What to look for when buying a White Water pinball machine?
Playfield Wear / Discoloration
The playfields of White Water wear pretty well overall. Typically, you will find a little wear outside the lost mine kickout, and maybe a little bit in the outer loops, although completely blown out examples do exist. A decent used WH20 Playfield can sell for $500 or more, so it's important to find a decent playfield from the start.
If you have or buy a White Water with a beat playfield, you could have it touched up and clearcoated, or touched up and mylared. NOS playfields for this game are non-existant.
Bill Davis or Playfield Renovations can fix your White Water playfield. It won't be fast or cheap, but the results are amazing. Typically, the clearcoat alone is $200 and touchups are extra. Expect to spend 2-3 months or more waiting on the touchup and clear job. I've used both services in the past, and both are top notch companies who yield excellent results!
Cabinet Wear / Fade
White Water cabinets tend to fade. There's no solution at this time other than touchup and airbrushing. Illinois Pinball has said they will make cabinet decals, but when they will complete these is unknown. Try to find your White Water with little to no fade and imperfections.
Broken plastics can get costly to replace, if you can even find them! Action Pinball has limited original and reproduction plastics. Ray @ Action Pinball is a great guy, and has a great product.
Ramps are broken
This is simple enough to grasp, the plastic ramps take a beating. You can buy a reproduction whirlpool ramp from Pinball Inc. This ramp was engineered to be stronger than the original, yet retain the original crystal clear clarity, and not interfere with any parts of the game. Mantis Amusements does have protectors that go at the entrance of the Spine Chiller and Disaster Drop ramp, as they often take a beating from the lock targets once the targets break down from use. These protectors not only protect the entrance of these ramps, they also strengthen the targets. $30 per set is a steal!
Boulder Bumper Caps are broken or missing.
The boulder bumper caps are often broken or missing on White Water machines. This typically happens from balls hitting the mountains and cracking them, although careless repair work can damage them, too. Reproduction Boulders were made by Viking Pinball for awhile, but they are no longer made. Illinois Pinball is supposed to make reproduction boulders in 2005, hopefully they become a reality!
Electronics Are missing or non-working
Replacing missing boards and displays can get expensive quickly! I'd rather have a game with non-working or faulty boards than a game with none. Almost all problems with boards can be repaired cost-effectively. For board repairs, I recommend Coin-Op Cauldron.
As you can see, some of the resources are out there to restore a dead White Water to a knockout. However, your average pinball collector may not care about a lot of this stuff, a faded, worn White Water can still be a fun, challenging game to play. Reconditioning a dead, worn game is typically more costly than just buying a nice used game in the long run. Keep that in mind.
If you are interested in purchasing a completely restored White Water, you do have options. If you want to go this route, drop me a line and I'll put you in touch with some great restorers who recondition pinballs for their living. Their work is second to none, but you will pay a price for that.
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Page last updated Wednesday June 13, 2007
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