St. Charles pinball enthusiast collects, repairs machines

St. Charles man enjoys collecting and fixing fun electronic machines

  • St. Charles resident Steve Bedi, who has 15 pinball machines in his gameroom, collects and repairs pinball machines.

    St. Charles resident Steve Bedi, who has 15 pinball machines in his gameroom, collects and repairs pinball machines. Courtesy of Steve Bedi

Posted3/1/2018 10:19 AM

Like many of us, Steve Bedi enjoyed playing pinball machines when he was younger. What's not to like about the challenge of keeping a pinball moving around a colorful platform, compiling points for the chance to win extra pinballs or even a free game?

But when your uncle has his own pinball machine, that sort of fascination can take on new levels and keep you interested beyond your youth.


"I was probably 13 years old when my uncle had his pinball, and he ended up giving it to me about five years ago," said Bedi, a 33-year-old resident of St. Charles. "And from there, the addiction really hit."

From receiving his uncle's mid-1980s machine from Bally called "Party Animal," to realizing he just wanted more pinball machines, Bedi made the move beyond just liking to play.

The addiction has translated into Bedi owning and operating 15 pinball machines in his gameroom -- and knowing what to do when they go on the fritz.

"I just taught myself how to repair these things through schematics and Googling information on certain things," said Bedi, who admits he has always had an interest in computers and electronics. "There is a lot of help out there in the pinball community."

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It's allowed him to offer to fix other owners' machines, in addition to feeling when he finds a pinball he really likes, he could probably fix it if it needed some maintenance.

"People don't know there are three double-A batteries in the back box of these machines, and if you don't change them, battery acid leaks into the box and onto the boards," Bedi said. "Then the boards are toast, and that's when people have issues."

Others are catching on to the wonderment of owning old pinball or arcade games, Bedi said. "There is a resurgence and it's getting bigger these days," he added. "It is people my age who grew up playing these things and now they can afford to pick one up."

And he doesn't get so attached that he'll never let a machine go to the right buyer, though he does admit some machines he has had more than five years will stay with him for a long time.


Anyone interested in talking pinball with Bedi, or inquiring about his machines, can do so at

"Chicago is the pinball capital of the world, as so many companies in Chicago are still making machines," Bedi said. "And some are redoing old machines, so that's pretty cool.

"It's one of the reasons I got into this in the first place," he added. "There are just a lot of pinball games around, and it's a fun time."

Those Oscars:

It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I certainly enjoy the Academy Awards and I'll be tuned in tonight.

Unfortunately, we were never able to get out to see as many of the nominated Best Picture movies for this year as we would have liked.

The only time I ever pulled that off was when I was between jobs in 2002 or so. It makes sense that more time equals more movies, I suppose.

So, it's impossible for me to provide any meaningful insight into what will happen tonight, and can only say because both my wife and I have newspaper ink in our veins, we liked "The Post" quite a bit.

But "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" was the better movie, and likely had wider appeal.

Regardless, I hope your favorites do well and we don't have that major letdown of last year when my personal favorite, "La La Land," won the Best Picture Award and then lost it a few seconds later.

Something tells me awards show host Jimmy Kimmel will poke some fun at that.

Lots of corn:

Speaking of movie theaters, if I operated one and refused to offer the now familiar massive bucket of popcorn and equally huge glass of soda, how long would I be in business?

Whatever happened to those small, square, white-and-red boxes of popcorn that cost maybe $2? They seem to work fine when you buy popcorn at a high school basketball game. And how about a cup of soda that isn't the size of a small keg?

It's really not so much about the $15 or so charged for the large bucket and soda combo. It's more of a question of who really needs to eat that much popcorn or drink that much pop during a movie?

And who decided consumers were prepared to make this big leap into popcorn overdose?

The answer to my initial question about business longevity is that I'd likely be closing the doors at the theater in no time. Consumers are likely locked into the biggie sizes of just about everything.

And no number of The Three Stooges marathons, which would be my first feature as a theater owner, could save the day if my theater didn't include enough popcorn to feed a horse.

That slow business:

The tale of the sales receipt tape appears to be the same for quite a few local restaurants and businesses the past month or so. Business has been slow.

It seems a few culprits have been at work this winter. First, the weather has been fairly rugged, be it super cold or lots of snow. That keeps people at home.

And that darn flu bug and a knock-you-out stomach virus have been relentless.

This news didn't surprise us much, as apparently there were some flights with all sorts of illness aboard. More than a few people told us they visited Arizona a couple of weeks ago and, upon their return to the Tri-Cities, they got a terrible dose of the flu.

"A bunch of people on board were coughing," one recalled. No need to say any more.

So, yes, retailers and restaurateurs alike can expect to see revenue models not lining up with past months, or maybe even in a year-to-year comparison.

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