They've got the brains. They've got the tools.
Social networking (Facebookin')
Pinball Projects is on Facebook now. It was a long journey getting there, and let me tell you...a long journey. But we’re there/here now and breaking into the social networking scene, it seems. Got a good response from Facebook friends with a lot of people liking the page and good comments (thank you, everyone). As you can see from the homepage here, we've already integrated our Facebook page to the site (thank you, Amethyst). So things are going good. "Why are you so excited, Twigg?" you might ask. Cause this has been a long road/battle we've been fighting for some time (looks at Amethyst, D-Lu, etc...), and that’s what this little blog is all about.
My social networking life started with something called Friendster (some of you may have heard of this one...it's old). Well, when Myspace came along then I hopped on that bandwagon and got everyone to come along. Letter K and Amethyst quickly signed up with accounts and now we we're quickly gathering friends and all...and you know how the social networking sites go.
So Myspace was great for awhile. Really great for Letter K, cause it was geared towards music and musicians. So K, Inter Course, Letter K and the Alphabet Asylum were able to have an online presence in the social networking scene, which worked out well. However, as most of us know, Myspace became not so great. So we’ve all been migrating towards Facebook (possibly other sites I don’t know about). I took the leap like 6 months...1 year...err something like that ago. Amethyst was next to sign up. And all our friends were either already there or signed up after we did... All except the elusive Letter K.
K would not sign up for a Facebook account for life of him. Didn't want anything to do with it. Cussed it straight down to hell, if you know what I mean. This is all happening like a year ago...let's just say 2009 (everyone's on Facebook now, right?). So Amethyst, myself and several other friends kept on K about getting on Facebook. Would not budge. I mean would not!
Well now we decided to try an elaborate plan...bwahahaha. Ok, not that elaborate. I asked everyone on my friends ,and Amethysts did hers, to invite K to Facebook through Facebook's little "invite your friend" thing. I figured if nothing else, K can't resist the mass request of his peers (he usually gives in to these kinds of things). Well I'll be damned if I never even got an "F you" from him about it. He just never signed up. Must have ignored like 50 emails saying "Hey, your friend "so and so" wants you to sign up to Facebook". I gave up. Didn't think about it forever.
So I'm over working on the machines and we decide to take a break. Well, we had just got the computer fixed up in the garage for research and I thought I'd log into Facebook and play my little game Frontierville. You know, one of those games like Farmville. As I'm playing, K is kind of watching and asking some questions. I think nothing of it.
What do you know, a day or two later Pinball Projects has a Facebook page! K starts texting me about it. To set up a Facebook page for like a business or something you have to use a personal account to do it. So K had to set up a personal account to get Pinball Projects up there. Well shoot, now that he has done all this work he starts asking about Frontierville. Hell, he has a Facebook account, might as well put it to work, right? After about 25 text messages regarding Facebook (5 of which were about Pinball Projects, the rest about Frontierville) I realized what had happened.
Letter K is very competitive. When he saw that web game Frontierville, he had to get in and start whooping on fools (Twigg being #1 fool fo sho). To do that, he needed a Facebook account. And now you can see how it all went down.
And that is how Pinball Projects got started in the social networking scene. So thank you, Frontierville.
We are Facebookin'.
So I bought a beautiful Gottlieb Genie off Craigslist. This must have been the most watched machine in Craigslist history....
First, a neighbor comes up to D-Lu and me the day after I bought it. He lives about a block away, but people notice when you have pinball machines in your garage. So he pulls up, asks if I ever sell my machines, then immediately points to Genie and says, "Is that the one that was on Craigslist?"
Yes it is, I tell him.
Today at work, a fellow employee comes off a week's vacation, and he asks me if I ever search for pins on Craigslist. I tell him that I just bought one from the site. He says, "You mean the Genie that was listed?"
