficult, for example syncing mouth
movements with a voice.
Scott was then asked if eventually they might try using a
video camera to capture data for a display and then digitize it?
Scott responded that the technology currently exists, but a small
screen would make it look bad. When then asked if VGA graphics
could be used for pingame displays, Scott answered that it was
possible but extremely expensive.
The last question asked of Scott was what type of micro-
processor they used in their games? He replied that it was a
Motorola 1609 with a 2 megahertz clock rate. That ended the
SHOPPING YOUR PINBALL MACHINE PROPERLY
The next seminar to be presented was on "shopping" a pingame
presented by Jim Tolbert of For Amusement Only in Berkeley
California. In preparation for that we were each given a hand-
out to follow during the presentation. While this was being done
Jim was setting up the Gottlieb FLIP-A-CARD (1970) game to be
used for demonstration.
Rob Berk then introduced Jim, saying that he has been
operating his company since 1976. He then told about his former
publication, Amusement Review (the first magazine I ever wrote
for), that he currently writes articles for Coin-Op Classics, and
that he wrote a book called TILT. Finally, Rob told us that Jim
is currently researching coin-ops with a baseball theme. Jim was
then given a round of applause.
Jim then began with a few preliminary remarks. He first
told us that some of the ideas he would present are very basic,
but other things he will talk about may not be so well known.
Some things, Jim then said, he has picked up from other people,
and still others he discovered for himself. He also asked for
After telling us that Scott Sheridan from Ohio would be
assisting in his demonstration, Jim remarked that the game they
were using had been in storage since 1986. He then told us that
it had not been plugged in since then.
Jim next told us that the first rule of pinball repair or
restoration is to have a complete and organized tool box. This,
he went on, should also include such items as cleaners, wax,
polish, fuses, and rubber rings.
We were then told that the connectors in a game are often a
big problem and should be thoroughly cleaned with either a wire
brush or crocus cloth. Jim then reminded us to check the power
cord, and if it is starting to get bad replace to it using a 9
foot extension cord which can be purchased at a low cost.
Jim next reminded us that the stainless steel legs and front
door should be cleaned. He also told us to remove the coin
mechanisms and wash them in soapy water.
After removing the lock-down bar from the front of the game,
Jim removed the playfield glass. He then told us that old glass
should be replaced with tempered glass because one can get cut
from plate glass.
Jim next said you should remove the score/instruction cards
and schematic for the game and store them in a secure place,
suggesting that the cash box be used for this and to hold any
other loose items from the game. We were then reminded to remove
the ball before the playfield is removed.
At that point Jim said you should remove the playfield and
mechanism panel from the cabinet, saving any loose parts found in
the cabinet. He then suggested vacuuming the inside of the
Jim next told us that you should clean the areas inside the
cabinet that you can see when the playfield is in, and use fine
steel wool to clean the outside of the cabinet.
After that Jim suggested that the flipper buttons be removed
and cleaned, and also that the chime unit be cleaned and that
it's plungers also be checked. It was then suggested that the
dirt be blown out of the mechanism panel.
Jim next told us to tighten the screws on all switch stacks
on relays, the score motor, etc.. At that point pingame designer
Jon Norris from the audience suggested that the wing nuts be
tightened on any relay banks.
Jim next said that you should go through all stepping
switches in the game, cleaning and lubing them. He said you
could use a lubricant called "LPS-1" on the pivot points, but if
they were still frozen that you might have to disassemble the
unit and clean it.
Regarding cleaning wipers and rivet contacts on stepping
switches, Jim first said that if you remove the wiper assembly be
sure to mark the "0" (reset) position first using red nail
polish. The wipers and rivet contacts, he then told us, can be
sprayed with contact cleaner which then should be wiped off, the
residue then being removed with crocus cloth.
After that, Jim went on, you can apply "coin machine lube"
sparingly to the rivet contacts. Finally, he told us to check
all the bracket screws on the units. He also said you can check
wire connections by pulling on the wires.
After replacing the mechanism panel and playfield in the
cabinet, Jim said you should take everything off the top of the
field for cleaning. He told us you can use a "rock tumbler" to
clean metal parts, which can also be buffed. He warned us that a
tumbler could damage plated parts which are beginning to "flake".
At that point Jim's helper Scott removed the score card
holder and top arch from the playfield for cleaning. Jim next
went into the backbox and told how to set up a game for "free
play" if desired.
