Free Ice-Balls!

Free Ice-Balls!

There’s this arcade near my home that, on occasion, puts machines out by the curb for trash. The first time I saw one out there (before I knew any better) I pulled over, threw the cabinet into the back of my pickup, and sped off into the night like I was in a real life version of Grand Theft Auto.

The reason I said “before I knew any better” is because that cabinet was junk. Not only had every single serviceable part been stripped from the machine (even some of the metal hinges and brackets had been removed), but the machine had also sat outside in the rain for a day. While many earlier arcade cabinets were made of plywood, since the mid-80s most cabinets have been made of MDF, which is essentially glued-and-compressed sawdust. Get that stuff wet and you can instantly watch it bloat and expand before turning into a brittle mess. That cabinet I pulled off the curb was in several pieces by the time I got it home.

Not too long ago while driving home from work, I drove past this arcade and saw this, sitting out by the curb:


Of course my mind’s eye saw this:


That’s an Ice-Ball skee-ball machine, which retails for around $4,500. I’m guessing the one I saw out by the curb is worth less. Like, much less. Like, nothing.

This thing will never again be a skee-ball machine. By the time I drove by it, all the working parts had already been scavenged (probably by the owner). Additionally, all the wiring and metal parts had been removed, probably by people wanting to recycle them for a few cents. There’s part of me that thinks it could be made into a cool bed, or lounge chair, or entertainment center, but … sometimes, you just gotta let ’em go.

Rob O'Hara

I'm into old video games, old arcade games, old computer games, writing, photography, computer/network security, and of course, the 1980s!

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. It’s amazing what you can find on the side of the road. I think you’re right – add a couple of cushions and a silver paintjob, and you’ve got a lounge chair for Captain Kirk.

  2. Being from a state whose official sport might as well be Skee Ball it pains me to see such a thing of beauty in such pitiful condition.

  3. Wow. I wish I lived near an arcade. You could rig that up to be a mini-hotwheels race track (kinda like a pine woods derby) and bet the local kids which car wins.

  4. Hey…that wiring harness is worth something :)

  5. Arcades still exist?

  6. Ah, Flack, you’re such a dreamer. I love your optimistic spirit. Keep shooting for the stars!

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