What's the deal here? I think everyone secretly would love to own a pinball machine, but for whatever reason, don't. They're not extremely expensive. With just some work and some love, and they can be wonderfully enjoyable investments.
So I say, go out, buy a pinball machine. Do it today! Just don't come crying to my website if you need the slam switch bypassed and can't figure it out.
Twigg and I did a lot of work today, so we decided to take a break, have a beer and a cigar, and play a game of horseshoes! It takes me quite a while to warm up. Twigg thinks he's shooting clay pigeons.
After several scoreless rounds, Twigg decides to try a bit of magic, throwing his shoe into a tree branch and making it disappear! I try throwing one of my shoes after it, and it too gets stuck! What the hell are my neighbors doing with the kite-eating tree from the Peanuts comics?
We were able to get the horseshoes down. Twigg did it again a few turns later. Needless to say, I won the game. Twigg chipped the concrete blocks on Amethyst's planter, cracked a fence board, and dented my BBQ grill.
Oh, and pissed off the neighbor's tree....
The focus of the day is to replace Cleopatra's backglass lighting wiring with the replacement Sinbad's.
Now, I’ve been researching Sinbad problems on the internet for a day and a half, looking for a Sinbad manual in some kind of electronic form, which only led me to the conclusion that K had already come to a long time ago...Gottlieb manuals are nearly impossible to come by in any kind of electronic form.
Here’s the Gottlieb manual situation: The owner(s) of the Gottlieb name have scoured the Internet and sent cease and desist letters (http://www.ipdb.org/gottlieb_cease.html) to anyone posting Gottlieb printed material. By the way, my favorite part of this official letter is towards the end where they state "We are not ogres nor are we unknown to people". LOL...oh I thought you were ogres...you're not? Well in that case.... Gets funnier every time I read it.
Well this is perfectly legal, of course, and understandable in my opinion except for the fact that the only people, THE ONLY PEOPLE, who want these documents are people running or working on these machines. If people can't repair these things then they go by the wayside of history, correct? And why would Gottlieb want to disappear into the abyss of decades past? There's no market out there for 20, 30, 40 year old pinball machine manuals. Seriously, how much money has been made selling these manuals in the last 20 years? So someone like us is going to purchase a machine and then has to purchase the manual to operate/repair the machine as well? On top of that they sell for around $20. Even for a scanned pdf sometimes. What the hell!!!
Ladies and Gentlemen, this simply will not do. K might purchase one these manuals, 'cause we do need them for proper repairs. But I'll be damned straight to hell if anyone, after I'm done, purchases any of these manuals again. The Internet will be inundated with Gottlieb manuals. You won't be able to go online without seeing a download link for them.
Checking your email? Ooops, what is this...a Gottlieb system 1 manual in my inbox?
Looking up the tomorrow’s temperature on weather.com? Oh hey, a popup for a chance to win a 60" flat screen if I just download this set of "anything-ever-printed-by-Gottlieb.zip" thing?
Searching the Web for something with the words "pin", "ball", or any combination of the letters "p" "i" "n" "b" "a" or "l" in it? What is this sponsored link to www.wishwewouldhavebeenabetterfriendtotheclassicgamingworld.com.kp? (.kp = North Korean site ,btw. Go send your cease and desist letter Kim Jong-il and we’ll see what he has to say about you being an ogre).
All in all, it was a very productive day. We did more work which will be discussed on our Project 005 page.
I was at a liquor store getting beer yesterday when I noticed through the glass among the lotto scratchers a Pinball scratcher! How cool is that, I said, and I bought one then and there.
I did not win.
So I was moving the glass from a pinball machine when it suddenly shattered in my hands! People across the tracks probably heard me exclaim a certain gutteral expression, and it scared the flip flops off me.
What I learned: alway hold tempered glass from the middle, and not from the corners.
Another point of interest: I understand that tempered glass is used on pinball machines for safety reasons, but I'm sure glad the glass didn't shatter above my pinball machine. I'm not convinced I would ever be able to get the glass out of all the box parts like the drop target assemblies.
