Refurb, re-condition, modding costs - overview and thoughts guide.

Spadge

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#1
As a few know on here, I love to refurb and mod tables, probably as much if not more so than playing. I enjoy seeing machines at their best, as good as they can be, looking close to how they looked as new if possible.

I realise that the majority of people are the other way, wanting a great game and not too caring about exactly how shiny it looks, a lot of people are a mix of the two; collectors who want nice condition machines and enjoy to play them but aren't necessarily technically or practically minded.

Anyway, I spent a lot of money (read "fortune") modding the 14 or so tables I had pre-xmas 2017, which were all top tables (top 10 IDPB rated in the main) and other recent great Prem/LE's for the most part. Then I had a brief hiatus thanks to HMRC, selling them all, without really contemplating what I'd spent on them aside from the table cost and basic "advanced mods" such as colour dmd, led-ocd and invisiglass/PDI non reflective glass. My state of mind was that I just wanted the severance be quick and my tax woes sorted asap.

Now back in the game, albeit to a lesser mental level :) I've put together a little background on a table I bought recently and took to the levels that I like to take machines to - what it actually costs and where those costs are.

I have not costed for time, since this is the very reason it's a hobby for me and I love doing it. I'm not a jobbing service guy doing this for someone else or doing it at a pre arranged budget - even though I probably should. Getting someone to do this for you as a service is going to cost a bit of someone’s time. I’d say I’ve easily put 50-60Hrs in this case below.

I very recently bought a WCS94, off of Ebay, not something I usually do, but simply because I fancied it as a project with us making sports apps. I made an offer to a guy on Ebay since I could see that it needed some work and whilst it wasn't a full on project as such, it would need some cash pumping into it to make it look nice and feel great.

This is always a risk given that you're taking a gamble that the main components (Boards, DMD, Cabinet, play-field) aren't faulty or have problems, if so these can run at:

CPU Board £300-400 new, £50-150 repaired or s/h
POWER Board £250-400 new, £50-150 repaired or s/h
SOUND Board £250 new, £50-100 repaired or s/h
DMD £250 or so new, £100 s/h, £400 colour-dmd - of which I’m massively in favour of the LCD ones over the LED variant, in DOTXL mode! I hate the ones using HIRES mode because it isn’t high Rez :)
PLAYFIELD £800-1000 new if you can source it, £50-200 restoring if needed
CABINET £475 or so new, or restored depending on the damage
NEW CAB DECALS £275 or so if you can get them, if not oh dear..
SECONDARY Boards (Fliptronic, DMD, Opto etc etc) - £80-200

But if all these are generally fine barring minor repairs, then you are left with a reasonably OK machine in that it works, has original cab, dmd, boards, plastics (which may be snapped in places, broken, badly yellowed due to sun/smoke and general operation in an arcade etc). Largely speaking you'll pay a premium for the better value that these parts are in - and also if those (original or repro) parts are generally unobtainable or very expensive to source these days.


Basic Refurbishing.

So other than a strip down and clean, you'll replace a rubber set, which is around 20quid or so and makes a difference to the game along with the clean and polish to the play-field.

You'll also want to replace any broken plastics, or perhaps replace the entire plastic set depending on how hard they are to get - the same with ramps if they are in a mess.

It's getting fairly unusual to see 90's+ games still using bulbs, but it does happen (happened to me with my WCS94 the other week) and if so you're likely to be spending £60-£120 on good quality led's, flashers and leds for the back box. Swapping out inserts is largely easily done as they are pretty easy to access from under the table, GI (General illumination) can be more difficult as they will occasionally need ramps and play-field elements removing to access them requiring more confidence and/or experience.

New balls. You'll want to properly clean the balls or pop in 3-5 new ones as it needs.

Minor repairs to the play-field and cabinet can be made to tidy it up, along with new game cards as these are pretty inexpensive and easy to source.

Replacing the flipper assemblies is a good idea, but obviously you need to be confident enough to be able to do that although it's not massively expensive to get some to do it for you.

Broken parts can also be replaced, broken switches, broken targets etc if you have the skills etc.

Metal parts cleaned and polished as needed.

You may add cliffys and other play-field protectors at this point, which will be a sub £100, but largely good investment.

