My Pinball Dolly:

By their very nature, pinball machines (pin for short) are very difficult for a lone person to move. Their high center of gravity and awkward size makes moving a pinball machine almost impossible to do safely. The unprepared individual will often scratch floors, tear a carpet, hurt his back, or even topple a machine by trying to drag it or raise it on his back. I have no intention of ever experiencing any such events first hand. When I purchased my first "pin", I decided right away to buy a new dolly or to build one and have it ready before my new pin arrived at my home. I did find several steel models available from sources on the internet, but they were all very expensive, ranging between $230 and $485 bucks. That's not including shipping either so for me, that's very hard to justify. Sure, if I owned many pins, then okay, but at this point, I only have one. So all things considered, I decided to build one from scratch.

It made sense to search the internet for existing designs. I found a few, but I didn't really like any of them. One design seemed too complicated as it appeared to require hundreds of small pieces of oddly shaped wood to fit together. Another design looked like it would twist too much while pushing it around. Another design moved the load (the pin) forward and backward as it lifted and lowered and I knew that I would prefer the movement to be strictly vertical. Some designs relied on a small 4 ton bottle jack to provide the lifting force. First of all, most new bottle jacks no longer include mounting holes in their base, probably because those were prone to breaking under non-vertical stresses and so posed a safety hazard and were subsequently eliminated. Also, a bottle jack is so powerful that it can easily rip a wooden construct to pieces. I wouldn't want to risk that. In the end, I did not find a design that I liked well enough to build and to risk using. I decided to come up with my own design.

I drew up a sketch of the dolly in my 2d CAD program just to get the scale and measurements and the angles of everything worked out. Then I bought all of the materials and hardware ar Home Depot and TSC stores. Pretty much everything went as planned. I plan to provide the design and bill of materials here in the hopes that others can build one like mine if they want to.

It has a 4 to 1 lifting leverage ratio. That's nothing compared to a hydraulic lift but this thing can't destroy itself either. Simply put, if you can't raise it, you're overloading it anyway. I stacked eight 18 litre water bottles onto it (the top was covered), that's about 316 pounds, and I was able to lift it and lower it at least 5 times before my arm got tired. The total vertical travel is 3" while the handle rotates through 90 degrees.

Another cool feature is that the lift stays up by itself without a lock or rachet or anything. It does this simply by rotating the lifting wheels about 5 to 10 degrees past top-dead-center of the hinge point. So long as there is enough weight on the table, it'll hold itself in the uppermost position.

The total cost was about $140. It is made from:
-six 8' 2x4 boards,
-48" x 36" x 1/2" plywood,
-about 50 #10 x 2.5" wood screws,
-32 1/4" x 2" bolts with nuts & washers,
-16 5/16" x 1.5" bolts with nuts & washers,
-four 3" swivel castors
-four 2" straight castors,
-half a bottle of Gorilla glue,
-a 6.5" handle,
-a couple of 5/16" x 4" bolts with nylon nuts and big flat washers,
-a 1/2"-13 x 4" x 10" strap with nuts & washers

You may download this design drawing biltronix_pinball_dolly.pdf This drawing is not a complete set of assembly images or instructions but until I get around to producing a more detailed drawing set, this will have to do. It is all I used while making my own dolly shown below.

Except maybe for paint and a top mat, here's the finished working dolly.



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