Oh, and tempered glass apparently bounces. There were pieces on my car and across the garage!
Now that we have locks on all the machines in my garage, I suddenly got the notion to break open my giant plastic bowling pin piggy bank and produce a bowl full of quarters to set out by the machines. There's something oddly satisfying about dropping a quarter into a machine, as opposed to opening the coin door and pushing a little metal wire with your pinky.
D-Lu came over today with a couple of new locks for the pinball machines. As many pinball owners know, pinball machines often do not come with keys to the locks, or the locks are bored through. I didn't really stop to think that for about five bucks and two minutes of one's time, one could swap out the locks for brand new ones.
Well, ten minutes. The locking bars that came with the new locks were a bit too long, and the lock shafts were a little too big. We broke out the Dremel, did a five-second grind job on the lock hole, cut the lock bars to fit the size of the original (without thinking, until we were finished, that we could have just used the original) and boom like butter, we've got machines ready for the retail world.
We're still trying to figure out how the lock bar on the Star Trek machine even works, and I'm a bit sketchy about boring through the Bride of Pinbot backglass lockbar so close to the glass itself, but I'm extremely pleased with my new key set mounted next to the garage door opener.
Pinball Holiday: Foiled Again!
It's my third day in Las Vegas and I've obviously caught something. No, it's not the gambling bug or herpes from a seedy-looking prostitute, but I'm definitely feeling ill. We shared a pleasant dinner theatre evening with a nice young couple from Canada, and I suspect they were carrying some virus my body had never encountered before. Needless to say, I'm sick. Regardless of that, I'm still going to play a full day of pinball at the Pinball Hall of Fame!
Amethyst and I get in line at the Excalibur for a taxi. Neither of us has ever ridden in one before, so this in itself is quite an adventure! We hop in, tell the driver where we want to go, and then hop back out because he wants an address and we don't have it.
Ten minutes and five bucks at an Internet kiosk later, we have the address, and we're back in a cab and off to the races!
Riding in a cab is a lot like riding with your parents when you are a child. You're trusting that the driver knows where they're going, you're keeping quiet so you won't distract the driver, and you're forced to listen to the oldies station.
But there it is on the left, a very bland looking box, a vinyl sign hanging off the roof, and two cars in the parking lot. Will I have the place to myself?
I sure would, if I just wanted to walk around in the dark. There's a hand-written paper sign on the door that simply says, "We're closed, try back in a few days."
And the cab driver says, "You didn't call them before you came?"
Of course I didn't! Who expects a place to randomly be closed in the middle of the week in the middle of the day? I'm welling up with harsh and angry feelings, but call the cabbie friend and tell him to take us back.
It was a week later when I mentioned my trip to the forum on Pinside.com that I found out that the Pinball Hall of Fame had been burglarized the day I arrived, and that all the copper from the electrical system had been stolen. Just my luck. I went to Vegas and all I got was this lousy cold!
So I've learned two things that I think are worth mentioning: 1) You can't plan for the unexpected. 2) What happens in Vegas most certainly doesn't stay in Vegas, especially with thousands of people walking around from several different countries, coughing their local germs everywhere.
Now that Twigg seems to have greatly improved in health, I have contracted pneumonia! Who the hell gets pneumonia? Well, I've got a Grade A list of meds in my system and we're going to get together this Friday, rain or shine, to put the screws to the new Sinbad. I'm hoping we'll also get that Expo on legs and that we'll be primed to really get some work done.
Poor Twigg has been seriously under the weather the past few weeks and hasn't been able to give the pinball projects much time. His chronic allergies combined with my enormous cats don't make for a lovely tea party, that's for sure.
I don't really want to tackle these projects alone, so I'm mostly waiting for him to get better. I've got a couple of days in a row off this week, so I'm hoping we can hook up.