Still in the backbox, Jim told of cleaning the score and
credit reels, commenting that you should not spray anything on
the reels for fear the painted numbers might come off or smear.
He suggested using a soft cloth or paper towel to apply the
Still on the subject of score reels, Jim told us that they
can be disassembled to clean/adjust them and then reassembled.
Finally he told us to operate the coil plunger by hand to advance
the reels, ending by reminding us to clean their mounting
At that point helper Scott cleaned the card holder he had
previously removed. He then cleaned that area on the playfield
which the card holder normally covered. Scott then cleaned the
ball trough, telling us that the plunger could be cleaned using
the rock tumbler.
It was next suggested that the plastic playfield posts be
removed and soaked in a soapy water solution. Jim then said that
you could replace those posts with new ones if desired.
The subject of playfield plastics was next taken up, Jim
reminding us that they are a very important part of the game's
cosmetics. He then told us that he has had some success with
replacing bad plastics by duplicating good ones from another
identical game by color Xerox and placing those on a cut-out of
clear plastic laminate.
If youy plastics are good, however, Jim reminded us to keep
them in a safe place until they are replaced. He then said they
could be cleaned with either glass cleaner or plastic polish.
Jim then passed around examples of dirty and cleaned plastics for
comparison. He then told us that the plastics should "float" on
their mountings when reinstalled by not tightening down the acorn
nuts which hold them.
As far as fixing warped playfield plastics, Jim's first
suggestion was to use a heat gun to heat the plastic piece until
it droops. Then, using gloves to handle the hot piece, he
suggested putting it under a piece of glass (never between wood!)
Jim also said that warped plastics could be heated on a
cookie sheet in the over, Steve Young commenting from the
audience that the oven temperature should not be over 150
(A WORD OF WARNING! - If you do this be very careful of the
temperature and also how close the plastics are to the heating
element. I personally almost destroyed two rare plastics by not
being careful enough.)
Finally, Jim told us that he usually removes and services
all the pop-bumpers on the field, but there was not enough time
to do this now. He then asked if we had any questions?
Jon Norris first asked what you could do to remove paint
from a painted-over cabinet? Jim suggested a paint removing
product called "Goof Off" to remove the top layer of paint.
As an aside, Jim next suggested that cabinets be checked to
see if re-gluing was necessary, also suggesting that any old
chewing gum be removed from the cabinet. When someone from the
audience suggested that the ball be checked, Jim suggested that a
new ball always be used.
A question was next asked regarding adding a sheet of mylar
to protect the playfield? Jim replied that he doesn't like
mylar, adding that bad mylar can be removed using a heat gun.
Jim was next asked how to repair sunken playfield lighted
plastic "inserts"? He replied that you should knock them out
entirely (using a nut driver or dowel from the bottom of the
field), then reset and re-glue them using Crazy Glue.
When asked to define "shopping" a pingame, Jim said that the
definitive definition of shopping is a complete restoration.
This, he went on, includes new bulbs and rubber rings and buffing
and polishing everything.
Jim then remarked that he sometimes sells games "as is",
showing the buyer what to do to shop it themselves. The next
question regarded touch-up of cabinet scratches.
Jim replied that he buys model paints for that purpose.
Sometimes, he continued, he uses Testor's "paint pens" in black
and white to fill in bad areas of paint. He then remarked that
you can use acrylic paints for backglass touch-up. Finally, Jim
commented that paint pens (or "sharpies" as they are sometimes
called) can be used to touch-up playfield plastics or even
At that point someone asked for more information on
backglass restoration. Jim replied by first cautioning us to
remove backglasses carefully. He then told us he used a product
called "Zip-A-Tone" for touching up translucent areas on the
Jim told us that this came in sheets and you had to cut out
a piece of the proper color and lay it on top of the bad area of
paint. The bad news, however, Jim told us was that that product
was no longer available.
He then told us that you can use acrylic latex paint which
is available in art supply stores. Jim said you should mix the
colors on the front of the glass, then use a Cue-Tip to dab the
paint on the area to be touched up. After that, he went on, you
should "seal" the glass with a product such as Steve Young's
"Cover Your Glass".
On the subject of playfields, Jim next told us that for
repairing playfield screw holes one should use wood from a wooden
match and Crazy Glue. He then suggested using a paint brush to
clean loose dirt off the field, then wiping it with a damp rag.
