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Preparing for a Group Backglass Rreproduction run can take up to 3 months  to organize and ship the finished product and recreate excellent adherence to the original art.  That is why we do not accept full prepayment. We do however require a reservation deposit.  We also reserve the right to delay or cancel depending on reaching the required minimum number of units. The reservation deposit is USD $150.  

If we for any reason decide not to make the run we will immediately refund all  deposits. When we decide to go forward you will begin to recieve bi-weekly  status reports  and be billed for the balance due prior to shipping.​

Vintage EM Pinball Machine

Restoration Rating Guide

How to rate the condition of a Classic EM Pinball Machine and how the 1 to 5 points system works.

I have always admired the Vintage Classic Car Buying and Rating standards and recently decided to apply some of the strategy to the difficult task of rating Pinball Machine restorations.

A 1 to 5 points system isn't perfect but it’s better than nothing. Hopefully the following info will provide a better understanding of how a guide can be used to suggest value and overall condition of an EM Pinball Machine.

Note: A Pinball Machine can fall into any of the following Classes as far as condition is concerned, but prices will vary as sellers and buyers negotiate a transaction with different degrees of expertise.


The Truly Perfect Restoration

Simply an original NOS unused production run unit in the original factory packaging that just needs to be dusted off is of course extremely rare.

Since there aren't too many in this condition and those that are bear no resemblance to what any restorer can hope to attain. These Pinball Machines are usually sold at prices that are over the top and would throw the average costs out the window.  There is no reason to assign a class rank other than to say there is something that could be better than a Class 1 restoration shown below.


Class Ranks 1 to 6


Class 1 - The All-Pro 5 Star Restoration

A Class 1 Pinball Machine must be judged 95 points or better out of 100. A class 1 Pinball Machine can compete and win or tie for best in class or best of show. This means that not only are the correct original parts used, they are installed correctly, just as the factory did.

To simply determine what it would take to restore a Pinball Machine to correct class 1 condition would take an expert several months to find and properly assess all of the components required to make a class one original parts Pinball Machine. At this class you also need to know exactly what the original colors, sounds and actions were.


Class 2 - The *Cherry* Restoration

Class 2 is what many people think of as the Class 1 Pinball Machine. To anyone other than a seasoned expert it looks perfect. It could win at local shows and place well or win at national shows. Even though it may win, it is not a 100% correct. A Class 2 Pinball Machine might have some new non-original parts. At a glance you can't tell a class 2 from a class 1.

Class 3 – The Sunday Player

Class 3 is what most hobbyists have setting in their homes getting pampered. A class 3 Pinball Machine looks good and makes up 90% of local Pinball Machine shows.

A Class 3 Pinball Machine will show the signs of non-authentic detailing. Decals may have deteriorated and the playfield may show wear. The Pinball Machine still looks good but the finish is no longer perfect, the backglass may be faded or slightly marred.  However, nothing major is missing.

Class 4 - The Clean Busy Player

Class 4 is what some owners play often. In this class you have two extremes. One is the little old lady driven 4,000 miles a year Pinball Machine and has some slight damage, wear and a little rust.

The other is the Pinball Machine with high mileage and some "custom" modifications to keep it running. This Pinball Machine has a lot of work done to it in the hopes of keeping it around until you can afford to restore it after you buy that class 2 Pinball Machine. Either way this Pinball Machine is going to take a lot of work to get into show condition.

Most classic Pinball Machines for sale on eBay are in this condition. They are still Pinball Machines that don't look too bad. They look good at a distance from 20 feet away or passing by at 20 MPH. Either way they are usually still Pinball Machines that in one way or the other are good Pinball Machines for the most part. The biggest thing to remember is that these Pinball Machines can take deceptively good digital pictures.

This is the a Low category.

Class 5 - The Money Sponge

Class 5 is a dangerous investment to be avoided for the average restorer but not to be junked as the parts may prove to be valuable to a knowledgeable restorer. This is the common Pinball Machine that is found in most local ads for about $200 to $300. It is or can be a daily player with many annoying problems. Mechanically it is intact and runs sporatically. The playfield is probably fairly worn out and it may have a good share of electrical contact rust. But is structurally still in fair shape.

For most of you this is a first restoration and it teaches never to do that again. To get this Pinball Machine mechanically to a level Four requires a tune up, new rubber rings and wireing and contact and a few missing of . While the exterior needs some repair and a trip to a professional for an overall cleanup and repainting. The interior and rubber are probably defective and a lot of detailed electrical work needs to be done. All said, many Class 5 Pinball Machines should stay that way, but many make it to class 4 or 3 depending on how much time has been put into them. Usually it costs too much and requires too much effort to get this Pinball Machine to a class 2, but many have gone broke trying.

Like the highend Pinball Machines, values fluctuate too much to get a good handle on it. Price is more than likely determined on how old the paint is and how much wear and tear the Pinball Machine is showing and  how well it runs.

Class 6 - The Parts or Junker

Class 6 - This is a true junker, the kind of Pinball Machine you pay $100 for if you take and $200 if you only get the parts you want off of it. . This is a definite parts Pinball Machine. But once again, there is no accounting for bad decision making and some class 6 Pinball Machines have been restored (or have had a vain attempt at it made at it). Prices vary from  a $0 take it away to $150 depending on how bad you want it and how much you think the parts can be worth.


There are some basic rules of thumb to go by in the classic EM Pinball Machine game of chance. First do your homework on the cost of restoring a Pinball Machine to the next level such as  going from a level 4 to a level 3.  Going from a Class 2 to a Class 1 can be astronomical and probably impossible without professional participation.

Here are 3 other things to consider:

  • It’s better to buy a lower quality original Pinball Machine than an amateur restoration that has been abandoned and most probably poorly done on the cheap.

  • Research the maximum increase in value after restoration before you become trapped and reach the abandonment stage.

  • As an amateur expect a bit of adversity and at least double the budget estimate you are thinking about in order to complete the restoration.

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