Amazing Meccano Pinball Machine Fully Functional Before Meeting Its Fate

[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 apparently new machines do still 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]!

40 thoughts on “Amazing Meccano Pinball Machine Fully Functional Before Meeting Its Fate

    1. I still love playing the old electromechanicals where the scores were in the tens, hundreds and thousands. There is just something about feeling all of those mechanical vibrations through the cabinet.

  1. Stern, Jersey Jack, Spooky Pinball, Heighway Pinball, Dutch Pinball, just to name a few manufacturers.

    I think you’ll find there’s rather a lot of new pinball machines being made and sold at this very moment. The industry and hobby are stronger now than they have been at any time since the late 1990s.

    1. it is strong but some are being lazy, IMHO games like the hobbit are total trash. the playfield is limited and it is basically a glorified pinball 2000 (yes i know they are different companies) but what i’m getting at is if i want to play a video game give me a video game. pinballs can have video modes but do not make that the cornerstone of the game.

      as far as this project goes, it is awesome I would play this game over a virtual pinball any day of the week, there is something about the tactile feel of the game. full disclosure I own pinball’s including my fav indy jones the pinball adventure widebody, not that piece of garbage from stern in 2008

      1. Fun Fact- did you know that Jersey Jack games run linux? Ubuntu (IIRC: 16.04) to be specific :)

        I actually got sort of got past the dongle protection and was able to install their Wizard of Oz pin in a VM. :)

        Once installed I was able to create a user and get access to the game files. I should write a hackaday post about this! lol

        Unfortunately, the game binary was not vulnerable to the same workaround I used for installation, and it needs the dongle to run. It looks like all of their LED and graphics data is stored as FLV’s (If I remember. It was about a month ago I last was working on this).

        That was about as far as I got until I got bored and moved on but if anyone has ideas on reading the LED data from the FLV files I’m all ears! :D

        1. I actually did know they ran on linux, but never really dove into it as i’m not the biggest fan as i’ve previously stated. I like good playfields, not shiny video modes. that being said yes list somewhere what you got I would be interested in the back end or at least some of the details on what is inside.

  2. Was going to say something about pinball still being made, but others beat me to that. Instead I’ll fuss about not knowing what the hell meccano is. The pics look like erector. Is meccano some weird off brand erector?

    1. I was an 80’s kid and I remember Meccano, but according to Meccano’s ‘About’ page, Erector is the US flavor. Meccano and Erector (in the USA) joined in 1913, apparently.

    2. First conceived by Frank Hornby (railway modellers will know him) in 1898 in Liverpool, UK. Became Meccano in 1908, and pre-dates Erector. Still available, as the brand was bought by a French company, who now also own Erector!

      I still have my 1960 Meccano No. 10 set with numerous add-ons, though it has been in storage for about 20 years.

      This build is truly awesome. The biggest thing I ever made was a dock side crane about 20″ high.

  3. any attempts at building a “normal” looking pinball machine documented anywhere? (as opposed to one like this where aesthetic considerations are sort of dictated by the construction materials)

    1. Well, the novelty here is that Mr Leach has built a “normal” looking and functioning pinball machine within the self-imposed constraints of it having to be Meccano. It’s both very good AND Meccano!

      1. i’ve got no beef with, or complaints about this project, it being featured, etc, etc. not actually trying to shit on anyone’s work, plenty of respect for the creator, worksmanship, all that, whatever. disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer.

        i’m just asking about something kind of related, where the novelty would be in the similarity of the final product to something professionally made, without having been professionally made. that sort of thing seems perfectly on topic here.

  4. +1 for the wizard of oz, saw one in the local pinball arcade a few days ago.
    Its truely a blessing to have several pinball arcades around town close to me. They rotate new tables in every couple of months and I can say it is still a business.

  5. My hats off to him for the mechanical mechanisms. I worked on hundreds of the commercial machines as an amusement mechanic back in the 70’s. My favorites were Bally’s Pinball Wizard and William’s Triple Action.

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