Going further with making your investment look the part.

After a basic refurb/shop you can consider what things you can add/upgrade to make the table be approaching a premium example, a modern LE version if you like:

Upgraded armour & lock-bar (Chromed, powder coated) £100-200

Upgraded back glass lift bar £40+

Non Reflective premium glass £165 or so

Colour DMD £350 or so, if your machine is supported.

Quality insert led's and GI £60-120

Led-OCD board, smooths out LED operations and makes them work like bulbs (gradual on/off)

New plastic set, takes time to replace and may involve some work, but new plastic looks well

Add a topper (£80-300) if you can source one and it's not cringe-worthy ;)

New legs (in keeping with any new armour) £50-£100 or so

Shaker motor if supported £80-90 (Stern primarily)

New speakers £80-£200 depending on what you chose, although it's not the best value upgrade imho

Cabinet - a new cabinet being made will likely cost you approx £500

Cabinet Decals (if you can source them) - will be needed if you have new cabinet parts or wish to re-apply new decals on your old cab. In which case the old cab will need preparing.

New Play-field/play-field protector/clear coated play-field. Pretty serious in that in means totally destructing your original machine.

Light Mods - a large range of lighting mods can be bought and largely speaking fitted without too many problems. £15-50

Toy Mods - a large range of mods will be available for your machine, these range from in-keeping gimmicks, cool stuff, things that you think you should have been on the machine to start. Range £20-400 depending on what you want!

Sub Woofer - Instead of upgrading your speakers, consider driving a big active sub-woofer instead. Costs £100-250 depending on what you spend.

So what this all means to the price and re-sale price:

There are a few things to understand it would appear;

You don't largely get to add the value of any work-time/effort you've put in.

You don't tend to be able to get much more than 50-70% of what you've spent on adding to the machine in terms of mods, depending on how rare they are and what condition they'd be, unless it’s an item in exceptional condition or very much in high demand. Usually the big ticket items.

I've made mistakes in the past and sold machines containing valuable items as part of the sale price, I think it’s certainly worth considering that you hang on to the major ticket items; nice glass, colordmd, led-ocd - the things that can largely be moved to a new machine without problem. It’s likely even worth giving a price “as is” and also without the premium stuff.

A recent real example.


Stage 1. I bought a WCS94 from Ebay for £1300. This is players/operated level, dirty and dusty, but more or less working bar a few faults.

Stage 2, after the refurb, paying for delivery, new rubbers, new plastics/ramps, decals and various parts as well as sorting out a board problem, this added £400, £1700 or so in total.

Stage 3, adding chrome armour, backlift, lock bar, quality leds, topper items, new legs, additional new parts (football in this case), quality speaker upgrade (I use car audio these days), new plunger, protector set. The cost of this was £650 or so on top of the previous stage. Total at £2350 or so. Earlier on I’d get a Pinsound (£250) to upgrade the audio, the hardware is brilliant but the sound mixes are sometimes quite disappointing.

Stage 4, premium refurb akin to modern LE level, include invisiglass, a led-ocd card, colour dmd. I’d consider the more or less minimum I have in my collection. This adds a cost of an additional £750 but all of these items can be saved and moved when the host machine is sold, or so for a fairly high re-sell price. Now at £3100 or so. So that’s right, I have a WCS94 that has just over 3k in it. Granted I have £750 of parts I could retain and sell it for just over £2300 or so, but thats still considered high by some. I have two TOM ’s and one of them is pretty much finished at this level, the other is stage 5…

Stage 5, full super mint, a new cabinet/back box at £475, cab decals at £250 or so if you can get them, new playfield/clearcoated or so at £800, so £1500 in total, but these are pretty much an investment in the machine itself - it’s a hard argument to suggest that a lot of machines save for highly rated ones/sought after will get this treatment. The total would be around £4K for everything.

Not included: Your own time, post & packing, customs fees if bought outside the EU (currently!). The above was a Bally machine and has no shaker, I’d usually add one to a Stern where compatible at a cost of £80-90.

I know a lot will consider this total madness, it doesn’t even cover the usual toy mods, lighting mods, translate mods and such, so I could have gone really mad , you could easily further extend those costs by £500 if you really wanted to :)

At the end of the day it’s easy for the mod/refurb costs to rocket, be mindful of what you want to do to an older machine, if you are doing this to make money (it’s difficult) or for the love of it.