After that, Jim continued, you should use a playfield
cleaner (he mentioned a product called "CP-100"), followed by
waxing it with about three coats of a good wax. He then remarked
that the game's cabinet should also be waxed.
Jim then said that new lamps should be used on the
playfield, recommending using type 47's rather that type 44's.
He then recommended cleaning/adjusting all playfield switch
contacts, also suggesting that lamp sockets either be cleaned or
Next Jim went to the subject of cleaning the game's legs and
stainless steel doors. He first suggested that legs be buffed or
wire brushed; foreign materials being first scraped off with a
putty knife. He also suggested using "409" cleaner and/or
"S.O.S." pads to clean the legs well.
Finally, Jim suggested using a good metal polish or a
special impregnated cloth which he referred to as "Never Dull".
He then suggested replacing the old leg levelers with new ones.
To wrap up his presentation Jim suggested that after a game
has been "shopped" you should check it thoroughly to see if
anything still doesn't work properly. Finally he recommended not
plugging a game in until it has been thoroughly shopped. This,
he added, eliminates a lot of problems.
GAME DESIGN FROM 'A' TO 'Z'
Rob Berk next introduced the speaker for the next seminar,
Williams pinball designer Pat Lawlor, to give his presentation
"Game Design From 'A' to 'Z'". He told us that Pat had been with
Williams for 8 years and has designed such games as BONZAI RUN
(1988), EARTHSHAKER (1989), FUN HOUSE (1990), and TWILIGHT ZONE
After thanking Rob for inviting him to speak, Pat told us he
wanted to make a few preliminary remarks. First he said that
this year his presentation was going to be somewhat different
from his talks of pervious years.
Pat then told us that he will first give a brief, broad
overview of his views on pingame design. He then commented that
pin designers are individualists, each doing things differently.
Pat then told us that he would try to give us a broad idea
of game design, but that he would like to try and tailor his
presentation to the depth we in the audience wanted. He said
this could be done by letting us contribute our ideas to help
guide his presentation by answering our questions in a
At that point Pat asked how many first time Expo visitors
there were in the audience? Quite a few people raised their
hands. He than asked how many operators? There was also quite a
Pat next said he would talk about the "concepts" of pin
design, saying there were essentially 3 "flavors" of concepts.
The first "flavor" he told us was an "all original" design, not
involving any licensing, which he said was "fun to do".
The second "flavor", Pat told us, was the regular "license"
game such as ADDAMS FAMILY. He then told about the meetings they
had with Paramount Studios regarding that property. We were then
told that if a movie doesn't have "history" you're taking a
chance buying a license.
We were then told that the last "flavor" was a mix of a
license and the designer's own ideas, giving their game ROAD SHOW
as an example. Pat then commented that ROAD SHOW actually
resulted from a game idea he wanted to do. This idea came from
his previous trip to the West to attend a Pinball Show. He added
that the "country/western" theme came from the music he heard
during that trip.
Someone from the audience then asked Roger Sharpe
(Williams/Bally/Midway's Director of Marketing) how long it
usually takes to obtain a "license"? He answered that it is
normally 9 months to a year or more.
Roger was then asked how he learns about future movies he
may wish to get a license for? He replied that there are certain
movie business publications which give such information. He then
told us that you can also call someone when you hear a rumor of a
Finally, Roger remarked that if there are several new films
coming out you have to do a sort of "market analysis" to try and
determine which might be the best one to license.
At that point Pat introduced his panel. First was
programmer Dwight Sullivan, followed by another programmed Ted
Estes who Pat said was the head of software development at their
Pat then introduced their ace mechanical engineer John
Crutch who he said designs all the "great toys" used on their
games. Then, after introducing Roger Sharpe, Pat introduced
artist John Youssi.
After defining what was meant by a "whitewood" (the first
working model of a new design), Pat told how it was created from
his game concept. He told us they used "AUTOCAD" computer
software to draw out the playfield, this drawing then used to
produce the prototype field which has no artwork (hence the term
After Roger Sharpe answered a few questions regarding the
"timing" of licenses, Pat told about having "prototypes" of their
ADDAMS FAMILY available at the movie's premier.
Someone from the audience then asked the frequently asked
question of how people could submit their game ideas to the
company? Pat replied that under his contract with the company he
wasn't allowed to talk to anyone on that subject because it might
lead to legal problems. He then said that at their company Steve
Kordek "interfaces with the whole outside world" and that he
would refer anyone to Steve on such matters.
