[Brian Leach] of the South East London Meccano Club has put an impressive amount of ingenuity into making his pinball machine almost entirely out of Meccano parts. He started in 2013 and we saw an earlier version of the table back in 2014, but it has finally been completed. It has all the trappings of proper pinball: score counter, score multiplier with timeout, standing targets, kickouts, pot bumpers, drop targets, and (of course) flippers and plunger.
The video (embedded below) is very well produced with excellent closeups of the different mechanisms as [Brian] gives a concise tour of the machine. Some elements are relatively straightforward, others required workarounds to get the right operation, but it’s all beautifully done. For example, look at the score counter below. Meccano electromagnets are too weak to drive the numbers directly, so a motor turns all numbers continuously with a friction drive and electromagnets are used to stop the rotation at specific points. Reset consists of letting the numbers spin freely to 9999 then doing a last little push for a clean rollover to zero.
Despite pinball machines being obsolete (in the sense that no new machines get made), there is a thriving cottage industry in refurbishing them and people seem to be constantly reinventing them as well. We’ve seen highly complex pinball-inspired games, immersive versions of pinball, supersized builds, and even pinball simulators. Something about the way pinball combines electrical and mechanical elements into a physical game of skill seems to inspire people get creative.
[Brian] mentions in the video that it’s time to dismantle the machine. Presumably the Meccano Club will reuse the parts in other amazing builds. It’s sad to see it go, but one thing remains: the high scores will never be broken.
Thanks for the tip, [Tim]!