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Buying a Table
I'm going to cut and paste an interesting thread I found regarding buying a coin-op table. Note that the prices in this post will be much lower since it's an American post, but all the other details are good to know. I may follow up with some other options, as well as tables to avoid at all costs

Bottom line answer is buy a Tornado coin-op unless you have a specific background on a certain table. In the US, there are only 3 table manufactures that are part of a serious discussion.


Brown Marble - Brown Marble 1983 - 1997 - stopped using the metal feet about 1988 but continued to sell them as parts until 1996 $350-$450
oldest versions have the large metal feet and are considered the most (some debate now with the newest complete change T3000) solid consistent of all the tables
Most common have the current smaller plastic foot - I am not aware of any other substantial difference between this and the large foot except the feet...this was my favorite table but the new T3000 is very close in playability but considering the age and time "in the field" the Brwn Mrbl is still the best table Tornado has made but if the T3000 stands the test of time, it will be a toss up on which is best and the decision will be which play style you prefer
so, if you are looking for an inexpensive used table, this is your best bet...wide swing in quality because of how long they have been out there so this requires patients and careful shopping

Blonde – 1997 - 2001 This was the first color change at Valley ... it matched their ZD-7 pool table - $400-$550
consistent all the same, plays much different than the Brown Marble and has become my least favorite of all the tables

Cherry or Mahogany 2001 - 2003 Again this was changed to match the ZD-8 pool table - $450 - $650
Fastest of all the tables and because of this can be a challenge with ball control...

- I own this table, ball control is difficult but the speed is is improved with heat-treated rods but it doesn't really fix the control issues...however, if you can play on this table, you can play on any table...everything is easier after playing on this which in my mind makes it a good practice table

GREY MARBLES 2003 - 2007 - $400-$750
Overall, even with the quirks and all the confusing talk below about manufacturing changes, this is a really nice table.

30th Anniversary Grey Marble - 2003 release, only out during 2003
You can tell if it is a 30th Ann model because it will say 'Product of Valley' under the logo on the table surface.
This table really starts a wild string of table changes which are hard to document and follow but let me take a stab at it.

The Merkel heat-treated rods were introduced at this my opinion the best table change I have seen on any table at any time - only rival now is the Warrior ball...the rods were very smooth, were almost unbendable, and required far less lube to keep them at their best

Issue 1: First tables released did not all have Merkel rods, there was a mix...some tables had none, some had some, some had all...this run of tables was fairly short so I don't think there were enough made at the end to be sure when ALL Merkel rods were available
Playing surface was a little different and many liked this table because it created extra control due to the surface change...

Issue 2: Before this run was done, the man changes began and spilled over to the beginning of the Grey Marble runs...there was an attempt to make a more durable cheaper man using Nylon (Lets call this Nylon 1) (pretty darn ironic since the Tornado man was already super durable)...Nylon set up differently in the molds so it created seam issues on the side of the man which impacted tic tacking and some had dips in the front and/or back of the foot - This first Nylon man was had a dull finish and is easy to pick out on a table,
They didn't give up on Nylon right away and so began Nylon 2 where they tried a different chemistry mix...still very inconsistent mold issues...this man is easy to pick out because it is very shinny ...
Both Nylon men were short-lived but still on the 30th and early Grey Marble to follow, there ended up being tables with some or all of the original man, Nylon 1, and/or Nylon 2 men

Grey Marble - 2004 to end of 2006 beginning 2007
Different playing surface than the 30th
Earliest versions had mix of men but were consistent with Merkel rods but less than a year in they had gone back to the original man and all Merkel rods...this was the best of the Grey Marbles...good playing solid table

Handles – went from shape which was well known and long running to wood with deeper dip, then to plastic with less dip, which was soundly rejected and short-lived, back to the original wood less dip

Rod - Part way through the life of this version Tornado dropped Merkel because they thought the rod was too expensive and went with an imported heat-treated rod...still better than the original rod but nothing near as good as the Merkel rods (Merkel is the last name of the person making them...made here in the US just for this application...Warrior is considering this in coming competition models)