When someone then asked if all mechanical designs were
committed to drawings, Pat answered "we draw everything".
Mechanical engineer John Crutch then added that drawings of all
mechanical devices they use are drawn on a computer and
prototypes then made from those drawings.
It was next asked if they used computer software programs to
simulate the play of a new design? Pat answered only "we have
lot's of interesting software", adding "some things I can't talk
Pat then made some miscellaneous comments regarding
drawings. He first remarked that there are thousands of parts in
a game, each having one or more drawings associated with it. Pat
then told us that their vendors need drawings to produce parts
for them, the manufacturing people need assembly drawings to know
how to put the games together, and their parts sales people have
to be able to "replicate" the parts later.
Someone then asked how long parts for a given game are made
available? Pat answered at Williams it's about 5 years. He then
told us that they can sell 70 percent of their parts to foreign
markets, adding that the U.S. is "a vast wasteland for pingames."
At that point someone asked Pat why he made that statement?
Pat replied that the U.S. is the cheapest place one can play
pinball. He said that in Germany a game costs about $1.20, in
Canada from 50 cents to a dollar, and in Australia either one
dollar (or three games for two dollars).
Pat continued, saying that because the price of new pins is
now high, operators have to charge more per play to make a
profit; otherwise they won't want to buy pins. He then remarked
that today video games are again "kicking pins butts".
Pat then added that because of the low price per game in
this country it takes operators a long time to pay for a game,
also considering the cost to maintain them and splitting the
"take" with the location.
At that point the Williams people started getting
information from the people in the audience. First Pat asked the
players in the audience who today plays more, the same, or less
that they used to? Of the people who indicated they played less
Pat asked them why?
The two main answers given were that the games were poorly
maintained by the operators, and that the games in a location are
not changed as often as they used to be.
Roger Sharpe then asked the operators in the audience if
they were buying more, the same, or less new pins today than
before? Of those who answered less, he asked why?
The three main answers given to that question were: 1) they
cost more to maintain and take in less money than more reliable
video games; 2) it takes too long to clean today's complicated
playfields, and 3) the price of pins is much higher than video
games. Pat then made a comment to the effect that the use of
dollar bill acceptors on pins helps to make more for the
operators, especially in "street locations".
Pat then asked the people who say they play more today where
they play? Using a show of hands the answers appeared to be
pretty evenly split between street locations (bars, etc.),
bowling centers, and arcades.
At that point Pat got back to the subject of game design,
discussing some aspects of programming, game rules, etc.,
interactively with members of the audience. After that Pat
remarked that with the state of the art in pinball today, the
people involved in producing the games have to put in an
unbelievable amount of tedious work, taking many months per game.
After joking about the programmers problems getting things
on a new game to work right, Pat commented that the music and
sound people also have to get their job done. This, he added,
includes getting the sounds in sync with the dot-matrix displays
as well as with the play of the game.
The subject of licenses was again broached. Pat first told
of the problems they often have of trying to get movie actors to
record their voices for use in the game's sound.
We were told that Roger Sharpe usually tries to help with
this. Pat then told us that they often have to send a person to
the location where the actor is to record his/her voice. He then
pointed out that this kind of thing has to happen concurrently
with other tasks in the game design process.
Pat then added that the design "sub-groups" all have to
interface with each other, while the mechanical engineer works to
perfect playfield items.
Finally, Pat brought up the subject of production prototypes
and filed testing. A few production prototypes ("beta test"
models), he then commented, are "snuck out" for preliminary field
Pat said that almost without exception something on the game
will fail during location testing - resulting in them having to
"go back to the drawing board". Somehow at the end of this
process, he then told us, after about a million dollars in costs,
a game finally goes into production!
At that point Pat asked for more questions from the
audience. Someone then asked how many engineering drawing
revisions usually occur between the "whitewood" stage of a game
and final production? Pat answered about 3 or 4 for the
whitewood and possibly 1 to 5 revisions for mechanism drawings.
Artist John Youssi next showed us his original drawings for
their current game ROAD SHOW. These included the heads of the
two dummies used on the playfield, the speaker display panel, and
the "4-color art" and final painting for the backglass. These
drew a good round of applause.
The presentation ended with Pat telling us that they would
all be around later for us to talk to.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE PINGAME JOURNAL
At that point Rob Berk introduced the next speaker, Jim
Schelberg, publisher of the PinGame Journal to speak on the
history of his publication. He said that two years ago Jim had
only a mild interest in pinball, but today he is the
editor/publisher of his own pinball magazine.
