Bally Hoo ? Again in '69 ?

It was cold yet sunny this morning in Montreal, and after a day away from work yesterday, I was looking forward to a new day on the road doing pinball repairs - i.e. my work on my terms. All the necessary tools and parts had been prepped the night before and neatly stationed at the entrance of my workshop ready to go. Add to that the fact that I was feeling OK for mid February, and we were good to go. "OK" may be a little optimistic, suffice to say that I was functional and attentive, which is what it takes as a minimum to do proper pinball repairs.

The first repair was in an old industrial building dating from the turn of the century, (no, not the 20th to the 21st) which has now been tastefully converted to business lofts. I was escorted by the Saturday maintenence guy to a beautiful loft space which housed a German re-import of a pinball machine bearing the name of the first pinball built by the Bally Manufacturing Corporation which back in the 30`s operated under the Lion Manufacturing Company, a fitting name for an innovative and bold manufacturer created and run by a tough little Irish guy called Ray Maloney. Ballyhoo was the first pinball machine produced by Bally and was a huge success for them in the early 1930`s. The machine I was shedualed to fix this morning was a different story altogether. Consider 37 years difference in the middle of the 20th century and you have a huge difference in your sights. And while bearing the same name with very little physical or playability resemblance, they will remain worlds apart. Via just 37 years, two devasting world wars accompanied by technological advancements to freak out your grandfather and his brothers, these two pinball machines have very little in common except the name they both share.


The owner of this 1969 Bally Hoo model re-imported from Germany is a well educated cultured man by the name of Jerome. A man who impressed me with his dialogue, e-mails and verbal mannerisms. A refreshing change from the run of the mill pinball owners on my client list. So many people have pinball machines in their homes these days, might as well pick and choose the ones worth knowing and doing repairs & maintenance for, in fact that is my new rule going forward, only take on the clients who can speak in full sentences and have attention spans longer than a squirrels.

The repair consisted of repairing a motor run on condition caused by a broken lead on the outhole coil and then adjusting, waxing, tightening loose screws and bolts on this otherwise well maintained machine for its age, which incidentally is 46 years. And in those 46 years, once again technology has taken huge leaps and bounds propelling us humans into yet another new age where many, many wars have taken place ending so many of our lives that it is unimaginable for one human being to grasp and spirtually conceive the grandeur of these losses and consequences. Acknowledging the latter has deeply changed our world and how we understand things that don`t seem to want to change. Technology changes, but wars continue to be waged, that hasn`t subsided for some reason. The circus goes on, no matter what drunken, savage and greedy perverted ringmaster is calling the shots for the manipulated unsusupecting masses. Just part of evolution you say and all in the order of things, right ? And the beat goes on.


When I finished the repair I tested the game and made sure the ball counter indicator lights could be seen and that the thumpers were thumping and that the ball saver was not buzzing annoyingly. I was satisfied with the repair and was led back downstairs to the front lobby. I haven`t met Jerome yet, but I know that he will certainly enjoy his pinball now that it was playing correctly to say the least. However confusing the theme and design is, it remains pinball in all walks of the life which we experience and which we often perceive differently..

I spent the rest of the afternoon at a good friend`s home fixing several problems on his varied pinball and arcade machine line up. We talked, had lunch and repaired problems that have been lagging and plaguing his enjoyment and peace of mind for what seems to be an eternity. I will be doing more for those who are lagging in repair services from yours truly this coming week, apart from trying to maintain an even keel I will do my part in getting things to work again, even in the slightest most seemingly meaningless situations.