Pacific Pinball Exposition poster

Coin operated arcade games are wonderful devices. They are colorful with beautiful wood finish, art work, and flashing lights. They make wonderful sounds including bells, tunes, and voices. Even the mechanical whirring, clicks, and thumps are musics, evidence of the secret mechanical wonders hidden within. Those things hidden from the player are almost as fascinating as the things visible. The motors, gears, electrical wiring, and gadgets have an appeal all their own.

The Sands Mechanical Museum contains many coin operated games. There are over 30 pinball machines, horse race games, arcade video games, and a shooting game. Some of these are operational and some are awaiting restoration.

Mechanisms Explained

Every time a mechanism is restored at the Museum, an attempt is made to document it, how it comes apart, how to put it back together, and how it works. The documentation makes extensive use of photographs. Animations are now available to show how some of the mechanisms work:

base runners how gates and channels can simulate base runners

bingo magic screen shows how the colored segments move

coin payout from Jennings, counts out coins for a winner

Mills coin payout from Mills, counts out coins, used in pinball

coin counter generic, found in many games, counts coin slide pushes

coin rejector separates nickels from tokens

coin slide accepts a coin, checks it and starts a game

credit unit keeps track of coins deposited and games played

gear box coon hunt gear box, controls motion

photo booth camera shows shutter and film advance Geneva

early score unit keeps score by lighting lamps

Rotor Table


Game descriptions include the appearance of the games, how to play the games, what the mechanisms look like, and how they work. I also attempt to document their histories and who invented them if possible. A description of the restoration process is also included. (See also the general restoration techniques .)

Chicago Express (Daval Manufacturing, 1938)

Confucius Say (Rotor Table, 1937?)

Contact Jr (Pacific Amusement, 1933)

County Fair (United, 1951)

Evans Races (Evans, 1946)

High Speed (Williams, 1984)

Knockout (Gottlieb, 1950)

Paces Races (Pace, 1937)

Ritz (Stoner Manufacturing, 1938)

Shoot the Bear (Seeburg, 1950)

Sportsman (Jennings, 1938)


There are over 30 games in the Sands Mechanical Museum collection . The museum is virtual, existing only on the Internet, however many of the games are real and are scattered through our home and workshop.

We have tried to distribute the collection evenly across all the decades, from 1930s to the present. The Museum documents and restores mostly older games, generally from 1930 to 1960. More modern examples are also included in the Museum in an attempt to provide examples of historical progression.

Patents and Patent Searches

Patents are a great way to research old pinball machines. Many patents were developed during the creation of the game and the companies used the patent as a tool to protect their intellectual property.

Patents not only contain mechanical drawings but also wonderful descriptions by the engineers on what they expected from the game or the mechanism. Often schematics are included as well.

There is a branch patent office in Sunnyvale, California, close to the Museum. Patent searches are available as well.


There were many books written on the subject of coin operated games and pinballs. I continue to develop the bibliography of books while others do the same with articles.

I try to acquire the books, even when they are duplicates. The duplicates are offered back to collectors on the For Sale page at cost..

The pinGame journal is a magazine that covers only pinball machines. Jim Schelberg, the publisher and editor, has devoted years to the support of the pinball hobby and his enthusiasm shows. I am prejudiced of course, as Jim consents to publish my ramblings from time to time.

GameRoom Magazine was published once a month and is a hobby magazine for game room collectables. It covers not only pinball machines but also jukeboxes, soda pop machines, classic video games, and slot machines. You may find all issues available on DVD.

More information

There are many sources of information on the Internet, including Pinball Pasture and the news group. The news group provides access to many pinball enthusiasts and repair professionals.  The references below are old and may not contain much information.  Search is your friend.  Also located on the web are the following:

  • The Pinball Database is a continuation of The Pinball Pasture (David Byers, we miss you.) This site contains a pinball database with pictures, serial numbers, and links to many other sites.
  • cfh This site provides detailed information on how to fix and maintain your pinball machine.
  • pinwiki has some lost Clay material.
  • Terry Cummings is a pinball historian and publishes books of flyers.
  • bingo machines , Phil Hooper's informative site on bingo machines
  • Wired Magazine Photo Shoot , a photographer comes to take pictures.
  • phonograph repair , has motor identifications

Restoration Services

We used to offer restoration services. We have since retired and now work only on our own games.  We are happy to talk about how you might proceed with your own restoration and willingly consult on previous restorations. We are working on some of the games in our own collection such as the Evans Races. We disassemble, clean, restore, assemble, and test old games. Our goal is to make them look like they did after six months of being enjoyed by the players but still be protected from further deterioration.

Here is a sample of the games either restored or repaired at the Museum. We work on a wide variety of mechanical and electrical games and specialize on the Seeburg Rayolite system.

There are also, occasionally, games for sale . Sometimes customers also have extra parts remaining from a previous restorations and are willing to sell them.


Appraising coin operated arcade games is difficult because there are many factors to consider. We do not do appraisals but are happy to talk about the factors to consider.


Frequently parts, pictures or documentation are needed when trying to restore a game. Here is a list of things I currently need for various restoration projects:

  • (no items needed at this point)

I enjoy adding unusual games to the collection. I am looking for a dice game (dicer) , a manikin bowler like Evans Ten Pins, and a Rockola World Series (1937). If you have a game or even parts for one, please contact me or use the information below.

Holiday Cards

We used to make holiday cards as a form of advertising. We created the cards using pictures or items from games that had been restored during the previous year.

The Sands Mechanical Museum

Michael Sands and wife
1652 Kennewick Drive
Sunnyvale, California 94087

phone: +1 408-773-1170

email: signature gif