Jim began by asking how many of us were subscribers to his
publication? Many people raised their hands, followed by a round
of applause for the magazine.
We were then told by Jim that it all started when his wife
Marilyn wanted to buy him a pinball machine for his birthday. He
said this resulted in them flying to Chicago for a few hours back
in 1989 to attend Pinball Expo. Jim then told of Rob Berk
showing them around at that time.
When he returned home to Michigan, Jim continued, he put a
"pinball wanted" ad in the local newspaper and then went on a two
week vacation. When they returned, he then told us, there was 60
calls on his machine in answer to that ad.
Jim then told us that he now owns approximately 60 pingames,
almost all of them resulting from that one ad. He then told of
buying the first Genco flipper game, TRIPLE ACTION of 1948, from
In 1991, Jim then commented, he started subscribing to
Pinball Trader. When he saw something from it's publisher Dennis
Dodel about wanting to "slow down", Jim said he called Dennis
offering to put the magazine together on his computer, with
Dennis just doing the printing.
But at that time, Jim next remarked, Dennis decided to sell
the Trader to Jack Simenton in California. So, he said, since he
was already set up to do the Trader on his computer he decided to
start PinGame Journal.
Jim then told us that he got some addresses from past
Pinball Trader ads and sent out flyers asking for subscriptions
to his new publication. From this, he then told us, he got 80
people to send in $21 for a 13 issue subscription.
We were then told about the first issue of the Journal
containing over 400 errors (Jim even ran a contest to see who
could find the most errors which I participated in). Jim told us
that some of these errors were corrected on his computer, but the
corrections were not "saved".
Today, Jim then commented, he has over 1100 subscribers and
charges $30 for 12 issues. He then added that he now also has a
proof reader, and uses a spelling checker, but that there are
always a few errors nevertheless.
At that point Jim presented a short slide show. We were
first shown a picture of his Doctors office (Jim is a pediatrist)
with Rob Berk in it. Next we saw Jim's children which he said
were the magazine's "teen and youth advisors".
After showing his printer (who he referred to affectionately
as "Big Bill") and his printing press, Jim showed an assistant
named Kathy stuffing the magazines into envelopes in his office.
Finally he showed his "prize cabinet" which contained the T-
shirts, etc., he used for prizes in his magazine's many contests.
Jim next introduced his lovely wife Marilyn, who stood up
drawing a round of applause. After that Jim remarked "it's a lot
of work, but it's still a lot of fun". He then asked for
The first question asked (obviously from a non-subscriber)
was what does the magazine cover? Jim answered "the world of
pinball", adding that it covered both new and old games. He then
commented that some readers want more stories on older games, but
that he needs more people to write for him on that.
Jim was next asked why his magazine's name included
"pingame" rather than "pinball"? He replied that he didn't want
the name to be too similar to "Pinball Trader", which was still
publishing when he started up.
Rob Berk then asked Jim to tell about the new masthead he
had for his magazine? Jim told us that it was drawn for him by
ace pinball artist Kevin O'Connor. Jim then passed out to
everyone a copy of the cover of the current issue of his
Someone then asked Jim where all his subscribers are from?
He answered that many were from California, but that most of the
states were represented. Jim then added that he also has many
subscribers in foreign countries, even in Saudi Arabia.
At that point Rob Berk introduced one of Jim's foreign
subscribers and writers Frederico Crocci from Italy, drawing a
round of applause. English subscriber and Expo visitor and
author Gary Flower was then mentioned.
Jim then took a photo of the audience all appearing to be
reading the simulated Journal issue he had handed out. Jim's
presentation ended with the awarding of prizes using numbers
which were written inside the simulated magazines.
READING AND UNDERSTANDING SCHEMATICS
Rob Berk then introduced the next seminar speaker, Steve
Young from New York, to give his presentation on how to read
pinball schematics. He said Steve was most noted for his
publishing, several years ago, a great pinball magazine called
"Pinball Collector's Quarterly".
Finally, Rob said Steve was a "strong pinball supporter" now
producing reproduction parts for the hobby. Steve was then given
a round of applause.
Steve began by telling us that he was going to make an
informal presentation. He then told us that reading schematics
is something which stumps a lot of people, even operators who
have been in the business for over 30 years!