Merkel rod side thought: How good is this rod? Played on a Brown Marble bar table which saw much non-fooser abuse...every bar table with non-merkel rods is going to have a bent 2 rod, just a matter of time and eventually the 3 rod as well...the owner of this table, without knowing it, replaced the 2 rods with Merkel and we played on that table for OVER 2 YEARS without the 2 rods ever bending...need I say more?
T2000 (Metal Wrap) "Fridge" 2007 to Worlds 2008 - $700-$850 - assuming surface is NOT warped and has never been warped

Not Tornado name but ... this was the first metal wrap table and it had the small USTSA / VIFA / ITSF logo's on the end. Not widely known but Tornado called this table the T-3000 Tour Edition but for the everyday player it was still a T2000 and the T3000 Full Meal Deal didn't come out until 2009

Okay, this was a good table outside of not having Merkel rods but instead the imported heat-treated surface, man, or handle changes during the run BUT

Toward the end of the run and around the same time two important negative things is that they made a change in the production of the playing surface and there are a bunch of these tables with warped surfaces...if you get one of these warped surface tables you will own the worst Tornado ever made…I have had the misfortune of having to play on one of these and it ranks with the worst foosball experiences I can remember...EVER! there is no excuse and no fixing it...

The warped playing surface tables showed up at Tornado tournaments to the dismay of many...there is a "fix" suggested out there were you put blocks under the top to push up the surface (available on other board)...I won't get into details but a warped playing surface on any table in foosball is unacceptable PERIOD...the playing surface needs to be replaced by the manufacture...this is bad enough it should have a recall. Note: Tornado acknowledges that the warping is real and their problem. Tornado send a new surface but you have to replace the surface yourself and this is not easy for most people. Best not to get one to begin with.

The other tragedy is the change on the latest models, start of 2008 I believe, of the score markers to the new plastic CRAP CRAP may be hard to tell but I don't like these - I understand the logic and why they did it, but it is a terrible design.

Now, with that said, I have a friend (BigBrewGuy on this forum) who has a first run Fridge table with the original score markers and a solid flat playing surface and it is a very nice table and plays really well…he got lucky

It was during this time that Tornado started trying to make some positive changes...they say the warped top issue is appears now as of this date, 08/04/09, that the issue is resolved on new table production and that all T3000 (true T3000's) have the issue fixed...any metal wrapped table before the release of the T3000 is at least suspect. Not all are bad, you just need to make sure yours is not if you buy the metal wrapped T2000.

Okay, this is tricky, because there have been a number of changes which took place toward the end of this run moving into the "full meal deal T3000" (I will explain what I mean by this shortly)
Without comment on the motivation or process (and there is a ton), the following are the changes that were decided on

LATE MODEL 2008 Fridge table changes

Bearings: Inside face of bearings made thinner…because the ball could pass behind a man even when the man was flush on the wall…most notable if you did a stick wall pass perfect - not only could you go through the defense even if the man was flat on the wall but it could also go behind your 3 bar when trying to catch it…this change has fixed that issue completely - from good change so far - I have played on the new bearings at Nationals and on a players upgraded Grey Marble and the bearing is as advertized but it seems to me to improve the rod movement as well which if true is an unplanned result but still good.

Man: the foot of the man was changed, not enough in my opinion (more on this another time)…they were trying to address two things…ball control and hitting a consistent angle which would open the game up with banks and accurate angle shots like should be used on pushkick and pullkcick shots (not limited to this, just any time a consistent angle is needed) - two changes were done to try and make these things happen

Man change 1 - On the face of the "new" man the cross-hatch goes further up to about ¾ of the face of the man instead of stopping at about ½ way

Man change 2 - this plaid pattern did not go all the way to the edge of the man before the man change (like it does on the Warrior man), instead there was, and is, an “edge” something between 1/32 and 1/16 of an inch…very thin but impacting how the ball is struck for angles and control in a pin...this edge was not removed with the new man change but there was an edge change