Get some rest, my friend, because now that I've got a good board coming on a parts machine, we're not gonna be worried about what happens to the one we're working on. It's go time!
I've just gotten back from The Boardwalk in Santa Cruz. I took Amethyst out for a day trip there so we could enjoy some beach, some carnival games, and (of course) some pinball!
We had a good time, but the pinball side of the trip was a lackluster experience. Most of the machines were tired and in a state of disrepair, and being alowed to just operate and continue to damage the machines.
Some did work fine and I had a blast on those.
I took a trip down to Santa Cruz for the sole purpose of putting myself in the same room as a dozen pinball machines. It's obviouls they laid off the guy who kept up their machines, because not a single one looked like it was being maintained.
Lazy flippers, broken bumpers, dirty contacts, and even dirtier playfields were the norm. The machines seemed to get worse in reverse order of their release, which makes me wonder how long they've been left to sit and rot.
Still, I got myself a pocket of tokens and hit the circuit, playing as many as I could before Amethyst flat out couldn't take it anymore. For anyone planning to do the same thing I did, here's an overview of what I played and saw. Just a little food for thought....
2) Rollercoaster Tycoon
3) Ripley's Believe It Or Not
5) Austin Powers
6) Revenge from Mars
7) Simpsons Pinball Party
9) Star Wars (1997)
10) Family Guy
11) Theatre of Magic
12) Addams Family
13 and 14) The Sopranos/Wheel of Fortune
All in all, I had a blast, even if I couldn't blast the pinball on half the machines I played. There's fun to be had in Santa Cruz, but you'd better get there quick; if things keep up the way they're going now, every one of those poor, neglected beauties will have a yellow strip of tape over the coin slot in no time at all.
I'm just finishing my McDonald's breakfast and we're all set to go to Mountain View, California today after my dental cleaning appointment to grab this pinball machine. We gotta get our asses to work, the projects are starting to pile up!
Twigg is down so I call D-Lu to see if he's down to make the drive. "Whatever" is his reply and we're on and poppin'! This could soon become a new project.
The pins are multiplying "Expo"-nentially!
A young man in the Bay Area responded to Letter K's Craigslist ad offering to take unwanted pinball machines off people's hands. This 1969 Williams "Expo" appears to be in almost-working condition, but is missing the backglass. This makes it the perfect candidate for becoming a custom pin and thusly Project 004.
On my way to band practice I have an epiphany! The playfield consists of large, simple geometric shapes. If I could have a backglass made, I wonder if Jones could repaint the playfield and create a custom backglass so we can turn the machine into a pinball for my live band!
There's no backglass, but the rest of the machine is in great shape for being eligible for the AARP. The playfield is even and doesn't show signs of wear or touchups, and the cabinet is in good shape too. Still, I'm not sure if I want to even ask D-Lu to make the nearly two-hour drive for this thing.
I got my first phone call today in response to my Craigslist ad offering to take old pinball machines off peoples' hands. A guy in the Bay area has a 1969 Williams "Expo" machine with no backglass he wants carted off. I'm a bit leery about taking a machine that I really can't rebuild and re-sell, but I thought taking it apart might be good experience for me and Twigg. I asked the guy to send me some photos, just so I could take a look at it.
PinballProjects.com is up and running
Letter K and Twigg have successfully purchased the rights to the domain name www.pinballprojects.com and have already begun recording their experiences as they begin their pinball machine restoration venture. Stay tuned, as further updates are sure to happen quickly!
Project 002: Sinbad and the Flaming Transformer has begun.
In an attempt to correct an electical problem, K and Twigg inadvertently cause some damage to the Sinbad machine. This is what learning by doing is all about!
Project 001: Star Trek: The Reconstruction has begun
Letter K has purchased a mostly-working Star Trek machine with some fairly major cosmetic issues, thus beginning our first project. Will the Pinball Projects crew be able to restore this bad boy to its former glory?