We were then told, that once you got the hang of a few
little things, the basics of reading schematics was not too
complicated. One day, Steve then quipped, "a light bulb goes
After commenting that he only had a half an hour for this
presentation, Steve told us he would try to make it interesting.
He then told us to consider the schematic as a "road map".
A schematic for Gottlieb's 1971 game DROP-A-CARD was
projected on the screen to aid Steve's presentation. Steve first
pointed out on the diagram the name of the game, the designer's
initials, the game number, and the drawing date. He then
commented that the "game number" is often also shown on the
game's score and instruction cards.
Steve next pointed out the "Table of Coils" which he said
appears to give a lot of "cryptic" information until you learn to
understand it. He then pointed out that the coils in this table
were broken down into relay coils, relay bank coils, other coils,
We were then told that each coil in the table is given a
letter (or two) to differentiate it from the others, plus an
"index" (letter plus a number) used to locate the coil on the
schematic. The coil's "function" in the game, Steve told us, was
also given in the table.
Steve then told us that the coil's "part number" is also
listed. He then said this is something which you should pay
attention to when replacing a bad coil (especially those
connected in series with another coil).
Continuing with coil table information, Steve told us that
the table also shows what type and how many contacts were
associated with each relay.
For example, he explained that the notation "3A" in that
column meant that that relay had 3 type "A" contacts associated
with it. Steve then told us that "A" means "normally open", "B"
means "normally closed", and "C" indicates "single-pole-double-
Steve then commented that the information provided in the
table of coils could even be used to determine a replacement for
an entirely missing relay in a game. However, he went on, this
would be a tedious job, but possible.
After giving us some information concerning the labeling of
"Control Bank Relays", Steve went to the "motor chart" shown on
the schematic. He said this was "another mystery" to many
Steve then remarked that he likes to think of an electro-
mechanical pingame as a "mechanical computer" which "executes"
one function at a time. He then pointed out the "picture" of the
score motor on the schematic, showing a top view of the motor
switch actuating plate with switch position labeled as "4A",
etc., for example.
Steve then said that the "4" indicates that the switch stack
is located in the position labeled on the picture by that number.
The letter "A", Steve then told us, indicated that that switch
was operated by the bottom cam on the motor unit ("B" would be
the next cam up, etc.). He then told of the suffixes "S" and "L"
on the contact code which stood for "short" and "long" positions
At that point Steve turned to the right-hand side of the
schematic where the game's power transformer was shown. He
pointed out the 110 volt primary circuitry and the secondary
windings which produced the lower coil and lamp supply voltages.
After commenting that each manufacturer has their own
conventions regarding the layout of it's schematic and game
wiring, Steve began telling us that Gottlieb in their games used
vinyl covered wires for all 110 volt circuits, and cloth covered
wires for the lower voltage circuits fed from the transformer's
secondary windings. Steve then went on to say that the "ground
line" and the "6 volt hot line" were shown along the drawing's
At that point Steve told us that he was going to use a
"sample problem" to illustrate how to use a schematic for
troubleshooting. The problem, he then told us, was that the left
and right rollovers don't alternate properly.
Steve next remarked that often a game's lamp circuits
(rather than coil circuits) are sometimes easier to use to
analyze a problem. He then pointed out on the schematic the
circuits which operated lamps associated with the sample problem.
Steve then showed us that all lines from those lamps ended
at a single-pole-double-throw switch on the game's "Alternating
Relay". He then told us that that switch was most likely the
cause of our problem.
We were then reminded by Steve that the electrical
connectors used to interconnect the various parts of a game
(playfield, backbox, etc.) are often the cause of game
malfunctions. These connectors, he reminded us, are never shown
on schematics, but should not be ignored when other problem
sources have been investigated, adding that these connectors all
"break" the game's "ground" and power supply lines.
After pointing out what the schematic symbols for stepping
switch disc wipers and lamps are, Steve directed our attention to
the right-hand side of the diagram where the game's "coil logic"
was depicted. He then pointed out the red and black wires which
were the 25 volt power supply for the coils.
Steve next reminded us that the "Game Over" and "Tilt" relay
contacts interrupt many of the game's circuits. He then
commented that you can troubleshoot the "start circuits" in many
games with the playfield removed, but not on Gottlieb's.