Man Edge Change - There has been an edge change…in attempt to fix the angle striking issues, that edge has been slightly beveled…so instead of being a right angle with the side of the man, this same line/strip is now on an angle…say from 90 degrees to 45 degrees…I don’t actually think this is a full 45 egrees but rather something in between 90 and 45 degrees, Ed Geer could probably say what they settled on

although in my opinion, they did not make the best decision when changing the mold and should have gone cross-hatch all the way to the edge and taken the curve away and made the front edge a straight edge, the overall change is still positive

Side-strips, Handles, and Balls - a decision to change these was made at this time too but the changes were not implemented until the T3000 "full meal deal".

Platinum Tour Edition T3000 2009 - current

Platinum Tour 2008 First used fully dressed out at the 2008 World Championships. It was not until the 2009 Hall of Fame tournament that this table had all the upgrades.

What do I mean by “full meal deal T3000”? Well, there are some late model T2000 metal wrap tables (that have the new CRAPPY plastic score markers) and that seem to have been sold as T3000 tables. Some (but not all) of these tables have the Big Tornado and ITSF stickers…see video below on set up of the table Zeke won at Worlds which he calls a T3000 but which is not a Full Meal Deal

My local bar was sold this same table (with small stickers) being told it was a T3000…this is the table with the warped surface…This new bar table and the Zeke’s table are NOT what I consider a real T3000 but as pointed out by Dave and Torando, technically this is a T3000… Tornado may indeed have tried to sell these tables as T3000's, name or not, they are NOT the “full meal deal” T3000 and really are late run T2000 tables

I think Zeke’s does not have a warped surface and BigBrewGuy has same table with little stickers sans CRAPPY plastic other difference...T3000? For sure they are NOT.

T3000 2009 - current - $1000-$1175“FULL MEAL DEAL T3000”This table should have all the changes listed above, men, bearings, CRAPPY score-markers, Big Tornado/ITSF stickers.
In addition to these changes the real T3000 should have a unwarped surface and the following.

Handle Change: Now a softer “plastic” compound same shape as the wood handle above I refer to as “original” handle. It looks something like the plastic handle that Tornado tried during the Grey Marble era but they are a different material, slightly softer, slightly but noticeably smaller, and they do not have the hard edges of the original plastic handle. These factors make this a significant improvement. Real nice handle, highly recommended for Tornado players.

Side-Strip: changed to clear strip, slightly wider, which is essentially flat…this is to keep the ball from jumping up after hitting the strip to help facilitate banks and cut ball off the table…trade off is that the ball gets stuck on the wall from time to time - it works and ball is off the table less

Ball Change: as of 6/29/09 Tornado has settled on a ball and it is slightly darker red, harder, and keeps its scruffy surface is referred to has the "5 hour tumbled" ball because it has been tumbled for 5 hours to get the surface it has...pretty good ball but I think it is too hard...Tornado isn't showing any signs of changing this ball again any time soon. The 5 hour tumbled ball wears slow and consistent.
When buying a used table, everyone asks what they should look for…
Take or get lots of close up good digital pictures and I or someone on this site can help you determine what you are looking at… If possible, best to visit table in person but either way, these are the things you are looking for.

1. TABLE SURFACE: First and most important is, is the table surface would be very weird if a BrMrb had warping but don't assume it is okay because it could warp if it sat in a bar long enough and had enough beer spilled on it - this would be a total deal killer
Tornado has only had one manufacturing issue with warped surfaces and that was the Metal wrapped F5/T2000…not all, but many of these tables had warped surfaces…do not buy one of these…long story but bottom line is it is too much hassle to fix and you can easily find a different coin-op without a warped playing surface.

