Sunday, April 5, 2009

The economics of pinball parts reproductions

From IPB

During my visit to Illinois Pinball last Friday a couple of things that I observed and were told have been sticking with me.

Gene Cunningham and I were discussing the run of Addams family playfields that were being completed. This is not a direct quote, but here it is as I remember Gene telling it.

Gene: Of all the playfields we make about a third are completely wrong. They have to be sanded back down to the wood and reprinted at an additional cost. Of all the playfields we make about a third are seconds that have to be sold at a discounted price. Of the remaining two thirds, about a third have a minor defect that may or may not be noticed by the customer. When they do notice it, they demand a refund or a discount and sometimes trash the product to other collectors. The fact is, that when Williams was producing product, a minor (or even major) defect would have been put into the game and shipped. If a color was mismatched from the master, oh well, that's what it was, and that's what you got.

Gene went on to add that they make about $100 per full price playfield sale.

Gene: You see this mold? It's for widebody lockdown bars. It weights 1.5 tons. When we produce these, this mold has to be loaded onto a truck and shipped to the manufacturer. It requires a nitrogen release as to not bend the product. When you go through this trouble, it is not really economical to produce 100 lockdown bars, but we can't sell 1000 of them, so what to do?

I guess the point of this post is that despite how IPB is run (disorganized among other things), they really do care about keeping pinball viable. Gene has pissed away more money on pinball then most of us will make in a lifetime. I honestly believe he takes a loss on just about every product he personally has reproduced (this does not include what he just licenses).

I'll remember this the next time I piss and moan about some part that I want not being reproduced, or not being perfect. I'm lucky if they exist at all, because nobody's getting rich making it.

Party, April 4th 2009

Probably the largest we've had so far. I'd estimate 40-50 people, including random people that no one seemed to know who they were. If you were a early 50's year old man with a 19-22 year old girl, introduce yourself :)

Nothing really broke down all night. I was really tired from the trip to Illinois Pinball the day earlier so I was even more antisocial than normal.

Thanks to everyone for coming, and I'll see you all soon.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rotisserie plans

This came from a fellow RGP'er, Mike Engel aka pinballmike217.

I just had a request from an RGP'er to repost my Rotisserie plans.
Jim Heck also came up with a mod that I added. It replaces the single
crossbeam with two crossbeams that allows the rotisserie to be
adjusted lengthwise for different length playfields and stiffens up
the structure quite a bit.

Here's the original:

I've wanted a rotisserie but didn't want to spend big bucks, so I
designed my own out of inexpensive Home Depot parts. By using cast
black pipe I came up with a nice design that is easy to knock down for
storage. Stock list is as follows:

8 1/2" "T"s
4 1/2" 90's
4 3/4" to 1/2" reducing "T"s
3 1/2" unions
2 1/2" flanges
2 1/2" caps
All black pipe is 1/2" you will need:
1 36"
4 30"
7 12"
4 6"
2 5"
2 4"
Also buy:
4 1/4x1" carriage bolts with lockwashers and nuts
2 1/4x1" thumb screws
1 1/4" 20NC tap
1 13/64 drill bit.
2 24" pieces of 1 1/4" angle iron
4 small "C" clamps.

I allready had the c clamps, angle iron, and spray paint. Everything
else cost me exactly $82.12.

Here are the assembly instructions to go along with the pictures.

Picture #

1- The finished project.

2- All the parts.

3- Assemble the sides. Put one 90 and one "T" on either end of the
30" pieces of pipe. There will be 4 of these. Make sure the T and the
90 are pointing in the same direction after tightening.

4-Assemble the top. Connect 2 12" pieces of pipe with a T and assemble
one side on each end. Make sure the T is pointing straight up.

5+6 - Assemble the bottom. Use 1 12" pipe, 1 T, 1 6" pipe, 1 union,
1 5" pipe. assemble as shown in the picture.

7- Shows one completed side.

8- Stand up the two finished sides and built the base connector. This
consists of 1 36" pipe, 1 union, and 1 12" pipe.

9- The reducing T's will become the axle housings. Drill one 13/64
into the top of each coupling.

10- Shows the kit from Home Depot to do this.

11- Tap the holes.

12- Install the thumbscrews.

13-Install 6" pipes into the top of the frame sides and mount the
finished reducing T's on top.

14- Put a 4" pipe through the reducing T. This is the axle. Mount the
flange on the inside and put a cap on the outside.

15-Bolt on the angle iron with the carriage bolts. I used garage door
motor mounting sock which is pre drilled. The holes lined up perfectly
with no drilling.

16-Finished hub detail.

17+18 - The assembled rotisserie. Notice the "C" clamps holding on the
playfield have felt pads on the tips so they won't dig into the

19+20 - Painted and ready to use. Pictures here:

Now for the update:

2 X 5' 1/2" black pipe
4 X 1/2" "T"s
4 X 1/2 " nipples
4 thumbscrews.

Pictures for the mod are as follows:

1 - Rotisserie before update.

2 - Stock

3 - Tap the "T"s for thumbscrews

4 - Thread nipples and thumbscrews into the "T"s.

5 - Install the "T"s into the feet of the rotisserie base.

6 - Slide the 5' pipes through the new "T"s and tighten into position.

7+8 - Finished. Pictures here:

If you already built one of these, this mod is quick and easy and
makes a big difference. Thanks to Jim Heck.

If you are starting from scratch you can delete one union, one 36"
pipe, and one 12"pipe from the original stock list as the mod replaces
the original crossbeam.


Friday, April 3, 2009

IPB April 3rd 2009

Warning ---- Some NSFW images of the "Big D**K" machine.

Gene was a pleasure to meet and was a great host. Gene spent
a lot of time showing us everything of interest in his collection as
well as his very unusual house. He really wanted to make sure everyone
was being taken care of.

My friend and I befriended Gene's son-in-law, Kim's husband, who by the way seemed to be a super cool and funny guy. He really made the day with his stories. All three of us could hardly stop laughing the entire time. "Just remember guys, no oh and aweing, it's just shit".

Probably the best moments of the tour....Gene telling everyone not to touch the guns that were laying all over the house as they were loaded, and letting someone hold a fully automatic "street sweeper" machine gun, and then mentioning not to pull the trigger as it was loaded. (The irony was that it shoots i think 30 rounds in 6 seconds, by the time Gene could have gotten out "Don't pull the trigger it's loaded" we would have all been dead).

The parts prices were not "sale", but I went with a pretty hefty parts list
of items that quite simply are not available anywhere else for any
price. I left with *everything* I had on my list. I was amazed and
delighted and poorer :). Lots of side art, backglass and translites that I didn't know had been remade. They have stock that is not listed on the website. My guess would be less than 10% of what they have is listed.

Gene threw out $20k for the Wizard Blocks playfields and software.
But then again, everything was $20k :)

In fact Gene suggested that everything was for sale as he wished to move to a smaller house. How that's going to happen is anyone's guess. If you've never been there, the house is 13,0000 random square feet. It is hard to articulate the sheer amount of stuff...pinball, weights, guns, furs, art, hubbles, neon, arcade games, and god knows what else.

We received a tour of the entire house, not just stuff pin related. Including, yes, Gene's bedroom. It was great, a deep look into a very eccentric but successful man's life. The fur closet, the shoe closet, the armory, the indoor pool room (probably 1500 square feet itself.).

The tour consisted of about an hour walk through of Gene's buildings with commentary from Gene. Wizard Blocks was available for play, and I left the tour at one point to be able to get a game in.