We were then told that Steve would talk briefly about
flippers, pop-bumpers, and "start circuits". First, however, we
were reminded that every coil has a black "common" wire connected
to it, most having two to continue that circuit to the next coil
On the subject of flipper circuits, Steve began by remarking
that in order for a flipper to work you've got to get 25 volts to
the flipper coil, the only thing in the way of that being the
flipper switches. He then added that there is also an "End-Of-
Stroke" switch which shorts out the "fine winding" on the flipper
Steve next switched to "Pop-Bumpers". He told us that the
bumper switch on the playfield powers a "Pop-Bumper Control
Relay" which in turn powers the bumper's coil. He then talked
about the bumper unit's "End-Of-Stroke" switch which holds the
relay energized until the bumper operates to propel the ball
Finally, we were told by Steve that a game's "Start Circuit"
is one of the most troublesome circuits in pingames. The
circuitry involved in getting the "Start Relay" to energize, he
went on, involves several switches on several different units - a
lot of items to troubleshoot! Steve then briefly told of using
"clip leads" to short out various portions of the circuit during
After suggesting that a game's "Slam Switches (used to
disable the game if the cabinet is hit by players in an arcade)
be disabled for home use, Steve concluded his presentation. He
was then given a good round of applause.
DESIGNING A PINBALL MACHINE
Rob Berk got up again to introduce the presenters of the
final seminar, the now annual Pinball Expo "design your own
pingame" session. He began by telling everyone "now's your
chance to design a pingame!" Rob then told us that this year our
guest designers were two fellows from Sega (formerly Data East)
Pinball, John Borg and Tim Seckel.
John began, as has been customary in the past, to ask the
audience to suggest themes for the game and then vote on them.
The theme which won out in the voting was "The Three Stooges"
(which had also been selected several years ago).
Other theme suggestions included such themes as: Information
Super Highway; Election '94; O.J. Simpson Trial (yeah - that's
right); Rocky Horror Picture Show; and Pinball Expo, just to name
We were then asked to select a playfield "gadget" for the
game. Three heads in the middle of the playfield (representing
the Stooges, of course) was chosen. This resulted in quite a bit
of discussion on how the heads should be placed, and how they
should be used during play.
One idea was to have one head in the center of the field
with the other two placed above it. A real crazy suggestion was
to put "Curley's" head in the middle, with it being able to pop
up through the game's top glass, allowing the player to pat it.
Another "head idea" was for the heads to have hands, with
the heads being able to move, and thus hit each other. Someone
even suggested the heads being able to "spit" balls at each other
- a very wild idea indeed!
It was then suggested that drop targets be placed in front
of each mouth. A suggestion was also made that the game end with
some sort of "pie fight".
At that point there was a brief discussion of the Pop-
Bumpers on the proposed game. When the people in the audience
were asked to vote on how many there should be, two was the
number chosen. After that there was much interactive discussion
of various game play details, including the use of ramps,
At one point someone comically suggested putting three
buttons on the game's "lock-down bar" (representing each Stooge,
of course) which controlled the heads on the playfield. These
buttons he said would be operated by the player touching them
with his own head.
The final discussion of the design was concerned with a
"jackpot" feature for the game. We were finally told that a
"whitewood" of our design would be available in the Exhibit Hall
the next day. That ended the seminars.
DESIGNERS "FIRESIDE CHAT"
Near the beginning of this article I mentioned a special
Expo event, held in Rob Berk's suite, dubbed by him as a
"Fireside Chat", featuring several of the pinball artists
attending the show. Well, Friday night another of these "chats"
occurred, this time the special guests were pinball design greats
Wayne Neyens and Steve Kordek.
Wayne, as many of you might know, began his career in the
pingame industry with an outfit called Western Products way back
in 1937. After serving in the Armed Forces during World War II,
Wayne went to work for D. Gottlieb and Co. and was their top
designer until he retired in the 1960's.
Steve began working at Genco in the late 1930's and later on
designed that company's first flipper game, TRIPLE ACTION, in
January 1948. After a short stint at Bally years later, he ended
up as a designer for Williams and is still there today as their
Director of Game Design.
The stories told by those two industry veterans, with
intervening questions from their audience, lasted for about three
hours and was a great treat for all. But, as I said earlier, the
details of that session is beyond the scope of this article.
However, it could possibly be the subject of a future COIN SLOT
Well, that's all for Part 1 of my coverage of the great
Pinball Expo '94. Stay tuned next time for the conclusion of
this story, including details of the game auction, banquet, and
Exhibit Hall (including a listing of all pingames on display