2. GOAL EDGES: Second and probably a deal breaker are the edges on the goals...if they have been hit enough times that they are starting to chip away, we call this a "blown out goal" then you probably want to pass on this one and wait for the next table (there will be more) can be fixed but it is very complicated and requires real skill

3. INSIDE PLAYFIELD WALLS: the inside walls (white surface) should be firmly attached, no lifting, pockets, chipping, holes, etc….this like the goal edges and play surface are very hard for an average person to fix and if they are really damaged, should be a deal killer

4. RODS: rods need to all be straight, no bends at all...the seller can tell if the rods are bent but if they aren’t sure, they can spin each and if it wobbles when it spins, its bent...bent rods are not a deal breaker because they aren't too hard to replace but they are $35 each plus shipping so you would want to figure that out into your offer

5. MEN: Cracked or broken men - same as the rods, not a deal breaker but a cost if some need to be replaced difference is cost is much lower impact at $5 will want to get 2 or 3 of each color anyway unless the person has extra with the table

6. COIN MECHANISM: Make sure the coin mechanism is fully working even if you don’t need it for your use because if you ever want to re-sell it, you will want this working, it gives you a bigger audience of buyers. Replacing all the parts in this is well over $100. With that said, it will be very rare you find one that doesn’t work but you should know for sure before buying. If there are problems, figure them out and what it will cost to fix and negotiate selling price or walk away from deal.

7. FEET AND LEGS: Legs aren’t likely to be bad, haven’t seen that many times but the feet need to be in good shape and working (meaning they can thread up and down)...if not, they can be easily replaced, and they are inexpenisve…this should only impact your offer price

8. BALLS: Are there any with the table and what shape...this is the least of the things but good to know because balls are $3 each...just an aside, a ton of people don't like them but if the ball is a genuine Tornado ball but is well used from a bar, I love them because they get very sticky and are good for control especially for a new player...they bounce a little more too but that doesn't bother will not find universal agreement on this point just my opinion for what its worth…most old Tornado balls can be washed and made near like new easily if you want that

Equipment Needed for Basic Maintenance
Roll pins 30 cents each:
Silicone 8 oz bottle $12:
• Pocket Size $2.50:
Bearing Wrench $5.50:
Roll Pin Punch $5:

If you need to replace any bearings, bumpers, or men, they can be found here
Tornado Parts:

Spare Parts…what should you have on hand.
2 or 3 each color man, when you get down to 1, reorder
15-20 roll pins, when you get to 5, reorder
4 bumpers, when you get down to 1, reorder
1 split bearing halves – these don’t go bad almost ever, so one should take care of you for a long time…reorder when you use it

What to do…Clean the table top to bottom...most people use a 50/50 mix of water and 409 cleaner ... I personally was taught many many years ago never to use anything on the playing surface or on the men so I just use hot water and elbow is the safe way and guarantees you don't leave any foreign substance on the playing surfaces

on the exterior cabinet, legs, and feet the 50/50 works real well

Using a Bearing Wrench, take all your bearings apart and clean any built up gunk from the bearing half's...the first time you do this on a used table, I recommend taking them all off and doing them all at the same time. For ongoing maintenance, just pull take apart the split bearings once or twice a year or whenever you suspect build up…clean at that time one at a time with hot water or use the 50/50 mixture.
A Bearing Wrench usually comes with the table. You can do it without a bearing wrench but it is harder and this is a basic must have table tool.
Bearing Wrench $5.50:

The non-split side of the bearings, the “nut” may be gunky too, they are part of the “bearings”
the ones on the non handle side are easy to remove but if want the bearing nut on this side, you will need to remove handle - make sure you have extra roll pins before beginning this phase of clean up
Roll Pins 30 cents each:

Roll Pin Punch $5 or $9: Did you get a roll pin "punch" with the table? if not, again you NEED one of can use other things like a counter sink to get by but this is made for this application and is worth the investment and is a standard table maintenance tool

here is the punch everyone uses standard with every table sold
Roll Pin Punch $5:

however, recently found a big boy version of this which I bought and it is much better, easier to use, I absolutely love me, well worth the difference in can't tell by the pictures but trust me when I say the standard is like a 6 year old and the big one is like a professional NFL linebacker...okay, that may be overstated a little but you get the idea...foosdirect is the only place I have ever seen it
Big Boy "Super Pin Driver" $8.95:

