Meet our Tech of the Month, Michael McKenna. Nominated by Chris Doyle from the Alamo City Pinball League.
Chris writes: “Mike is the lead tech for What’s Brewing? Coffee Roasters maintaining our 38 machines as well as running his own repair company, MJM Amusements, on the side from his main job working as a civilian for the Air Force. He is often on the Marco PinTech Livestreams. Here is an article from last year on him. Long story short, pinball in San Antonio would not be where it is right now without this man! Thank you.”
Q: How did you first get into the hobby?
“I played a lot when I was a kid in the 1970’s. Some time in 2014, I started looking for a pinball and ended up with a project Gottlieb Force II.”
Q: Did you have a background in another field that made that transition easier?
“I have been troubleshooting and repairing government electronics for 30 years. I went to school for electrical engineering. I run a shop that repairs and certifies communication equipment for ground stations and satellites for the Department of Defense. I get certified to solder to the IPC-J-STD-001 with Space Addendum biannually for work, that experience helps when re-working circuit cards and parts. “
Q: Some techs have a particular aspect they really enjoy working on or they have a specialized set of skills (ie: boards, EMs, new Sterns, restoring cabinet art, etc) — do you specialize in something? or what’s your favorite aspect to work on?
“I have experience in all of the common system repair, not a restorer, (System 3, 4, 6, 9, 11, WPC/WCS, Pinball 2000, Ballys/Stern early SS, Sega/Data East, Gottlieb System 1 and 3, System 80, SAM/SPIKE, and EM (Gottlieb, Williams, Bally and Stern) I have not had much experience with Atari or Gameplan.
I enjoy them all for different reasons, but EMs are probably the most fun and rewarding as a mixture of mechanical and electrical. The schematic and operation is like a puzzle game. You rarely need parts… Other than some leaf switches you can get from scrap.”
Q: What are you working on now and in the past, What has been your favorite project/game that you worked on?
“I am working on a heavily routed The Simpsons Pinball Party, a Bally Beat the Clock, Hot Tip EM and Sky Jump EM and a Gottlieb System 1 Pinball Pool. Two are mine and the rest are customer jobs. Also, maintaining 38 machines at a location.
My favorite was a warehouse find Addams Family. Missing parts, boards and mechs. This was early in my pinball repair, paid $4K for it and brought it back to life. Its the game I have owned the longest. It still looks and plays great!”
Q: What is the best way to contact you and what areas do you service? Do you also operate your own route? If so, would you like to shout out those locations?
“I’m in your tech database. Use the contact info in there. I don’t advertise other than that. Has been 4 years since I started my business and I haven’t gone a day without at least 2 customer jobs I’m working on top of the location. I service San Antonio area, have done work in Austin and Corpus Christi on some occasions.
I operate a route (1 location, currently) with 19 pinball machines. Shout out to What’s Brewing (38 machines).“
Have someone you want to nominate for the Tech of the Month? E-mail [email protected]!