Since my first childhood holidays in Great Yarmouth I’ve always loved amusement arcades and ‘Penny machines’

Many years ago I owned a few wall machines, a Novomat one arm bandit, Rotopool electromechanical wall machine and best of all a ‘Win a Fruit Gum’ Allwin. I sold them before the last house move and lived to regret it, them last year fell in love with a 1980 Pinball machine in a local antique emporium. I joined a few forums and was warned the ‘one will never be enough’ and a few months later found myself driving back from Surrey with my 1939 Genco Airport in the back of the car. Click on the images below for more info on these two very different machines.

1939 genco airport pinball

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1939 Genco Airport Pinball

1980 Bally Black Jack

You go out for the afternoon…

and come home with .......

A 1970’s Bally Black Jack Pinball?? Click on the photo for more pics

Modern amusements!

The best forum by far for early pre-electronic machines is When I joined I found I was itching to try my hand at the digital restoration of the often very brittle ‘backflashes’ of some of the wall machines. Originally these were silkscreened onto a celluloid type material which warp and crack with heat and sunlight.

I have now worked on 5 different Oliver Whales machines. With one I worked from an e-mailed scan and on the rest I have worked from the remains of the original distorted acetate plus source photos. I try and retain the original unfaded colours and keep some of the hand painted look of the original artwork where possible. The recreated artwork is then printed on my wide format Epson printer and heatsealed on both sides. I can supply printed, laminated copies of any of the machines below for £30 incl UK p&p. The topflash can either be printed on paper or a semi translucent film if you want it illuminated. To be sure they fit your machine I can supply a proof on lightweight paper for £2.50. All backflashes are supplied for you o cut the holes due to variations between machines

If you have a machine with similar problems please get in touch and I’ll see if I can help.

Scanned at 300DPI in 4 sections and ‘stitched’ together

Printed in lightfast ink and laminated front and back

Scans supplied by e-mail

Repair returned by e-mail

Images from the web used as guide

Finished artwork printed and laminated a reasonable copy of original

Another challenge was to re-create the background for a scratch-built ‘Punch Kicker’ machine. All we had as guidance was a couple of small images pulled off the ‘net. Printed on the Epson 7800 and double laminated again.

Whales ‘Win a Spangles’. As usual the celluloid had shrunk, faded and cracked. I have tried as far as possible to be guided by original colours from the edges which were hidden from the light and keep some degree of ‘patina’ from the original silkscreening.

Backflash prints and artwork

Oliver Whales ‘Win a Polo’

Oliver Whales ‘Win a Penguin’

Oliver Whales ‘Win a Spangles’

Oliver Whales ‘Allwin De Luxe’

Whales ‘Allwin Deluxe’  Luckily the geometric harlequin background was fairly easy to recreate and some elements were taken from the other Whales machines. I try and retain as much as possible of the original silkscreen work to avoid making it look too ‘new’.

Oliver Whales ‘Win a Chew’

Whales ‘Win a Chew’  This one was very rough with nothing I could risk getting on the scanner but I managed to recreate the geometric shapes and use elements from the other Whales machines.