Cleaning the Bearings: Simplest approach is to take them all off (bearing halves and the bearing nut), and soak them in very hot water and a liberal amount of dish soap…let these soak while you scrub the table surface and rods…then go back to the bearings when you are done and wash each one until they are totally clean of build up, rinse with hot of water (as hot as you can stand)…lay them out on a dry cloth to drain/dry
Make sure they are air or hand dried completely before putting them back on the table

After you have all your bearings cleaned and before you replace them, clean the rods really well to remove anything left on them like silicone, beer, Jack Daniels, or other "special" fluids people creatively use to "lube" the rods

Silicone: Hopefully you were given some Silicone but if not you NEED it...I recommend buying a large supply bottle and the small applicator Pocket Size version. The Pocket Size version it is by far the best way to apply silicone and you can use the big bottle to refill the travel size. Silicone should go on rods only, don’t get it on anything else, it is very slick. Apply thin line on each rod from the bumper to the edge of the inside bearing – do this on the near side and far side of the rod.
Turn the rod in circles and pull the rods back and forth gently and slowly at first to evenly distribute the lube on all sides and to not splatter any on the table surface.

8 oz bottle $12 http: //
Pocket Size $2.50 http: //

Ball Care: If you have gotten Tornado balls with your used table or end up with older used Tornado balls, you can bring them back to near new by simply putting them is a sock and throwing them in your washer and wash with soap and hot water. When they are done, throw them in the drier (still in the sock) and dry on hot fully. There are many other methods but this is simple and works surprisingly well.

once you have done the complete cleaning, you won't need to put more than an hour a two a year into maintenance to keep your table like new...if you play everyday, wipe the surface once a month or so, clean bearings one hear one there as needed, and lube the rods as needed. Very simple and easy. Every couple years you can do the deep cleaning with all bearings and so forth. Along the way, you will need to change a man and a bumper even less often. Thats it, it just doesn't get any easier.
you mean like this thread? except I was nice enough to bold titles.

"Man's way to God is with beer in hand." - some Belgium monk
What's really funny is that I looked to see if you previously posted it here, but I only looked under the Wisdom articles... you live you learn. Edit: Bolded titles. If I'm going to double post something, I may as well make it readable.
I can't afford a Tornado Coin-Op, now what?

Note that if you don't pick up a Tornado coin-op, at some point down the road you'll probably regret buying something else.

That being said, there are some alternatives that come close to the Tornado experience. The better you become at foosball, the more noticeable the differences are between Tornado and the below suggestions.

Tornado Home Models:
These are the next best thing to a Tornado coin-op. They've also changed the names over the years.

Best: Tornado T3000, T2000
Why? These are coin-ops without the coin mech. Everything is tournament grade.

Next best: Cyclone 2, Elite Home Model, F5
Why? The cabinet is not a split cabinet, and the rods are lighter, but everything else is tournament grade. Having good bearings and decent weight make these a good option at the right price. Several veteran OFA players have one of these.

OK: Storm II, Classic Home Model
Why? Snap-in bearings, lighter rods, lighter weight, some have no leg levellers. Thankfully the men are still counterbalanced

Bad: Whirlwind. Sport Home Model
Why? The table is way too light, some don't have leg levellers. The men are not counterbalanced and fall down when playing singles. Avoid.

Shelti tables come in various models (including coin-ops), and the build quality is very similar to that of Tornado. Key differences – The table is much grippier, the balls are different, and the feet are thinner sideways, but wider on the face. That being said, you can learn everything on a Shelti (Brush/stick passing, all shots, Zone D, control etc) and it will carry over to Tornado with little adjustment.

A lot of parts are interchangeable with Tornado, so if you spot a Shelti for super cheap, you can replace the men and bumpers with Tornado parts, and end up with something very close to a Tornado. Replacing a full set of men and bumpers is pretty costly, so only consider this if the table is being sold for cheap.
The only part not interchangeable that I'm aware of are the bearings. All Sheltis have snap in bearings.