Have some thought for what will happen in the future if you move it on or trade it. Have some thought of the value of the machine in premium condition as opposed to players, what people would realistically expect to pick one up for and what bits to maybe hang on to or plan to save and re-use.

Again, don’t ever expect to get what you have spent, only big ticket items in great condition and those not fixed to one machine will have good value along with boards that are in short supply.

Having seen some ‘average’ machines going for high prices it’s worth considering which machines you go the whole or part hog on.

Hope this has been useful :)
 
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Tony

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#3
It’s the old “how far do you take this” conversation and there is no correct answer, it will come down to individual wants needs time & budgets.
And of course abilities, then there are the purists that want everything original?
I love a good Refurb with a few tasteful mods, if it’s a keeper and you enjoy it on you go.
 
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Replay

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Jul 21, 2011
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#4
The only 'rule' for me is that it is better in the long run if all mods are reversible.

Non reversible mods can make a game way harder to sell if other people don't like them.

Otherwise mod away:)
 
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Spadge

Spadge

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#5
The only 'rule' for me is that it is better in the long run if all mods are reversible.

Non reversible mods can make a game way harder to sell if other people don't like them.

Otherwise mod away:)
I'd say that most are pretty much reversible, unless you're talking complete overhaul of cab/playfield or modifying core components.

I know purists are out there, but thats not for me :)
 

Tony

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#6
The only 'rule' for me is that it is better in the long run if all mods are reversible.

Non reversible mods can make a game way harder to sell if other people don't like them.

Otherwise mod away:)
And on that note!
Pondering red side rails lock down bar & legs on a Hook?
I Kinda thought it might match hooks coat?
 
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DRD

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#7
I know that it is horses for courses, but I much prefer to buy un-modded games, especially those with proper incandescent light bulbs still under the pf.

I bought a bk2k with leds in, the damned thing have me a headache with all that strobing going on.
 
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Spadge

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#9
I know that it is horses for courses, but I much prefer to buy un-modded games, especially those with proper incandescent light bulbs still under the pf.

I bought a bk2k with leds in, the damned thing have me a headache with all that strobing going on.
Led-ocd is your friend. I can't have a machine without now! (A bit like Colordmd and good glass).
 
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DRD

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#10
I do put a few "bits that were stripped out by the accountants" type mods. Like the skull pile eyes in scared stiff.

It is the soldered in stuff and irreversible ones that sound alarm bells with me. My shadow had some brick wall printed plastic mod in the back. So I ripped it out. Then I had to sand the panel to remove the glue and then repaint the damned thing.

They are hard to find, but completely unadulterated, never messed with, low mileage but broken down games like the fish tales that I bought are the way to go imho. You get a reasonably priced blank canvass to do what you want then.

I don't think my fish tales has any mods. Other than the manny decalled cab and head that I put the innards of my first low mileage but faded game into .
 
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Spadge

Spadge

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#12
I should really have added a few lines about PinStadium, a quite costly upgrade at £200 or so.

Machines look great with it, but they come into their own on dark tables, really pinging the artwork up. However it depends how your machines are lit in the environment, Neons and upllighters add enough ambient light in my opinion, making Pinstadium an expensive luxury imho.

TAF is a good example, its quite dark in a dark pin room and could do with some additional lighting, as is Spiderman, but both are OK in the ambient lighting provided by my neons and lamps.

I've got 5 Pin-stadiums still (I used one on AFMr) and am contemplating adding one to TAF and TZ , maybe one of my TOM 's too. I have 3 with blue flasher and 3 with UV. I decided not to use the flasher on mr AFMr (I may add it though) and light the table in a green light when the GI is on.
 

Durzel

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Oct 1, 2017
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#13
Led-ocd is your friend. I can't have a machine without now! (A bit like Colordmd and good glass).
Problem is with just those three things you're getting on for an extra grand on the cost of any machine.

Alright for some of course, but for many pins that represents a pretty sizeable chunk of the original cost.
 
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Spadge

Spadge

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#14
Problem is with just those three things you're getting on for an extra grand on the cost of any machine.

