Getting Started with Pinball Machines

Basic information about pinball machines for the new collector

Many people never even think that they can own a pinball machine. After all, they are complicated and expensive machines that only an arcade owner could own, right? Wrong!

While pinball machines are indeed more complex mechanically than an arcade video game, they are not beyond the scope of the average person who has a bit of handyman (or woman) ability. Once you get a pinball machine up-and-running in your home, it will typically give you years of trouble-free service because they are designed for commercial use in an arcade and frankly, you will treat your machine far better in your home than the kids would at the local arcade!

There are a couple ways to buy a pinball machine.

One way is through what's called a "retailer". These are people or stores who will take a used machine and "shop it", meaning that they will clean and repair anything that's broken. They will then sell the machine to collectors for use in their home gamerooms. Most retailers offer some kind of warranty on the machines they sell where they will do any repairs for a period of time after the sale.

An Indiana Jones pinball machine

While buying from a retailer sounds appealing for someone who's scared of doing maintenance on a pinball machine, there are a couple things to watch for. There is no standard for shopping a pinball machine -- one retailer might do an incredible job and take great pride in their work, while another may wipe the machine with a damp rag to clean any dirt off and completely ignore the mechanical and electrical side of the machine.

Another issue with buying a pinball machine from a retailer is the cost. For the "peace of mind" the warranty offers, you basically will pay 2 or 3X the cost that you could get the machine for yourself. That may not sound like much, but consider a $1,500 machine you could buy is now $3,000-$4,500! Ouch.

Thus, it's easy to see why many people decide to buy a machine on their own and do the basic work themselves. And, if anything major happens with the pinball machine that you cannot fix yourself, you can always call a repair service -- just like you'd call a plumber or electrician (although pinball repair is not quite as common a service).

One of the best places to find a pinball machine is through an Ebay auction. There is a wide selection of machines, many of which don't get any bids and can be bought for very reasonable prices. What about the shipping, you ask? That's not a big deal - there are several companies that specialize in hauling large and heavy things, like a pinball machine, around the country for reasonable prices. You just want to make sure that whoever you buy your machine from will do a very good job packing it for shipping and that they will also insure the shipment. As always, be sure to check the seller's feedback rating!

In order to help you shop for machines on Ebay, we have a number of "Shop" links on the left side of your screen which will make it easy for you to browse the Ebay listings of pinball machines. Simply click on one of the links and you'll see a clean, non-nonsense list of machines (many with photos) that you can peruse.

Note that using our links does not cost you anything at all and we don't ask for your e-mail or any other information. Your final purchase is through Ebay, not this site, so your trusted information stays with Ebay. We respect your privacy!