Sometimes Sheltis are being sold for super cheap, but most of the time they are sold for the same price as the equivalent Tornado, in which case you should just pick up a Tornado. A good price would be $400 for the Shelti Foos 400 and above models.

Warrior tables were a tournament table at one point. They do tend to fall apart pretty easily after heavy use (you've been warned). The man/surface/ball combination feels far gripper than Tornado, and the table is also a one-man goalie. The rods are also almost twice the weight of Tornado rods.

Catching passes and controlling the ball in a pin are much easier on Warrior, so adjustments have to be made when transitioning to Tornado. However, you can learn control/passes/shots on this table and they transition well to Tornado.

Like the Shelti, you can replace a few of the parts with Tornado parts. The return is less worthwhile for Warrior, however, since the playfield is vastly different. You're better off saving your money and not doing it.

Since Warrior is no longer a tournament standard table, you may be able to find one for very cheap. Definitely a better table than most of what is out there, but also definitely not a Tornado.

Another definite downside is the fact that Warrior parts are hard to find. I have yet to break a man, but I've destroyed 3 rods, and 4 bearings, all pretty easily.

There are 4 models of Dynamo that are actually very similar to Tornado. They are: Dynamo Bronze Medal, Dynamo Silver Medal, Dynamo Gold Medal, and Dynamo Big D. These were produced when Dynamo owned Tornado, and all parts are interchangeable with Tornado parts.

Since this is a Tornado clone, you can learn everything on these tables (Brush/stick passing, all shots, Zone D, control etc) and it will carry over to Tornado with some adjustment.

They are no longer being produced, so parts are very hard to come by, but like previously stated, they can be replaced with Tornado parts.

This should be an option only if sold for much cheaper than the equivalent Tornado (as in the case with Shelti)

Note that Dynamo also produced many tables that are not even close to a Tornado, which should be avoided.
The Super-Ghetto Section:

If current constraints won't allow you to get any of the previous options, there are ways to get a cheaper table that you can still learn proper techniques on. Below is a method of getting a crappy table to a point where you can pin & control the ball, and learn some basic techniques.

Note: Learning on a table like this is nowhere near as effective as learning on a Tornado.

Notes on cheap tables:
  • There are a ton of cheap tables available on Kijiji,, Craig's List etc. While the price range varies greatly, none are worth over $50. Some may even be available for free.
  • Tables that attempt to imitate Tornado do a horrible job of it. The figures actually make it HARDER to pin the ball than a standard figure, and the rods & cabinet are usually way too light. Avoid anything attempting to look like a Tornado.
  • If the rods are telescopic, avoid the table
    Home tables either have sidestrips, side bumpers, ramps, or nothing at all. Avoid anything with side bumpers, these make wall passing impossible. If the table has nothing at all, balls stick to the sidewall without coming off (you can make sidestrips using cheap weatherstripping). Ramps make wall passes extremely difficult, but usually the heaviest cabinets for cheap home models come with ramps.
  • Cheap tables come in 2 different rod styles: Too heavy, and too light. The heavy kind are infinitely preferable, since the light kind will bend and buckle under the pressure of any set shot.
  • Make sure the cabinet is as heavy as can be.
  • Make sure the foot of the figure is rounded, not polygonal. This will allow you to practice pinning the ball.
    (avoid this)

    (avoid this too)

    (the above are all OK)

  • Try to find something with Leg Levellers

If you get a cheap table, the first thing to do is get a Tornado ball. Any other ball will not help you improve.
The playfield will almost certainly be slippery plastic. I got around this by taking coarse-grit sandpaper and sanding the surface. Combined with a Tornado ball, this worked extremely well for me, and allowed me to pin/snake/brush pass on a cheap table. If the table uses a material that is NOT shiny plastic, you don't need to sand it.

In the end, your cheap table will probably look like this:

Names to avoid: Harvard, Halex, Sportcraft, Carrom
(Avoid anything that looks like this)
TL;DR: Buy a Tornado coin-op.
(09-May-2012, 11:50 AM)Pixel Wrote: TL;DR: Buy a Fabi coin-op.

Corrected to reflect your beliefs.

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