Alright for some of course, but for many pins that represents a pretty sizeable chunk of the original cost.
Yeah, I totally get that - just levels of madness and obsession. Horses for courses.

Some would prefer to have 10 machines rather than 2-3 souped up given the room, it's not the cheapest or practical hobby/pastime there is.

No different to "investing" in classic cars or getting decent camera lenses for example.
 
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Spadge

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#16
WCS94 and the saying you can't polish a turd springs to mind, well in this case you can for an insane amount of money :clap:
Subjectivity aside, I'm not sure I'd put it in the Turd bracket, other than the "Great Britain" team it mentions. I like the game actually and it ranks reasonably high. Not a classic by any means but it plays well. Is it worth the premium refurb, maybe not, but thats what the main post was about :)
 

Kenny Taylor

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Jul 27, 2015
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#17
My STTNG and Creech use incandescents, left it std as the bulbs were all fairly new and clean when I got them. I’ve got Fishtales to recon and will replace all bulbs with Incandescents as I know they won’t have been replaced in many a year. However my BOP and Funhouse I changed to LED’s. Go figure.. Creech and Fishy will reside side by side. Artwork complements each other..
 
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Spadge

Spadge

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#18
It’s worth having a look at a machine with leds and led ocd in it. Totally smooths the fading and stops all the strobing. Can be especially bad on sterns, SM and LOTR especially.
 

chris b

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#19
I am not against a few nice mods but I find people seem to be blinkered by these and spend more on silly mods than actually on the game particularly on the mechanical side of things also when they have lots on it’s just an utter mess under the playfield with wires everywhere recently seen a tron with an expensive el wire mod on £400 yet both ramp entrances are smashed to bits would the money been better spent on 2 new ramps
Another one I went to not so long ago was a taf guy had spent £1000 on mods when I lifted the playfield what a mess filthy not a flipper re build in site all the weld ments broken in my opinion the money would have been much better spent on sorting the underside out
 
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Spadge

Spadge

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#20
I am not against a few nice mods but I find people seem to be blinkered by these and spend more on silly mods than actually on the game particularly on the mechanical side of things also when they have lots on it’s just an utter mess under the playfield with wires everywhere recently seen a tron with an expensive el wire mod on £400 yet both ramp entrances are smashed to bits would the money been better spent on 2 new ramps
Another one I went to not so long ago was a taf guy had spent £1000 on mods when I lifted the playfield what a mess filthy not a flipper re build in site all the weld ments broken in my opinion the money would have been much better spent on sorting the underside out
It’s taken me a while to cease being excited by more exotic quick fix mods and getting around to doing things “properly” instead of being messy and lazy in too much of a rush to get fun stuff in there.
 
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Spadge

Spadge

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#22
If your adding pinsound they how have outputs so you can add things like a shaker motors to pins that couldn't take them before.
Yeah thats a new thing, I have 3 shaker board kits and shakers for Bally-williams driven off flashers, still not got around to using them. I fancy adding one to TOM box, TZ power flasher and one in TAF potentially - but using those is on the wider radar at the moment.
 
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Spadge

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#23
Having gotten a few Stern machines in my collection v2.0 I was looking to chrome trim them, alas not so easy getting stern lock bars.

Anyway, as by chance, I re-engaged with an old school pal who just happens to run a local auto-paint & shot-blasting/power-coat company.

So with that, off with all of the metal on my newest machine (a MET Pro, LED-version 2017) and off I go tomorrow. Candy purple and glitz highlights. Should look nice when done. Done all the cabinet metals, legs, lock-bar, shooter housing, coin-door, rails. Add it to Pin Stadium, comet leds, convolux, led-ocd, full playfield protector and a bunch of other mods, sub-woofer output and more - it should look the do-dahs. It should be well in advance of the spec of the LE.
 

mission65

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#24
i like my pins to have invisi glass, ColorDMD, funny on this point I much prefer the original look, and so not lcd.
Shaker motor if suits the game, cab and playfield mint is a given or why do the rest ? Love chrome/gold lockdown and side rails, hinges, or powder coat but only if suits game. Comet leds but not too bright, and upgraded speakers if needed
Since seeing your mods and on games now looking to add speaker lights.
I have mixtures of this on about 15 so far and climbing 🙈
 
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