Amongst the "Indispensable Resources" listed in our Links section is the site at Marvin's. If you're technically inclined, this is a great source of information about fixing and upgrading your game.

While the content is superbly well written it's style belies the characters behind it.

If you want to know who they are then, for most people you have to see them at one of the pinball shows.

But there's another way - the "This Old Pinball" series of tapes, and the fifth in the series has just been released.

Tape 5 "Black House, Haunted Hole" looks at Gottlieb System 80 games and Black Hole and Haunted House in particular.

In contrast to earlier tapes, this one comes in two volumes and there's little point in buying only one since the important information is spread across both.

Previous tapes have looked at restoring a Gottlieb "World Fair" wedgehead (EM repair), restoring 1960 Williams "Official Baseball" (EM repair/Pitch & Bat history),
restoring Bally Twilight Zone (1990s WMS/Bally WPC repair) and fixing Indiana Jones, etc. (1990s Wms/Bally repair).

As usual, the hosts are Shaggy and Norm with Shaggy presenting and Norm on camera and chipping in with pertinent comments and firecrackers. They are joined by Rob and other "special guests".

Before looking at the content it's worth spending some time talking about the presentation. This isn't a big-budget production. In fact it's not entirely clear if there was a budget. But the crucial information is conveyed clearly in the main, and the asides and occasional inanities prevent the demonstrations becoming too dry. Where details are left out of the demonstrations, or there is a slip of the tongue, on-screen captions provide the corrections. They're not the easiest captions to read and they're a bit too quick but they do serve their purpose.

There are a few full-screen diagrams but they're not really usable when played back from VHS tape and are better downloaded from the Marvin site.

So if all this is already available on the Web, why buy the tapes? There are three main reasons.

First, you've got to see if you like the style of presentation. It's eclectic and stylised in an amateurish way intercut with clips from Ren & Stimpy and Beetlejuice, but you are safe in the knowledge that the presenters really know what they're talking about.

Secondly, there's simply no better way to learn than to actually see people demonstrating the mods, tests and repairs they are describing.

Finally, all the This Old Pinball tapes are only $6 each for around 2 hours of content. Of that $6, $1 goes to the Salvation Army while the remainder goes towards Tim Arnold's Pinball Hall of Fame project.
See below for the ordering details.

These tapes are not all instructional, however. There are sequences shot away from the workshop which usually involve some kind of destruction. On this tape they include making a potato mortar and firing rockets at a pinball cabinet to destruction. There is also a far more useful trip to an amusement machine auction with a bunch of tips to help you avoid the turkeys.

But it's the maintenance and restoration details you really take away from these tapes. You can learn a lot even if you don't own or work on the games covered and some tips are applicable across all pinball games.

The tapes are divided into sections, each one looking at a different aspect of the game, usually divided up board by board.

Tape one starts with battery corrosion problems, and continues through CPU board boot failures, pop bumper driver boards, display rejuvenation and connector problems.

With each section the common problems are identified and repairs are shown. Useful modifications and replacement options are usually included too.

Tape two continues with the driver board and transistor testing.

It also includes the sound & speech board, DIP switch settings, looks under the playfield to explain the kicker and switch operations and the VUK assembly with suggested modifications

There's a guide to reproducing plastics which has been covered in previous tapes and the auction visit described above.

Then it's back to the game and details of how to put these games onto free play with a hardware modification.

Next is a rather pointless and overlong clip about a visit to a Mexican dentist.

We get back to the differences between Haunted House and Black Hole, an all-too-brief appearance by the lovely Saphire and the tape ends at Dangerous Dale's where our team destroy a pinball cabinet by shooting at it, firing rockets at it and finally (with the assistance of some explosives) blow it up.

So do we recommend these tapes? Absolutely. You get some top-notch instruction, tips and insight at a bargain price. They're not perfect - tape two is rather content-lite and it was clearly a stretch to fill all 4 hours but if you can get into the Shaggy & Norm mindset it probably doesn't matter. If for no other reason, you should buy these to support the good work done on the web site.

If you want more details visit the This Old Pinball website at:

It's important to note that these are only available in NTSC format and although most modern PAL and SECAM VHS machines will play NTSC tapes you should check this before ordering.


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