Why do I still like Electromechanical (EM) pinball machines?
They need a lot of care and attention. Little things always seem to go wrong which creates a conundrum. Usually the problem involves a minor scoring issue. “Do I overlook the issue, or do I open up the playfield (or back) and clean whatever relay/contact needs cleaned?” I suppose the answer depends on how picky I am. If I’m showing off my pins to a friend/neighbor, I can be real picky over a dirty contact which otherwise doesn’t impact gameplay very much.
I suppose I can get rid of all the EM pins I have (currently three of them) and replace them with Solid State (SS) models. I’ll have more reliable hardware to deal with. In my opinion, it’s easier to trace a problem on an SS machine. There are fewer relays and contacts to deal with. Almost everything in an SS that clicks or ejects is driven by a transistor, which when it blows, is in an easy to reach spot.
On the other hand, I’ll really be losing out on something if I do get rid of the EMs. SS pinball machines weren’t around as long as EMs.I’d miss out on the history of pinball in exchange for limited relief on the maintenance side of the hobby. There will be no more Click, Click, DING DING, Bing sounds from resonating mechanical devices. For the longest time, pinball machines did not have volume controls and we didn’t need them, dad-gummit!!!! Nothing beats watching number reels roll around as a spectator to a game being played. There is something magical about seeing all the reals find “zero” when the start button is pressed. Oddly, it brings back memories of the days of watching somebody flipping the reset lever on a gas pump and seeing those mechanical numbers rolling to zero.
I’m beginning to digress. EM pins do require a certain type of appreciation. One must admire the real complexity of a machine that is so simple to play, even if it is difficult to fathom the mile or so of wire that connects it all together.Perhaps for that reason alone, I’ll hold onto my EM pins.